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Friends,

This is a hard time for our country, our community and every realm of society. Many of us are sad and angry, some feel helpless and afraid, and many are frustrated with ongoing uncertainty at so many levels. And, because our tradition teaches “justice, justice you shall pursue” (Deut. 16:20), we are all heartbroken and upset with the terrible injustices brought into even clearer light in the past weeks and months. 

The murder of George Floyd was brutal and horrifying, and follows in a long history of violence and injustice against black people in our country. We know that COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting people of racial minorities, medically and economically. The racial inequities in this country have been tolerated for far too long, and our Temple Sinai Leadership and Community commits itself to being a part of building a kinder and more just world. 

Which means we also have to realize the ways in which racism internally affects the Jewish community as well as our society at large. Only a few days before we began to shelter in place, a black member of our community shared that they felt isolated and ignored at a Purim event at the Temple. Unfortunately, it is not the first time that we have heard of such an experience. People have been treated like outsiders, asked to justify their presence at the Temple, and on occasion, were addressed and questioned in a hostile way. Even as we are more racially diverse than many synagogue communities, and even as we try to be intentionally inclusive, we have a lot of work to do on ourselves and within our community.

Yet, knowing that we have a long way to go, though overwhelming and difficult, might also give us hope. There are more people upset, more people listening, and more people wanting to step up and work to change the situation. Our problems are significant, but so is our capacity to envision and to create something better than what we know today. 

For immediate reflection and action, please read Ways Your Congregation Can Act Now For Racial Justice on the URJ website. 

The Jewish Community Relations Council is doing a #Kneelathome campaign that invites everyone to express solidarity with the black community. 

Finally, please consider learning more about and supporting some of the many local organizations who work with at risk populations in our community. Among them, Youth Alive!, who was our guest speaker at Social Action Shabbat this past January, and Youth Spirit Artworks with whom we helped to build tiny houses for homeless youth. 

If you have ideas for how we continue to engage in this work, please reach out to the rabbis or to Sinai Social Action at sinaisocialaction@oaklandsinai.org

Indeed, justice we must pursue. We will do it together. May we have the strength and courage to build a better world. 

L’shalom,
The Temple Sinai Leadership

Sat, July 11 2020 19 Tammuz 5780