Please sign the petition if you agree.
We, rabbis, cantors, and members of the Jewish community, commit to building a society that lives up to the Torah’s insistence that every single human being is a creation in the divine image.
Too many unarmed people—disproportionately people of color—have been killed in encounters with the police.
“One who sheds blood diminishes the divine image” (Genesis Rabbah 34:14)
Opening fire on a twelve-year-old playing in the park, putting a father of six in a chokehold for selling loose cigarettes, and killing an eighteen-year-old then leaving his body in the street for four-and-a-half hours all indicate a disregard for human life that is simply unacceptable.
“Whoever destroys a single soul is considered to have destroyed an entire world,” the Talmud teaches us. And, “the human being was created alone, lest one person say ‘my father was greater than your father.’” Each of our lives matters. Black lives matter.
We refuse to yield to apathy. Rather, we release a cry that will be heard in the highest heavens. We will not “stand idly by while the blood of [our] neighbor is shed.” (Leviticus 19:16)
This is not primarily about individual police officers. Rather, it is about a system that allows inconsistent policing in white neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color, and that rarely punishes an officer for homicide.
As a Jewish community, we support the following concrete changes, which will help protect the lives of people of color—both within our own community and among our neighbors.
1. A federal law outlawing racial profiling by police. We support Attorney General, Eric Holder’s hope to create “new guidance [to] codify our commitment to the very highest standards of fair and effective policing,”
2. An end to the excessive militarization of local law enforcement. The use of such military equipment has terrorized us and our neighbors, and has led to increased tensions in St. Louis.
3. The establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation commission between low-income communities of color and their police departments, starting with pilots in St. Louis, Ohio, LA, New Orleans, Miami, Chicago, and New York. The commission must have decision making power and must have significant youth representation.
Our Jewish neshamot, souls, are united today in a common call for justice. As Midrash Tanchuma teaches, we dare not ask: “What have the affairs of society to do with me? Why should I trouble myself with the people’s voices of protest? Let my soul dwell in peace!’ — One who does this overthrows the world.”