Friday, June 19th
, the oldest national commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. To be more precise, Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865—two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation—when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas with news that slavery had ended and enslaved people were to be set free. Juneteenth takes on even greater resonance this year, amid an ongoing national conversation about racial justice and the work that remains to be done to break down structural racism in the Unites States.
Beth Am has been and will continue to be engaged in that conversation: Our
Statement on Racial Justice
is linked from the Beth Am website’s homepage and we will soon unveil a Black Lives Matter banner in front our building (see a rendering at the end of this note). We will continue conversations about how we, as a community, can follow these symbolic steps with meaningful action at a joint Social Action Committee/IFO meeting on
Tuesday, June 23
Use this link to join the meeting
if you’d like to be added to the SAC/IFO Google Group and be notified of future meetings.
In recent years Cole and Aisha, the owners of Reservoir Hill’s
and former IFO Board members, organized public Juneteenth events in the neighborhood. This year, Dovecote will host a Virtual Art Bazaar on
Saturday, June 20th from 11am to 4pm
Several other local organizations are planning Juneteenth-related events and projects that offer Beth Am members the chance to reflect on our collective history and ways that we can each advance the cause of racial justice.
Three great Black-led Baltimore groups, the
Job Opportunities Task Force
Out for Justice
Baltimore Action Legal Team
will hold a
Juneteenth and Father’s Day Bail Out
to secure the release of city residents represented by the Maryland Office of the Public Defender who are charged with nonviolent offenses and remain incarcerated due to unaffordable cash bail. Explaining the connection to Juneteenth, organizers note that “while the formal institution of Black enslavement was ‘abolished,’ it was quickly replaced with another: incarceration. This system quickly morphed into the mass incarceration of Black men and women, many of whom are incarcerated due to unaffordable bails.” (For more background on the transition from slavery to Jim Crow to mass incarceration I strongly recommend Michele Alexander’s “
The New Jim Crow
There are links to make donations on
the event’s Facebook page
. The fund not only covers bail, but also the cost of transportation when released from incarceration and to ensure court appearance, care packages to support immediate hygienic needs, and other critical resources to facilitate successful reentry. Learn more details about JOTF’s Community Bail Fund
Among other local Juneteenth events:
Jewish events marking Juneteenth:
- A Jewish conversation about Juneteenth Friday, June 19 at 12:00pm. Rabbi Sandra Lawson, a chaplain at Elon University in North Carolina, and Tema Smith, a contributing columnist at The Forward, will talk with Editor-in-Chief Jodi Rudoren, about the holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States, and how Jews are --and should and could be -- marking it this year.
- Juneteenth Kabbalat Shabbat Friday, June 19 at 5pm, led by Rabbi Sandra Lawson,
A more complete listing of local Juneteenth events is on
this page of the OSI-Baltimore website
(disclosure: I work there). I hope many Beth Am members will find a way to mark this important day.
Co-chair, Beth Am Social Action Committee