June 2, 2020 | 10 Sivan, 5780

Dear SPS Community,

These are trying times for us. We are in the midst of a pandemic which has claimed over 100,000 American lives. We are isolated from each other. We are struggling in so many ways. However, during these times, we are reminded of the words of Rabbi Hillel.
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?”  

Now is the time that we must stand with all people of color. We all witnessed the murder of an African American man by a police officer while other police officers stood by. This is not an isolated event. We know that speaking out against racism should not be seen as a blanket assault on all members of the police force. Racism, unfortunately exists in many areas of our society. We saw it demonstrated in our own city when Amy Cooper weaponized the color of a man’s skin in an attempt to hurt him because he simply asked her to follow the rules. We saw it in the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and, now, in the murder of George Floyd by a police officer whose job is to protect and defend us. It is time we say, “enough is enough.” As Jews we believe in justice and this is injustice. Yes, the peaceful protests by the majority of people who want change have been marred by those who prefer to divert attention to the issues at hand. However, we must remember that for Black People this is a time of horror, of loneliness, and of insecurity. The Talmud teaches that “silence is akin to consent” and so we can not stand by and be silent, and we need to support the Black community. 

After the massacre of innocent Jewish people in Pittsburgh, we had 700 people of every religion and color fill our synagogue to support us. On that day we vowed that if something like this were to happen to another minority group, we must stand by them the same way they stood by us. We must support Black people today and call for an end to inequality and injustice in our country. We know we are better than this.  

Rabbi Ain is in close contact with her fellow clergy at the Partnership of Faith Communities in NYC and that group will sponsor numerous programs of advocacy and education in the coming weeks. However, we don’t want to wait to gather, reflect, learn, and respond. Therefore, this Sunday night at 7:30 pm we invite you to a program where we will watch Rabbi Ain be in conversation with

  • Dr. Fritz Francois-Chief Medical Officer at NYU Langone
  • Dr. Renee Williams-Program Director of the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Fellowship at NYU Langone
  • Julia Abdurahman-Julia and her 5 children are a black family and members of Sutton Place Synagogue. She is the director of the We Be Imagining program at Columbia University's The American Assembly and INCITE Center as well as a researcher and lecturer at Cornell Tech.

They will reflect on being Black in America and this conversation will help facilitate a conversation about racial justice, the Jewish community in particular, and the American community at large.

This will be an open and honest conversation about their experiences and we will listen and learn about how to be better allies. We hope you will join us for this important evening of learning. 

The Torah teaches don’t stand idly by the blood of your neighbor. Let us stand up and speak out so that we can work for better days ahead.

To access the event please watch it on the SPS Livestream at www.spsnyc.org by clicking on the play button on the streamspot box. If you have questions during the presentation you can email them here .

Best,

Shari Pochapin
Rabbi Rachel Ain
Sutton Place Synagogue | spsnyc.org
225 E 51 Street, New York, NY 10022
sps@spsnyc.org | 212.593.3300