Shalom Chevrei: 
 
I stand with the families, the communities, and all of us who mourn the devastating deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and all the other unnamed souls murdered by police brutality, racial animus, or some combination of both. As a synagogue community, we affirm that Black Lives Matter and our commitment to making space to do the work of anti-racism.
 
As I witness this painful moment in history, I recognize the complicated lines between protest and standing idly by; violence and non-violence; and lawfulness and lawlessness. These complexities demand of us critical discernment and deepened empathy.
 
And, I’m paying attention to the facts that this pandemic and the brave teen Darnella Frazier’s revealing and condemning video lay bare the systemic racism and economic marginalization we can no longer consciously or unconsciously ignore. 
 
The moment calls. It shouts thunderously, summoning us to understand loudly and clearly that the soul of our nation is bleeding out. Our healing as a nation - our wholeness and redemption as a people, our very resilience and survival as a democracy - requires we confront racism and economic repression in all of its forms. 
 
To this end, we will engage in redress and reduction of systemic racism and work toward reconciliation with victims of bigotry. I will keep you posted on our progress and inform you of experiences that will help us mourn, cope, and respond.  
 
During Shabbat services, we have been talking seriously about inclusion, systemic racism and making change in the world. I’ve included links to videos of two of my sermons, one of which I gave Friday night, focusing in part on George Floyd’s death, and the other of which I gave last week based on the power of inclusion. I have also attached written copies of the sermons for your convenience ( D’var Torah Bemidbar & D’var Torah Shavuot Shabbat .) If you find yourself yearning to say Kaddish, please join us at Shabbat services or use our video archive for access to the prayer and the names our community shared recently.
I’ve modified an email that I received from my son’s school. I thought it included many good reminders on how we can continue to do the personal and public work of bringing equity and inclusion to our larger community.
 
1. Reach out to friends and classmates who live in the locked down zones of Chicago. They may be frightened or scared and would love to hear from a familiar voice. 
 
2. Send a note or a text to a Black friend, family member or colleague. Don’t ask them to educate you on racism or the protests, ask instead if you can help them by listening or running an errand.
 
3. Get involved with Illinois Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. RAC-IL is focused on changing legislation at a state level to increase equity and safety in Illinois. Learn more about the 2020 campaigns here.
 
4. Educate yourself and get more comfortable with the uncomfortable reality of racial injustice in our present society:

Videos to watch:
 
Articles to read:
 
5. Do something in the next 24 hours that calls attention to racial injustice and inequity. Something is better than nothing, and silence in times like these is tacit acceptance of systemic racism.
 
Stay in the fight and struggle onward.
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