Today is July 19, 2018 /

Facing Racism Together, Bearing Witness, and Building Hope, WJC Asks: Now What Do We Do?

RUTH OBERNBREIT GLASS & SHARON SILVER
SoJAC CO-CHAIRS

On a Sunday afternoon at the end of January, Rabbi Yolkut and WJC member Cliff Wolf (representing the American Jewish Committee of Westchester/Fairfield) spoke in front of nearly 400 people at The Mount Hope A.M.E. Zion Church in White Plains. Along with Muslims, Mormons, Methodists, Catholics, clergy, and local leaders, they were a part of an outpouring of hundreds, all dedicated to facing racism together, bearing witness, and building hope.

Moving, spirited and inspiring, the afternoon’s program was as diverse as its participants. Rabbi Yolkut and Reverend Dr. James E. Taylor of the First Baptist Church in Mamaroneck read Psalm 118 together, “Out of my dreams, I cried unto the Lord.”

Are we, as a Jewish community truly aware of the everyday racism in our midst and its costs? And if so, what is our responsibility in addressing racism and intolerance?

Rabbi Jefferey Sirkman from Larchmont Temple, quoted from Martin Luther King Jr: “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. The narrow-mindedness of the hate-filled is unfortunate, but all-too-expected. The inability of a white, moderate majority to perceive the privilege of a whiteness engrained, and the pain of a societal prejudice that persists, is unacceptable…” Rabbi Sirkman concluded in his own words “Our world today at best seems like a dream deferred; when one of us is in those chains of bondage, all of us are enslaved.”

In addition to the sermons, prayers and rousing choral music, a call for unity and continued involvement was issued. After the program, participants shared a delicious potluck dinner (including kosher food) and were encouraged to meet new people, stop by social action tables and discuss ways in which the program affected them personally.

“Tonight we are here to be heard as a community of communities,” said Cliff Wolf, in referring to AJC’s history rooted in civil rights activism, “It is in our DNA,” he said, “We will never be silent.”

So, we ask, what’s next? For us as Jews? As neighbors to other houses of worship? If you are interested in exploring the answers with us, do contact Sharon Silver at sraplata@msn.com.

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