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No Justice – No Peace

06/23/2020 12:06:02 PM


Marc Rutman

No Justice – No Peace

A few weeks ago, TBE sponsored a zoom discussion on the evolution of African American –
Jewish relations led by Professor David Weinfeld, TBE member and VCU Professor of Judaic
Studies. It was a timely talk on the eve of worldwide protests.
There were many insightful points to the discussion, but what I came to see as paramount,
emphasized the deterioration of relations between our two communities. How and why did this
happen, when we both have histories of persecution and oppression?
Perhaps we’ve been too complacent and our silence has been detrimental. Clint Smith, writer,
poet, and scholar, presented an insightful TED Talk on June 5 th , 2020. He seeks a world where
everyone can live and breathe. He argues that silence is the residue of fear.
The U.S. has failed to reckon with its past. There has been no national conversation. We can
build a world where different decisions are made.
Rabbi Knopf penned in a recent edition of the forward, “as heirs of a tradition that abhors racism
and demands justice, we ought to find this status quo intolerable, and indeed our tradition insists
that we are duty-bound to protest it.” He goes on to cite the Torah, as it commands, “You must
not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor (Leviticus 19:16)”, and adds, “Rabbinic tradition
repeatedly echoes these principles. When we Jews see injustice, we are obligated to speak out
against it and work to eradicate it.” 
So what can we do as individuals and a people? How can we follow what the Torah is teaching
us? We can follow Elie Wiesel’s noble choice, “I swore,” he writes, “never to be silent whenever
and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality
helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
There are plenty of options and opportunities to act. Accompanying this blog are two documents,
which provide a list of resources to both further educate ourselves on these important issues and
to become involved. Numerous organizations, such as Truah,, the Virginia
Interfaith Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Evolve have been focusing on
eradicating injustice and possible ways to stop the hate.
The answers aren’t easy. The work may be long and hard, but we have to start somewhere. We
can choose to commit to justice, educate ourselves, donate, and lead by example. As Dr. Martin
Luther King pointed out, “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the
silence of our friends.”
“You must not remain indifferent” (Deuteronomy 22:3). This world can be rebuilt!




Sun, July 3 2022 4 Tammuz 5782