By Lee Chottiner
Responding to the wave of nationwide demonstrations for racial justice since the killing of George Floyd, Adath Jeshurun has issued a written statement formally aligning itself with the Black community.
Adath Jeshurun’s Social Action Committee drafted a “Statement on Racial Equality,” which its board of trustees adopted on July 23.
“The Book of Deuteronomy of our Bible teaches: ‘Justice, Justice shall you pursue,’” the statement reads. “We the Jewish people have a religious and moral obligation to pursue justice for ourselves and for all people. This applies especially to those whom justice has been denied and inequitably administered.”
According to the statement, the congregation:
• Accepts “collective and individual responsibility” to acknowledge that the Black community suffers from continuous hate, discrimination, and “a law enforcement system that too often deprives them of justice.”
• Affirms its “obligation to learn about racial diversity” and to “confront our implicit biases, challenge the deep systemic and cultural sources of those biases,” and address racial disparities in society.
• Rededicates itself to work with the Black community.
• Accepts responsibility to pursue justice with those who will work with them.
“We recognize that our shared destiny is inextricably bound to the just treatment of the Black community,” the statement says. “As we have learned from our own history, when others suffer, we too will suffer.”
The complete statement can be found at images.shulcloud.com/1603/uploads/RacialEqualityStatement072420.pdf.
AJ President William Esakov said the statement was inspired by a 19-page call to action drafted by the Louisville Urban League, which area rabbis signed, asking Mayor Greg Fischer to start discussions on race issues in the city.
“The board decided we wanted to do something, so a committee was formed,” Esakov said. “We created a statement that represented Congregation Adath Jeshurun from a Jewish ethics point of view.
He added, “We decided it was more of a sin to keep quiet.”
AJ is believed to be the only area synagogue to have drafted such a statement, though other congregations have expressed their agreement with it.
“We do not have anything in writing, although we do concur with those sentiments, to be sure,” said Yonatan Yussman, director of Keneseth Israel. “Everything they wrote is vitally important.”
By Lee Chottiner