ELELS Statement prompted by the Killing of George Floyd
The Rabbi, Council and Congregation of the East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue (ELELS) were shocked by and condemn the killing of George Floyd on 25th May 2020. We note that this killing is but the latest in a long history of acts in the USA, UK and other countries that arise out of racism.
Our Judaism teaches us that the life of every single human soul is of equal importance. Sadly, we note that many societies, our own included, do not live up to this standard of celebrating all of humanity. When it becomes evident that all lives do matter equally, then there will no longer be the need to focus attention on those groups within society whose lives are not given equal value.
A teaching by Elie Wiesel z”l (“may his memory be a blessing”) when accepting the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1986 is that:
"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the centre of the universe."
For these reasons, the Rabbi and Council of ELELS have committed to lead the community of our synagogue on a journey towards comprehensive anti-racism, and in doing so to set an example in the wider community. We are determined to look within and beyond ourselves to address our own prejudices and ensure our community becomes and remains fully anti-racist and embracing of the rich diversity of humanity.
We will be setting up a long-term working group to ensure we sustain our focus on this important matter and will be planning training, education and anti-racist activities on our own and with any partners who share in these goals.
Rabbi Richard Jacobi and Stewart Spivack
Rabbi and Council Chair – ELELS
2nd July 2020