Dear Temple Shalom Community:
The recent murders in Georgia and the onslaught of anti-Asian and anti-Pacific Islander bigotry and violence over the past year is an affront to our Jewish and American values. We stand with our fellow congregants, colleagues, family members, and neighbors who are affected by these horrific actions.
As we prepare to enter Passover, celebrating the story of our freedom from Egyptian bondage, we approach this festival with heavy hearts and a burden to carry. We know that our freedom cannot be realized until everyone is free from the bondages of slavery, of bigotry, of racism, of hate, of white supremacy.
The current wave of hate and violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is not new. There is a long history of racism against members of the AAPI community built into the fabric of the United States. As Jews, a people that have too often been the victims of scapegoating, we cannot stop at outrage. We must do the work to be antiracist and fight bigotry of any kind whenever and wherever it appears. Earlier this month, the Religious Action Center (RAC) of the Union for Reform Judaism issued a statement standing with the AAPI community and condemning the hatred and violence as a “shameful stain” on our nation. We join in the RAC’s call to action against the foundations of racism, xenophobia, white supremacy, and hatred on which acts of violence are built.
This year, Temple Shalom has embarked on a journey to become an antiracist congregation. Our Antiracism Task Force has led panel discussions and education sessions over the past several months to help us raise our awareness of structural racism and develop the language and tools we need to interrupt and dismantle racist beliefs, practices, and policies in our synagogue and the broader community. That work is not done. It can never be done until racism in all forms—from personal to systemic to institutional—have been erased from our community, society, and country.
As we continue our work as a community, here are a few things that you can do as we move along this journey.
· Educate yourself. Look through the resources organized by the Antiracism Task Force and look for announcements for upcoming opportunities to get involved at Temple Shalom. As you read, think about how you can make changes in your own life.
· Support and get involved with local AAPI-led organizations that are working to dismantle racism. One such organization is the Montgomery County Progressive Asian American Network. There are many others.
Leviticus commands us to not stand idly by the blood of our neighbor (Leviticus 19:16). Attacks on the AAPI community are attacks on our neighbors, on our friends, on our loved ones, on members of our own Jewish community. As the RAC’s The Common Road to Freedom Haggadah teaches, we are obligated to treat those attacks as attacks on us as Jews. We must share the “dreams of equality, justice, and peace” of all who “struggle for freedom” against “slavery and oppression . . . under the shadow of modern day Pharaohs.” Our Passover “seder calls upon us to do everything in our power to assist in their emancipation from tyranny.” Temple Shalom must and will work together to fight against white supremacy, racism, bigotry, and hate in all of its manifestations.
L’Shalom (In Peace),
Rabbi Rachel Ackerman
Susan Goutos Zemsky
Rabbi Ira Rosenberg
Michael Rubin, President
Jeff Steger, Executive Vice President
John Landesman, Co-Chair Antiracism Task Force
Rachel Breman, Co-Chair Antiracism Task Force