In his State of the Union address, President Biden said, “We should all agree: The answer is not to defund the police. It’s to fund the police. Fund them. Fund them.”
For years, Black Jews have advocated that instead of funding police, we should fund alternatives to policing. They believe that money spent on police doesn’t bring safety to their neighborhoods and often leads to more police brutality and over-policing of Black people. White Jews need to talk to their rabbis and spiritual leaders about how we can have a conversation about anti-Black racism. They should ensure that every Jewish organization pays attention to this issue and works to find solutions. As white Jews, they must stand up to injustice in this country because it is the right thing to do, but also because history tells us what happens when people stay silent.
It’s essential for us to understand and talk about how anti-Black racism impacts our lives because those conversations are the first step in dismantling a system built on white supremacy and privilege. We should advocate for change through our organizations and communities and work on ending police brutality. Together, we can help create an inclusive society that has no place for racism, anti-Semitism, or any other form of bigotry.
White Jews must come together across racial differences to address this issue and push for real solutions. Here are some ideas on how you can take the conversation forward that I think could be impactful.
Together, we can work to create a klal yisrael (community of all Jews) by advocating for change. Policing practices in the United States today contribute to racial inequality and injustice. As Jews, they have a collective memory of how as a minority, they were persecuted and violently oppressed. We also must recognize that if you’re Black or brown, you could also be Jewish — and this could happen in your own community. For Jews, who have seen so much injustice in the world, this is a teachable moment. To prevent violence in our country — and eventually across the globe — we all need to take the lead in finding creative solutions. As white Jews living in America today and tomorrow, they have a duty to build a better future as citizens of all faiths.
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