Today is George Floyd’s yahrzeit, and tonight is Shavuot, when we study all night in community to observe and celebrate receiving Torah.
Three years ago George Floyd’s life was taken, and my city, Minneapolis, and the nation were activated as a part of a resistance movement demanding a fundamental shift in the way we imagine public safety. This wasn’t the first time that our communities and movements have had to confront the consequences of generations of racism and violence against Black people.
In May of 2020, I was working with unsheltered folks as a social worker. By October, I was organizing my local multiracial Jewish community with Jewish Community Action to build our practices of community safety. 2020 was not the first time our community wrestled with the question of how we keep one another safe. In 2015 and 2016, when Jamar Clark and Philando Castille were murdered by police, I saw my local Jewish community choose to shift its understanding of who we are accountable to, expanding our circle of care and concern.
In the last decade we’ve learned to be more prepared and to reach for one another. There are lessons we’ve learned in the narrow places that we’ve carried forward to build more possibility in the wider community. Over this period, we’ve also felt new threats as a Jewish community with the increase in antisemitic rhetoric and right-wing violence. We’ve learned to choose solidarity because we know that choosing isolation will not keep us safe. We’re learning that we need one another.
Tonight, as I join my community for Tikkun Leil Shavuot (a night of study), I look forward to leaning into the ways in which choosing one another can help us repair and prepare for our collective future. If you’d like to lean with me, I invite you into a couple of texts that help me practice that choice. I encourage reading the full books, but I wanted to offer a smaller bite of each that you could dig into today:
- This is a book review of Elizabeth Hinton's America on Fire: The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s
- This is an article about We Do This 'til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice by Mariame Kaba
Tonight, I’ll be dedicating my study to George Floyd and all those who have had their lives taken by systems of violence. May his and their memories continue to be for a blessing.
National Organizer, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action