We stand with the local Charlottesville community as it prepares for the anniversary of the August 12, 2017 “Unite the Right” rally, and we reiterate our opposition to the dangerous and morally reprehensible white supremacist vision represented by the rally’s participants.
Last year, T’ruah rabbis were on the ground in Charlottesville, standing alongside the Jewish community and other minority communities. This spring, we were proud to honor Rabbi Tom Gutherz and Rabbi Rachel Schmelkin of Congregation Beth Israel with the “Human Rights Under Fire” award at our annual gala. We will be in Charlottesville again this year, standing with them and other minority communities and communities of color targeted by white supremacist words and deeds.
We especially remember Heather Heyer, who was killed in a terrorist attack that day in which 19 others were injured.
White supremacy in Charlottesville did not begin that Saturday last August, and it certainly has not ended. Racism and white supremacy have been a dangerous part of the fabric of this country since the beginning. Dismantling this legacy will take many years and much work by all of our communities.
We call on all elected officials to clearly and strongly denounce all forms of white supremacy, and to enforce those words with unambiguous deeds. We call on our representatives — from local leaders to the president of the United States — to reject any narrative that suggests that “both sides” deserve equal blame, and to dismiss all claims of moral equivalency between white supremacists and those who oppose them. We demand that our elected officials refuse to give a platform to white supremacy. That means no permits, no speeches, no interviews, and no way for white supremacists to incite violence against minorities. The Book of Proverbs teaches, “Life and Death are in the hand of the tongue.” Unfortunately, the wave of hate crimes in the last two years have proven how true this maxim remains.
As Jews, we recognize that the fight against anti-Semitism also must include fighting all forms of prejudice, together with our partners in other minority communities. We will not retreat from a vision of an inclusive and just America.
What we said on August 10, 2017, in our rabbinic letter of support for the Charlottesville community, signed by almost 400 rabbis and cantors, remains true today:
We encourage our fellow Jews and people of all backgrounds to reach beyond the boundaries of their own communities. White supremacists hate indiscriminately; we respond by loving indiscriminately. White supremacists believe that, in order for Americans who consider themselves white to ‘win,’ Jews, Muslims, immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQ people, among others, have to lose. We respond by affirming that American greatness is not a zero-sum game.
Julie Wiener, T’ruah Communications Director
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, brings together rabbis and cantors from all streams of Judaism, together with all members of the Jewish community, to act on the Jewish imperative to respect and advance the human rights of all people. Grounded in Torah and our Jewish historical experience and guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we call upon Jews to assert Jewish values by raising our voices and taking concrete steps to protect and expand human rights in North America, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories.