T’ruah’s public message for Martin Luther King Day 2020:
As people around the country remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we at T’ruah are honoring him by preparing for our next delegation to Montgomery, Alabama. One week from today, we will be visiting the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum with 50 rabbis and Jewish communal leaders to learn about how the legacy of slavery continues to reverberate through every part of our society and to spark concerted action against racism.
In preparing for this trip, I have been deeply struck by something I learned from April Baskin, Racial Justice Director at the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable. “Racism teaches white people to be numb,” she told me, as a way of perpetuating itself. If we white people truly felt the devastation caused by racism, we would be incapable of participating in the system.
|My prayer for this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and for our delegation next week, is that we resist racism by allowing ourselves to truly feel. That God’s word to the prophet Ezekiel become real for the many white Jews in our communities, myself included:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit into you: I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
A heart of flesh bleeds. It feels pain. And it also pumps blood throughout the body, sending forth vitality and energy for growth and transformation. In 2020, may the pain we white Americans feel be the pins and needles of a frozen limb coming back to life.
Rabbi Lev Meirowitz Nelson