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Congregation Beth Ahabah Board of Managers Statement of Dedication to Systemic Equity, Racial Justice and Empowered Inclusion

06/29/2020 09:08:39 AM

Jun29

“…I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.
We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented… Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.”

- Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, December 10, 1986

This is a moment in history when we at Congregation Beth Ahabah are called upon to take sides – and we unequivocally affirm that we are on the side of all those tirelessly and diligently fighting to eradicate racism in our community, Commonwealth and nation. Yet it is not enough to simply release a statement opposing racism and affirming that Black lives matter. These words, while important and necessary, are only words. Our Jewish tradition is steeped in action, and our deeply-held value of tikkun olam, repairing the world through the pursuit of social justice, requires us to do more than speak out – it compels us to take active steps to pursue systemic equity for all our nation’s citizens.

Our American society is currently navigating a myriad of challenges related to racial inequity: not only the COVID-19 pandemic with all its complications, but also a new chapter in the ongoing national fight against systematic racism, economic and social inequality, criminal injustice, abusive law enforcement, inequitable healthcare access and voter suppression. These challenges disproportionately impact American communities of color, and we must advocate and diligently work to rectify each of these inequities.

Therefore, the Beth Ahabah Board of Managers pledges to implement the following actions to continue our advocacy for systemic equity, racial justice and empowered inclusion for all:

  • Diligently work to create inclusive communities grounded in meaning, understanding and connection.  Continue our review of all our policies, practices, embedded language, messages and culture to ensure we are living and implementing our sacred values of respect and inclusion for all.
  • Provide educational opportunities to congregational members of all ages – including implicit bias training and workshops on racial and social disparities – to further the understanding of the roots of racial injustice in America generally and Beth Ahabah historically.
  • Strengthen our existing community partnerships and develop new relationships with local partners in communities of color. Nurture these partnerships to build shared experiences and work together for positive change. Seek understanding from these partners of ways we can best serve as a trusted ally committed to the removal of the vestiges and symbols of racism, bigotry and discrimination in our community, city and society.
  • Re-dedicate ourselves to our Brit Olam (covenant with our world) partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism’s Religious Action Center as we advocate on the local, state and national levels for positive social change in the many areas impacting racial and social disparities in our society.

We understand that concrete action is long overdue, and that permanent constructive change requires tremendous energy and resources. But as we are reminded in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Ancestors) 2:16, “It is not upon you to complete the work; neither are you free to neglect it.” We shall not neglect this critical work; Beth Ahabah is committed to working every day, month and year to help eradicate social inequity and build a world reflective of our highest principles and ideals.

Tue, November 24 2020 8 Kislev 5781