An Important Message from Rabbi Paul Resnick and Cantor Lorna Wallach:

A LETTER OF CONSOLATION

WORDS OF EMPATHY

EXPRESSION OF HOPE

Dear CBI Family,

March 13th the CBI building closed. The closure was unprecedented. The TEAM and Board quickly jumped into action and created and implemented a plan of engagement.

The CBI family has been strengthened through ZOOM engagement, calls and communal sharing of good times and sad times as well. And COVID-19 seemed to have taken over the airwaves, every one of our conversations… our lives. How we shop for food became a topic in many a forum. How we were going to do our sedarim was the topic just eight weeks ago. That quickly became … How were we to celebrate our Tikkun for Shavuot?

We all know of friends, colleagues and family members who have had the virus inflict pain and sickness and some who have succumbed to it. Unemployment is hitting one in four American workers. 1 in 4. 25%. It is not just out there. It is here.

Then there was/is discussion of when is it going to end? When would we be able to get back to normal? Is there going to be a new normal? Will we ever need to work in an office full time again?

But then after our celebration of Shavuot and Shabbat we heard of the news of the brutal and senseless killing of George Floyd.

Protests started. People needed to react. There is much pent up frustration from the communities of color with justice not being given to ALL Americans. We were and we are at a tipping point. And this is NOT a black/brown issue. It is an American issue.

There was/is violence. Rubber bullets and teargas are being used against some. The VAST MAJORITY of Americans though are peacefully expressing our Constitutional right to free speech, to protest.

Most protests are calm and have a purpose. The goal is to raise the issue of social injustice in America for people of color. And to think of a solution to a problem that has plagued our society for many, many years. We cannot remain silent; we need to speak out for legislation and oversight so there will not be people killed by police as a result of the color of their skin.

Some say that police use brutal force too quickly. Unwarranted use of force is unacceptable. Though we also need to support law enforcement. Attacks specifically directed against police officers are also not acceptable.

The killing of George Floyd has brought our society to a more unpredictable time than in several generations. Many of us feel a sense of being overwhelmed. Pandemic. Uncertainty. Unrest.

Chancellor Eisen of the Jewish Theological Seminary released the following statement this week, and I share an edited version with you:

This is a devastating and dangerous moment in our country, the history of which is so stained by racial injustice.

We believe that every person and institution must assume responsibility to create a more equitable and just society. Jewish tradition forbids us to remain silent in the face of racial injustice. “Do not stand idly by while your neighbor’s blood is shed.” (Leviticus 19:16).

We call on each member of the JTS community, and the entire Jewish community, to do all in their power to respond to this moment of crisis by taking action to build a more just world. We can lift our voices, train our students, and work in partnership with alumni, lay leaders, and our friends and family in the Black community.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel reminded us pointedly that “morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty but all are responsible.”

As a show of solidarity in the fight for justice for all, we will be placing a banner in front of our building at the beginning of next week with the following message:

צֶ֥דֶק צֶ֖דֶק תִּרְדֹּ֑ף

Justice, justice shall you pursue – Deuteronomy 16:20

We stand against racial injustice

May we continue to pray for God’s sheltering presence to shine down on all Americans. And let us say, Amen.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Paul F. Resnick Cantor Lorna Wallach