Just before I left for the conference Sunday morning, a CJC committee met as part of our J-safe project to develop a congregational policy surrounding abuse (physical, emotional and/or sexual). The goal of this congregational congregational-wide program is to protect and support our students, teens, congregants and elders from abuse when possible and to respond appropriately if such abuse takes place, whether it happens in the home or at our school. This committee is so talented, invested and generous in time and wisdom. If you would like more information on any part of this project, please give me a call or send me an email. As part of this same project, we will be holding a healing service this Saturday for survivors of domestic violence. Two survivors will come and share their story and what we can do individually and as a community to support them and others in similar circumstances.
As many of you know, the OMI clergy get together twice a month to do business and study together. Before Freddie Gray died, we had already planned two upcoming programs to force us to understand the racism that has been at the foundation of our country since its beginning. This Sunday at 3pm, we will have a wonderful opportunity to listen to Dr. Diana Hayes, a professor emerita from Georgetown University speak about the relationship between racism and religion. This could not be timelier. Most of us might not live in Baltimore, but we still visit, work, and spend money in Baltimore. We are part of the socio-economic situation there facing its residences. As I watched Baltimore go up in flames, I was quite aware that I was not the judge or jury and that violence/rioting is not a healthy or constructive response. Having said that, I still want to know how we can partner with communities that are only 30 minutes at most from us, where the unemployment rate for black men in Baltimore between the ages of 20 and 24 is about 23%. Just 59 percent of black men between the ages of 25 and 54 are working compared with 79 percent of white men. Just 1 in 10 black men in Baltimore has a college degree, compared with half of whites (for ages 25 and up). And the median income for black households, at about $33,000, is little more than half that of whites. And most scary of all, 1 in 3 African American men in this country can expect to be incarcerated some time during their life. How can we continue to pretend these problems are their problems and not our own? In the next couple of weeks I will be sending you information about different ways we can get involved. If you would like to help CJC get more involved, please contact me. For current ways to help check www.jufj.org .
Bryan A. Stevenson, the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a private, non-profit organization headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, and a professor at New York University School of Law, was one of the speakers at the conference. He kept saying the first step is for us to meet people, and get to know them. They have to stop being anonymous figures we watch on TV, much like the people in the arena of the hunger games. People are dying, violence is erupting and we have a choice. Will we choose to be Gd’s hands in this world or will we stand idly by? After all it is commanded in Leviticus 19:16 “Do not stand idly by while your neighbor's blood is shed.”
Rally and March for Freddie Gray, Friday, May 1 -- 3:00pm
Please march with us to call for justice and to stand with our brothers and sisters, as a Jewish community, against police brutality. We'll have signs. Let us know you are coming on this form in addition to on Facebook. One important way to show Jewish solidarity is to bring and wear a kippah/yarmulke and/or tallit/prayer shawl if that is meaningful for you. Help bring anyone you can. All the details are here, including info on JUFJ carpools, public transit, and local Shabbat.
2:45 PM: JUFJ meet up, corner of St. Paul and E. Baltimore, in front of the William Donald Schaefer Building
3:00 PM: March begins, Office of the State's Attorney for Baltimore, 120 E Baltimore St, Baltimore, MD 21202
March route: down Charles, through Inner Harbor and back up Gay Street to City Hall
4:00 PM: Rally at City Hall, 100 Holliday St, Baltimore, MD 21202
The rally and march are being planned by Bmore United, a citywide coalition of grassroots organizations, including youth leaders from CASA, Leaders for a Beautiful Struggle, and Baltimore Algebra Project, plus diverse faith, labor, and community leaders. No civil disobedience is planned and marshals will be present to ensure that we are all focused on the message that we're bringing and staying safe.
See you in the streets - in solidarity,
Molly Amster, Baltimore Director, Jews United for Justice