JCC Association: “Each of Us Has a Part to Play”
Rabbi Tarfon taught:
It is not your responsibility to finish the work [of perfecting the world], but you are not free to desist from it either.”
הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, לֹא עָלֶיךָ הַמְּלָאכָה לִגְמֹר, וְלֹא אַתָּה בֶן חוֹרִין לִבָּטֵל מִמֶּנָּה. אִם לָמַדְתָּ תוֹרָה הַרְבֵּה, נוֹתְנִים לְךָ שָׂכָר הַרְבֵּה. וְנֶאֱמָן הוּא בַעַל מְלַאכְתְּךָ שֶׁיְּשַׁלֵּם לְךָ שְׂכַר פְּעֻלָּתֶךָ. וְדַע מַתַּן שְׂכָרָן שֶׁל צַדִּיקִים לֶעָתִיד לָבֹא
Pirkei Avot 2:16
We are profoundly disturbed and deeply offended by the specter of racism and discrimination in this country and join with the Black community and with all those demanding that we live up to the principles of freedom, equality, and justice that are the cornerstones of our society.
These same principles are integral to who we are. We take great pride in our own diversity—as a Jewish community and as a movement. People of color, of diverse faiths and backgrounds, new immigrants and veteran Americans and Canadians all are part of our movement. They are JCC members and participants, and they hold proud and honored places on the staffs and boards of Jewish Community Centers and Camps from coast to coast. Embracing and honoring that diversity is fundamental to our mission—and may now be more important than ever.
We are inspired by voices calling upon us to come together to root out racism and inequality while those who would incite and divide us, sow discord and disharmony that place our progress as a nation at risk. The ethos of the JCC Movement, predicated on a celebration of our diversity as Jews and as a community, is at the very heart of who we are and what we aspire to be.
Elie Wiesel, z”l, Holocaust survivor and symbol of the Jewish people’s triumph over evil during the worst period of vicious anti-Semitism in history, left us a legacy of great wisdom, including this excerpt from his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1986:
I swore never to be silent whenever wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. 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.”
It’s going to get better, and each of us has a part to play.
JCC Association Staff: “Create Space for Healing and Justice”
We at JCC Association are grieving and in solidarity with our Black coworkers, members, partners, neighbors, program participants, and the Black community across North America. You are our community. We cannot and we will not avert our gaze from your suffering.
We are heartbroken and outraged by the recent, senseless murders of Black Americans, and countless others invoked in the cries we are hearing all over the globe.
May their memories be a blessing.
We are humbled by the breadth of the JCC Movement, which connects us to hundreds of diverse communities across the continent. When one community hurts, we feel that pain. Standing in our Jewish context and experience, we link arms with the Black community to denounce the egregious crimes of hate and intolerance—the murders of precious Black lives.
How can we be better? How can we ensure that injustice does not prevail in our community?
Rooted in our Jewish values of justice (tzedek), loving kindness (chesed), and repairing the world (tikkun olam), we wholeheartedly honor the experiences of our Black colleagues and commit to work internally to create space for healing and justice in our organization.
Community is at the center of our name. As leaders of the JCC Movement, the beautiful mosaic of our communities is our greatest strength. We are strengthened each day by our Black colleagues and community members. We thank them not only with words, but also with loving actions.
May this be a promise. May we begin here, with both humility and strength. Let us do better, and play our important part, in repairing this world.