Friday, June 5, 2020
Dear Friend of Yad HaChazakah,
Yad HaChazakah’s mission entails ending prejudice and removing physical, communication, attitudinal, and systemic barriers that prevent people with disabilities from engaging in Jewish community life and Torah learning. In light of the callous murder of George Floyd by police officers, we feel it to be important to affirm our positions against conscious and unconscious bigotry against Black, Brown and Indigenous people and for peacefully protesting and constructively remedying prejudices that have led to centuries of enslavement, inequity, indignity, harm, and murder.
Though we have come a very long way in bridging racial divides, the tentacles of racial prejudice still run through our veins. Black men and women are still treated with suspicion when they shop in high-end stores, when they park their cars in spaces designated for government officials and VIPs, or when they just drive while black. Black and brown parents have to train their children how to speak and behave when their children are pulled over by police and they repeatedly reinforce the training. White families don’t need to consider this. The tentacles of bigotry can be destroyed only through continual and conscientious reflection, dialogue, and changes in our speech and behavior.
Our efforts to improve society always begin with improving ourselves. Each of us wants to believe that we are good, fair and just. However, paraphrasing Hillel from Pirke Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, we should not be sure of ourselves until the day of our death, which very few of us know.
Every one of us has been influenced by positive and negative prejudices and biases that seep through our societies and cultures, causing us to occasionally speak and act in accordance with unconscious and semiconscious presumptions. Depending on the presumption and what we say or do based upon it, we can either help or harm a relationship, reputation, or a person’s very well-being or life. Therefore while reading the below statement, please reflect upon your own internal and behavioral responses to people who are different from you and one thing you can do towards removing the tentacles of racism.
Yad HaChazakah’s Statement on Racial Prejudice and Bigotry
Whereas Yad HaChazakah-The Jewish Disability Empowerment Center:
Therefore Yad HaChazakah:
Thank you to our board secretary Debra Baker for composing the initial draft of this statement.
Sharon Shapiro-Lacks and the Yad HaChazakah team.
Leave a Reply