Today, in the wake of last week’s death of Mr. George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis and days of protests that have followed, the leadership of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (“Orthodox Union”) issued the following statement:
We are saddened, sickened, and outraged to have seen another broadcast video of an African-American man dying at the hands of police officers.
Racism is not a thing of the past or simply a political issue. It is a real and present danger that must be met head on. As religious Jews, we believe the most important starting point for the national discourse that must take place is the recognition that all people are created in the image of G-d and that each human life is of infinite value. Indeed, the United States of America was founded upon this principle and, at its best, persistently strives to make it manifest in America’s laws and policies.
Yet, we are again witnessing that too many communities around this country feel their voices are not being heard, their complaints about racist treatment are unheeded, and we are not doing enough to point out that this brutal and unjust treatment is antithetical to basic American values.
People of good conscience must never turn a blind eye when people are being deprived of their human dignity and even their lives. Indifference is not an option. The right of citizens outraged by these events to engage in peaceful public protest is to be protected as a fundamental right. But that should not lead to violence and vandalism, including assaulting law enforcement officers.
We plead for an end to the violence in the wake of this tragedy. We pray for comfort for grieving families and friends. We pray for peace across the United States while the legal process moves forward. We also join in the demand for a full investigation that results in rightful accountability and actual justice.
In 2019, the American Jewish community experienced its most deadly, violent and disturbing outbreak of anti-Semitism. Thus, we are acutely sensitive to the essential imperative to foster tolerance and respect in this highly diverse society in which we live.
We call on all Americans to unite in the pursuit of justice and brotherly love and respect, regardless of race, creed or color. In this encounter, let us all seek greater understanding amongst our fellow men and women – all of whom are created in the image of God. Let us work in partnership toward eradicating all forms of bigotry and racism and making the United States the “more perfect union” we all pray for it to be.