Marching With My Rabbi for #BlackLivesMatter

She smiled. “My name is Whitney and this is my friend Tiffany.”

We walked on. Together.

IMG_7434Along the route were local police officers stationed to make sure everything was under control. It was.

“Wait a minute,” I said to my daughter. I broke out of the line and ran over to one of the officers. “Thank you for protecting us,” I told him.

He smiled. “I appreciate that. Thank you.”

I am a white woman of privilege, a Jewish woman who needs to understand more in order to make a difference.

What I see on the news and read in the newspaper and hear on the street are my only frames of reference.

I have not walked in the shoes of my black neighbors. But last week our shoes were pointed in the same direction.IMG_7419

Blessing Osazuwa, a recent high school graduate and pursuer of peace, organized the march to bring about understanding and solidarity in our community. In an emotional speech, she said, “We want our sons to know that they will not be a target when walking down the street. We want to be heard. Please do not silence us.”

She acknowledged several children standing in front. “Our young people need to see this [show of solidarity]. The next generation should know that we can take action. We don’t have to be silent.” 

“Our old people need to see this!” yelled a silver-haired woman in the crowd. 

Ms. Osazuwa smiled. And then, pointing to each child, she said, “If he’s not free …. If she’s not free …. If he’s not free … no one is free.” Thunderous applause erupted.

A woman in front of me turned around and whispered, “Do you have a kleenex?” I handed one to her.

As we walked back to the car, my daughter said she was glad we went. This is just the start, I thought.

My rabbi posted this on her Facebook wall last night:

“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.”
— Elie Wiesel z”tl

The march with my rabbi was one step, one tiny step but a step nonetheless, toward tikkun olam, repairing the world. May we all continue to march that path together.

6 comments on “Marching With My Rabbi for #BlackLivesMatter

  1. Cathy Chester on

    Excellent and I’m so happy this happened. Thanks for sharing this important story. Tikkun Olam indeed. And may we never rest until all brothers live in harmony. Wonderful, Helene.

  2. Suzanne Fluhr on

    Our boys were bar mitzvahed at Beth David. Glad to see you referred to the rabbi as “she” and that members of the congregation are willing to try to understand the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Our sons learned about the increased likelihood of being pulled over for “driving while black” in Lower Merion Township. They pointed out the phenomenon to us.

  3. Bobby5000 on

    Addressing legitimate problems would be great but Black Lives Matter fails. It conjoins situations where police addressed dangerous people such as Ferguson, scenarios with private people and no police involvement such as Trayvon Martin, with scenarios where police acted wrongfully- Eric Gardner. It fails to address how vigorous police enforcement in areas like Brooklyn has made so many Afro-American lives better, bringing jobs, growth, and opportunities- while curtailed policing led to poverty and despair in Newark and Baltimore despite 100 million dollar gov programs designed to solve everything.

    The movement could address some legitimate problems. With so many Afro-Americans imprisoned, why aren’t prison training programs a priority; wouldn’t programs to teach Java script where there are tremendous shortages make sense. We need leadership but people like Al Sharpton are the problem not the solution

  4. Jane Carren on

    It was quite interesting to read this article! Liked it so much! It was great to have found it! Without any hesitation, I’ll be sharing it with others!

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