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Marching for Racial Justice on Yom Kippur

Photo credit: Susan Wasserkrug. The red signs was created by Lynna Schaefer. Carrying the red sign on the left: Rabbi Amber Powers. Carrying the Tsedek sign: Betsy Teutsch.  Carrying the red sign on the right, Lynna Schaefer

Photo credit: Susan Wasserkrug. The “tzedek, tzedek tirdof” was created by Lynna Schaefer. Carrying the red sign on the left: Rabbi Amber Powers. Carrying the Tsedek sign: Betsy Teutsch. Carrying the red sign on the right, Lynna Schaefer

Ironically, I heard about the March for Racial Justice via an explosion of disapproval and upset on the Sisters of Salaam Shalom Facebook group. Member after member expressed outrage that the march’s organizers had ignored Jewish needs when scheduling the march.*  Learning that the march was sparked in response to the acquittal of Philando Castile’s killing by a police officer, streamed by his girlfriend sitting next to him in his car, I instantly decided to go.

Marching as a white Jewish ally to African-Americans traumatized by generations of systemic brutality struck me as a constructive, stirring way to observe Yom Kippur. September 30th was also the anniversary of the Elaine Massacre in 1919.

Full disclosure: After 40+ years of sitting in shul by my rabbi husband’s side on holidays and 52 shabbat mornings a year at our Minyan, Dorshei Derekh, I get pretty restless spending all day in shul on Yom Kippur. Opportunities to pray with my feet appeal to me.

Yes, Jews were allies in the Civil Rights era. But we can’t just rest on that cred. That was in my childhood—and I am 65 years old!