Jewish Federations of North America are proud to commemorate Juneteenth, which marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people were freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two-and-a-half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Nate Looney, Jewish Federations’ Director of Community Safety and Belonging shared, "As a Black Jew in America, the holiday of Juneteenth holds a special significance for me. It represents not only the day that slavery was officially abolished in the United States, but also a celebration of the resilience and perseverance of my ancestors who fought for their freedom. Juneteenth is a reminder of the ongoing struggle for justice and equality that Black people have faced and continue to face in this country. As a Jew, I am deeply connected to the idea of liberation and the pursuit of justice, which are central themes in our own history and traditions. Celebrating Juneteenth is a way for me to honor the struggles of my ancestors, and to recommit myself to the ongoing fight for justice and equality for all people."
Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday. On June 17, 2021, it officially became a federal holiday.
Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein, Jewish Federations of North America Rabbinic Scholar and Public Affairs Advisor said, “It is sometimes hard to believe that in the United States of America the law of the land mandated that Africans were not human, but chattel, not from the Divine, but a commodity in the marketplace. On Juneteenth we recommit to that hard work that many have engaged in to achieve racial justice and equity, knowing that the residual effects of enslavement in America are still alive. Our collective work continues.”
Through the Jewish equity, diversity and inclusion initiative (JEDI), Jewish Federations support the Jewish communal ecosystem by creating a culture of belonging for all Jews and their loved ones and by providing education, engagement and empowerment programs.
Click here for a poignant Juneteenth d'var torah from Jewish Federation's Stacey Aviva Flint that was published in Times of Israel.
Click here for a resource about Juneteenth and Freedom.
Learn more at jewishtogether.org/racialjustice.