Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo expresses its deep concern and sadness for a disturbing pattern of bigotry, racism, disparate treatment, and the unreasonable and unlawful use of authority against people of color and particularly black Americans. Bigotry and racism have resulted in false accusations, humiliation, fear, and murder against a community whose ancestors were brought to our shores in chains and who are still working to break the yoke of that unspeakable oppression by one human against another. We cannot stand idly by. It is our collective and individual responsibility to do more than speak out against injustice. It is not enough to act symbolically. We all must act individually, in public and in private, to understand the plight of millions of Americans who fear for themselves and their children.
More than 50 years ago, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Jewish theologian and philosopher who walked with Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma, observed:
"Few of us seem to realize how insidious, how radical, how universal an evil racism is. Few of us realize that racism is man’s gravest threat to man, the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason, the maximum of cruelty for a minimum of thinking. How many disasters do we have to go through in order to realize that all of humanity has a stake in the liberty of one person; whenever one person is offended, we are all hurt. What begins as inequality of some inevitably ends as inequality of all."
We are grateful for the brave men and women who protect us and serve faithfully and honorably as police officers. We recognize that the guilt of those who abuse their authority does not make every officer guilty, but we call upon every police officer and every American to feel responsible for addressing the procedures, climate, and circumstances that have allowed a virus of inhumanity to infect our morality. None of us can be indifferent to this evil.
As both Rabbi Heschel and Dr. King recognized, we have a collective responsibility for the fate of mankind and we collectively have the authority and power to determine our fate. We call upon leaders of all parties and upon every American to be moved to act to build understanding and better relationships between people of all races and all faiths.
Richard Rusgo, President
Stephen Rothschild, Executive Director
Additional solidarity statements from other Jewish organizations