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'Time for Tikun olam, the repair of the world'

Congregation Beth El of New London has a long history of involvement in the social and civil affairs of our community. We write on behalf of our congregation and with the history of our people in mind.

Our tradition teaches us that we must pursue justice. As it is written in Deuteronomy 16:20, “Justice, justice thou shalt pursue.”

We stand with all those in our community, and nationwide, who are protesting racial injustices in our society in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and so many others. As Jews, we know from experience that silence in the face of oppression empowers the oppressors, not the victims. As Martin Luther King Jr. stated so eloquently: “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

We appreciate that most police officers and first responders are honest and do their jobs with integrity, despite the danger involved, and are outraged by these senseless deaths.

The Talmud teaches us that all people are descended from a single person, thus taking a single life is analogous to destroying an entire world, and saving a single life is like saving an entire world. So many black and brown lives have been lost to institutional racism. It is time for Tikun olam, the repair of the world, a core Jewish value.

As a nation, we must reflect upon the policies that have produced systemic failures in health care, housing, education, and economic advancement at the expense of many people of color. Out of such reflection, must come action. Only then can we begin to repair the world by adopting policies that do not endanger black and brown people and have a country that is free from systemic racism and racist acts of violence.

We move forward with a renewed commitment to justice and freedom.

Kathleen McFadden is president of Congregation Beth El of New London; Judith Engel, 1st vice president; and Jerry Fischer, 2nd vice president.

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