Jews Standing for Racial and Economic Justice

Yesterday I attended a Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) event with my Jews of Color and Mizrachi and Sephardic Caucus (JOCMS).

I’m so proud to be a member of this organization of Jews who stand for just that—racial and economic justice.

This particular rally and march were for Black lives. We were out in the streets to put an end to police killings and the general targeting of Black people in New York City (USA), and beyond.

About two hundred people attended—some members of JFREJ and some not. So great! I heard people say they were grateful that they had somewhere they could be as Jews to show support.

We met at Washington Square Park in New York City. The JOCMS gathered in the front of the march with a banner saying, “Jews support Black Lives Matter.” I’m crying as I write this.

We walked through downtown Manhattan to a police precinct, singing songs of struggles for justice, in English and in Hebrew. It was so powerful to be doing this work as Jews. And as a Jew of color, I finally realized I had a space where I didn’t have to choose—I could be me and be with my people. (Everyone is mixed anyway! No one in the world is purely one “race.” Racism is bogus and makes us try to choose.)

We marched from the park to a police precinct and crossed the street. Then seven of us sat in the street (I didn’t), and we all continued to sing for twenty minutes. The police didn’t stop us, even though we stopped traffic for a while. Finally they told us we had sixty seconds to get out of the street and stop blocking traffic or we would be arrested. Most of us moved, but the seven who were seated had agreed ahead of time that they would disobey to make a statement and were arrested.

A crew of about thirty of us followed the action closely and showed up as support at the jail where the seven were being held. It was a time we got to be together, process the action, and generally connect and get to know each other better (a lot of people were new to me).

I’m proud to be a member of this organization for racial and economic justice as a Jew of color. I have a sense of satisfaction that I’m disobeying my patterns of upward mobility, which want me to go quiet and seek financial gain. I am “standing on the right side of history” and with my people.

Benjamin Altman

New York City, New York, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of Jews

(Present Time 185, October 2016)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00