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“We Are in This Jewish Liberation Project Together”

Dearest Jewish brothers and sisters,

I am writing because I don’t want us to go silent, be frozen, or be unconnected to each other when something so painful has happened to our people.

I am heartbroken, as I know you are, by the shooting at the synagogue today on Shabbat [the Jewish Sabbath] in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania, USA). My congregation had just finished doing Kiddush [a blessing recited over wine or grape juice to sanctify the Sabbath] and the HaMotzi over challah [a blessing recited over Jewish Sabbath bread] when someone read the news. My rabbi burst into tears—he knows the synagogue and its rabbi well. We all grabbed hands and cried and then said Kaddish [a Jewish prayer recited after someone’s death] together.

All day I’ve been getting texts from allies, as I’m sure many of you have.

I want us to stay in close with each other. I’ve heard from some of you who know people at the Tree of Life synagogue or grew up near it. Our beloved people will fight on as we always do—but now with many, many allies.

I encourage us to cry together, hold each other, and convene Jewish support groups or at least call the Jews in our Communities. We can reach for as many Jews as we can, and for our allies. We are in this together.


I know it has been a painful few weeks for all of us following the synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh. It has also been an uplifting time, as we’ve noticed how many allies we have. And many Jewish RCers have discharged hard, reached for connection, embraced allies, and led RC support groups and Jews-and-allies meetings. Many have attended vigils and spoken at synagogues and community events.

I’ve been heartbroken and at the same time ever so proud of our RC Community and the fierce commitment to Jewish liberation and the ending of anti-Semitism we have fostered both inside and outside of RC. I am also proud of the team leaders and ally leaders in the United to End Anti-Semitism project and how many have stepped up to take leadership in their communities.

The work we are doing on anti-Semitism would not be happening in nearly as extensive and solid a way without our decades of work in keeping the issue of anti-Semitism front and center. I also want to be clear that in many ways our work is now just beginning.

As the horror of the shooting starts to fade, I encourage all of us to keep discharging, thinking, and reaching to stay connected to each other and to our allies. There are huge new opportunities for coalition building and making Jewish liberation and the ending of anti-Semitism central, alongside the work on racism, sexism, and all oppressions. When it fades from the news, let’s not let it fade from our sessions or our activism.

More people now want to understand anti-Semitism. The RC pamphlet Anti-Semitism: Why Is It Everyone’s Concern? [see previous page] is an excellent tool for outreach. (It was revised in September 2018, so please do not use the earlier version.)

Thank you for all you continue to do. We are in this Jewish liberation project together.


The massacre at the Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania, USA) synagogue not only wounded Jews; it wounded all peoples. This moment calls on us to reach deep for what we know about humans and about Jewish liberation. As RCers we have things to say that need to be said.

We Jews are small in number. We are only two percent of the U.S. population. Most Jews you know likely knew someone from that synagogue or that neighborhood. For us, it’s close and personal.

The massacre is very painful, and it is not new. Anti-Semitism is cyclical. What is happening now is not significantly different from how anti-Semitism has functioned for centuries. I’ve been saying at Jewish workshops throughout the past year that the cycle is turning. I hear from many Jews, “I thought we were safe here in the United States, that this couldn’t happen here.” Jews have often said things like this when the cycle has started to turn.

As capitalism collapses, anti-Semitism will become louder and more overt. Anti-Semitism is an integral part of class oppression. We cannot defeat anti-Semitism separate from ending class oppression.

When visible out-front Jews like George Soros [a Jewish billionaire well known for supporting liberal and progressive causes] are blamed for current problems, when people are made to fear immigrants and blame Jews, this is exactly how anti-Semitism has always functioned. Working-class people are made afraid and taught that Jews are the enemy and the cause of their difficulties.

There’s been an increasing acceptance of white supremacist groups that spew racist and anti-Semitic hatred. These groups had been functioning on the margins, but now they are more visible as our leaders accept them into the mainstream. This is also not new. It is how anti-Semitism works.

Since the synagogue killings there’s more talk about the need to “end anti-Semitism” and “end hatred” from the very people who have been spreading anti-Semitic tropes [words not used in their literal sense], for example,
“elites” and “globalists”—both code words for Jews.

We can discharge on where we get scared to talk about anti-Semitism. People are now hungry to understand it, and we have a unique understanding of how anti-Semitism works.

The RC going-public project “Jews and Allies United to End Anti-Semitism” currently has teams in nineteen cities—in the United States, Canada, England, Australia, and Israel. I encourage people to read the RC pamphlet Anti-Semitism: Why Is It Everyone’s Concern? and consider doing a listening project as RC Jews and allies together. A possible question to ask people is, “How have you personally experienced anti-Semitism recently?”

Let us grieve together, and then find our voices. We have a lot of important things to say.

Cherie Brown

International Liberation
Reference Person for Jews

Silver Spring, Maryland, USA

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

Last modified: 2019-05-21 23:41:55+00