Message from Rabbi Timoner to the CBE Community – My Thoughts On This Moment

Dear CBE Friends,

These are harrowing times. A pandemic, a nationwide cry for justice, fires and destruction, and police and now military deployed by the president to “dominate” our streets.

If you are feeling afraid, despairing, overwhelmed, or uncertain, you are not alone. Your CBE community and clergy are here for you, I am here for you, and our tradition is here for you.

Our Torah is clear. It teaches that every human being, created in the Divine image, has infinite worth and is fundamentally equal to every other (Genesis 1:26, Mishna Sanhedrin 4:5). It teaches that indeed we are our brothers’ keepers (Genesis 4:9). It teaches that the Holy One hears the cry of the oppressed (Exodus 22:22). And it commands us, “Do not stand by while your neighbor’s blood is shed” (Leviticus 19:16).

Last Shabbat I spoke about the lynching of George Floyd and about the unfinished work of white America. I co-authored an Op-Ed in The Forward today and another is forthcoming in the Brooklyn Eagle.

But more than anything this is a time to listen to Black voices. There are so many eloquent voices out there, for example Hilton Als, Keedron Bryant, Eric Ward, and Ijeoma Oluo.

If you’d like to learn more or get involved, CBE’s Dismantling Racism Team is working on criminal justice reform with coalitions led by people of color right now, and they would welcome you. If you’d like to learn more about systemic racism and our role in it, soon we’ll be organizing a big, CBE-wide study session of Ibram X. Kendi’s fabulous book How to Be an Antiracist. More information and how to sign up coming soon. Our Yachad team will also soon be offering support and resources for families and children.

This is a time for us to remember that we’re not alone and to take comfort in community. I hope to see you as we come together this Wednesday night for our annual meeting and in song and prayer on Shabbat.

In the meantime, let’s all pray for our country—for safety, for justice, for democracy, and for peace.

Yours always,

Rabbi Rachel Timoner