This email was sent to the congregation on June 1.
I pray that this letter finds you managing this time as best you can. Yet none of us knows how to manage this time. There is such pain from the senseless murder of George Floyd. There is outrage about the racism and the overwhelming, historic challenges that his death laid bare for all the world to see. There is fear from the white supremacists and anarchists taking to the streets. There is shock at seeing the weaponry of the National Guard in long lines just blocks from Mount Zion. There is also the reassurance of seeing peaceful protests, thousands of acts of kindness of cleaning the streets and serving food and drink, and so many wanting to know how to help.
Many of us at Mount Zion are not new to the issues of systemic racism and economic injustice that ought to be the centerpiece of our action at this moment. We have read The New Jim Crow and Just Mercy among other books and movies. We have more to do and more to learn about how George Floyd’s death reflects decisions from not only decades ago but centuries ago. They affect each one of us and diminish the wholeness, compassion, and justice that we envision in our world. They affect, in particular, people of color within our congregation and outside our congregation whose voices we need to hear. If there was ever a time for listening, it is now. I suggest you read this article as a start.
I am grateful to our Safety Committee chair Dave Knapp who has worked alongside our president Michael Kuhne and Executive Director Larry Solomon to think about the security of our building in the past days. Volunteers have kept an eye on our synagogue before curfew and moved our sacred Torah scrolls out of our sanctuaries as a precautionary measure. That is an extraordinarily sad sentence to write. Thankfully there have been no issues.
Some of us have been together via Zoom in the past days during Shavuot and Shabbat. We will have other times to process as we connect virtually. One prayerful response comes from Cantor Spilker who wrote a poem Aleinu: It is on us with our sisters that was picked up by The Forward.
There are many ways to offer help. Please do so safely, remembering that we are in the midst of a pandemic. Tomorrow there will be two peaceful marches led by African-American clergy that I will be attending. One in Minneapolis at 1:30 pm (from Sabathani Community Center parking lot, 310 East 38th St) and one in St. Paul at 4:00 pm (from Wilder Foundation parking lot, 451 Lexington Parkway North). Please bring a mask if you attend.
With prayers for peace in our cities and for the family of George Floyd.
Adam Stock Spilker, Rabbi