To Rev. Fakir and members of your church, thank you for opening your doors to our community, in the words of Isaiah, as a “House of prayer for all peoples.” We all need this moment to be together.
Today I speak on behalf of the Minnesota Rabbinical Association, the Jewish Community Relations Council, and Jewish Community Action which will be hosting a training related to Charleston later this summer.
On the day before the shooting last week, the Board of the Central Conference of American Rabbis of which I am part--representing over 2000 Reform Rabbis-- issued a resolution about racial justice calling for: 1. Combating economic inequality; 2. Restoring and preserving voting rights; 3. Restoring educational equality; 4. Eliminating educational equality; 5. Ending racial profiling; 6. Reforming police practices; 7. Making Racial Justice a top priority for our Rabbinic Conference; and 8. Appreciating what is good and not broken in our country even as we work for racial and economic justice. How tragic that hours after announcing this resolution, Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was the scene of domestic terrorism breaking our hearts.
For the victims and their families, and for us all, I offer this prayer:
מִי שֶבֵּרַךְ אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ וְאִמֹּתֵינוּ
May God who blessed all of our ancestors in times of both tranquility and trial, bring a healing embrace to this nation, to families crying out from the loss of their loved ones, nine souls – victims of hate, nine souls – victims of gun violence, nine souls – victims of overt racism, nine souls taken from this Earth too soon. Please, O God, usher these souls to Your eternal embrace in peace.
Our pain is deep, our hearts broken from yet another shooting, from a hate crime rooted in the evils of racism at a time when our country is reeling still from Ferguson, Baltimore, and yet again Charleston.
May we all shore up our courage to name the racism that exists still in our country, the racism that robs all of us of our humanity in God’s image, victimizes people of color and, in hidden structural ways, continues the scourge of privilege even by well-intentioned whites. May we name, and speak out, and in so doing bring honor to the nine souls who did not choose to die for this cause, whose murders cast a shadow on our society, whose memories will inspire millions of people of conscience to say not again, not again.
May the Holy One of Blessing bring comfort to the mourners and resolve to our hearts. And let us say, Amen.
Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker is a rabbi at Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul.