This Yom Kippur, We Say a Vidui for Racism

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Every Yom Kippur, we recite the Vidui, the confessional prayer. This ritual brings us into community to repent for the sins we have committed, by ourselves and by association.

As Americans, we repent for the violent racism that touches every aspect of our society. This year in addition to the tradition Ashamnu, our confessional includes the recitation of the names of the dozens of Black people who have been murdered by police in 5780. We pound our chests knowing that most of the officers responsible, like those who killed Breonna Taylor, have not and will not face consequences.

As Jews, we must also interrogate how our own communities have been complicit in the very racist systems that we hope to undo.

In the Twin Cities, this reckoning starts by looking at history. A good place to start is TCJewfolk's Exodus and Equity series, an in-depth investigation of how Jews were both victims and eventually beneficiaries of racist housing policies in the metro, and how that shift impacted Minneapolis' North Side.

True, repentance, true teshuva, also requires making a plan to not repeat the same mistakes. And unfortunately, not every member of our community has felt safe, secure and seen at our institutions. That's why why we are cosponsoring an urgent conversation with the Adath Jeshurun Antiracist Committee on how we can keep all members of our community, and especially Jews of Color, safe.

That is also why we are standing in solidarity with the newly formed Multi-Racial Jewish Association, which aims to uplift the multi-racial Jewish community of Minnesota, and educate institutions on how to better include and support non-white Jews.

It is painful to look at the ways we have faltered. But our tradition holds that this pain is a necessary part of repentance, that from pain comes the opportunity for change and for growth.

May our honest confessions bring safer, more whole futures.

Jonathan Gershberg

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