Kaddish on George Floyd's Yahrzeit

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Earlier this spring, Jewish Community Action participated in an interfaith vigil for the memory of George Floyd. Our community safety organizer Enzi Tanner delivered remarks and read Kaddish.

He did not do this alone -
Kaddish is a communal prayer, we are required to say it only in community, and on that day his voice was joined with far more than a minyan of JCA members, carrying our prayer of mourning throughout the square.

JCA knows that, like our voices that afternoon, we are stronger when we build together. As we reach the yahrzeit, or anniversary of Floyd’s murder, we again turn to a community of voices. On this anniversary, we gathered a minyan - we asked our board and staff to share, in their own words, their reflections, thoughts, and prayers. Some are spiritual, some are calls to action. We know some will soothe you and some will agitate you. In our words, we hope you find something that resonates with you.

"This is a time to remember the killing of George Floyd and to continue to grieve. It is a time to catalogue what we have learned. It is a time to rededicate ourselves to the small and large, private and public, changes that will bend our community and our country toward justice. I think of Mother Jones: “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living. We have hard work and hope ahead of us."

Marcia Avner, board member

"I have been reflecting over this last year on what transformation and liberation could look like for our community. When Mr. George Floyd was murdered it marked a turning point in our community. The question I want to ask us to consider after this year is how do we change and show up in the community even when things are hard and impossible?"

Enzi Tanner, staff member

"George Floyd z”l died 6 blocks from my old house. There has been something physical, spatial about his loss because my body has stood in exactly that place. I’ve bought sparkling water in that store. The distances between our life experiences were big, but our feet tread the same sidewalk. What a reminder of how close we are to each other. His murder is a tragedy and his memory is a revolution."

Abbie Shain, board member

"As this anniversary approaches, I’ve not felt resolution to the tension in my body. On the Northside, where I live (and where I’ve worked from home for the last year and a half), families are in pain at the loss of life - Black children’s lives - to gun violence. There is always fresh trauma, and becoming accustomed to a constant thrum of state violence, of police brutality and systems that have only exacerbated disparities in the pandemic, has not deadened the senses or made each new pain more bearable. But I have hope as I see communities coming together in safety and solidarity, and when I think of my own community, tending to our own fear and trauma - I feel hopeful that we will remain grounded in and driven by our values and continue to fight for justice and liberation for everyone."

Carin Mrotz, staff member

"May the family and loved ones of Mr. George Floyd, and all who grieve for him, find succor and support on this day and all days. May we continue to care for each other, every one of us, through words, deeds, and mutual aid.  May we (re)commit to dismantling anti-Blackness and white supremacy together in our communities and governing systems, and in ourselves. May Mr. George Floyd's memory be a blessing."

Dylan Fresco, board member

"The question I'm sitting with today, the yahrzeit of George Floyd's murder, is how to hear the voice of the divine when it calls out to you? In Exodus, Moshe walks upon a burning bush, though the bush is not consumed by the fire. He hears truth revealed to him, "I am that I am" HaShem says. While Minneapolis burned a year ago, we were not consumed. I heard voices of pain and suffering and truth call out from the fire that the status quo isn't working. What did you hear in the fire?"

Aaron Berc, staff member

"May George Floyd rest in power and rest in peace. May his people grieve and mourn his murder however they find healing. In light of the recent call outs of George Floyd Square as to how it was and is managed and the decision to hold a celebration at the Square, I hope for some sort of amends that truly honors the life of George Floyd and does right by his people. For any individual or organization to profit because of the murder of George Floyd and subsequent uprising is shameful. This work is not finished until all donations are redistributed to community members, especially Black community members and those that live in proximity to GFS, the police are abolished, not reimagined."

Diana Siegel-Garcia, board member

"Some days it feels like a hundred years have passed since the murder of George Floyd (z"l), but really, it's just been the one. In one year, we've broken open conversations about the potential future of our systems that, to some of us, used to feel impossible - it seems to me that more of us than ever before are dreaming, thinking, and talking about a future without police, without prisons, where some of the most damaging institutions of white supremacy are not just attenuated by eliminated altogether. Many people were working towards these goals long before those of us who came to the work of abolition more recently, but they've welcomed us to the cause with open arms, extra tools, and a generosity of wisdom and insight that I still find a little staggering. I hope we'll all have the courage to be worthy of that generosity and to repay it with our own efforts in pursuit of racial justice. May George Floyd rest in peace and in power, and may his memory be for a revolution."

Jamie Kavanah, staff member

"One year ago today many in our community were asleep to the racism in our city and society. May George Floyd's memory ignite us in the journey towards racial justice and healing. Each of our lives are bound together in this fight."

Michelle Horovitz, board member

"I want us to do more than mark time since a Black man’s death. To celebrate and protect Black life. To remember and love George Floyd more than once a year—on Mother’s Day, on Father’s Day, on just another Saturday."

Sarah Buchlaw, staff member

"I'm thinking about how by organizing broadly and deeply we can develop the strength to drive the changes that need to happen to make a more just community for everyone and honor George Floyd's memory."

Ezra Golberstein, board member

We hope you are marking this anniversary with actions that feel meaningful to you and that you’ll continue to reach out to us when you’re curious or called to justice or seeking connection to Jewish organizing. May the memory of George Floyd be a blessing, and may our community’s voice and work for liberation grow only stronger.

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