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An ‘Al Cheyt’ for white Jews in 5781

An “Al Cheyt” for White Jews in 5781

It’s been a long year
(The lunar one)
And we’ve got atoning to do
We could beat our chests
But we are buying books
And adding Facebook photo frames (I’m telling on myself here)
So, it’s time to ground our feet and dig in deep to the things we have buried in the pits of our hearts, tried to
tuck away from sight, and look in the mirror for a bit.

For all the sins we’ve committed
Online
In our heads and hearts
In our communities
We ask for pardon, for forgiveness, for atonement.

We share an article
We post a photo
That shows we are “safe”
We are outraged when we see Black folks murdered by the state
But we would prefer you not use the word “defund”
Because we need police to protect the synagogue doors, after all
Who will keep us safe from the white supremacists?

We vote in every election
We are dependable that way
Send postcards to swing states
And shout that “VOTING IS THE WAY TO FIX THIS”
When we know about gerrymandering and voter intimidation
And lack of voting access to people who are incarcerated
BUT VOTING IS THE ONLY WAY
We ignore decades of Black and brown and native organizing,
Protesting,
Disobedience,
Activism,
Art,
When we claim to know what is right and what is “the way.”

We read books
A lot of books
Or, at least we order them
From Black-owned bookshops
We complain that it took so long to get to us
We read the books, maybe
Perhaps even with a book group
And then the summer ends and thoughts return
To back to school
Maybe a winter vacation
Perhaps it’s time to move to a new home
And the books get put in a box
Or given to a friend
Gathering dust.

We recount our sins not to heap guilt upon ourselves
But to look in the mirror and realize that we have fallen down
And we can get back up
But it takes soul accounting
And
A
Lot
Of
Humility
Open ears
Open hearts
Clear minds.

And a voice that may tremble as we ask for forgiveness and pardon
Not just from ourselves or our Divine
But from the ones we have harmed in our lives
The Jews of color who have received racist treatment at our entrances
The disabled Jews not given access to our classes
The trans Jews who are misgendered over and over
Because if we don’t do this accounting
If we don’t do better
That is the threat to our Jewish future
Our solidarity within our community and to our brethren across differences will keep us safe
But we can only do that
If we are
Ready
And to be ready
We have to look
In the mirror.

This post originally appeared in JewishBoston.com. Reposted with permission.

Emilia Diamant, LCSW, is an educator, consultant, social worker, and activist. Currently, she is the Sales and Operations Manager at TRILLFIT, a Black-owned boutique fitness studio in Roxbury. She teaches and runs youth programming at Temple Israel, BostonWorker’s Circle, and Temple Sinai. She has taught in Boston, New York, Costa Rica, North Carolina, Ukraine and Italy, in many languages and settings. Emilia was a JOIN for Justice organizing fellow in 2012-2013. In Boston, she has worked for the Brandeis Office of High School Programs and MissionSafe. In North Carolina, she has worked for Centro Para Familias Hispanas, Peer Bridgers of PAI Raleigh and in transitional foster-care homes and mental-health facilities. Emilia is a proud member of Tzedek Lab.

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