As protests against police violence escalate across America, some Jewish institutions are beginning to plan virtual events in solidarity with black communities.
BASE Manhattan, an New York-based organization that hosts events for young Jews, will host an online rally on June 4 in conjunction with JCC Harlem, Jewish Theological Seminary, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and several other Jewish groups. The hour-long event will include speeches of solidarity from several rabbis and activists for Jews of color as well as a performance from singer Neshama Carlbach. A Facebook invitation asked participants to create signs to share from their screens.
“This is a pretty simple way to show up and [learn] some action items,” said Rabbi Avram Mlotek, a BASE co-founder who organized the event.
Meanwhile, clergy at Los Angeles synagogues Sinai Temple and Valley Beth Shalom are organizing a “Shabbat of Healing and Hope,” which will stream on YouTube on June 5. The service will center on messages from African-American faith leaders in the community, including Pastor John-Paul Foster of the Faithful Central Bible Church, and Rev. Dr. Najuma Smith Pollard of the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.
Rabbi Nicole Guzik said she hoped the event would allow attendees to process the events of the week while also communicating that “you can’t jump to hope and healing. The way to walk towards healing is by struggling together.”
While the virtual gatherings necessitated by coronavirus can be frustrating, Guzik said that in this moment they may help Jewish institutions reach listeners beyond their zip codes.
“Our community should hear less of our voice and more from the African American leaders who are our friends and partners,” she added.
Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.