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‘Believe Us’: Black Jews respond to the George Floyd protests

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(JTA) — As Enzi Tanner participated in an online havdalah ceremony marking the end of Shabbat Saturday night, his city — Minneapolis — was being torn apart during a fifth night of unrest following the death of George Floyd, a black man, in police custody there last week.

Tanner, a social worker who supports LGBT families experiencing homelessness, said the ceremony — hosted by Jewish Community Action, a local social justice group, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, a national organization — conveyed a powerful message for black Jews like him.

“As the Jewish community reaches in and says how do we support their cause and how do we support the black community, it’s really important that people reach in to black Jews and other Jews of color and realize that we’re here,” Tanner said. “And we need our community.”

Tanner’s comments came in response to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s outreach to black Jews in the wake of nationwide protests against police brutality and for racial justice. We wanted to understand how black Jews are feeling at this moment and what their message is for the broader Jewish community. Here’s what they told us.

Answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity. We will add more as we hear from more people.

April Baskin is a diversity consultant and racial justice director of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable.

Yitz Jordan is the founder of TribeHerald, a publication for Jews of color, and a hip hop artist also known as Y-Love.

Isaiah Rothstein is a multiracial rabbi who serves as the rabbi-in-residence at Hazon and Be’chol Lashon.

Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell is a musician who blends traditional Yiddish and African-American music.

Tema Smith is a writer and the director of professional development at 18Doors, an organization for interfaith families.

Enzi Tanner is a social worker in Minneapolis and works with LGBT families experiencing homelessness.

Evan Traylor is an educator, activist and soon-to-be rabbinical student at the Hebrew Union College — Jewish Institute of Religion.

The post ‘Believe us’: Black Jews respond to the George Floyd protests, in their own words appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.


Josefin Dolsten

Josefin Dolsten

Josefin Dolsten is a former news fellow at the Forward, writing about politics and culture, and editing the Sisterhood blog. She received an MA in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Government from Cornell University. Follow her on Twitter at @josefindolsten.

‘Believe Us’: Black Jews respond to the George Floyd protests

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‘Believe Us’: Black Jews respond to the George Floyd protests

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