Jewish groups across the United States have declared Friday, June 26, and Saturday, June 27, a “Shabbat of Solidarity” with the country’s black community, in an effort to commemorate and recognize the brutal mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, last week, in which nine people were killed.
Members of the wide-ranging Jewish coalition of Conservative, Reform, Orthodox and Reconstructionist congregations have all agreed to “speak out in synagogues this coming Shabbat on the issue of racism in society and to express rejection of hateful extremism,” read a statement released by the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
Jewish congregations also plan to reach out to other AME churches to express their support.
“We stand together as a united American Jewish community in calling for a Shabbat of important introspection and examination of racism in the United States,” Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt of Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Potomac, Maryland, said in a statement. “We hope to convey our support to the African-American community nationwide and show all that we will not stand for violent acts driven by hatred.”
Several groups called on the history of persecution against the Jewish faith as an important reason for standing up for all minorities.
“As a religious minority that has suffered great abuse and oppression and anti-Semitism, whenever another minority is threatened, there’s a very strong Jewish cultural psyche against oppression of any kind,” Rabbi Steven Wernick told the Huffington Post.
To mark the occasion, the reform organization Rabbis Reforming Rabbis released a special Mi sheiberach, or traditional prayer for healing. It was also used during the Shabbat immediately following the shooting.
“And shore up our strength, Tzur Yisrael, Rock of Israel, to heed the call of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel to act in the spirit of religion, to unite what lies apart as we remember that humanity as a whole is God’s beloved child,” the prayer reads. “Help us root out these scourges of racism and gun violence that cast long shadows in our society.”
Other groups endorsing the event include the Union for Reform Judaism, the Rabbinical Assembly, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Rabbinical Council of America, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Hillel.