Conservative/Masorti Rabbis Respond to the Murder of George Floyd, Pattern of Racism, Police Brutality Against Black Americans

New York – In 2016, in response to incidents of police brutality against black people in Ferguson (Missouri), Baltimore and other cities in the United States, the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association for Conservative/Masorti rabbis, passed a Resolution on Racial Injustice and Police Brutality, which called on lawmakers to pass legislation aimed at reducing decades of historically high levels of inequality, especially in our prison system. It also called on members across the country to form deep, meaningful relationships with local communities across lines of faith and race, in order to better understand the issues that impact us all and to be in solidarity with movements for racial justice and inequality.

We are dismayed that since then, insufficient progress has been made and as we bear witness today to the brutality of treatment and subsequent death of George Floyd by law enforcement, and we cannot remain silent. As the Torah teaches, we will not stand idly by while our neighbor’s blood is shed (Lev. 19:16).

The scourge of racism is prevalent in only some but far too much of our law enforcement and must be addressed and those guilty of abuse must be held accountable to the strictest penalty. It has become painfully evident that the overwhelming majority of decent officers and others entrusted with police powers and their oversight have not been able to make the necessary changes to a system that disproportionately targets minority communities and people of color.

We join in the collective call for peace and reflection during civil unrest, but understand that to achieve this end we must act. For these reasons, the Rabbinical Assembly calls on legislators at the national, state, and local levels to fundamentally change their approach to law enforcement and the justice system so that they serve and protect all Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity. We encourage our own members to reach out to other communities, to Jews of Color, as well as to local law enforcement to help lead and shape these endeavors within the community.

United in purpose, we will dismantle the systemic racism all too embedded still within American law enforcement and its justice system. The firing and we hope prosecution of the four Minneapolis police officers involved in this one egregious murder is a necessary step, but it cannot be the only action against structural injustices that have plagued generations and continue to this day. We must forever strive for a free and just society for all people.