Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Randi Weingarten arrested at Garner protest


From left, Marjorie Dove Kent of JFREJ, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum and AFT chief Randi Weingarten at a protest in New York City of the Eric Garner decision, Dec. 4, 2014. (Courtesy of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice)

(JTA) — Several prominent rabbis and the president of a national teachers union were arrested while protesting police brutality.

Rabbis Sharon Kleinbaum, Jill Jacobs and Shai Held, along with Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, were taken into custody on Thursday for blocking traffic to protest a grand jury’s decision not to indict the New York police officer who choked Staten Island resident Eric Garner to death. The protests, held on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, were organized by the group Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.


From left, Rabbis David Rosenn, Shai Held and Jill Jacobs at the Upper West Side protest, Dec. 4, 2014. (Sari Laufer)


Kleinbaum is the longtime rabbi at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the country’s largest LGBT synagogue, and is also Weingarten’s partner. Directly before the protest, she was honored by JFREJ with a Marshall T. Meyer Risk Taker Award at nearby Congregation B’nai Jeshurun.

Attendees at the ceremony read the names of more than 20 black males who had been killed by New York police, followed by the phrase, “I am responsible.” They then marched to the nearby intersection at 96th Street and Broadway — blocking traffic and holding protest signs.

Protesters recited the Mourner’s Kaddish along with chants and songs. (A video of the group saying Kaddish can be seen here.)

Jacobs is the executive director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and a prominent social activist. Arrestee Held is co-founder and dean of the educational organization Mechon Hadar and teaches at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary.

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