WASHINGTON (JTA) — A coalition of Jewish groups has declared the coming Shabbat as one of solidarity with the African-American community in the wake of the mass killing at a Charleston church.
In a release Tuesday, umbrella bodies representing the Conservative, Reform, Orthodox and Reconstructionist streams pledged “to speak out in synagogues this coming Shabbat on the issue of racism in society and to express rejection of hateful extremism,” and to demonstrate support for African Methodist Episcopal churches in their neighborhoods. Other leading Jewish groups also joined the initiative for Friday night and Saturday.
On June 17, a gunman shot dead nine worshippers at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The 21-year-old suspect in the shooting, who is in police custody, is allegedly a white supremacist.
“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 the 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.”
Weinblatt, who convened the coalition of groups, also is the president of the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America, which is part of the initiative.
Joining the call, in addition to umbrella bodies representing the religious streams, are the American Jewish Committee; Hillel, an umbrella body for campus student groups; and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella body for Jewish public policy groups and Jewish community relations councils.