Current Affairs

In Response to a National Crisis

A message I shared with my congregation today:

Our hearts are broken by what’s happening in our country.

Between the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, and the way a white woman, Amy Cooper, coolly played the race card in calling police on a peaceful black man, Chris Cooper, black men do not feel safe and they do not feel they are treated justly, not by society, and not by law enforcement.

Well-justified protests have devolved into rioting, destruction, and looting. We are seeing curfews across the nation such as have not been seen since the race riots of the late 60s. Even here on peaceful Mercer Island we have a curfew starting at 7pm tonight.And all of this, of course, comes on top of the stress, loneliness, and other challenges we face in coping with the coronavirus crisis.

We stand in solidarity with our black brothers and sisters and support their righteous cries for justice. I am part of a Black-Jewish Clergy group, Rabbi Rosenbaum is one of the founders, and we are turning to our black colleagues to ask how we can best show our support.

Clearly law enforcement has a responsibility to prevent wanton destruction. We call on them to keep us safe and to keep property safe using no more force than is necessary, and with sensitivity to avoid further inflaming the situation.I’ll talk about this more on Shabbat, but in the meanwhile, I offer a prayer:

Compassionate One
Replace hearts of stone with hearts of flesh
Help all of us see that we are all created in Your Divine Image
Black, brown, white, or any other color of the rainbow
Straight, gay, lesbian, or any other sexual identity
Christian, Jew, Muslim, or any other religion
May our society stop acting is if being a black male is a crime
May our police keep us safe while showing compassion, and without excessive force
Turn the hearts of those who would loot and destroy
Show them that this is not the way to build a better, fairer, more just society
El Na, please God
Keep us all safe
Safe from violence
and safe from virus
May we speedily see the day when we live together
In Peace
and Love

Rav Barry 

Barry Leff

Rabbi Barry (Baruch) Leff is a dual Israeli-American business executive, teacher, speaker and writer who divides his time between Israel and the US.

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