Even in these already-challenging times, recent days have been especially difficult ones: watching neo-Nazis on the march, domestic terror claim the life of Heather Heyer, a synagogue under siege, and the repeated moral failure of Donald Trump to stand up for the most basic American values.

The question for us, after Charlottesville, is what we will do? So we hope you’ll join us for the next #GetOrganizedBK meeting on Wednesday, September 13thRSVP here.

It should go without saying we condemn neo-Nazis and white supremacists in the strongest possible terms. Nevertheless, we must say it.

It should go without saying that we reject any equivalency between white supremacists and those who oppose them – and that we stand firmly with those who oppose white supremacy, racism, and anti-Semitism. Nevertheless we must say it.

We’ve already seen so much powerful action in response:

Thanks to Indivisible Nation BK for organizing a rally at Grand Army Plaza, where nearly a thousand Brooklynites stood up against hate – joining so many around the country, including tens of thousands in Boston this past weekend who found a peaceful way to drown out the voices of hatred. We are strong when we join company with all those who are targeted by the neo-Nazis – people of color, Jews, Muslims, immigrants, feminists, activists against fascism, disabled people – a beautiful and diverse majority standing up for our common American ideals of freedom, equality, and justice for all people.

Leaders and activists all around the country – inspired by the work of civil rights leaders in Charlottesville taking action to remove the Robert E. Lee statue and to work for racial equity – are pushing to remove Confederate monuments in their own communities. From Lexington, Durham, St. Louis, and right here in Brooklyn, taking down these statutes are an important symbolic step in confronting the history of white supremacy, and as a way of showing that we will not be cowed by hate.

And we appreciate the work of our Congressman Jerry Nadler to introduce a Resolution of Censure, condemning Trump’s moral failure, false equivalency, and giving cover to Nazis (you can sign this petition calling on Congress to support it). It is critical that we push Congress to reaffirm the basic norms that underlie our democracy. With every passing week, it becomes more and more clear that Donald Trump is simply not fit to be President.

All that work is critical. But it’s not enough to tear down monuments. We must also confront – and work to change – systems that embed racism and discrimination in our public and private institutions, and indeed in our own lives. It is a critical moment to translate our pain and anger into action for progress.

That’s what we’ll be doing at our next #GetOrganizedBK meeting on Wednesday, September 13th (RSVP here).

We’ll reflect on the current moment, its challenges, and its opportunities for hope and progress. We’ll work to look clearly at the history and realities of racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia – in our implicit biases, internalized oppression, and unearned privilege, but also in what we can do to uncover, to interrogate, and to show up as allies in work for justice.

And we’ll hear from leaders of some campaigns currently underway in New York City, to make concrete progress in uprooting racism, including:

  • Close Rikers, an effort to reduce the impacts of mass incarceration and close what is perhaps the largest physical monument to racial injustice in our city.
  • Right to Know Act, a campaign to prevent discriminatory policing and improve communication, transparency & accountability between NYPD and New Yorkers.
  • School integration, to confront the shameful reality that 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, NYC’s schools remain stubbornly segregated – sorting opportunity by race and class across generations.

Because the sanctuary at Congregation Beth Elohim is undergoing repairs, we’ll be in the ballroom across the street on Garfield Place. The ballroom only seats 500 – so please RSVP. If there are more of you who want to attend, we’ll both set up a live-stream, and organize ways that many more people can participate as we move forward.

#GetOrganizedBK Meeting
September 13, 2017
Ballroom: 274 Garfield Pl, Brooklyn
Across the street from the Congregation Beth Elohim sanctuary
6:30 PM Doors Open

7:00 PM Program Begins
Please RSVP here.

These are painful moments, but they offer a real opportunity for transformation – to build on the work we’ve been doing resist to bigotry, injustice, and corruption, and to carry it forward into the longer march for inclusion, for human dignity, and for justice.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Rachel Timoner and Council Member Brad Lander