Rabbi’s Review – July 2020

Standing Against Racial Injustice

Rabbi Cassi Kail


Throughout my rabbinate, I have always valued interfaith partnership and community connections. When my tenure began, I was delighted to join the San Pedro Faith Consortium, a cooperative effort of five congregations working to make a positive difference in our community. Rabbi Briskin had been one of the organization’s co-founders in 2015. The group has focused on the needs of unhoused members of San Pedro, through services such as Laundry Love, Family Promise, and a Shower Program, and supporting the efforts of Harbor Interfaith. These clergy partners have stood with us in the aftermath of antisemitic incidents, and today we collectively stand united against racism in all its forms. That is why we issued this statement earlier this month:

The San Pedro Faith Consortium is distraught over the lynching of George Floyd, Achmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade. As upsetting as their deaths are, they are indicative of systemic and pervasive racism, which weakens the very foundation of our democracy. As white clergy members, we do not know what it is like for our bodies to be devalued because of their color, or to have “the talk” with our children about how to survive an encounter with those who assume our guilt. We pledge to study the white privilege that we have enjoyed so that we can do a better job being anti-racist and pro-black. Our faiths may be different, but our shared scripture teaches, “Do not stand idly by while your neighbor bleeds.” None of us can stand idly by while innocent people are being killed. We continue to stand against hatred and bigotry in all its forms.

As religious leaders, we have committed to joining a multi-faith clergy conversation about racial injustice, which we hope will inspire our work on a congregational level.

Our Social Action Committee and the Open Tent Project are working to create programs which foster meaningful congregational dialogue as well.

One opportunity, through the South Coast Interfaith Council, will take place on July 5, from 3:00–5:00 p.m. The event is an interfaith panel discussion about the movie Just Mercy. We ask that you watch the movie in advance (it is available for free on YouTube, Google Play and Amazon), and that you RSVP to office@scinterfaith.org to participate in the discussion.

There will be more opportunities on a congregational level in the coming weeks and months.

Temple Beth El strives to be a congregation that values every single person for the totality of who they are. In having conversations about systemic racism, we hope to move one step forward towards that goal.