Monday, November 16, 2020
Saturday, June 13, 2020
June 12, 2020
Throughout the past 400 years, Black people in America have been enslaved, subjugated, disenfranchised, murdered, and discriminated against. From generation to generation, white Americans, including white Jews, have failed to own and end the systemic racial injustices on which the nation was founded, and instead have actively or passively perpetuated these injustices.
Our Jewish tradition is replete with instances of moral reckoning when we are asked to be present and accounted for. “Ayecha?,” we are asked. “Where are you?” We respond with a full throated, “Hineinu.” “We are here.”
As Reform Jews committed to the spirit of this teaching, we say unequivocally, Black Lives Matter.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to commit to a human and civil rights movement, working to end systemic racism against Black people and white supremacy.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to recognize that we are a racially diverse Reform Jewish Movement, and that our diversity is a source of our strength.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is for white Reform Jews to pledge to be in solidarity with Black Jews and Black people from all backgrounds against racial injustice and to act accordingly.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to recognize the imperative to live with complexity and know that we can be steadfast in our love of and support for Israel while working side by side with those who hold differing views and express them respectfully.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to accept discomfort, knowing that actions or inaction of white Jews have contributed to ongoing racial injustice.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to move beyond allyship and commit to long-term solutions both internally in ourselves, our own organization, and externally in our communities to disrupt and dismantle white supremacy.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to acknowledge that Black people risk their personal comfort and safety every day in white dominated institutions, and that white Jews must commit to risking their personal comfort and even safety in the struggle for racial justice.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to ensure that People of Color can be whole, never expected to choose between aspects of their identity and celebrate the multifaceted nature of humanity.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to commit to individual and organizational antiracist trainings, identifying specific antiracist hiring practices and lay structures, and outlining goals around specific racial justice action steps.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is for white Jews to reflect on their own thoughts and behavior, to build meaningful relationships with Jews of Color and People of Color generally, and to work for reforms that will achieve real, lived freedom for Black people.
We affirm that Black Lives Matter.
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Monday, October 16, 2017
- sexual harassment and sexual assault are never OK; and
- the discussion we need to have is how to stop sexual harassment and sexual assault; not which side of the political aisle has the bigger misogynists.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Do not stand idly by while your neighbor’s blood is shed
לֹא תַעֲמֹד עַל דַּם רֵעֶךָ
As an American Jew, I question whether I have been standing idly by. Have I been too silent, and if so, is there a reason for my silence? A reason, not an excuse, but a reason.
Jewish involvement in the civil rights movement 50 years ago does not grant us a free pass today. We Jews have to hear about racism and white privilege, even when it hurts to listen.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Some people study history, some people live history, and some people make history. Then there are those rare few who do all three. Jon Onye Lockard was one of those rare few, and I am a better person for having known him for more than twenty years. Jon died this week at the age of 83; he fought to the very end – just as he has done his whole life. But, even at 83, he left us too soon.
One of Jon’s life’s mottos was “make them hear you.” Through his art and through his teachings, he illustrated and exemplified this motto.
|Jon Lockard and Ricky Dessen 2013|
- He was born January 25, 1932, on Detroit's east side.
- He graduated from Eastern High School in 1949, Wayne State University in 1953, and the University of Toronto in 1958.
- He was a professor emeritus from Washtenaw Community College where he taught life drawing & portraiture for over 40 years and at the University of Michigan Department of African-American & African Studies.
- He was a past president and life-long member of the National Conference of Artists.
- He led a contingent of artists to Goree Island off the coast of Senegal, West Africa.
- He co-produced and hosted Barden Cable's Sankofa television program.
- He was a co-founder and associate director of The Society for the Study of African Culture and Aesthetics.
- He served as a Senior Art Advisor for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C.
- His works speak with an uncommon eloquence, sophistication, and vibrancy and may be found in many collections nationally and internationally.
- Some of his most notable masterpieces include a series of murals at Wayne State University, entitled, Continuum, and many murals & paintings at the University of Michigan, Central State University, and the Charles Wright Museum of African-American History.
- His mural work was featured in Walls of Pride by Robin Dunitz. 
“His life's philosophy was the West African principle of Sankofa, which means, ‘You don't know where you are going if you don't know where you've been.’"  “Born in 1932, [Jon] grew up in the time when Detroit industry was strong and vital, but also when black people were largely invisible in the mass media (or flattened into limited, often subservient social roles).” The History Makers piece discussed that Jon “won a job with Walker and Company,” an outdoor advertising company in Detroit during the first half of the twentieth century, “but was later rejected because of his race.” The piece also revealed that Jon worked as a “traveling portraitist in the late 1950s and early 1960s [and] painted portraits at the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962.” Jon directed his art “towards human beings and to delineating their beauty, their anguish, and their joys.” As described by Mike Mosher, Professor of art/communication & digital media at Saginaw Valley State University, “Lockard's art is about African American struggle, its pain, and joy. His visual style is assertive, athletic, muscular, buxom, bountiful, busting out all over.” Jon’s paintings are certainly vibrant, both in color and comment. As Jon stated during a panel discussion focused on the inception, design, and construction of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., “we don’t see with our eyes we see with our mind, your mind tells you what to look for, your knowledge tells you what to seek.”
“Make them hear you,” you said. Well, we did.
Monday, November 11, 2013
By Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, USMC
Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing
limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence
inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg or
perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul's ally forged in the refinery of
Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept
America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can't tell a vet just by looking.
He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi
Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers
didn't run out of fuel.
He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks,
whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic
scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.
She or he is the nurse who fought against futility and went
to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.
He is the POW who went away one person and came back
another, or didn't come back AT ALL.
He is the Quantico drill instructor who has never seen
combat, but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks
and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other's backs.
He is the parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons
and medals with a prosthetic hand.
He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and
medals pass him by.
He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb of the
Unknowns, whose presence at Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve
the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them
on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.
He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket -
palsied now and aggravatingly slow - who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and
who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the
He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being, a
person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his
country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice
He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the
darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf
of the finest, greatest nation ever known.
So remember, each time you see someone who has served our
country, just lean over and say "THANK YOU." That's all most people
need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been
awarded or were awarded.
Those two little words mean
a lot, "THANK YOU."
By Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, USMC