Statement on the death of George Floyd

In April and May, Baltimore marked the fifth anniversary of the death of Freddie Gray and the Uprising that followed his death in police custody. The Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM) marked the anniversary, the yahrzeit, with a look back at the Uprising and an exploration of its root causes. Sadly, this week, the country was reminded that those root causes have not been resolved: systemic and structural racism, disparities in access to resources, and a criminal justice system that repeatedly behaves as though black lives do not matter.

The Jewish Museum of Maryland condemns the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family and to the families of Freddie Gray, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and all of the too many victims of police-involved deaths.

We elevate the words of our tradition that teach us that anyone who is in a position to protest the sinful conduct of the world and does not, it is as if they themselves committed the act (Shabbat 54b:20). And we remember the moments, not that long ago, when Jews were the targets of violence at the hands of agents of the state. It was not justified then. It cannot be justified now.

We urge all of our fellow Americans, regardless of race, to take a hard look around them—and within their own hearts and minds—at the evidence of inequality and inequity. We must educate ourselves. We must listen, truly listen, to the voices of people who don’t look or live or worship as we do. We must commit to being upstanders, not bystanders. We will only change the story if we change ourselves.

Marvin Pinkert

Executive Director
Jewish Museum of Maryland

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