We at JCC MetroWest are horrified at the senseless murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor over the past several weeks. They are the latest of the more than 1,250 Black Americans who have died at the hands of law enforcement officers since 2014. People walking through their neighborhoods. Playing in a park. Suffering from mental illness. Driving home from dinner. Eating ice cream in their living room. Babysitting a family member. Sleeping in their own beds. Shopping at a grocery store.
To be honest, I have not issued a statement on behalf of our JCC until now, because I have been struggling to find the right words to say at a time like this. After spending considerable time thinking about it, I have come to the realization that there are no right words. None.
Judaism teaches that when we enter a house of mourning, we’re not supposed to speak until one of the mourners speaks to us first. Though we are there to offer comfort and solace, we take our cues from the bereaved as to how they want to be supported. One rationale for not speaking until spoken to during a time of sorrow is that there simply are no words to adequately express one’s grief, to take away a mourner’s pain, to fill the void left by an unspeakable loss.
That is where we at JCC MetroWest find ourselves today. Standing in solidarity with our friends and neighbors, our brothers and sisters, our staff and members in the Black community. Grieving with them. Offering comfort and solace. And taking our cues from them as to how we can best support them during this heart-breaking time.
We often describe JCC MetroWest as a community of communities—a beautiful tapestry created by individuals representing the most diverse spectrum of ages, races, genders, colors, religions, ethnicities, nationalities, abilities, political perspectives, sexual orientations, socioeconomic backgrounds, and interests. The diversity of the populations we serve makes JCC MetroWest a unique gathering place for our community. We learn together. We play together. We eat together. We work out together. We celebrate together. We grieve together. And, in times like these, we stand up—together.
Soon, I hope we are once again able to gather together and fill the halls of JCC MetroWest with the sounds of children laughing, audiences clapping, seniors enjoying a delicious meal, women playing mah jongg, and adults heading to and from our fitness and aquatics center. In the meantime, we, like other families around the world right now, mourn these senseless tragedies separately, in our own homes, until we can be together—in person—again.
The Torah teaches, “Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof,” which translates to mean “Justice, justice, shall you pursue.” Rabbi Joseph Telushkin explains that, not only are we obligated to ask justly, but we must seek ways to ensure that justice prevails.
And so, today—and every day—we remember Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Sandra Bland. Nina Pop. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. George Floyd. And the more than 1,250 other Black Americans whose lives have been cut short by bigotry, institutional racism, and police brutality in just the past six years. May their memories be for a blessing.
Because at JCC MetroWest, across our community, and around the world, #BlackLivesMatter. And we will continue to pursue justice for all, together.
Stuart E. Raynor
Chief Executive Officer