I, like you, am horrified by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis. We have all been watching with horror as this killing sparked protests across the country that have turned violent warranting the call up of National Guard troops to help restore order. After Cain kills his brother, Abel, God asks him, “Where is your brother?” To which Cain cynically and sarcastically replies, “How should I know? Am I my brother’s keeper?” The answer is, “Of course you are your brother’s keeper.” Cain was responsible for the welfare of his brother and so are we. We are responsible and we must take this responsibility seriously.
Racism is a plague we must battle with the same intensity with which we are battling Covid-19. God tells Cain that, “Your brother’s blood cries out to Me. The Hebrew word for blood, damim, is in the plural and from this the sages taught, “When you destroy one life it is as if you have destroyed an entire world.” Not only did Cain kill Abel, Cain destroyed every person who would descend from Abel. We are our brother’s keeper and we as such we have the responsibility to ensure the safety of all people especially those most vulnerable to violence. We must not be silent. We must speak out for justice. God commands us in the book of Deuteronomy. “Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdof, Justice, justice shalt thou pursue!”
I share with you a psalm of protest written by Alden Solovy in anger and in hope:
Strangled by Police: Psalm of Protest 17
A psalm of protest,
In memory of George Floyd,
Sung at the gates of justice,
When black men are strangled in the streets,
When power is abused and jails overflow,
When the voiceless are forgotten and minorities misused.
Open, you gates!
Open to the cries of those murdered, jailed or harassed
For being black,
For being a person of color,
For being homeless, indigent, destitute or unwanted,
The detained, the hounded,
The pursued and the persecuted,
Those who are killed while being restrained.
Open, you gates!
Let righteousness flow forth as living waters,
And truth flow forth as healing balm,
To still the hand of violence and hatred,
To cure the heart of bigotry and racism,
To herald fairness and equality,
And bring justice to this land.