When I last wrote on Shavuot encouraging us to reflect on all we've learned from this intense and challenging time, I had no idea the next morning would bring news of protests spreading across the country.

The Black Lives Matter movement is teaching us that we have more still to learn - as individuals, as Jewish communities, and as a country with a 400-year history of systemic racism.

We have so much to learn and unlearn, to dismantle and rebuild.  And we are all responsible.

What the COVID-19 crisis has made abundantly clear is that our individual actions do have impact and that protecting the lives of the most vulnerable can be and should be our collective priority.  

But when our faith in government and leadership feels so fragile, where can we look?  Where do we start?

In addition to the many resources being circulated about books on anti-racism, Black-led organizations to support, and thought leaders to follow on social media, I'm including links [in the yellow box below] to progressive Jewish organizations that are mobilizing right now.

What I can offer today is some advice from our ancient teachers written long ago and especially resonant at this time.

Rabbi Hillel used to say: In a place where there are no humans, strive to be a human [M. Avot 2:6].

The past months have forced us all to confront our own mortality, and the preciousness of life. 

Now the Black Lives Matter movement is forcing us to confront how many aspects of our society fail to respect and protect human dignity - the police force, our health system, and our public education system - and how these structures disproportionately and inhumanely fail People of Color.

We live in a place oppressive to Black humans, and the only humane response is to strive to be better.

To be human right now is to be overwhelmed and emboldened.

To be human right now is to be humble and empathetic.

To be human right now is to cry and to try.

To be human right now is to hope and to fear.  

To be human is to become aware that real dismantling and rebuilding will affect us all, and to be unsure what that will mean.

Rabbi Tarfon teaches:
The day is short,
The task is long,
The workers are lazy,
The stakes are high,
And the Master is demanding [M. Avot 2:20].

Whether we focus on the struggles of our local schools, state-level policy, or ensuring an accessible election in November, we'll each find our way.  The Jewish way of being in this moment is to stay awake, to keep asking questions, and to take thoughtful action one step at a time.

Sending love and strength,
Rabbi Bethie Miller

Jewish Justice Orgs to Follow:

Plus a great article by a friend and colleague.

Circles Forming this Summer

Prayer Practice Circle:
Because prayer takes practice.
We'll explore 5 modalities of prayer in 6 weeks, including meditation, prayer from the heart, morning gratitude, bedtime calm, and mindfulness through blessing.

Starts in mid-July.  Email bmiller@sanctuaryny.org for more details.

"This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared" Circle: 
Because the High Holy Days will be different.
Guided by the teachings of Rabbi Alan Lew, we'll explore the rituals of the Jewish new year, and prepare together for the season of turning and returning, of self-reflection and refinement.

Starts in mid-August.

Support for Sanctuary

We are grateful for the early support we’ve received from UJA-Federation of New York, PJ Library, and personal donations. 

Sanctuary is a project of Beloved Builders Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit organization.


We all need Sanctuary, because we are only human.
We are wholly human, and we need each other to survive.