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Washington, D.C., July 8, 2016 – In response to the police shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the deaths of the five police officers in Dallas, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
Today, we join those in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights in mourning the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two black men killed by law enforcement earlier this week. We also have in our hearts Officer Brent Thompson, Officer Patrick Zamarripa and the three other police officers killed in Dallas last night whose names have not yet been made public, and hope for the recovery of the others injured by sniper fire. While we cannot fully comprehend the pain that all their families and friends are suffering, our thoughts and prayers are with them. And yet, we know that our thoughts and prayers alone are not enough.
The tragic events of this week remind us that individual, structural and institutional racism persists in our country, with severe consequences. If one death is a tragedy, so many deaths is a plague. Gun violence, racial profiling and police brutality are challenges that need to be addressed with no more excuses and no more delay.
As we are stunned by a week of shocking violence, our challenge is to find new ways to relate to each other across lines of difference, and to rebuild the damaged trust between law enforcement and the communities that they serve. For our society to be one of peace, justice, wholeness and compassion, this pattern of violence must end.
While we mourn the dead and pray for their families, we recommit ourselves to addressing racial injustice in all its forms. Our racially diverse Reform Jewish Movement is dedicated to taking action to repair the brokenness in our world. We will continue our work as advocates, and those of us who are white commit to standing together in solidarity with people of color both inside and outside of our congregations.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose nearly 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.