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236 Kane Street / Brooklyn, NY 11231 / 718 875-1550

For Our Children’s Sake

A message sent on June 4, 2020 to Kane Street Kids families and parents of younger children from Engagement Director Rabbi Jason Gitlin

Dear Parents,

As we head toward Shabbat, I wanted to follow up on a message that our Kane Street Kids preschool director Rivka Seeman sent reflecting on this week’s events (further below). Beginning with the health pandemic, and now through the wrenching murder of George Floyd, the lives of our young children and their future in this country are especially never far from my thoughts.

This past week, continuing to shelter with my wife and eight-year-old daughter in our apartment, I have felt angry, overwhelmed, inspired, and fearful as I follow the protests engulfing our city and nation — including watching helicopters fly over nearby protests with my daughter from her bedroom.

I’m angry at the systemic racism that continues to promulgate the senseless murder of black lives; overwhelmed by the societal ills that have led the Coronavirus to take an especially harsh toll on our nation and a disproportionate one on minorities; inspired by seeing a diverse assembly of mostly young Americans take to the streets and march together for change; and, honestly, fearful at the potential resurgence in illness that the protests could presage for our city.

While we can allow ourselves to experience all of these emotions and more, what we cannot allow ourselves right now is to feel helpless or indifferent. Being at home with young children cannot be an excuse for us to do nothing tangible in this historic moment. Our children’s future demands more of us, the Jewish values that we embrace and teach to your kids at Kane Street Kids demands more of us, and the vibrant, segregated, hip, poor, and diverse Brooklyn that we call home demands more of us.

Whether you’re sheltered in a small apartment, have relocated to family or homes outside the city, or are considering leaving Brooklyn altogether, we remain interconnected and are in this together. Here are some steps inspired by two fellow KSK alumni who are now our Synagogue’s Social Justice co-chairs, Bronwen Haskel and Flora Margolis:

– Join us in our ‘Me and White Supremacy’ Book Circle, a 28-day study of reading, journaling, and weekly Zoom conversations to explore how racism shows up in our own lives. Email [email protected] to join or for more information. Full details below.

– Read Bronwen’s “George Floyd, what can we do” for initiatives you can support to oppose voter suppression and police misconduct, advocate for criminal justice reform, and other ideas.

Pirkei Avot, a collection of Rabbinic teachings on how to live a good and meaningful life that our community has been studying this past year, teaches: “It is not our responsibility to complete the work. But neither are we free to ignore it.” For our children’s sake, and our own, may we all act on this piece of timeless wisdom that gently but unambiguously says — stand up and contribute to change.

Shabbat shalom.

Rabbi Jason Gitlin
Engagement Director

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