Jews Across America are Standing Against Police Violence This Hanukkah


As Jews throughout the world light candles this evening, many across America are simultaneously shining a light upon police violence and affirming that black lives matter in protests and social action efforts in over seventeen cities.
From Boston to San Francisco and Albany to Durham, Jews are committing themselves over the next eight days during Hanukkah to not just mark a historical moment in which the shackles of occupation and oppression were overthrown by ancient Jews, but to illuminate the racism and state oppression ripping America apart.


Hundreds of Jews and allies in Boston block traffic and affirm that Black Lives Matter. Image via Michelle Weiser.

Organized by Rabbis, social activists and concerned citizens, these Hanukkah actions taking place across the country have grown quickly, and promise to spread even farther as Hanukkah continues over the next eight days. So far, protests and actions have had a singular focus: to honor those black Americans killed by police and to ensure those injustices perpetrated do not slink into the shadows.
Here are the words of national organizers, describing their intention:

Across the country, people have expressed grief and outrage in response to the grand
jury decisions not to indict Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo, the two white police officers who murdered Michael Brown and Eric Garner, both of whom were unarmed
black men. Though police killings of people of color – particularly Black people – have
impacted communities of color for generations, these recent events have sparked a
national outcry and movement.
This Chanukah, we rededicate ourselves to the fight to end police violence and racial
profiling. As we light the Chanukah candles, we remember those who have lost their lives to racist police violence. We remember the lives they lived and the loved ones they left behind, and we dedicate the Chanukah flame to their memory.

a In New York City, Jews and Arabs (left) active in Middle East politics marched together in solidarity to declare that Black Lives Matter.
It was a remarkable and intentional display of unity, particularly considering the profiling and oppression Arab-Americans suffer themselves at the hands of law enforcement in America as well as the continued oppression of Palestinians by Israel.
Elsewhere, activists read the names of black Americans who have been murdered by police, lit candles in the memory of those who have been lost, and said Kaddish together to remember those who have died without receiving any justice.
To find an action near you, begin one yourself, or support the ongoing efforts, visit


What Do You Buy For the Children
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, published recently by Oneworld Publications.
Follow him on Twitter @David_EHG.

7 thoughts on “Jews Across America are Standing Against Police Violence This Hanukkah

    • They have done that, and all sorts of people here have denounced that act, too. And you know it.
      But the fact that happened doesn’t mean that police violence against unarmed African-Americans is trivial. And it doesn’t justify further U.S. military intervention in the Muslim world(all of which has been utterly useless so far).
      Nice demagogic drive-by, though.

  1. Good on you!
    It is important for black voices to sing the lead, but a vigorous chorus singing in harmony can’t hurt. There’s a reason the song is called “Life Every Voice And Sing.”
    This expansive inclusion calls to mind the transitional moment in Atah Hu Adonai L’Vadecha (Nechemiah 9:7):
    “Thou art the LORD the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham;”

  2. I would like to also see progressive Jews denounce the racism of Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews. It is shocking to hear what Haredim say about black people in the streets of Boro Park, Williamsburg, Monsey, Lakewood, New Square, Kiryas Joel, all of which are neighborhoods and towns in the New York area.
    As someone who visits these areas, I am disgusted at what I hear. Also, remember Haredim in Israel don’t recognize Ethiopian Jews as Jews.

  3. Thank you for lifting this story up and sharing it here. When I was in Hebrew School as a child the rabbi came into class one day and asked “If you were walking in downtown Far Rockaway and you saw police busses pull up and police started to round up black people and dragged them onto the busses, what would you do?” We sat there somewhat silent until one kid said “Maybe the black people did something wrong.” The rabbi shook his head and said “Have you learned nothing?”

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