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.
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.
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 chanukahaction.org.
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.