Blog Post


Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

I went to a Black Lives Matter demonstration. Yeah, really – moi. I would love to say that my motivation was that I am a big tzaddik and wanted to do my part for Tikkun Olam but that was hardly the case. It turned out to be a combination of factors that got me there. 

First and foremost Karen decided to go and she asked if I would join her. She is much more attuned to BLM as she works with many young African-Americans at Banana. Why not I thought, I was curious to check out the scene first hand. Our son-in-law, Avi was also going. Plus it was convenient. It was taking place at the corner of Griffin Road and 441 – less than two miles from my home and a short 10 minute bike ride away. It began right before Shabbat at 4 pm last Friday. With the nimbleness of my bike I figured, that if the traffic got really jammed, I could always navigate out of there pretty quickly. I could also bolt if things got heated. What about Karen and Avi you wonder? Me too.

But that became moot for this demonstration happened to be one of the less intense ones. Only about 150 people were there. I think you might even call it, “Black Lives Matter Lite”. There were no real rabble rousers to speak of. Except one guy with the gold teeth rows whose message was that peaceful demonstration was not enough. But it was hard to understand what exactly he was saying and he was not very effective getting his message across. Probably all that gold in his mouth getting in the way.

It turned out that former heavyweight boxer, Evander Holyfield came to our little demonstration but we didn’t know that until we saw the news reports of the event later on. We did pass a large important looking guy as we left but didn’t know it was him. A shame, that would have been a cool selfie. Even better a good photo op: Rabbi and Boxer lock arms at BLM demonstration a la Heschel and MLK.

In all seriousness, the fact of the matter is that going there did have a profound effect on me. It was powerful to see so many young people out demonstrating against an injustice that has for too long been ignored. It was also moving to see the contingent of visibly Jewish people who came. There was easily a “minyan” of tzitzit and kippot along with Shomer Shabbat women from the community. There were a few young Israeli kids as well as Phoebe who got up to speak draped in her Israeli flag.

And I must say that now that I have participated in some small way, I find myself spending more time reading about and following the movement. It is no longer something “out there” that others are doing but something I have personally experienced, albeit in a very limited scope.

No, I cannot say that I agree with everything that has been happening at these demonstrations, and there is no justification for the violence and mayhem that often follows and accompanies them. I am concerned that the anti-Israel crowd will hitch a ride on the BLM like they are wont to do with all movements about oppressed people and I hope the BLM people don’t let them hijack it. 

But my minimal participation is how all movements work. The more people that get involved, no matter what level – big or even small – the more traction it gains. The more that people personally invest in the cause – time, money and/or effort – the more they connect to and sympathize with it and offer their support. That is what makes a movement and what creates change in society.

This is what the founder of Aish, Rav Noach Weinberg used to always preach to everyone he met. He wanted a person to get connected to being Jewish on any level. It didn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. He didn’t expect you to keep totally kosher or Shabbat right away or even ever, but that any step you took towards a more Jewish life was a positive one. And more importantly, whatever new insight and change you had and made in your life as a Jew – you needed to share that with others. That is how movements work. Through the everyday man and woman influencing their friend, neighbor and relative. And collectively, slowly, the society shifts as a whole.

The BLM has some legitimate gripes. Hopefully it will stay on message and not descend into anarchy along the way. As for us, we Jewish people know full well and first-hand the terrible injustice that accompanies prejudice, and should assist in any way we can. And rather than feel threatened by it we need to look to them for inspiration as we fight against the global injustice often perpetrated against Israel and the accompanying antisemitism that rides alongside. And if we do that, then we will create a world with peace and justice for all.  

And I went down to the demonstration

To get my fair share of abuse

Singing, “We’re gonna vent our frustration

If we don’t we’re gonna blow a fifty-amp fuse”


You can’t always get what you want

You can’t always get what you want

You can’t always get what you want

But if you try sometimes, well, you just might find

You get what you need

-The Rolling Stones


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