I want to respond to “Shall We Really Pursue Justice in Baltimore in 5777?” by Claire Landers in the Oct. 7 edition of the JT.
I believe the prophet Isaiah calls on us to engage with this issue and with others related to social justice here in Baltimore. A Department of Justice study reveals details that are stunning for those of us who are not exposed on a daily basis to these problems. This is not a matter of accusing all law enforcement officers of racial bias; the issue is whether a system can be put in place that ensures accountability to the public when there are cases of egregious misconduct, especially by those who have a long record of such behavior.
Last winter, I attended the police accountability educational forum sponsored by Jews United for Justice, where I listened to a panel of speakers that included lawyers, activists and law enforcement professionals who spoke about the ongoing issue and the need for reform. More than 100 people from the metropolitan Baltimore Jewish community, most of them synagogue members, took the opportunity to write cards and make phone calls to their legislative representatives on behalf of the bill described in Landers’ piece, and we did indeed make a difference.
As Landers points out, the work is not done. Pirkei Avot teaches us, “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it (2:21).” The Baltimore Jewish community has a lot of influence over decisions that are made at both the local and state level, decisions that can have a tremendous positive impact on the well-being of both our community and our neighbors. My hope is that more of us will think and speak in support of social justice.