Count Us In
This past Shabbat, Jewish communities continued reading from the fourth book of the Hebrew Bible, Numbers, or in Hebrew, B’midbar. B’midbar actually means “in the wilderness,” describing the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the Land of Israel. Many have noted that the wilderness is an apt description of where we have found ourselves for the last several months amidst the coronavirus pandemic. And after the recent horrific murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others, our country is in an incredible upheaval as we confront the racism, hatred and institutionalized oppression that has led us to this moment.
Which takes us to the English definition of the book, Numbers. The book is called Numbers because it begins with a census of the Israelites. We can look at this as a way of knowing who is standing up and being counted for the role they play in the community.
Like no other time in recent history, now is the time to stand up and be counted. The Riverdale Y prides itself on being a town square, a gathering place for the community for essential services, such as meals for seniors and emergency childcare for children of essential workers, as well as a place for building community through health and wellness, arts, education, and family programs. We also play a central role in convening and participating in ongoing conversations with Jewish and interfaith community leaders on issues of import to our community. We strive to ensure that everything we do is inclusive, equitable and grounded in universally-shared values central to Jewish life.
While we have always stood for inclusivity, we recognize the importance today of being anti-racist. We must do more to actively combat racism through education and advocacy, and to create change. As initial steps, we worked with our RJCP partners on last week’s vigil at the Riverdale monument and are planning book groups and conversations on racial inequality moving forward to help facilitate dialogue and understanding. We are activating a webpage of events and resources. And there is much, much more to do. For the black community and other communities of color, it has been a long time coming for the white community to take stronger action to right the wrongs in our society. We understand that if ever there was a time, now is the time. For those who would like to be part of the development of programs, events, and actions, we welcome your input and participation.
We look forward to building a better world, together.
Deann Forman, CEO