Open letter calls on Jewish organizations to endorse Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter signs is placed on the fence surrounding the White House during a rally against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd in Washington, D.C. June 7, 2020. (Photo by Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

An open letter organized by three Jewish activists is calling on the Jewish community to take a number of actions, including endorsing Black Lives Matter and increasing diversity within organizations, to fight racism.

Published Friday, the letter has been signed by 52 people affiliated with Jewish organizations and more than 900 people who include “Black Jews, Non-Black Jews of Color, and our allies.” The letter asks Jewish organizations, federations and initiatives to commit to fulfilling seven actions within three years.

They are endorsing Black Lives Matter; establishing racial justice as an organizational pillar; having a fifth of staff, senior leadership and board seats be filled by people of color; participating in anti-racist education; investing a fifth of all grants in organizations led by people of color; creating racial justice requirements for grant organizations, including “a commitment to replacing contracts with police departments with alternative structures of community safety”; and developing a five-year, $1.5 million “communal accountability” initiative.

The letter was organized by Lindsey Newman, director of community engagement at the Jewish diversity organization Be’chol Lashon; Aaron Samuels, co-founder and COO of the black media company Blavity; and Rachel Sumekh, the founder and CEO of the hunger relief organization Swipe Out Hunger.

“We chose these proposals because we believe they are achievable and if put into practice would make significant inroads toward making the Jewish community anti-racist,” the organizers said in a statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “Most, if not all, of our proposals are based on interventions that various Jews of Color have long been asking for and many Jewish organizations have already successfully put some of these proposals into practice over the past few decades.”

Earlier this month, 130 Jewish organizations signed a letter pledging to work to end systemic racism in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, a black man whose death in police custody led to anti-racism protests across the world.