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I Do Not Know

07/01/2020 09:26:51 AM


Rabbi Max Chaiken wrote this poem as a call to action, sharing it at our Pride & Anti-Racism Havdalah on Saturday, June 27, 2020.
I Do Not Know
I do not know what it’s like be Black in America
I do not know the fear for my life in routine interactions with law enforcement
I do not know the worry that I’ll appear “dangerous,” because I chose to wear a hoodie
I do not know the embarrassment of having my identity as a Jew questioned
because of my skin color
I do not know the horror of seeing person after person who looks like me cry out
“I can’t breathe”
I do not know the shame of growing up in a world where I was “guilty
from the moment I was born.”
I do not know even a fraction of that trauma or pain.
But I can listen.
I can learn.
I can read, and share, and try to imagine, and listen again.
And I can speak out, and take responsibility,
and work for a world founded on equality and justice;
A world where every person will affirm that Black Lives Matter;
A world where we live the value of “loving our neighbor as ourselves”
and all cry out in pain when “our brothers’ blood calls out to us from the ground.”
And so I remind myself, and I remind all those I love who also do not know:
We will never know.
But we do not have to know to practice sympathy and compassion.
We do not have to know to work on caring, and listening, and learning
And we can allow our lack of knowledge to make us curious, and compassionate;
Turning our ignorance into inspiration
As we open our hearts and minds
working for a world of wholeness and justice and love
Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyar 5784