The rabbinic leadership of the South African Union for Progressive Judaism calls out to our leaders to bring swift justice to bear in the tragic death of Collins Khosa, as well as those of Petrus Miggels, Sibusiso Amos, Adane Emmanuel and other citizens who have suffered brutality at the hands of South African police officers.
Especially now as our country reels from the Covid-19 pandemic, we rely on our government to bring calm and security to all its people. The police and armed forces are responsible for keeping us all safe, irrespective of our privilege and we are alarmed by the increasing number of incidents occurring in the poorest and most vulnerable communities of this country.
We note that sadly South Africa is not alone in the world and are deeply disturbed by the brutal case of George Floyd and the lack of swift and just response by the American authorities.
Our Torah is clear. It teaches that every human being, created in the Divine image, has infinite worth and is fundamentally equal to every other (Genesis 1:26, Mishna Sanhedrin 4:5). It teaches that indeed we are our brothers’ keepers (Genesis 4:9). It teaches that the Holy One hears the cry of the oppressed (Exodus 22:22). And it commands us, “Do not stand by while your neighbor’s blood is shed” (Leviticus 19:16).
We stand with our international movement, the World Union for Progressive Judaism, whose president Rabbi Sergio Bergman has called for us “to tackle racism in our communities and commit ourselves to stand with those challenging hate and ignorance wherever it appears and to whomever it is directed.”