Joining around 200 others who were taken into custody on Thursday night, were four prominent New York rabbis . They were arrested during protests throughtout NYC against police brutality and racial injustice. The protesters had recited the kaddish, a Jewish mourning prayer delivered in memory of loved ones.
Rabbis Sharon Kleinbaum, Jill Jacobs and Shai Held, along with Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, were taken into custody for blocking traffic to protest a grand jury’s decision not to indict the New York police officer who choked Staten Island resident Eric Garner to death. The protests, held on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, were organized by the group Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, reported the Times Of Israel
Rabi Jacobs told the Huffington Post by email that she and others arrived at the police station at roughly 11:30 p.m. and were held until 5:15 a.m. Friday morning. Despite the sleepless night, Jacobs said the protest was crucial to her as “a religious act” to highlight the “dignity of every single human being.”
“Rabbis and all Jews need to stand up and say that every single person is a creation in the divine image — that black lives matter,” Jacobs said. “We put our bodies on the line to show how crucial it is that the systems meant to protect us do protect all of us.”
The Huffington Post continues: The protest began at B’nai Jeshurun, a Jewish synagogue on 88th St., and proceeded along Broadway to 96th St. where the rabbis engaged in an act of civil disobedience. Many of the protesters had just attended a ceremony organized by Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) at B’nai Jeshurun, during which Rabbi Kleinbaum was one of three recipients of the Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Risk Taker Awards.
B’nai Jeshurun’s Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon said the ceremony was planned months in advance, and when the grand jury decision was announced it was clear to him and others that a demonstration of their concern was in order.
“It was all very peaceful and respectful but carried a great deal of concern and the commitment that we have to make serious change in our justice system and in our society to eradicate racism,” Matalon told HuffPost over the phone. “These incidents which are now a recurring pattern of the deaths of black men at the hands of police are issues of tremendous concern.”