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Jews Are Fasting to Honor George Floyd

"There will be no point in the day that I will not be thinking about George Floyd, Antwon Rose Jr., and my black friends and neighbors."
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June 1, 2020
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JUNE 01: A memorial site where George Floyd died May 25 while in police custody, on June 1, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Jewish activists throughout the United States will hold a communal fast on Tuesday, June 2, to honor George Floyd, a black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

In a Facebook post, the organizers wrote: “We call on our Jewish siblings to step up with our fellow Jews of color and with black communities. We ask for people to fast (SAFELY) as we call for justice.” Organizers decided to hold the event on June 2 as it marks the conclusion of George Floyd’s shiva or week of mourning. The fast will take place from sunrise to sunset.

As a Jewish community, we know that silence is assent and we will not be silent. Public fasts have been called in the past to mark injustices and to call for change in society,” the post states. 

The fast was organized by Rabbi Jeremy Markiz. Over the past year, he has been part of a local group of young Black and Jewish leaders building bridges and solidarity.

“The Jewish tradition has used fasts to mark past injustices and call for change,” Markiz told the Journal. “We use fasts to focus on the essentials. That essential piece right now is that our black neighbors and our fellow Jews of color have been suffering.”
He added, “As a white Jew, I don’t have the lived experience of the anxiety around merely walking down the street that my black neighbor does.” Markiz added he sees the fast as a grounding force in the Jewish community.
“A fast is something that many of us can do in one way, shape, or form,” he said. “Of course, people should be safe and only take on something that they can do safely, especially during COVID-19.”
He added the fast will help him focus on police brutality and give him space to discover meaningful ways to help. “There will be no point in the day that I will not be thinking about George Floyd, Antwon Rose Jr., and my black friends and neighbors,” Markiz said. “Their pain has to be my pain. Their needs must be my needs.”
The event also calls for Jews to support local black organizations, call their local representatives, and bolster police review boards. Markiz also recommended that activists read “How to Be An Antiracist: by Ibram X. Kendi or “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo. 

“Fasts are just a place to start,” Markiz said. “Not an end to themselves.”

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