JFREJ Responds to Charlottesville With Havdalah Against Hate
Organized by Yehudah Webster, Julia Salazar and JFREJ’s JOC caucus, over 60 people showed up to rally outside a white supremacist’s apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It was one way that Jews of Color responded or reacted to the events in Virginia, as described by Hannah Dreyfus in the Jewish Week:
The events that took place last weekend — a far-right rally to protest the removal of a Confederate War statue that ended in rioting, violence and a car attack that killed one counterprotester and injured 19 — left thousands around the country stunned. President Donald Trump’s statement on Tuesday equating neo-Nazis and white supremacists with those protesting against them that drew praise from far-right leaders including former Ku Klux Klan head David Duke — left an already unsettled nation reeling.
Jewish groups widely condemned the violence and criticized President Trump for saying that the hatred and violence came from “many sides.” (Read more of our coverage of the events here.)
Still, for young Jews of color — many of whom balance a complex and sometimes-challenging intersection of identities — last week’s events were uniquely painful, and personal.
“These are different players at a different moment in history, but it’s the same playbook.”
“As a black person in this country, I am not surprised,” said Yehudah Webster, 24, a leader of the Jews of Color caucus for the social action organization Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ). “But as a Jew, I am.”
— JFREJ (@JFREJNYC) August 20, 2017
While “American racism never went away,” the “bold, anti-Semitic rhetoric” that reared its head at last week’s rally was “shocking for me,” said Webster — marchers from extreme right groups chanted “Jews will not replace us” and the infamous Nazi slogan “blood and soil.”
The Guyanese son of formerly Christian pastors who converted to Judaism at age six, Webster described the new alignment of identities as “surreal.”
“These are different players at a different moment in history, but it’s the same playbook,” he said. “The question: Will we get it right this time?”
On Saturday night, Webster helped organize a Havdalah Against Hate rally on the Upper East side. Over sixty people turned out.
Yehuda Webster: “White supremacy is here to hold down and exploit all of us alike. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder.” Courtesy
“White supremacy is here to hold down and exploit all of us alike,” said Webster, who hopes this will be a coming-together moment for people of color and Jews. “We need to stand shoulder to shoulder.”
Webster was not alone in feeling simultaneously disturbed and unsurprised by last week’s events.