Over the course of seven blocks on Tuesday afternoon, nearly 1,000 clergy members of all faiths made the slow — and silent — walk from the Sabatini Community Center, along East 38th Street to the site where George Floyd died. Among that group were at least 10 Twin Cities rabbis and cantors who came to pay their respects.
“It was exactly what you would expect: Somber, respectful, and a powerful cry that until there is justice for George Floyd and other blacks in the state, peace is not possible,” said Shir Tikvah Rabbi Michael Latz.
After the march Rabbis Latz, Jill Crimmings, Aaron Weininger, Debra Rappaport, Ryan Dulkin, Adam Stock Spilker, Sim Glaser, and Tobias Moss, Cantor Rachel Stock Spilker and Hazzan Joanna Dulkin, said Mourner’s Kaddish for George Floyd at the place of his death on Memorial Day. Because of coronavirus, it was the first time in a while that many of the clergy had seen each other.
“We couldn’t really hear the speakers,” said Rabbi Crimmings of the crowd that far exceeded expectations. “But the power was to be present and to be supportive. That’s what was powerful.”
Latz said that in Judaism there are many ways to experience grief and anger.
“We have psalms that cry out to god, those that invite to sing, but we also read in the Torah after Aaron’s sons are killed by God, I look at that text and see the silence of grief, the silence of the rage and injustice and murder,” Latz said.
Crimmings said that the silent walk also harkens to the concept of tzimtzum, to withdraw or take yourself out.
“We’re used to being in the front and leading, but there was a power that we showed up and didn’t serve in that role,” she said.”
Later on Tuesday, the Spilkers went to a similar march in St. Paul, where Rabbi Spilker said he saw that Rabbis Lynn Liberman, Sharon Stiefel, and Harold Kravitz were part of the march. That march went along University Avenue from Gordon Parks High School to the Target store at University and Hamline.
“I wanted to be in Minneapolis to be at the site where his death was and where the [affected] community is located. And St. Paul is my home,” said Spilker of the desire to be at both. The most important thing is that I came to listen, to learn, and to follow, and that’s what I did. We heard some powerful testimony about this moment.”
Said Latz: “It’s important to remember that George Floyd’s murder is the latest in a litany of black-skinned people who have been gunned down by people whose sworn oath it is to protect. The entire system is rotten. There is a collective responsibility.”
(Editor’s note: Rabbi Alexander Davis posted on Facebook that he attended the Minneapolis march, as did Rabbi Jeffrey Schein, but were not part of the minyan. Any not named were not intentionally excluded.)