Several prominent and liberal Jewish leaders and the president of a national teachers union were among nearly 100 people arrested Thursday night while protesting police brutality.
Sharon Kleinbaum, Jill Jacobs, and Shai Held, who hold the title “rabbi” that is not recognized by Orthodox Judaism, 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.
They also recited the “Kaddish” prayer for mourners in memory of Garner,
The protests, held on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, were organized by the organization Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.
Kleinbaum is the longtime spiritual leader at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the country’s largest LGBT synagogue, and is also Weingarten’s partner. Directly before the protest, she was honored by JFREF with a Marshall T. Meyer Risk Taker Award at nearby Congregation B’nai Jeshurun.
Attendees at the ceremony read the names of more than 20 black males who had been killed by New York police, followed by the phrase, “I am responsible.” They then marched to the nearby intersection at 96th and Broadway — blocking traffic and holding protest signs.
It brings back memories of the Jews joining Martin Luther King in the 1960s marches for integration.
It brings back memories of Jews marching in the 1970s to protest the war in Vietnam.
It brings back memories of the absence of Jewish leaders, especially from the Reform and homosexual communities, in support of Israel in the war against terror and in the rights for Jews to live in all of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.
The American liberal Jew always looks for a cause where it can show Americans how the descendants of slavery in ancient Egypt identify with the suffering of others, so long as they aren’t Jews.
Below is a video of the protest march.
JTA contributed to this report.