Statement from Cornell Jewish Studies

By: Jewish Studies Program, 
June 10, 2020

The Jewish Studies Program at Cornell affirms and reaffirms our commitment to anti-racist pedagogy and organizational practice, knowing that in doing so we act for ourselves and yet never only for ourselves. Anti-racist work demands profound inner and social reflection as well as change from all of us.

In times of great sorrow and struggle, we turn to our teachers for guidance and wisdom. Decades ago Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote: “In a free society, some are guilty, all are responsible.” The sentence tells us two things: that we all bear responsibility to witness, protest, and prevent violence against our fellows; but also that if we do not act on that responsibility, we cannot claim to be members of a free society.

On the challenging yet necessary road ahead, we draw strength from the words of another of our wise teachers centuries ago, Rabbi Tarfon: “It is not yours to finish the task, but neither are you free to desist from it.”

Stained glass window of the Star of David