Here's the announcement from Rabbi Andrea London:
"At Beth Emet The Free Synagogue, we are committed to the Jewish value that all human beings are created in the image of God and deserving of dignity and respect. I’m proud that our Board of Trustees voted unanimously that we should act on that commitment by displaying a Black Lives Matter banner on the exterior of our building. Above the words 'Black Lives Matter,' our sign reads, 'B’tzelem Elohim—In the image of God.'
As of today, that signage is hanging on our building and serves as a proud expression of our solidarity with the Black community and as a statement of our commitment to opposing racism and working to eradicate all systems of oppression in our society.
Jewish tradition emphasizes the critical importance of pursuing justice, which is summed up in the following words from the Book of Deuteronomy: 'Tzedek, tzedek tirdof' — 'Justice, justice shall you pursue,' and also the necessity of raising our voices when our fellow human beings are in danger. In the Book of Esther, which we read last night on Purim, Mordechai exhorts Esther to speak up on behalf of the Jews, saying: 'Perhaps you have come into the kingdom for such a crisis as this.' (Esther 4:14).
Beth Emet has been active for many years on issues of racial justice. After the killing of George Floyd last spring and the protests that followed, many institutions sought to raise the profile of state violence against Black people by displaying Black Lives Matters signs on their property. These signs became a widespread symbol of solidarity with the protesters and signaled to Black people across the country that a growing number of white people were also outraged at the devaluing of Black lives.
Yet there has also been a backlash against Black Lives Matter signage. Right here in Evanston, the Black Lives Matter sign at Northminster Presbyterian Church of Evanston on Central Park Ave. was vandalized in December, with the word “Black” cut out of the sign. A week after the sign was repaired and additional signs were added, all of the signs were stolen from the church’s property.
Evanston Interfaith Clergy and Leaders met soon thereafter to discuss our response to these acts of hatred and vandalism.
Under the guidance of Pastor Michael Nabors of Second Baptist Evanston, we decided that erecting Black Lives Matters signs outside as many Evanston religious institutions as possible would be a powerful act of solidarity and an expression of our values.
The clergy also prepared a joint statement articulating our values and commitments. Beth Emet’s Board agreed that now was the time to amplify our Jewish voices on this issue.