Rabbi Wittenberg Speaks About Judaism & Equality After the Murder of George Floyd

Monotheism means the indivisibility of God. This is not just the basis of Jewish theology, but of universal humanity.

When the Torah, in chapter one, teaches that every human being is created in God’s image, it leaves no place for the notion of ‘children of a lesser God’. There exists no one who doesn’t matter, whose life is less important than anyone else’s. Black lives matter; God is the ‘life of all life’, ‘God of all flesh’.

The shocking and cruel death of George Floyd at the hands of a policeman, and the racism, contempt and injustice it has highlighted, shock our societies and souls. The violence which has followed is frightening. But the vast majority of protesters and protests have been peaceful and courageous, and how and by whom the destruction has been manipulated remains complex, sinister and opaque. The record of disdain from the highest office has inflamed the land and disgraces the history of often brave American leadership.

Reverend Anthony Jackson, whose grandfather founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference together with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, addressed the Jewish community in the columns of The Forward. What we need from you, he wrote, is to help us put an end the murder of innocent Blacks with the exact same fervor, dedication and commitment that you show towards preserving and defending your own families, that you show for Israel…. We need you to understand that Blacks and Jews are in this together; white racists view you as the N-word, too. We need you to embrace Blacks as absolute equals. Jews have used their influence to make a difference in society… We need you to use it again. As Rabbi Abraham Heschel once said, “The Black church is the salvation of Judaism.” We need each other.

Rev Jackson’s words remind me of the line I’ve italicised line in Dan Pagis’s searing Holocaust poem

No. no, they were created in the image

Uniforms, jackboots…

As for me, I had a different creator…

Judaism knows of no such entity as a ‘different creator’ and no such human being as someone with lesser rights. There are no geographical, racial, religious or gender limits to our equality before God as understood, and as should be practised, in Judaism.

But that is not the reality we witness in our societies. We are not at liberty to do nothing about it. We cannot limit ourselves to idle outrage. Examining prejudice in our own minds, communities and conduct is not comfortable, but, as was said in our synagogue just before lockdown, acknowledging and entering the zone of our discomfort is an essential first step.

Just as God’s oneness underlies the equality of all human beings, so it informs the interconnection of all of nature. If God is within all life, if Ruach Elokim, God’s spirit, breathes in all creation, then no species, forest or river is merely dispensable.

Here again, whatever this may say to us theologically, it means everything practically. The very future of life on our planet depends on the realisation that we and all of nature are interconnected. Today is World Environment Day, instituted by the United Nations in 1974. Interestingly, the date has a second name, ‘People’s Day’, because our own future, our children’s lives, depend on how we now act.

Indifference is no option: we must waste less, plant more, cherish this earth. For me, this concern, this passion, migrated long ago from my head to my soul; it’s a terror, a hope, a split vision: the world as arid and bleak, the world as wonder and beauty.

Though seemingly separate issues, how we behave to each other and how we treat nature are united within the prophetic call for justice and humility. We have no right to conduct ourselves as superior, neither to one another whatever our colour, nor towards nature, nor towards God, who weeps in our soul at every outrage and abuse.

The post Rabbi Wittenberg Speaks About Judaism & Equality After the Murder of George Floyd appeared first on Faith Matters.

Categories: George Floyd, Judaism, News, Rabbi Wittenberg

Madeleine McCann suspect ‘confessed to abduction in 2017’

The German suspect in the Madeleine McCann case allegedly confessed to her abduction on the 10th anniversary of her disappearance in 2017, according to reports.

The Sun newspaper claimed that the man admitted to a friend he had “snatched” the young girl as they drank in a German bar.

The suspect reportedly shared the revelation as the pair watched a TV news report on the case, with him claiming he knew what had happened to Madeleine.

The claims come as police received hundreds of contacts from the public following the launch of a new appeal for information on Madeleine’s disappearance.

DCI Mark Cranwell, who is leading the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Grange investigation into the case, said more than 270 calls and emails had been received by 4pm on Thursday.

It followed British, German and Portuguese authorities launching an appeal for information on Wednesday night relating to the suspect.

German prosecutors have said they believe Madeleine is dead and are investigating the child sex predator on suspicion of her murder.

The suspect is a 43-year-old German national named in media reports as Christian Brueckner and is reportedly serving a seven-year prison sentence for the rape of a 72-year-old American woman in Portugal in 2005.

He is known to have lived on the Algarve coast and his Portuguese mobile phone received a half-hour phone call in Praia da Luz around an hour before Madeleine, three, went missing on May 3 2007.

Scotland Yard said he was believed to have been living in a distinctive early 1980s VW T3 Westfalia camper van at the time and re-registered a 1993 Jaguar XJR6 in someone else’s name the day after her disappearance.

Operation Grange still considers the case a missing person inquiry because there is no “definitive evidence whether Madeleine is alive or dead”.

German newspaper Braunschweiger Zeitung have reported the suspect, who has been partially identified as Christian B by local media due to the country’s strict rules on the naming of criminals, was convicted of rape in Braunschweig District Court in December last year.

Der Spiegel reported he is serving a prison sentence in Kiel, having been initially extradited from Portugal in 2017 and convicted of drug trafficking.

The German magazine said his criminal record contains a total of 17 entries, including child abuse while he was still a teenager

Christian Hoppe, from Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), has said that German police have not ruled out a sexual motive for the alleged crime against Madeleine.

He said that the suspect may have broken into an apartment in the Ocean Club complex, where Madeleine was on holiday with her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, and her twin siblings Sean and Amelie, before spontaneously kidnapping her.

German prosecutors said the suspect was living in the Algarve between 1995 and 2007, where he funded his lifestyle by committing crimes.

A £20,000 reward is available for information leading to the conviction of the person responsible for Madeleine’s disappearance.

The Met’s investigation was tipped off about the German national, already known to detectives, following a 2017 appeal 10 years after she went missing.

Madeleine disappeared shortly before her fourth birthday, while her parents were eating dinner with friends at a nearby tapas restaurant.

Kate and Gerry McCann, from Rothley, in Leicestershire, have welcomed the appeal, saying: “We will never give up hope of finding Madeleine alive.”

The post Madeleine McCann suspect ‘confessed to abduction in 2017’ appeared first on Faith Matters.

Categories: German suspect, Kate and Gerry McCann, Madeleine McCann, News, Portugal