Where was the outrage over Ferguson killing?

Andria Danine Simckes is an African- American Jewish businesswoman who resides in Creve Coeur with her teenage son and two daughters. 

By Andria Danine Simckes

Since Sunday, I have been looking for some sort of response, comment or action from the leaders of our St. Louis Jewish community, our rabbis, Jewish Community Relations Council, the Black-Jewish Dialogue Group or concerned citizens about the death of Mike Brown. I was looking for something before the rioting and looting began.  Prior to last night’s looting and rioting, only three Jews responded.

Where was the Jewish community with this? Why are we so quiet? So absent? I went to Ferguson yesterday afternoon and chanted with the peaceful protestors.  I saw two other Jews: Rabbi Susan Talve and Rabbi Randy Fleisher of Central Reform Congregation. I was so disappointed. I didn’t go up to them and instead chose to remain just another black face in the crowd. 

I then came home and deliberately became more vocal on social media than I usually am. I wanted to make sure that hose who might not have known about Mike Brown’s tragic demise were made aware. One Jewish community member commented, asking me to sit down to strategize about what we can do to stop this senseless killing of our young black men. Everyone else was silent.

I was amazed and disappointed at the silence. I have been so encouraged by the dialogue in the black community surrounding the situation between Israelis and Hamas, and that many more blacks get Israel’s right to defend itself. Yet, where is the Jewish outcry at an unarmed 18-year-old young man being shot multiple times, right here in St. Louis?  Ferguson is in our own backyard. Yet, where was the Jewish community?  Where were our social-action commit tees calling for the community to rally and support a struggling community?  Why didn’t we embrace this cause and help a grieving family and community? Isn’t the health of the world a Jewish concern? Shouldn’t the health of a neighboring community be our concern? Where were the voices?  Where is the outrage? Where is the plea for working together for a better future?  

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I am not saying our presence could have prevented the rioting and looting that ensued. But our presence could have made a difference to ease some pain, to ease some tension and to give some lessons learned. And our Jewish presence and voices could have helped me change the dialogue from claims and comments on social media that “they” (meaning the black community) would be looking for “you” (white people) to rebuild the community to a message that we all need to be asking what we must do to change things.  The looting is unacceptable. Mike Brown’s death is unacceptable. What is each of us going to do to bring peace among us?  

This is not a black issue or a white issue – this is a human issue. My St. Louis Jewish community, I need you to step up and stand beside my black community. This is our time to stand up and say this death is unacceptable.  This is our time to say that we care and will defend the lives of all people.

My heart is very heavy, for Mike Jones, his family, St. Louis, every little young boy trying to become a man and for St. Louis Jews. We took several steps backward yesterday, and we Jews failed to step up when we should have been at our brethren’s side.

But it is not too late.  Let’s not let Mike Brown’s death be in vain.  If there is ever a time to come together as a people and heal together as one, now is that time.