Central Conference of American Rabbis Statement on Racist Massacre in Buffalo, New York

May 17, 2022

The Central Conference of American Rabbis mourns the tragic loss of life in yet another hate-motivated mass murder—this time, targeting Black Americans in Buffalo, New York. The murder of ten individuals, with others wounded, again highlights the deadly consequences of combining the proliferation of assault weapons in America with the normalization of the “great replacement” conspiracy.

The CCAR demands forceful enforcement of existing gun laws, even as we call for the enactment of new and sorely needed gun control legislation.

Having often raised the collective rabbinic voice against hate speech, the CCAR applauds President Biden, Vice President Harris, and members of Congress of both parties who have clearly condemned white nationalism and its deadly “great replacement” conspiracy. We deplore political leaders who have profited from hate and yet remain silent, even in the wake of the Buffalo massacre. This conspiracy theory is both racist and antisemitic, positing that alleged Jewish power brokers seek to replace a white Christian power structure with one dominated by people of color.

Both Jewish history and Judaism’s sacred texts have taught us that malicious speech can kill. Talmud (Arachin 15b) cautions that wicked speech can kill the one who utters it, those who hear it, and the target of the slander. In Buffalo yesterday, those words proved tragically true of those who purvey the “great replacement” conspiracy.

Reform rabbis extend condolences to the families of those who were murdered in Buffalo, and we pray for the healing of the wounded. We pray for healing, too, for the community of Buffalo, New York, home to CCAR members and the communities they serve. We pray for the day “when all may sit under their vine and fig tree, with none to make them afraid” (Micah 4:4).

Rabbi Lewis Kamrass

Rabbi Hara E. Person
Chief Executive
Central Conference of American Rabbis