Friday is Juneteenth, and while it is not a Jewish holiday, it is a celebration of freedom that deserves recognition in our community. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the United States, and its origins are directly linked to Texas.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger led thousands of federal troops to Galveston to announce that both the Civil War and slavery had come to an end. In 1980, Texas became the first state to declare Juneteenth a holiday. Other states have followed, as the recognition of freedom and equal rights for all citizens is a cornerstone value of the United States.
In recognition of Juneteenth, the music of our Sharing Shabbat experience will be from our Gospel Shabbat service which took place in January. We believe that the powerful voices from Church Without Walls will serve to lift our spirits and inspire us to action as we continue to learn about ways to pursue justice in our world.
A second way to observe Juneteenth is to participate in The Dialogue Project: Vital Conversations with our Community. This virtual conference is being provided by Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston. It features three stalwart clergy from Houston: Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, Rabbi Samuel E. Karff, and Reverend William A. Lawson. These three spiritual leaders have been called The Three Amigos as they have taken the lead in interfaith relations in Houston for nearly 40 years. Information about joining this program can be found below.
Finally, in the spirit of Juneteenth and in support of the Black Community of Houston, please consider supporting these black owned businesses and organizations: https://www.thrillist.com/lifestyle/houston/how-to-support-the-black-community-in-houston.
May this Juneteenth be a celebration for all of us as we remind ourselves of the value and importance of freedom in the world.