—Rabbi Jonathan Malamy, Director of Meaningful Life

Good afternoon to all at The New Jewish Home.

I want to wish you each a very Happy Juneteenth.

Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. Though President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation technically took effect on January 1, 1863, the true ending of slavery was not actually in effect until after the end of the Civil War in 1865. On June 19 of that year, Union Army General Gordon Granger announced federal orders in Galveston, TX, that all slaves held in Texas had been freed. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified that December 6th formally ending and forbidding all non-penal slavery everywhere in the United States.

It is worth noting that at the time The New Jewish Home, under its original name, had been in existence already for 17 years. 

Juneteenth has become recognized as a day to celebrate the formal end to this shameful and painful aspect of American history. And yet, of course, we know we are still living with the enduring consequences of American slavery.

May we take this Juneteenth as an opportunity to recommit to the values of equality and the dignity of every human person. And our shared responsibility to fight racism within our society and within ourselves.

I leave you today with words of resilience from former US Poet Laureate, Maya Angelou. This is a reading of her celebrated poem, “Still I Rise.”

Still, I Rise