Rabbis Sandra Lawson and Isaama Goldstein-Stoll Lead Juneteenth Shabbat Services

June 19, 2020
by

Katy Ronkin

On June 19, 2020, Rabbis Sandra Lawson, the Associate Chaplain for Jewish Life and Jewish Educator at Hillel at Elon University in North Carolina, and Isaama Goldstein-Stoll, the Senior Jewish Educator at Yale University’s Slifka Center, celebrated Juneteenth with a Kabbalat Shabbat service attended virtually by over 7,000 people around the world. Juneteenth is an American holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in Texas, two months after the Confederates surrendered during the Civil War. Once the news of emancipation reached Texas, it marked the end of slavery in the United States.

In 2020, the day was especially poignant due to the fatal shooting of George Floyd by a police officer in May. Floyd’s murder spurred protests around the country and conversations about individuals’ and organizations’ roles in upholding white supremacy. In the wake of the killing and subsequent protests, Lawson and Goldstein-Stoll, by weaving together the celebrations of Juneteenth and holiness of Shabbat, reminded participants that the liberation of Black Americans must be of utmost importance to all Jews.

During the service, Rabbi Lawson encouraged listeners to have faith in a better future and sang “Ella’s Song” by Sweet Honey in the Rock. “Ella’s Song” is a tribute to civil rights activist Ella Baker and reminds the listener that “[w]e who believe in freedom cannot rest, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.” Rabbi Lawson and Rabbi Goldstein-Stoll blended traditional Jewish prayers including Shalom Aleichem and the Mourners’ Kaddish with Black traditions, ending the service with the gospel hymn “All Night, All Day.” The service was organized by Be’chol Lashon, an organization devoted to raising awareness about the ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity within the Jewish community.

Sources

Be'chol Lashon (Be'chol Lashon). "For those who missed it, here is an edited recording of our Juneteenth Kabbalat Shabbat service! We were so honored to be part of this historic event. Thank you to Rabbi Sandra Lawson and Rabbi Isaama Goldstein-Stoll for sharing your joy and wisdom with us." Facebook. June 19, 2020, 10:42 PM.; Dolsten, Josefin, and Philissa Cramer. "As US Seethes over Racial Injustice, Jews Find Meaning in Juneteenth Observances." The Times of Israel. Last modified June 19, 2020. Accessed October 21, 2020.; Jewish Women's Archive. "Sandra Lawson." Jewish Women's Archive. Last modified 2020. Accessed October 21, 2020.; Ministry Against the Death Penalty. "Ella's Song (We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest until It Comes)." Ministry Against the Death Penalty. Last modified 2020.; Taylor, Derrick Bryson. "So You Want to Learn about Juneteenth?" The New York Times. Last modified June 19, 2020. Accessed October 21, 2020.; Yale University. "Rabbi Isaama Goldstein-Stoll." Yale University. Last modified 2020. Accessed October 21, 2020.

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Rabbis Sandra Lawson (left) and Isaama Goldstein-Stoll (right). Courtesy of Hillel UW.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Rabbis Sandra Lawson and Isaama Goldstein-Stoll Lead Juneteenth Shabbat Services." (Viewed on January 26, 2021) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/jun/19/2020/rabbis-sandra-lawson-and-isaama-goldstein-stoll-lead-juneteenth-shabbat>.

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