There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world. (Psalm 19)
“I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” These were George Floyd’s last words. Breath is life. In Hebrew, almost all the words for spirit or soul are connected to breathing. Soul is neshama, which is from ‘breath.’ Spirit is nefesh, which means windpipe, the very thing the police officer choked off in his killing of George Floyd. I grew up in Georgia during desegregation; I wish I could say I was shocked by the death of George Floyd, but I’m not; we know it is just one incident in a much longer and bloodier story.