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10Days10Ways: Racial Justice Reflections

Sign up to engage in righteous action during the 10 Days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur—and beyond!

 

During the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we as Jews challenge ourselves and our communities to reflect thoughtfully and honestly on transgressions and harms we have caused in the past year, both knowingly and unknowingly. Each of us engages differently in this tradition known as cheshbon ha’nefesh, an accounting of the soul, as we reach towards growth and transformation in the coming year. 

As a Jewish community living in a society where racial injustice has defined our history and our present, we are inspired by Jewish tradition to participate collaboratively in a process of personal and communal teshuvah, reflection, and accountability. We see a powerful opportunity in engaging our minds and spirits by learning about and turning towards racial justice in our relationships, our neighborhoods, our communities/organizations, and in our society. Grasping how racism has impacted all of our lives and histories, participants can together build trust, connection, and the resilience to transform ourselves and the brokenness we live with each day. 

In this spirit, Judea Reform will be offering the 10Days10Ways: Racial Justice Reflections in a daily email digest as an invitation to learn more about the ways that race in our society has influenced and shaped a wide range of systems in our society.  Each day subscribers will receive an email offering a short, medium, and deep dive into a specific topic related to race in our society and highlighting Judea Reform’s commitment to Social Justice in this area. Daily topics include White Supremacy, Refugee and Immigrant Justice, Hunger and Food Insecurity, Criminal Justice Reform, Housing, Public Health, Education, Voting Rights, and more. To sign up for your daily digest of ways to engage subscribe here, or email our Social Action Committee at socialaction@judeareform.org 

This framework of 10 days of Awe · Racial Justice Reflections was developed by Temple Israel of Boston’s Tikkun Central, which works toward the mission of living Judaism together through righteous impact.

Our Commitment to Racial Justice

At Shabbat Services on June 5, 2020 (watch the recording here: Shabbat Services), Rabbi Soffer spoke from the heart about how our core Jewish values are the strength that we — as individuals, a congregation, and as a nation — need to draw on right now with our nation in crisis. Confronting the disease of racism in addition to COVID-19, standing in front of our pillars of our Judea Reform Building, Rabbi Soffer invoked Judea’s pillars as our guideposts: Justice (Tzedek), Truth (Emet), Torah, Compassion (Chesed), Worship (Avodah), Peace (Shalom).  Speaking words of honesty and passion, he began “I feel obliged to address you from our own space with what is in my heart and the heart of many in our community.”

Watch here: Rabbi Soffer's sermon “Our Pillars, Our Promise”   

As Rabbi Soffer said, “What can we do right now? How can we leverage our distinct influence as a community and as individuals?” 

Judea Reform is, in fact, a multiracial congregation including individuals and family members of color who are experiencing extra pain at this moment. We extend our love and wholehearted support to the People of Color and multiracial families in our own community.

Recognizing that our Torah describes all human beings as created in God's image, the disease of racism requires us all to look deeply inward — to identify our own biases, and educate ourselves about the multi-layered history of systemic racism and violence in our country. In the coming days, weeks, months ahead, Judea Reform will thoughtfully address how our congregation and congregants can take action in the short, medium, and long term; from recommended ways to donate to educating ourselves about our own biases to rebuilding long-term coalitions to strengthening relationships across lines of difference (within and beyond congregation.) We all know this is not easy work and yet we know we cannot desist from it.

Our Social Action Committee invites all who are interested to join the conversation. Register here if you want a link to join the regularly scheduled Social Action Committee meetings or email socialaction@judeareform.org with your interest in exploring this work.

As inboxes are flooded with reading lists and calls to action, we wanted to use this moment to draw your attention to Jewish resources and perspectives as a contribution to your and our effort to apply a lens of Jewish values to this painful and complicated moment. These are statements, articles, first-person accounts — all resources from Jewish sources, including our Reform movement and partner organizations. These resources are not meant to be prescriptive, nor as an endorsement, but simply as a contribution to learning. 

North Carolina Jewish Clergy Statement
NC Rabbis & Cantors' Statement (June 5,2020) affirming their commitment to racial justice: Read here.
 
Reform Jewish Rabbis Respond 

  • Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, “Ways Your Congregation Can Act Now for Racial Justice” (Union for Reform Judaism Blog):  Read here.
  • Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, “Witnessing Protests, Rage, and Our Torah’s Unbending Demand for Justice” (URJ/RAC statement):  Read here.
  • Rabbi Josh Weinberg, “When the Holy Act of Kneeling Becomes a Weapon” (ReformJudaism.org):  Read here.

 
Some of Our Jewish Partner Organizations' Response to Supporting Racial Justice

Voices of Jews of Color

Other Voices

Two years ago Judea Reform signed the Religious Action Center’s Brit Olam — a covenant with our world — to commit to creating a world in which all people experience wholeness, justice, and compassion. Since then, the urgency of our work has only grown. The Brit Olam reminds us of the words from Pirkei Avot: “Study alone is not enough, our tradition demands action.” 

Local Spiritual Responses to Racism and Violence

Durham Congregations in Action (DCIA) has created on its website a page of sermons, meditations, letters and reflections from faith and spiritual perspectives, about racism and violence in the wake of events the past couple of weeks. We invite ministers and others in the Durham area to continue to share items for posting or linking online at this page. Please email your document as an attachment, or a weblink to your document/blog/sermon-recording, to dcia@dcia.org. All are welcome to browse and review the postings on this page!

Our Pillars, Our Promise: A Video Message

Mon, September 28 2020 10 Tishrei 5781