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Racial Justice & Equity Initiative

Who We Are

The Judea Reform Racial Justice & Equity Initiative is composed of a group of congregants, parents, life-long learners, supporters of democracy, and engaged citizens concerned for the state of racial equity and justice in our country and our world. As a team, we have gathered to pursue tikkun olam and answer the call issued to us as Jews in Deuteronomy 16:20: Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof! Our group began meeting the summer of 2021 to create a framework to bring folks together to discuss our individual and shared visions for building and growing Judea Reform as an actively anti racist congregation. 

In the words of Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner: “The United States simply cannot achieve the values of 'justice for all,' to which it aspires, until we address ongoing racism in all sectors and at all levels of society. Despite the abolishment of slavery in 1865, systemic oppression, police violence, and racial discrimination against Black Americans and people of Color continues today. Lynchings, Jim Crow laws, restricted access to the ballot box, a biased criminal justice system, and redlining are just some examples of how racial inequity has been sustained in American life. Systemic disparities and injustices will endure unless proactive steps are taken to acknowledge and eliminate them.” 

As members of the Reform Jewish movement, it is our calling and our duty to work across lines of difference to fight the structural racism that is embedded in our society and to advance justice for all people, regardless of race or ethnicity. Our Jewish values call us to pursue deep and meaningful conversations and actions around healing the world. The Judea Reform Racial Justice Core team has come together to ask how we, as American Reform Jews and members of Judea Reform, can work to initiate change in our synagogue and local community to actively pursue racial justice for our congregants and neighbors. 

 

Our Commitment

Our core team has set out to explore approaches to racial justice through the lens of our Reform Jewish values. So far we have drafted a statement in solidarity with the URJs support of the Black Lives Matter movement. As Reform Jews committed to the spirit of tikkun olam, our racial justice team believes, unequivocally, Black Lives Matter!

 

As a congregation, Judea Reform is committed to anti-racism. We acknowledge the historical damage that has been done and that continues to be done to communities of color and we stand in solidarity with these communities as we work to end white supremacy. In affirming that Black Lives Matter we affirm the right of all people and Jews of Color to be seen as whole, holy, complex members of our community, never expected to choose between different aspects of their identity. As a Congregation we are beholden to the idea of eradicating systemic racism which has been so pervasive and detrimental to the Black community. This will require deep reflection on the part of the congregants as well as a desire to change, evolve and completely commit. We pledge to stand by, march with and provide our full support to non-white communities in a show of solidarity. Ayecha, Where are you?, we are asked. We respond with a full throated Hineinu, We are here!

What We’re Doing

Congregational Reading and Discussion Series: Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

The JRC Racial Justice & Equity Initiative invites congregants to join us in a 5 week facilitated reading and discussion series of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson. Together we will discuss this thought-provoking text in a respectful, honest and supportive space.

As we enter the gates of the new year, and renew our individual and collective commitments to social justice and anti racism, we welcome congregants who wish to participate in an earnest understanding of the historical, institutionalized barriers to equity in our society. By learning together in supportive community, we share a path toward to greater engagement in community anti-discrimination work.  

Each session will be hosted and facilitated by members of our Racial Justice & Equity Team, and leaders and scholars from within our congregation. All sessions will be held virtually on Zoom

Sundays, October 10, 17, 24, 31 & Nov 14 from 10:00-11:30am
Thursdays, October 14, 21, 28, & Nov 4, 18 from 7:00-8:30pm

Click here to learn more and to register!

Registration Closes 9/20

URJ’s Racial Justice Campaign

In 2020, the Reform Movement launched Every Voice, Every Vote: The Reform Movement’s Civic Engagement Campaign with a focus on combating voter suppression that particularly suppresses the votes and voices of Communities of Color. As Reform Jews, we are called to continue the fight for racial justice and fulfill the sacred work of creating a more just, compassionate, and whole world. This campaign will address systemic racism by demanding policy change on the national level to ensure the U.S. federal Freedom to Vote and on the state level to advocate for racially just policies. It will also focus on reforming Canadian federal mandatory minimum laws and will push members of the Reform Jewish community to do essential Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (REDI) and antiracism work within our communities and ourselves.

Durham CAN

Durham CAN (Congregations Associations and Neighborhoods) is a local non-profit that organizes communities in Durham across religious, racial, and class lines for the public good. Durham CAN works to strengthen congregations and community institutions and build relationships among people and institutions across Durham County. While not a religious organization, CAN's agenda reflects faith-informed and democratic values, though CAN does not endorse any candidate or party for elected office. CAN members have access to learn more by participating in community organizing training and meetings.
Through our work with Durham CAN, we practice tikkun olam by engaging in social actions reflective of our Jewish values, including housing inequity, wage & economic injustice, voting rights, and systemic racism. This work also fully embraces the call issued to us as members of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s Brit Olam–a covenant striving to create a world in which all people experience wholeness, justice, and compassion.
We invite our congregants to join our delegation and take part in direct action with the greater Durham community. Details & schedules can be found here.

Join Us 

For more information on the JRC Racial Justice & Equity Initiative, please contact Dr. Allan Friedman at afriedman@judeareform.org or Sonia Laurie at sonial@judeareform.org!

Our Pillars, Our Promise: A Video Message

Tue, November 30 2021 26 Kislev 5782