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Standing Against Racism is a Jewish Value

10/20/2020 05:14:53 PM


Lauren Park, Tikkun Olam Chair

The events of recent months and years have highlighted the pervasiveness of racism and discrimination in our society. Rabbi Greene has addressed racism, privilege, empathy and allyship in sermons. Bryant Heinzelman, our former youth director, and Rabbi Greene spoke to a gathering on Zoom about Bryant's experience and the experiences of other Jews of color in our community and in Jewish communities across the country. 

The Tikkun Olam Committee has taken up questions of racism and privilege and is exploring actions we can take as a congregation to be allies, to welcome people of color to our community, and to work to end systemic racism. This work is now included among the Board's goals for the congregation in the coming year. 

The Board of Directors adopted the statement below at its October Board meeting and approved the hanging of a sign on our building. I write to share this statement and links to Daisy Saragoussi's teaching at the start of that Board meeting and Amber Shay's personal story from Yom Kippur afternoon services. Both underscore the connection between Jewish tradition, our congregation's values and identity, empathy and allyship.

Throughout the past 400 years, Black people in America have been enslaved, subjugated, disenfranchised, murdered, and subjected to systemic discrimination. From generation to generation, white Americans, including white Jews, have often failed to call out and work to end the racial injustices upon which our nation was founded, and instead have actively or passively perpetuated these injustices.

Congregation Har HaShem recognizes that participating in Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, and pursuing justice are values deeply rooted in Jewish tradition. We strive to make positive change in the world, to be a welcoming and inclusive community, and to celebrate the spark of divinity within each and every person. As Reform Jews, committed to these core Jewish principles, we declare, unequivocally, that Black lives matter.

We stand in solidarity with the Black community, with Black Jews and Black people from all backgrounds against racial injustice.

We commit to work to dismantle systemic racism and white supremacy.

We recognize that the Jewish community and the Reform Jewish Movement are racially diverse, and that our diversity is a source of our strength.

We call on all of our white members to commit to reflection  upon our own white privilege, accepting that our own  actions or inaction have often contributed to ongoing racial injustice.

We commit to long-term solutions within Har HaShem as an organization, and externally in our communities, to end inherent biases and systemic racism.

We strive to become true allies and build meaningful relationships with Jews of color and people of color generally, and to work for reforms that will achieve real equality for Black people.

We affirm that Black lives matter.

—Adopted by Congregation Har HaShem's Board on October 5, 2020.

The Board, staff, and I also encourage you to view the videos and resources at these links:

We welcome your questions and comments,

Lauren Park
Chair, Tikkun Olam Committee


Sun, July 21 2024 15 Tammuz 5784