Racial Inequality in America: Judaism, Human Equality, and the Quest for Justice
January 11, 2015
Fifty years ago, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote: “Few of us seem to realize how insidious, how radical, how universal an evil racism is. Few of us realize that racism is man’s gravest threat to man, the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason, the maximum of cruelty for a minimum of thinking.” America has undoubtedly come far since Heschel spoke these words, but how far? Where have we come, and where we do still need to go? Join us for a remarkable day of learning, as we explore Jewish approaches to human equality and discuss some of the most painful and pressing questions facing America.
Sessions include: Read more »
Have you battled an eating disorder or another form of disordered eating?
Have you grappled to make peace with your body?
Have you struggled to live within your body in an embodied way?
Have you had difficulty navigating transitions in your body due to development, life stage or lifestyle?
Have you suffered as you made peace with your sexuality, sexual identity or gender identity?
Are there ways in which you have resolved these issues?
We are currently in the midst of collecting soulful personal narratives from Jewish individuals for an upcoming anthology about the ways in which body, body experience and the related struggles intersect with one’s religion or identity. We will then edit, compile, and anthologize this collection of stories of soul and spirit and hope they will foster courage, communication, connection and compassion – both for ourselves and for others. We want to represent the full breadth of experience in a non-hierarchical way without sensationalizing suffering. Everyone is worthy and deserves to share their story. You don’t have to earn it with suffering at some pre-set benchmark. Length is not a factor as we want you to feel free to tell your story in as full or brief a form as feels complete, poignant and fulfilling to you. Longer may be better for some people to feel that they have fully expressed a true and full narrative that explains the arc of their journey. Others may choose to focus on a particularly meaningful or touching moment, anecdote, or experience and we want to leave room for all of those voices and perspectives in this compilation. Read more »
USY, the youth group of the Conservative Movement, has long had policies demanding that kids in regional and international leadership positions follow particular standards. Three of these standards have always risen to the top of the list of those that are the most enforced and the most discussed: keep kosher, keep Shabbat, don’t date outside of the faith. These standards were adopted by youth leaders for youth leaders, although they were generally adopted by kids of a previous generation. This week, at USY’s International Convention, the board debated reframing the standards around both Shabbat observance and interfaith relationships. They voted to retain the Shabbat standard as is and reword the dating standard to encourage (rather than require) endogamous dating while also adding important language about teens treating those whom they date with respect. Although JTA reported this as USY dropping the ban on interdating, USY leadership asserted that is not the case.
As a former USY regional president (who didn’t really date at all in high school, due in no small part to my decision to stay in the closet thanks to a different set of Conservative Movement rules that made me sure a gay kid wouldn’t be welcome in USY leadership), I want to publicly applaud the current teen leaders of USY for taking this step. (I wish they had gone further and dismantled the entire concept of standards, but that’s a post for another day.)
Apparently, USY alumni have been up in arms about these proposals for weeks. I didn’t hear about them until after the JTA article came out, which caused another wave of USY has-beens freaking out. I don’t think my take on this is going to surprise any long-time Jewschool readers, but I’m going to lay it out anyway.
I’m feeling conflicted about the lighting of the White House hanukkiah (Hanukkah menorah) by two students from Jerusalem’s Hand in Hand school. I think the school is wonderful, and I’m so glad it’s getting attention from the President of the U.S. His comments were beautiful, and giving publicity and support to such groundbreaking organizations is good for Israel and the Jews.
But I also feel like there’s a time and place to make political statements about Israel – which is unarguably the effect when you have students from an Israeli Jewish-Arab school light the President’s Hanukkah candles (including one student who is not Jewish), with a hanukkiah made by Jewish and Arab Israeli students.
Editor’s Note: This post is the eighth in Jewschool’s series of reflections on Judaism, Jewish identity, race and the events in Ferguson.
I spent the first night of Chanukah this year at Coolidge Corner in Brookline, MA. This was the Boston-area location for the multi-city #ChanukahAction: A Jewish Day of Action to End Police Violence event. I had a number of anxieties in advance, but it proved to be a powerful evening with moments of hope and inspiration.
My concerns began with a Facebook event wall littered with infighting that I feared would travel offline to the actual event. Could we focus on one issue, and keep the focus away from ourselves? Could we raise awareness in our own community without silencing and ignoring those who have already been marginalized? I had been to a protest organized by Black Lives Matter Boston in November, organized and led by people of color. I recognized why Jews needed to rally around the cause, but it was unclear how. Frankly, could we do this without damaging the larger movement?