Racial Justice

Temple Beth Elohim's Racial Justice Initiative 

"To simply acknowledge past transgressions is not enough; we must also pledge to not repeat them...talking about race and taking action to respond to racism allows us to prevent history from repeating itself." - Rabbi Philip Sherman, in his Rosh Hashanah Sermon. To watch his sermon in full, please click here.

Click here to read our mission and guiding principles.

Click here to read the minutes of our most recent meeting.

Click here to see a helpful list of questions and answers about the GBIO Criminal Justice Reform campaign.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact our co-leaders Sheri Kassirer or Ediss Gandelman


Upcoming Events

The Color of Law Community Read and Program
Tuesday, February 27, 7:00 pm: Community Discussion
Monday, March 26, 7:00 pm: Author Event

Join TBE’s Racial Justice Initiative in exploring housing and racial inequities by reading The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein and participating in a discussion group lead by Nova Biro and Henry Korman on February 27. Follow up on March 26 at the World of Wellesley event, featuring author Rothstein at the Wellesley Community Center.

For more information, please contact Ediss Gandelman

Want to buy the book? Click here to easily purchase it through Amazon!

Racial Justice Initiative Meeting: "Fair Housing: How did we get like this and What can we do about it?"
Monday, March 5, 7:00 pm

The Racial Justice Initiative is working to deepen our understanding of how racism impacts our economic, social and justice systems and how we can work together to address these racial inequities. At the March RJI meeting, we continue our exploration of how federal, state and local governments' policies promoted discriminatory patterns in housing to create and reinforce segregation.

For information contact Ediss Gandelman at [email protected] or Sheri Kassirer at [email protected].


Building a Safer Community: How to be an Active Bystander (Upstander) 
Monday, March 19, 7:00pm-9:00pm

Learn concrete techniques for combatting harassment, bullying, violence, and injustice. 

What should I do when I see someone being targeted?
Should I intervene?
How can I help in a safe way?
What if I know the “harm doer”?  What if I don't?

Join us for an interactive workshop which uses group activities, brainstorming and role playing to teach how to analyze harm doing situations and assists participants in discovering the positive power of bystanders.
Led by trained facilitators from Quabbin Mediation, a member of the International Association of Conflict Resolution and the National Association for Community Mediation.


Click here to RSVP. Please RSVP by March 12 for planning purposes.

Racial Justice Initiative Subcommittees


Reflect (Education) Subcommittee      Chair:  Ediss Gandelman

Provide an educational framework to explore topics of interest to the committee and the broader TBE community. Potential activities could include: films, book clubs, book reviews, panels, performances.

Relate (Direct Service) Subcommittee  Chairs:  Amy Benjamin and Geoff Sherwood

Provide direct service opportunities that allow members to develop sustained, meaningful relationships with individuals and communities most directly impacted by racism and racial injustice. Our first proposed project is Partakers “College Behind Bars” Mentoring program, which trains and matches church- and synagogue-based teams of volunteers with incarcerated men and women participating in the Boston University Prison Education Program.

Reform (Action and Advocacy) Subcommittee        Chair:  Sheri Kassirer

Engage in action and advocacy for legislative and other systemic change. For the past year TBE RJI has participated in the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) Criminal Justice Reform campaign targeting the MA legislature. GBIO priorities include eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing, bail reform, reducing solitary confinement, and reducing/eliminating excessive fines. The subcommittee may identify other areas and opportunities for action and advocacy.


Mission and Guiding Principles


Racism remains a critical barrier for far too many people in America. Through our Jewish value of tikkun olam -- repairing the world -- the TBE community can engage in acts of loving kindness to understand and address racism and racial injustice through community building and social action.


To provide opportunities for the TBE community to further develop our understanding of how racism impacts our economic, social and justice systems and to engage in work to address these racial inequities. By participating in this work we hope to see our community transformed towards a deeper understanding and engagement with issues around racial justice. 

Guiding Principles

The following guiding principles will guide our racial justice activities:

Reflect: Work internally within our own community to deepen our understanding of the historical and present systems that contribute to racism.
Relate: Develop relationships within the Jewish community and across race with partners we can collaborate with to support racial justice efforts.
Reform: Take meaningful and powerful action with our partners in pursuit of policy changes to dismantle structural racism at all levels -- local, state and national -- and across all institutions and systems -- education, food, housing, law enforcement and criminal justice, media and wealth creation.

These principles are based on the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC)’s Racial Justice Campaign model.

הריני מקבל עלי
את מצות הבוֹרא
ואהבתה לרעך כמוֹך
Hareini m’kabel alai
et mitzvat ha’boreh
v’ahavta l’reacha kamocha
"It is upon me to receive the mitzvah of the Creator, to love your neighbor as yourself."


Past Events

"13th" Film Screening and Conversation
May 11, 6:30pm

TBE's new racial justice initiative hosted a conversation and screening of 13th, a thought-provoking, Academy Award nominated, documentary that provides in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation's history of racial inequality.