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.

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

Opportunities for Immediate Action

Criminal Justice Reform - MA State House of Representatives calls

The Massachusetts State Senate passed a Criminal Justice Reform bill! Now it's the House's turn. By using a new tool developed by the JCRC, you can contact your state representative with a click of a button, with a phone script right in front of you. Learn more and take action at the link! If you have any questions, please contact Sheri Kassirer.


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

Upcoming Events


Unlocking Potential by Supporting Education Behind Bars
Monday, December 4, 7:00 pm 

TBE’s Racial Justice Initiative (RJI) is forging a new partnership with PARTAKERS, a community organization that provides education support to incarcerated men and women in Massachusetts. Join us as we hear from Partakers Executive Director Arthur Bembury about the College Behind Bars Mentoring Program and the transformative power of education in prison. We will also learn about forming our own RJI mentor teams to work with incarcerated students.  We hope you will stay after Arthur’s presentation to learn more about RJI’s education and advocacy efforts.  The Racial Justice Initiative engages TBE members to work toward a community transformed by a deeper understanding and activism on issues of racial injustice.

Learn more and RSVP: Sheri Kassirer or Ediss Gandelman

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.