Racial Justice

"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 see notes on our past meetings 

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

Racial Justice Initiative Quarterly Meeting Special Guest Speaker
Rahsaan Hall, Director of the Racial Justice Program, MA ACLU
Monday, October 15, 7:00 pm
photo courtesty of Betsy Schneider

The Racial Justice Initiative (RJI) provides opportunities to further develop our understanding of how racism impacts our economic, social and justice systems to address these racial inequities. Counselor Rahsaan Hall will discuss the crucial role of the District Attorney in creating a path towards creating criminal justice reform.  This will be our Hot Topic for the October meeting.

District Attorneys play a critical role in the criminal justice system and they are accountable to us directly.  They are elected officials! The primaries may be over BUT there is still a lot we can do to hold our district attorneys accountable:  we can evaluate how they perform by observing them in court! The ACLU in concert with GBIO in organizing training along these lines. We can also write letters to the editor of our local newspapers, we can demand more transparency in court proceedings, and there may be other actions we can take.  Come and learn.

Learn more & RSVP: Ediss Gandelman, [email protected]

 


 

Birth of a Movement Film and Discussion
Sunday, October 21, 6:45 pm

In 1915, Boston-based African American newspaper editor and activist William M. Trotter waged a battle against D.W. Griffith’s technically groundbreaking but notoriously Ku Klux Klan-friendly The Birth of a Nation, unleashing a fight that still rages today about race relations, media representation, and the power and influence of Hollywood. Birth of a Movement, based on Dick Lehr's book The Birth of a Movement: How Birth of a Nation Ignited the Battle for Civil Rights, captures the backdrop to this prescient clash between human rights, freedom of speech, and a changing media landscape.

Join us to view this compelling documentary and discussion with the film’s director, Richard “Dick” Lehr; featured scholars , Dr. Dolita Cathcart, Associate Professor, Wheaton College and Dr. Robert Bellinger, Associate Professor, Suffolk University; and moderator Mr. Michael Curry, Esq., Sr. Vice President of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers.

Learn more & RSVP: Ediss Gandelman, [email protected]


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

Background

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.

Mission

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."
 

 


Meeting Notes

Click here to read the minutes for our May 24 2018 Quarterly Meeting

Click here to read the minutes for our May 7 2018 Quarterly Meeting

Click here to read the minutes for our March 5 2018 Quarterly Meeting

Click here to read the minutes of our December 17 2017 Quarterly Meeting.


Past Events

 

Tour of Old Jewish Boston and Why We Left
Tour of Old Jewish Boston
Sunday, May 6
Racial Justice Initiative Discussion: 
The Death of an American Jewish Community
Monday, May 7

From the turn of the 20th century through the 1960’s, the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan were thriving Jewish communities.  We explored famous landmarks—synagogues, the G&G Deli, Simco’s Restaurant—in a walking tour on to learn how federal, state and local housing policies contributed to the exodus to the suburbs and to Boston’s segregated neighborhoods. The following evening, we met to discuss the tour and the further explain what happened as described in Hillel Levine and Lawrence Harmon’s 1992 book, The Death of an American Jewish Community: A Tragedy of Good Intentions.


"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.