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Racial Justice Initiative

“It is upon me to receive the mitzvah of the Creator, to love your neighbor as yourself.”

Our Mission

The Racial Justice Initiative is committed to deepening our understanding of how racism impacts our economic, social, and justice systems, and working together to address these racial inequities.

The Legacy of Racism

  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found that the median net worth of a black family in Boston was $8.50 compared to $247,500 for a white family.
  • People of color are 7 times more likely to be imprisoned than whites—1/15 African American men vs. 1/106 white men. By the age of 14, approximately 25% of African American children have experienced a parent being imprisoned for some period of time, compared to 4% of white children.
  • Public school segregation is worst in the Northeastern states, with schools serving the largest African American populations severely underfunded and underperforming. In Boston, black and brown children often perform two grades below their white peers.
  • While the majority of the nation are homeowners, people of color are much less likely to own their own homes than whites—71.9% vs 42.3%.

Our Guiding Principles

Reflect: Work 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.

Upcoming Events

Sat 06

21 Day Racial Equity Challenge with TBE Online

Monday, March 1 - Sunday, March 21
Wed 10

RJI Quarterly Meeting: Refounding GBIO with TBE Online

Wednesday, March 10 | 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC-5
Apr 19

Reading Caste: Book Discussion with TBE Online

Monday, April 19 | 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC-5
Apr 26

Reading Caste: Book Discussion with TBE Online

Monday, April 26 | 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC-5
Jun 07

RJI Quarterly Meeting with TBE Online

Monday, June 7 | 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC-5

Reach Out

Ediss Gandelman
Sheri Kassirer

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Watch recordings of past events


Reflect (Education)

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

Ediss Gandelman

Relate (Direct Service)

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

Amy Benjamin

Reform (Action and Advocacy)

Engage in action and advocacy for legislative and other systemic change. 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.

Sheri Kassirer
Geoff Sherwood



Early in the U.S. pandemic, COVID-19 was dubbed “the
Great Equalizer,” a virus that exempted no one. But as
the pandemic has unfolded,
evidence mounts of its very unequal impact, with stark racial and socioeconomic disparities in morbidity and mortality.

Resoures for the “Unequal Impact of COVID-19” event

Slides from “Unequal Impact of COVID-19” presentation

Recording of “Unequal Impact of COVID-19” event

News & Updates

Shop Small, Eat Big

Shop Small, Eat Big

It’s valuable to us to imagine sharing a meal with all of you, our temple community, even if we can’t be together.

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