COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT | REPAIR THE WORLD
Racial Justice Initiative
“It is upon me to receive the mitzvah of the Creator, to love your neighbor as yourself.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
News & Updates
We carried the teaching, “Justice, justice you shall pursue.” The power of the repeated word, justice, would be present throughout our journey.
Shabbat Shirah fortuitously fell on the same weekend that TBE commemorated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Our team visits MCI Concord monthly to mentor Randy, a 30-year-old man who has been incarcerated for 11 years, as he earns his degree.