Thank you for joining our initial discussion on race. Our goal for tonight is to begin to hear the perspectives of blacks in our community, beginning with Jews who happen to be black. Ultimately, we want to have a list of questions that we would want to explore as a congregation and create an opportunity to explore those questions together.
The following are a few questions suggested by the short essays in the article ’Believe Us’: Black Jews respond to George Floyd protests, in their own words which can be accessed by navigating a browser to http://bit.ly/jewsofcolor.
Moving from “What can I do?” to “Here is what I’m thinking of doing. Does this align with your vision?”
Having a hard time managing white Jews’ work while being feeling traumatized and heartbroken.
Why is she feeling traumatized and heartbroken?
“[Riots] didn’t happen after the Holocaust, why are black people acting like this?” How would we answer that question? Would it have been better if Jews would have rioted as Hitler rose to power?
Are we able to focus on the terrible experience of blacks in our country without minimizing the experiences of our ancestors?
Can a white person whose family suffered in the Holocaust also experience the benefits of being white while living in America? Is it helpful to compare stories of suffering to see which one was worse or which one is legitimate?
Would it be beneficial to learn the larger context in which racial discussions take place? For instance, understanding the historical relationship between the black community and police.
Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell
When Jews were suffering in Europe, they didn’t think of it as “the old country,” it was just the place where they experienced state-sanctioned violence. We wished that the general population would have stood up for us. How are we like the general population living in a place with state-sanctioned racism?
Why are so many whites (Jewish and otherwise), speaking out now? How can we transform our speaking into action?
How can we reach out to black Jews and other Jews of color, so they know that we care about them as well? Why is it so difficult for blacks to be believed when they say that they are unjustly suffering?
“Institutional” or “systemic” racism refers to inherent unfairness or oppression in society that keeps blacks and other minorities intrenched in cycles of poverty. Are you able to view some of our society’s institutions and systems from the perspective of a black person and identify how they are unfair or oppressive? How might our ability to empathize with the black experience better enable us to improve our society?