Want to be more actively antiracist but feel unsure where to start? To help guide those who are curious about antiracism and allyship on the right track, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) has assembled a robust list of resources that provide an informative and engaging look into institutional racism, privilege, and the lived experiences of Jews of Color.
We invite you to review and reflect on these resources on your own and to share and discuss them within your congregations and communities. We also encourage you to use these resources as a starting point to generate thought-provoking discussions and to support you in the social justice and antiracism work that lies ahead.
For more on the topic of racial justice, including action items and legislative updates, visit the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism's racial justice page.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism has created discussion guides for several social justice-themed books, including three on topics related to racial justice. Learn more about how to start a social justice book club to discuss these books and the topics explored within as a group.
Here are additional books that touch on these topics.
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- Ain’t I a Woman by bell hooks
- Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Black White and Jewish by Rebecca Walker
- Black Anti-Semitism and Jewish Racism by James Baldwin (and others)
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- The Colors of Jews by Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz
- The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
- How Jews Became White Folks and What That Says About Race in America by Karen Brodkin
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- In the Shadow of Race: Jews, Latinos, and Immigrant Politics in the United States by Victoria C. Hattam
- Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
- Moral Resistance and Spiritual Authority: Our Jewish Obligation to Social Justice by Rabbi Seth M. Limmer, DHL & Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, editors (see, especially, the essay “When Good Isn’t Enough: Understanding Racial Privilege and Challenging Racial Injustice” by Ilana Kaufman and Rabbi Rebekah P. Stern)
- To Stand Aside or Stand Alone by P. Allen Krause
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, PhD
- Waking Up White by Debby Irving
- Uprooting Racism by Paul Kivel
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
- Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? By Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD
Looking for children's books? See "The Multi-Cultural Library: Books Suggestions for Children."
- "After Pittsburgh, is Anyone Considering Jews of Color?" by Ilana Kaufman (JWeekly)
- "Bagels, Lox, and Grits: Defining My Jewish Identity" by Yolanda Savage-Narva (ReformJudaism.org)
- "Black, Jewish and Avoiding the Synagogue on The High Holy Days" by Leah Donnella (NPR)
- "The Black Jews Are Tired" by Chris Harrison (ReformJudaism.org)
- "Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity: What are They and Why Do They Matter to Us?" by April Baskin (ReformJudaism.org)
- "Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person" by Gina Crosley-Corcoran (Duke University School of Medicine)
- "Finding My Jewish Soul: A Black Army Veteran’s Journey to Judaism" by Bryant Heinzelman (ReformJudaism.org)
- "I Am Always All Parts of My Identity – and I Hope You Are, Too" by Everlyn A. Hunter (ReformJudaism.org)
- "Ilana Kaufman: Black, Jewish, and Challenging Ideas about the Face of Federation" by Rebecca Spence (JWeekly)
- "Jews of Color and Who Counts in the Jewish Community" by Ilana Kaufman and Ari Kelman (Times of Israel)
- “Just Because I’m Jewish Doesn’t Mean I’m Not Black” by Evan Traylor (ReformJudaism.org)
- "Mourning, Broken, Afraid: A Letter to My Friends" by Jessi Kingston (ReformJudaism.org)
- "Privileged" by Kyle Korver (The Players’ Tribune)
- "What Does it Mean to ‘Code Switch’ in Jewish Spaces?" by Chris Harrison (ReformJudaism.org)
- "What I Said When My White Friend Asked for My Black Opinion on White Privilege" by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (Yes Magazine)
- "White Jews: It Is on Us" by Ali Rosenblatt (ReformJudaism.org)
- "Why I Am a Zionist for Black Lives Matter" by Rabbi Josh Weinberg (ReformJudaism.org)
- "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" by Peggy McIntosh (Racial Equity Tools)
Films and TV Shows
- 13th (2016)
- 3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets (2015)
- Black Panther (2018)
- BlacKkKlansman (2018)
- Do the Right Thing (1989)
- Dear White People (film, 2014) / Dear White People (series, 2017)
- Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2012)
- Fruitvale Station (2013)
- The Hate U Give (2018)
- I Am Not Your Negro (2017)
- If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
- Just Mercy (2019)
- Little White Lie (2014)
- Not in Our Town: Billings (2015)
- Not in Our Town: Light in the Darkness (2011)
- Queen Sugar (2016)
- Rosenwald (2015)
- Waking in Oak Creek (2014)
- Watchmen (2019)
Though nearly two decades older, we also recommend Race the Power of an Illusion (2003), a three-part PBS mini-series with a downloadable discussion guide.
- Episode I: "The Difference Between Us": Focuses on human variation and confronting our myths about race
- Episode II, "The Story We Tell": Focuses on history and origins of the racial idea
- Episode III, "The House We Live In": Focuses on systemic racism, including how institutions and policies preference some groups at the expense of others.
- Code Switch by NPR
- Judaism Unbound: "Audacious Hospitality" (episode 90) featuring April Baskin and "100% Black, 100% Jewish" (episode 162) featuring MaNishtana
- Race Matters by NPR
- This American Life by NPR: "The Problem We All Live With" (episodes 362-363)
- Wholly Jewish by ReformJudaism.org: Season one features 15 interviews with individuals from the Union for Reform Judaism JewV’Nation Fellowship’s Jews of Color Leadership Cohort.
- "Who Counts? Race and the Jewish Future": The way we talk about ourselves as a Jewish community matters. Who tends to be counted, and who tends to be left out of the story? In this 15-minute ELI Talk, Ilana Kaufman issues a challenge to the Jewish community to think about racial diversity in our own spaces.
- "How to Overcome our Biases: Walk Boldly Toward Them": Our biases can be dangerous, and even deadly, as we've seen in the cases of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and others. Diversity advocate Vernā Myers looks closely at some of the subconscious attitudes we hold, and in this 16-minute TED Talk, she makes a plea to all people: Acknowledge your biases, then move toward, not away from, the groups that make you uncomfortable. In a funny, impassioned, important talk, she shows us how.
- Video Series: "What is Systemic Racism?": This series of short videos from Race Forward focuses on unpacking how significant aspects of our society are organized and impacted by race, including the wealth gap, employment, housing discrimination and government surveillance.
- "How to Tell Someone They Sound Racist": This three-minute video from Jay Smooth unpacks the difference between the “what you did” conversation and the “who you are” conversation. It’s a great way to open a discussion about confronting racist language, ideas and practices without getting lost in issues of character or motive.
- "5 Tips for Being an Ally" by Franchesca Ramsey (YouTube, 2014)
- "Let’s Get to the Root of Racial Injustice" by Megan Ming Francis (TED Talk, 2016)
- "Practical Diversity: Taking Inclusion from Theory to Practice" by Dr. Dawn Bennett-Alexander (TED Talk, 2015)
Additional Resources for Congregations and Communities
These racial justice resource lists are just a fraction of what is available from the Union for Reform Judaism. We also encourage you to request and download the URJ Audacious Hospitality Community Assessment, a starting point for reflection, conversation, and action within yourself and your community. See also:
- URJ Colorblind Mentality Resource
- URJ Community Racial Justice Checklist
- “A Tool for White People Navigating Conversations About Race”