Observe Black History Month by Addressing Oppression in our Communities: Use These Jewish Resources

In the United States, Canada, and the U.K., each February is designated as Black History Month, an opportunity to celebrate the history and achievements of Black people while looking toward a more equitable and just future.

We know that our Jewish community is racially and ethnically diverse. In order to fully understand, recognize, and embrace the full diversity of today’s Jewish community, it’s vital that we hear, raise up, and internalize the stories of Jews of Color in their own words. The following resources are written or recorded by Black, biracial, and multiracial Jews to help Jewish communities fully embrace the diversity of Reform Judaism.

  1. Learn why racial equity, diversity, and inclusion matter so much: Read "Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity: What are They and Why Do They Matter to Us?" and share it with your community to learn more about the inseparability of Judaism and the pursuit of social justice, including racial justice.
  2. Hear from Black Jewish leaders: In "Honoring Black History Month and Creating a Better Future," Chris Harrison writes, “As Black Jewish leaders in particular, we are tasked to uphold our identities in the face of oppression in the pursuit of tzedektzedekצדקJustice and tikkun olamtikkun olamתִּקּוּן עוֹלָם"Repair of the world;" Jewish concept that it is our responsibility to partner with God to improve the world. A mystical concept of restoration of God's holiest Name to itself and the repair of a shattered world. Often refers to social action and social justice. .” Other Black Jewish leaders join him in sharing their insight and perspectives, as well.
  3. Listen to the stories of Black, biracial, and multiracial Jews: In these deeply personal, one-on-one interviews from season one of our Wholly Jewish podcast, Black, biracial, and multiracial Jews share their experiences, insights, and how they create a more vibrant Jewish community.
  4. Start a conversation with your congregation, community, or family: In a powerful video message, three Jewish leaders of Color speak about the history of racial oppression in the U.S. and how we can hold ourselves accountable for a call to change, repair, and disrupt.
  5. Consider these three questions: In “Owning Our Racial Equity Work Ahead: Three Things We Must Do," Yolanda Savage-Narva, the Union for Reform Judaism’s director of Racial, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, calls on each of us to do three things to advance our racial equity work. This video includes accompanying reflection questions.
  6. Learn about microaggressions: Perpetrators of microaggressions are often not even aware they’re committing them – but the result, nonetheless, is that individuals on the receiving end may feel unwelcome, alienated, or unsafe in spaces they belong.
  7. Read books, watch movies, and more related to racial justice: The Union for Reform Judaism shares a robust racial justice media list that includes books, films, podcasts, and more to delve into antiracism work and examine institutional racism and privilege.

Of course, it is not enough to listen to the voices of Jews of Color; our communities must also commit to taking decisive steps to build a more equitable future. Indeed, a key component of the pursuit of racial equity, diversity, and inclusion is action.

Here are a few resources to help you and your Jewish community take action for racial justice:

  1. Urge Congress to pursue and prioritize racial justice: The United States simply cannot achieve the values of “justice for all” to which it aspires until we address ongoing racism in all sectors at all levels of society. Visit the Religious Action Center’s racial justice page to contact your elected officials and advocate for racial justice.
  2. Learn more about reparations: The ongoing wounds of slavery and more than four centuries of entrenched racial oppression continues to impact every part of American society. Learn more and ask Congress to support the study and development of reparations for slavery and systemic racism.
  3. Commit your congregation to the work of Audacious Hospitality: Audacious Hospitality is the Reform Jewish Movement's focused effort on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (REDI). The Union for Reform Judaism’s Audacious Hospitality resources will help you make your community more equitable.
  4. Delve into additional racial justice resources: Want to start a social justice book club or organize a conversation about racial justice in your congregation? Find even more materials designed for synagogues and communities to spur learning and conversation about racial diversity, the deep racial disparities that afflict our society, and how Reform Jews can continue to work for racial justice.