Within and Beyond our Walls: Anti-racism Task Force:
The Within Our Walls and Beyond: Anti-racism Task Force launched in October 2020 and is comprised of 16 Temple members. Task Force members will conduct a deep analysis of Temple Emanu-El activities, departmental procedures, and structures through a lens of racial reconciliation, healing, and anti-racism. The goal of the year-long task force is to present Temple Emanu-El leadership, staff, and congregants with a detailed anti-racism, racial reconciliation, and racial healing 3-5 year strategic plan focused on dismantling racism within our community and beyond. The plan will include actionable steps, timelines and task force recommendations to address racism as well as cultivate a more inclusive environment for all. We believe this strategy will allow our community to engage authentically and mindfully with this difficult subject matter while also illuminating and addressing systemic racialized blind spots. For more information on the work of our congregational Task Force, please contact Alexandra Horn.
Facing our Truths:
Our new small groups on race titled "Facing our Truths" launched in December 2020 with 20 small groups comprised of approximately 175 members. Our second cohort of small groups on race will launch in summer 2021. Questions? Contact Alexandra Horn. Below you can read more about our grounding questions and overall goals.
• What truths do I need to face about the past?
• What truths do I need to face about my own self?
• What is at stake in the present?
• What is our role and responsibility as we make our way into the future?
• Explore new ways (new sentences) to think — about race, privilege, and power.
• Raise our awareness/consciousness of systemic oppression, bias, and implicit and explicit racism.
• Create community space — for authentic, open, vulnerable, heart-centered dialogue and to engage/encounter these truths with one another.
• Hold tension — be open to existing in the grey, hear our deeper voice, listen for deeper meaning.
• Strengthen relationships — to both better understand ourselves and others as well as see the value of community.
• Create opportunities for transformation of our own understanding and actions
Congregational Statement - June 1, 2020:
On Shavuot, we commemorated our standing at Mt. Sinai to receive God’s blueprint for a better world. In these days of fire, fear and rage for our nation, we are summoned to stand again.
The death of George Floyd is the latest in a too-long Kaddish list of people of color who have died in the context of police brutality, with names like Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and Sandra Bland still echoing in our hearts and in the streets. At Temple, we affirm every day our gratitude for members of the police force who keep our building and our community safe. And we are painfully aware of the long and lacerating experience of communities of color in experiencing injustice and violence at the hands of the criminal justice system.
Nearly a century ago, Rabbi Lefkowitz was standing up to the Ku Klux Klan. More than half a century ago, Rabbi Olan was standing with Dr. Martin Luther King. More recently, we partnered with African American faith groups to expand healthcare to the underprivileged through the Affordable Care Act. More recently, notwithstanding our best efforts and intentions, we have all fallen woefully short in curtailing the systemic racism that has shaped our country, our communities, and even ourselves.
“Please, I can’t breathe.” George Floyd’s final gasping for breath comes at a time not only of recent deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, but when people of color are disproportionately impacted by our current pandemic—as many are hourly and essential workers thereby facing illness, death and unemployment. The pain is palpable, and we, as heirs to Sinai, are summoned to stand against violence, and for justice. We stand by engaging in conversations about privilege and our own inherent biases, through listening and learning, through partnerships within our city and across our own diverse Jewish community.
We know that many of you are searching for concrete ways to respond to the current crisis. In the coming days and weeks, we will be reaching out within the Temple, Dallas and greater community to identify how Temple and its members can commit to the necessary work of anti-racism and response to injustice.
In the meantime, we commend you to the following resources and organizations:
#RepresentationMatters: Jews of Color and the Importance of Diversity
- Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)
- Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR)
- Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
- National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW)
- How to be Actively Antiracist
- If you are white and asking, “What can I do?” by Rabbi Judith Schindler
- Resources for talking to children about race
- Jews of Color Field Building Initiative: a national effort focused on building and advancing the professional, organizational and communal field for Jews of Color.
- Luke 4:18 Bail Fund: help reduce our current jail population swelled by underprivileged people, including protesters, who cannot make bail in Dallas County.
At Temple we have a robust advocacy team, please contact us if you are interested in getting more involved, or join our Temple Responds Facebook group. Additional advocacy efforts:
- Friday and Saturday Morning Shabbat Services via Facebook Live