Qabbalat Shabbat: Friday, 6:00 p.m. Torah Study: Saturday, 9:00-11:00 a.m. Weekday Minyan: 6:15 p.m.

#10days10ways

Please join us as we engage in righteous action during the 10 Days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur…and beyond!

We invite you to participate in TIkkun Central’s 10 Days (or more) of Awe/Racial Justice Reflections with us, as we open our minds and hearts to discuss justice and take action for a better world, using a racial equity lens.

Here’s how it works:

  • You will be provided with a variety of activities for each of the 10 days by joining our Facebook group or emailing Community Organizer, Tali Puterman at tputerman@tisrael.org for a PDF version.
  • Participate in some or all of our 10 Days, pick one or more of the activities, participate during the 10 days or throughout the year, and then use the discussion prompts as a way to reflect on the activity.
  • Engage with your family and friends – this project is not limited to people in our synagogue or even to Jewish people. We’ve included age recommendations for those who want to participate with children.

The 10 Days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the holiest time of year for Jewish people. We engage in cheshbon ha’nefesh, or “accounting of the soul”, to consider deeply how we could have been better people in the past year and what we need to do to be better in the next year.

With 10 Days (or more) of Awe/Racial Justice Reflections, we have taken the tradition of cheshbon ha’nefesh and applied it to the realm of social justice. We are exploring how we can be more righteous people, how we can recommit to fighting for racial and economic justice, environmental protections, immigrant rights, women’s rights, and the rights of LGBTQ+ people. This is a responsibility we feel called to adopt, even (or perhaps especially) if it’s hard for us. Social justice is in the mission statement of our synagogue: we live our Judaism through righteous impact.

We’re excited to begin this challenge with you. There are so many ways to engage with this project. Reflect in private over your morning coffee or while decompressing after work. Gain and share insight with others during dinner with family, or friends, or via social media. React artistically or through journal writing if that is powerful for you. Whatever process you choose, we hope you will find meaning in this heartfelt self-assessment.

Whether you have engaged on all 10 days or only some, please join us at Temple Israel on September 23 at 7:00 p.m. for TIkkun Central’s Sukkot vegetarian potluck dinner and service where we will reflect together on this process. To RSVP or learn more about TIkkun Central at Temple Israel, email Community Organizer Tali Puterman at tputerman@tisrael.org.

Why I’m participating in 10 Days (or more!) of Awe/Racial Justice Reflections

  • Posted by Tali Puterman
  • On August 23, 2018
  • 0 Comments
By Tali Puterman, Temple Israel of Boston’s Social Justice Educator and Community Organizer Growing up, my Judaism was a barrier to my engagement in social justice work. While tzedakah projects like “Spread on Bread” to feed the hungry were heavily valued, institutionalized racism was not acknowledged. As a White Jew, I was not taught to […]
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For some people discussions about race are very uncomfortable and something they avoid. For others, race can be a topic that is not discussed enough, and they find frank conversations about racial injustice a relief–we’re FINALLY talking about it! Wherever you are, we challenge you to participate in this conversation with us.

❏ Watch this TED Talk “Color Blind or Color Brave?” with Mellody Hobson (15 minutes).

❏ Read this blogpost from A Musing Maralee, “To the White Parents of my Black Son’s Friends” (quick read).

❏ Take this Racial Inventory. This activity is designed to bring to the forefront for people of all  races thoughtful discussion and analysis of particular racial dynamics in order to explore issues of power, privilege, oppression, and self-knowledge.

Deep dive discussion prompts:

1. What do discussions of race feel like for you? Why do you think discussions about race feel that way? How do you feel your own race impacts your feelings about race?

2. Reflect on your results from the Racial Inventory. What surprised you? What did you learn about yourself?

3. Have you ever defined yourself as racially “color blind”? How have you defined your relationship to race in the past? In what ways has that evolved during your life? What has helped your relationship to race evolve? Who has been impacted by your relationship to race?

At Temple Israel, there is a culture of caring for and about each other. Caring is contagious, and being there for each other creates a more connected and compassionate community. TI Cares, our caring and compassion network, ensures that support and assistance are available to everyone within our synagogue family. We offer support and help in times of sorrow and to offer congratulations in times of joy.

❏ Read NPR Code Switch on “Black, Jewish and Avoiding the Synagogue on Yom Kippur” (quick read). (Appropriate for people ages 10 and up)

❏ Read this passage from Telushkin’s “Living Jewish Values” and think about how kindness fits into your day (quick read). (Appropriate for people of all ages)

❏ Bring a jar of peanut butter and a box of raisins to Temple Israel to contribute to Jewish Children and Family Services Family Table, or a bag of non-perishable healthy foods to your local food bank. (Appropriate for people of all ages)

Deep dive discussion prompts:
1. Have you ever felt awkward because of the way someone was looking at you, while you were in a space that was supposedly “welcoming”? How did that make you feel about the space/community in general? When confronted with such situations, how do you strike a balance between pushing back and making the space more welcoming for yourself and retreating for the sake of self care?

2. Have you ever felt surprised by the appearance of someone in your community? Were you aware of your own gaze? Have you ever felt your own gaze making another person uncomfortable? How do you make spaces comfortable for others when you are internally dealing with your own assumptions?

3. In what ways do the assumptions we make inhibit our ability to create a caring community? Can you think of a time when an assumption you made might not have been inclusive or caring?

4. When we think about the year to come, what action steps can we take to make our community more inclusive and caring?

5. Are you part of a “caring community”? If yes, how can you strengthen that community? How it strengthen you?

Through a lens of intersectionality, we can see that our interlocking identities (such as race, class, gender, sexual orientation) compound to shape the way we experience the world, and the ways the world responds to us. The experiences of marginalized people cannot be understood by looking at their identities as separate entities; rather, their identities overlap to create complex systems of discrimination and disadvantage.

❏ Watch this TED Talk by Kimberlé Crenshaw, “The Urgency of Intersectionality” (20 minutes)

❏ With “Investigating Identity” from the Museum of Modern Art, explore how artists challenge identity and intersectionality in their works. To reflect on your own identities, see their Questions and Activities section.

Deep dive discussion prompts:
1. Think about the spaces you occupy. Pick at least one space you frequent (e.g. work, synagogue, school, social group) and reflect on its inclusivity of various identities. Is it racially, religiously, and ethnically diverse? Is there representation from the LGBTQ+ communities? Is it socioeconomically diverse? Is it accessible for people with disabilities?

2. Have you felt times when you were pressured to prioritize one of your identities above others? For instance, has there been a time when your gender was “more important” than your race? (Or your sexual orientation was “more important” than your economic situation?) Have you ever felt one of your identities was being ignored?

3. What are some ways you can make people around you in your everyday life aware of the ways different identities intersect?

Temple Israel has a long history of fighting for equality and inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community. Currently, Temple Israel is partnering with the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action to defend equal rights for transgender people in Massachusetts.

❏ This November, there will be a question (#3) on the Massachusetts ballot that will ask us whether or not we want to uphold protections for transgender people in public places. Learn about this ballot question and consider signing this pledge to vote YES and maintain Massachusetts law that makes it illegal to discriminate against transgender people in public spaces.

❏ Ask your family members and friends who live in Massachusetts to become educated about this ballot question and consider signing the pledge too. Find at least five people today.

❏ Look at this transgender teen’s artwork. Pick one and discuss with a friend: What’s going on in this image? What did you see that makes you say that? What more can we find?

Deep dive discussion prompts:

1. Are you in charge of any public spaces, either directly or indirectly? What are some ways that you could make spaces safer and more welcoming for transgender community members?

2. Given that violence against transgender people disproportionately affects people of color, do you think there is more that communities can do to collaborate with each other to keep young transgender people safe? Are you aware of collaboration between trans communities and communities of color already? Do you feel like your community is a safe space for trans people? Do you feel like your community is a safe space for people of color? Why or why not? If you feel like your community is safe, do you know any people of the aforementioned identities who would agree? How can we be more welcoming?

3. An ally is someone who we can count on to support us and speak out on our behalf when we are unable to do so. Think about a time when a person was an ally to you. What did you do or say? Was there a time when you were an ally to someone? What motivated your to act?  Think of a time when you think you could have been a better ally to someone. What happened? What would you do or say differently? What is one way you could be an even better ally to the LGBTQ+ community?

Temple Israel’s Immigrant Justice Team supports people seeking safety and security in the United States, specifically joining with other faith communities to form the Boston Immigrant Justice Action Network (BIJAN) in support of immigrants caught in detention and deportation roundups. BIJAN responds to requests from inside detention centers, where detainees are advocating for themselves and each other for support and resources.

❏ Read “Stories We Cannot Tell” by Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, and learn how we can respond (quick read).

❏ Watch, listen, and read this poem “Home” by Warsan Shire (4 minutes) (Appropriate for people ages 12 and up).

❏ Read the New Yorker’s short story “Without Inspection” by Edwidge Danticat (30 minutes).

Deep dive discussion prompts:
1. How is immigration a racial justice issue?

2. From the New Yorker piece, how would you define freedom in the context of Arnold’s life in Haiti and later in America? What does freedom look like to you? How does your race impact your freedom?

3. In Jewish liturgy, during the Unetaneh Tokef, we ask, “who shall live and who shall die?”, and we sometimes think of this metaphorically about choices we make in our lives. Are there ways we contribute to the “living” and “dying” of others? How do immigrants figure into this metaphor, and what can we do to help immigrants live?

The Economic Justice Working Group of the Racial Justice Initiative is an effort to promote purchasing from Black-owned businesses and Impact Investing. This project is anchored in our awareness of insidious past and present racial discrimination; and in the evidence that Black-owned businesses are likely to hire Black people, and foster economic improvement for Black families and communities along with myriad other benefits. When we make a meaningful effort to align our spending practices and financial choices with our hopes for the world around us, we are participating in the drive for economic justice.

❏ Support a local Black entrepreneur by purchasing a small gift you will have on-hand the next time you’re invited to dinner. Below are some suggestions of Black female-owned businesses. Check out a longer list here.
Lyndigo Spice
Ivyees
Natasha’s Homemade Organic Body Butter

Not from Boston? Research local Black businesses in your area.

❏ Read the article about Fresh Food Generation and food access in underserved neighborhoods (quick read).

❏ Take a moment to pause and reflect on how you are investing your money. Read this article to learn more about impact investing. Think about changes you might be able to make with your invested money so that it improves lives and the planet (quick read).

Deep dive discussion prompts:
1. Reflect on the connections between race, racism, and access to nutritious, good-tasting food. What seeds of a solution are represented in the story about Fresh Food Generation?

2. What steps have you taken in the past year in terms of your intentions to make more conscious choice about your own money-spending and eating habits? How have you missed the mark?

The Criminal Justice Working Group of Temple Israel’s Racial Justice Initiative educates community members, including ourselves, about some of the complexities of the criminal justice system with at least two questions in mind: What injustices in the system adversely affect people of color? What can and should we do about it? Temple Israel cannot make a difference on its own, therefore, we partner with other groups to accomplish our work. We take two approaches: Tzedek (advocacy and social policy) and Chesed (direct service).

❏ Read A Visit to Montgomery’s Legacy Museum, the account of two women, one white and one black, about their first visit to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which draws attention to our history of slavery and to lynchings, which terrorized black communities from Reconstruction until World War II.

❏ CourtWatch MA relies on the people power of volunteers who are committed to challenging racism and unfairness in our criminal legal system and holding participants accountable. Explore what it means to be a CourtWatcher here and consider participating.

❏ John Oliver explains how prosecutors use (and sometimes misuse) their extraordinary power in our criminal justice system. Watch Prosecutors: Last Week Tonight show here (20 minutes).

Deep dive discussion prompts:
1. How might race and socioeconomic level shape a person’s experience with the criminal justice system?

2. How has the United States’ history of slavery, Jim Crow laws and lynchings impacted the current landscape of our criminal justice system?

3. What steps can we take to ensure our criminal legal system is just?

4. What experiences have you had with the criminal justice system? Do you feel like you were treated fairly? Did you feel like you would have been treated differently if you were a different race? Were you anxious because you had heard of people like you being treated poorly? If you did not feel racially motivated anxiety while interacting with the criminal justice system, did you
feel guilty because you potentially benefitted from a system that treated others
fairly?

The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) works to train and organize communities of Greater Boston across lines of religion, race, class, and neighborhood for the public good. Temple Israel is a member institution of GBIO along with 40+ churches, mosques, and synagogues.

❏ Have an intentional conversation with a friend about what current social justice issue keeps you up at night? Ask each other, “Why that issue?” and share your personal experiences.

❏ Select one of these religious institutions (preferably one you know least about) and visit it in person or virtually by scrolling through their website:

❏ The Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center

First Church of Boston

Roxbury Presbyterian Church

Temple Israel of Boston

Sometimes it is easier to delve into something new with a partner. If you are interested in a group visit to any of these institutions, please contact TI Member Anne Licciardello. (Appropriate for people of all ages)

❏ Healthcare is one of GBIO’s core issues. Listen to NPR’s Priska Neely’s piece about infant mortality in the black population (5 minutes).

Deep dive discussion prompts:
1. What is the status quo you wish to change? Who else do you know who cares about this? How might your issue be felt differently by people of different races, ethnicities, and faith?

2. Is it possible for devout people of different faiths to have a common purpose? What are the barriers to that? What unites them?

3. When visiting the religious institution (in person or virtually), what could you identify with? What did you find interesting? Confusing or alienating? How did the race, ethnicity, and/or faith of the people at that institution affect your sense of identification with the community you visited?

4. When you visit religious institutions other than your own, do you feel like you stand out? Do you feel welcome? Do you feel like you could be mistaken for someone who is already a member? What are some ways the different religious institutions you have visited are similar to your own religious community? What are some differences you’ve experienced? Are there any ways of making people feel welcome that you would like to adopt in your own community?

The Green Team aims to mitigate the effects of climate change and make climate justice and preservation of the earth core values of Temple Israel. It advances this mission by improving TI’s sustainability efforts, educating the congregation about individual environmental responsibility, and by working with other faith communities to advance systemic change on a wide range of environmental issues.

Read this article called “Environmental Racism” about the disproportional impact of environmental issues felt by Communities of Color.

❏ In recognition of the “Meat Free Monday” movement, avoid eating meat today. Watch this “Meat Free Monday” video to learn more about how eating meat impacts our environment (5 minutes). (Appropriate for people of all ages)

❏ If you’re in the Boston area, RSVP to volunteer with Temple Israel at the Urban Farming Institute on Friday, 9/21, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., or schedule your own volunteer day with friends at a local urban farm. (Appropriate for people of all ages)

Deep dive discussion prompts:
1. How do environmental issues disproportionately impact communities of color and low income communities?

2. How might race, wealth, and privilege influence one’s ability to participate in Meat Free Monday?

3. What are some considerations that have shaped your relationship with food in the past? Have you ever considered the environment when making food choices before? Do you think you will consider your impact on the environment when making food choices in the future? What are your competing priorities around food choices? Are there other ways you would like to consider the environmental impact when making choices in your daily life?

4. There are some ways in which daily environmental considerations can appear to be at odds with economic considerations (for example, eating healthy yet expensive organic fruits and vegetables)–and there are other ways in which environmental considerations can go hand in hand with economic considerations (living in multigenerational housing, taking public transit, etc). What practical ways in your life have you found to support the environment?

With the Jewish New Year, we blow the shofar (a ram’s horn) as a wake up call, motivating us to reflect on our actions and intentions in the past year and calling us to enter the new year as our best selves.

❏ How did this journey through the 10 Days (or more) of Awe/Racial Justice Reflections help you to wake up to the reality of racial inequality and injustice? In what ways was it a call to action? How can we as individuals and our community assist in this effort?

❏ Draw or write your reactions and share it with our Facebook group. If you’d like to reflect with others, join us for a Sukkot vegetarian potluck dinner at Temple Israel, September 23, 7:00 p.m.