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

10 Days of Awe/Racial Justice Reflections 5780

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

During the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we as Jews challenge ourselves and our communities to reflect thoughtfully and honestly on transgressions and harms we have caused in the past year, both knowingly and unknowingly. Each of us engages differently in this tradition known as cheshbon ha’nefesh, an accounting of the soul, as we reach towards growth and transformation in the coming year.

In this spirit, we offer the 10 Days (or more) of Awe/Racial Justice Reflections as an invitation to engage in community with others in Boston and elsewhere. We are excited to learn and grow together and encourage you to interact with the content and resources in whatever ways and whatever pace feels generative for you – whether it’s journaling, making art or music, talking to friends, co-workers or family members or posting online. We hope you are able to enter this experience with an open heart and mind and come out of it feeling moved and inspired to work on these challenging issues over the course of the new year.

Join our Facebook group or request an email to receive daily prompts, deep dive questions, and drawing opportunities and to interact with others on this journey. Questions? Email Temple Israel’s Assistant Director of Social Justice Engagement Tali Puterman.

Our Collaborative Partners

This is the third annual 10 Days (or more) of Awe/Racial Justice Reflections developed by Temple Israel’s Tikkun Central, which works toward Temple Israel’s mission of living Judaism together through righteous impact. This year the work greatly benefited from the collaboration with our Jewish organization partners. As multiracial and cross-cultural Jewish communities living in a society where racial injustice has defined our history and our present, we are inspired by Jewish tradition to participate collaboratively in a process of personal and communal teshuvah, reflection, and accountability. We see powerful opportunity in engaging both intellectually and spiritually in learning about and turning towards racial justice in our relationships, our neighborhoods, our communities/organizations and in our society. Grasping how racism has impacted all of our lives and histories, as Jews of Color, White Jews, Sephardi/Mizrahi Jews and Ashkenazi Jews, participants can together build trust, connection and the resilience to transform ourselves and the brokenness we live with each day.

Temple Israel of Boston’s TIkkun Central would like to thank our collaborative partners who helped create this year’s version of #10Days10Ways:

Thanks to TI member, artist Deb Putnoi for creating the drawing prompts for #10days10ways.

Day 1: Sunday, 9/29/19, Erev Rosh Hashanah

Deep Dive

For some people, discussions about race are very uncomfortable and something to 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.

Read this poem, An Invitation to Brave Space, by Micky ScottBey Jones.

  1. Which line of the poem resonates most with you? Why?
  2. When have you needed to be brave around race? How does your racial identity play a role in your answer?
  3. What fears or concerns do you have entering this process?
  4. Tonight, the first night of Rosh Hashanah, we blow the shofar. There are many interpretations and meanings to the shofar, including that it is a ‘wake up call’ for our souls — a command to step out of our day-to-day routines, bravely examine ourselves, and imagine how we will be in the new year. Do you see a connection between the invitation in the poem and the shofar blast?
Participate in the discussion in our Facebook group

Draw

Day 2: Monday, 9/30/19, Rosh Hashanah

Deep Dive

Mussar is an ancient Jewish practice that focuses on self-growth through study and reflection. Mussar provides a Jewish spiritual framework for deep transformation by moving ideas from the head to the heart through practice. One of these core practices involves reflecting on how the soul traits (middot) show up in different aspects of your life. We invite you to practice now.

Take a look at this list of middot or “soul traits” and choose a trait that resonates with how your heart and soul connect to race, racism and/or racial justice work.

(Example: You wonder if you find yourself dominating the conversation as a white person in a multi-racial coalition. This might lead you to choose the soul trait of humility, which is being right-sized in any situation. Your practice would be to pay attention to how much space you are taking up in future meetings and reflect on those experiences using the soul trait of humility to help guide you.)

Participate in the discussion in our Facebook group

Draw

Day 3: Tuesday, 10/1/19

Deep Dive

We internalize notions about race at a very early age. In the United States, ideas about race surround us, including in the media, conversations with family and friends, work, and school. These messages are sometimes overt, but are often subtle and lead us to subconsciously form assumptions about people based on the color of their skin. For example, many Jews of Color share stories about not feeling welcome in synagogues by people who assume they’re not Jewish. The liturgy we recite on Yom Kippur explicitly calls us to reflect on our wrongs over the past year, including those done unintentionally. We invite you to use these tools as you reflect on how you’ve intentionally or unintentionally missed the mark in the past year due to assumptions about race.

Review this diagram*:

*Source: Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Non-violence

 

  1. What about the diagram was new or surprising for you? How have you seen some of these examples play out in your life? Do you disagree with any aspects of the chart? Why?
  2. Have you ever experienced an interaction in which someone assumed you would behave in a particular way because of some aspect of your identity? If so, what did that feel like? Why do you think that happened?
  3. Have you ever made an assumption about someone else? Why do you think you made that assumption?

Participate in the discussion in our Facebook group

Watch

Draw

Day 4: Wednesday, 10/2/19

When we think of the role of Jews in the Civil Rights Movement, we tend to remember stories of Jewish activism in support of equal rights for African Americans, such as the murder of Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner during Freedom Summer in Mississippi. But that’s not the whole story.

Look at these two photos that depict Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.

Deep Dive

The left photo shows Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a champion of civil rights and one of the leaders for other Jews supporting the movement. The right photo depicts Tepper’s Department Store owned by Sol Tepper, a member of the Selma Jewish community and ardent segregationist. His role as a spokesman for the segregationists transcended the boundaries of the Selma Jewish community as he wrote dozens of editorials for the Selma Times-Journal. When Martin Luther King arrived in January 1965 for his now historic voter registration campaign, Tepper, as part of the County sheriff’s posse, helped make many arrests of activists.

  1. Why do you think we tend to highlight Jewish activism for civil rights and not mention the role of the Jewish community in resisting change? How do you think these popular narratives have shaped your current perspective on Jewish community involvement for racial justice?
  2. Growing up, can you recall discussions with family and friends about racism? How did these early conversations shape your understanding of racism? What do these conversations look like with your family, friends, and Jewish community now?

Participate in the discussion in our Facebook group

Draw

Day 5: Thursday, 10/3/19

Deep Dive

The U.S. Jewish community is oftentimes assumed to be White and Ashkenazi. This assumption is false, yet due to overwhelming numbers of White and/or Ashkenazi Jews in mainstream Jewish spaces, Jews of Color and Sephardi and Mizrachi Jews are often left feeling unwelcome, thereby less likely to return or meaningfully engage in community life. Jews of Color often report overt experiences of racism in mainstream Jewish communities. Sephardi and Mizrachi Jews often do not see their traditions acknowledged in Jewish ritual and education. We invite you to learn more about the diversity of our community.
  1. Are you surprised by the results of the study? What surprised you?
  2. Does your Jewish community, however you define it, reflect the demographics of this study? If yes, are Jews of Color holding leadership positions on staff and in lay-leadership? If not, what are the possible barriers to engagement by Jews of Color? If you are a Jew of Color, what do you see as barriers to your engagement?
  3. What would it feel like for you, as a Jew of Color or as a white Jew, to feel like our communities are living fully into our potential as multiracial and multicultural communities?
  4. What do you know about Sephardi and Mizrachi traditions, history, and culture? What would you like to learn more about, or, what do you wish others knew?

Participate in the discussion in our Facebook group

Draw

Day 6: Friday, 10/4/19

Ensuring that our Jewish spaces are welcoming and safe for all community members is a priority. With heightened violence and directed incidents of antisemitism, racism, white nationalism, and all forms of hate affecting our communities, conversations about safety and security in sacred spaces have come to the forefront. This is not a new issue, rather one familiar in Jewish history as well in the experiences of trans people, disabled people, and other targeted communities, as well as for houses of worship such as black churches and mosques.

Deep Dive

Read these articles to consider safety and security through a justice lens.

  1. After reading these articles, has your view on safety and security in Jewish communities shifted? If so, how?
  2. When have you felt most safe in sacred spaces? What makes you feel safe?
  3. When have you felt least safe in sacred spaces? What makes you feel unsafe?
  4. How are you contributing to creating both a welcoming and safe space? How have you misstepped? What can you commit to doing differently in the coming year?

Participate in the discussion in our Facebook group

Draw

Day 7: Saturday, 10/5/19

It’s devastating to be living in a world where White Supremacy, White Nationalism, and antisemitism are on the rise. There is a lot of urgency about how to respond to these ideologies. We invite you to engage with the following articles to learn more about our current reality and the ideologies they’re describing and to reflect on how, in the coming year, we can act against hate.

Draw

Day 8: Sunday, 10/6/19

Racism in housing, education, and other facets of American life has led to astounding disparities across the United States. A study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in 2015 found that white households in Boston have a median net worth of $247,500 while African American households have a median net worth of only $8, and neighborhoods remain highly segregated by race and socioeconomic class (with neighborhoods of color being chronically under-resourced). These inequities are the legacy of our country’s history of racialized housing discrimination, which severely restricted African American communities’ opportunities for home ownership, wealth accumulation, racial integration, and class mobility.

In the midst of this growing system of stratification, however, the experiences of Jews were, in many respects, unique: at one point, we found our own communities being marginalized by discriminatory housing policies that sought to keep us out of predominantly white, suburban, Christian neighborhoods; however, over time, Jews who were not otherwise racially marginalized gained rapid access to the class mobility and familial wealth that home ownership and education provided, catapulting those communities into the American middle class and bringing them into the neighborhoods that once excluded them. As you learn more about this history of race and housing in the United States, we invite you to find your own family’s and community’s place in this story.

Deep Dive

  1. What was the racial makeup of your neighborhood growing up?
  2. What was the racial makeup of your school?
  3. How did the neighborhood and institutions you were a part of growing up contribute to the opportunities or lack of opportunities you have had in your life?
  4. Do you know your own family’s history of housing and class mobility? If so, where and how do you feel it fits into this American story of stratification? Does your family’s own understanding and telling of their history reflect the influence of these policies on opportunity and mobility?
  5. How do you think Jewish communities should understand our unique experiences and role in this history? How might it inform how we respond to persisting disparities today?

Participate in the discussion in our Facebook group

Draw

Day 9: Monday, 10/7/19

Since WWII, Germany has paid reparations to Israel and the mostly Jewish victims of the Holocaust totaling over $89 billion. In 1988, the United States government paid reparations of $20,000 to people of Japanese descent who were incarcerated in internment camps during the war.

Victims of slavery and subsequent racial discrimination have never received reparations. In 1865, Union General William T. Sherman issued an order allotting land on the coastlines of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida to freed slaves so that “each family shall have a plot of not more than forty acres of tillable ground,” but President Andrew Johnson reversed the order. Reparations for slavery — and the government-sanctioned discrimination that followed — is now embodied in proposed federal legislation, H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act.

Deep Dive

We invite you to reflect on the following resources and think about what reparations could look like today.

  1. In the Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Teshuvah 1, Maimonides stated that t’shuvah includes both repentance and restitution for damages done to another. In the Viddui prayer, which we recite each Yom Kippur, we confess our collective sins, even those we may not have personally committed. How do these Jewish concepts bear on the issue of reparations?
  2. What are the justifications for reparations? What are the challenges?
  3. What’s your view on reparations?

Participate in the discussion in our Facebook group

Draw

Day 10: Tuesday, 10/8/19, Erev Yom Kippur

Deep Dive

Take a deep breath and reflect on the past nine days. 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.

Imagine what the new year would look like if racial gaps no longer existed. Explore this infographic that ponders a reality of racial equity.

  1. What actions can you take in this new year to turn this imaginative world into a reality?
  2. 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?

Participate in the discussion in our Facebook group

Draw