Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Temple Israel’s Commitment to Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

January 2021

At Temple Israel, “Living Judaism Together” means that we acknowledge, welcome, and honor each individual in our community for who they are. We celebrate our community’s diversity in personal identities and lived experiences. Living Judaism Together through “righteous impact” means that we work actively as a community to combat racism, bigotry, bias, and hatred in our own Temple, our city, our state, and our country and ensure that each individual and group is included and treated equitably.

People in our country suffer from inequities along many dimensions, including race, country of origin, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. These inequities are manifest in employment, education, housing, the criminal justice system, health care, and other areas.

We note particularly that our nation was established by stealing land from Indigenous people. From our nation’s origin to the present day, racism and white supremacy have persisted. The murders of Black people by police remind us of how we, as individuals, have failed by not challenging this racist system and how institutionalized racist policies target Black people, often with severe consequences.

As we have reviewed our core values, we realize that Temple Israel, like our society, has missed the mark.

  • Temple Israel believes in encountering the sacred through relationships, yet not everyone has been included.

  • Temple Israel believes in embracing Torah in all its dimensions as an enduring source for inquiry, discovery, and inspiration, yet the resounding call to pursue justice and equity has not always been heeded.

  • Temple Israel believes in exploring spirituality and innovating Judaism’s traditions of ritual and prayer, yet White and Ashkenazi norms have narrowed that vision and practice.

  • Temple Israel believes in pursuing spirituality in partnership with others to realize a vision of what the world ought to be, yet more work remains to translate that vision into action.

  • Temple Israel is committed to a love of Israel and the vitality, peace, and well-being of all who live there, yet has not done enough to lift up the history, culture, and experience of everyone who calls that land home.

  • Temple Israel draws strength from diversity and wisdom from all who walk through our open door, yet the Temple has fallen short by not undertaking broad-based antiracism work.

Temple Israel has an unwavering commitment to equity and justice for all. We intend to act to fight racism, create more opportunities for people of color, and become more inclusive. This requires listening to a diversity of perspectives, openness to ideas that might agitate our assumptions, and welcoming all those who support our mission and values.

Guided by our core values, we reach for teshuva and resolve to do better. This moment demands more than an apology and a statement. This moment demands action.

The Board acknowledges and thanks Tikkun Central’s Racial Justice Initiative for its early and thoughtful leadership in the area of antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Building on this work, acknowledging that this work is difficult and that we will make errors along the way, and with the understanding that we will revisit this list periodically and update it as appropriate, we commit now to the following actions:

  1. Providing antiracism and antibias training for all clergy, staff, lay leaders, the Frances Jacobson Early Childhood Center, the Religious School, The Tent, and security contractors and providing opportunities for such training to congregants.

  2. Ensuring that pathways to Temple membership and leadership include non-White and non-Ashkenazi people and that members of the nominating committee are committed to elevating such members to the Board and the Leadership Council.

  3. Reviewing and updating all Temple programming and committees to ensure that the voices of non-White and non-Ashkenazi people are included and honored.

  4. Ensuring diverse backgrounds among our invited guests, speakers, and teachers and encouraging the Talmudic tradition of healthy debate and perspective.

  5. Reviewing and updating employment policies and practices, including all aspects of recruitment, hiring, evaluation, and advancement, to ensure that they embody the values of antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  6. Reviewing and updating all Temple Israel documents and communications to ensure that they embody the values of antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  7. Requesting clergy to ensure that their messaging through sermons, ritual, teaching, and public appearances demonstrates antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  8. Continuing and expanding the Temple’s purchasing from businesses owned by Black people and people from other underrepresented groups and encouraging members to redirect their own purchasing and that of their businesses.

  9. Adding fields to our membership database system that could gather the racial and cultural identities of our members and encourage all members to self-identify their racial and cultural identities so that the Temple can better understand the richness of the community.

  10. Making available financial resources and staff time to ensure that these commitments can and will be fulfilled.

We note with appreciation that the President of the Board will appoint a temporary Working Group, composed of Board members, leaders of the Racial Justice Initiative, and others, to work with Rabbi Slipakoff to review these commitments and recommend:

  • the details of what should be done;

  • who should take the lead and who should be involved;

  • an appropriate time frame for implementation;

  • the metrics used to evaluate progress;

  • an appropriate means for ongoing monitoring, including means to report failures anonymously and mechanisms to correct them;

  • lines of communication from members and others in the community to provide feedback to TI leadership as other areas of improvement are identified;

  • opportunities for collaboration with related, on-going efforts, and

  • financial requirements, if any.

Rabbi Slipakoff and the Working Group will provide a preliminary report to the Board at its second meeting following approval of this statement and then continue to help monitor the implementation of these commitments and shape an agenda for further action.