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Social Advocacy

The TBS Social Advocacy Committee was formed to provide congregants with the resources they need to respond to pressing social issues. It is chaired by Zach and Terri Oppenheimer. We have established three main areas of focus — combatting racism and social injustice, immigration and gun safety. The committee has developed contacts with national and local leadership of several organizations including HIAS (formerly Hebrew Immigrant Aide Society) and Moms Demand Action so that we can provide our community with engaging programming and activities. In the future we will add more topics of interest.

In response to current events, the Social Advocacy Committee will be developing programming to support those who wish to join the movement and address racial justice in keeping with Jewish values. Our goal is to craft a three-pronged approach around Education and Awareness, How to Be an Ally, and Taking Action.

 

Race prejudice, a universal human ailment, is the most recalcitrant aspect of the evil in man” (Reinhold Niebuhr), a treacherous denial of the existence of God.

Few of us seem to realize how insidious, how radical, how universal an evil racism is. Few of us realize that racism is man’s gravest threat to man, the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason, the maximum of cruelty for a minimum of thinking.

-- Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

 

Racial Justice Resources

In the weeks since George Floyd’s murder at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers, Americans have witnessed a historic and emotional uprising. The voices of African Americans have been crying out for equal treatment and justice for generations, and their cries are finally being heard by the majority and acted upon. 

Click here for a thought-provoking article that appeared in Ha’Aretz.

Upcoming Events

The Social Advocacy committee will be launching a series of small group sessions aimed at the Jewish community’s responsibility to listen, learn, and stand with and for those whose lives and well-being are threatened by racism and hatred. More information will be provided soon. In the meantime, we wanted to make you aware of the following event:

Gratz@home webinar
Racial Equality & Inequality in America: A Historical Perspective
Thursday, July 16, 7:30 - 8:30 pm

Gratz explores the history of racial equality and inequality in America. The program will start with slavery, take us through Reconstruction and end with the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s to the 1970s. There will be some discussions of Jewish participation in Civil Rights and struggles for equality in America. $10. More details and registration here.

This past holiday weekend an estimated 500 people were wounded as a result of gun violence, and another 160 were killed – including a 6-year-old in Philadelphia. If you would like to get involved in Moms Demand Action, visit their website or follow them on Facebook or @MomsDemand on Twitter. You can also Text ACT to 644-33 to become a volunteer with Moms Demand Action, or donate or make a purchase from Everytown for Gun Safety to help support the movement.

We also wanted to call attention to an email sent out by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It provides a model for how institutions can express support for the black community, acknowledge previous shortcomings and take concrete actions to make improvements. We’ve included some of the email text below. We hope that you will take the time to visit the highlighted exhibition of African American Art as well.

While we usually utilize our emails to share our collection, we felt that the weight of the moment required us to pause, listen, and let the voices of our neighbors, especially those who are African American, ring loudest. If you love our museum and what we strive to stand for, we encourage you to listen to the voices of the people on our steps crying out for their country to recognize that Black Lives Matter.

We have also paused to acknowledge and reflect on the role of museums--and our role specifically--in historically silencing Black voices. We know we have work to do. We will start by better utilizing the museum’s platforms to elevate and celebrate the work of Black artists and other groups who have been excluded for far too long. We are committed, as an institution and as individuals, to making the museum a better reflection of our community. We will do better.

Think Memorializing the Confederacy Isn’t a Jewish Issue? Think Again.
News reports of confederate monuments being pulled down may seem remote from our experience, but this article profiles how one Jewish community had to grapple with the issue.

National Gun Violence Awareness Month
June is National Gun Violence Awareness Month. To mark the occasion, Camden FireWorks, a local sanctuary that provides space to make, celebrate and learn about art, is hosting a powerful online art exhibition titled The Virus of Violence. Its focus is gun violence related to the COVID-19 Pandemic. You can visit the site here.

Prepare NOW for Election Day
November 3rd is Election Day, and it's approaching quickly. The Social Advocacy Committee is planning voter education events for the fall, but in the meantime here are three steps to make sure you can exercise your right to vote:

  • Are you registered to vote? Are you sure? You can both check and register by clicking here or simply register in Camden County by clicking here.
  • Would you like to vote by mail? New Jersey law allows you to request ballots for all future elections. Here’s the form for Camden County residents.
  • Do you need any help with registration or the voting by mail process? Feel free to contact Susan Anolik or Jackie Goldstein for assistance.
  • If you prefer to vote in person, do you need assistance getting to your polling place, we are arranging for rides and other assistance. Sign up by sending an email to Zach Oppenheimer.

Resources

Books

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl by Marra B. Gad

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

The Racial Healing Handbook by Annaliese A. Singh, Tim Wise, and Derald Wing Sue

 

Movies

When They See Us – The story of the Central Park 5

Dear White People – The experience of a group of black students at an Ivy League College

Just Mercy – Legal drama profiling racial disparities in the justice system

Fruitvale Station – The last day in the life of a 22-year-old black man trying to live a clean life.

3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets – Examines the shooting of a 17-year-old black youth after an argument over loud music.

Brian Banks – The true story of a high school football star wrongly convicted of a crime he didn't commit.

 

For children

PJ Library resources on talking to your children about racism.

Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners: books for children and young adults

PBS’s Teaching Your Child About Black History Month

Anti-Racism For Kids 101: Starting To Talk About Race

100 RACE-CONSCIOUS THINGS YOU CAN SAY TO YOUR CHILD TO ADVANCE RACIAL JUSTICE

A Jewish Anti-Racist Reading List for Children of All Ages

PBS Learning Kit with Daniel Tiger

Raising Race Conscious Children

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice

 

For Adults

ADL - Anti-defamation League

ADL - Anti-Bias Tools and Strategies

Teaching Tolerance

So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Campaign Zero

75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice

Anti-Racism project—list of books, movies and articles to learn more about racism

Zin Education Project

Tri-County Board of Jewish Clergy Statement on Pursuing Racial Justice

“Morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.” - Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

We, the members of the Board of Jewish Clergy of Southern New Jersey, remember with sadness, outrage, and shame the memory of George Floyd and other African Americans, our fellow Americans, whose lives were cut short at the hands of the police in recent years. Our hearts go out to their families, their communities, and all those torn by their deaths.

Once again, their pain and tears are crying out, as they have been for centuries, demanding their dignity be as valued as any other one of G*d’s precious creations.

Jewish tradition, history, values, and memory does not allow us to be quiet while racism continues to pervade our society. Our Torah forbids us to remain silent. The Book of Leviticus commands: “do not stand idly by while your neighbor’s blood is shed.” (19:16).

We have fallen short, whether wittingly or unwittingly, in perpetuating the racist structures of our society and by turning our eyes from the suffering of people of color within the Jewish community and within our larger society. We have failed as a community to properly address racism. Now, each of us and our institutions must assume responsibility to create a more just and equitable society.

Fundamentally, we believe that all people are created in G*d’s image and, thus, each human life is of infinite value. Therefore, it is our responsibility as a Jewish community to listen, to learn, and to stand with and for those whose lives and well-being are threatened by racism and hatred. This begins with solidarity and continues by striving to dismantle the systems of oppression embedded into the fabric of our nation.

So, today we rededicate ourselves to promote the Jewish understanding that oppression, inequality, and prejudice hide G*d’s presence in our lives. Over the next year, we will seek to educate ourselves and the leadership of our communities on how to acquire the insights, knowledge, and tools necessary to guide us down the paths of peace toward an anti-racist future.

We will follow the lead of Jews of color and the wisdom of other communities of color to learn what we need to know, what we need to do, and how best to do it - learning when to listen and when to speak; when to step back and when to act.

Today we invite our Jewish community and all communities to join with us as we stand up and commit ourselves to systemic change, working for racial equality and justice.

Today we dedicate ourselves to being voices of love and hope while working to rebuild all that is broken.

Today we say to our black brothers and sisters: We hear you. We see you.

And today we stand with you; grieving and praying together, and pursuing peaceful and powerful ways to make all our voices heard and our impact felt.

In commitment and hope,

The Tri-County Board of Jewish Clergy

Thu, July 9 2020 17 Tammuz 5780