Adath Israel is pleased to announce a new series of monthly speakers and a platform for widening and deepening the discussion on race. The series called, “Race in America: What We As Jews Need to Know” begins on Thursday, Nov. 19, at 7:30 p.m. online and will run for a full calendar year with no cost to attend.
“This series is meant to empower us with the knowledge we need to actualize our values that each and every person is fashioned in the image of God,” said Rabbi Benjamin Chaidell, Adath Israel’s Associate Rabbi. “It will strive to answer the question, “What do we need to know to ensure that each person in our society is treated fairly regardless of the color of their skin?”
The series will look both at history and current events in order to educate, answer questions, and examine where we’ve come from and where we want to go.
“Many of us have been involved in African American and Jewish dialogue over several decades but we, as Jews, have not done enough to explore how our own experiences of discrimination differ greatly from what African Americans experience. In fact, most of us who are Jews in America benefit from white privilege, said Daniel Epstein, Adath Israel Advocacy Committee Member. This series is about exploring the difficult issues related to race in America and how we as Jews need to engage in those issues.”
Dr. Karla Goldman, Professor of Social Work and Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, will lead the first three sessions addressing the following topics. Session One on Nov. 19 is titled, “Vulnerable Americans: The Intertwined but Different Historical Experiences of White American Jews and African Americans in the United States.” Session two on Dec. 10, “What Has Changed (and what does it all mean for White American Jews)?: The Challenge and Possibility of the Black Lives Matter Movement in 2020.” And session three on Jan. 14, “Who Are We? Reframing Perspectives on Jewish Identity and Responsibility in the Changing and Diverse Landscape of American Life.”
“Guided by Dr. Goldman, we are looking forward to understanding more of the African American experience even as we deepen our understanding of the Jewish experience in America, especially in relation to other groups,” said Rabbi Chaidell.
Dr. Goldman directs the Jewish Communal Leadership Program at the University of Michigan. She is a graduate of Yale and Harvard Universities. She taught American Jewish history at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, where she was the first tenure-track woman faculty member on that campus. After HUC, she served as historian in residence at the Jewish Women's Archive in Boston. She has taught at the University of Michigan since 2008. An involved community member, she has served on the board of the Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor and the national boards of Keshet, the Association for Jewish Studies, and the Jewish Women's Archive, for which she also served as co-chair of the board. A historian of American Jewry and Judaism, her research has focused on the experience of Jews in Cincinnati, higher education, and during Hurricane Katrina. Much of her work has focused on the history of Jewish women, and she is the author of Beyond the Synagogue Gallery: Finding a Place for Women in American Judaism (Harvard University Press).
Guided by Jewish values, the series aims to inform and create a fuller picture of race in America through a Jewish lens.
“It is important for our synagogue to host this series and open ourselves to the experiences of those who are different. When we do so, we gain the knowledge and sensitivity to be in genuine relationships and partnerships with others to help repair the world.”
"We invite other congregations and organizations in the community to partner with us on this timely journey of self-education about race and contemplation of advocacy opportunities,” said Sandy Kaltman, Chair of Adath Israel’s Advocacy Committee.
Rabbi Juan Mejia, T. Wise, and Dr. Allison Schottenstein are some of the other scheduled speakers for the series.
Session dates: Nov. 19, and then the second Thursday of every month: Dec. 10, Jan. 14, Feb. 11, Mar. 11, Apr. 15, May 13, June 10, July 15, Aug. 12, Sept. 9, Oct. 14, Nov. 11.