Last Rosh Hashana I spoke about the scourge of American racism. Since then, we have discussed some of the issues at Shabbat gatherings, read books and viewed films. I have continued my own learning and sharing some of that via these blog posts. I hope that you have been learning too.
We will continue learning about racism in the year to come. But the time has come now to act on our learning. We’ve identified three potential activities that will enable us to join the fight to end racism.
With the link below I would like you to indicate your interest in these potential activities. My hope is that everyone will find interest in at least one of these and that we will have full participation.
The three are: creating a police-justice learning team; creating a partnership with a Black church; and joining a voter registration effort.
Police Justice Learning Team
At the forefront of current news are incidents of violence committed by police officers against black Americans. There seems to be little of that, if any, in the suburbs in which most of us live.
But is that true? What is the experience of black people who live in our neighborhoods or who pass through? What are the policies of our towns and the practices and training of our police departments? And what has been the record of interactions between our police departments and people of color?
I’ll lead this team. We’ll begin by constructing a questionnaire addressing the issues that we think are most important. Next, we’ll engage our mayors and police chiefs in a respectful, face-to-face dialogues. Third, we’ll collate our information and, finally, we’ll decide on what action – if any – needs to be taken and what we want to do about it.
Partnership with a Black Church
At our Annual Asseyfa, Caryl Derenfeld offered to lead an effort to partner B’Chavana with a black church, most likely in the Lake County area.
What the partnership would seek to achieve and how it would get there will be determined by the team. We won’t have to start from scratch; there are materials available to guide us. The first step will consist of learning from these materials and setting goals. At the same time, we’ll look for a church with which to partner. The outcome, we hope, will be an ongoing, fruitful relationship from which we all can learn and grow and come together during this time of conflict.
We know that in some parts of the country, there are active efforts to limit and, ultimately, deny black Americans their right to vote. We also know that participation in voting, in general, is quite low in this country and that registration levels (of all Americans) are nowhere near what they ought to be.
Sue Cohn will lead this team, whose first task will be to identify voter registration efforts locally and nationally in order to determine where we can plug in and have a positive effect. Having done that, the team will then engage as many of us as possible in participating in that program. Note: we will not consider participating in any project that would have us out in public or going door-to-door during the COVID quarantine.
I know that this looks ambitious. It is. Especially for a small community like ours. But we’ve always be ambitious.
Will we end up doing one of these things? Two out of three? All three? That will depend on your response, which I hope you’ll share by the end of the 4th of July weekend (how appropriate, huh?!) I’d like to guarantee that we’ll take on at least one of these projects in order to put our money where our mouths are. Many of you have asked me: what can I do? Well, here it is.
So please use this link to a three-question survey. This will be our first step as a congregation in acting as the antiracists we aspire to be.