The Latest from BZBI

Tikkun Olam Racial Justice Work Update

June 24, 2020

As people of the book, we are passionate about study. The rabbis in the Talmud teach us that “study is great, for it leads to action.” In recent weeks, our clergy, staff and community members have been exploring how we in our BZBI community can continue our work confronting racism and pursuing racial justice within our Jewish community, our neighborhood and our city. We are excited to share with you our plans for next steps and ways you can get involved.

We are launching an anti-racism reading group at BZBI as well as a community organizing team to explore the possibility of our congregation joining POWER, a multifaith and multiracial community organizing coalition of over 50 congregations in Philadelphia. POWER strives to build a city of opportunity that works for all and lifts a powerful public voice for Black lives, for economic dignity, educational equity and justice reform. Our Teen Program Coordinator, Rachel Beck, is creating a Teen Racial Justice study and action group.

BZBI is a multiracial and multiethnic community. We recognize that participants in synagogue life and in our anti-racism work are coming with different life experiences, carrying different stories and struggles, with different roles to play in this work. We welcome everyone in the fullness of who you are, affirming the ways we are different and a desire to stay connected as we create spaces of courageous learning and resilient listening, and engage together in the work of Tikkun Olam.

The BZBI anti-racism reading group will come together as individuals in the Jewish community who benefit from white privilege. Through study and discussion, we will explore how to be more sensitive to racism, how to challenge systems that perpetuate racism, and how to be better allies to our Black siblings and neighbors. In the month of July, our reading group will be reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It’s a widely acclaimed best-seller, written as a book-length letter from Coates to his young son. We will come together on Monday night, July 20th at 7:00 PM for a facilitated conversation as we reflect on the book; details are here.

Our community organizing team is making plans to reach out to BZBI members to get to know you, your stories and the issues about which you feel most passionate, as we explore the possibility of our community becoming part of POWER’s city-wide organizing efforts.

For those who are interested in joining other BZBI members and the wider Jewish community for actions or marches taking place in our city, with masks and social distancing, or responding to calls for volunteers to help support our neighbors, we are setting up a What’s App Tikkun Olam action alert groupYou can join the group here.

May we study, act, reflect, connect and build a better world together.