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Rabbi's Week In Review - 11/16/2020

11/16/2020 02:43:03 PM


My seminary, the Academy for Jewish Religion (AJR — the one in NYC, not LA), held its annual fall retreat last week. It is a time each year when classes are suspended for the week, and everyone at the seminary comes together to focus on one topic. Alumni are welcome and encouraged to participate, and do participate in significant numbers. This is a real tribute to how AJR graduates/alumni value the time we spent as students at the seminary.

This year’s topic was racism. I am proud of my seminary, grateful for my teachers from whom I learned much. Moreover, I am proud of how AJR has always been willing to tackle difficult subjects. As someone who has spent a good deal of time working on issues of racism and working with leaders in the Black community, I was keenly interested in how the topic would be handled.

I found myself persistently restless at the slow pace and very gentle approach in which participants were being ushered into the work of fighting racism. Truth be told, I and we (Congregation Kol Ami) are much further along in the work of fighting racism.  

 Toward the end of the retreat, we embarked on a discussion of the disparity in experience (and opinions) among the retreat participants regarding race and racism. This gave me pause as to my attitude and impatience. While there are times when I lead with my passion over an issue, ultimately I want to be in a place where others are welcomed into the work, and persuaded by their own sense of Jewish values to see the work of fighting racism as important. My haranguing will not change minds and hearts.

I look forward to the work to come and how we as a Jewish community seeking out justice can come together to do the important work ahead.

Fri, July 30 2021 21 Av 5781