Welcome to this new column about the life of the Kehilla Board of Trustees. We hope to keep the congregation informed about what our Board does to support and sustain our wonderful community.
In our first column, we’d like to introduce the work of the Board towards uncentering whiteness and advancing racial justice. In tandem with the Kehilla Belonging and Allyship Project, the Board is itself examining the “white as the norm” paradigm that permeates both our society and Jewish institutions.
While the value of advancing racial justice is well embraced at Kehilla, members of color have not always had the same sense of belonging in the community as white members. This has been true on the Board itself – which currently consists of ten white Kehilla members. Several circumstances have forced the Board to confront our unconscious fear and lack of skill in talking about race and racism as a barrier to welcoming people of color (POC) onto the Board.
In September 2017 we began a series of sessions during Board meetings to establish a supportive learning community. We created a framework of shared values, acknowledged having missed the mark andlearned whywhite fragility was an inadequate response.
We’ve used a series of articles and videos listed at the end of this article to inform our discussions on topics such as:
- Changing demographics of who is a Jew
- Structural inclusion (which john a. powell defines as providing an experience of belongingas opposed to othering) and how our own sense of belonging is influenced by the norms of whiteness and white privilege
- How we could generate a greater sense of belonging for POC who are asked to join the Board
- How race, racism and white privilege occur in our daily lives
- How to be a white ally with POC, including how to speak up when race and racism are not being addressed
- Implicit bias
- Racial identity – how our own was formed and how it influences our experiences in the world, including at Kehilla
- The notion that white Jews are challenged at times to claim their whiteness
At our recent Board retreat, we devoted the morning to sharing how this year as a learning community has allowed us to change our comfort level in talking about race, racism, whiteness and white privilege. We brainstormed about the next Board commitments we could make to further a culture of belonging and allyship at Kehilla. Our next focus will be increasing our understanding of and growing our capacity to counter white privilege. We invite your input. Please write to the Board Co-Chairs:
Our commitment, as the Board, is to improve our connection with the community and to be more transparent. All members of the congregation are invited to attend Board meetings, typically held the 3rdTuesday of the month at 6 pm. Dinner is provided, so please let us know if you plan to attend!
- Microaggressions: Comments That Stinghttp://nyti.ms/1gFWpfc
- Microaggressions in Everyday Lifehttp://www.microaggressions.com/
Whiteness/ White culture
Seeing ourselves as both white and Jewish
- MTV’s Look Different
White discomfort/ White privilege