The Belonging & Allyship Project is a big and long term initiative to address white supremacy and racial justice internally within Kehilla, at all levels of our organization and community.

Goals:

  • For Kehilla to be a place where Jews of color experience belonging, and are able to bring their full selves into the community. This includes building our capacity to support the particular experiences of kids and youth of color and to help create space where POC can explore their experience and needs and create relationship with each other.
  • For Kehilla to be a place for white people to do the work they need to do to recognize, understand and actively challenge white supremacy both in U.S culture and within Kehilla.
  • [Our third goal is currently being revised and will be re-posted soon, along with a reflection on the need for revision.]

.Upcoming & Recent Events

Arc of Change: Anti-Racism Education & Action Program

The Kehilla Arc of Change is a year-long, intensive anti-racism program that engages leaders across the Kehilla community to reflect, learn together, plan, and implement institutional practices and changes to build our community in alignment with our values around racial equity and anti-racist organizational change. This new Arc of Change is part of Kehilla’s existing Belonging and Allyship project, which launched in 2017 to address white supremacy and racial justice internally within Kehilla, at all levels of our organization and community.

Applications for the Arc of Change have closed.

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Monthly Meetings

Please see the Kehilla Calendar for meeting times and links to join!

POC Shabbat Service

Held on Second Fridays. Beloved community, this space is for Black, Brown and Indigenous folks, and folks who identify as People of Color. It’s time to slow down, embody self-care and feel the liberation of stepping into this special time of the week. We’ll light the candles together to invoke our time of rest.  Please feel free to bring ritual items if so moved and share elements of your own practice as we deepen connection and community.

This space is for us, created by us. Please contact Ruthie Levin, POC Organizer if you would like to co-lead, lead, or contribute.

Folks With White Privilege Affinity Group

We meet once a month, usually on Wednesday or Thursday evenings via zoom, 6:30-8:30pm: see the Kehilla calendar each month to check. If you email Susan Schulman, susanschulman60@gmail.com, she will add you to our mailing list and we will email you the date each month.

Kehilla-connected folks who identify as white, we’d love to have you, whether you’ve ever been to these meetings before or not! We work on decentering white supremacy at Kehilla and to make Kehilla more welcoming to people of color and to dismantle our own racism – we share feelings, build skills, and take actions. This is part of the Belonging & Allyship Initiative.

Tikkun HaNafesh: Repair of the Soul (Healing Racism, Unpacking White Privilege)

Held on Third Sundays. Facilitated by Rabbi Shifrah Tobacman and Chaplain Laura Fitch. Tikkun HaNefesh offers a safe yet challenging space in which to engage in the emotional and spiritual journey required for those of us with white privilege participating in the practice of challenging white supremacy. We’ll do a check-in on how our practice is going, and how we’re experiencing and impacted by white supremacy culture in this time. As a framework, we use the three-fold path drawn from the Ba’al Shem Tov’s teaching on healing and being present to grief and trauma. This includes: Hachna-ah — allowing for the complex feelings and thoughts that arise when we engage honestly with our experience as white people (including as white Jews) in a society built on white supremacy; Havdalah — differentiation and discernment. Finding ways to distinguish between our past and present; personal hurt or historical trauma and our current realities; fear, shame, hurt or anger and our capacity to act in just and loving ways; and Ha-Mitookah — the sweetening. We’ll lean into gratitude and hopefulness for the ways our lives are enhanced and our spirits uplifted through an honest reckoning, and by the potential for more genuine and meaningful relationships and alliance. New participants are welcome.

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Affinity Group Contacts:

People of Color Organizer: Ruthie Levin – Ruthie@KehillaSynagogue.org or POCOrganizer@kehillasynagogue.org

POC Families, Kehilla School-Involved Kids of Color: Are you interested in organizing this group? Reach out to Ruthie here!

Sephardi/Mizrahi:  Wren Ganin-Pinto – wrenbird@riseup.net

White Parents of Children of Color: Are you interested in organizing this group? Reach out to Ruthie here!

Folks with White Privilege: Susan Shulman – (susanschulman60@gmail.com), Julie Aronowitz, Penny Rosenwasser (penro@comcast.net)

Tikkun HaNefesh: Repair of the Soul (Healing Racism, Unpacking White Privilege): Facilitated by Rabbi Shifrah Tobacman – rabbishifrah@gmail.com – and Chaplain Laura Fitch.

For resources from the White privilege affinity group meetings, please click here. 

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RACIAL JUSTICE INVOCATION
by Aurora Levins Morales

This piece was written for the Kehilla community and shared on Kol Nidre 5779/2018.

In the heart of this congregation, we have planted the seeds of racial justice, a handful of grains in the earth of our belief, a place to tell untold stories, a place to draw maps of long journeys, a place to unveil our heartbreaks and look our ignorances in the face. The seeds are only beginnings, possibilities that must be watered, weeded, fed. It means we have to haul buckets, spread manure, and pull up the wickedly thorned thistles of our defenses. It means getting down and dirty. This racial justice initiative is a not yet sprouted garden of unequaled beauty germinating among us, medicinal, nourishing, fragrant, and the seeds begin in conversation, in a cluster of six bare earth plots called affinity groups. There are trowels enough to go around, and each one of you has a place to sit cross-legged on the ground and begin.

Or to change the poem, in the heart of this congregation there is a new song that we can all dance to, and this is its choreography.

We who have hovered at the edges, with our bundles of silence, our cracked rage, our suitcases full of dispossession, our not rocking the boat for fear of drowning, our letting our white cousins massacre our names, our letting our white cousins ask if we are the help, aching to be known, aching to speak our Jewishness in accents you have never heard before, we who are called indigenous, called Black and of color, we Jews beyond the Ashkenazi pale, will step, hobble, roll into the center, unassimilated, fiercely lovely in our unedited truths, bringing all our ancestors speaking all their languages into this room, saying we are not confusing, singing we Jews are a garment of a thousand threads, a coat of 20 million colors, for the heart of the Jewish world lives equally in every Jew, and no one is exotic, and every one of us is Jewish enough, and however we travel through the world is a Jewish path.

We who have held the center, raised the roof beams, wrestled old words into new melodies, carried our treasured scraps of Yiddishkeit next to our hearts, carried our shtels, our Europe, our ship’s passenger lists, our landings in the goldeneh medina, we who walked unknowing into the occupation of other people’s worlds, walked unknowing into whiteness that coated us bit by bit like layers of shellac, deadening our senses, we who are etched with the pain of separation from all our others, we settlers hungry for unsettling, we will step hobble, roll outward to the rim of the circle and hold space for our kin, will fast from speaking first, will fast from being the ones who know, will feast on listening, will let the varnish crack and peel, saying we will not be confused, singing the heart of the Jewish world lives equally in every Jew, and no one is the norm, and every one of us is a real Jew, and traveling together through the world is our Jewish path. And stepping in and stepping out we will weave a dance of justice right here in this room.

There are dance shoes enough to go around, and each one of you has a place to tap your feet, warm up your muscles and move, a place called affinity group. Indigenous people, we have a place. Black people and People of Color, we have a place. Mizrahim and Sephardim we have a place. People with white privilege, we have a place. White parents of children of color, we have a place. Families of color including white co-parents, we have a place. One two three, one two three, dance!

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