In our third episode of Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations, we speak with Rabbi Joshua Lesser of Congregation Bet Haverim in Atlanta. A noted civil rights activist and leader, Lesser shares the evolution of his thinking on race and how fighting injustice has always been a core component of his rabbinate. He breaks down the Jewish conversation on race into an internal and external conversation. The internal focuses on efforts to fully embrace and celebrate Jews of color as a central part of North American Jewry. The external focuses on how Jewish communities interact with communities of color and confront structural racism. Lesser discusses steps his congregation has taken.
Theme song, “Ilu Finu” by Rabbi Miriam Margles. Her album This is the Day is available for purchase at CDBaby: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/miriammarglesandthehadarensemb
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- Rabbi Joshua Lesser on Authentic Community - YouTube — Rabbi Joshua Lesser introduces his article about welcoming Jews of color into Jewish community and creating inclusive, thriving Jewish spaces.
- Preparing Our Communities for Conversations on Race - Rabbi Joshua Lesser (Evolve article) — Rabbi Joshua Lesser writes frankly about leadership, representation and making assumptions about Jews of color in spaces dominated by white Jews.
- Racism in the Jewish Community - Rabbi Sandra Lawson and Donna Cephas (Evolve article) — This essay examines the assumption that all Jews are white, while touching on a myriad of interrelated issues: conversion, interracial families, adoption, Ashkenazi privilege and political correctness.
- Radical Inclusion - Aurora Levins Morales (Evolve article) — Declarations that everyone is welcome in a community are insufficient for Jews who do not identify as white. Jewishness is not the sole or primary identity for those who are oppressed and endangered because of the color of their skin.
- Evolve Topic Section: Judaism and Race — How do we expand our image of Jews to include people of color, and how should Jews deal with systemic racism in America?