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Anti-Racism and Belonging

While Havurah is a wonderful and welcoming community, we shouldn’t assume that we are immune from the racism that is woven into the fabric of our society and is certainly present within predominantly white Jewish communities. The workgroup's goal is to embed anti-racist work throughout Havurah to support the alignment of our actions, beliefs, and values with our identity as a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural community, so that all members, and especially our members who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), can show up as their authentic selves, be heard, valued, and appreciated, and have a sense of belonging.

We invite all Havurah members to embark with us in small group conversations to gain a better understanding of how anti-racism and belonging shows up within our congregation. All conversation groups are structured by self-selected shared identity and are led by Havurah consultants Tabitha and Adam St. Bernard-Jacobs. For a schedule of the conversations and RSVP links, click here.

We are committed to:

  • Centering the voices of BIPOC members in this work
  • Acknowledging that harm has been done, and that it will take time and intentionality to build trust and repair/restore those connections
  • Acknowledging that this is long-term, slow work, and that for us to make progress as a community, leadership needs to be visibly committed to the work, and we need to have the support of the broader community
  • Being intentional about not replicating systems of oppression and white dominant/supremacist thinking and ways of being

Like most organizations in this country, some of Havurah's current structures may be based in white dominant patterns, thinking, and ways of being that knowingly and unknowingly perpetuate inequities or contribute to patterns of exclusion and harm. For this reason, we have chosen to be a workgroup instead of a committee, so we can have the time and space to explore models of collective organizing that honor and uplift diverse ways of working together.

Members of the Anti-Racism and Belonging Workgroup include Michael Anderson-Nathe, Rabbi Benjamin Barnett, Bob Brown, Chris Coughlin, Alanna Hein, Maria Lisa Johnson, and Karen St. Clair.  Bob Brown and Chris Coughlin serve as points of contact. Please reach out to them with any questions.

We hope you have seen some of the Hakol articles about the Anti-Racism and Belonging work we are collectively launching.

If you missed previous Hakol articles about this work, you can find there here:

Launching Our Collective Work


Recognizing that talking about racism can be challenging, the Anti-Racism and Belonging Workgroup has engaged consultants to support our work. Tabitha and Adam St. Bernard-Jacobs will launch the first phase of our anti-racism work during 2022 by engaging in small group conversations with community members over the coming months to gather stories and data from members. More information about the small groups will be available soon.

A Message from Tabitha and Adam

 

We are honored to work with Havurah Shalom to gain a better understanding of how Havurah members view and approach anti-racism within the congregation. Our goal is to identify issues that encourage and/or hinder belonging among congregants, particularly BIPOC members. Ultimately we hope to identify guideposts for — and a path to — a more equitable community.

In partnership with the Anti-Racism and Belonging Workgroup, we will lead an information gathering process to help expand the vision and deepen the impact of this internally focused work. As part of the process, we will engage in small group conversations with congregants, providing opportunities for you to share your experiences as members and your hopes for the future. Learning from you as the experts of your own experiences will inform our recommendations.

The values that ground us include:

  • A focus on relationship-building with the Havurah Shalom community
  • Moving at the speed of these relationships
  • Providing clarity while accepting a possible lack of conclusion
  • Open communication
  • A commitment to listening

We lean into the intentional and process-driven nature required of anti-racism work as we reject a quick, results-driven approach. We look forward to helping Havurah Shalom grow into the future with care, belonging, and kehillah (community).

About Tabitha and Adam
 

Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs (she/her) is a Trinidadian-American artist, organizer, and writer of Raising Anti-Racist Kids. She is the founder of Tabii Just Strategies, a consulting firm focused on dismantling racism and creating equitable systems with an approach that targets sustainable, long-term change. She is a member of Kolot Chayeinu’s Race Working Group. Tabitha is a founding organizer of Women’s March. She currently serves as a senior advisor after serving as Deputy Executive Director of Program. She also led the team that organized the historic 2018 National School Walkouts. Tabitha was recognized as one of Glamour Magazine’s 2017 Women of the Year, and one of 200 Women Who Will Change the Way You See the World (book). Tabitha is raising two kids with her favorite human, Adam.
 

 

Adam St. Bernard Jacobs (he/him) is a peace educator, nonprofit leader, and proud parent. He was the founding Executive Director of Kids Creative, an arts education program in NYC, and currently leads fundraising efforts at a national education nonprofit. He helped found an elementary school in the Bronx and sits on organizing committees working to dismantle white supremacy. Adam has co-led multiple white caucus groups in Jewish and non-Jewish spaces. He has degrees in International Politics, Peace Education, and Talmud and Rabbinics. He is also a children’s performer musician, performing as Mr. Clown in The Dirty Sock Funtime Band, and was a regular on Nick Jr.

Sun, October 2 2022 7 Tishrei 5783