The article’s author, Rabbi Susan Talve, tells of holding a baby girl at her naming ceremony. Her mother was white and Jewish, her father was a non-Jewish African American. “And when I held her at her naming ceremony, I promised her: By the time you begin to notice how you fit into your surroundings, we will have a community that includes others who look like you. You will see yourself reflected in the diversity of our temple,” she wrote.
Fulfilling that promise was difficult, as you can imagine. The location was St. Louis, Missouri.
As part of the larger congregational engagement program, we asked every adult member of the congregation to read Uprooting Racism by Paul Kivel, a supportive how-to book designed to help white people understand the dynamics of racism and act on the belief that it is wrong. Over the course of a year, every group within the congregation, including the board, spent at least one meeting in a directed discussion of the book. We also participated in a series of listening programs which were often painful to hear. The Jews of color and their families spoke about being shunned, ignored, even feared. Many related how no one would sit next to them at services…
To read the whole article, click here.
Talve’s prayer speaks to the opportunity for diversity in all faith congregations: To pray for a Sukkat Shalom is to pray for a full house; a shelter that reflects creation in its glorious diversity. As we continue the holy work of uprooting the scourge of racism from this and all communities, we look forward to the time when our Jewish family will embrace Jews of all colors. Then, our Sukkat Shalom will become truly multi-racial as it was always intended to be.