Multiracial Sinai Statement on January 6, 2021
Temple Sinai strives to be antiracist. To be antiracist means, in part, to view events and choices through the lens of how actions impact people of color including Jews of color. Seen through this lens, the insurrection at the Capitol was a racist act with racist impact. January 6th was a stark moment of mob violence, the perpetrators of which were mostly White. Such mob violence has been used to silence and control people of color in the United States since its inception. Historically, mob violence was frequently encouraged and permitted by politicians and law enforcement, not unlike what was seen on January 6th. In multiple ways, the events highlight institutionalized systems of racism, including sustained efforts to suppress Black and brown votes, and a culture of White supremacy.
Witnessing the violence on television had a profound impact on those who have experienced generations of racist violence and control. Witnessing the confederate flag and the noose had significant impact. While some may not understand that race was central to the insurrection, these signs and symbols, and the response of law enforcement demonstrate otherwise. The stark contrast between the force used against Black Lives Matter peaceful protestors and the treatment of this White supremacist mob was particularly jarring. The presence of swastikas and antisemitic slogans evoke a history of hatred and violence against the Jewish people. This further amplifies the impact for Jews of color, specifically Black Jews who live at the intersection of these identities.
To be antiracist, we remember why we say Black Lives Matter. Black and brown votes and voters matter. We hold our Sinai members of color closer because Jews of color are feeling the compounding impact from the racism Black and brown mothers, grandfathers, and great-grandparents experienced along with the last four painful years of anti-Black, antisemitic, and anti-Latino/a/x political action in its many forms.
May this be a moment when we as a Jewish community, with our diverse histories and experiences of antisemitism and racism, come closer together with deepening resolve to support our whole community and to center antiracism.
Black Lives Matter is a Jewish Value
Temple Sinai wholeheartedly embraces the Reform Jewish Leadership Statement: Black Lives Matter is a Jewish Value. Temple Sinai also has joined over 500 synagogues and Jewish organizations in declaring our support for “the Black-led movement in this country that is calling for accountability and transparency from the government and law enforcement.” Read more here.
At this momentous time, we affirm our commitment to being an antiracist synagogue and to the ongoing, sustained work of dismantling racism in our institutions and society. Our clergy are here to support our Black congregants and all those who identify as Jews of Color and people of color, always and especially now. The Multiracial Sinai Committee, whose mandate is to guide Temple Sinai in becoming an antiracist synagogue, is also here as a resource, to offer affinity spaces for people of color, and to provide opportunities to work as a multiracial community to identify what our temple can do better. For those who want to learn about race and antiracism, Multiracial Sinai offers a facilitated discussion group on Building Racial Stamina in Jewish Community. This is an important learning opportunity, especially for White congregants looking to develop skills for talking and thinking about race effectively.
What Does it Mean to be Antiracist?
By now we have all heard the term “antiracist” but what does it mean to you and for our Temple Sinai community? The Multiracial Sinai Committee (MRS) has been working towards guiding Temple Sinai in being affirmatively antiracist since 2018. Members of MRS and other congregants gathered on November 11 in conversation about what it means to be antiracist in our own lives, and what each of us can do to advance the goal of making Temple Sinai an antiracist congregation.
Materials for review:
- Definitions for What Does it Mean to be Antiracist? (PDF)
- Resources for Further Learning about Racism, Race and Antiracism (PDF)
How Can I Join the Work?
- Sign up for our e-mail list, the Multiracial Sinai Update.
- Inquire about future sessions of the Building Racial Stamina in Jewish Community facilitated discussion groups
- Review the compilation of readings and videos in Being Anti-Racist: Ten Days Toward Inclusion 5781.
For more information about Temple Sinai’s antiracist work with the Washington Interfaith Network, click here, and visit WIN’s website. You may also email Barbara Kraft, Temple Sinai’s outgoing WIN Core Team Chair, or Kevin Mulshine, our incoming WIN Core Team Chair.
Multiracial Sinai’s Goals and Plans for 2020-21
Recognizing that our movement’s vision of dignity, equity, and safety for all people has yet to be fully realized, Temple Sinai is committed to undertaking transformational internal steps to further affirm and enhance our identity as a multiracial Reform Jewish community. Multiracial Sinai is committed to supporting those steps by helping guide Temple Sinai in being an antiracist congregation. To do so, in the fall of 2019 Multiracial Sinai began congregation-wide programming that provided opportunities for education, affinity groups and training. Multiracial Sinai is continuing and expanding this programming in 2020-21.
Multiracial Sinai welcomes ideas and suggestions. If you would like to share your experiences or insights, or to receive information about upcoming events, please contact Deitra Reiser and Cathy Goldwyn, co-chairs of Multiracial Sinai.
Facilitated discussion groups on “Building Racial Stamina in Jewish Community” are being held throughout the year, beginning in October
Talking about race is both difficult and necessary in our Jewish community and in society. This six-week facilitated discussion group will provide space to develop what author Robin DiAngelo calls “racial stamina,” the ability to think and talk about race effectively. The group will help each person explore their own racial identity, increase awareness of the impact of race and better understand how to affirm and embrace all people at Temple Sinai.
High Holy Days 5781/2020
Black Lives are Sacred Multiracial Sinai Statement, June 2020
In this time of great pain and compounding trauma for Blacks in America, the committee members of Multiracial Sinai want to share our frustration, fury and sorrow as the Temple Sinai community grieves and condemns ongoing racist violence against Black lives and bodies. As a multiracial group, at this time Multiracial Sinai is first attending to the experience and needs of Black members of Temple Sinai and the broader DC community, including our beloved Black family members, kin, friends, neighbors, and partners.
During the month of June, we will host a program to reflect on racism in our society. We will also be continuing the six-week discussion groups about racism that we initiated last fall, Building Racial Stamina in Jewish Community. More information to follow.
As a Reform Jewish community, we can and must act to fight racism, center and support our Black members and leaders, and commit to sustained action guided by the sanctity of Black lives.
Since the fall of 2017, a group of congregants has been working with Rabbi Hannah Goldstein to lay the groundwork for Multiracial Sinai.
The purpose of Multiracial Sinai is to provide guidance in affirming Temple Sinai’s identity as a multiracial congregation and in identifying opportunities for improvement in aspects of our congregational life. Multiracial Sinai is committed to supporting these steps by helping guide Temple Sinai in being an antiracist congregation. Multiracial Sinai became a committee in 2019.
By way of context, Temple Sinai has wholeheartedly embraced the Union of Reform Judaism’s 2017 resolution that both reaffirms our movement’s commitment to racial justice and commits the Reform movement to undertake transformative internal steps. Importantly, the resolution affirms our identity as a multiracial Reform Jewish community. Today, more than 10 percent of all Reform Jews identify as Jews of color, a term used to identify Jews whose family origins are originally in Africa, Asia, or Latin America. Jews of color may identify as Black, Latino, Asian American or as mixed heritage such as biracial or multiracial. Temple Sinai’s own membership reflects this diversity.
As with the larger Reform Jewish community, Temple Sinai benefits from the active participation and support of our non-Jewish members who strengthen our community and are often active partners in raising Jewish children. Similar to our Jewish membership, our non-Jewish members are ethnically and racially diverse.
Union of Reform Judaism Resolution on Our Community’s Pursuit of Racial Justice
The 2017 Union of Reform Judaism Resolution on Our Community’s Pursuit of Racial Justice was adopted in 2017. The resolution begins as follows:
“As the Reform Movement continues our fervent pursuit of social justice in North America, we deepen our dedication to the pursuit of racial justice, recognizing that our vision of dignity, equity and safety for all people has yet to be fully realized. This pursuit is fundamental to our identity as a multiracial Reform Jewish community, is rooted in our enduring values, and requires transformative work in both our communal institutions and in the public arena.”
Temple Sinai wholeheartedly embraces the conviction expressed in this resolution and seeks to fulfill these commitments through the congregational work of Multiracial Sinai and the social justice efforts of numerous temple initiatives under the umbrella of the Social Action Committee.
For the full text of the 2017 URJ Resolution click here.