A famous debate among the sages of Jewish tradition tries to resolve the question, “What is better: study or action?” The rabbis argue both sides but they ultimately declare, “Study is greater, because it leads to action.”
This moment in history demands both study and action. Our community is comprised of thousands of individuals with different stories and diverse journeys. Some of us have deeply lived the reality of racial injustice in the United States while others of us are beginning to learn.
What recent weeks of fearless protests have proven is the urgency for CRS to start learning and acting as a congregation. Wherever we are in the path toward education and repair, being part of a synagogue family means that we have sacred bonds of relationship that will be strengthened by an ongoing conversation about race and racism.
This summer, we invite you to take part in CRS Reads, a congregation-wide book club on the topic of racial justice. The month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is a time of reflection and self-work. From mid-August to mid-September we will gather in online discussion groups to share learnings from our chosen book with fellow congregants and members of the clergy and staff. We invite you to choose a book and sign up for a discussion session below.
Note: Each discussion is being offered twice. Please choose one session only.
Written as a letter to the author’s teenage son about the feelings, symbolism, and realities associated with being Black in the United States. Coates recapitulates American history and explains to his son the racist violence that has been woven into American culture.
Discusses race-related issues specific to African-American males and mass incarceration in the United States, noting that the discrimination faced by African-American males is prevalent among other minorities and socio-economically disadvantaged populations. Alexander’s central premise is that mass incarceration is, metaphorically, the New Jim Crow.
History of how racist ideas were created, spread, and deeply rooted in American society. Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history using the life stories of five major American intellectuals: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis.
Julius Lester shares his own story as he explores what makes each of us special. Lester said: “I write because our lives are stories. If enough of these stories are told, then perhaps we will begin to see that our lives are the same story. The differences are merely in the details.” New Kid is a timely, honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real.
Join a discussion for parents and grandparents, on how to utilize this book with children, with Marcia Stein & Rabbinic Intern Vanessa Harper:
THU, AUG 27, 7:30 – 8:30 PM – Register Here
MON, AUG 31, 12:30 – 1:30 PM – Register Here
Novel based on the real story of the Dozier School, a reform school in Florida that operated for 111 years and had its history exposed by a university’s investigation. A spare and devastating exploration of abuse at a reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida that is ultimately a powerful tale of human perseverance, dignity and redemption.
All Are Welcome shares the message of a school where everyone’s differences are loved and celebrated. Last Stop on Market Street explores the difference between what’s fleeting and what lasts, acknowledges inequality, and testifies to the love shared by an African-American boy and his grandmother. More, More, More Said the Baby features beautiful watercolor drawings of multi-ethnic families, as they are they are scooped up by adoring adults to be swung around, kissed and tucked into bed.
We invite you to browse a library of additional resources on the topic of racial justice in the United States.
CRS Reads is one of numerous paths of learning and action that we are building to nurture our community’s understanding and engagement with the fight for racial justice. Our country’s reckoning with entrenched racism concurrent with the continued pandemic makes it precarious to show up and march our values. Our sages’ emphasis on study is an important reminder that learning and listening are forms of engagement that help us open our hearts and cultivate empathy. We pray that by reading and acting together, we will help turn the page toward a chapter of justice, dignity, and equality for all people of color.