Grant to Jewish Social Justice Roundtable Builds Racial Justice Efforts

Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah has announced a significant 2-year grant to the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable (JSJR), launching the implementation of the Roundtable’s new multi-year commitment to racial justice and racial equity as an expression of Jewish and justice values.

As a distinct religious demographic, Jewish Americans are particularly poised to begin to address the root causes of racism and discrimination by taking action at the individual, interpersonal, and institutional levels. Data shows what the foundation and the Roundtable know anecdotally – the moment is ripe for this investment of time, money, emotional reflection and structural change. If successful, this effort could place our multiracial Jewish community at the cutting edge of the work for racial equity.

This grant builds on the strategic collaboration begun last fall which discovered sector-wide needs and opportunities for transformative growth, and identified possible solutions. The group conversation, facilitated by foundation staff, identified challenges faced by the field in fully understanding and talking about racism and discrimination in a Jewish context, both within the Jewish community and with external partners in the fight for justice.

JSJR Director Abby Levine notes, “When we think about our community’s work for racial justice and civil rights, many Jews think of the iconic photo of Abraham Joshua Heschel marching with Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma in 1965. Some of our modern day Jewish activists may look like Heschel – and many others reflect the wide spectrum of race, ethnicity, and gender identities within the Jewish community. We have work to do as a Jewish community to support the work and amplify the voices of Jews of color.”

The training team, comprised of Suzanne Feinspan, Dove Kent, and Yavilah McCoy, will be designing and delivering the trainings, drawing on applied Jewish wisdom as well as established secular techniques.

“In 2017, the American Jewish community is at a critical moment in which the potential to expand the work of racial justice within the North American Jewish community is enormous,” April Baskin, Vice President for Audacious Hospitality for the URJ and member of the Leadership Team of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable added. “While we presently have much work to do and there will likely be future challenges we must meet, let this wave inspire us to keep going.”