The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
At the RAC’s Consultation on Conscience April 26-28, 2015, we are thrilled to have Rabbi Susan Talve of Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis, Missouri and Aaron Jenkins of Operation Understanding DC lead a workshop on how congregations can engage in the important civil rights work of our time. Rabbi Talve will speak about her activism in the St. Louis and Ferguson area in the time since Michael Brown’s death, and the role of congregations and faith leaders in leading this work. Mr. Jenkins will talk about his work as Executive Director of Operation Understanding DC and the importance of dialogue, especially between the black and Jewish communities.
In their workshop, Rabbi Talve and Mr. Jenkins will work with participants to prepare them to have similar conversations in their home communities and understand what it really means to be an ally and how it is tied to our Jewish culture. Racial justice is one of the focuses of our conference this year, and we are also very excited to also have renowned civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson speaking during Monday morning’s plenary session. You can watch his remarks on our livestream at youtube.com/racrj.
The RAC’s civil rights work can be traced back to the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. As longtime Reform Movement leader Al Vorspan reminded us:
“I myself was with King from the beginning days of the Montgomery bus boycott, mayhem in Birmingham, the march in Selma, the garbage strike in Memphis. Along with me, and in other strife-laden towns, were untold numbers of rabbis and Jewish lay persons, many of whom could not name a Hebrew prophet or identify the Jewish values driving them to action. With 16 Reform rabbis, I had the honor of going to jail in St. Augustine, Florida with King and Reverends Abernathy, Williams and Vivian. We were arrested for the crime of trying to have lunch together in the town’s nicest restaurant and we were placed in the custody of the sheriff who was also the grand dragon of the local KKK.”
More than 50 years later, we are honored to continue this strong allyship and continue to work for racial justice. As we are taught in Genesis 1:27, all people are created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God, and therefore, we know that everyone must receive equal treatment and equal rights. The Consultation on Conscience and our phenomenal group of speakers provides us with an opportunity to assess the progress that has been made and prepare to continue working until we achieve a world of justice.
If you are unable to join us in person this coming weekend, I hope that you will follow along on our live stream. To learn more about our work on these issues, visit our page on civil rights.