Racial Justice

The Reform Movement works in partnership with representatives from diverse communities to fight the structural racism that is embedded in our society and to advance justice for all people.

Description

The United States simply cannot achieve the values of “justice for all” to which it aspires until we address ongoing racism in all sectors and at all levels of society. Despite the abolishment of slavery in 1865, systemic oppression, police violence, and racial discrimination against Black Americans and people of Color continues today. Lynchings, Jim Crow laws, restricted access to the ballot box, a biased criminal justice system, and redlining are just some examples of how racial inequity has been sustained in American life. Systemic disparities and injustices will endure unless proactive steps are taken to acknowledge and eliminate them. The Reform Movement works across lines of difference to fight the structural racism that is embedded in our society and to advance justice for all people, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Why We Care about Racial Justice

In the Torah, Jews are taught to accept others, without prejudice or bias. The Torah states "You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart. Reprove your kinsman, but incur no guilt because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your fellow as yourself: I am the Eternal" (Leviticus 19: 17-18). Our Jewish tradition is replete with instances of moral reckoning when we are asked to be present and accounted for. “Ayecha?” we are asked. “Where are you?” We respond with a full throated, “Hineinu.” “We are here.”

As Reform Jews committed to the spirit of this teaching, we say unequivocally, Black Lives Matter. To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to commit to a human and civil rights movement, working to end systemic racism against Black people and white supremacy.

To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to recognize that we are a racially diverse Reform Jewish Movement, and that our diversity is a source of our strength.

The Reform Movement's Racial Justice Campaign

The Reform Movement’s Racial Justice Campaign builds on our Civic Engagement Campaign where our Movement focused on combatting voter suppression, particularly impacting Communities of Color. This campaign will address systemic racism by demanding policy change on both a state and federal level and will also push members of our community to do essential Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (REDI) and antiracism work within our communities and ourselves.

Take Action Now!

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Support the Study and Development of Reparations for Slavery and Systemic Racism

The ongoing wounds of slavery and more than four centuries of entrenched racial oppression continues to impact every part of American society. Urge your elected officials to cosponsor H.R. 40, Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act when it is introduced in the 117th Congress.  

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Urge Congress to enact policing reforms

George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Dreasjon “Sean” Reed are just some of the latest victims of the nation’s long history of brutality against People of Color, and particularly Black men.Urge your members of Congress to support comprehensive policing reforms in the 117th Congress.

Reform Judaism's Resolutions on Racial Justice

Learn more about the position of the Reform Movement on these key issues, and read the formal resolutions by URJ and CCAR.

View URJ Resolutions 

From CCAR:

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Educational Materials

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Observe Black History Month Using These Jewish Resources

Resources by Black, biracial, and multiracial Jews to help the Jewish community more fully embrace the diversity of Reform Judaism

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Racial Justice Media List: Films, Books, and More

The Union for Reform Judaism shares a robust list of books, films, podcasts, and more to delve into antiracism work and provide a look into institutional racism, privilege, and the lived experiences of Jews of Color.

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More Racial Justice Resources

Find more materials designed for synagogues and communities to spur learning and conversation about racial diversity, about the deep racial disparities that afflict our society, and about how Reform Jews can continue to work for racial justice.

Engage Your Congregation

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How to Start a Social Justice Book Club

Reform Jews across North America come together in their own communities to read, explore and discuss social justice-themed books. RAC Reads provides thought-provoking stories and tools to get your family, congregation, and community talking about racial justice.

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Congregational Resources from URJ Audacious Hospitality

Find resources, including our congregational toolkit, created by the URJ Audacious Hospitality team to help you make your community more equitable and inclusive.

What's New

Hate Crimes Continued to Rise in 2020: Will the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act Give Us Hope for the Future?

October 15, 2021
In late August, the FBI released its annual compilation of hate crimes statistics, summarizing all hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2020. The data is alarming and only tells part of the story, as an increasing number of law enforcement agencies did not report data to the FBI. A new law will strengthen hate crimes data collection, reporting, and response measures, giving us hope that future statistics will be more accurate.

Related Press Releases

Reform Movement Calls for Voting Rights Legislation After Harmful Supreme Court Decision

“The right to vote in safe, free, and accessible elections is fundamental to the promise of American democracy. We are deeply disappointed by today’s Supreme Court decision upholding Arizona voting laws that have made it particularly difficult for Latinx, Native American, and Black voters to make their voices heard in elections. This decision jeopardizes Arizonans’ and all Americans’ right to vote.

Related Issues

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Civil Rights & Voting Rights

Since the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Jewish community has continued its support of civil rights laws addressing systemic discrimination in voting, housing, and employment against women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities.

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Criminal Justice Reform

There is growing evidence that race and poverty play a role in determining who gets arrested, who gets a fair trial, and how those convicted are sentenced. 

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What is Black Lives Matter?

Black Lives Matter is a human and civil rights movement, working to end systemic racism against Black people. Here is a quick primer on the movement, its principles, and more.

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Reparations

Reparations can take many forms and, in practice, these measures may manifest as congressional hearings, a national apology, the institution of government programs, creation of tax incentives for Black-owned businesses, educational stipends for Black Americans, individual or community compensation, or other approaches.

Subscribe to RAC Emails

Learn more about the RAC's key issues and get involved by signing up for the legislative updates newsletter.

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Contact Our Legislative Assistants

For more information on this issue, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Israel Harris.