Observing MLK Day & Shabbat Tzedek in Your Jewish Community

Resources for commemorating MLK Day and the preceding Shabbat

Reform Jews played a vital role in the fight for racial equality, voting rights, and more in the 1960s, and that commitment continues today. Each year, the Reform Jewish Movement honors the legacy of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by commemorating the Shabbat nearest to MLK Day as Shabbat Tzedek. Here you'll find resources for both MLK Day and Shabbat Tzedek observation.

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.

Learning Materials

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Books, Films, and More to Delve into Antiracism Work

The Union for Reform Judaism shares a robust list of resources that provide a look into institutional racism, privilege, and the lived experiences of Jews of Color.

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audacious hospitality Resources

URJ Audacious Hospitality Resources

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

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march photo holding sign stating: "Another rabbi marching for racial justice"

Ways Your Congregation Can Act Now for Racial Justice

Here are a few things your congregation can do now, as well as resources and other opportunities from the URJ and our partner organizations.

Take Action

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Reform Judaism and Racial Justice

The Reform Movement believes, unequivocally, that Black Lives Matter. Learn more about racial justice work in Reform congregations, write to Congress, and more.

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mlk shabbat tzedek

3 Radical Facts About Martin Luther King Jr. and How to Honor His Full Legacy

To truly follow Judaism’s imperative to pursue justice, we must study and emulate the parts of Dr. King’s work that may make us uncomfortable.

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Join the Conversation in The Tent

Join other congregational leaders who are discussing racial justice and dismantling systemic racism in The Tent, the URJ’s communications and collaboration platform.

Additional Materials

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Young woman wearing headphones and listening to Wholly Jewish podcast

Podcast: Wholly Jewish

The first season of our podcast Wholly Jewish features interviews with Jews of Color sharing their experiences, insights, and how they enrich and create a more vibrant Jewish community.

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Two dads reading a book with their young daughter

The Multi-Cultural Library: Book Suggestions for Children

As you build a library for young people in your family or synagogue, prioritize books that include diversity, multiculturalism, antiracism, and prejudice reduction. This list of books is a great place to start.    

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Turn the Tables on Racial Justice: A Shabbat Dinner Host Guide

Created in partnership with Repair the World, this discussion guide raises complex issues and challenges our vision of a just society.

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A Prayer for Shabbat Tzedek

Rabbi Neil P.G. Hirsch and Koach Baruch Frazier share a prayer for Shabbat Tzedek in connection with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend. 

Text Studies

These text studies can be used to consider how Jewish values and teachings from the Torah informs our involvement in social justice movements generally and the Civil Rights Movement in particular.

Civil Rights and the Jewish Tradition  LBGT Extension  Martin Luther King Jr. and the Torah  

Prayer and Liturgy Materials

These resources for clergy and congregational leaders provide prayer and liturgy materials on racial justice and civil rights and can be used to plan a religious service that celebrates the civil rights movement, social justice and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Religious School Resources

These lesson plans can be used to introduce MLK Day or the civil rights movement to synagogue or interfaith community education classes.