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

What Does MLK Shabbat Mean in 2023?

January 12, 2023
On January 13-14, 2023 (the Shabbat before MLK Day), synagogues across the United States will celebrate MLK Shabbat. This year, let MLK Shabbat symbolize our commitment to expanding voting rights and advancing racial justice in 2023 and beyond.

A Letter to the 118th Congress

January 3, 2023
This is the cover note of a letter to the 118th Congress outlining the Reform Jewish Movement's policy priorities and urging all Members of Congress to join us in pursuit of a more just and equitable world.

Hate Crimes in 2021: An Incomplete Picture

December 22, 2022
Last week, the FBI released its annual compilation of hate crimes statistics, summarizing all hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2021. While the statistics themselves are grim and disturbing, the most alarming statistic in this year’s announcement is what was not reported. While underreporting of hate crimes has been an ongoing issue, this report is more inaccurate than usual.

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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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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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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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  

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.