September 2020 -- Elul 5780-Tishri 5781,  Volume 26, Issue 9

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Union for Reform Judaism to Expand Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Work

The Union for Reform Judaism {URJ},  leading the largest, most diverse Movement in Jewish life, is expanding implementation of Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (REDI) principles and practices throughout the entire organization. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan, awarded the URJ a $600,000 multi-year grant to advance Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion within the URJ and the Reform Jewish Movement as a whole.

 

In 2019, the URJ sought funding to further the URJ’s internal work around systemic oppression and racial equity. This significant grant enables the URJ to incorporate REDI principles and practices throughout all areas of work, including congregations, camps, and youth, with focused efforts toward becoming a Movement that is reflective of the full diversity of Jewish life. In order to accomplish this work, the URJ will look critically at how dominant culture impacts all areas of the Jewish community, including internally within the URJ.

 

The URJ will continue to build on the work of Audacious Hospitality, including pivotal programs established under the leadership of April Baskin, a former URJ Vice President. This grant will enable the URJ to deepen its commitment to engaging a more diverse and multiracial staff and board, dismantling current and historical oppressive systems within the Reform Movement. The Movement seeks to create a wider pipeline of leaders from marginalized backgrounds while increasing leadership opportunities for underrepresented populations in the Reform Jewish community, in so doing, affirming the essential value of Jews of Color and People of Color in their sacred communities. While the work will largely focus on addressing racial justice and equity in all its forms, efforts will also address homophobia, transphobia, ableism, classism, sexism, heteronormativity, and other forms of oppression.

 

The goals are to further prioritize a culture and organizational shift that will enable racial diversity throughout the URJ and the Reform Movement, address systemic and institutional racial oppression as well as other forms of systemic oppression, and increase organizational and Movement-wide capacity to equitably serve families from a wide variety of backgrounds.

 

“Racism does exist in our Jewish community, racism isn’t only ‘out there somewhere.’ We must learn about and take actions to become antiracist, as individuals and as an organization, and to centralize Black and Brown voices. Black Lives Matter is a Jewish value, yet white people cannot join the effort to end systemic racism against Black people if we haven’t done the work of checking our own,” said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, Union for Reform Judaism. “Modern-day Jewish life must be truly reflective of and accessible to everyone who seeks a spiritual home. We thank the Kellogg Foundation for supporting this necessary work.”

 

The URJ is dedicated to transformative efforts to more fully and accurately reflect the diversity of Jewish life, ultimately leading to full-scale culture change throughout the Reform Movement and beyond. The URJ’s mission is to strengthen communities and transform the way people connect to Jewish life, building a more whole, just, and compassionate world.

 

Founded in 1873, URJ has grown into the largest and most powerful force in North American Jewish life, with nearly 850 member congregations and work that inspires, connects, and educates millions of people. Their legacy, reach, leadership, and vision mean that they can unite thousands of years of tradition with a modern, evolving Judaism to strengthen Jewish communities today and for future generations.

 

Visit at www.URJ.org to learn about their social justice initiatives, camps and programs for young Jews, services for congregations and communities..