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Date ArticleType
8/20/2019 General
As High Holidays Approach, Reform Rabbis Gather in Montomery & Selma

AS HIGH HOLIDAYS APPROACH, REFORM RABBIS GATHER IN MONTGOMERY & SELMA TO LEARN HISTORY AND CURRENT REALITY OF RACIAL INJUSTICE

More than 50 Reform rabbis from across the country, including from Temple Beth El in Boca Raton, embark to Alabama on a journey of truth, justice and reconciliation.

 

Montgomery, AL August 19, 2019 – Ahead of the High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) next month, the Central Conference of American Rabbis is leading a contingent of more than 50 Reform rabbis from across the country, including Rabbi Greg Weisman from Temple Beth El in Boca Raton, Florida, traveling to Montgomery and Selma, Alabama on a journey of truth, justice and reconciliation. From today (August 19) to Wednesday, August 21, rabbis will bear witness to the historical legacy and current reality of racism in the United States through discussions with leading scholars, local clergy and activists, along with visits to key historic sites such as The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Reconciliation, the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence.

 

The journey comes at a time when the country is in a state of racial crisis, with the federal and state governments advancing racist rhetoric and policies on the national stage that include mass incarceration, healthcare and education inequity and voter suppression efforts that target communities of color.  During the season of repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation, Reform rabbis from across the country will use this journey as an opportunity to discuss how Jewish communities, and the country as a whole, can confront our nation’s history and the present reality of racial injustice and move toward repentance for this history by advancing racial equality in communities nationwide.

 

“The Reform Jewish movement has a long legacy of supporting and advocating for racial justice,” said Rabbi Hara Person, Chief Executive of CCAR. “ Reform rabbis in particular have a key role to play in advancing all forms of justice, including racial justice, in our communities. The High Holy Days provide us the opportunity and the obligation to repent for not just our individual sins, but for our harmful actions as a society. So there is perhaps no better time to consider our nation’s foundational sin: racism. In preparation for this season of teshuvah, we are revisiting and renewing this sacred obligation through our journey to the South.”

 

“The CCAR has a long history of confronting injustice in many areas, including racial justice,” said Rabbi Betsy Torop, CCAR Director of Rabbinic Engagement and Growth. “This seminar continues CCAR’s proud tradition as a leading Jewish voice on racial justice throughout its history as rabbis recommit themselves to advancing this cause in our own time.”

 

“This sacred journey provides an opportunity to renew the Jewish commitment to racial justice,” said trip leader, Rabbi Seth Limmer. “Once rabbis return home, they will have the tools to encourage congregants, coworkers, and fellow community members to join with them in establishing partnerships with communities of color and recommitting themselves to fight against the racism that persists in our society.”

 

The rabbis will also use this journey as a chance to discuss the issue of reproductive rights, specifically the attacks on abortion access in Alabama and throughout the South, which disproportionately harms communities of color. States like Alabama and Mississippi that have recently sought to ban or heavily restrict abortion are also among those with the country’s worst rates of Black maternal mortality and low newborn birth weights. The journey will include conversations about advancing the cause of reproductive justice, a concept pioneered by Black women that emphasizes the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent  children in safe and sustainable communities.

 

“This seminar will give faith leaders insight into how to support the struggle for reproductive rights and justice to ensure that all people can receive the health care they need,” said Rabbi Judith Schindler, CCAR Montgomery Seminar leader. “Our journey will provide an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the reality of the barriers to reproductive care in Alabama, particularly for Black communities.”

 

For more information about the journey, or to connect with CCAR and trip leaders and participating rabbis, reach out to sara.spain@berlinrosen.com.

 

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About the Central Conference of American Rabbis

The Central Conference of American Rabbis is the Reform Rabbinic leadership organization.  The CCAR strengthens the Jewish community by providing religious, spiritual, ethical and intellectual leadership and wisdom.  CCAR and its members lead the Reform Movement on important spiritual, social, cultural and human rights issues, as it has done since 1889.  CCAR also is the center for lifelong rabbinic learning, professional development, and resources for the 2,100 rabbis who serve more than 1.5 million Reform Jews throughout North America, Israel and the world. Since its founding, the CCAR has also served as the primary publisher of the Reform Movement through CCAR Press and its imprint Reform Judaism Publishing.