This Juneteenth, We Reaffirm Our Commitment to Racial Justice

Black Lives Matter march

This Shabbat is Juneteenth, which commemorates the day the confederacy’s last enslaved Black people finally gained their freedom on June 19, 1865. On Juneteenth, 2020, we stated our covenant to build an anti-racist community in our organization—and with it, our wider Bay Area Jewish community.

Now, on Juneteenth, 2021, we have an opportunity to look back and reflect on the progress we’ve made, acknowledge the work we still need to do, and reaffirm our commitment to create an equitable and inclusive Jewish community where all are seen, and heard, and valued. We would also like to share some Juneteenth commemorations and resources to help you celebrate this momentous historical moment that still resonates to this day.

Our Journey of Learning and Action

Upon announcing our commitment a year ago, we formed a Racial Justice Task Force, the majority of whom are Jews of Color (JOC). Their purpose is to guide our efforts in bringing racially diverse voices to the table, and their work with us has become a true partnership. We are grateful for their time, passion, and expertise.

Initially, we were unsure of how to approach this work. But we did know that we wanted to diversify our Board and professional team, and avoid harming people of color to the extent possible.

Then, as work ramped up—highlighted below—it became increasingly clear that adding Jews of Color to our Board and staff was not an end in itself. With time, we’ve become increasingly equipped to welcome JOC to the table. But we’ve also realized this was only the first step towards our true goal of real and permanent structural change. The really hard work of creating a truly equitable and inclusive space has only just begun.

And today, a year after we first affirmed our new covenant with the community, we are more devoted and committed to this work than ever before. We hope that our organization, along with our fellow Bay Area Jewish organizations, become environments that represent all members of our community, and that all these members, including those of color, are thriving in Bay Area Jewish life.

Highlights of Our Racial Justice Work to Date

Here’s a summary of our progress so far to honor our commitment to racial equity.

  • Commitment to Diversity Statement: The foundational, guiding document articulates and defines our work towards diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Grantmaking: We have granted $627,000 through our teen-facing Tzedek Cohort to get teens excited and involved in striving for racial justice, engaging with their elected officials, and modeling diversity and belonging in their own lives and relationships. We have also granted over $280,000 towards systemic, cultural, and organizational change in community-based organizations.
  • Culture of Belonging: We continue to integrate a racial equity lens into this vital initiative, which is already highly focused on celebrating diversity and belonging throughout the community.
  • Diversity Training: Every 3 months, we educate our Professionals and Lay Leaders on topics including implicit bias, oppression, language, and racial/ethnic diversity in the Jewish community.
  • Org-Wide Assessment: We have hired two racial diversity, equity, and inclusion (RDEI) consultants to assess our practices, emphasizing racial equity. They will provide recommendations for changing processes, policies, or behavior and where to look for more opportunities to improve.

Juneteenth Resources:

On this day of reflection, we encourage you to personally reflect on, educate yourself about, and work against systemic racism. We’ve compiled a list of the following events and resources in the hope that they will help you as we work together in building an anti-racist community.

Ways to Commemorate Juneteenth

Anti-Racism Resources and Ways to Support Racial Justice

Reflect and Channel Your Judaism to Help Foster an Anti-Racist Mindset

Take Action to Pursue Justice (tzedek) as Commanded in the Torah

Categories: Community


June 16, 2021