The Anti-racism and inclusion Workgroup organized in 2020 to learn more about how best to address racism both in our synagogue and the larger community.
Its work was organized into three categories:
- TO LEARN: To practice self-reflection and be more informed about racism and other barriers to becoming a fully inclusive OZ community
- TO MAKE CHANGES: To change OZ policies and practices that increase a sense of belonging for marginalized groups at OZ (interfaith families, people of color, people with different abilities, people with a range of views on Israel and Zionism, and others)
- TO CONNECT TO COMMUNITY: We will increase our presence and deepen our relationships with the non-Jewish community in support of social justice
The group created, lead and collaborated on short term and ongoing projects under these categories. If you would like to explore current opportunities or have ideas, please get it touch!
Want to do social action in our community? HERE are organizations with work for volunteers.
The Anti-Racism and Inclusion Workgroup emerged from the social justice and adult education committees, in July 2020. We wanted to understand and explore how to further anti-racism efforts within Ohavi Zedek (OZ). We participated in educational activities to learn more about the history and current connections between Jews, people of color and Jews of color in the United States. We participated in educational activities and discussed what we learned. With the OZ Adult Education committee, we offered a number of educational sessions and book discussions related to this topic. We asked the OZ board and they affirmed their commitment to OZ’s mission of inclusion.
In April 2021 we disseminated a survey to Ohavi Zedek congregants and former members. We wanted to know about their experiences and observations of racism and inclusion at Ohavi Zedek, and what their interests were related to this topic. We had 53 responses. We do not believe any people of color completed the survey, though some are members. We shared the analysis of the data with the Ohavi Zedek board and a summary with the congregation, in December, 2021. We learned from the survey results:
- Ohavi Zedek currently does not have a demographic breakdown by race of its members or their families. It is possible to collect this and store it in our data system.
- There were four key survey results: a) Almost all respondents felt some sense of belonging at OZ and that anti-racism was an important value for OZ; b) Some respondents experienced or observed racism at OZ and were concerned with how to address it; c) Some felt there was a lack of tolerance for different views on Zionism and acceptance of Arab people; d) Some people felt excluded, in particular those with family members who were not Jewish.
- The respondents provided rich commentary, and shared actions to further the goal of inclusion.
Currently we work on diverse projects under the three categories above. We collaborate with the Adult Education committee, and other committees and programs within OZ and with the larger community.
Update in 2023:
Since this time of this project, OZ has begun to thoughtfully collect information to help us target communications and programming to jews of color and other groups including interfaith families, people with disabilities, lgbtq+ and other groups. Our staff and committees continue to work towards increasing sense of belonging among a diverse community in a variety of ways including developing affinity groups, targeting and broad-focused programs, and more. We still have work to do, but acknowledge the importance of this journey. If you’d like to participate or help, please get it touch.