As our week winds down and our thoughts turn to Shabbat, our Torah portion is Pinchas (Numbers 25-30). Among other themes, this parsha deals with who is recognized as a member of the community and with organizing how property rights will be distributed among community members. Notably, property was initially only being divided among the men until several women spoke out to say it wasn’t fair that they be excluded just because their father had died. Moses heard them and took up their case with God, who agreed that they were correct and should receive a share, too. This story shows that we should speak out for justice, even when we hold a minority view - and when any of our community members speak, we should truly listen to ensure that our actions are fair everyone, including our less powerful members.
I am grateful that so many within our community who are willing to open themselves up to the possibility of change by engaging in racial justice actions and learning. This includes the subcommittee supporting the Evanston Reparations initiative through learning and fundraising; the racial justice discussion work including the anti-racism and anti-white supremacy discussion series facilitated by the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs last spring as well as the BElonging coalition work which promotes inclusion for members with marginalized identities. And I’m excited by the plans we are developing for future learning opportunities for our congregation. This includes a discussion session in August focusing on how racism impacts us within the Beth Emet and District 65 school community in Evanston; a 4-part series to be held this fall entitled, “The Stolen Beam”, which explores the roots of the Reparations movement both here in Evanston and across the nation; a fundraising campaign in support of local Reparations; and a new curriculum that explores our Jewish tradition which can help us identify our own racial perspectives and find ways to change “from the inside out” to eradicate racism and combat white supremacy. But we can’t do these things alone. It takes an entire community to overcome racism- so join in building a better Beth Emet!
If you are looking to learn more, please email me
and join the conversation.