Taking a Stand, Making a Statement

Taking a Stand, Making a Statement

Temple Israel is committed to social justice for all people.  We firmly stand with all of our brothers and sisters in the fight against hate, bigotry, and racism in all forms.  This sign (pictured in this post), now standing out front of Temple’s driveway, will help serve as a reminder to the community of our Jewish values of tzedek (righteousness) and gemilut chasadim (loving kindness)for we are all created B’tzelem Elohim – in God’s image.

Is social justice your passion?  Would you like to help work for change in our community and beyond?  Contact Temple’s office at 937.496.0050 for more details on how you can get involved.  Together we can make a difference.

Continuing the Conversation

Continuing the Conversation

Rabbi’s Message – July 7, 2020

Senior Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

Last week I wrote about the importance of having tough conversations about race, identity, equality, and implicit bias.  We must continue to unpack the meaning and history behind words like “white privilege,” “systemic racism,” and “white supremacy.”  These terms likely evoke strong feelings in all of us, and there is space for those feelings.  They can also mean different things to different people and if we share our thoughts, we are better able to understand each other on a deeper level.  Don’t get me wrong, this is hard work!  Fortunately, we don’t have to do this work alone.  

The Dayton Jewish Community Relations Council is teaming up with the YWCA to bring a special virtual event called The Jewish Perspective on Racial Equity and Social Change.  The conversations have already begun on a national level, but what is the local Jewish response?  How can we further the work of social justice in our own backyard?  Rabbis from all of the Dayton congregations and Chabad will serve as the panelists for this discussion on Friday, July 10 at noon.  I will represent Temple Israel and I hope you will be there too to join in on the discussion.  Register here for this discussion.

In the coming months, we will also have a small committee of volunteers actively seeking ways to positively improve the experience for marginalized individuals.  If this is something you are passionate about, let me know.  I will add you to the roster.

We are a holy community and together we can strive to create a better world for ourselves and for our children.

Our Covenant with the World

Rabbi’s Message – June 16, 2020

Our Covenant with the World

Last fall, with the support of our Board of Directors, Temple Israel signed on as a “Brit Olam” congregation of the Religious Action Center.  Brit Olam translates to covenant with our world” and is a promise to create a world in which all people experience wholeness, justice, and compassion.   In Pirkei  Avot we are taught: “Study alone is not enough, our tradition demands action.”   Brit Olam is our commitment to actively work for social justice.  By signing this covenant, we promised to foster a culture of sacred and civil dialogue in our community where all opinions are heardact in solidarity with vulnerable communities, build relationships across lines of difference in our local community, act at the local, state/provincial, and/or federal levels to address the root causes of injustice, advocate for systemic change, mobilize around issues that resonate with our community, and participate in state-specific social justice work with RAC-Ohio.   

We hear the voices all over the world proclaiming the urgency of this work.   We must continue to fight against racism and other forms of injustice, even if we are unable to physically do it togetherWe need to begin conversations about what this might look like.  Join me in this effort.  If you are interested in these conversations and becoming more meaningfully involved in social justice, contact me.  You may email me at rabbi@tidayton.org or leave me a voice message at the TempleAnd if you want to dive in now, I strongly urge you to participate in the YWCA’s 21 day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge, which begins on Friday.  This is a great step toward deepening your understanding of systemic racism in America.  May every step we take bring us closer to fulfilling the work of Brit Olam.  To learn more about the Union for Reform Judaism’s Brit Olam communities, visit www.rac.org/britolam.  

Embracing Each Other and Teaching Our Children

Rabbi’s Message – Friday, June 5, 2020

Embracing Each Other and Teaching Our Children

by Rabbi Tina Sobo

Tough conversations are just that, tough.  As parents, we have them with our children all the time.  We are trying to mold them into young adults with the right moral values, and explain difficult concepts to them.  Sometimes they go well and other times they don’t.  Right now, we have a great opportunity to teach our children about the history of systemic racism and the prevalence of prejudice in our country. And more importantly, what it is that we can do to change things for the better, even if it feels overwhelming.

In that spirit, here are a few tips for you from Embrace Race:

  1. Your child is not too young – by 6 months most children are capable of recognizing people that look like them and people who don’t.  Which means, they also react to the differences they see in various ways.
  2. Encourage questions & normalize differences – You don’t have to look for specific “racism” books (though PJ Library has many great resources here) – simply books, media, playgrounds, your circle of friends that represent diversity help normalize diversity.  If your child is seeing faces that represent diversity throughout their day, their circle of what is familiar and normal will be expanded.
  3. You don’t have to do it all at once – Yes, you can have ‘the talk’ with children, especially if they understand or know about a current event, or a specific incident in their lives; but more importantly, understanding differences and valuing each human life as uniquely and equally holy is a life-long process.  Come back to it often and be a role model along the way.

June is also Pride Month, and this same advice essentially applies.  How we speak, how we act, and the experiences we create instill the values of equality and acceptance from a young age.  Start young and keep the conversation going.  And ask for help or support if you need it along the way!

Additional Resources on Racism: 



Resources on LBGTQ+:



We are all accountable


A Message from Rabbi Bodney-Halasz

June 2, 2020

Alden Solovy offers a new “Psalm of Protest” in memory of George Floyd:

Strangled by Police: Psalm of Protest 17

A psalm of protest,
In memory of George Floyd,
Sung at the gates of justice,
When black men are strangled in the streets,
When power is abused and jails overflow,
When the voiceless are forgotten and minorities misused.
Open, you gates!
Open to the cries of those murdered, jailed or harassed
For being black,
For being a person of color,
For being homeless, indigent, destitute or unwanted,
The detained, the hounded,
The pursued and the persecuted,
Those who are killed while being restrained.
Open, you gates!
Let righteousness flow forth as living waters,
And truth flow forth as healing balm,
To still the hand of violence and hatred,
To cure the heart of bigotry and racism,
To herald fairness and equality,
And bring justice to this land.

-Alden Solovy, 2020

Solovy’s words express our angst that deeply rooted racism still plagues our nation. Though the title of his poem is “Strangled by Police,” he, and we, acknowledge that there are many dedicated officers who are fighting racism alongside us.  Together, may we ensure that all who are in positions of power carry out their responsibilities with justice and compassion.  We are all accountable if we want to see change.

Many of us are looking for ways to help.  To start, here is a list of 75 ideas about how to respond to racism.  Research these ideas, determine what aligns with your values, and, if able, take action. We cannot sit idly by any longer.