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.

Difficult Conversations

Difficult Conversations
Rabbi’s Message – June 30, 2020

by Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

Each of us is created in the image of the Divine and each of our voices is important, and powerful.  In these turbulent times, this is the most important thing for us to remember.  Being in relationship with God means being in relationship with one another, and we honor this by leaning in and engaging in difficult conversations.  
This is hard, but essential, work.  And I am starting with myself as a part of a newly formed local clergy group meeting virtually to challenge and improve our understanding of racism and bigotry.  I strongly urge us all to embrace the vulnerability of being in honest conversations about these topics.
It won’t be easy.  We are hard-wired to be easily offended by expressions like “white privilege,” “systemic racism,” and “white supremacy.”  I, personally, believe we respond with discomfort because we have yet to unpack what these words and ideas actually mean.   There is plenty of room for  diversity of opinions.  But, first, we must move past our own emotional firewalls to enable us to engage meaningfully in these conversations.  
The YWCA’s 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge has been an excellent place to better prepare myself for deeper discussions on these issues.  Consider joining me in this effort.  Even if you haven’t participated in the first part of the challenge, it is not too late.  Click for more information.  
On Friday, July 10, I will be participating in a Jewish Community Relations Council panel with other Dayton rabbis to discuss the importance of the YWCA Challenge and our response as a Jewish community to what is happening.  If you are able to join us, register here.  
I look forward to continuing this work together as a congregation.