The Beth El Anti-Racism Committee

The Beth El Anti-Racism Committee (ARC) was formed in the summer of 2020 in response to the heightened awareness of injustices that have stemmed from systemic racism.

The ARC’s mission

To actively take part in dismantling and challenging racism by providing and sharing opportunities for learning, action, and growth for fellow Beth El members. We channel the Jewish values of Tikkun Olam, Tzadek, and Pikuach Nefesh to inform the work of this group, as those values support protecting, elevating, and building bridges with people of color and their communities and organizations. Our goals are to educate ourselves and our community about race and the effects and impact of racism, as well as to participate in and develop anti-racist initiatives.


Previous Initiatives

  • Our first successful first book discussion on “So You Want to Talk About Race” wrapped up its final sessions in January 2021
  • 20+ attendees for our first movie discussion on “The Hate U Give” occurred in November 2020.


Current Initiatives

  • Ongoing collaboration with the Family & Friends Institute to identify opportunities for community activism

  • Bi-weekly book discussion: “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” – Michelle Alexander  (closed to new participants for now, but will reopen before the next book discussion series begins)


Future Initiatives

  • 21-day Racial Equity Challenge
  • Increased opportunities for anti-racism work both within and beyond Beth El’s walls


Committee Recommendations:

Susie Seletz recommends watching “Fruitvale Station” and “Queen & Slim.”  “Fruitvale Station is based on actual events, which I always appreciate. Both films gave an inside view of how simple events can escalate and go horribly wrong, when there is a dichotomy between how different segments of our society are treated.” – Susie

Elana Glick recommends taking Rachel Cargle’s free 30-day course called #DoTheWork, which can be accessed here:

 From the course description: Going through these daily prompts you will be called to think critically and act tangibly in solidarity. Participating in this will be your first small step in working towards dissolving these systems, institutions, and ideologies that continue to negatively affect Black women and their communities yet benefit white people in this country.

 “Participating in the #DoTheWork course was impactful, and I appreciated the ability to take one tangible step of action or learning every day.” -Elana

Lisa Sharfstein recommends taking an Implicit Association Test (IAT) from Harvard’s Project Implicit, because acknowledging our implicit biases is a first step to overcoming them.

From the website: The Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report. The IAT may be especially interesting if it shows that you have an implicit attitude that you didn’t know about. For example, you may believe that women and men should be equally associated with science, but your automatic associations could show that you (like many others) associate men with science more than you associate women with science.

Getting Involved

If you’re interested in getting involved with ARC, please contact Elana Glick ([email protected]) or Paul Barkowitz ([email protected]). We have monthly one-hour meetings.

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