Talking about Race
“Recognizing the distinct cultural, linguistic, and ethnic identities of different people and groups is not merely a question of civility, but a ‘vital human need.” — Charles Taylor, philosopher
As the Jewish community becomes more racially, ethnically and culturally diverse, Be’chol Lashon seeks to bring the historic Jewish commitment to civil rights and racial justice forward into the 21st century, raising awareness and providing opportunities for Jewish professionals and others to actively engage in conversations about race, ethnicity and identity.
Over the next few decades, people of color will come to compose a majority of the country’s population, and in a world connected through social media and technology, knowing how to encounter the ‘other’ is an increasingly important skill. How can we be better prepared? How can we be “culturally competent?”
Jewish wisdom that has evolved over millennia around the world has much to contribute to cultural competence—the ability to ask questions and navigate difference—an essential part of Jewish identity. Like the rabbinic tradition to end a service with a message of “nechemta,” or comfort and hope, Be’chol Lashon’s philosophy strives to heal and create a positive vision for the Jewish future.
Browse through the list of dynamic presenters who address a wide range of topics of interest to congregations, organizations, and communities across the country and around the world.
Be’chol Lashon facilitate assessments to ascertain what organizations feel they are doing well and identify areas of concern and improvement. Workshops may span a few hours, a full day, or a series over a number of months and can be adapted for a variety of audiences and age groups.
Films like Little White Lie are effective tools to open up important conversations about race, identity and family life. It’s important to be able to talk about differences in age where intersectional identities are becoming the norm.
Consultation & Training
Be’chol Lashon facilitates a variety of workshops providing opportunities for dialogue in a Jewish context. Culinary and cultural are useful tools to opening more in-depth conversations about history, identity and race.
Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Jewish Community
How do we discuss race?
The U.S. is in the midst of a significant demographic shift. Over the next few decades, people of color will comprise a majority of the country’s population, a transition that’s already happened among the nation’s youngest residents, who are disproportionately multicultural. Jews are part of American life and are affected by social trends. For a community that has largely relied on insularity, ritual, and bloodline, the free-form development of Jewish identity today can be unnerving. Fears of a loss of Jewish identity fuel an often-disparaging view of the new frontiers of Jewish life. Instead of seeing this as a threat, we could benefit by celebrating the tapestry of Jewish history and embracing the contemporary choices of American Jews as a celebration of Jewish identity.
“Now, more than ever, we need to practice two skills: telling our stories and listening to the stories of others. By listening respectfully, we may discover connections or points of conflict. Sharing and reconciliation begin with listening.”
Consultation and Planning
Be’chol Lashon consults with organizations to tailor strategies that best meet community goals. We facilitate assessments to ascertain what organizations feel they are doing well and identify areas of concern and improvement. Successfully welcoming all kinds of Jews requires that the planning be driven by the community’s needs. Meeting the needs of multiracial Jews, families, friends and allies requires a flexible and input-driven approach.
Be’chol Lashon facilitates workshops or more informal community conversations, opening up opportunities for safe, structured dialogue in a Jewish context. Participants explore the root causes and consequences of unexamined bias and prejudice, with the goal of communicating more effectively across lines of social identity and difference.
Our powerful, all-ages curriculum connects to Jewish traditions all over the world and through time, providing a lens through which to view diversity in the contemporary Jewish community.
Film and Media
Films, books, poetry, or other media can be excellent conversation starters about what roles race, religion, community and family play in identity formation.
We invite you to browse through the list of dynamic presenters who address a wide range of topics of interest to congregations, organizations, and communities across the country and around the world. The speakers include community leaders and pre-eminent scholars in history, philosophy, sociology, demography and other fields. They are African American, Latino, Asian, mixed-race Jewish men and women from the United States and around the world who are emissaries for racial and ethnic diversity in the Jewish community.