Spotlight on Schechter Award Winner, Beth Shalom Congregation

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We are pleased to feature the winner of the Solomon Schechter Highest Award for Innovation and Impact, Beth Shalom Congregation in Columbia, MD for their inclusion initiative called Courageous Conversations.

USCJ's Solomon Schechter Awards recognize initiatives that shape the authentic and dynamic experience of Conservative Judaism. The 2019 winners of the Solomon Schechter Award were presented during a special reception during the 20/20 Judaism convention on Monday, December 9th.

In response to rising hate crimes and bullying in local schools, Beth Shalom Congregation joined in a county-wide interfaith initiative to develop skills for discussing issues of faith, race, and discrimination across different faith communities. Courageous Conversations provides a platform for people to learn how to talk across their differences about religion and race.

Led by trained facilitators (members of Beth Shalom congregation), groups of 6 to 10 people of diverse backgrounds come together to discuss difficult topics about stereotypes, preconceptions, and biases toward each other. The multi-week program allows each group to become comfortable asking and answering very personal questions about experiences with bias, and poses the overarching question: “How do we work towards creating a connected community of different people rather than a community that lets different people in?”

To learn more about Beth Shalom’s Courageous Conversations program, visit their website.

To start an inclusion program in your congregation, find your synagogue consultant’s information by locating your district here.

Want to learn more about this year’s (and previous years’) Schechter award winners? Click here.


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