Summary, materials, and recordings from Kol Tzedek 2020

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Kol Tzedek is an engaging conference on racial justice and community organizing for synagogue professionals and lay leaders. It took place on Nov 8-10, 2020. 106 unique congregations from 26 states and Canada joined us for the conference, including clergy, executive directors, presidents, board members, lay leaders, and education and engagement staff.

Keynote presentations were as follows:

  • Reverend Natosha Reid Rice, Habitat for Humanity: To Do Justly
  • Ilana Kaufman, Jews of Color Initiative: The Multiracial Jewish Community
  • Yehudah Webster – Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ): Defunding the Police?

Breakout sessions were designed to give participants an opportunity to hear from and interact with synagogue leaders doing great justice work in their respective communities, as well as experts in the field of racial justice.

Examples of sessions include:

  • Community Check-In: Are we Embracing or Just Tolerant?
  • Relationship is Everything: How a Collaborative Model of Leadership Might Bring Together Black and Jewish Communities to Work Together to Forward the Cause of Justice
  • In Memory of George Floyd: The Journey of One Twin Cities’ Synagogue
  • Presentation by Equal Justice Initiative

The response to the Kol Tzedek program was overwhelmingly positive, including these testimonials:

  • “I just want to say that I’m really impressed with the quality of the Kol Tzedek program. I learned so much and I look forward to catching up on all of them. But each breakout session that I was in was catalyst to thought. So much to do!”
    – Sylvia Horowitz, Tifereth Israel Congregation, Washington, DC
  • “All of the keynote speakers and breakout sessions were wonderful and so inspirational and enlightening.
    – Cheryl Kasner, Anshai Torah, Plano TX
  • “I was unaware of how many JOC there are in this country because I have had so little exposure in my congregation, which makes me aware that we are either turning people away or not making our congregation welcoming to people of color. I am appalled at the treatment these committed Jewish people have received at our hands. I want to start this conversation in our community.”
    – Carol Hatch, Beth Shalom Bnai Israel, Vernon Rockville, CT

If you missed Kol Tzedek this year (or just wish to revisit some of the content covered), we invite you to visit uscj.org/koltzedek2020 for materials, recordings, and more.

If you have further questions about Kol Tzedek and/ or how to bring programming like this to your community, please contact your synagogue consultant.

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