Resources To Address Race and Social Justice

By Rabbi Yoshi Fenton

These have been trying times for our community, our country, and our world.  The lights of the hannukiot in our homes, the blasts of the fireworks at new year's celebrations, and the expressions of hope for a better year, have all been muted by the violence of recent weeks.

In this post you’ll find resources on teaching about protest, bigotry, terrorism, violence, the unrest in Ferguson, and our responsibilities to further civil rights.  We hope they are a help to you in your classes, with your students, and in your personal and professional lives as we all grapple to make sense of the brokenness of our world. 

With Tu b’Shevat and springtime around the corner, I am reminded of the light which always follows the darkness of winter and so I’d like to share two additional teaching with you, as a blessing for us all. The first from the sage of the Mishna, Rabbi Tarfon, and the second from the Seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Shneerson. 

Rabbi Tarfon teaches, "It is not our job to complete the task, but neither are we free to desist from it." The Lubavitcher Rebbe would often conclude a letter or article with the blessing “Immediately to Teshuva (repentance), Immediately to Redemption.” 

It is our prayer for this New Year that we commit ourselves to creating a better, kinder and more loving place for our students and the world around us.  We offer this guide of educational resources as a support to you, Jewish educators, in your work to make our prayer a reality. 

Websites for Resources on Teaching about Social Justice
 

On1Foot is a project of AJWS and a wonderful website and resource for sources and texts on a variety of social justice topics.  You can both use already created materials or make your own. 

Justaction.org is a project of Panim, The Institute of Jewish Leadership and Values, and is another wonderful website that offers a variety of resources relating to teaching about and for social justice and change. 

Uri l’Tzedek is another organization committed to both working for and teaching about social justice and responsibility, and is the first Orthodox organization committed to social justice work.  The website is a great resource.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a wonderful resource to learn about what’s happening around the country regarding race and class.  Lots of articles and thought pieces. 

In Response to Ferguson

Channukahaction.org was created to help support those who celebrate Hanukah, connect the holiday and its observances to the events in Ferguson and conversations related to race, justice, violence, and social responsibility.  The resources and tools section is a wonderful collection of materials from a variety of sources. 

The following Jweekly article highlights many of the ways in which the Bay Area Jewish community has come together to support calls for an end to police brutality and demand a new perspective on equality and justice for all. 

This Kveller article exploring what if anything to say to our children about race in our country is an interesting and thought provoking read. 

A rabbi's response

Articles and Resources on Teaching about Race and Violence

Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton is an associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of Are We Born Racist?: New Insights from Neuroscience and Positive Psychology. 

The Atlantic Monthly asked teachers, academics, community leaders, and parents to recommend resources they’ve used and/or would recommend to support adults as they teach children about race. 

The PBS program The Teachers’ Lounge gathered a number of teaching strategies for how to talk about Ferguson in school.  Here’s a link to the google doc

Also check out this blog from The Teachers’ Lounge on grade specific strategies. 

Reuven Firestone wrote a wonderful article examining the major Jewish sources which speak to violence and reconciliation.  For those of you interested in diving into the sources, this should be just what you’re looking for

Text Studies, Lesson Plans, and Curricular Resources

Ask Big Questions, a project of Hillel International, has put together some wonderful collections of texts and study guides geared towards young adults and teens. 

When Do You Take a Stand?

For Whom are We Responsible?

What Advantages Do You Have?

The Rabbinical Assembly has also made available a few really great source sheets below.

On Gun Violence

On Our Obligation to Remember We Were Once Slaves

Embracing the Stranger