Under Rabbi Timoner’s leadership, CBE’s Dismantling Racism Team and other social justice groups are woven into CBE’s fabric and identity. As a congregation, we are outspoken on issues of injustice and passionately committed to equity and inclusion in our society. And now, as we seek to fully live our Jewish values and be a congregation that is truly multi-racial, inclusive, and just, through an internally-focused Antiracism Initiative, we aim to also explore and address the ways that racism exists and persists within our own actions, policies, and history as an institution.
This phase of the initiative has the full support of CBE’s Board of Trustees and CBE’s clergy, who see this work as essential and central to Jewish communal life today. Our work will have especially close guidance and involvement by Rabbi Timoner and Rabbi Kolin, and will be led by a consulting team known collectively as Khazbar. The three team members — Tamara Fish, Sabrina Sojourner, and Megan Madison — describe themselves as “scholars, educators, artists, and proud practicing Jews of Color.” Their bios are included below.
Through the spring and into the fall, the Khazbar team and trained CBE facilitators will guide participants in a process aimed at developing the skills needed to sustain a deep dive into issues of race, racism, and racial relationships in a Jewish congregational context. There will be 4 sessions from May to October, 2-3 hours each. The sessions will be oriented around these guiding questions, and content will progress from session to session:
● Where and how do we locate ourselves and our family histories within systemic racism in the United States?
● What dynamics are evident in our own lives today?
● What can we do to observe the systemic racism in our midst, reorient ourselves (teshuvah), and create a new present and future?
Through these sessions, we will examine racism in our country, our own hearts and, ultimately, in our own CBE community. The work will be personal and communal, brave, honest, compassionate, at times hard, and always driven by love and respect, with the aim of building trusting relationships among the participants. Because this effort is intended to help CBE become an anti-racist congregation, this phase of the work is primarily open to CBE members. Non members who are invested in CBE and who are people of color or include people of color in your household are also enthusiastically invited to participate. If you are not yet a member, but see yourself as invested in helping CBE become the inclusive congregation we strive to be, you can learn more about joining here. No one is turned away due to financial limitations.
The Khazbar Team
Tamara Fish served as president of the Jewish Multiracial Network (JMN), president and board member of Congregation Tehillah, Riverdale, NY, and Assistant Director of the Office of the University Chaplain at Columbia University. For 10 years she was first an adjunct and then full-time faculty in the Religion Dept. of Manhattan College, Riverdale, NY. An African-American Jew, Tamara enjoys working with Jewish communities to explore race relations kindly and constructively. Most recently she consulted with and co-designed the Academy for Jewish Religion’s 2020 annual 3-day fall retreat for alumni, faculty, and current seminarians, including building and conducting interactive workshops; conducted a 2-part Anti-Racism Training for rabbis, Jewish educators and other Jewish professionals for the Riverdale Jewish Community Partnership (RJCP) in conjunction with the Riverdale Y and Congregation Tehillah; co-taught a 3-part workshop, “Race and Racism in America,” with Ruth Messinger (AJWS) for the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan and is a frequent consultant for the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable (JSJR) for DEIJ organizational and procedural concerns. Harvard U., AB; Union Theo. Sem., MA; Columbia U., MPhil, ABD.
Sabrina Sojourner, a former lecturer in Women’s Studies at San Francisco State University, was among the speakers featured by the National Women’s Studies Association’s Jewish Caucus at the 2018 NWSA Conference. The 2018 Midrashist-in-Residence for the National Havurah Institute, Sojourner describes herself as someone who leads and teaches with vulnerability. This orientation was the impetus for creating Training the Heart to Listen, a relational approach to important conversations. Based on Jewish values, the design invites participants to embrace their spirituality, communities, personal experiences, and values by helping them to bring their full selves to important, difficult, and meaningful conversations. Based in Rockville, MD, Sojourner is a member of the Association of Professional Chaplains, National Association of Jewish Chaplains, Women Cantors Network, and a JWOC Alumna.
Megan Pamela Ruth Madison is currently pursuing her PhD at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy. When she’s not working on finishing up her dissertation, she trains teachers for the Center for Racial Justice in Education and the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute facilitating workshops on racial and gender justice. A board of member both of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) and JOIN for Justice, Megan lives in Harlem and loves baking challah, going on nature walks, and singing with her friends at Linke Fligl (a queer Jewish chicken farm in upstate New York).