Tag Archives: Interfaith
Tony Westbrook

Balancing Minority Identities

By Tony J. Westbrook, Jr.

“So, you’re Jewish? Like full on Jewish? Like Drake.—Jewish? Funny, you don’t look Jewish.”

These are the types of comments I often hear when interacting with new people. I am often surprised by the number of people that feel compelled to ask me if I am Jewish, as if it isn’t obvious from my kippah and tzitzit. I find it interesting that no one has ever said, “It’s funny, you don’t look Black.” The fact of the matter is I am both Black and Jewish (or Jewish and Black). I am a minority within a minority. When people meet me, the most common comment I hear is that I am nothing like they imagined, which leaves me wondering, what exactly do people see when they see me?  Do they see an individual, separate from the images that pervade the media? Do they see an individual who does not fit their narrow view of what it is to be a Jew, or what it is to be a person of color? Am I being thrown into the all Jewish box? The all Black box? Read more…


Selma, 50 Years Later: What Can You Do to Mark this Occasion?

Next weekend marks the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

On March 7, 1965, civil rights leaders led 600 peaceful marchers from Selma towards Montgomery, AL in pursuit of voting rights, but were stopped after just six blocks. The marchers were brutally attacked by police as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Images of the confrontation were televised across the country and the world, horrifying citizens and rousing much-needed, broad public support for voting rights. The day became known as “Bloody Sunday” and helped lead to the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act later that year. Read more…

Vandalized Cemetery Courtesy of New York Times

Finding Hope for International Religious Freedom Amidst More Acts of Violence

The news from around the world has recently been filled with visible and violent instances of religiously-targeted violence. Just last week, as many as 250 gravestones were vandalized in a cemetery in Eastern France, an area that used to have a large Jewish population. The Jewish community in France has seen this as a reminder of the increasingly visible and vocal anti-Semitic sentiment that lingers in the country. Though French government leaders have quickly spoken out in condemnation of these attacks and in reassurance to French Jews that they are integral to France, the attacks are upsetting, unsettling and sadly no longer unimaginable acts of hate. Read more…

Chinese dragon for New Years

Moments of Shared Celebration

Today is Rosh Chodesh Adar (chodesh tov!) and Chinese New Year (xin nian kuai le!). We should never lose sight of our responsibilities to and our place in the global community, but when these celebratory days coincide, we are reminded even more of how important it is to find opportunities for dialogue and connection. Two RAC staffers reflect on Chinese-Jewish relations, and how meaningful this relationship is. Read more…

Fulfilling the Promise of the ADA: 5 Things Congregations Can Do

Unemployment among Americans with disabilities inched up with the start of the New Year, the U.S. Labor Department said Friday, February 6. The jobless rate for people with disabilities was 11.9 percent in January, up from 11.2 percent in December. Overall unemployment rose slightly as well, to 5.7 percent.

Employment remains the unfulfilled promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While the ADA mandates equal access to employment for people with disabilities, two-thirds of Americans with disabilities are still unemployed or underemployed, a number that has not changed since the ADA’s passage in 1990.

Read more…

Obama speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast

The Fight for Religious Freedom Continues On: Wise Words from the National Prayer Breakfast

Yesterday, President Obama spoke at the 63rd annual National Prayer Breakfast. The breakfast was attended by legislators, officials and clergy, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama and our new Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Rabbi David Saperstein. The President spoke of the power of faith as an inspiration and unifying force, as well as the way faith can be used as a wedge or a weapon to divide us.  Read more…

Briefing: Understanding How People of Faith Perceive Climate Change

We talk quite a lot in the Jewish community about what our sacred texts teach us about environmental stewardship. Many families and congregations celebrated Tu BiSh’vat, the New Year of the Trees, this week with an environmental or food justice-themed Seder or service. Tu BiSh’vat isn’t the only holiday when we consider acting as a partner and leader in protecting God’s earth. Between energy efficiency initiatives through GreenFaith, marching in the People’s Climate March, and taking action to thank President Obama for his work to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, it is clear that environmentalism and climate change are key issues for many Jews. Read more…