Seventh Annual JTS Evening of Learning: Racial Justice and Jewish Values

Date: May 02, 2021 - May 02, 2021

Time: 6:30 p.m. - 9:15 p.m.

Sponsor: JTS Learning in Your Community | Online Learning

Location: Online

Category: JTS in Your Community

Evening of Learning: Racial Justice and Jewish Values

Sunday, May 2, 2021, at 6:30-9:15 p.m. ET, Via Zoom

Last summer’s widespread demonstrations responding to police violence against people of color reminded us that there is much work to be done in our country toward creating a just society. Join JTS scholars to explore how Jewish texts and tradition enrich our understanding of and response to racial injustice.

Re-examining the classic writings of Abraham Joshua Heschel and bringing Jewish perspectives to contemporary debates surrounding reparations and reproductive justice, we will discover the wisdom Jewish sources offer for reflection on questions of race. We will also discuss how JTS has been addressing racial justice internally as a model for other institutions.


Sessions and Faculty

Study Sessions: 

Jewish Perspectives on Racism and Reparations
With Dr. Yonatan Brafman, Assistant Professor of Jewish Thought and Ethics, JTS

American society is currently engaged in a long overdue reckoning about racism, including how to right past racial injustice. As American Jews, we are responsible for determining our own complicity in it, as well as inquiring about the resources in our tradition and history for grappling with it. This session will briefly present classical Jewish views about human difference as well as its racialization in modernity, before turning to the issue of reparations. Drawing on debates about payments from Germany in the aftermath of the Holocaust, we will examine several Jewish resources for thinking about contemporary demands for reparations for African Americans in the United States.  

Race, Reproduction, and Jewish Ethics 
With Dr. Michal Raucher, JTS Fellow and Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies, Rutgers University 

Reproductive Justice is a movement that combines reproductive rights and social justice. It was officially launched by a group of Black women in the 1990s in response to the multiple forms of reproductive oppression and injustice against women of color. This session will provide an introduction to Reproductive Justice and explore how Jewish reproductive ethics might also reflect a justice-oriented approach. Jewish reproductive ethics has mostly reinforced reproductive rights, but in this session we will consider how Jewish ethics and reproductive strategies map onto the Reproductive Justice framework. 

Abraham Joshua Heschel: A Prophetic Voice Against Racism
With Rabbi Gordon Tucker, Vice Chancellor of Religious Life and Engagement, JTS 

Heschel’s was the most prominent Jewish voice in the public arena in the struggle against racism in the U.S., his adopted nation that had saved his life.  His activism promoting human and civil rights was not a mission separate from his work as a religious thinker, but was inextricably bound up with his theology.  We will explore those connections through several of his writings, including his scholarly works, his speeches, and even his poetry. 

Closing Session: 

Turning Study into Action 
With Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay, Associate Dean of The Rabbinical School, and Kendell Pinkney, Rabbinical Student, JTS 

Program Schedule (All times Eastern)

6:30–6:40 p.m.     Opening Remarks 
                                  Rabbi Julia Andelman, Director of Community Engagement, JTS 
                                  Rabbi Aaron Alexander and Rabbi Sarah Krinsky
                                  Adas Israel Congregation, Washington, DC 

6:45–7:35 p.m.     Study Session I (during the program you will have the opportunity to choose from one                                    of the three sessions listed above)

7:45–8:35 p.m.     Study Session II (during the program you will have the opportunity to choose from one                                  of the three sessions listed above)

8:40-9:15 p.m.     Closing Session: Turning Study into Action
                                 With Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay and Kendell Pinkney 

Please contact Lynn Feinman at for additional information. 

This program is hosted by the Greater Washington community and is open to all.

Program partners (Greater Washington Community)

Adas Israel Congregation
Agudas Achim Congregation
Beth El Congregation
Beth Sholom Congregation
B’nai Israel Congregation
B’nai Shalom of Olney
Chizuk Amuno Congregation
Congregation B’nai Tzedek
Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County
Congregation Beth Emeth
Congregation Etz Hayim
Congregation Har Shalom
Congregation Olam Tikvah
The Haberman Institute for Jewish Studies
Kehilat Shalom
Kol Shalom
Ohr Kodesh Congregation
Shaare Tefila Congregation
Tifereth Israel Congregation
Tikvat Israel Congregation
Washington Hebrew Congregation

Additional Program Partners

Beth El Congregation of the South Hills (Pittsburgh, PA)