JTS Hosts National Black-Jewish Clergy Symposium

On June 24–25, JTS had the privilege of hosting the first National Black-Jewish Clergy Symposium, focused on the topic of “Building Beloved Community Through Lived Experiences.” Fourteen men and women—Jewish and Black clergy—studied, broke bread, and laughed together. Sessions included a Bible study on “Exodus 1: How Memory Shapes Our Experience,” led by Dr. Burton Visotzky, Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies Emeritus at JTS, and Reverend Edward Livingston, Pastor of Dryland United Church of Christ and Director of Religious Community Initiatives at Interfaith Philadelphia, and “The History of the Black-Jewish Relationship,” led by Dr. Stephen Ray, former president of the Chicago Theological Seminary. Participants also learned about JTS’s rare books and viewed the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s current exhibit on the Harlem Renaissance.

The group was co-founded by Dr. Mark Jones and Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum, a JTS Rabbinical School alum and Rabbi Emeritus of Herzl-Ner Tamid Congregation in Mercer Island, WA. Rabbi Rosenbaum and Dr. Jones had convened a Black-Jewish Clergy study group in Seattle, and in early 2020, he approached JTS about expanding it nationally. Since then, JTS has facilitated monthly Zoom study among some 40 Black and Jewish clergy. A partnership grant from the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue at JTS allowed participants to meet in person for the first time. We’re looking forward to continuing this important dialogue.