Chicagoland Jewish community hosting 'A Day of Racial Justice Learning'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicagoland Jewish community is hosting a special virtual event this Sunday called, "A Day of Racial Justice Learning."

Synagogues, organizations and people from Chicagoland's diverse Jewish community will be tackling the subject of racism with a series of workshops for adults and students, many led by those who identify as Jews of Color.

"It is a day for the Jewish community to come together and learn about issues around racial justice, discuss the diversity of our own community, educate, grapple, think about action, think about who we want to be and the way we want to act in the world in regards to racial justice," said Rabbi Megan Gold Marche with Silverstein Base Hillel/Metro Chicago Hillel.

"We created lesson plans for kindergarten through seventh grade," said Rabbi Reni Dickman, executive vice president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis. "They include videos and songs, specifically people of color, books that they've written, children's books."

"I'm from an interfaith and interracial family, my mom is white, Ashkenazi and Jewish, and my dad is African-American and Christian, so this is work that my family has been doing for my whole life," said Caroline Spikner, Jewish life associate with Metro Chicago Hillel. "When you're teaching ideas about racial justice with preschoolers, you're talking about how are people different from you and how are they the same, and how do we treat everyone with respect, what can we do to make sure everyone feels loved and cared for."

"I grew up Jewish, my Black mother is Jewish, it's about helping people realize the deep diversity of our community," said Beckee Birger, director of education for the Jewish Council of Urban Affairs. "When I think about feeling safe in a synagogue I am not just thinking about what makes me feel safe as a Jewish person, but what makes me feel safe as a Black person and we sort of sometimes think about those identities as separately but they both live inside of me, that is all of me!"

"I think a huge thing is that people be committed to racial justice beyond when it's what everyone is talking about on the news and understanding that," said Rabbi Gold Marche. "This is something we have to work on and it's not going to be easy because there are so many years of work to undo."

"Why should this be important to Jews, it should be important to everybody because the truth is, and I firmly believe that we can't move forward unless we all move forward," said Rabbi Dickman.

The workshops will be held Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and if you aren't able to sign up, portions of the day will be live streamed on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BaseChicago.

Registration for the workshops is open until 5 p.m. Friday.
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