Racial Justice

At Central Synagogue

Let’s Talk About Race

If Jewish history has taught us anything, it is that despair does not have the last word.

We invite you to learn, reflect, and act with us. Together, as a Central community, we will explore questions of identity, race, and violence. We will work to make New York a more just and equitable state. And, perhaps most importantly, we will listen to and share with one another.

Over the course of these last months, we have learned about and discussed questions of race, identity, and racism in American. In November, we met with visual artist, composer, musician, and educator Paul Rucker. Mr. Rucker shared his work with us and discussed the ways in which his pieces interact and engage with America’s history of racialized violence, slavery, and mass incarceration. You can watch a recording of Mr. Rucker’s visit to Central here.

In December and January, we will move from learning to action. Under the direction of our Central in Action Team, we will meet and work with New York based activists and advocates of criminal justice reform and immigration reform. Join us for two, very special justice town hall meetings on January 6 and January 14. Register and learn more here.


Resources for Individual and Group Study:

I’m looking for a few books:

Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation, Beth E. Richie
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in teh Age of Color Blindness, Michelle Alexander
Prisoners of Politics: Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration, Rachel Barkow

During a walk…
“Ear Hustle,” a podcast recorded from inside San Quentin State Prison.

Something to Watch
“13th” from Netflix

Young adult & family read:
Look Both Ways, Jason Reynolds

Give me more:
Becoming Ms. Burton, Susan Burton and Cari Lynn
The Imprisonment of Women, R. Emerson Dobash, Russel P. Dobash, and Sue Gutteridge
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Bryan Stevenson
Governing Through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear, Jonathan Simon
Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity, Loïc Wacquant
American Prison, Shane Bauer

November: “Blood on the Leaves and Blood at the Root;” America’s History of Violence and Racial Injustice Through the Lens of Black Artists

Theme: Racism and America


Let’s Talk About Race with Paul Rucker
Monday, November, 16, 2020 at 7:30 pm
Register here.
Then join us for a follow-up community discussion with Rabbis Sarah Berman and Hilly Haber on Monday, November 23, at 7:30 pm. Come with your curiosity, questions, and learnings.

Resources for Individual and Group Study:

Art to check out:
30 Americans
Black Refractions
Soul of a Nation

I’m looking for a good book:
The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead
Caste, Isabel Wilkerson

What should I watch?
When They See Us, Streaming on Netflix

Any quick reads?
1968 Interview in Esquire Magazine, James Baldwin

Young adult & family read:
New Kid, Jerry Kraft. Discussion questions: https://www.adl.org/media/14076/download

I want more:
The Sellout, Paul Beatty
If Beale Street Could Talk, James Baldwin
Notes From a Native Son, James Baldwin
Beloved, Toni Morrison
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
Barracoon; the Story of the Last Black Cargo Zora Neale Hurston
An American Marriage, Tayari Jones
Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
The Women of Brewster Place, Gloria Naylor
Everything Inside: Stories, Edwidge Danticat

October: A Month for Personal and Collective Reflection

Theme: Identity and Race

Guiding Questions:

How do my identities play a role in the ways in which I move through the Jewish community and greater world?


Rabbi Angela Buchadhl in Conversation with Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum
Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 7:00 pm
Register here.

Resources for Individual and Group Study:

I am ready to read:
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria; and other Conversations About Race, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum.

I don’t have a ton of time:
America’s Enduring Caste System, Isabel Wilkerson

Something fast to start my day off right:
The Great Unlearn
A History of Racial Injustice

Young adult & family read:
Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqeline Woodson

Nice White Parents, NYT

Give me more:
Code Switch by NPR

  • The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett
  • Black Power, Jewish Politics; Reinventing the Alliance in the 1960s, Marc Dollinger
  • Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Color of Water; A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother, James McBride
  • Lovesong; Becoming a Jew, Julius Lester