Peaks and Valleys in Black-Jewish Relations

In Civil Rights, Home, Jewish Studies by Judy SchindlerLeave a Comment

Peaks and Valleys: Milestone Moments in BlackJewish Relations  

Our eight-week community course explored the complexity of the historic relationship between the American Black and Jewish communities. From exploring texts on race in the Hebrew Bible, to delving into the writings of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, and the records of Jewish NAACP leaders, we will deepen our understanding of our shared triumphs and our troubled times. Classes will incorporate study of source documents, chavruta  small group learning, mini-lectures thirty minute talks from local and national scholars and discussion.  

Wednesday, September 30, 2020 

Setting the Stage for our Semester and the Psychologist’s Couch – What brings us together? What drives us apart?  

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 

Race in the Hebrew Bible 

Guest presenter: Dr. Rodney Sadler, Associate Professor of Bible and Director, Center for Social Justice and Reconciliation 

Background Reading:  

  • Genesis 9:18-27.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2020 

Confronting our Painful PastSlavery, Civil War, and Monument on Tryon Street  

Guest Presenter: Rabbi Asher Knight, Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth El 

Background reading:  

Wednesday, October 28, 2020 

Jews and the NAACP  

Guest Presenter: Minister Corine Mack, President of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg branch of the NAACP 

Background reading:  

  • “Long-Distance Runners of the Civil Rights Movement: The Contribution of Jews to the NAACP and the National Urban League in the Early Twentieth Century” in Jack Salzman, and Cornel West. (1997) Struggles in the Promised Land : Towards a History of Black-Jewish Relations in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  • Selection from an Oral History Interview with Kivie Kaplan, regarding His Entrance into Civil Rights Work and His Election as President of the NAACP, 1970 
  • Selection from NAACP Head Benjamin Hooks, Speech on Civil Rights, American Jews, and the Palestine Liberation Organization, 1979 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020 

Jews & the Civil Right Era: From Mississippi to Alabama, from Chicago to Washington  

Guest Presenter: Dr. Willie Keaton, Justice Organizer, Greenspon Center and Pastor, Mt. Olive Presbyterian Church 

Background Reading:  

  • “Two Friends, Two Prophets: Abraham Joshua Heschel and Martin Luther King Jr.” by Dr. Susannah Heschel, 
  • The attached document entitled American Jewish History -  A Primary Source Reader includes some writings from Jewish Leaders from 1958-1963 regarding the civil rights movement. 
  • Attached is the chapter “Negotiating Coalitions: Blacks and Jewish Civil Rights Agencies in the Twentieth Century” by Cheryl Greenberg in Struggles in the Promised Land: Toward a History of Black-Jewish Relations in the United States 
  • Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. (Dr. King addressed this letter to Rabbi Milton Grafman and seven other white clergymen in which he said blacks were tired of waiting for the right time to demand justice. It is such a great document to read.) 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020 

Black Power, Jewish Politics  

Guest Presenter: Dr. Marc DollingerRichard and Rhoda Goldman Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility at San Francisco State University 

Background reading: 

  • “Black-Jewish Universalism in the Era of Identity Politics” in Struggles in the Promised Land: Toward a History of Black-Jewish Relations in the United States.  

 Wednesday, November 18, 2020 

The Crown Heights Race Riots, the Rebbe & Mayor Dinkins 

Rabbi Yossi GronerRabbi and spiritual leader of Congregation Ohr HaTorah 

  •  Conaway, Carol B. “Crown Heights: Politics and Press Coverage of the Race War That Wasn’t.” Polity 32, no. 1 (1999): 93-118. Accessed November 15, 2020. doi:10.2307/3235335. This article will give you deeper insights into the Crown Heights Riots of 1991. 
  • Some of the Rebbe’s writing on the topic of responsibility from Toward a Meaningful Life: the Wisdom of the Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson 

Wednesday, December 9th 

Racial Justice & Black Lives Matter TodayWhere Will You Stand and Why? 

Click here for the file containing all the readings, power points, and recordings.


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