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Jews of Color and Allies Advisory Group Mandate

Background and objectives: 

WHEREAS Jews of Color (JOC) comprise at least 12-15 percent of the American Jewish community yet are often marginalized and discriminated against in mainstream Jewish settings, Reconstructing Judaism must take further action to ensure that our Jewish communities provide a safe, supportive, loving and empowering haven for all of us, most especially Jews of Color.

WHEREAS JOC are severely underrepresented in Jewish leadership generally and within Reconstructing Judaism specifically, Reconstructing Judaism must take action to integrate its various governing bodies, staff, faculty and leadership.  Reconstructing Judaism employs an all-white staff, is overseen by a mostly-white Board of Governors, and has a majority-white Tikkun Olam Commission. We recognize that without having Jews of Color at the table and involved in leadership decisions, we will inevitably reproduce the exclusionary dynamics of white majority culture that keeps the bulk of JOC from becoming thriving participants and leaders in our Jewish communities.

WHEREAS RRC has committed intentionality, staff and student training, and significant resources to being a place where JOC rabbinical students can thrive and learn to be powerful and effective rabbis.           

WHEREAS Reconstructing Judaism is committed to support for Reconstructionist congregations becoming places where JOC can emerge and thrive as leaders.

WHEREAS Reconstructing Judaism is committed to the facilitation of the creation and sharing of new theological, ritual and liturgical expressions that center the voices and experiences of JOC.  

WHEREAS the Tikkun Olam Commission of the Reconstructionist movement which is primarily responsible for formulating and vetting positions for the Reconstructionist movement, for consideration of the Board of Governors and the plenum and for coordination of Tikkun Olam work with the RRA and other bodies has selected issues of racial justice as their primary work at this time.  

WHEREAS, Reconstructing Judaism attended the Social Justice Roundtable’s Network Assembly on racial justice in 2017. Upon our return, we created an internal list of racial justice commitments, including the creation of a JOC Advisory Council for movement programming.

WHEREAS It is understood that best practice in the consideration of issues faced by disadvantaged populations dictates that both members of that population and allies be represented in bodies engaged in making recommendations regarding those matters.  

 


Drawing on the strength of our core Reconstructionist commitment to democratic decision making and the involvement of lay leaders in the governance and direction of the movement, Reconstructing Judaism therefore seeks to convene a Jews of Color and Allies Advisory Group to examine and make recommendations to the leadership of the movement with respect to the nature and impact of white majority culture and systemic racism on Jews of Color within the Reconstructionist movement, and the culture and structure of our institutions and to make recommendations regarding manners in which Reconstructing Judaism may address and act to remedy historical inequities and integrate JOC into its membership and leadership.  

To that end the JOC advisory group will be comprised as follows:  

  • Chair who is elected by the Board of Governors of Reconstructing Judaism (Board) and is a member of an affiliated community of Reconstructing Judaism or has demonstrated a commitment to a Reconstructionist approach to Jewish life and living.  The chair will represent the JOC advisory group as an Ex Officio voting member of the Board.
    • The chair identifies as a person of color.
    • TERM LIMIT – 3-year term with a maximum of two consecutive terms.
  • Vice Chair who is elected by the Board and is a member of an affiliated community of Reconstructing Judaism or has demonstrated a commitment to a Reconstructionist approach to Jewish life and living.  The Vice Chair will serve as an alternate to represent the JOC advisory group in the absence of the Chair.  
    • The vice chair identifies as a person of color.
    • TERM LIMIT – 3-year term with a maximum of two consecutive terms
  • The advisory group will be a multiracial group, inclusive of Jews of Color and allies.  The majority will be Jews of color by self-identification.
  • The total composition of the Jews of Color and Allies Advisory Group will be not less than five and not more than ten individuals.   The specific composition will be as follows:  
    • Vice Chair
    • No More Than Three Tikkun Olam Commission Representatives –
      1. Nominated by the co-chairs of the TOC, approved by the membership to the Jews of Color and Allies Advisory Group.
    • The Chair and Vice-Chair may invite up to five additional individuals to join the Jews of Color and Allies Advisory Group who, in their judgment, will provide expertise, relationships, expertise and/or skills that will be helpful for the Jews of Color and Allies Advisory Group to best fulfill its mandate.
      1. The additional members will be approved by existing members of the Jews of Color and Allies Advisory Group by majority vote.
      2. TERM LIMIT – the additional members will serve a 3-year term with a maximum of two consecutive terms.

Process:

  • The group will meet at least quarterly in each annual cycle in person or virtually as appropriate and provide written reports to the Board of Governors following each meeting.  
  • At minimum the group will meet in person once each year together with the President and Chair of the Board of Reconstructing Judaism. In the event that it is not feasible to meet in person due to COVID-19 restrictions or other limiting factors, the group will meet remotely with the President and Chair of the Board.

 

 

The Reconstructionist Network