The Tikkun Olam Commission has approved a draft resolution in support of reparations to be considered by the entire Reconstructionist Movement.
You may already be asking the classic talmudic question, mai reparations? What do you mean by reparations? To which we offer the talmudic response, ta sh’ma: Come and learn with us.
Reparations can mean many things. It is policy, theology, a moral obligation, history, and a demand for truth and reconciliation. The National African-American Commission on Reparations (NAACR) defines reparations as, “a process of repairing, healing and restoring a people injured because of their group identity and in violation of their fundamental human rights.” Ta-Nehisi Coates understands reparations as an ethical orientation — “the full acceptance of our collective biography and its consequences.” There is no Hebrew term that fully encompasses the range of meanings that are associated with the English word, reparations. Is it both teshuvah — the Jewish process of public accountability, apology, mending, and returning to right relationship, and tzedek — the ethical demands of material and legal justice.
We are offering two parallel pathways for your community to take an initial dive into this sea of Torah:
1. Reparations through a Reconstructionist Lens
An asynchronous adaptation of the recorded sessions from our movement-wide Day of Learning on Reparations, developed by RRC Racial Justice Rabbinic Intern, Alana Krivo-Kaufman. This innovative approach uses ritual, discussion, text study, and personal reflection to guide a group of students in deeply engaging with the amazing Torah shared during our day of learning.
Session 2: Sitting at the Welcome Table: A Conversation on Reparations with Lazora Jordan, LMSW & Co-Teacher
What would it mean for government institutions in the United States to give out reparations? Where does the call for reparations to African Americans come from? How can a Jewish theology of collective accountability guide us in our exploration? This session explores these questions and more. Lazora Jordan is the Vice-Chair of Reconstructing Judaism’s Jews of Color and Allies Advisory Group, serves on the Tikkun Olam Commission, and is a licensed social worker and anti-racist educator.
Written and compiled by the reparations committee of the racial justice initiative of the Jewish Community of Amherst, Massachusetts, we are delighted to share this excellent five-part study series that curates stimulating articles and videos by contemporary thinkers and guides discussion about moral values and racism within various historical contexts.
Reconstructing Judaism recently commissioned two black Jewish artists from within our circles, Ayeola Omomara Kaplan, and Marjorie Salvodon, to respond to the Movement Wide Day of Learning on Reparations (link) through a piece of visual art.
Has your congregation been using movement materials to discuss the resolution and learn about the topic of reparations? We’d love to hear how things are going!