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Racial Equity Newsletter Issue 3:
Critical Race Theory

Welcome to the third issue of Temple Beth El's Racial Equity Newsletter, Equality!

As we shared in the first issue, every other month we will share articles, podcasts, videos and other content that is informed by and contributes to the conversation around racial equity. Each issue will be followed by a discussion session. The discussion session for this issue will be on December 7 at 7:00 pm. CLICK HERE to register. Below you will also find more information about the material for the next discussion group and news of coming events in our community and opportunities for further learning.

Rabbi Greg Weisman, Temple Beth El of Boca Raton
Letter from Rabbi Greg Weisman

Over the past year, the phrase “critical race theory” has entered into our nation’s vernacular. Unfortunately, our discourse around the phrase, and the legal principles undergirding it, have clouded the important conversation around race and racial equity. We have heard public educators and politicians decry the notion that CRT would be taught in elementary schools, and at the same time hear the call from others to teach our nation’s history in a manner than honestly confronts and engages with the racially motivated decisions of generations past, the effects of which continue to this day.

Critical Race Theory graphic used in an issue of Equality: Temple Beth El of Boca Raton's Racial Equity newsletterWhat has troubled me over the past few months is how some, in their critique of critical race theory, have obfuscated or downright ignored a core truth of the theory, which is that it is a legal theory that was introduced to law school students. It has no more a place in elementary schools than does calculus or theoretical physics. At the same time, thinking about how our schools teach the racial truths of our nation’s history- in an age-appropriate manner- and thinking about how our schools and public institutions can act to make our communities more racially equitable is something that we should all be doing.

 

I am proud of this issue’s editors, Michelle Wasch Lobovits and Ken Namerow, for wanting to bring the hot-button of critical race theory to our attention, and have enjoyed reading, watching, and listening to the resources they curated. I’m looking forward to our discussion session on December 7, and hope that you will take the time to digest this information and join us on that evening.

Equality Issue 3: October 28, 2021
Welcome Message from Michelle Wasch Lobovitz and Ken Namerow, editors of this issue of Equality

Michelle Wasch Lobovitz and Ken Namerow, used in an issue of Equality: Temple Beth El of Boca Raton's Racial Equity newsletterIn the first two issues of Equality, the content and ensuing discussions have been personal observations about our own experiences with racism, affirmative action and generally what our experiences have been growing up and as adults.

In the session on December 7, we will explore the origins of Critical Race Theory and how it intersects with White Affirmative Action.

Critical race theory is an approach to studying US policies and institutions that is most often taught in law schools in Constitution law class. It is a theory about how race and racism have shaped the law and, more importantly, its application. “We know that today racism is sustained more through law, policy and practices than through individual bias and discrimination,” said Boston University Law professor Jasmine Gonzales Rose, who teaches CRT. Critical race theory is about the structures that have contributed to continuing racism in our country. It is not about individual racism.

Illustration of hands raising up used in an issue of Equality: Temple Beth El of Boca Raton's Racial Equity newsletterIn the last session we were asked to listen to the Podcast on White Affirmative Action. In this podcast we learned how history has favored white people in land ownership, in housing and home ownership (related to the FHA loans), and in education (particularly as it relates to the GI Bill) which, in turn, created cumulative wealth in the white community that gave generations of white people a head start.

How does white affirmative action relate to critical race theory? Has critical race theory been misinterpreted by mainstream media, school boards and politicians?

The following is an excellent bibliography on the subject. 

Racial Equity Discussion Group
Thursday, December 7, 2021 at 7:00 pm

As you listen, read, and watch these resources, we encourage you to consider the following questions:

  • How do the origins and intent of critical race theory compare to the ways in which you have heard it discussed in your day to day life?
  • What connections do you observe between the idea of white affirmative action and critical race theory?
  • How might the conclusions of critical race theory be applicable or inform our community today?

 

To Listen:

To Read:

To Watch:

Temple Beth El Racial Equity Initiative Mission

Temple Beth El’s racial equity mission is to inspire our congregation and community to do our part to dismantle systemic racism and build a more just world through education, relationship building and advocacy.

Temple Beth El Racial Equity Initiative Vision

Inspired by Jewish tradition and our people’s belief that every human being is a divine creation, motivated by our obligation to see and seek the divinity in every human being, Temple Beth El of Boca Raton‘s racial equity initiative seeks to inspire members to achieve racial equity in their own lives and the lives of all they encounter.
 
Congregation members who join this effort will:

 

  • Participate in educational programs to recognize systemic racism in our society.
  • Organize educational opportunities for the temple community to understand how racial equity affects our lives.
  • Inspire the next generation through educational opportunities for our Early Learning Center and Religious School families.
  • Develop skills to engage in community efforts to improve racial equity.
  • Pursue partnerships in local, statewide, or national organizations working toward racial equity.
  • Join with faith-based institutions to expand our power and depth of resource in our community.
  • Internalize the concept of racial equality and act on it daily, becoming a catalyst to have others act in the same fashion.
  • Ultimately, activate our power, our resources, our wisdom, and our relationships to overcome systemic racism and the imbalances it creates.
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