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RSJI: Racial Justice

But let justice well up like water, righteousness like a mighty stream. (Amos 5:24)

Group Chairs: Dr. John Eaves and Eric Schwartz       Clergy Liaison: Rabbi Lydia Medwin

The Temple's RSJI Racial Justice group seeks to promote equal human and civil rights between those of different races. Especially here in Georgia, but also across the nation, we see the legacy of slavery, and the moral corruption that allowed for slavery, continuing to dictate policy in our public square. Eradicating racism is not only an issue in which Temple members have been involved historically, but it remains a central tenant to our justice work today. Today, we see it as a part of our historic legacy and our moral responsibility to create more equity in our city and state, encouraging righteousness to flow like a mighty stream. 

Our goals are:

  • To illuminate the unconscious and implicit bias within us who identify as "white passing" Ashkenazi Jewish Americans, and to work together to figure out how to raise children with less of this bias.
  • To highlight areas in the public square dictated by race as a major factor, such as reforming our criminal justice system.
  • To advocate for more equity and fairness for those of different races, because we know what it means to be stereotyped and targeted as a people.
  • To engage in direct action on behalf of those who are most vulnerable in our society, especially at the intersection of race and poverty. 

How we accomplished these goals:

  • The Temple has organized Record Restriction Summits by partnering with other non-profits and county entities to organize a one-stop shop for people seeking to restrict access to their arrest records. These records stand in the way of people's ability to access their fullest potential, with an arrest flagging a job application, higher education scholarship opportunity, and more. The Summit brings all of the government and prosecutorial agencies together in one place for a free restriction of a record. We also created a job and resource fair for the applicants so that people have left our Summits with new jobs, a clean record, and a new lease on life. 
  • We took over one hundred people to Montgomery, AL, to the Legacy Museum and Lynching Memorial. Our group was moved to learn the connections between slavery, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration. We were also deeply affected by the memorial of the thousands who were murdered just because of their race. This experience has motivated even more people to get involved in our work.
  • A subcommittee of the group has created an evening of learning and discussion, as we view the movie "True Justice," learn from a panel including someone who has experienced incarceration, and discuss over dinner the implications of our learning. 
  • The Temple is part of an ongoing partnership with Auburn Seminary and Ebenezer Baptist Church to create the Ending Mass Incarceration (EMI) conference and multi-faith movement. The EMI movement seeks to 1). change the narrative and theology about what it means to be incarcerated, 2). create a network of congregations who speak out and act on behalf of those who've been incarcerated, and 3). change legislation to create a more just criminal justice system. 
  • We are working behind the scenes to help build coalitions to support legislation that would benefit those with convictions, to make it legal for their records to be restricted over a given amount of time. 
  • We conducted a series called "Raising Race Conscious Children," in which our presenter helped our group to figure out ways to deal with our own feelings about the subject and speak to our children in ways that would help build their vocabulary and perspective on people of different races.
Tue, August 11 2020 21 Av 5780