#BlackLivesMatter: The Right vs Wrong Side of History

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When I was nine years old, my family sat me down to watch the landmark documentary Eyes on the Prize. After I watched the story about Emmett Till’s horrible murder and his murderers’ eventual acquittal, I lay awake in my bed, too terrified to sleep. The idea that a child who looked like me could be brutalized just because he was black was so frightening, in part, because of how immediate it felt. It had happened a whole twenty years before I was born; at the same time, it had only happened twenty years before I was born. The injustice was so stark, so clear, that the rise of what we would come to call the Civil Rights Movement seemed the natural response.  

Posted on August 19, 2016

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Snapchat’s Top Rabbi

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When the list of the top ten Jews you should follow on social media platform Snapchat came out this week there were the inevitable comedians and foodies but only one rabbi made the cut! Vegan, Black and a bodybuilder, Sandra Lawson, a student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical School, has been attracting quite a following. Be’chol Lashon caught up with her to learn about her social media rabbinate and her newfound Snapchat fame.

Posted on August 11, 2016

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An African American Jew Journeys to Orthodoxy

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Life is a journey for each of us. It’s full of twists and turns and sometimes things happen to us without us understanding the reason why. Both sides of my family came to Judaism from Christianity. My paternal grandfather began to learn more about Judaism after he already had children. He went to a Jewish book store and since there wasn’t a Rabbi at the time who was willing to teach him, he taught himself through books. Over time, he became very knowledgeable and began to teach other colored people about Judaism. He founded a congregation originally in Philadelphia called Adat Beyt Moshe, then moved the family to a small town called Ellwood, NJ outside of Hammonton. My mom, in her adulthood, started to feel that she wanted something more spiritually. She began attending various synagogues, learned more about Judaism, and eventually decided to pursue a conversion within the Conservative movement.

Posted on July 8, 2016

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Lessons Learned from Multicultural Jewish Asian Families

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What does it mean to be Jewish and Asian? Amidst the complex conversations about race in America comes JewAsian, a groundbreaking book that explores Jewish Asian identity. What have authors and parent Helen Kiyong Kim and Noah Samuel Leavitt learned about JewAsian multicultural identity? What lessons can parents learn? What might the Jewish community do to welcome JewAsians? Team Be’chol Lashon talked to the husband/wife team to find out!

Posted on June 28, 2016

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Race: Pushing Myself & the Jewish Community

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“Everyone has a different tolerance for complexity.” This is a concept that was introduced to me in anticipation of adopting my son in 1997, and it has stuck with me over the years. Tolerance for complexity is not only a predisposition towards the way one approaches life, but is also ideally constantly evolving. There is accommodating the change that happens whether we want it to or not, and then there’s the change that we actively seek in order to achieve our goals and make the world a better place.

Posted on June 22, 2016

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Reimagining A Holocaust Classic

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Music and Judaism go hand in hand. Every Shabbat service, lifecycle event, Jewish holiday or Israeli holiday has a specific song or melody that relates to that special day. “A Walk to Caesarea,” commonly known as, “Eli Eli”(“My God, My God”) written by Hannah Senesh and composed by David Zahavi is one of the main Jewish songs relating to Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom Hashoah).

Posted on June 14, 2016

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