Complicating The Narrative: Jews, the Civil Rights Movement, and Lessons for Today

It’s a source of pride in many Jewish communities: on the heels of the Holocaust and in the spirit of “Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdof” (Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue), many Jews actively supported the Black freedom struggle that we now call the Civil Rights Movement. Some risked everything. But did all Jewish communities support the movement? Was there really a special “alliance?” If so, what caused it to fracture? Join us for an interactive session that will explore–and complicate–the narrative of Jewish communities and the Civil Rights Movement. We’ll examine what really happened and what lessons can guide our work for racial justice today.

Avi Edelman (he/him/his) creates environments of warmth and empathy for transformational dialogue about the forces that shape how we see the world and how the world sees us. He has over a decade of experience as an experiential educator, dialogue facilitator, and diversity and inclusion trainer. He currently serves as Columbia University’s Associate Director of Multicultural Affairs and Manager of Diversity Education, where he leads intercultural dialogue programs for students and develops and implements trainings for thousands of students, staff, and faculty. His areas of expertise include unconscious bias, privilege and oppression, LGBTQ solidarity, anti-racism, disability justice, and more. For seven years, he has led an annual civil rights pilgrimage for teens through the U.S. south to explore the history of social justice in Black and Jewish communities. As an independent trainer, he has worked with individuals and organizations across the country to develop inclusive practices, build spaces of trust and understanding, and foster a culture of dialogue. He was featured in National Geographic’s documentary series America Inside Out, leading a workshop convened by Katie Couric. He is an above-average juggler with waning professional circus aspirations.

Aaron Jenkins is the immediate past Vice President of Policy and Advocacy for The Expectations Project (TEP), a national non-profit organization that organizes faith communities to advocate for quality public education. He is a former appointee of the Obama Administration where he served as the Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Aaron was the Executive Director and Program Director of Operation Understanding DC (OUDC), a non-profit organization that specializes in cultural education, leadership development and interfaith dialogue programming for African-American and Jewish high school students. Before OUDC, he built an extensive career in both the Federal Government and State Government sectors,  A native Washingtonian, Aaron is the President of the board of the Abramson Scholarship Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides scholarships and comprehensive mentoring to first generation college students.  He is a graduate of Williams College with a BA in Political Science.

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