Rabbi Julie's Fall Education Series: The History of Whiteness and What About the Jews?

posted Sep 9, 2020, 7:16 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Sep 29, 2020, 2:22 PM ]
White people have had a hard time in this country opening our eyes to what is true about White supremacy and racism.  We have been miseducated about race and have been sheltered from experiencing much of the impact of a destructive and unequal system.  As Jews, we have our own special stream of history and unique relationships to issues of White supremacy.  Yet many of us enjoy the privileges of Whiteness in a stratified system that we did not create and may wish was more fair.  In this series we will co-create safe, brave space to explore these issues in our Jewish community.

Registration is not required.

Information for this and all online events will automatically be sent to LHI members. If non-members would like to participate, please email us at info@leyvhair.org, or call us at 215-629-1995, for the remote access information.

Session I: White Fragility

Before we can delve deeply into the truth of our racist system, we need to bolster ourselves for the journey.  We need to dismantle some of our fear, defensiveness, and ignorance in talking about privilege and unjust systems.  With the spiritual support of loving kindness and the knowledge that we are all good people doing the best we can, we will learn more about stepping beyond White fragility.

Many people have read the book White Fragility by Robin D'Angelo, which is highly recommended. Additional suggested reading -- "Refusing to See" by Tema Okun -- will be circulated. 

Session II:  The Invention of Whiteness

Before the invention of Whiteness in the seventeenth century, people were categorized as Christians or Heathens.  What changed?

Two resources are offered here: 

1.     Jacqueline Battalora’s 35-minute video that gives a revelatory review of how Whiteness got invented, in the early years of this country's history. Listening to just audio will work too:  Birth of a White Nation

2.    David Dean’s in-depth essay on the history of how Whiteness got invented:  Roots Deeper than Whiteness

Session III: How Jews Became White

When most of our ancestors immigrated to this country, we were considered "Jewish," not White.  We faced lots of anti-semitism although there was way more opportunity for education, livelihood and participation in mainstream culture than we had had as a people in Western and Eastern Europe or in the mid-east.  What changed as we moved from "Jewish" to "White?"  How did we come to be White and what was the cost of Whiteness?

A shorter article will be assigned but here are two full books recommended on the subject:

The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race, and American Identity, by Eric L. Goldstein

How Jews Became White Folks and What That Says About Race in America, by Karen Brodkin