We believe that movements for positive change are greatly strengthened by building connections with each other.
We are building Beloved Community by:
- Connecting our work with communities around America who are working to revitalize the Black-Jewish relationship.
- Connecting Blacks and Jews in the Puget Sound area together in friendship and as partners for social change.
- Encouraging all Washington State citizens who seek to build Beloved Community to find new ways of connecting with each other and working together.
Goals and Next Steps over the Next Twelve Months
- Implementing our Communal Justice Reform Initiative
- Widen the circle of Blacks and Jews in the Puget Sound area who are engaged in revitalizing our relationship.
- Add another city to our national network of Black-Jewish Bible Study.
Connections we have made
Black-Jewish Clergy Bible Group
Participant rabbis from the Black-Jewish Clergy Bible Group were invited and joined their colleague Black clergy to support then-Police Chief Carmen Best at a public press conference. Reciprocally, Black clergy in the group issued a powerful public statement condemning the antisemitic remarks of DeSean Jackson and Stephen Jackson and affirming the value of the historic Black-Jewish relationship.
Black-Jewish Intercity Bible Study Program
Through the Black-Jewish Intercity Bible Study program, our group in Seattle has learned of creative Black-Jewish partnerships in several cities and also created connections:
- Blacks and Jews in Atlanta have been working together for a decade on Criminal Justice Reform. Our connection to the Atlanta community led us to explore how we could create such an initiative in Seattle. Our growing Seattle network then became useful to our Atlanta colleagues. The film “Since I Been Down” was shown at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta by the Georgia Association of Paralegals. It was organized by one of our Atlanta clergy partners, Minister Cynthia Bynum who we connected to the filmmaker, Dr. Sheppard by BJBBC.
- Pastor Chris Harris of Brightstar Church in Chicago, inspired by the Israel's NATAL program established the TURN program to counsel traumatized victims of gun violence. He was supported in this effort by Rabbi Michael Siegel of Temple Emet and leaders of the Chicago Jewish community. Here is a link to the program: https://www.brightstarcommunityoutreach.com/traumacounseling.
- Ebenezer Baptist Church and The Temple in Atlanta collaborate on a program to expunge the records of minor offenses of hundreds of people in one day. Here is a link to that program: http://emi.odyssey-impact.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2020/06/EMIExpungementToolkit.pdf
- Detroit established the Coalition for Black-Jewish Unity in 2018 to create promote solidarity between the Jewish communities and Black communities in Metropolitan Detroit. Here is a link to their programming: Coalition for Black and Jewish Unity – Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC (jcrcajc.org)
- Place this URL in your browser to hear the leaders of the Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit programs describe their initiatives at a session called New Models for Black-Jewish Partnerships at Seattle’s Limmud Conference, an annual learning festival for Seattle Jewry: https://youtu.be/Ld5RkryPNrw.
Building Black and Jewish Beloved Community helped a local church get their PPE loan through a connection with a bank that was facilitating these loans more quickly than the larger banks.
Multifaith Criminal Justice Reform Coalition
BBJBC created the Multifaith Criminal Justice Reform Coalition which recruited 32 local organizations to be partners in the showing of Since I Been Down to 700 households in the Washington State faith community. The Multifaith Coalition than organized a Lobbying Day to promote 6 bills aimed at making our incarceration system more humane. This advocacy effort engaged multiple local organizations that had not previously worked together to combine their efforts.
The Nehemiah Initiative
The Nehemiah Initiative is working to stem the tide of gentrification and rejuvenate the African American presence in Seattle’s Central District.
The leader of this initiative, Bishop Garry Tyson met with a colleague rabbi from our Bible Study Initiative and Jewish real estate developers from his congregation to discuss Jewish communal support and participation in the development of the Central District.
The Nehemiah Initiative is turning to select leaders from the Jewish community for financial support. The connection to Jewish leadership was made possible through the relationships developed by Building Black and Jewish Beloved Community. Here is the link the Nehemiah Initiative: https://www.nehemiahinitiativeseattle.org
My work with the multi-faith team has been some of the most inspiring I have done in my career. This is a committed group of people from so many walks of life joining together to pursue equity and justice for some of our most marginalized communities.
Black-Jewish Bible Study has been especially enlightening. It’s a space where individuals from the Black community and from the Jewish community come together to discuss text, and bring text into context regarding present day issues and events. I’ve learned so much from this crew and look forward to continued growth together.