5 Guidelines for Community Encounters

Some best practices for growing communities that welcome Jews of Color.

The following guidelines were discussed in Rabbi Joshua Lesser’s article, Preparing Our Communities for Conversations on Race.

We also must think about how people are treated when they walk into the building. There are still ways that Jews of color and multiple ethnicities are ignored, mislabeled and subjected to inappropriate assumptions or questions. It is important to be overt with the congregation.

We have regularly sent out to our community communications with these five guidelines:

When encountering another person:

1.  Avoid making assumptions about gender identity, sexual orientation, religious identity, Jewish background, race or reasons for joining us.

2.  Respect a person’s identity and self-label, and respect a person’s chosen name and pronouns. Do not comment about whether a name sounds Jewish or not.

3.  Do not comment on whether someone looks Jewish or not.

4.  Do not assume people want to only speak about their identity, particularly when their identity is different from yours. Engage them in conversation and get to know them. Be engaging rather than curious.

5. Do not expect a guest to immediately become your resource on understanding their identity.

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