WES Racial Justice Salon - readings and media

Racial Justice Salon of West End Synagogue
chronological list of monthly readings and media

Please CLICK HERE for the readings/media
for the most current session.


Feb. 20, 2020: Criminal justice

Just Mercy,” directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and based on the book by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy,” by Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel & Grau, 2014)


March 5, 2020: American history

New York Times’ 1619 Project: “Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true,” by Nikole Hannah-Jones  


April 2, 2020: No assigned readings 

Sharing relevant articles that address how COVID-19 is being felt and experienced through the lens of race, structural inequalities or access.


May 7, 2020: The slavery economy

The New York Times’1619 Project, podcast episode 2, “The Economy That Slavery Built

The New York Times’ 1619 Project, “In order to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation” by Matthew Desmond 


June 4, 2020: Health care 

The New York Times’ 1619 Project, podcast episode 4, “How the Bad Blood Started

The New York Times’ 1619 Project, “Why doesn’t the United States have universal health care? The answer has everything to do with race,” by Jeneen Interlandi  


July 2, 2000: Policing and criminal justice

13th,” a documentary by Ava DuVernay

The New York Times’ 1619 Project, “Slavery gave America a fear of black people and a taste for violent punishment. Both still define our criminal-justice system,” by Bryan Stevenson

Equal Justice Initiative’s Racial Justice website

The New York Times, opinion video “Jay Z: ‘The War on Drugs Is an Epic Fail,’” by Jay Z, Molly Crabapple, Jim Batt, Kim Boekbinder and Dream Hampton      


Aug. 6, 2020: Housing

The New York Times’ 1619 Project, A vast wealth gap, driven by segregation redlining evictions and exclusion, separates black and white America,” by Trymaine Lee

NPR’s Code Switch, video Housing Segregation In Everything

The Atlantic, “The Case for Reparations,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, parts I, II, V, VI 

“NPR Fresh Air, A ‘Forgotten History’ of How the U.S. Government Segregated America 

The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein (W.W. Norton, 2017)


Sept. 3, 2020: Education

U.S. Courts, “History — Brown v. Board of Education Re-enactment

This American Life, “Prologue,” “The Problem We All Live With — Part One” and “The Problem We All Live With — Part Two,” by Nikole Hannah-Jones

TEDx Beacon Street, videoHow America’s Schools Keep Kids in Poverty,” by Kandice Sumner

The New York Times, five-part podcast series “Nice White Parents” 

The Atlantic, “The Data Are Damning: How Race Influences School Funding,” by Gillian B. White

The Atlantic, “Why Are American Schools Still Segregated?” by Eleanor Barkhorn

WNYC’s The Takeaway, “School Segregation is Getting Worse 65 Years After Brown v. Board of Education” 

The New York Times Magazine, “Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City,” by Nikole Hannah-Jones


Oct. 1, 2020: Voting rights

Center for American Progress, Systematic Inequality and American Democracy

HuffPost Opinion, “Welcome To Jim Crow 2.0” by Carole Anderson

KQED Radio, “Carol Anderson on Voter Suppression, Past and Present Our Democracy,” 

One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy,” by Carol Anderson (Bloomsbury, 2018)

All In: The Fight for Democracy,” directed by Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortes, starring Stacy Abrams and others 


Nov. 5, 2020: Antiracism education

How to Be an Antiracist,” by Ibram X. Kendi (Penguin Random House: August 2019)

YouTube video from Aspen Ideas Festival, “How to Be an Antiracist,” an interview of Ibram X. Kendi

Brené Brown’s Unlocking Us, podcast “Brené with Ibram X. Kendi on How to Be an Antiracist” 


Dec. 3, 2020: Reparations

The Atlantic, “The Case for Reparations, by Ta Nehisi-Coates

NPR’s Fresh Air, “A Call for Reparations: How America Might Narrow The Racial Wealth Gap,” interview of Nikole Hannah-Jones

Freakonomics, podcast episode 427, “The Pros and Cons of Reparations” 

The New York Times Magazine, “What Is Owed,” by Nikole Hannah-Jones


Jan. 7, 2021: Experiences of Jews of color

ELI Talks, video “Who Counts? Race and the Jewish Future” with Elana Kaufman 

ELI Talks, video What Makes This Jew Different,” with Shais Rishon

JewToo, podcast episode 15, “But You Don’t Look Jewish

Jewish Multiracial Network, Privilege Checklist 

Rabbi Angela Buchdahl’s Yom Kippur 2020 talk, We Are Family: Rethinking Race in the Jewish Community, posted on YouTube


Feb. 5, 2021: Caste, our system of racial hierarchy

The New York Times Magazine, “America’s Enduring Caste System” by Isabel Wilkerson

NPR’s Fresh Air, “It’s More Than Racism: Isabel Wilkerson Explains America’s ‘Caste’ System

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson (Penguin Random House, 2020) 


March 11, 2021: Talking about race

“So You Want to Talk About Race,” by Ijeoma Oluo (Seal Press, 2018), chapter 3

Talks at Google, “So You Want to Talk About Race,” by Ijeoma Oluo 

Dr. Steve Silvestro’s Child Repair Guide, podcast episode 49, “How to Talk to Children About Race,” with psychologist Beverly Daniel Tatum 

Tedx Talk, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Race” by Jay Smooth



April 8, 2021: Black synagogues

Medium, In the Footsteps of the Black Jews of Harlem,” a series by Isaac Fried, originally published in WAX Digital Magazine  

Sacred Matters, “Religious Cultures Under the Radar: Jews of African Descent,” by Judith Weisenfeld

Black Jews, Israelites  . . . and Our Friends website

“We are the Ethiopian Hebrews, Brothers to the Fair White Jew: Race, Religion, and Jewish Identity in Harlem,” (YouTube) Lecture by Judith Weisenfeld, part of the “Jews, Race, and Religion” lecture series offered by the University of Pennsylvania’s Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies and the Center for Jewish Ethics in 2021

American Quarterly, “The Black Jews of Harlem: Representation, Identity, and Race, 1920-1939” by Roberta Gold


May 6, 2021: Reconstruction

PBS, “Reconstruction: America After the Civil War,” a four-part series presented by Henry Louis Gates Jr.
This is available on PBS “Passport” if you are a member of your local station ($60 per year); the full documentary is also available as a rental on Amazon for $4.99.

The Equal Justice Initiative, “Reconstruction in America: Racial Violence After the Civil War, 1865-1876


June 3, 2021: Voter suppression

Washington Post video,  “Opinion | Voter suppression never went away. It evolved,” with Carol Anderson 

Brennan Center for Justice, “Voting Laws Roundup: March 2021

CNN, “America’s Long History of Black Voter Suppression,” a timeline of new and old efforts to limit the political power of Black Americans and other voters of color, with analysis by Brandon Tensley

“One Person, No Vote, How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy,” by Carol Anderson (Bloomsbury, 2018), Chapter 1


Aug. 5, 2021: Police Violence

Two Distant Strangers,” a film directed by Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe 

Mapping Police Violence website 

Brookings Institute, “A better path forward for criminal justice: Police reform,” by Rashawn Ray and Clark Neily  


Sept. 2 and Oct. 7,  2021: the Great Migration

The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House, 2010)


Nov. 4, 2021: Jews of color

Beyond the Count: Perspectives and Lived Experiences of Jews of Color,” commissioned by the Jews of Color Initiative


Jan. 6, 2022: Jews of color (continued...)

Beyond the Count: Perspectives and Lived Experiences of Jews of Color, commissioned by the Jews of Color Initiative

“Storytime: Racism in the Jewish Community” video series by Rabbi Sandra Lawson, shared on YouTube

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Phone: (212) 579-0777
Fax: (212) 579-2669
Email: office [at] westendsynagogue.org
Affiliated with the Jewish Reconstructionist movement, Reconstructing Judaism

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