Beth Emet is a diverse, multigenerational Reform community with a dynamic approach to Judaism. Our congregation seeks to create a spiritually vibrant, socially conscious, intellectually challenging, and deeply caring environment firmly rooted in Jewish tradition and values.

 

Part of Beth Emet's social action mission has always been to be an active partner with people of other cultures, races and faiths. In this moment we have seen dozens of lists and compilations of resources to learn, grow, and show up for ourselves and each other. Click here, or scroll down, for extensive list comprised in 2016, as a foundation that we think you may find useful to explore. Below are suggestions and recommendations by/from our Clergy and members of our community in the Spring 2020. We'd love to hear your recommendations as well. Please let us know your suggestion by filling out this form. 

We hope that some of these recommendations feel fruitful for your learning, and encourage you to reach out to the recommender if you are moved for further discussion. Please, check back periodically, as we will keep updating with different titles.

 

Podcasts:

 

 

1619 by The New York Times
Recommended by: 
Rabbi London
"An audio series about the history of how slavery has transformed the U.S. and the experience of Black people in this country for the last 400 years."    

 

 

 

 

 

Code Switch by NPR
Recommended by: 
Rabbi London
"Hosted by journalists of color, it addresses the issues of race in a frank and engaging manner."   

 

 

 

 

Dissect PodcastDissect - Lemonade by Beyonce (Season 6)
Recommended by: Maia Volk, Director of Youth Programs 
"A powerful analysis of one of the most important records of the last decade. Dissect traces how Beyonce connects her personal hardships to inherited trauma and oppression in connection to her race and gender." 

 

 

 

 
Hidden Brain: The Mind of the Village
Recommended by: Michael Orenstein, Beth Emet Member
"Hidden Brain just does a great job with stuff like this. After listening, you will have a good idea of what implicit bias, how it is measured, and its impact on society."
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Resmaa Menakem
Recommended by: Judy Caplan, Beth Emet member and Chair Social Justice Advocacy
"All the On Being podcasts produced by Krista Tippet are good, but this one is super-amazing. In this powerful conversation therapist and trauma specialist Resmaa Menakem shares the impact of systemic racism on our bodies and nervous systems.  Drawing on recent scientific findings, Resmaa talks about how the trauma of race impacts us on the cellular level. Resmaa introduces the notion of “White-body supremacy trauma” which he defines as a trauma that we all – including white identified individuals, communities and systems – integrate into our bodies and structures. He speaks of the need to address this trauma directly. This discussion deeply moved me --  not only in my mind but also in my gut."
 
 
 
 
Seeing White PodcastScene on Radio Podcast: Seeing White
Recommended by: Bekki Harris Kaplan, Executive Director 
"'Seeing White' is a 14-part documentary series exploring whiteness in America—where it came from, what it means, and how it works. I found it to be a gripping podcast, that for me was eye opening, starting with the history of race – the very invention of whiteness in legal terms in the U.S. What I found fascinating is that the information is conveyed through true stories, historical anecdotes, quotes, guest scholars and lecturers, legal decisions, and includes interesting follow up banter at the end of each podcast with an old friend of the host, John Biewen. A must listen!"
 
 

 

Books

Animal Farm by George Orwell

 
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Recommended by: Cantor Rabbi Kyle Cotler
"It's a short, easy read which remains as relevant today as it was when it was published in 1945. I first read it in middle school and now that I am older, I appreciate the Orewell's prose so much more. The book's focus on how a cult of personality and enforced reign of terror lead to the downfall of a thriving society creates a stark parallel to events around the world." 

 

 

 

 

Between the World and Me by Ta Nehisi Coates
Recommended by: Rabbi London
"Written as a letter to his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates explains to his son what it’s like to be a Black man in America. It’s a poignant, brutally honest, and heart-breaking read."  

 

 

 

 
The Color of Water, A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother By James McBride
Recommended by: Bluma Stoller, Beth Emet Member and Adult Ed Teacher
"The Color of Water, A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother By James McBride, Winner of the National Book Award Riverhead Books, 1996 This is a fascinating memoir that alternates between the story of this Black son and the story of his mother, a complex white woman who left her abusive Jewish family, embraced the Black Church, raised twelve Black children, and never spoke of her background or race. The author’s search for his mother’s story and the story of what he knew and later learned about her are the core of the book. This is a well-written, loving account of his life,,,and hers. It is a wonderful book and has captured my desire to read James McBride’s subsequent writings." 

 

 

 

 
 
 
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Recommended by:
 Rabbi London
 
 "Published in 1963, James Baldwin’s insights about race in our country are still as insightful today and speak to this moment in our country’s history."  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Recommended by:
 Rabbi London 
"This beautifully crafted and page turner of a novel follows the parallel paths of two sisters from the Gold Coast of Africa and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. It illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken captive and those who stayed in Africa."  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X Kendi
Recommended by: David Futransky, Beth Emet Member and Community Educator on Racism
"Profound book on shaping an anti-racist society" 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Recommended by:
 Rabbi London
 
"It tells of how Bryan Stevenson established the Equal Justice Initiative to help those, especially in Alabama, who are on death row. It’s also been made into a feature-length film."  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Recommended by: Rabbi London
  
"Legal scholar Michelle Alexander writes that many of the gains of the civil rights movement have been undermined by the mass incarceration of Black Americans in the war on drugs. Although Jim Crow laws are now off the books, millions of Black people arrested for minor crimes remain marginalized and disfranchised, trapped by a criminal justice system that has forever branded them as felons and denied them basic rights and opportunities that would allow them to become productive, law-abiding citizens."  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Recommended by: Paul Peterson, Beth Emet Member and Chair of the Beth Emet Racial Justice Committee
"Writers offer us the gift of seeing and feeling how it is to live in someone else’s shoes, and Toni Morrison was a great writer. Less often, they give us the opportunity to peer into their thought processes. The essays in this book provide insights into a first class mind on topics of race, but also not-race. This opportunity is not to be missed."
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Recommended by:
 Rabbi London  
"Zora Neale Hurston's beloved 1937 classic is a love story told with wit and  wisdom through the eyes of a Black woman who refuses to live in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams. It is the story fiercely independent Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, trials, and purpose. A true literary wonder, Hurston's masterwork remains as relevant and affecting today as when it was first published - perhaps the most widely read and highly regarded novel in the entire canon of African American literature."  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Waking Up White by Debby Irving
Recommended by: Rabbi Amy L. Memis-Foler
"This book changed my life. I learned much about my own privileges and behaviors. It also helped me realize that I must perpetually work at combating my own racist tendencies and biases."

Also Recommended by: Jessie Macdonald, Beth Emet Member and Chair Environment Climate Action Committee
"Debbie Irving’s book was a jolt to my psyche, excruciating to read at times, but impossible to put down.  I cringingly saw myself in so many of the pages—a person who’s always been involved in organizations that help others, particularly homeless people, refugees, abused and neglected children.  I’ve been on many boards that try to recruit people of color and yet in spite of my trying, I have no close friends who are people of color. 
Irving’s book is written as a memoir—it’s her story, but I believe it’s universally true for all white people.  She doesn’t hit you over the head with accusations, but gently leads you to understand why and how we white folk are part of the overarching racism inherent in our systems.  This is a book we all need to read, think about and discuss. "

 

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
Recommended by:
 Rabbi London
"Antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people’. White fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage with issues of race more constructively."  

 

 

 

  

Articles/BlogPosts

The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates
R
ecommended by:
Karen Isaacson, Beth Emet Board President
"If you’re looking to better understand the concept of reparations, this is worth the time ... and changed my view.  Ta-nehisi Coates takes the reader (or listener) thru the systemic economic, political and historical practices that limited Black access to home ownership, education inequality, fair legal treatment. Lots of Chicago references.  Wraps up with a comparison to German reparations post WW2."

Also Recommended by: Nina Kavin, Beth Emet Member and Co-Founder of 'Dear Evanston'
"Ta-Nehisi Coates' article, The Case for Reparations, was published in the Atlantic in 2014, two years before Donald Trump became president, five years before Evanston passed the first municipal reparations initiative in the country, six years before George Floyd's brutal murder by police officers and Covid-19, which has shined a bright light on health inequity in the United States.
Now, more than ever, we Jews, we Beth Emet members, must support reparations for our Black brothers and sisters both locally by contributing to the Evanston Reparations Initiative (bit.ly/COEReparationsFund) and nationally by keeping up with HR40, the bill that establishes the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans.
Coates' piece was instrumental is starting a real national conversation about racism, oppression, and reparations in this country. Though the topic of reparations has been addressed since enslavement ended, Coates' approach frames reparations not just as a financial debt to be paid, but as an emotional and psychological one necessary to begin healing the entire nation.
'And so we must imagine a new country. Reparations — by which I mean the full acceptance of our collective biography and its consequences — is the price we must pay to see ourselves squarely. … What I’m talking about is more than recompense for past injustices — more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant bribe. What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal.'"
 

 

Evanston's Road to Reparations by Bryan Smith 
Recommended by:
Robyn Gabel, Beth Emet member and State Representative for the 18th District, IL
"The article, Evanston's Road to Reparations, is a well researched enlightening piece that describes both the work to pass the Reparations Resolution in City Council and the history of systemic racism in Evanston. By documenting the ways in which the City of Evanston's government implemented policies to create racial disparities, it provides a narrative to justify reparations. . As early as 1904 and more dramatically by the 1930's, the article shows how banks and government policies were able to create an African American "ghetto"  in the 5th ward, in overcrowded conditions, even though African Americans represented 10% of Evanston's population. White Evanstonian's need to understand the history of discrimination and systemic racism and how they benefitted from this system. This article will help everyone comprehend the importance of the current policy of reparations that will begin to correct past wrongs and create racial equity."
(Illustration by Lincoln Agnew) 
 

 

Marigolds by Eugenia W. Collier
Recommended by: 
Abby Diamond, Beth Emet Member and BESSY board member
"This short story takes place in the time of the Great Depression in a Black community during the dust bowl. The narrators writing is beautiful and perfectly incapsulates a time that is often overlooked in terms of the Black experience. Themes of innocence, hardship, and racial inequity are brought up and I think it is a great perspective into this time period."
 
 
 
 
 
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh
Recommended by: Rabbi London
 "In what has become a classic essay for anyone trying to understand the phenomenon of white privilege, Peggy McIntosh highlights how white people go through life unaware of the ways in which our society is constructed for them and their interests. It’s an eye-opening look at how Black people experience our society in ways different from those who are white, and helps those who are white to be more aware of the oppressive experiences that Black people encounter regularly."  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

When We Know Better, We Do Better
 
by Ellen Blum Barish
Recommended by:
Marci Dickman, Director of Lifelong Learning
"This entry is written by one of our congregants, Ellen Blum Barish. I appreciate her probing deeply into herself and her willingness to be honest about the growing we need to do and the learning we can do by listening carefully to others." 
(Photo Courtesy of Ellen Blum Barish. Photo of day campers at Allens Lane Art Center, 1965 in what was considered to be a successfully integrated neighborhood of Mount Airy, Philadelphia. 
Ellen is seated on the ground, second from the right.)
Subscribe to her (free) blog to see more of her work
 

 

 

 
You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body is a Confederate Monument By Recommended by: Kathy Kaberon, Director of Youth Family Programs"I found this to be exceptionally powerful, bringing home the inescapable conflict between 'honoring' the confederacy and Black Lives Matter."
(Artwork by P.S. Spencer) 

 

 

 

 

Films and Multi-Media


 
13th
Recommended by:
Phil and Nancy Bashook, Beth Emet members and PDAT volunteers
"The film “13th, “ charts the explosive growth in America’s prison population, which continues to enslave Black people.  It’s a riveting documentary that illustrates how the treatment of Black people today perpetuates the racism and discrimination written into the 13th amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  The amendment abolishes slavery except for those who are incarcerated.  This movie helped us understand why racism is imbedded in American culture. It dramatically explains how many large corporations and political leaders use their influence to create government policies and laws to sustain immoral treatment of people of color.  We very highly recommended this film."

 

 

 

American Son- Film

 
American Son
Recommended by: Marla Topp, Administrator
"This very powerful film is based on a Broadway play and deals with race, racial identity and police brutality. It provides some insight about what it's like to raise a Black teenage son. I found it to be very emotional, thought provoking and relevant."
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of a Revolution
Recommended by: Rabbi London
"This movie explores the Black Panther Party and its significance to the broader American Culture, its cultural and political awakening for Black people. Having grown up with a negative impression of the Black Panthers, I found this moving enlightening because it portrays a complex and many-sided movement. It illustrates both the strengths and weaknesses of the party as well as the brutal suppression of it and the murder of its leaders by the FBI."  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Brother Future-Film
 
Recommended by: Alan Teller, Beth Emet member
"A powerful film about a street kid who finds himself transported back in time to the Civil War era. It dramatically shows what life must have been like, the changes that have occurred since then and the work that still needs to be done. Some fabulous scenes and contrasts. A memorable and affecting work."

 

 
   
 
  
 

The Danger of A Single Story
 
with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Recommended by: Lisa Levine, Beth Emet Member and Chair of the Social Action Committee
"In this 20-minute TED Talk, author and speaker Chimamanda Adichie eloquently explains how the power of stories matter and impacts one's perspective on humanity. She explains the danger of having a single story about a place or a person and how media, power, and cultural folklore all play a part in why single stories persist even though they are inaccurate and incomplete."
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I am Not Your Negro
Recommended by: 
Rabbi London
"A documentary about the brilliant and articulate teachings of James Baldwin about race in America. It is told through footage of James Baldwin and his relationship with Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X."  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Interview between Marcus Campbell, principal of ETHS, and Robin DiAngelo
Recommended by: Rabbi London
"This hour long interview of Robin DiAngelo by ETHS principal, Marcus Campbell, is a compelling discussion of white fragility—what it is, how to recognize it, and how to deal with it so that it will not hinder the necessary work of racial justice."  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Race: The Power of an Illusion
Recommended by: Rabbi London
*Note: Beth Emet has a copy of the DVD's"
 "This three part video series on race in our country was used as the basis for an excellent course taught at Beth Emet by David Futransky and Wendy Yanow a number of years ago. It explores how theories about Black inferiority have infiltrated our society and how policies towards the Black community have limited their upward mobility and ability to accumulate wealth."  
 
 
 
 
 
 

Trainings and Resources

 
elesson: Unconscious Bias - by Microsoft
re:work Unbiasing
- by Google
Recommended by: Mark Schoenfield, Beth Emet member and Chair of the Israel Committee
"Our brains process about 98% of information unconsciously, which is skewed by cultural stereotypes stored in the unconscious part of all of our brains, causing unconsciously biased reactions and decisions by people who think they are not racist or biased in other ways. These two free online training programs can teach you to recognize and counter unconscious racial and other biases. While focusing on workplaces, the training is applicable to all aspects of lifeUnderstanding and countering unconscious bias is critical to move into a more just society. "
 
LISTEN, LEARN, & ACT by the JCRC of Greater Washington
Recommended by: 
Max Antman, Facilitator of Intersection of Jewishness and Whiteness Conversation
"I think it is full of really helpful information."
 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
Below is a more expansive list curated in 2016 by members of the Beth Emet Race and Justice Committee
 

Part of Beth Emet's social action mission has always been to be an active partner with people of other cultures, races and faiths. In keeping with that goal, we offer this list of resources you may find useful to explore. Check back periodically, as we will keep adding more titles.

Documentaries & Films

• Body and Soul directed by Oscar Micheaux (1925)
• Imitation of Life directed by Douglas Sirk (1959)
• Shadows directed by John Cassavetes (1959)
• Sapphire directed by Basil Dearden (1959)
• Skin directed by Anthony Fabian (2009)
• Little White Lie directed by Lacey Schwartz, James Adolphus (2014)
• White People directed by Jose Antonio Vargas (2015)
• The Interrupters directed by Steve James (2011)
• Dope directed by Rick Famuyiwa (2015) (some sex and drugs, so not for more sensitive viewers)
• Chi-Raq directed by Spike Lee (2015) (some sex and drugs, so not for more sensitive viewers)
• A United Kingdom directed by Amma Asante (2016)
• Loving directed by Jeff Nichols (2016)
• The Birth of a Nation directed by Nate Parker (2016)
• 13th directed by directed by Ava DuVernay (2016)

Books

Fiction
• The Sellout by Paul Beatty
• The Sympathizer by Viet Nguyen
• Drown by Junot Diaz
• The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
• Caucasia by Danzy Senna
• A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
• The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
• Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones
• The Known World by Edward P. Jones
• All Aunt Hagar’s Children by Edward P. Jones
• Serious Men by Manu Joseph
• For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange
• Reuben by John Edgar Wideman
• Middle Passage by Charles Johnson
• Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat
• The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
• The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 
• Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Non-fiction
• The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
• Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson
• Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum
• Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
• Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan A Stevenson
• Colour Bar by Susan Williams
• Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor
• The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn’t, and Why by Jabari Asim
• The Color of Water by James McBride
• Black, White & Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self by Rebecca Walker
• Darkwater: Voices From Within the Veil by W.E.B. Du Bois
• The Sweeter the Juice by Shirlee Taylor Haizlip
• Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward
• Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (essay and poetry)
 We Are Who We Say We Are: A Black Family's Search for Home Across the Atlantic World by Mary Frances Berry
 Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
• Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? What It Means to be Black Now by Touré
 Post Black: How a New Generation is Redefining African American Identity by Ytasha L. Womack
• Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson
Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving

Articles

• How 'Privilege' Became a ProvocationHow 'Privilege' Became a ProvocationHow 'Privilege' Became a Provocation by Parul Sehgal, The New York Times Magazine
• On the Death of Sandra Bland and Our Vulnerable Bodies• On the Death of Sandra Bland and Our Vulnerable Bodies• On the Death of Sandra Bland and Our Vulnerable Bodies by Roxane Gay, The New York Times
• Who Owns Black Pain? by Zadie Smith, Hapers Bazar

Interviews and websites

 Ta-Nehisi Coates at the 2015 Chicago Humanities Festival
• Shaka SenghorShaka SenghorShaka Senghor  
• Campaign ZeroCampaign ZeroCampaign Zero

 Podcast

The Longest Shortest Time episode #116: How to Not (Accidentally) Raise a RacistThe Longest Shortest Time episode #116: How to Not (Accidentally) Raise a RacistThe Longest Shortest Time episode #116: How to Not (Accidentally) Raise a Racist



 

  • Rabbi Andrea C. London

    Rabbi Andrea London is a nationally recognized Jewish leader who has served at Beth Emet since 2000 and was named the congregation’s Senior Rabbi in July 2010. Rabbi London is deeply engaged in all aspects of congregational...

  • Rabbi Amy L. Memis-Foler

    Rabbi Amy L. Memis-Foler, D.D. became a rabbi because of her love of Judaism and desire to teach others, share in their spiritual journey and make the world a better place than we found it.

    She joined Beth Emet in the Fall...

  • Cantor Rabbi Kyle Cotler

    Kyle comes from a long line of Jewish music – his great-grandfather was a Chazzan in Russia; his grandfather, Ted, served in Ventura; and his father, Doug, is currently the cantor at Or Ami in Calabasas. Kyle studied at the...

  • Rabbi Peter S. Knobel z"l

    Rabbi Knobel was rabbi emeritus at Beth Emet The Free Synagogue in Evanston, Illinois where he served since 1980, following 11 years at Temple Emanu-El in Groton, Connecticut.  He served as the Interim Senior Rabbi of Templ...

  • Bekki Harris Kaplan

    Bekki Harris Kaplan joined Beth Emet's professional team in July 2001 after working as the Associate Executive Director and Membership Director at Temple Sholom of Chicago. In addition to supervising the functioning of Beth...

  • Marci Dickman

    Marci Dickman joined Beth Emet in July, 2009 with more than 25 years of experience in Jewish education. Marci serves as the Director of Lifelong Learning, acting as the Principal of Beit Sefer and overseeing our Early Child...

  • Kathy Kaberon

    Kathy Kaberon is Beth Emet's Director of Young Family Programs. She has been an administrator in Beth Emet's Early Childhood Program for the past 10 years. Her affiliation with the program began in 1988, when she enrolled h...

  • Maia Volk

    Maia Volk joined Beth Emet in July 2018 as the Director of Youth Programs, overseeing the formal and informal education of Beth Emet youth.  Maia grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and spent her summers as a camper and staff at...

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