Pilot Racial Justice Framework


The Jewish Social Justice Roundtable has created this pilot Racial Justice Framework to help guide and support our collective efforts around racial justice. This framework is a tool to help build the capacities of Jewish organizations to be more racially and ethnically diverse, inclusive, equitable and just.

Here are the principles that guide the Racial Justice Framework:

  1. Building on our strengths - From strength to strength

Our organizations are staffed with smart, capable and committed leaders. Our organizations also have many accomplishments under our belts. We have everything we need to do the work of racial justice. We just need more practice to build our confidence. Advancing racial diversity, equity and inclusion is an adaptive challenge we are equipped to take on with patience and increasing self-assuredness as we go.

  1. We counter isolation - Brit (partnership)

Collective challenges require collective solutions. Impactful racial justice work can be challenging. It’s much less challenging when we reach out and ask for help, and are mindful of who we are asking. This work isn’t meant to be done alone. We need each other.

  1. Joy and fun! - Simcha (joy)

As Viktor Frankl beautifully articulated in Man’s Search for Meaning, we always have the power to choose how we orient ourselves to any situation with which we are faced. Given the heavy and challenging nature of racism, it’s not only helpful, but productive to intentionally incorporate joy and fun into our work so that it is sustainable and keeps our vision focused on a brighter future.

  1. Both/and framework - Elu v’elu

We live in a complex, multi-dimensional world that requires adaptive leadership. A key element of adaptive leadership is understanding that multiple priorities and seemingly conflicting truths can exist simultaneously. We need smart, adaptive solutions to navigate and properly address them. For example, Jews, like some other groups, can be targets of oppression and play the role of oppressor, depending on the context.

  1. We all belong and are valuable leaders in this work - Hishtarshut (rooted/grounded)

We all have a stake and rightful place in these important conversations. And we each have different work to do based upon our position (e.g. social status, identity).

  1. Acknowledging and honoring our mistakes and pain points - Shevirah (brokenness)

Racial equity work is often non-linear, relational, messy, and involves making mistakes and then learning from them. Do not fear making mistakes, but rather consider them as necessary milestones, part of the process of striving toward justice and equity.

  1. Compassionate accountability, instead of shaming and blaming - Chesed v’zehirut (lovingkindness and watchfulness)

We understand that antisemitism and intergenerational trauma has made it harder at times for Jews to be included in or effectively navigate these conversations. That is never discounted nor forgotten. At the same time, that cannot be used as an excuse to ignore that racism still needs to be eradicated or the racism that our community is complicit in perpetuating.

  1. An Imperative to Correct Wrongdoing - Teshuva v’tikkun (taking responsibility for our impact and healing)

It is very important to note that in this work, we understand that people are fundamentally good. That said, behaviors, biases, policies, and practices can be bad or problematic and require correction and tikkun (healing). This is another example of the both/and, Elu v’elu, principle.

  1. Remain engaged and curious - Na’aseh v’Nishman (“we will do and we will understand” - learn by doing)

When the path isn’t clear, that can be a sign that you’re growing. When something feels hard or impossible, it can be tempting to “check out” or quit. Get curious instead. Ask questions. Stay engaged. The feeling of discomfort is temporary and will dissipate as you learn more and strengthen your skills.