On many of our campuses across the country, the relationships between the Jewish and Black communities are an important focus of our outreach. Many of our interns see great potential for common ground whether it be through shared history, values, or a need to stand together for important causes.
This past November, as part of our first-ever Black-Jewish Summit, student leaders from campuses across the country participated in a performance known as the Black-Jewish Dialogues. Created by Emmy-Award winner Ron Jones and veteran performer Larry Jay Tish, the show highlights their personal experiences as Black and Jewish individuals, the history of their people, and why there has been a growing rift between the groups since the early 70's. As their website states, "the audience gains insight to the true nature of prejudice and how our inability to face our own biases separate us in ways that we may not even think about."
On February 12, David Project interns at Temple University brought the Black-Jewish Dialogues to campus as a way to strengthen relationships between the Jewish and Black communities. "The David Project was involved in coordinating the event as well as Hillel at Temple University, Meor, and several organizations from the Black community" said Jamie Halsman. Jamie is an intern for The David Project, and has seen deep relationships forming with individuals in the Black and Jewish communities. She believes that this performance is another opportunity to bring these groups closer together. "The focus of the event was to find a comfortable way to bring two different cultures together to show similarities. These similarities showed that Black and Jewish culture both have unique hardships, but both cultures are still standing and need to stand together around important issues."
One of the key elements of the performance actually took place at its conclusion, as the actors hosted a open discussion on the themes of show and instances of racism or prejudice that students may have experienced. "For me, this is such an important element of why we bring communities together on campus" said Michael Kagan, Mid-Atlantic Campus Coordinator. "The opportunity to find common ground and really learn from each other's shared experiences can go a long way in changing the campus climate." Students who stayed for this discussion gave powerful anecdotes about their experiences at Temple, and many felt that the goal of having this program was achieved. "The goal of this program was to show that different cultures and different skin color does not limit friendships or relationships" Jamie said. "We should be able to coexist and be able to be friends and support each other."