Archive for : Turn the Tables

A Racial Justice Shabbat Dinner with Michael Twitty

Shabbat dinner naturally has a lot going for it. The food (challah! matzo ball soup!), the singing, the camaraderie, the chance to truly rest and enjoy friends and family after a long week – it’s hard to improve upon. But one recent Shabbat dinner held in Atlanta, Georgia last week stands out from the pack.

On November 11, Repair the World hosted a #TurntheTables Shabbat dinner as part of our time at Facing Race: A National Conference – a multiracial, intergenerational gathering focused on racial and social justice. We had spent time at the conference engaging with and learning from community organizers, educators, interfaith clergy members, and other leaders of the racial and social justice movements, and it was time to rest and recharge.

Michael Twitty As night fell and the Shabbat candles were lit, more than 100 people joined together around the table (or rather, many tables!) for dinner, discussion, and a conversation with culinary historian and writer, Michael Twitty.

Twitty focuses much of his scholarship on the history and culture behind African and African-diaspora cuisines, as well as on the idea of “identity cooking” – his theory about the way people construct and express their complex identities through food. As a Black Jewish man, Twitty often writes about his own experiences melding the, as he writes on his website, “histories, tastes, flavors, and Diasporic wisdom of being Black and Jewish.”

With the results of the national Presidential election just 3 days old, he spoke about the commonalities and distinctions between the Jewish and Black experience as minorities in America, and the critical importance of loving and protecting one another as full and complex human beings.

During dinner, guests were also prompted to discuss questions around the table like, “Where are you coming from in your racial justice journey?” which gave them a chance to get to know one another on a deeper level. The dinner closed with an alternative take of the Birkat Hamazon – or the grace/thanks traditionally said after meals in the Jewish tradition. The words of the blessing said it all:

“Giving and receiving we open up our hands / from seedtime to harvest we’re partners with the land.
We all share a vision of wholeness and release / Where every child is nourished and we all live in peace.”

For more information about Repair the World’s #TurntheTables Shabbat dinner, check out the article in the Atlanta Jewish Times, read through the dinner guide Repair the World created, and listen to Twitty’s speech in full.

Repair the World Launches “Act Now for Racial Justice” Campaign

Offering opportunities to stand against racial injustice through service, Repair the World today launched Act Now for Racial Justice, a campaign that coincides with the Jewish High Holidays and that will continue through MLK Day and Passover in 2017. The campaign includes resources for young adults to learn how racism permeates economic, social, and criminal justice systems; to host meals and discussions with peers exploring how our food systems perpetuate racial injustice; and to take action and serve with communities to move closer to racial justice.

“Like in the Black community, young adults are leading our Jewish community in creating change; and, by standing in solidarity, they are making a meaningful difference, sending an important signal, and building deep relationships across racial lines,” said David Eisner, CEO of Repair that World. “Our Jewish values compel us to stand for racial justice and to right the wrongs we see nearly daily; this feels especially urgent right now, as we look to understand where we’ve fallen short over the past year, and to mark the New Year by resolving to do better. Act Now for Racial Justice offers our community tools to take action through service in a Jewish context, and to address important inequities in our communities.”

The meals hosted during the campaign will be part of Repair the World’s Turn The Tables initiative, and will include educational materials, including discussion guides. A portion of the meals are supported by OneTable.

Learn more at werepair.org/high-holidays, including information on service opportunities around the country to counteract racial injustices in food and educational equity. Follow #ActNowForRacialJustice on Twitter for stories and interviews with Jews of color and others standing against racial injustice Act Now for Racial Justice will continue to offer service and reflection opportunities year-round, including on MLK Day and Passover 2017.

To stand as allies with victims of racial injustice, Repair will send a Jewish delegation to Facing Race, November 10-12 in Atlanta, GA. Facing Race is a collaborative endeavor to grow the racial justice movement and the largest multiracial, intergenerational gathering for organizers, educators, creatives and other leaders.

“Meaningful service in solidarity with communities of color is a powerful way to take a stand against racial injustice,” Eisner adds. “We are all part of America’s racial justice journey and young adults often look for activeroles they can play to positively impact this journey. Frankly, each of us already play a role in the racial justice journey of our community and our country.  The question we each need to ask is whether we are satisfied today with what that role has been.”

Turn the Tables: A Refugee-Focused Seder in Kansas City

This interview is being shared as part of #SupportforRefugees, Repair the World’s campaign focusing on the global refugee crisis. All across the country this Passover, people found ways to share refugees’ stories during their seders and to talk about the issues they face. Using resources and materials from Repair the World’s Turn the Tables project, they were able to add additional meaning and spark important conversations at their tables. Here, Kansas City resident, Malinda Kimmel, talks about her experience hosting a Turn the Tables seder for friends and family from a wide range of political backgrounds.

What inspired you to host a refugee-focused Passover seder?
For me and my family, this seder made sense. Refugee issues are something we are passionate about, and Pesach is a story of leaving one country for another to come to freedom and safety. Also, three of our seder participants work at JVS Kansas City, an organization that works to resettle new refugees into our community. The seder allowed us to share with others the importance of refugee resettlement in our community.

How did you weave refugee issues into the seder?
We began our seder with the Turn the Tables guided discussion. We made sure all guests understood our seder was to be a safe space for open discussion and respectful conversation. Our guests really jumped in and opened up, allowing us to talk about the connection between Jews in Egypt and others now who flee their countries for freedom and safety.
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Turn the Tables: A Refugee-Focused Passover Seder for 54 in Portland

This interview is being shared as part of #SupportforRefugees, Repair the World’s campaign focusing on the global refugee crisis. All across the country this Passover, people found ways to share refugees’ stories during their seders and to talk about the issues they face. Using resources from Repair the World’s Turn the Tables project, and nourishment support from OneTable, they were able to add additional meaning and spark important conversations at their tables. Here, Portland, Oregon resident Debbie Frank talks about her experience hosting a Turn the Table seder for more than 50 people in conjunction with the Meetup group PDX MOTs!

1. What inspired you to host a refugee-focused seder and dinner?
Over the years, the Passover seder has become my favorite Jewish holiday experience. My family in Alabama always uses the same traditional Haggadah, which I still very much cherish. But, it wasn’t until I moved to Portland a few years ago that I experienced my first Seder at a friend’s house with a Haggadah that was completely custom for the kids. Since this year was my first time to tackle putting on a seder myself (for 54 adults no less), I wanted to honor tradition while melding in something unexpected.
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How Did You Turn the Tables on MLK Day?

Pardon us while we kvell for a minute here, but MLK Day weekend was completely awesome. All over the country, people spent the day showing up and pitching in – volunteering in their communities to celebrate the legacy and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Repair the World was no exception. Our Turn the Tables campaign inspired more than 120 hosts and 1,000 guests to sit down for a Shabbat dinner to discuss racial injustices and civil rights. Meanwhile, it gave 700 volunteers an opportunity to plug into meaningful service projects across our five partner communities (Detroit, New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh) and beyond.

Added up, that’s a lot of great minds and even more capable hands, coming together to stand up for justice and strong communities. As participant Rebecca Haskell in Oakland, California commented, “Turn the Tables provided time and space for people to broach a subject that we otherwise wouldn’t and talk about our thoughts, questions, and concerns.” We can’t think of a better way to honor Dr. King’s life and work.

If you joined in one of Repair the World’s Turn the Tables events (or if you did something else amazing to celebrate MLK Day), we want to hear from you! Leave us a comment below, or tweet us @repairtheworld.