National | Religion & Jewish Life

Reform movement gets $600,000 grant to support racial justice and improve diversity

(JTA) — The Reform movement has received a $600,000 multi-year grant to support racial equity, inclusion and diversity work.

The Union for Reform Judaism said Wednesday that it had received funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to fight racism and back inclusion across its institutions. Reform is the largest Jewish denomination in the United States.

The movement will work to recruit a more diverse staff and board with a focus on racial justice, a statement said, while also addressing discrimination against LGBTQ, disabled and lower-income people as well as other marginalized groups.

“Racism does exist in our Jewish community, racism isn’t only ‘out there somewhere,’” URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs said. “We must learn about and take actions to become antiracist, as individuals and as an organization, and to centralize Black and Brown voices. Black Lives Matter is a Jewish value, yet white people cannot join the effort to end systemic racism against Black people if we haven’t done the work of checking our own.”

The project will build on the work of April Baskin, who served as vice president of audacious hospitality for the organization, the statement said. Baskin, who left the role last year, became the first Jew of color in a leadership role at the URJ, and perhaps the most visible Black Jew in the organized American Jewish world, when she took the post in 2015.

Jews of color have been organizing for decades around issues of race in the community, but it is only in recent years — and in many cases in recent months, as racial justice protests swept the country in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing — that Jewish institutions have started paying increasing attention to the topic.