Congregation M’kor Hayim is a 90-member synagogue located in Tucson, Arizona. One week after the killing of George Floyd, M’kor Hayim member Jane Levin proposed a Racial Justice Task Force to Rabbi Helen Cohn. This proposal was met with enthusiasm by both the Rabbi and the M’kor Hayim President Carol Weinstein. The whole congregation was invited to a brainstorming meeting and a Steering Committee was formed. The following goals were created: to educate, to advocate and to take action for racial justice.
Since July 2020, the Steering Committee has created a monthly program presented via Zoom with each program preceded by a curated set of relevant resources. Since its inception, the Task Force has focused on the Black experience including subjects such as reparations, the Harlem Renaissance, the history of Black Tucson, the history and mission of the Black female sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, book discussions about Caste and Cane, and a Virtual Civil Rights Tour.
A Google group was created to share information and resources. This group currently has 50 members and over 250 posts. Last fall, committee member, Marlyne Freedman, connected on Zoom with a program on racial justice featuring Dr. Camilla Westenberg. Dr. Westenberg is the 2nd Vice President of the Maricopa County Chapter of the non-partisan National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). With the leadership of Steering Committee member Marcia Zaccaria and Dr. Westenberg, Task Force members made hundreds of calls to get out the vote for the National election. Callers provided information about the voting process and offered encouragement to vote. This effort continued after the November election by making calls to get out the vote in the Georgia Senatorial run-off election in January 2021.
As a result of this effort, M’kor Hayim’s Racial Justice Task Force is honored to receive the 2021 Maricopa County Branch NAACP Freedom Fund Community Award for Civic Engagement.