Social Justice

On April 22 at 7:30 p.m., we’ll discuss the PBS documentary “The Chinese Exclusion Act.”


And on May 22, we will discuss The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein. He argues with exacting precision and fascinating insight how segregation in America—the incessant kind that continues to dog our major cities and has contributed to so much recent social strife—is the byproduct of explicit government policies at the local, state, and federal levels.

The Color of Law

The Social Justice Committee participated in the HIAS Refugee Shabbat in our online services March 5.

Following are a few definitions to help differentiate between various statuses of displaced persons:

Refugee: A refugee is a person who has been forced to flee their home country due to persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group (e.g., members of the LGBTQ community). The persecution a refugee experiences may include harassment, threats, abduction or torture. A refugee is often afforded some sort of legal protection, either by their host country’s government, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or both. In the United States, refugees are hand-selected by the U.S. government and are screened in advance. They are subject to background checks and security screenings by multiple U.S. agencies. Only after everything is approved are they brought to the U.S. to reside permanently.[1]

Asylum seeker: An asylum seeker is a person who has fled persecution in their home country and is seeking safe haven in a different country, but has not yet received any legal recognition or status. In several countries, including the U.S., asylum seekers are sometimes detained while waiting for their case to be heard.

Internally displaced person: An internally displaced person, or IDP, is a person who fled their home but has not crossed an international border to find sanctuary. Even if they fled for reasons similar to those driving refugees (armed conflict, generalized violence, human rights violations), IDPs legally remain under the protection of their own government – even though that government might be the cause of their flight.

Migrant: A migrant is a person who chooses to move from their home for any variety of reasons, but not necessarily because of a direct threat of persecution or death. Migrant is an umbrella category that can include refugees but can also include people moving to improve their lives by finding work or education, those seeking family reunion and others.


Meditation before Accompanying a Friend Facing an ICE Deportation Hearing

By Sherry Fyman

Yedid Nefesh. Soul Mate!

You rescued Joseph from a pit of snakes;
You saved Daniel when he was almost devoured by lions;
You redeemed the Children of Israel from slavery and despair;

Be with me today and redeem [name] from the cold, brutal nightmare that envelopes him/her.
Deliver them that are drawn unto death; and those that are ready to be slain will you forbear to rescue?
   (Proverbs 24:11)

Av Harachaman, Source of Compassion!
Keep me strong and resolute to do good;
Keep me sensitive to hear another’s silent cry; “ Hannah was praying in her heart, silently. Her lips moved, but no sound was heard.” (I Sam. 1:10)
Keep me alert so that I will always hear your timeless charge: If there be among you a needy man, one of your brothers, within any of your gates, in thy land which G!d gives you, you shalt not harden your heart. (Deut. 15:7)

We will sanctify Your name in the world, as it is sanctified above.

Check out these resources on the global refugee crisis.
Check out the new signs in front of THZ, courtesy of our committee:

The goal of the Temple Har Zion Social Justice Committee is to work toward fulfilling the words Tzedek, tzedek tirdof, “Justice, justice you shall pursue.” (Deuteronomy 16:20)

We will do this by raising awareness of social and racial inequity in our community and nation through self-education, sharing of information with others and direct action, starting within our own community. In addition, we will increase awareness of and education regarding Jews of color, who make up 20% of the U.S. Jewish population, but may have limited visual presence in our own community. We also will work to ensure the acceptance and protect the rights of any marginalized groups, including LGBTQ and disabled individuals.

Want to get involved? Contact us via email.

Our meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. the second Monday of each month. Our next meeting is Feb. 8. Registration details to come.

Please participate in our Virtual Oneg. Since we can’t be together in person to share a meal, we ask that you donate the cost of sponsoring an oneg to help provide meals for those impacted by the pandemic. Here’s how you can make a difference.

Please scroll down for resources, including inspirational readings and prayers.

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action Forms Moral Minyan in South Jersey
Group Plans First Virtual Event to Mobilize Volunteers

A group of committed volunteers is building a progressive Jewish presence in South Jersey. For details, visit the group’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and sign up for action updates.

Additional Resources

The THZ Social Justice Committee has curated a comprehensive list of resources designed to facilitate growth for white individuals to become allies, and eventually accomplices for anti-racist work.

Following are readings and prayers for inspiration…

Darcy Grabenstein, a member of the THZ Social Justice Committee, wrote this poem/prayer:
Kaddish for Our Country



(adapted from “A Prayer” in Naomi Levy’s To Begin Again)

When we are lost, help us find our way.

When we are hurt, wrap us in a loving embrace.

When we cry out, accept our protest as prayer,

As a call to rid this world of pain and suffering.

Today, give us the courage to plant seeds of change.

And help us to know life again, even in the face of death. Amen.


A Protest Prayer

By April N. Baskin


Beloved siblings striving for justice,
Listen. Closely. At all times.
My prayer for you
is that you remember protest
is a sacred act.
Just as the Mourner’s Kaddish
helps souls ascend to God,
May our cries soothe those
whose lives were prematurely extinguished.
And rattle the bones and stones
of leaders and institutions.
Leaving no question about the fact
that things are never going back, only forward.
For more of us are clear
that “We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
We affirm we are a multiracial people,
and we will stand strong, humble, and proud
as we follow and work in partnership
with black leaders, taking steady strides
in the direction of collective liberation.

Alternative Amidah for Peace, Justice and Immigration

God of our ancestors. God of immigrants. God of refugees. We are border crossers.
We tie our fate with You who cannot be contained by customs offices. You who requires no passport

You are the power that nurtures, You support the fallen, You free the captive, You give faith to those who sleep in the dust.

We call out to each other, We turn in every direction, Your holy image is the face of every human

Help us to act with understanding

Return us again and again to your service

Forgive us for retreating to our own comfort, Forgive us for not taking responsibility, Forgive us for letting little fears Stop us from helping with compassion.

Release us from captivity, Release us from persecution, Release us from misfortune, Help us to heal when rational arguments are insufficient.

Heal the suffering that causes people to flee their homes.

Birkat Ha-shanim 
All Bountiful one let every person live with abundance.

Kibutz Galuyot
Blast the great shofar for freedom
Gather in all those in exile!

Restore justice with love and compassion.

Birkat Haminim
Let all wickedness be lost.

Protect all the righteous people fleeing war and fleeing poverty.
Be with those seeking safety
and seeking security.

Build everlasting peace in Jerusalem.

Plant your help in every land.

Kabbalat Tefillah
Hear our voice! Hear the voice of refugees. Hear the voice of immigrants. Help us hear your voice.

Take pleasure YHVH in our work.
Lovingly accept our prayer.

Modim anakhnu lach
We give thanks to you

Birkat Shalom
Sing Oseh Shalom


A reading before reciting Kiddush:

So much depends upon us and our intention. All of those intentions fill the Kiddush cup to overflowing — 
they are the moments of brokenness that we bring from the week that has passed. They are gathered into the cup of blessing, and they are lifted up in the moment of Kiddush.


Blessing for a Just Society

By Rabbi Alex Weissman

Barukh sh’amar v’hayah ha’olam.
Blessed is the One who spoke and the world came into being.
Blessed are the words of creation.
Blessed is the creation of a loving and just society.
Blessed is the society that honors human dignity.
Blessed are those who know the call of justice.
And let us say: Amen.

A Prayer for Reparation and Restoration

By Rabbi Brant Rosen

To the One who demands justice:

Inspire us to become rodfei tzedek,
pursuers of justice,
in our lives and in our communities.

Give us the strength to resist power
wielded with fear and dread;
fill us with the vision and purpose
to build a power yet greater,
a power rooted in solidarity,
liberation and love.

Grant us the courage to dismantle
systems of oppression –
and when they are no more,
let us dedicate our wealth and resources
toward the well-being of all.

May we abolish all forms of state violence
that we we might make way for a world
free of racism and militarization,
a world where no one profits
off the misery of others,
a world where the bills owed those who have been
colonized, enslaved and dispossessed
are finally paid in full.

Inspire us with the knowledge
that real justice is indeed at hand,
that we may realize
the world we know is possible,
right here, right now, in our own day.

May our thoughts and our hopes,
our words and our deeds
guide us toward a future of reparation,
of restoration, of justice,
al kol yoshvei teivel, for all who dwell on earth, amen.


For the Raising of Kinder Hands

By Devon Spier

To bless of those of us who travel with visible differences in the world. A new priestly blessing toward societal disarming and the end of white supremacy.

May G!d bless and keep you just as you have been made and as you have chosen now in and through your body to be.

May you draw nearer to G!d every time you meet your own face in the mirror or along the glass of a store.

Or if you slip, fall or are pushed to the sidewalk. May G!d raise you there even in time of sharp, life-shattering descent.

And may you know your heart, body and soul to be whole even as you find yourself in and amidst the societal holes of racism, queerphobia and violence of every form.

And may those in your path fulfill the unconditional promise of true kindness; to honor how you say you want to be treated, to disrupt and disarm the systems and shackles of white supremacy.

To work for change for your name’s sake.

And may all who meet you turn to your face with the knowing that you bear the likeness of G!d.

That you are deserving of the justice and peace of a fulsome and unafraid humanity.

That the world and G!d’s universe shine greater for you being as you are in the world.

And may you be protected from every spoken and unspoken, institutional and interpersonal, tangible and intangible harm you face.

And may G!d bless your spirit full. Amen.

Black and Jewish

May we all put aside our differences

and work together

in love and peace

to make a difference in the world.

May we never forget

the slavery and persecution

of our people.

We share a common story

and a powerful legacy

of strength and perseverance.

Regardless of our differences

and similarities

may we continue to

collaboratively and positively

impact change.

We can ALL make

the world a better place in

Peace              Joy                   and                  Love.

Shabbat Shalom