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Racial Justice Committee

Congregation B'nai Israel participants in the MLK March on January 16, 2023.

Created in fall 2015, CBI’s Focus on Racial Justice is intended to strengthen our Congregation’s commitment to the Jewish value of equal justice. We are currently seeking additional CBI member participation as we expand our racial justice advocacy.   

Join us at our next meeting. For more information, or to be added to our mailing list, please contact


Our Mission:

  • Increase self-awareness of our own implicit biases and privilege
  • Build awareness in our congregation about our own diversity and celebrate it
  • Create and ensure a safe environment for all people involved with CBI
  • Educate our congregation about the Jewish values of tikkun olam and racial justice
  • Increase awareness of issues of racial injustice, bias, privilege and systemic racism
  • Develop ways for congregants to become involved in efforts to further racial justice in our congregation, the Reform Jewish movement and the larger community

Our Vision: CBI will...

  • Be inclusive of people of all backgrounds and races and celebrate diversity
  • Further awareness of systemic oppression faced by people of color and privileges of those perceived as white
  • Through social and political action efforts, be an active ally in working with the Reform Jewish movement and local community groups involved in racial justice efforts

Join Us:

Join us at our next meeting. For more information, or to be added to our mailing list, please contact


  • CBI Participation in Annual MLK Jr. March for the Dream (January 15)

  • Voter engagement about local elected offices in advance of March 5 primary (January – February)

  • Racial Justice Shabbat (February 16)

    • D'rash (Sermon): Toward Repair (Tikkun)
      Read our d'rash or watch the video – click here to go directly to this part of the service. We explore the connection between the week's Torah portion and California reparations for slavery.
    • Handout with songs, prayers, and resources
    • The California Reparations Report
      A CBI study group read the full report of the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans over several months this past summer and fall. The history chapters added substantially to our understanding of the various forms of subjugation that emerged to replace enslavement, including here in California. We found many of the Task Force’s recommendations to be reasonable state policy changes designed to stop ongoing harm and begin the process of repair. 
    • California Legislative Black Caucus – 2024 Reparations Legislative Package 
      The Caucus recently announced a package of 14 priority bills to be considered in the 2024 legislative session. This is a first step in a multi-year effort to implement recommendations from the report. The bills address access to education, civil rights protections and apologies for rights violations, criminal justice reform, health equity, and business opportunities. 
  • Was Our Country Built on a Stolen Beam? (April 6) 
    A conversation about reparations with Rabbi Mona Alfi, Brian Landsberg, and Judy Heiman at Stars & S’mores, CBI’s congregational retreat. See the slides:

  • Authentic Voices Reader’s Theater Performance (April 14)
    Presented in partnership with Women of B’nai Israel; CBI Brotherhood, Membership, Pride, and Lifelong Learning Committees; NCJW Sacramento; and Jewish Community Relations Council of the Sacramento Region.

  • The Jewish Case — and California Case — for Reparations (May 12)
    Featuring Chris Lodgson, Lead Organizer of the Coalition for a Just and Equitable California and Yolanda Savage-Narva, Vice President of the Union for Reform Judaism, with an introduction by Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

    • Brief overviews of key chapters of the California Reparations Report:
    • Slide presentation on international reparations frameworks and examples
    • View the recording of this program 


  • CBI Participation in Annual MLK Jr. March for the Dream (January 16)

  • Working Through Uncomfortable Moments About Race (February 5)
    Interactive workshop for adults on working through uncomfortable moments in conversations with family, friends, and colleagues. Brought back by popular demand!

  • Book discussion: Defund Fear: Safety Without Policing, Prisons, and Punishment by Zach Norris (February 12)
    Community leader and lawyer Zach Norris lays out a new vision of a care-based strategy for public safety that overturns more than 200 years of fear-based discrimination, othering, and punishment. This book is a blueprint of how to hold people accountable while still holding them in community. Please click here to learn more and view a recording of the program.

  • Systemic Racism Series: Our Public Schools (March – May)
    In our first series on systemic racism, we explored The Lasting Legacy of Housing Injustice in Sacramento. Our second series looked at The Impact of Racial Injustice on Health and Health Care in Sacramento. In this third series, we investigated Institutional Racism in Our Public Schools. Recordings of all sessions are linked on this page.

    Click here for helpful background for the series, including learning objectives, definitions, and key concepts we reference.

    • Part 1: Patterns and Impacts of Segregation (March 26)
      Presentation and discussion with guest experts Darryl White Sr. and Carl Pinkston of Sacramento’s Black Parallel School Board. 

    • Part 2: Trauma, Discipline, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline (April 30)
      Presentation and Q&A with Channa Cook, PhD, of the Sacramento Office of Education.

    • Part 3: Local Responses Addressing Racist Disparities (May 7)
      Panel discussion with guest experts Valerie Williams-Crawford of Parents Advocating for School Success (PASS), Patrice Hill of Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (SAYS), Omar Field-Ridley of San Juan Unified School District, Darryl White Sr. of Black Parallel School Board, and Bina Lefkovitz of Sacramento County Board of Education, moderated by Lynn Berkley-Baskin. Please see panelists’ biosketches.



Engaging in Conversations About Race (various dates in March and April)

  • Sixth Grade Chug: 3-session interactive workshop as part of Religious School.
  • Schmooze School: Interactive workshop for adults on working through uncomfortable moments in conversations with family, friends, and colleagues.

Civil Rights Then and Now: CBI Civil Rights Tour of the South (May 25–30)

Thirty-eight congregants joined Rabbi Alfi to visit historical and cultural sites in Atlanta, Montgomery, Selma, Birmingham and Memphis. We developed a shared understanding of the historical background behind today’s civil rights issues and connected what we learned to our Jewish heritage and values. 

Click HERE for information about CBI's Spring 2022 Civil Rights Tour.

Antiracism Education Here and There [U.S. and Israel] (June 21)

A conversation with Adar Cohen of Hebrew University, Bina Lefkovitz of the Sacramento County Board of Education, Lisa Brodkey formerly of UC Davis, and Lynn Berkley-Baskin of Sacramento Faces Race. Discussed definition of race and racism in each country and some approaches to teaching about racism, bias, and equity in different settings. 

Shabbat Service Featuring Civil Rights Tour Alumni (October 14)

 CBI Civil Rights Tour of the South: Civil Rights Then and Now

Congregants who participated in CBI’s May 2022 Civil Rights Tour of the South planned a special service to share stories and reflections from this profoundly moving experience. Attendees learned about our trip and raised our voices together in prayers and songs inspired by our journey. Click here to view/print the service handout.




The Fire Next Time … and This Time (April 4) 

We continue CBI’s discussion of race in America. At this event, we talk about three essays that can help us better understand the experiences of African Americans: 

The Lasting Legacy of Housing Injustice in Sacramento

  • Part 1: Understanding Historic Housing Injustice in Sacramento (April 25)
    Brian Landsberg interviews UC Davis urban ethnologist Bruce D. Haynes, PhD about the historic roots and ongoing impact of racial segregation.


Note: About 8 minutes into this recorded presentation, we ask you to pause the program on your computer and watch a 6-minute online video clip that is a key part of our discussion. The video clip, titled The Disturbing History of the Suburbs, is part of the Adam Ruins Everything series by College Humor on TruTV. You can find the clip HERE (or click on the link provided directly within the YouTube video). After viewing the video clip, please come back to this web page to watch the rest of our program.  Apologies for the inconvenience. Copyright rules prevent us from including the clip in our recorded program.

  • Part 2: What Can We Do to Address Housing Inequities in Sacramento? (May 2)
    Sherry Okun-Rudnak interviews Sacramento Housing Alliance Executive Director Kendra Lewis about Sacramento’s new long range plan to allow small multi-unit buildings in neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes.

The Impact of Racial Injustice on Health and Health Care in Sacramento

  • Part 1: Institutional Racism in Health Care, and COVID-19 Disparities in Sacramento (May 23)
    Steve Orkand, longtime CBI member, physician, and former chair of the Sacramento Public Health Advisory Board provides historical background and a health care provider’s perspective.  Pastor Joy Johnson, PhD of Dr. Joy Johnson Ministries, immediate past president of Sacramento Area Congregations Together, and coordinator of pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics in high risk Sacramento neighborhoods, provides a local view of the lasting health impacts of racism.


CBI thanks Vox Media, Black History in Two Minutes, and Democracy Now for permission to use portions of their work in this program. Below are direct links to the content included in the recording.

Tue, July 23 2024 17 Tammuz 5784