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Study and Discussion Series of Isabel Wilkerson’s Book “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent”

Past Sessions
Tuesday, March 30, 2021 17 Nisan 5781 - 7:30 PM - 8:45 PM - Zoom videoconference
Tuesday, March 16, 2021 3 Nisan 5781 - 7:30 PM - 8:45 PM - Zoom videoconference
Tuesday, March 2, 2021 18 Adar 5781 - 7:30 PM - 8:45 PM - Zoom videoconference

As a follow-up to the congregational Elul reading project exploring themes of white privilege and participation in white supremacy, this new study series will be led by guest academic faculty and Beth Am clergy. The New York Times referred to this book as “an extraordinary document” and “an instant American classic” with “unsettling comparisons between India’s treatment of its untouchables, or Dalits, Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews and America’s treatment of African-Americans,” calling it “one of the most powerful non-fiction books” ever encountered by the reviewer.
Under the social paradigm depicted by Ms. Wilkerson, we find ourselves as Jews in both the lowest victimized caste in Nazi Germany and for white Jews as ultimate beneficiaries to honorary whiteness in the dominant caste in America. The experience of historical subjugation of the Jewish people, a tradition founded on justice and repair of the world and recent assimilation of Jews into privilege, makes us uniquely positioned to explore the winners and losers of social disenfranchisement and calls upon us to explore our evolving commitments to social justice as individuals and as a community.
Retired San Jose State Professor Gloria Weddington, PhD, who grew up in the segregated South and experienced firsthand the daily subjugation of Jim Crow and the taunts and threats of violence as she marched for civil rights, will be our guest leader for the first session, providing a backdrop for our journey through the book. Sarah Tibbitts, Springboard Social Justice/Tzedek fellow for Hillel at Stanford, will be a lead facilitator as well as a guest presenter for the program.  The program is being organized by Tim Taich and Leslie King of the REJ Committee under the guidance of Rabbi Sarah Weissman.
Participants will meet for five sessions (alternating Tuesdays from 7:30–8:45 PM):

  • Tuesday, February 2 — Part One
  • Tuesday, February 16 — Parts Two & Three
  • Tuesday, March 2 — Parts Four & Five
  • Tuesday, March 16 — Part Six & Seven
  • Tuesday, March 30 — Final reflection and call to action

We will begin the sessions together with a guest presenter, then break into discussion groups, each led by an REJ facilitator. Space is limited to 125 participants who can commit to acquiring and reading the book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent*, and to attending the sessions on Zoom.

To register, please complete the form below. Zoom access information will be emailed shortly before the event.

*We enjoy a partnership with Kepler's Books, which will donate a portion of your purchase back to Beth Am each time you shop – as long as you enter Kepler's site through the Beth Am website. You may also generate a contribution to Beth Am when you shop at the Kepler's Books store in Menlo Park by mentioning us at the register.


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Tue, April 20 2021 8 Iyar 5781