Semester 1: Wednesday evenings, Oct 13 - Nov 17 (online)
Semester 2: Wednesday evenings, Feb 2 - Mar 9
Semester 3: Wednesday evenings, May 4 - Jun 8
Dear Lishma Community Members,
We wanted to share with you what we, the Lishma organizing team, have been talking about as we navigate this current moment of uprising against anti-black racism and white supremacy. We recognize that we each have a responsibility to work toward a world without racism, and we as the organizers of Lishma have a particular responsibility to address racism within our own Jewish community.
Our conversations have been multi-faceted, thinking about what we as Lishma can uniquely offer to meet this moment, and also reflecting on the ways that we as a community and as an organizing team can do better. To demonstrate our commitment to these issues we have signed on to the open letter from “No Silence on Race”. We encourage you to read, reflect and sign on as well. (https://www.nosilenceonrace.ca/letter)
Our name, Lishma, comes from the phrase "Torah Lishma", which is the concept of learning for its own sake. We define “Torah” broadly, understanding that there are many valuable and sacred sources from which to learn. In meeting this moment, however, we believe that the learning must lead to action. Our goal is to learn and reflect as a basis for meaningful, tangible action and we hope you will join us.
We have outlined short, medium and long term action steps related to the 9 pillars put forward by No Silence on Race:
(1) Allyship, (2) Education, (3) Indigenous education and relationship building, (4) Equity consultancy, (5) Employment and recruitment, (6) Equity, inclusion, anti-racism advisory, (7) Jews of colour leadership strategy, (8) Programming/events/partnerships and (9) Amplify the voices of Jews of colour in Canada.
- We are holding a mini-mester in August 2020, Learning and Unlearning: Exploring the experience of Jewish people of Colour and Systemic Inequality in Canada, with Sara Yacobi-Harris. (Pillar 2, Pillar 8)
- We will develop a framework that will allow us to implement our medium and long term goals based on the 9 pillars outlined by No Silence On Race. We will do this in conversation with an equity consultant who will be compensated for their time and expertise. (Pillar 4)
- We plan to conduct a survey that will enable us to get to know our community better. The survey results will inform future planning, ensuring that all Lishma programming and community spaces are actively inclusive and anti-racist. Our goal is to better reach everyone in our age cohort who is interested in Jewish learning in Toronto. (Pillar 1)
- Our 2020-2021 programming slate will elevate voices of Jews of Colour and will provide course offerings to enable ongoing learning and reflection on issues of racism, white supremacy, and anti-racism. (Pillar 9)
- We commit that all educators and consultants will be compensated for their work with us. (Pillar 5)
- We recognize that programming can only be as good and representative as the perspectives brought by those designing it. We recognize that our current project leadership is not reflective of the full spectrum of diverse identities within our community and that we are limited by our lack of diversity. We commit to work to ensure an inclusive, representative, anti-racist approach to all aspects of Lishma including course offerings, educators, and leadership. In conversation with our equity consultant we would like to come up with a plan to diversify our leadership. (Pillar 7)
- We will further incorporate Indigenous education and relationship building into our offerings. (Pillar 3)
- Setting up an equity, inclusion, anti-racism advisory. (Pillar 6)
We are setting these short, medium, and long term goals with the understanding that structural and cultural change takes time. It also takes effort and accountability. By sharing these goals with you, we are making a commitment and deepening our accountability. Thank you for your support and for being an integral part of this process of change.
The Lishma Team