Rabbi Sandra Lawson

The BAS Tikkun Olam/Social Action Chevra, under the guidance of Chair Joy Brownstein, invited Rabbi Sandra Lawson to speak with us, via zoom, on Sunday morning, March 21, 2021, about Jews of Color. Rabbi Bronstein introduced his friend, Rabbi Lawson who, being a queer Jewish person of color, knows firsthand what it feels like to be a member of marginalized communities. She began with a blessing of gratitude and then spoke about pain, comparing COVID to racism, in that it has been inserted into all parts of society. She then sang a blessing, the words of which can be found among the images below. Her words and insights were frequently profound. “Uncomfortableness is good, but dismissiveness is not.” She has never been in a Jewish space where her Jewish identity has not been questioned! “You are either a racist or an anti-racist.” “We must acknowledge that racism exists in our Jewish communities and work to dismantle racism within…” She advised that the only way to make a community racially equitable is to be in relationships and conversations with people of color. She urged us to look at our art and our website and ask if they reflect people of color as well as queer people. Her message was one of inclusiveness. Rabbi Lawson suggested that music modernization and diversification, such as adding drumming, can open doors to people of color. Congregants actively participated in asking a variety of questions and telling their own stories. Rabbi Lawson generously entertained those well past the original hour for which she had been engaged.