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Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness5 days ago
Interesting to think about the ramifications of this.
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness4 weeks ago
Please watch the VUU as two UUJA past Presidents talk about UU Jewish Identity.
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
UU Jewish Identity with Leah Hart Lansberg and Marti Keller - The VUU #219
Join our hosts as they chat with Leah Hart Lansberg and Marti Keller about UU Jewish identity. The VUU streams live on Thursdays at 11 am ET. We talk social ...
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness shared Auschwitz Memorial / Muzeum Auschwitz's post.1 month ago
“19 April 1943 | Groups of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto began the uprising against Germans which lasted 27 days. Today we remember the heroism and sacrifice of those who chose to resist against impossible odd to die in dignity & save the human spirit.”
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness1 month ago
a Torah teaching by the Rev. Paul Oakley from the UUA General Assembly 2017 has been posted to the resource page on
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness2 months ago
Text of my sermon this past Sunday based on the book - "The Sunflower - On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness""The question is, knowing what we know, having suffered, how are we going to live in the world. Are we going to seek vengeance, or will we find compassion for others who suffer, Are we going to hold a grudge or are we going to seek restoration with the world." - Rev. Jay Wolin

The UUJA Board endorses and joins in this letter.

We stand in solidarity with Jews everywhere in opposing and resisting anti-Semitism in any guise.

Dear fellow Unitarian Universalists,

We Jewish-identified UU clergy are feeling the sting of the overt anti-Semitism expressed by white supremacists in Charlottesville: the swastikas, pictures of Hitler, and people proud to call themselves neo-Nazis; the chants (“Jews will not replace us”); the posters (“the Goyim know;” “the Jewish media is going down;” “Jews are Satan’s children”); the slurs (“kikes”) and more.

Some of us have been called these names. Some have experienced overt anti-Semitism. Some lost family members in the Holocaust and pogroms. The words and images from the “Unite The Right” rally chill us to the bone.

It is clear that Jews are one of many targets of these rising waves of hatred. This is not surprising: “Jewishness” as “other” has long been bound up with social constructions of race and racialized oppression. Some Jewish people experience white skin privilege; some do not. White supremacy culture and anti-Semitism are bound up together and must be challenged.

As Unitarian Universalists do this important work, it is important to note that “Jewish people” are not only members of “other” communities which “neighbor” our UU congregations. There are Jewish-identified folks in the pulpits and pews of many of our own UU congregations. Some may be feeling acute emotional and psychological impacts from the rising anti-Semitic actions and rhetoric in the country.

Dear ones, as we together challenge the hatred made explicit in Charlottesville, we feel that it is critically important to be recognizing ALL those under attack. Many are being targeted right now, including People of Color, undocumented folks, LGBTQ folks, Muslims, Jews, persons experiencing disabilities and women. We do not want to displace anyone who is vulnerable and write this with deep commitment to collective liberation. In this spirit, we ask you – we call on you – to notice and name anti-Semitism, as well as other oppressions that are present.

We hope that this letter will open many conversations with UU groups and individuals so that we can work together to counter intersecting forces of oppression and persecution wherever we find them. Together, may we speak out against the multiple expressions of hatred that threaten to divide us.


Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson
Chava Bahle
Paul Daniel
Rob Eller-Isaacs
Claire Eustance
Suzanne Fast
Lisa Friedman
Debra Haffner
Leah Hart-Landsberg
Marti Keller
Tera Klein
Marlin Lavanhar
Liz Lerner Maclay
Sue Magidson
Alison Miller
David Miller
Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Elizabeth Mount
Paul Oakley
Dara Kaufman-LeDonne Olandt
Barbara Prose
Amy Petrie Shaw
Julie-Ann Silberman-Bunn
Lynn Ungar
Marlene Walker
Jay Wolin
Susan Yarbrough

Some resources that may help you to name and challenge anti-Semitism.

A few definitions:*

ANTI-SEMITISM: the system of ideas passed down through society’s institutions to enable the scapegoating of Jews, and the ideological or physical targeting of Jews that results from it. The term was first popularized in 1879 by German anti-Jewish racists who sought to build specific movements against Jews as an inherently inferior and threatening race (versus a religion, from which someone could convert).

JEWS: a globally dispersed, multi-ethnic, culture linked by a religion, Judaism. Many Jews practice the religion; others are ethnic, secular Jews.

Note: there are many Jewish identified Unitarian Universalists who are Jewish by heritage, lineage, conversion, religious and/or cultural practices.

*These definitions are adapted from The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere: Making Resistance to Anti- Semitism Part of All of Our Movements by April Rosenblum

Download UU Jewish Clergy Letter here.

We will be at the UUA General Assembly 2017

UUA General Assembly


Booth 506 in the Exhibit Hall


Join us for Shabbat!

Friday June 23rd,  5 pm in the Hilton Riverside Windsor Room

General Assembly 2016 – From the UUJA Board

From UUJA, Countering antisemitism within and beyond UUTo Our Fellow Unitarian Universalists, As many of you know, a business resolution calling for specific actions related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is on the agenda for the upcoming General Assembly in Columbus, OH. This is not the first time that our Association has engaged in dialog and debate on this issue. In reference to this specific resolution, the board of UUJA has affirmed its neutrality: we recognize that Unitarian Universalist Jews reflect much of the diversity of thought and conscience to be found among Judaism as a whole. Our members, and the people we seek to serve, are on every possible side of this debate, and we continue to seek to be an identity organization that includes the full diversity of people who live at the intersection of Judaism and Unitarian Universalism.


From UUJA, Countering antisemitism, definitionsAt the same time, while we won’t be taking an official position for or against this resolution as a board, there are important things that we do stand for that we believe are immediate concerns as we approach what is likely to be a contentious time at GA. Specifically, our identities both as Unitarian Universalists and as Jews demand of us that we be vigilant and tireless in uprooting and countering antisemitism. We are called to name it where we find it, and to oppose it wherever it is found, even and especially when that place is in communities of which we are a part, or inside our own hearts.
Grounded in our shared tradition, Unitarian Universalism, we advocate for active resistance to antisemitism as an important part of countering intersectional, identity- based oppressions. To this end, we want to share an important consciousness raising tool, which may help others to begin to better identify what antisemitism is, how it functions and intersects with other oppressions. Like all oppressions, antisemitism has its own unique, multifaceted history and context. We know it may be hard to understand where, when and how antisemitism is alive and operating, and the ways it can be harmful, traumatizing and alienating. We want to help raise awareness and call one another into respectful and intentional communication

As the General Assembly does the work of the Association, we call on all Unitarian Universalists to be particularly mindful of the moral corrosion of antisemitism, anti- Arabism, and Islamophobia as three deeply interconnected evils, which frequently manifest in the rhetoric surrounding many discussions about Palestine or Israel. To criticize the actions or policies of a government or a political faction must be permitted. To move from such criticism into the realm of denigrating an entire race, ethnicity, religion, or nationality cannot be tolerated. So we ask that all involved become aware of how specific rhetoric and language replicates antisemitism, in particular.

The galaxy of moral questions surrounding Palestine and Israel are long-standing and shaped by real human experiences and real human suffering – countless stories that must never be reduced to abstractions or dismissed as inconvenient. For many of us – again, on every possible side – these matters are profoundly personal. But the Unitarian Universalist tradition, and the Jewish tradition, both counsel us not to shy away from hard conversations, but to meet them with compassion, creativity, and a yearning for a more just world. Our two traditions also have in their essence a principle of holding differing voices at once. Whatever the outcome in Columbus, it seems certain that some Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness – Board Letter – June, 2016
within Unitarian Universalism – even just among those names signed below this letter – will feel disappointed, hurt, or estranged. We ask those who favor whatever decision the General Assembly makes to extend their compassion to those who take it badly, and we also ask the disappointed to hold fast to the ties of faith and principle that bind together our covenantal faith. When this current round of debate is done, let us turn towards the hard work of change and renewed understanding, rather than turning away from each other.

Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness Board Members:

Rev. Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson (President)
Rev. Jay Wolin (Treasurer)
Robin Kottman (Member At Large)

P.D. Wadler (Member At Large)

Rev. Leah Hart-Landsberg (Past President)

Rev. Marti Keller (Past President)
Rev. Dara Olandt (UUJA Member)

Click here for PDF of this letter

Book Review – “Anne Frank and the Remembering Tree”

Teaching without Terrifying: Younger Children and the Holocaust

By Rev.Marti Keller

Memoirist Deborah Feldman, who walked away from her Hasidic upbringing in Williamsburg, Brooklyn as a young adult, has been on an exodus to discover who she is as a Jewish person now that she has rejected her ultra-Orthodox roots. Part of her journey was a trip through Europe retracing her grandmother’s life during the Holocaust, including time in a concentration camp.

At the Holocaust museum in Berlin, she wandered into one room where there was an explanation of death camps: what they were, how they were run. While she was there, she saw a little boy of around seven in an audio booth with headphones listening to an explanation of how millions of Jews were transported to and processed for their deaths in the Auschwitz gas chambers during World War 11.

In her book Exodus, she wrote, “You shouldn’t be here I wanted to say. You are too young.” Upon further reflection, she observed that there really was such a thing as a small child who needed to be educated about those death camps in order to grow up to be a decent human being.

For a non-Jewish German child, this was the expressed reason for such early and explicit teaching on ethnic hatred and its too often horrifying consequences

For contemporary Jewish parents and their children, as Tablet magazine religion columnist Marjorie Ingall wrote in a column on Holocaust books,  seemingly disregarding what happened 75 years ago ( and for centuries before) because we wish them to be carefree and happy is simply an impossibility.

Really? She asks. We are Jews with a history that hasn’t been carefree and happy. Our children need to know the darker side of what it has meant to be Jewish for so many years in so many places. If we don’t do the educating about anti-Semitism and about genocide, she reminds us, as it is with sex Ed, someone else will do it for us. Certainly by the time our child is eight years old, we should be doing so in a way that is not too graphic, too terrifying to both caregiver and child.

I don’t recall an intentional conversation with any of my own kids when they were elementary school age, or   knowing about any in their public schools or religious education classes: even while having experienced a petrifying incident as a 10 year old myself. I was thrown against a chain link fence by two female classmates and accused of killing Christ.

It is not a matter of us wanting to forget the Holocaust and the virulent loathing of the Jewish people that undergirded it. Those of us who are self-identified Jewish Unitarian Universalists are more than likely to be aligned with the 73 percent of American Jews who ,when surveyed by the Pew Research Center a couple of years back, said that remembering the Holocaust is essential to their sense of Jewishness. We need appropriate materials, as do all parents, that begin to tell the distressing but very real stories of discrimination and annihilation, to teach our kids about our history, as Marjorie Ingall proposes, without scarring them for life.

In light of the recent horrendous, hate triggered , murderous events in Pakistan, Paris and Nigeria, it is both terribly unfortunate and also fortuitous that our own UU Skinner House press has just published  Anne Frank and the Remembering Tree , a  children’s  book written by well- known Jewish author Sandy Sasso, with enticing illustrations by Erika Steisal. Some of the story of the girl, whose diary was key in exposing the evils of the Holocaust to millions of Jews and non-Jews around the world, is told using a clever and effective narrative device. The now famous horse chestnut tree that Anne could see from the attic of her family’s hiding place from the Nazis describes her life before she was taken away to a camp. What happened there, her death from typhus and the obliteration of all of the others who had hidden in that Secret Annex in Amsterdam is not shared. But the humanness of Anne and her sister Margot in particular, the injustice of their treatment, and the trajectory of hatred are vividly conveyed.

As the parent of three grown children now (and a former UU religious education teacher), I wish this book had been available when my school age children were beginning to be aware of the Holocaust and other genocides. This is a book to be read with our children, or by our children, and certainly in group settings where the story of Anne and her family, and of the chestnut tree whose saplings are now planted  in so many places in remembrance and in hope is unfortunately too much needed today.

Rev. Marti Keller is a lifelong, self-identified Jewnitarian, was co-editor of Jewish Voices  in Unitarian Universalism and past president of UUJA

Rev. Marti Keller