Back to Stories & Articles

Dismantling Racism from the Inside Out: A New Cohort with Yehudah Webster and Rabbi David Jaffe

To dismantle racism in our society at large and grapple with our own unconscious biases, we need to make both a systemic change as well as do the inner work to change our habits of mind. Mussar is the Jewish spiritual discipline designed to address the habits of the mind while integrating the head and the heart through daily practice.

Join Rabbi David Jaffe and Yehudah Webster for an innovative new cohort that brings these practices together in one transformative experience. Meeting on Zoom over the course of ten weeks, this cohort will delve into the synergies between anti-racism practice and Mussar, exploring how this ancient Jewish wisdom has an important role to play in the urgent contemporary challenge of dismantling racism. We will explore how mussar practices can actually be key tools for subverting the biases and hierarchies created by racism and will become equipped with concrete daily Jewish spiritual practices to undo implicit and explicit racism within ourselves and others, supporting the collective organizing, advocacy, and service-work efforts to dismantle racism systemically.

Developed by the Inside Out Wisdom and Action Project, we are thrilled to offer a pilot of this curriculum at BJ. There is limited capacity in this cohort, geared specifically for those who already have preliminary antiracism training. Priority of participation will be given to current BJ members.

Program details

Beginning Thursday, February 17, 2022, 7:00PM-9:00PM, meetings will take place on Zoom over the course of ten weeks.

Program tuition: $250 (BJ members) / $360 (non-members)

BJ tries to ensure that cost is never an obstacle to participation in our programming. If you would like to participate and need financial aid, please contact us.

We invite all interested BJ members to apply. Application deadline is January 21, 2022.

Rabbi David Jaffe is a writer, rabbi, and spiritual seeker. He has spent his entire adult life pursuing Jewish wisdom and working for reconciliation and social justice. David served as the Director of Social Justice Programs at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, as a founding board member of Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps, and as the Spiritual Advisor at Gann Academy in Waltham. He is the Founder and Principal of the Kirva Institute, where he teaches applied Jewish wisdom including Mussar and Tikkun Middot. David’s teaching, organizing, writing, and consulting explore the intersection of moral-spiritual development and ethical action in the world. David is a Dorot Fellow, member of the AJWS Global Justice Fellowship, and charter member of the International Rabbinic Fellowship. He received his rabbinic ordination from the Bat Ayin Yeshiva in Israel and has a B.A. in History from Cornell University, an M.A. in Jewish studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and a Masters of Social Work from Columbia University.

Originally born as a Christian in Georgetown, Guyana, the son of a pastor, Yehudah Webster grew up in a world driven by faith and belief, experiencing from an early age a diverse range of worship mediums. Yehudah’s Jewish journey began officially at the age of eight in South Orange, NJ, where he and his family unit converted to Judaism and became members of Congregation Oheb Shalom. Involving themselves integrally as a family in the Oheb Shalom community, Yehudah was immersed in Ashkenazi Jewish education and social life, attending Hebrew school weekly and participating in the local and regional Jewish youth groups. Growing up in the face of white hegemony, Yehudah now facilitates workshops and speaks to audiences around the country to inspire and empower the Jewish community to commit to racial justice and make space for Jews of Color (JOC). He has presented in a wide variety of settings, including youth group conventions, college campuses, and staff development retreats for Jewish organizations. As a community leader for Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), Yehudah supports JFREJ’s police accountability and Black Lives Matter campaigns by organizing meaningful actions and lobbying for legislative reform. Yehudah is currently working on establishing a national support network for JOCs through his JFREJ leadership, working to provide the much needed institutional support marginalized Jewish communities of color need.