The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Culture Changing Christians announced today the launch of a New Golden Age: a joint partnership between Jewish and Black communities in Philadelphia focused on combating hate, enhancing security, and strengthening the local community’s social safety net.
The title of the partnership, the New Golden Age, echoes back to the Golden Age of Black-Jewish relations during the rise of the modern civil rights movement in the 1960s. At that time, ties between Black and Jewish organizations deepened, fueling shared endeavors that were driven by shared values centered around inclusive change, individual rights, and government responsibility for equal opportunity through education and legislation.
“The New Golden Age alliance’s ultimate mission is to cement the Black and Jewish communities’ relationship as neighbors, working to provide for our neighbors what we wish for ourselves,” said Jason Holtzman, Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. “Together, we know that we can make a meaningful impact for both of our communities.”
The JCRC and Culture Changing Christians together aim to reignite the bond between the Black and Jewish communities, bringing a New Golden Age rooted in shared dialogue and an enriched understanding of each community’s experiences and challenges, focused on the following three priority areas:
- Rebuilding the Bridge to Beat Bigotry
The JCRC and Culture Changing Christians will work towards rebuilding and repairing the symbolic bridge built by the Black and Jewish communities, reminiscent of the one crossed in Selma, for both communities to stand united against racism and antisemitism and commit to working together to combat these hatreds.
- Enhancing Security and Violence Prevention:
This alliance will work to enhance safety and security in Greater Philadelphia by bolstering public safety measures to reduce violence. In 2023, violence has surged to alarming levels, and hate crimes, gun violence, and attacks on synagogues, churches, and other religious institutions have gravely impacted the local community. United, the Black and Jewish communities will confront this escalating violence and work to ensure the safety of all Philadelphians.
- Amplifying the Social Safety Net in Greater Philadelphia:
To ensure that communities have the support and resources needed to thrive, the New Golden Age will also focus its efforts on building communities with access to safe living and food, quality senior services, and equitable employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.
“History has shown that when united, we have accomplished a lot together,” said Pastor Carl Day, pastor of the Culture Changing Christians. “This alliance will help strengthen Black-Jewish relations and to build a foundation of open dialogue and understanding between us.”
To move these initiatives forward, leaders of the Black and Jewish communities will meet monthly to engage in thought-provoking discussions, guided by the wisdom of Pirkei Avot 1:14, “If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And, if not now, when?” (Rabbi Hillel). These conversations will explore critical subjects, including Jewish and Black history, modern-day racism, the persistence of antisemitism, and the daily struggles that these communities face today.
Moving forward, these dialogues will evolve into concrete actions focused on collective advocacy, educational initiatives, and public displays of solidarity. This roadmap includes:
- Participating in Philadelphia City Council sessions to voice shared initiatives and emphasize the significance of the City Council’s support.
- A joint advocacy trip to Washington DC to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. This trip will also include visits to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture to gain insights into each other’s heritage.
- Meetings with legislators in Harrisburg on November 14, including leaders of the Black-Jewish Caucus, where participants advocated for measures such as increased funding for violence prevention groups, fortified hate crime legislation, and increased support of economic advancement for underprivileged communities.
- A study trip to Israel, the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people, to visit sacred sites for Christians and Jews, get a comprehensive understanding of geopolitical realities, interact with thought leaders, and receive firsthand insights into the lives of both Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank.
- A study trip to pivotal civil rights landmarks in Atlanta, Georgia, Montgomery, Selma, and Birmingham, Alabama to illuminate the historic African American struggle for equality throughout American history and the role Jews played in the Civil Rights movement.
- Black-Jewish Conferences as a way of gathering the local community to educate about faith, inspired by the connection of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. through conferences like the “Race and Religion” summit.
- “Tour of My Philadelphia” – Black and Jewish POVs” – to explore the Jewish and Black communities in Philadelphia with discussions focused on issues such as segregation, immigration, redlining, and equity.
- A Freedom Seder to bring together Black and Jewish community members in Philadelphia during Passover to commemorate their shared struggles for liberation and equality and celebrate the strength of unity in the face of adversity.
- A Clergy study to cultivate empathy and connection between Black and Jewish clergy through the study of ancient texts, intertwining each group’s cultural perspectives to glean fresh insights and foster mutual understanding.
About the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia
Since 1901, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has served as the hub of the region’s Jewish communities, providing an infrastructure of support for Jewish people and organizations in need. Through grants, emergency funding, restricted gifts, endowments, and our partnership with the Foundation for Jewish Day Schools, we invest more than $61 million each fiscal year to care for those in need, combat antisemitism and global crisis, and strengthen Jewish identity.