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Union for Reform Judaism creates new role to focus on race and inclusion in synagogues

The Union for Reform Judaism has announced that Yolanda Savage-Narva will fill the newly created role of director for racial equity, diversity and inclusion.

The announcement comes after a summer of protests over the police killings of people of color in the United States.

The URJ made a statement supporting the protests and also advised its member congregations as to how they could work toward racial equity and inclusion.

The movement created a similar role titled “vice president of audacious hospitality” in 2015 and approached April Baskin, a Black Jewish woman, to fill it. She left the URJ in 2019.

However, most synagogues, federations and other Jewish organizations are still staffed by white people, reported JTA.

In the new URJ job, which is funded by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan, Savage-Narva will develop inclusion programs for the Reform movement’s synagogues. She will also work on other forms of discrimination, such as homophobia, class prejudice and sexism.

Prior to joining the URJ, Savage-Narva was Executive Director of Operation Understanding DC. She also worked in advisory roles for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and Repair the World.

“To create a more just and equitable world, we must see the humanity in one another,” said Savage-Narva.


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