A year ago, the murder of George Floyd was a confrontation with a truth about America that we usually keep out of mind and out of sight. In Judaism, this kind of realization, especially when it causes a widespread social response, is a moment of revelation, just like the moment of receiving the Torah. Because racism is such a complex topic, we decided to create an annual observance that mirrors the practices on the Jewish holiday of revelation (Shavuot), which includes study and conversation deep into the night, a custom called a tikkun.
June 19th is the anniversary of the day when the last enslaved people in the United States finally received word of liberation, a holiday known as Juneteenth. We decided that a Jewish tikkun would start the evening before and culminate with a ritual of liberation in the morning. This year, June 18th is a Friday night, so our observance will begin with Shabbat services, and continue until midnight (see schedule outline below). Learners are welcome to come and go as they please, as a tikkun is a very informal learning format designed to create an atmosphere of comfort and open-mindedness. To facilitate this, the entire evening will be conducted by Zoom. In the morning, at 9:00am we will have a special Great Texts of America study on President Lyndon B. Johnson’s speech to Congress on Voting Rights as a culmination of our Juneteenth observance.
Thursday June 18
7:00 Shabbat Services
8:00 Opening Comments from Rabbi Holzman
8:15 Keynote address and discussion by Rev. Michelle Nickens
9:00 Study of 1963 Louisiana Literacy Test (which had to be completed in 10 minutes to pass) and conversation
9:30 Recording of Fannie Lou Hamer testimony
9:50 Conversation with Dr. Charlene Sinclair on Voting Rights Mobilization: The Historical Precedent and the Present Threat
10:30 Video Discussion of Whose Vote Counts? Netflix documentary.
11:15 Where do we go from here? An exploration of opportunities to engage, including an inspirational closing ritual
Breaks will be provided throughout the evening.