Avodah Presents: Speak Torah to Power

Speak Torah to Power is a transformational speaker series, in which top Jewish educators from around the country address the most pressing issues of our time to offer us the Jewish thinking most needed to do transformative justice work in today’s world. In the premiere of Speak Torah to Power in winter 2018, speakers Dove Kent, Yavilah McCoy and Rabbi Rachel Timoner explored the connection between activism, service, spirituality, community, and Jewish wisdom and drew upon Jewish texts, events, and traditions to discuss aspects of Jewish wisdom most relevant to the issues of our time.

Now these talks are available online, with discussion guides to support your communities in exploring the connection between activism, service, spirituality, community, and Jewish wisdom in their own lives. 

Speak Torah to Power is presented by Avodah in partnership with UJA – Federation of New York, Time for Good and Jewish Life in Action.

Breaking the Antisemitism Cycle Through Solidarity

Organizer and educator Dove Kent explores how learning historical stories of non-Jews risking themselves to care for vulnerable Jewish populations might help us to forge a future of solidarity between Jewish and non-Jewish communities today.

Download the Discussion Guide below.

Intersectionality as a Jewish Practice

Activist and teacher Yavilah McCoy invites us to consider how experiences of inclusion and exclusion can shape our identities and worldview–and how building Jewish communities that honor these experiences and identities can help in the work of dismantling systems of oppression.

Download the Discussion Guide below.

Radical Humanity: Inalienable Dignity and American Public Policy

Rabbi Rachel Timoner teaches the Torah that each life has infinite value, and explores the revolutionary implications of this value for our own Jewish practices, as well as for American public policy at large.

Download the Discussion Guide below.

Speak Torah to Power Featured Speakers:

Dove Kent

Dove Kent has over 15 years of experience in grassroots organizing, political education, and movement building. As the outgoing executive director of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), 2011 through 2016, Dove supported the organization to triple in size and win game-changing legislative victories for police accountability and worker’s rights through powerful local coalitions. Under Dove’s tenure, JFREJ grew into one of the strongest and most effective progressive Jewish organizations in the country, creating significant culture shifts within the Jewish community, New York and nationally. She has been published in What We Do Now: Standing Up for Your Values in Trump’s America (2017), Towards the “Other America”: Anti-racist Resources for White People Taking Action for Black Lives Matter (2015), Understanding Antisemitism: An Offering To Our Movement (2017), and in the Guardian, Ha’aretz, Tikkun, and the Forward, among many other media outlets. Dove teaches throughout the country and currently resides in Durham, North Carolina.

Yavilah McCoy

Yavilah McCoy is the CEO of DIMENSIONS Inc. in Boston.  She has spent the past 20 years working extensively in multi-faith communities and partnering specifically with the Jewish community to engage issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Yavilah is an educator, activist, and spiritual teacher.  She is a Jewish woman and a person of color and has designed numerous tools and methods that enable students and educators to be better citizens of the world through exploring differences and reaching for tangible solutions in allied engagement.  Yavilah brings a wealth of wisdom and experience in DEI consulting, non-profit management, philanthropy and engagement to this project and has worked with numerous partners to build strong, healthy organizations with measurable commitments to racial justice, equity and anti-oppression strategies.  Yavilah is a certified trainer for ADL’s World of Difference Institute, National Conference for Community and Justice, and the National Coalition Building Institute. She is a certified coach for the Auburn Theological Seminary Pastoral Training program and is a renowned speaker, educator, and spiritual practitioner.  Yavilah is a pioneer of the Jewish diversity and equity movement and has been an activist and mentor for the empowerment of Jews of Color for most of her life. Yavilah looks forward to utilizing tools she has learned for enhancing the participation of people of color and their allies in broader movement circles to explore deeper opportunities within Jewish institutions for the engagement of Jews of Color.  In celebration of the musical traditions passed down to her from three generations of her African-American Jewish family, Yavilah is also the writer, producer and performer for the Jewish Gospel theatrical production “The Colors of Water.”

Rabbi Rachel Timoner

Rabbi Rachel Timoner is the Senior Rabbi Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn and previously served as Associate Rabbi at Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles. She was born in Miami, Florida, received a B.A. from Yale University, and was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. From 1991 to 2004 she worked with social justice non-profit organizations. She also served as a leader of Reform CA, a statewide movement of more than 120 rabbis and many lay leaders to serve as a powerful voice for social justice in California, winning protection for 1.5 million undocumented immigrants and more than a billion dollars in affordable housing.

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