Milwaukee social justice organization Tikkun Ha-Ir issued a statement on June 19, pledging to do more to combat racial injustice, co-signed by nine local synagogues and organizations.
The co-signers are Hillel Milwaukee, Congregation Anshe Lebowitz, Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid, Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun, Congregation Shalom, Congregation Shir Hadash, Congregation Sinai, Lake Park Synagogue and Temple Menorah. These organizations are also all considered “sponsors” of Tikkun Ha-Ir and have supported it.
Tikkun Ha-Ir committed to allocate a quarter of next year’s fiscal budget toward racial justice advocacy. A portion of those funds will go toward Edot HaMidwest: The Midwest Regional Jewish Diversity Collaborative to support Jews of color.
This fiscal year, Tikkun Ha-Ir will donate $5,000 to local Black-led organizations working toward racial justice. The organization also pledged to join the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, better reflect communal diversity in their leadership, and lead conversations about racism within the Jewish community.
Executive director Sami Stein Avner said these actions represent an expansion of the work Tikkun Ha-Ir already does to combat poverty and promote civic engagement. Tikkun Ha-Ir means “repair the city” in Hebrew.
“We see very clearly that racial justice fits within so much of what we do,” Avner said. “Both within our Jewish community and in partnership with the broader Milwaukee landscape.”
After George Floyd’s death, Tikkun Ha-Ir issued a general statement in solidarity. But Avner wanted to do more. She convened a meeting to discuss what concrete actions they could take in pursuit of racial justice.
“I felt I needed to move things further into action,” Avner said. “A statement was simply not enough.”
Direct fundraising is relatively new for Tikkun Ha-Ir, which usually focuses on connecting volunteers.
Moving forward, Avner said the Jewish community should better recognize that they can simultaneously face antisemitism and benefit from privilege.
“We’re not just a minority, but sometimes we’re also the majority,” Avner said. “We need to start having these conversations.”