Every February, when we celebrate Black History Month, discussions within the Jewish community often include the history of our relationships as two minority groups. We compare our days as slaves, our fights for freedom and rights, our history of being excluded and then included. Our communities have deep, rich and varied traditions and values most of us live by and share.
We stood next to each other in Mississippi and were deeply divided in Crown Heights. Nonetheless, Jews and Blacks in 2018 are creating new opportunities to teach historic facts, build new business opportunities and extend olive branches to anyone interested.
Rev. Michel Faulkner, founding pastor of New Horizon Church in Harlem, former New York Jet and candidate for New York City Comptroller, said that “For as long as I can remember growing up as a child my parents and grandparents always had great relationships with people from the Jewish community. It seemed normal to me. But it wasn’t until I became an adult and accepted my faith and Jesus that I understood that connection. It is not only a social, but political, financial and cultural.”
Faulkner just returned from the White House Black History Month celebrations where the discussion of family, security and faith took center stage, something he feels bridges our communities together. “Don’t forget our history, teach truthful facts, learn lessons from them and take the necessary steps to improve our futures,” Faulkner stressed.
Bill Tingling is teaching this shared history. Tingling is the President of School News Nationwide and his “Words of Bonds” project promotes understanding and respect between African American and Jewish children by bringing African-American elders and Holocaust survivors into schools, where they are interviewed by students.
Tingling also spearheads “Tour for Tolerance,” retrofitting buses into high-tech mobile classrooms that teach young students empathy, tolerance, compassion and inclusion. Bill’s vision is for a peaceful, humane world that respects human dignity among all people. By having children meet with Holocaust survivors on luxurious style buses that include interactive electronics, libraries and staff to answer questions, the program highlights our common humanity and the importance of individual and civic responsibility among youth of all backgrounds.
“My journey from the poverty of Jamaica to the plenty of New York should not be an aberration. A secure, fulfilled life — for all — is grounded in tolerance. Let us build a bridge to a better world, that every child may cross,” Tingling said. “Evil still exists. What are you doing about it? This is what we are doing about it now.”
These two leaders are leading a new wave of discussions, actions and push to improve the facts, opinions and general public feeling that a bond can work together after a time of controversy. Please reach out to Grosz with more individuals and programs that seek to work and strengthen ties between these groups.