The following are a series of programs and investments with the Black community intended to express our solidarity and support. While our relationship with the local Black community has been strong for many years, it became even stronger after the shooting at the Tree of Life building on Oct. 27, 2018. The Black community supported and embraced the Pittsburgh Jewish community after 10/27. However, the undeniable disparity exhibited by the city’s response to the attack on our community and the incessant murders of Black men was disturbing. After the death of George Floyd and so many others this year, our work with the local Black community became even more critical.
412 Black Jewish Collaborative
In May 2019, the Federation sponsored two young Jewish and two young Black leaders in Pittsburgh to attend a civil rights mission to the South with the goal of building bridges between communities. Inspired by the experience, the group created the 412 Black Jewish Collaborative. The mission of the 412 Black Jewish Collaborative is to catalyze and elevate Black and Jewish relations in Pittsburgh. Federation is the founder and fiscal sponsor of the collaborative. The group is very active on social media and fosters a space for solidarity and education. Several events open to the public are in the works.
Facebook Group: facebook.com/412BJC
Black Lives Matter
The Federation signed the BLM solidarity ad published in Medium and the New York Times under the 412 Black Jewish Collaborative title.
Corporate Equity Inclusion Roundtable (CEIR)
The Federation’s Community Relations Council has been the primary underwriter of the Corporate Equity and Inclusion Roundtable (CEIR) for the past six years. CEIR is an initiative of the Black Political Empowerment Project directed toward improving opportunities for African Americans and people of color in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The purpose of CEIR is to achieve higher levels of inclusion of people of color and diversity in employment, in business ownership, and in business development in the Pittsburgh region. The vision is to bring about measurable lasting change and breakthroughs in workforce diversity and inclusion and economic opportunities.
Campaign for Power
Over the summer, Federation was a coalition member in the Campaign for Power. This voting initiative was led by Black community partners with support from other diverse communities and organizations in Pittsburgh. Federation’s contribution was creating and distributing an informational flyer on how to vote “in three easy steps.”
Urban Affairs Foundation
The Federation’s Community Relations Council manages the Urban Affairs Foundation, which provides grants to projects that serve minority communities. Through these dollars, the Federation has financially supported several organizations and projects serving the Black community including Black Women for Positive Change and the Black Political Empowerment Project.
JOC Task Force
While supporting the broader Black community is critically important, it is also essential to support the Black members of the Jewish community. As a result, we have convened a Jews of Color Task Force to examine the ways in which Federation can be more equitable and foster an inclusive environment for Jews of Color in our community. This was modeled after an LGBTQ+ task force we held in 2018. Led by the task force’s recommendations, we implemented several changes including an all-staff LGBTQ+ sensitivity training, more inclusive marketing, and a social media campaign amplifying voices of our LGBTQ+ Jewish community, among others.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact Laura Cherner, director of the Jewish Federation’s Community Relations Council at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-992-5235.
It’s been a difficult and emotional week. A recap of our outreach to the Black community:
1. Our Community Relations Council issued a statement in solidarity with the Black community on Sunday.
We are heartbroken by the senseless and unnecessary death of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement in Minneapolis several days ago. We stand with the African American community and all communities of color in mourning the deaths of Mr. Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others who have lost their lives simply because of the color of their skin. We commend Pittsburgh Chief of Police Scott Schubert for speaking out against this atrocity and for taking steps to use it as a teachable moment at the Pittsburgh Police Academy.
We recognize that the riots in downtown Pittsburgh yesterday were sparked largely by those who are not part of any community of color and who are seeking to widen the racial divide throughout the region. Unfortunately, the Jewish community is all too familiar with how it feels to be targeted simply because we are different while simultaneously being scapegoated by the perpetrators of violence. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with, listen to and learn from our partners in the African American community and law enforcement to make Pittsburgh a more equitable, safe and inclusive place for all who live here.
2. We marched in solidarity at an Interfaith Prayer & Protest.
3. We officially went public with the 412 Black Jewish Collaborative.
Like our newly launched Facebook page. For the full story of the Collaborative, see our June 4 post titled “Who We Are and Our Call to Action.”
A little over a year ago, a handful of Black and Jewish Pittsburghers traveled to Georgia and Alabama to participate together in a Civil Rights Mission to the South. Our goal, beyond learning about the history of Black people in America in a tangible, meaningful way, was simple: to get proximate. The term speaks to the idea of being close, of stepping beyond comfort levels to foster new relationships, to familiarize oneself with history, and to get involved in the present day to forge solutions.
Out of our proximity with and fondness for one another, we launched the 412 Black Jewish Collaborative (412BJC) in the summer of 2019 and invited a few of our trusted friends and colleagues into the group. Our plan was to grow slowly and create strong relationships rooted in friendship before opening up the Collaborative to the broader Pittsburgh community.
In 2020, we intended to hold our first public programs: a happy hour to bring together young Black and Jewish leaders from across the city, followed by a second Civil Rights Mission to the South shortly thereafter. We had plans for a Freedom Seder around Passover, a conversation around Juneteenth, and a conference at the end of the year. With the Covid pandemic, we decided to postpone our programming. But after the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd, on top of so many other names we do not know, we can’t afford to wait any longer.
4. Our Community Relations Council published a National Op-Ed in the Forward.
In partnership with several other Jewish Community Relations Councils across the country, we published: “Dear Jewish Community, Here’s What To Do Now.” We can’t emphasize enough the importance of following the lead of Black organizers. Just as our Jewish community gets to determine how we understand anti-Semitism and how we want our partners to respond, so too those who are most impacted by these policies must have our support in defining the response.
5. We are in the process of compiling resources.
We’re compiling resources for the Jewish community on how to be an ally. Additionally, we continue to be in touch with our Black community partners and will let you know as more initiatives develop.
The Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) Pittsburgh Chapter and the Community Relations Council (CRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh condemn all forms of anti-Semitism and anti-Asian racism that blames Jewish and/or Asian people for the spread of COVID-19 in our region.
“Going back as early as mid-January, well before coronavirus spread throughout the United States in large numbers, Asians and Asian Americans — our families and our businesses in Pittsburgh and beyond — have seen a significant increase in hate directed toward our community,” said Marian Lien, president of OCA Pittsburgh.
“Asian restaurant workers are being harassed after finishing up their shifts. White supremacists have shouted ‘white power’ at us, and still others tell us we don’t belong. In the last several days, a Pittsburgh city sign in Squirrel Hill was vandalized by a bigot who placed a homemade ‘Nuke China’ sticker on the pole. Many in our community are terrified and intimidated, and we have done nothing to deserve such hatred.”Marian Lien, president of OCA Pittsburgh
Additionally, the Jewish community has been targeted by anti-Semites, particularly white supremacists who blame Jewish people for coronavirus. These supremacists claim that the virus was created by Jews in order to profit from it and/or to benefit from population control. The FBI has investigated reports of white supremacists seeking to weaponize the virus by spreading it to Jewish institutions, although the FBI has found no evidence of physical attempts to do so in the Pittsburgh area.
“In Southwestern PA white supremacists are ‘Zoom bombing’ virtual meetings at various Jewish institutions,” said Bob Silverman, chair of the CRC. Zoom bombing is a newly coined term for when unwelcome guests hack into online meetings and display hate-group symbols, pornography or other extreme images, in an effort to disrupt and intimidate. “What’s more, hackers have attempted cyberattacks on a number of our organizations, either for financial gain or with the intent to cause harm to our community.”
The Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and the Organization of Chinese Americans Pittsburgh Chapter, representing the two largest minority communities in Squirrel Hill, stand in solidarity with each other against the unfounded hate directed toward both communities in the wake of the pandemic. We recognize the profound impact that COVID-19 has had on all marginalized communities and that Pittsburgh is at its best when it is a welcoming place for all. We encourage all Pittsburghers, no matter their race or religion, to persevere and stay safe as we traverse these trying times together.
Jewish Federation Joins “Illumination Ovation” April 7 & 14 to Celebrate Heroes Fighting the Coronavirus Crisis
WHAT: On April 7, the day before Passover, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is asking Pittsburghers to turn on lights and go outside to applaud with “Illumination Ovation” to recognize first responders, medical professionals and health care aides, sanitation workers, grocery store employees, food service workers and delivery drivers, and everyone working on the front lines of the pandemic.
“We’re wishing Chag Pesach Sameach, Happy Easter and Ramadan Mubarak to our Pittsburgh heroes who are putting their lives at risk every day to keep the rest of us safe.”Josh Sayles, director of the Jewish Federation’s Community Relations Council
The Jewish Federation was inspired to join Illumination Ovation by all of the people putting their lives at risk who go unrecognized, including at Jewish agencies.
“Lighting our city is something you can do at a distance,” says Adam Hertzman, the Federation’s director of marketing. “It’s also a beautiful thing to do before we light the candles for this Jewish holiday.”
Feel free to share social media with the tag #LoveFromPGH.
WHEN: Tuesday, April 7 & 14 at 8 p.m.