Kavannah of Transformation

Over this past year I have reflected on how to be more present as a person of color in a positive, constructive, and valuable way—not only as a member of BJ, but also in my  place of work. My involvement with BJ’s Racial Justice Steering Committee has been a major force driving this work.

I became involved in racial justice work at BJ because of a few unfortunate experiences with other parents at Family Shabbat Services and Kadima. Assumptions were made about myself and my children that were uncomfortable. Our family even considered finding another spiritual home, as this unwelcoming feeling lingered.

However, BJ has made a clear commitment to improve racial issues over the past 4-5 years. BJ has been instrumental in attempting to honor multi-ethnic Jewish families and showing that Ashkenazic Judaism is only one part of our cultural heritage. We have so many Jewish experiences, stories that need to be shared. I am proud to be helping to move this conversation forward.

My work with racial justice has overflowed into my professional life as well. Having faced my share of discrimination in the workplace, I have double-downed to work on racial equity. I have become more outspoken regarding the white fragility I encounter in professional environments, and even within my own family. Engaging in this type of work feels central to our identity and experience as Jews. We know the stakes are high and there is so much to be done. Working hard to create accepting places for people of color cannot wait. Entering into the Yamim Nora’im, I continue to reflect on ways to be a positive agent of change and transformation.

Written By Carmen Keels

Carmen Keels and her husband have been members since 2008. A priest who they met at a funeral told them about BJ. After attending a few Friday night services, they felt it was the place for them, m...