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February 3, 2022 / Rabbi Laura

Great Books, in honor of Black History Month

Over the last couple years I have been on a deep journey of inner exploration, learning, and reflection about race, power, and privilege. In an effort to live as an anti-racist, to work toward the end of hate, discrimination and racism in my community, our country and the world, one part of my personal work has involved reading books by Black authors, about the Black experience, and about the dynamics of racism in America.

I embarked on this practice as a Jew living in America. I know that I “pass” as White in many spaces. Yet, at the same time, I consider myself to be “conditionally White,” for once my Jewish identity is revealed, the dynamics often change. I have experienced marginalization, other-ing, and hate. And, at the same time, I know I have power and privilege that my friends of color do not.

I have learned so much about my own implicit biases, which seem to have become imbedded in my psyche through societal osmosis, because I surely didn’t receive them from my family, and which I continue to battle with every day. I have learned about moments in American history which tragically I was not taught about as a child, even in the progressive and diverse public schools I attended in Los Angeles.

In honor of Black History Month, I invite you to take on a similar personal journey toward being anti-racist. For, in order for us to truly bring about change, in order to be true allies to our Black siblings-in-humanity and neighbors, we must first engage in our own learning about Black history and the experience of being Black in America, about power and privilege. In doing so, we come closer to understanding, to empathizing, and hopefully toward doing the much needed work of allyship, advocacy and activism.

In observance of Black History Month, I invite you to read one of the following:

  • An American Marriage: A Novel by Tayari Jones
  • Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons For Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Black Power, Jewish Politics by Marc Dollinger
  • Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
  • Deacon King Kong by James McBride
  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • The Cooking Gene by Michael Twitty
  • The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalilah Harris
  • The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murphy
  • The Underground Railroad: A Novel by Colson Whitehead
  • The Vanishing Half: A Novel by Britt Bennett
  • The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
  • White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
  • You Are Your Best Thing by Tarana Burke & Brené Brown (eds)


  1. Beverly Cohen / Feb 3 2022 9:50 pm

    I would add the Personal Librarian to this list.

    • Rabbi Laura / Feb 3 2022 9:57 pm

      Oh right! I have read that one too, and I learned so much. Will add it to the list.

  2. / Feb 4 2022 7:07 am

    Thank you for sharing. See you tonite. Love and xxxxxxxxx’s to all


  3. Marsha Novak / Feb 4 2022 7:39 am

    Laurie, You brought me to tears with pride and joy! May I share this with special people in my book groups? 🥰

    Sent from my iPhone


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