Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Rabbi Barry H. Block
First person 

My Jewish ancestors owned slaves - that's why I'm a rabbi for racial justice


December 17, 2021

(JTA) — In “The Social Justice Torah Commentary,” Rabbi Brian Stoller describes a turtle-shaped dinner bell that his great-grandmother used to summon a Black butler to attend to her needs at the family’s Shabbat table.

When I got to that line while editing the volume, I felt a jolt of familiarity: An identical bell served the same purpose at my own grandmother’s table.

All of my grandparents — and all four of my American-born great-grandparents — hailed from the South, and social justice activism was not baked into my DNA.

Yet unlike many “old” southern families, I was rai...

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