On Nov. 18, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) hosted a virtual program for more than 40 Jewish and non-Jewish emerging leaders in the Dallas area to connect and build relationships with one another. Titled “JUST Conversations: From Civil Distress to Civic Engagement,” the program was the first of a series whose mission is to educate and connect next-generation Dallas leaders, through a multifaith and multicultural lens, about social issues that affect our community through engagement with decision makers and leadership.
“The JCRC program was not only educational, informative, and thought-provoking, but also offered the opportunity for young professionals to connect with fellow leaders in our greater community that may not be in our usual networks,” said Melissa Duchin, executive director of Hillels of North Texas and co-chair of the JCRC’s JUST Conversations Advisory Council.
Acknowledging the divisive and polarizing political climate, in addition to existing racial inequities in our community, participants engaged in self-reflection and small-group dialogue in order to hear from others who have different life experiences, perspectives, and opinions than their own. The program included remarks by Amber Sims, co-founder of the Imagining Freedom Institute, about the history of racial inequities in Dallas. Ms. Sims is a leading community advocate in Dallas in the areas of racial and educational equity.
The program also included Dr. Jill de Temple, professor and chair in the Department of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University. Dr. de Temple shared her framework for civil discourse, named reflective dialogue, which encourages individuals to listen deeply to understand rather than attempting to persuade others or even find points of agreement.
“We hope that, through building an intentional and safe space, we can learn from one another, cultivate relationships, and bridge perspectives, fostering a universal and shared sense of belonging. Ultimately, we aim to shape a society of equity, respect, fairness and acceptance for all persons, regardless, of race, creed, or ethnicity,” remarked Josh Yudkin, JCRC executive committee member and JUST Conversations Advisory Council co-chair.
Future JUST Conversations programming will continue to focus on important contemporary topics with the goal of promoting learning and action among local young adults, while simultaneously strengthening the connections between next-generation Jewish and non-Jewish leaders in the greater Dallas area. The JUST Conversations Advisory Council comprises both Jewish and non-Jewish young leaders from diverse backgrounds.
The JCRC has received very positive feedback from participants. “The JCRC has done an exceptional job at connecting our Jewish young leaders to identified next-generation influencers, outside of the Jewish community. We believe these connections are essential to ensure that Jewish voices and Jewish stakeholders are part of the high-level decisions that are made in our cities and local communities. This JCRC program aims to build those valuable relationships, for the present and the future, for the benefit of our Jewish community and the greater community,” said Cindy Sweet Moskowitz, JCRC chair.