Rabbi Sandra Lawson (she/her), a trailblazing leader, joins Reconstructing Judaism as its inaugural Director of Racial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Working with senior staff, lay leaders, clergy, rabbinical students and Reconstructionist communities, Lawson helps Reconstructing Judaism realize its deeply held aspiration of becoming an anti-racist organization and movement.
Lawson is a prominent figure, teacher of Torah, activist and thought leader. As one of the first African American, queer, female rabbis, she has consciously sought to alter the perception of what a rabbi — and the rabbinate — looks like. She is known for tackling difficult questions surrounding Jews and race in podcasts, essays, media appearances and speeches. A social media pioneer, Lawson models what it means to teach Torah in the digital space. She has built a following of more than 50,000 people on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok. She is a sociologist, personal trainer, weightlifter, vegan, writer, public speaker and musician.
A 2018 Reconstructionist Rabbinical College graduate, from 2018 through early 2021 Lawson served as associate chaplain for Jewish life and Hillel Jewish educator at Elon University in North Carolina.
September 19th, 2022 | Season 4 | 38 mins 10 secs
high holidays, jewish, judaism, rosh hashanah, yom kippur
Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D and Rabbi Sandra Lawson, discuss their respective processes of preparing for the High Holidays. This isn’t about leading services, but about how, as human beings, they undertake an accounting of the soul, leading to repentance for their own actions and forgiveness toward others.
May 5th, 2022 | Season 4 | 39 mins 52 secs
Reconstructing Judaism board member and Tikkun Olam Commission co-chair Shahanna McKinney-Baldon opens up with Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D. and Rabbi Sandra Lawson about her time fronting the ska and reggae band Highball Holiday. She talks about how she rediscovered her singing voice in middle age and shedded certain inhibitions and self-consciousness. She also describes Reconstructing Judaism's ongoing process of gaining support for a movement-wide resolution supporting reparations for slavery.
December 28th, 2021 | Season 4 | 40 mins 25 secs
What does it mean to be an ally, both to individuals and to groups? How can one begin to do that work in a way that is meaningful? In this episode, Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D. and Rabbi Sandra Lawson – longtime friends and now colleagues – discuss these questions using examples from their own lives. They delve into the difficulty of saying and doing the right thing at the right time,
October 26th, 2021 | Season 4 | 39 mins 53 secs
Helen K. Kim, co-author of JewAsian: Race, Religion, and Identity for America's Newest Jews, stops by to discuss macro topics such as racism in the Jewish community and the rancorous debate over communal demography. Rabbi Deborah Waxman and Rabbi Sandra Lawson also learn about how Kim found inspiration in the work of Maimonides, the medieval Jewish philosopher and Torah commentator.
September 10th, 2021 | Season 4 | 33 mins 10 secs
Amanda Mbuvi, Ph.D., is the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College’s new vice president for academic affairs. We delve into Mbuvi’s desire to deepen how people and communities think about diversity and identity, offer some thoughts on the findings of the Jews Of Color Initiative's latest study and share our hopes for the High Holidays and the coming year.
June 23rd, 2021 | Season 4 | 42 mins 58 secs
Marcella White Campbell is executive director of Be'chol Lashon -- a pioneering organization that strengthens Jewish identity by affirming the racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity of the Jewish people. We discuss her multiracial Jewish family's own experiences as a window into the Jewish community's troubled record in welcoming Jews of Color. She reflects on her own growth into leadership, motivated by the rising cohort of young Jews of Color who deserve a Jewish community where they can thrive and contribute. And she reflects on the rich interplay of her Jewish and Black identities in making meaning at a time of personal loss. Join us for a rich and deeply moving conversation.
April 13th, 2021 | Season 4 | 41 mins 38 secs
We're joined by Professor Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, one of fewer than 100 Black American women to earn a doctorate in physics -- and a Reconstructionist! We discuss the insights she draws from her background as a Black and Ashkenazi Jew, and the richness, complexity, and fruitful challenges that diverse voices bring to the Jewish community. She and Rabbi Sandra Lawson discuss their respective experiences as trailblazers within the physics and the rabbinate. Finally, we delve into theoretical physics and Jewish theology as she explains why she included the ma'ariv prayer in her new book, The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred.
March 1st, 2021 | Season 4 | 38 mins 3 secs
We begin a new season focusing on Judaism, resilience, and racial justice, and welcome a new co-host: Rabbi Sandra Lawson, director of racial diversity, equity, and inclusion for Reconstructing Judaism. We dig deeply into the complexities of engaging in racial justice work within the Jewish community, the necessity for deep listening and empathy toward Jews of color, and the need to draw on resilience practices to stay committed to the challenging but vital process of teshuvah on the path to redemption.