Dinner & Dialogue: Chicagoans of diverse backgrounds break bread to strengthen connections

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Cantor Steven Stoehr of Congregation Beth Shalom in Northbrook speaks with Pastor Reshorna Fitzpatrick at a JCRC Dinner & Dialogue event at Stone Temple Baptist Church in North Lawndale on Aug. 15.

During a week of heightened racial tension and division, JUF's Jewish Community Relation Council held a Dinner & Dialogue series that brought together nearly 150 Chicagoans of all backgrounds for 10 intimate conversations that addressed many of the critical issues facing our city and country.   

Held at private homes, churches and community-based organizations throughout the city, the dinners served to further strengthen relationships between the Jewish community and partners in the African-American, Latino, LGBTQ, Christian and Muslim communities. Topics discussed ranged from community violence, to racism, anti-Semitism, and Jewish-Muslim relations.  

"These conversations provided an opportunity for Chicagoans from diverse backgrounds to connect with one another on areas of mutual concern." said JCRC Chair David T. Brown. "We know that these conversations will inspire further collaboration and action."

Partner organizations in the series included Fierce Women of Faith, the Jewish Women's Foundation, Chicago Urban League, Sinai Health System, Stone Temple Baptist Church, Progressive Community Church, The Chicago Board of Rabbis, The Resurrection Project, Fourth Presbyterian Church and Base Hillel. 

"The conversation last night was a model of what should be taking place throughout the city, state and, quite frankly, country," said Paula Thornton Greear, Senior Vice President of External Affairs at the Chicago Urban League. 

Although the series is only in its first iteration, plans are already under way for follow-up conversations and action, including visits to other faith communities, joint volunteering and advocacy initiatives.

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