Long before the civil rights movement in the South, Jewish shopkeepers were practically the only ones to respectfully acknowledge their black patrons as “Mr. and Mrs.” Jews from North were early supporters of the NAACP and comprised a decent portion of The Freedom Riders who boarded buses down to the south to help with voter registration and marched alongside black civil rights heroes.
In Episode 10 Part 1 of Tea With Teachers, I talk with Emma Levine and Evan Rosenthal. Emma is a counselor who works for College Summit, a non profit that helps low-income students apply to college. And her fiance, Evan, is a high school social studies teacher who currently works at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, MD.
Emma proudly wears her social justice badge based on her family’s history. Her grandfather was part of the auto workers union in Detroit, her father advocated for low-income housing as a lawyer and her mother was a social worker. It’s part of her DNA.
Evan, who grew up comfortably in a middle class suburb of Washington, D.C., posits that his Judaism is integral to his identity based on the values his family gave him. In fact, he enlightens me with the concept of Tzedakah - a word that literally means justice or righteousness in Hebrew.