Growing up in Atlanta I felt a connection with my neighbors, my schools and my synagogues. What a beautiful way to remember my childhood. Well, that’s one way to remember it. Then there were other memories that told a very different story. There were Black students in our high school for a year after Northside High School was integrated, but they did not join us in activities on the playgrounds. Now I wonder if I ever invited them. When I asked my parents if my Black girlfriend could come over to play at our house, they said this was not proper. But I liked my high school friend and couldn’t see anything improper about her.
The Temple had been bombed and conversations with Sunday school teachers often included the new way our temple addressed issues of segregation. As there weren’t Black students in our classes, I could only marvel at how we were learning to consider a new vision of our community. But these discussions never made it to our dinner table.
It was when Rabbi Stanley Davids asked if my son Sammy could speak at the Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition’s opening event for youth, that I realized how things were changing. The next generation had the opportunity to reinvent interracial communications, even just for that time, that they would remember forever.
Hanukah is a time to bring the flames of our candle lights together. While we embrace our Judaism, our flames should invite understanding of how we are all of value in our society.
Susanne Katz is a contributor to the Atlanta Jewish Times and director of exhibitions at The Breman Museum.