By Rachel Laser and David P. Gushee

One of us is getting excited to celebrate the birth of Jesus and the other just finished making her first batch of homemade latkes, but we both believe the claim that there is a “War on Christmas” is false. We walk city streets adorned in Santa’s sleighs and pine trees twinkling with red and green lights. We listen to secular radio stations broadcasting Christmas music 24/7 from the moment we have eaten our last piece of Thanksgiving turkey. Rudolph movie marathons grace several channels. And wishes of a Merry Christmas begin on Dec…


* photograph of author putting on Chicago Theological Seminary “White Privilege Glasses”

Am I, a white woman, qualified to talk about race in America?

When I was invited to speak to a Jewish congregation in Westchester, NY for their Martin Luther King Jr. shabbat about why black and brown Americans have been marching in the streets these past few years, I initially struggled with whether I was the right person to give this talk.

In the end, I accepted because I have come to believe that it is my responsibility to talk about race at least partially through talking about whiteness, and the work that we white people must do to dismantle…


The following post was originally given on Yom Kippur as the Stern Social Action Lecture at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, OH.

It’s so nice to be in Cleveland with all of you this Yom Kippur. I am very proud of my own Cleveland roots. My grandma grew up in Shaker Heights and her brother, my great uncle, and my great aunt, who are now in their 90s, are still here and longtime members of Temple Anshe Chesed Fairmount.

I was excited to read that the musical Hamilton is coming to Cleveland.

One of the many great lines from…


The following post is a shortened version of a Yom Kippur talk given at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, OH.

Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, is a challenging holiday. Jews are commanded to fast and to own their sins so they can atone for them.

On this day of introspection and deliberate discomfort, I, a white American, am asking myself the following uncomfortable question: Should I include racism in my confessions?

It pains me to say so, but I believe the answer is yes.

I am confessing racism because I benefit from it.

The old me thought…


A version of the following post was originally delivered as a sermon at Adas Israel Congregation and then at First Congregational United Church of Christ.

The “Balak” passage of scripture from the Book of Numbers is an exceptionally good story.

The Passage

King Balak of the Moabites, fearing the approach of the Israelites as they make their way towards the Promised Land, sends his messengers to ask the prophet Balaam to come and curse the Israelites. G-d tells Balaam not to go to King Balak, for he is not to curse the Israelites, a blessed people. King Balak sweetens the…


Image Courtesy of Bay News 9

The predominantly white Good Samaritan Church in St. Petersburg, Florida is getting pushback for having posted a message about white privilege on a sign out front.

The sign reads:

“IF YOU ARE WHITE, USE YOUR PRIVILEGE TO FIGHT FOR JUSTICE”

Among the objectors was one man who complained: “I don’t think there is such thing as … white privilege.”

This type of reaction did not take the church by surprise. They chose to display this message despite experiencing similar feedback when, over MLK Jr. weekend, they had posted:

“WHITE PRIVILEGE: IF YOU CAN’T SEE IT YOU’VE GOT IT”

Is Good…


Look closely and you can find me in the picture below. It was taken last month at the National Press Club. The occasion was the release of the Black Women’s Roundtable 2016 election voter guide and the results of its survey of Presidential candidates. A black colleague of mine had invited me to join her.

Rachel Laser at The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation’s Black Women’s Roundtable National Press Club Event (12/09/15)

Excited by the panelists’ presentations, I began to live-tweet. …


The following post was originally delivered as a sermon during Yom Kippur services at the George Washington University Hillel.

Yom Kippur always coincides with the beginning of a new school year, which I am keenly aware of this year, since just a few weeks ago I dropped off my own daughter at her first year of college. As I prepared to speak to you today, I have been thinking back to my own freshman year.

I remember feeling nervous and excited as I headed off a week early for the Freshman Urban Program, a week-long community service program for incoming…

Rachel Laser

President & CEO of @AmericansUnited. Previously worked at rachellaser.com, @theRAC, @ThirdWayTweet and @NWLC.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store