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The Stolen Beam Series 

Published on 2022-04-24 by crockerfarmpgo Community News

A 5-session class, called The Stolen Beam Series*, will be held at the Jones Library in May and is sponsored by the Jones Library and the African Heritage Reparation Assembly.  The Series was developed by members of the Reparations Committee of the Jewish Community of Amherst and will be co-facilitated by members of that committee. 

The goal of the series is educational engagement with a narrative of US racial history that is different from what many of us learned in our schooling. The class will focus on the legacy of African enslavement, what was stolen, what may be owed and historical examples of reparations. The class offers an opportunity, especially for those relatively new to the topic, to study and reflect on writings of prominent thought leaders on the topic of reparations for African Americans as a path to restorative justice. Each class offers readings as well as videos or audio recordings. Suggested study questions are included for each class. This is not a lecture format. We urge all participants to plan on reading and/or viewing all the materials for each session and come prepared for thoughtful discussion.  

The class meets IN PERSON at the library for five consecutive Tuesdays in May: 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31, from 7:00 – 8:20 pm. Registration will be limited to 15 people on a first come, first served basis.  Registration indicates the intent to attend and participate in all five sessions.  There is no charge for this program. Most reading/video materials will be provided via the internet. Some of the materials may be available at the library.  

Find registration and information at  Please contact Janet Ryan at with any questions.  

*The name “Stolen Beam” is a reference to a Talmudic debate about the right thing to do when we discover that the house in which we live was built with stolen materials, “a stolen beam.” One rabbi argues that the entire house must be torn down and the beam returned. Another argues that it makes no sense to destroy the home, yet some form of acknowledgment and compensation is owed to the owners of the home.  We therefore use the metaphor, The Stolen Beam, in recognition of the fact that much of our country was built on stolen land, with stolen lives and stolen labor.  

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