Conversations

TheALLIANCE is concerned about the growing divide between people, communities, and countries.  We propose to ask and seek answers to the questions about what is dividing us, and to build trust between ethnic, religious, and other demographic groups. One of the principles that underlies the activities of TheALLIANCE is to encourage conversation and constructive dialogue. 

Our tag line is “Building Community by Building Trust”.  How do you ‘build trust’?  In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, we should “judge people based on the content of their character, not the color of their skin”.  To that, TheALLIANCE adds that one’s judgements of people should not be based on his/her religion, ethnicity, sexuality, political party, and other such factors. In other words, we seek to build community by setting aside those superficial differences between individuals and groups. 

TheALLIANCE brings people together to talk, socialize, learn, build trust, and build friendships.  Participants must agree to certain ‘rules’ for such engagements, including:

  • Approach any conversation with an open heart and an open mind.
  • Discussions must always be respectful of all participants.
  • Seek to understand and achieve clarity, not necessarily agreement.
  • Tell the truth (i.e., ‘no bull’).  If you cannot agree on ‘facts’, assume they are opinions and move on.
  • There are no interruptions, shouting, whining, whispering, or any other forms of disrespect.

TheALLIANCE can serve as facilitators for organizations seeking to engage in respectful dialogue, or we can train individuals in how to effectively lead these conversations on their own.  The goal is to build relationships, build trust, and build community.  We encourage you to get started, engage, and JUST DO IT.

Case Study

Main Line Reform Temple (Wynnewood, PA) is a reform synagogue in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  MLRT has long engaged in a process of building trust and community through constructive dialogue among its members.  These “Conversations” tend to focus on current events and other important topics for discussion.  Events around the country in 2020 led to growing concerns about of racism.  In early summer, the group had a discussion about lessons learned from a Facebook live presentation lead by “Black Men at Penn School of Social Work”.  A follow-up meeting was led by 3 members of TheALLIANCE’s Board of Advisors, Rev. Jonathan Ford, Marcus Allen, and Rabbi Earl Bowen, all on the subject , “what can the Jewish community do to assist the African-American community?”  Two initiatives resulted from these Conversations: 

  1. On October 24, 2020, MLRT congregants came together with members of the Taylor Tabernacle Church in West Philadelphia to distribute face masks and hand sanitizer for COVID protection, along with voting information regarding the upcoming US elections, to church members and local residents of their community. Over 300 gift bags were delivered that day, and pictures from this event are below.
  2. Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Philadelphia is in need of more volunteer mentors to work with and provide guidance to the many children who are requesting assistance.  MLRT is in the process of recruiting congregants from it membership who may be interested in  serving as a Big Brother or Big Sister.  This activity is ongoing.
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