The URJ Racial Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (REDI) Equity Indicator: Glossary of Terms

Below are some terms that can found in the URJ Racial Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (REDI) Equity Indicator. If you do not see the term you are looking for or have any further questions, please contact Aliza Greenberg at

Ableism: The discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior. At its heart, ableism is rooted in the assumption that disabled people require 'fixing' and defines people by their disability. Like racism and sexism, ableism classifies entire groups of people as 'less than,' and includes harmful stereotypes, misconceptions, and generalizations of people with disabilities. (Source: Access Living)

Accessible: Able to be used, accessed, and understood by people from a wide range of backgrounds regardless of (including but not limited to) age, language, familiarity with the community, disability, body size, faith, gender, family structure, income level, or ethnicity.

Affinity spaces: Spaces [where] people... work within their own racial/ethnic groups. For white people, [this] provides time and space to work explicitly and intentionally on understanding white culture and white privilege [while encouraging] one's critical analysis around these concepts. For People of Color, [affinity spaces provide] a place to work with peers to address the impact of racism, ... interrupt experiences of internalized racism, and... create a space for healing [while] working for individual and collective liberation. (Source: Racial Equity Tools) Affinity groups can be based on any identity, particularly marginalized identities or dominant identities that are looking to affect change and leverage their power.

Affirming: The many ways we communicate (verbally, visually, behaviorally, etc.) that individuals and families, particularly those from non-dominant groups (ie, Jews of Color, single people, LGBTQ+ identifying people, interfaith or Jewish adjacent, etc.) belong in our communities. These groups experience a disproportionate amount of microaggressions and oppression inside and outside our communities. Some examples of affirmation include making our spaces accessible both online and in-person, using all-gender language, normalizing pronoun usage, and displaying images of people with various skin tones, gender presentations, body types, etc.

Ageism: The stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel), and discrimination (how we act) towards others or ourselves based on age… [Age] is often used to categorize and divide people in ways that lead to harm, disadvantage, and injustice and erode solidarity across generations. (Source: World Health Organization)

All-Gender Restroom: Facilities that anyone can use regardless of gender. They benefit many people, including transgender and gender diverse individuals, people who require the assistance of a caregiver of a different gender, and parents with children of a different gender. (Source: Seattle Government)

Antiracism: In a society that privileges white people and whiteness, racist ideas are considered normal throughout our media, culture, social systems, and institutions. Historically [and currently], racist views justified the unfair treatment and oppression of people of color (including enslavement, segregation, internment, etc.) ...To create an equal society, we must commit to making unbiased choices and being antiracist in all aspects of our lives…. Being antiracist is fighting against racism. Racism takes several forms and works most often in tandem with at least one other form to reinforce racist ideas, behavior, and policy." (Source: National Museum of African American History & Culture)

Anti-racism is a process of actively identifying and opposing racism. The goal of anti-racism is to challenge racism and actively change the policies, behaviors, and beliefs that perpetuate racist ideas and actions.

Anti-racism is rooted in action. It is about taking steps to eliminate racism at the individual, institutional, and structural levels. (Source: Very Well Mind)

Antisemitism: A certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities…. Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for "why things go wrong." It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and actions, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits. (Source: International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance)

BIPOC: Black Indigenous People of Color

Classism: Differential treatment based on social class or perceived social class…the systematic oppression of subordinated class groups... [Classism] assigns characteristics of worth and ability based on social class…. held in place by a system of beliefs and cultural attitudes that ranks people according to economic status, family lineage, job status, level of education, and other divisions…Middle-class and owning- or ruling-class people (dominant group members) are seen as smarter and more articulate than working-class and poor people (subordinated groups). In this way…middle-class and wealthy people…define for everyone else what is "normal" or "acceptable" in the class hierarchy…Class privilege include the many tangible or intangible unearned advantages of "higher" class status, such as personal contacts with employers, "legacy admissions" to higher education, inherited money, good childhood health care, quality education, speaking with the same dialect and accent as people with institutional power, and having knowledge of how the systems of power operate. (Source: Class Action)

Community of Belonging: A community (congregation, camp, school, group, institution, etc.) where everyone is not just welcome, but belongs (i.e., where all people are included, can participate, lead, have an equal ownership of and have their intersectional identities and lived experiences affirmed without tokenism). Communities of Belonging are only possible when we acknowledge and prioritize the need (and often overlooked) imperative to address oppression within our Jewish communities. This includes decentralizing dominant culture (white, Ashkenazi, heterosexual, cisgender, living without a disability, male and other dominant identities) and reflecting a wider range of identities within our Jewish spaces. Only when we can recognize and reflect the actual diversity of our movement (Jews-by-choice, those exploring Judaism, Jews of Color, LGBTQ+ Jews, Jews who live with physical, mental, or intellectual disabilities, multiracial families, millennials, Jewish adjacent folks, the aging Jewish population, single people, fat-identifying people, and other often underrepresented identities) will we succeed in engaging more groups of people who are often unrepresented and under-served in Jewish communal and institutional spaces.

Curb cuts: … a small ramp built into the curb of a sidewalk to make it easier for people using strollers or wheelchairs to pass from the sidewalk to the road. (Source: Oxford English Dictionary)

Gender affirming forms: Forms that allow people from all backgrounds to complete them as their full selves. For example, in place of using “mother/father” these forms utilize terms like parent/guardian 1, parent/guardian 2, parent/guardian 3, etc.… and allow for families of all configurations to be affirmed.

Gender affirming lifecycle events: Rituals marking key milestone moments in ways where people of all genders can participate and feel affirmed. For example, "b’nai mitzvah" or "B’Mitzvah" (rather than "bar or bat mitzvah"), transition ceremonies for people who would like to openly and spiritually mark their gender transition, baby namings and covenant ceremonies that don't presuppose the child's gender.

Gender-expansive: A person with a wider, more flexible range of gender identity and/or expression than typically associated with the binary gender system. Often used as an umbrella term when referring to young people still exploring the possibilities of their gender expression and/or gender identity. (Source: Human Rights Campaign)

Gender Transition Ceremony: A ceremony a congregation or clergy might offer a congregant/community member (of any age) to religiously or spiritually mark one's gender transition.

Implicit bias: The automatic association people make between groups of people and stereotypes about those groups. Under certain conditions, those automatic associations can influence behavior-making people respond in biased ways even when they are not explicitly prejudiced... While conscious, "traditional" racism has declined significantly in recent decades, research suggests that 'implicit attitudes may be better at predicting and/or influencing behavior than self-reported explicit attitudes. (Source: National Initiative For Building Community Trust & Justice) In additional to the criminal justice system, substantial research also suggests that implicit bias informs the outcomes and accessibility of organizational culture, hiring, access to quality healthcare, education, and additional critical systems.

Interfaith Inclusion: The many ways our communities normalize the diverse faith and non-faith backgrounds of members of our communities. Examples include avoiding verbal assumptions like "I'm sure we all remember having Passover seder as a child," using Hebrew without transliteration, or assuming prior Jewish knowledge of any kind. Interfaith Inclusion also looks like normalizing and affirming the non-Jewish members of our community, such as those who are partnered with Jews or who have Jewish family members. Interfaith inclusion means finding ways for Jewish-adjacent folks to participate in life cycle events, holidays, and celebrations alongside their Jewish family members.

Jewish Adjacent: Members of our community who do not identity as Jewish but are partnered with a Jewish person, raising Jewish children, or part of a Jewish family.

Land Acknowledgement: A Land Acknowledgment is a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories. (Source: Northwestern University) You can look up whose tribal land you are on.

LGBTQ+ Inclusion: Acknowledging and respecting that diversity in sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics is a normal part of life. When inclusive communication is present, it is verbal..., written (in... forms) and visual (the display of LGBTIQ+ flags or imagery) and is linked to feelings of safety. (Source: Australian Government) Normalizing all-gender bathrooms, bunks, housing arrangements (particularly for youth), and pronoun usage is extremely important to LGBTQ+ Inclusion.

Microaggressions: Microaggressions are the everyday slights, insults, putdowns, invalidations, and offensive behaviors that people experience in daily interactions with generally well-intentioned individuals who may be unaware that they have engaged in demeaning ways. (Source: UNC School of Medicine)

Non-binary: An adjective describing a person who does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman. Non-binary people may identify as being both a man and a woman, somewhere in between, or as falling completely outside these categories. While many also identify as transgender, not all non-binary people do. Non-binary can also be used as an umbrella term encompassing identities such as agender, bigender, genderqueer or gender-fluid. (Source: Human Rights Campaign)

Pronouns: Pronouns are words used in place of a noun and are commonly used to talk about a person instead of using their name. For example, instead of saying, "Moishe's challah is amazing because Moishe uses Moishe's own special recipe," you would typically say, "Moishe's challah is amazing because he uses his own special recipe." Common pronoun sets are he/him/his, she/her/hers, they/them/theirs, and ze/zir/zirs. (Source: Keshet).

Racism: Racism is ordinary, the "normal" way that society does business, the "common, everyday" experience of most BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, People of Color] communities and people in this country.

Racism is different from racial prejudice, hatred, or discrimination. Racism is when the power elite of one group, the white group, has the power to carry out systematic discrimination through the institutional policies and practices of the society while shaping the cultural beliefs and values that support those racist policies and practices. (Source: Dismantling Racism Works)

Sensory-friendly: Sensory refers to any single sense. However, it also can refer to any of your eight senses. Your senses include what you see, hear, taste, touch, [and] smell…They also include your sense of movement, balance, and internal body sense...

Meanwhile, friendly, in this context, means a change to the experience [that presents] fewer challenges for the senses. Sensory-friendly [experiences try] to be calmer…less intense or extreme.

For instance, sensory-friendly is less jarring to the senses. Less bothersome to a single sense… [For example,] at locations or events, sensory-friendly means less background noise...[and] fewer sudden noises... Sensory-friendly also means changes to lights. This does not mean that the lights are off. But it does mean there would be no bright spotlights. No flickering lights. No flashing lights. Sensory-friendly is scent-free, too. (Source: Sensory Friendly Solutions)

Sexism: Sexism is linked to beliefs around the fundamental nature of women and men and the roles they should play in society. Sexist assumptions about women and men, which manifest themselves as gender stereotypes, can rank one gender as superior to another. Such hierarchical thinking can be conscious and hostile, or it can be unconscious, manifesting itself as [implicit] bias. Sexism can touch everyone, but women are particularly affected. (Source: European Institute for Gender Equity)

Sizeism: 40 percent of U.S. adults across a range of body sizes-and even greater numbers abroad-report experiencing weight stigma at some point in their life… Like other forms of bias and discrimination, weight stigma, also called sizeism, leads to suffering and psychological distress. Sizeism increases a person's risk for mental health problems such as substance use and suicidality…Weight stigma also undermines health behaviors and preventive care, causing disordered eating, decreased physical activity, health care avoidance, and weight gain. (Source: American Psychological Association)

Transphobia: Irrational fear or hatred of people who break or blur gender roles and sex characteristics, which exists in both the heterosexual and LGBQ communities. Expressed as negative feelings, erasure, attitudes, actions, and institutional discrimination against those perceived as transgender or gender [expansive]… or the fear of being perceived as transgender or gender [expansive]. (Source: Keshet)

Transphobia has no single, simple manifestation. It is complex and can include a range of behaviors and arguments. The consequence of transphobia is that trans people struggle to live openly and comfortably in society. An ultimate outcome may be the erasure of trans people as a viable class of people…Transphobia includes, but is not limited to: Attempting to remove trans people's rights, misrepresenting trans people, abuse, systematically excluding trans people from discussions about issues that directly affect them, [and] other forms of discrimination. (Source: TransActual)