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Ray Allen: The Black-Jewish Experience

A Congregational Conversation

Wednesday January 6, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


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When most people think of Ray Allen, what comes to mind is the NBA Hall of Famer and 10-time All-Star who won championships with the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. However, he also serves on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, having been appointed by President Obama in 2016, and will join us on Zoom for a special Congregational Conversations keynote on Wednesday, January 6 at 7:00 pm.

Ray Allen was a freshman at the University of Connecticut in 1993 when he watched Schindler’s List for a class assignment. The film affected him deeply, instilling a desire to make the world a better place. He told the Miami Herald, “If everyone in the world watched this movie, they’d get it. Don’t worry about it being Jewish people, white people. Think about it as human beings. One race trying to annihilate another. We’ve seen it far too often.”

Allen’s interest in the Holocaust continued to grow, and in 1998, he went to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum for the first time. Following that visit for the rest of his NBA career, every time his team came to D.C. to play the Wizards, Allen would try to find time to bring his teammates and staff to the museum. As he wrote in a personal essay for The Players Tribune, “Every visit was different, but each guy came out thanking me for taking us there. I could see in their eyes that they had a different perspective on life after that experience.”

In April 2017, Allen traveled to Poland to learn more about the Holocaust and says he was not prepared for how heavily the experience at Auschwitz would weigh on him. “How can human beings do this to one another?” he told the Miami Herald. “How does somebody process that? You can’t. This is not history. This is humanity. This is now. This is a living lesson for us as a people.”

When The Defeated asked him about the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Allen shared, “So, I think between both museums, they’re opportunities for all of us to learn that each one of us were equal, and you can’t create somebody less than a human. And it’s here in D.C.; they’re examples for every child. The bully starts off in a small fashion, but he could grow into a dictator. All we had to do is walk into one of these museums, and you see what the bullies did. How they controlled societies, controlled people, and it gets ugly.”


Ray Allen comes to WHC as part of our Congregational Conversations series. We invite you to also join us for our MLK Shabbat service featuring Jelani Cobb on Friday, January 15 at 6:00 pm

No prior registration for the Shabbat service on January 15 is required.



Wednesday, January 6


7:00 pm - 8:00 pm




Adult Ed, Congregational Conversations


Layne Weiss