A courtroom of students

NJBJC was created to improve the justice system, the law, and society through conversation and debate about issues of discrimination and prejudice. Here you'll find a letter illustrating the goals and practices of our organization as well as event photos and letters of appreciation.

NJBJC & AIFL Correspondence

Blacks and Jews in Conversation

Sr Exec. Vice Pres.
America Israel Friendship League
134 E. 19th Street. New York , NY 10016

Re: "Blacks and Jews in Conversation"

Dear Mr. Urman
Pursuant to your request, I am writing to you on behalf of a very special educational program in New York, Blacks and Jews in Conversation. This program was founded by many highly respected judges of the New York State Supreme Court in the aftermath of the Crown Heights conflicts in Brooklyn in 1991. The purpose of our organization is to promote dialogue and understanding between different ethnic groups. Grade school, high school and college students of all backgrounds are invited to the courts to participate in dialogues and discussions among judges and themselves. Judges of all backgrounds also come directly to the schools to interact with the students. Founded initially with a dozen Jewish and Black jurists, the programming has expanded to include over 200 jurists, public officials and distinguished counsel of all ethnicities, religions and gender.

Many educators can personally attest to the efficiency of this program. Yaffer Berger, the law coordinator at Bedford-Stuyvesent Outreach Program, an alternative high school program for at-risk students in Brooklyn, wrote: "We participated in two forums held in the fall of 1996 and the Spring of 1997. The effect of these sessions on the students was astounding. Black and Hispanic students who heretofore had only scant and often inaccurate ideas about Judaism came away from this conference with newfound respect and understanding of what Judaism is all about. The effectiveness of the program was demonstrated on 5 / 23 / 97, when I took a group of my law students who had participated in the previous symposium to an independent New York State Supreme Court tour. A group of Jewish students from Yeshiva Magen David in Brooklyn were there at the same time. Both groups of students got together and organized a spontaneous mock trial competition. The respect and friendship that emerged between the two groups could not have occurred but for the preceding Blacks and Jewish Judges in Conversation prgram."

All educators involved wholeheartedly endorse this program and would like to see it further expanded nationwide. Independently, our organization has scheduled tours of/for judges for museums and institutions such as the Pentagon and the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., which have been in the forefront of the struggle against racism in the United States.

Profiling a program such as Blacks and Jews in Conversation, Inc. would definitely be in keeping with the educational goals of your institution. Many student groups visit with us annually; imagine having a program where students from all over the United States could assemble for meaningful dialogue and discussion about each other's beliefs and cultures with such judges. Stereotyping, which tends to lead to racism and anti-Semitism, could be fought on new terms. Mr. Eli Weisel, among other figures of international standing, has endorsed Blacks and Jews in Conversation.

As has all media which reviewed any or our programs. See the New York Times, July 22, 1996, featuring our borough wide essay contests against bigotry (MET section B, 1, 7, attached). The New York City Council presented the awards of bonds at a plenary session, covered by city television.

Information about our organization can also be obtained by writing or calling Dr. Enid F. Margois, Director Student Support Services, Division of High School of the New York City Public Schools, 110 Livingston St., Brooklyn, N.Y., 11201, Room 1835, ( 718) 953-3650, and the Board of Education of New York City; president, William Thompson, Jr. They have recommended that all of its pre-law and law cluster programs encourage masses and individual participation with these jurists. Board President Thompson participated together with his father, our co-chairman Appellate Division Judge William Thompson, with Brooklyn District attorney Charles Hines and New York City Transportation Commissioner, Christopher Lynn, in our spring 1997 Brooklyn Judicial-Student Dialogue. It was televised together with our spring, 1997 Manhattan Dialogue just recently on CNN. NEC (Al Roker-Queens 1996 Dialogue), CSS (Judicial-Business Leaders-Governor Dialogue, Harlem, 1996), NY1 (interview with Dominique Carter) and, frequently, City Educational Television ( 25), were already among these networks that have exposed our goals and achievements to the public. "Our story" is presented herewith.

We welcome your attention and look forward to hearing from you, soon.

Mr. Shannon Taylor
Executive Director

In the past decade, Israel issued a stamp entitled "Say No to Racism". Among other discussions of Talmudic, International, Civil, Criminal and Constitutional Law that we seek to study through with our colleagues in Israel, our organization is premised on this motto. We wish to offer our experiences to Israel on this noble goal, too. We humbly but earnestly seek your support, without which this mission is not possible. We have longed for it and communicated with the government of Israel in the most positive fashion for some time. (Please refer to Judge Thomson's invitation of May 19, 1997, to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for Brooklyn Law School's Honorary Degree of Doctor of Law, and my letter of June 6, 1997 to Counsel Shmuel Ben Shmuel).

Respectfully submitted,

Shannon Taylor, A.L.J
Executive Director, NJBJC


NJBJC Photos

Letters of Appreciation

Letter Image

Throughout the years we've been honored by special speakers and partners in our discussions. Here are some of their letters of appreciation:


September 13, 2000

Mr. Mrs. Shannon Taylor
225 West 83 St., 2nd Floor
New York City NY

That was such an interesting and happy evening-thank you. And I hope to see you again soon, if not in New York, then (especially) in London.

Shannon-I enjoyed the reading material you gave me- you should be very proud of your programs and of their success.

Office: 0171 976 8443/0171 222 2863 FAX 0171 222 2864


April 10, 2000

Mr. Shannon Taylor
Administrative Law Judge
Criminal Court, Law Department
120 Schermerhorn Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Dear Mr. Taylor:

On behalf of the CUNY Dispute resolution Consortium and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, I want to thank you for all of your efforts and commitment in connection with the program entitled Black, Jewish and Latino Judges in Conversation: Beyond Black and White on April 4 at John Jay College. First, our deepest gratitude to you for selecting the judges and organizing the program. You did a fabulous job.

Second, I want to thank you for your informative and stimulating remarks during session. From all that we heard, the attendees were very pleased with the session.

I have enjoyed working with you and look forward to our upcoming program in the near future. Again, many thanks for contributing to the success of the CUNY DRC's initiatives.

Maria R. Volpe, Ph.D.

CUNY Dispute Resolution at John Jay College Professor
John Jay College


April 05, 2000

Jeffery A. Ross, Director
Department of Campus Affairs
Anti-Defamation League
823 United Nations Plaza
New York, New York 10017

Dear Mr. Ross,

On behalf of the University of Massachusetts' Jewish Student Union, Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies, and the Hillel House, I would like to thank you, Mr. Shannon Taylor and Mr. Randolph Jackson for bringing "Not just Blacks and Jews in Conversation" to the University of Massachusetts campus.

All of the students in attendance thoroughly enjoyed the provocative discussion with Mr. Taylor and Mr. Jackson. We hope to continue our relationship with the Anti-Defamation League and the "Not just Blacks and Jews in Conversation" program.

Enclosed are the past two issues of the Jewish Affairs section of the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, Our Campus newspaper. There are quite a few articles that I feel would be of interest to you.

Thank you once again for the wonderful program, and I look forward to working with you again.

Robert Medwed

Vice President
Social Action and Tikkun Olam
University of Massachusetts'
Jewish Student Union


March 02, 1998

Mr. Shannon Taylor
Exec. Dir of Blacks and Jews in Conversation.
Criminal Court (Room 324)
100 Center Street New York, NY. 10013

Dear Shannon:

Allow me to take this time to thank you on behalf of the Nubian people of Sudan. Your assistance is allowing me to get the word out about the plight of my people has been invaluable. Indeed, your work permitted me access to important people and a wider audience. Of great significance was your orchestration on my appearance before the Judges and other Court Officials during the January 22, 1998 Blacks and Jews in Conversation gathering. Hopefully, out of the contacts provided by you, some relief will come to my suffering subjects.

In honor of your selfless concern for the Nubian People of Sudan at this dark hour, I decree that you will be hence forth counted among


And when we, the Nubians, retake our country from the Arab interlopers, you may enjoy full citizenship in our land. This is a solemn promise and an honor I bestow upon you.

Sheikh Anwar McKeen

BROOKLYN, N.Y. 11201

March 26, 1997

The Honorable William C. Thompson, Co-Chair
The Honorable Jerome Hornblass, Co-Chair
Blacks and Jews in Converstion
111 Centre Street New York, NY 10013

Dear Judge Thompson and Judge Hornblass:

Thank you for your recent letter regarding a new series of workshops bringing together judges and high school students to discuss discrimination. I was delighted to hear that you would be continuing this very exciting and valuable dialogue in our schools again this year.

As you make your arrangements for the upcoming workshops, please be sure to keep my office informed of your plans so we can provide any assistance you may require. I have asked my special assistant, Gayle Horwitz, to work with Alan Mass on the arrangements. In fact, she has already notified the Acting Superintendent for K-12 of your intentions.

Again, thank you for your continued efforts on behalf of the New York City public schools. We greatly appreciate the depth of your commitment to our students.

Very Truly yours,
William C. Thompson,Jr.



March 02, 1995

The Honorable Justice Jerome Hornblass
Blacks and Jews in Converstion
111 Centre Street New York, NY 10013

Dear Justice Hornblass:

As dean of Howard University School of Law, I want to extend a welcome to you and Justice Thompson. The faculty, students, and staff of the law school are looking forward to your visit on March 30, 1995.

If there is anything we can do to help facilitate your visit, please do not hesitate to call me or Assistant Dean Denisse Purdie.

I look forward to meeting your upon your arrival.

Henry Ramsey,Jr.


198 College Hill Road
Clinton, N.Y. 13323

The Honorable Justice Jerome Hornblass
Supreme Court of the State of New York
111 Centre Street
New York, NY 10013-4310

Dear Judge Hornblass:

Thank you so very much for coming to Hamilton on October 26th for the panel on affirmative action. We all enjoyed meeting you, and many people have told me over the last few weeks how valuable they feel the panel ha been in starting conversation among students about this important policy issue. Not only is the information and experience you brought forth at the meeting valuable, but the fact that you and your friend make time in your busy lives despite other pressing duties and responsibilities, to personally become involved in programs such as Blacks and Jews in Conversation and your other charitable endeavors, is an inspirational example, especially to young people.

We also appreciate your invitation to Andrew Camacho to join you on November 9th. He was very impressed with the experience and enjoyed it immensely. I feel so proud of Andrew because I have known him since he first arrived on campus-shy and wide-eyed. To see his personal growth is one of the pleasures of working at a college like Hamilton. Thank you for providing the opportunity for him to join in your important work.

I have circulated information about you and Judges Douglass and Figeroa around campus, so various departments are aware of your good offer to participate in other programs here. I do hope that plans work out so that you will all be able to visit again before too long.

Many Thanks, again for coming to Hamilton.

Best Wishes
Louise H. Peckingham


Letters of Appreciation

Letter Image

Throughout the years we've been honored by special speakers and partners in our discussions. On this page you'll find letters of appreciation.

Contact Us

For more information about "Not Just Blacks and Jews in Conversation" please send an e-mail.