JFCS hosts ‘Better Angels’ workshop on how to talk across political differences

Are you feeling burnt out by the never-ending cycle of news? Are you trying to figure out the best way to discuss political issues in a meaningful way that embraces diverse views and opinions?


Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis’ (JFCS) and Beth El Synagogue will present “Better Angels Skills Workshop: How to Talk Across Our Differences,”
6-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, in the JFCS Community Room (5905 Golden Valley Rd, Golden Valley). Please join us for the Better Angels Skills Workshop to:

  • Learn skills to have respectful conversations with people who disagree with you
  • Clarify differences
  • Search for common ground
  • Deal with the stress among family members and friends whose views differ from yours


The Better Angels Skills Workshop will help you learn how to disagree without being disagreeable. Better Angels is a bipartisan citizen’s movement designed to unify our divided nation. The event will include a brief presentation, discussion and the opportunity to practice conversation skills. This event is co-sponsored by Jewish Family and Children Service of Minneapolis and Beth El Synagogue. People of all political leanings are welcome and encouraged to attend. We value diverse opinions and viewpoints.


Registration is required – click hereLight refreshments will be served. The event will be capped at 35 people. Register early to secure your spot. Contact Leah Persky, JFCS Family Life Education Manager, at 952-542-4825 or lpersky@jfcsmpls.org with questions.


This workshop is presented by JFCS’ Family Life Education (FLE) program. FLE takes JFCS out into the community and brings the community into JFCS through presentations, trainings, workshops, classes, support groups, individual meetings and consultations. The foundations of FLE are collaboration, prevention and education with the goal of promoting individual, family and community well-being and empowerment throughout the lifespan. FLE Program Manager Leah Persky has taught political science, global health and gender courses at the college level for 10 years. She also has many years of experience working with and for non-profit organizations with a focus on community engaged teaching and learning, research, and partnership building. She spoke about the Better Angels workshop below:


How did this workshop come about?

Leah Persky

Persky: I learned about the work of Better Angels last year and I was really drawn to their message of bringing people together to talk across difference and to de-polarize our families and communities. As someone who is tuned into the political world and engaged in community work, I have the sense that people are feeling anxious, stressed and uncertain in these very unstable political times.


I have also spoken with many people who feel estranged from family members and close friends because of different political views. This tension not only impacts the quality of our daily life and health, but also impacts the stability and quality of our democracy. People feel like they cannot have meaningful conversations with people with different political ideologies, and that not all people are working with the same set of facts. With this backdrop, there is so much work to do and so much potential!


I attended a Better Angels skills workshop this summer and thought it was a great event that would meet the needs of many in our community. Beth El Synagogue has also been grappling with these issues and has reached out to Professor Bill Doherty from the University of Minnesota. He is a leading member of Better Angels and spoke at Beth El on Sunday, Nov. 18, about “Bridging the Political Divide.” 


How does this workshop support JFCS’ mission and the work we do? 

This skills workshop directly supports the mission of JFCS to sustain healthy relationships, ease suffering and offer support that speaks to the needs of our community. JFCS serves all people regardless of religion, political views, ethnicity, race, and country of origin. Providing a safe space that allows the community to engage with each other and come to a deeper understanding of our similarities and differences directly speaks to the mission of JFCS and our work of repairing the world, tikkun olam. 


Why is this so important now?

This is newsworthy because it speaks to the needs of our community during this unique time in our political and social history. The uncertainty and instability that many of us are experiencing can be a challenge to address, and many of us don’t know what to do or how to talk about these feelings and experiences. The rise in hate crimes and anti-Semitism also plays into this environment. To create this safe space and build skills can make a positive impact on our families and communities. There are also not many workshops like this offered in this area.


About Better Angels

Launched in 2016, Better Angels is a bipartisan citizen’s movement to unify our divided nation. By bringing red and blue Americans together into a working alliance, we’re building new ways to talk to one another, participate together in public life, and influence the direction of the nation. Visit www.better-angels.org for more information.


We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory…will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

– Abraham Lincoln, 1861


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