Open today: 10AM - 3PM

LOMED Book Club – Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Date(s) - Thursday, April 8th
7:00 pm CDT - 8:30 pm CDT


dsc0801-version-2Join us for a discussion of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson.

In Caste, the Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

“As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power—which groups have it and which do not.”

This program is free and open to the public. Registration is required to access the Zoom session. RSVP by emailing Tzipi Altman-Shafer at

Buy Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents from Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s Online Store, offering curbside pickup and shipping.

A LOMED (Learning Opportunity for Milwaukee Educators) program offered by the Coalition for Jewish Learning and in partnership with Jewish Museum Milwaukee of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. In connection with To Paint is to Live: The Artwork of Eric Lichtblau-Leskly, an exhibit on display at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, February 18-May 30, 2021. This program is co-sponsored by Tikkun Ha-Ir.

More about Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.

Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people—including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others—she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.

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