Horizons — October 2020

UpStart’s Jews of Color Career Development Program

In an exciting partnership with the Jews of Color Initiative, UpStart, a vibrant entrepreneurial Jewish organization, is launching a Jews of Color Career Development Program, with the very first cohort beginning this month. The program provides a paid opportunity for Jews of Color to connect with the Jewish ecosystem—the collection of Jewish institutions, communities, and individuals—based on their areas of interest and career aspirations.

The program offers unique career development trainings for the Jews of Color that participate. Trainings for participants are commonly part of career development programs, but this UpStart and JoCI program has an important distinction: supervisors also receive trainings. Training supervisors is crucial to fulfilling our mission to not only help Jews of Color enter Jewish organizations, but to build a more equitable Jewish ecosystem overall. Training supervisors also dispels the myth that supervisors are inherently superior, a myth that can exacerbate unequal power dynamics. In the Jews of Color Career Development Program, supervisors and cohort participants are learning in conjunction with one another, building a sustainable Jewish ecosystem that centers the needs of Jews of Color.

UpStart has already finished accepting applications for the first cohort, which will begin on October 12, 2020. You may recognize that October 12 is Indigenous Peoples’ Day; this day was selected intentionally. Activists and Indigenous communities worked to reimagine what was previously “Columbus Day”—a holiday that disturbingly honored the famed genocidal colonialist, Christopher Columbus—and the activist efforts finally succeeded in 2019. No act of justice is insignificant or too small, and the collective action that pushed for recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day inspires many who are concerned with building a more just world. The Jews of Color Initiative sees the equitable reimagining of Jewish institutions and the centering of Jews of Color as part of a larger struggle towards justice spanning across communities and identities, including Indigenous Jews.

The Jews of Color Career Development Program is an excellent way for the Jews of Color Initiative to pilot a new type of support to the Jews of Color community. As the JoCI continues to expand our network among Jewish institutions, we are also honing our understanding of how to best serve the JoC family. We are eager to see the success of this program as we expand our vision for providing similar opportunities in the future.