Exploring Philanthropy: Our Fellows’ Transformative Visit to Baltimore and D.C.

During October, our three dedicated Philanthropy Fellows—Ilana Ybgi, Santy Barrera, and Maya Katz-Ali—embarked on a visit to Baltimore and Washington, D.C, to gain hands-on experience meeting with funders and grantees from philanthropic organizations including Crown Family Philanthropies, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, and Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies.

Embracing Growth and Impact: My Experience as a JoCI Leadership Fellow

Accessing a space where I once felt so uncomfortable has helped me recognize the power of embodying my Jewish identity, whether in JoC spaces or any other Jewish spaces. Overall, this fellowship has given me the clarity that my power does not only come from one facet of my identity. From redefining my presentation, to evolving how my confidence and self determination presents itself when I engage in different social circles, I am proud to show up as my full self.

Micah Pierandri: An Empowered Jewish Leader for Today and Tomorrow

In the heart of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a remarkable young leader reflects a new era of Jewish leadership. Meet Micah Pierandri, an 18-year-old deeply involved with BBYO, both locally and on the international stage. Her journey, marked by personal experiences in Jewish communal spaces, and a commitment to inclusivity, led her to create MoCA, the Members of Color Alliance.

A Successful Launch of the LA JoC Pro Network: Nurturing Connections and Building Community

The JoCI recently launched the Los Angeles Jews of Color Professionals Network (LA JoC Pro Network) in the vibrant tapestry of the Jewish community of Los Angeles. This initiative, which builds on the JoC Pro Network’s success in New York, is creating a space for JoC leaders in the greater LA area to connect, build relationships, and positively impact the local JoC community.

Metrics of Mitzvot: How to Track Progress in Tikkun Olam

My fascination with data began to grow when I became a Leadership Fellow at JoCI, which is dedicated to generating and sharing data to make progress towards equity. When the Fellowship matching process presented the opportunity to work with data at Repair the World, I felt very excited.

Centering Jews of Color While Engaging White Jewish Audiences

Over the summer, Riki Robinson, the Program Director of our New York Hub, and Jade Groobman, our Programs Associate, had the opportunity to lead presentations to young adults and rising communal leaders about Jewish racial diversity and the JoCI’s commitment to racial equity. Here are the top four tactics they utilize to center Jews of Color among white Jewish audiences.

Empowering Future Generations to Shape New Traditions

Kumi prepares Jewish teens between tenth and twelfth grade for leadership in anti-racist and anti-oppression spaces on college campuses, by equipping them with the skills to identify and disrupt systemic racism and injustice. Kumi features a month of virtual training, and a four day in-person retreat that features two separate tracks: Jews of Color Empowerment for JoC, and Anti-Racist Allies track for white Jewish teens.

Building the Field for JoC Leaders

Last year, we created several new programs to build and enrich the professional, organizational and communal field for Jews of Color. Our offerings and those of grantees serve a communal field where Jews of Color find more belonging, empowerment, and community than ever before. Today, because of many JoCI grantees, there are JoC leadership, philanthropy, project building, and other professional development cohort opportunities, creating a new reality in which the JoC field is more programmatically diverse than ever.

Moving Towards Collective Change

Over the past year, whether through community education, research, or leading training sessions in predominantly white institutions, we have developed new strategies to advance the Jewish communal ecosystem’s commitment to racial equity. Change in this area does not occur passively; rather, by actively mobilizing efforts to center the leadership of Jews of Color, we are closer to realizing a Jewish communal ecosystem that reflects the multiracial reality of American Jews.

This Year in Grantmaking

In fiscal year 2022–2023, the JoCI granted $735,825 to 45 projects across 36 unique organizations, including, for the first time, multi-year grants for three organizations. We also established a Philanthropy Fellowship and hired three fellows: Santy Barrera, Ilana Ybgi, and Maya Katz-Ali.

Leave No Part of Yourself at the Door: Yolanda Savage-Narva on Community Transformation

Her firsthand knowledge of the way being heard and received with empathy can impact change has shaped Savage-Narva’s current work with the URJ, where she leads internal and external consulting efforts that promote racially equitable and diverse communities. “One of the things I really try hard to do, is to meet people where they are in their journey, and understand that people are coming from so many different places and bringing their experiences, biases, and baggage,” said Savage-Narva.

Connection, Belonging and Visibility: The LUNAR Collective

“I think those are the three things that we really would like to address for Asian Jews: connection that comes with Jewish learning events, finding belonging in Judaism in a way that feels good, safe, and comfortable, and which also meets you where you are in terms of your Judaism, but also in terms of your Asianness,” said Chishti. “How can we reinvigorate rituals and Jewish texts and history to accommodate your cultures and your identities?” 

Myrna Melgar: Walking in Different Worlds

When she decided to run for Board of Supervisors in District 7, which encompasses many neighborhoods in Western San Francisco, some of her colleagues expressed doubt.“It's a conservative district. You're too progressive. You have no chance,” Melgar recalled being told. “And I was like, I'm used to walking in different worlds. I'm Jewish, I'm Latina, I'm an immigrant. I'm so many different things. My synagogue is in this district. My kids all went to school in this district. I know all the PTA moms and all the soccer moms. I walk in different universes and I think that gave me that ability to just talk to different people, and connect with them.”

Mentorship Worth Its Weight in Gold: The Leaders Behind The Workshop

Pinkney’s time in the JoCI Incubator was one of several crucial mentorship experiences that helped him define his vision for The Workshop. “I want to speak to one thing that has made all the difference in my life. And that is mentorship,” said Pinkney. “It is worth its weight in gold. I cannot emphasize it enough.” Pinkney described a “theory of mentorship” that has formed over the years: a diverse array of mentors, those who provide support financially, emotionally, or career-wise, is crucial in developing the skillset and network necessary to realize a mission, or achieve professional goals, especially as individuals with marginalized identities. 

Democratized Storytelling: Asian Jewish Stories Take Center Stage

The Braid, a Jewish story company formerly known as Jewish Women’s Theatre, aims to democratize storytelling. We spoke with David Chiu, The Braid’s marketing and communications manager, who is working with a team of creatives to bring Asian Jewish stories to the stage.

Three Philanthropy Fellows Join Team JoCI

The Jews of Color Initiative is excited to announce our inaugural cohort of Philanthropy Fellows, Santy Barrera, Ilana Ybgi, and Maya Katz-Ali. Over the next twelve months, these Fellows will work closely with the JoCI Grants team to learn how to leverage grantmaking, field building strategies, and other philanthropic tools to advance a racial-equity framework.

Bringing Inclusion to Immersion: Leading a JoC Cohort of Mikvah Guides

A central goal of this cohort is to elevate and invest in Black, Indigenous, Jews of Color, Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews as wisdom-holders and educators in the open mikvah environment, advancing the movement by making Jewish ritual leaders representative of our Jewish community’s multiracial reality. 

Under JoCI Leadership, JoC Pro Network Expands Community and Connection

The Jews of Color Initiative is excited to highlight the JoC Pro Network, an initiative featuring professional gatherings and convenings that create access and community for Jews of Color seeking to expand their careers in the Jewish nonprofit ecosystem. Previously, UJA- Federation of New York managed the Network. Today, the JoCI is proud to lead it. 

Divine Timing: Jordan Daniels and Sarah Starks’ Journeys to JoCI

In August 2022, the JoCI hired two incredible leaders to become part of our expanding Grants team. Sarah Starks and Jordan Daniels are JoCI’s Junior Program Officers and represent a generation of JoC whose leadership experiences and backgrounds contribute to the richness of our ever-expanding field.

Partnering for a Paradigm Shift: Jewtina y Co. and Uri L’Tzedek’s Immigration Retreat

Merging their knowledge and skills, these organizations created a retreat that simultaneously centered immigrant rights and helped white Ashkenazi Jews see similarities to their own family and community immigration histories. The result was the Darchei Tzedek/Caminos a la Justicia retreat, which took a cohort of JoC leaders to Nogales, Arizona collectively witness and experience the border.

Leader Feature: How Peer-to-Peer Cohorts Shaped Yoshi Silverstein’s Leadership

 “The power of fully embodying JoC experience is made possible only when JoC are able to congregate and learn from one another’s experiences,” said Silverstein. This means that we must continue to forge a future where all racialized identities can fully embody their Jewishness—to achieve a state of radical belonging where being JoC is “part of how you move and exist in the world… something you don’t even have to think about, because it is so deeply a part of what you are.”