Newsletter   /   December 2022
Building the Bay: Empowering Community-Centered JoC Futures

Building the Bay: Empowering Community-Centered JoC Futures; graphic image of two hands bringing gears together with the Golden Gate Bridge on one gear.

“The JoCI started here and we continue to be inspired by the creativity and ambitions of JoCI leaders in this region. I left the roundtable conversation with more insights and with renewed commitment to support and sustain programming for Bay Area Jews of Color.”   

-Ilana Kaufman, following a roundtable conversation about a Beyond the Count presentation in the Bay Area 


On October 26, 2022, roughly 200 people gathered for a presentation of Beyond the Count in the Bay Area. This powerful hybrid convening—hosted both in person as well as over Zoom—marked a special moment for the JoC community. The incredible growth the Bay Area JoC community has experienced over the past few years was on full display as leaders and community members discussed the impact of Beyond the Count and assessed community needs. Members of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund’s racial justice task force were also present to join arms with the community and continue paving the way toward leadership and community engagement opportunities for Jews of Color.  

Ilana Kaufman founded the Jews of Color Initiative in the Bay Area, where it has thrived for the past five years serving the national Jewish community. The partnered event with the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund (SFJCF) was thus energized by years of Jewish racial justice momentum that has been building locally. Having spent her life in the Bay Area, Kaufman is uniquely positioned to speak to the Beyond the Count data from a local perspective. This local lens is indispensable when considering community need and leadership opportunities.  

Following a presentation of the Beyond the Count findings, JoCI hosted a roundtable lunch for Jewish leaders of Color in the Bay Area. The roundtable lunch reflected ongoing efforts and organizing in the region, and provided a place where JoC leaders were able to come together and engage with one another without institutional mediation.  

At the lunch, participants were asked to introduce themselves and share a memory of JoC leadership that felt empowering and impactful. Immediately, the conversation opened on a note of optimism and alignment—it became clear that returning to this feeling was the goal of the roundtable. This energetic starting point among leaders at the roundtable lunch carried the conversation toward discussing and engaging with the limitations that still exist for JoC community in the Bay Area, where many attendees were able to contextualize the wins that the community has faced in broader issues of inequity. Leaders discussed how although funding has become more available since the Beyond the Count data was released, it is still dependent on priorities and decision-making at predominantly white institutions (PWIs). This opened up a whole arena of discussion about how institutional enmeshment with PWIs has the potential to erode much of the JoC solidarity and field building that had occurred over the past several years.  

The issue of unilateral accountability was a major theme of the roundtable. Participants discussed the structurally asymmetric relationship they had with PWIs, where they were accountable to majority white executive boards, but those boards were not accountable back to them. As a result, the burden of fighting for racial justice often came at the expense of those least able to impact change. This asymmetry in the Jewish institutional ecosystem manifested in a variety of ways: participants shared having to take on second and third jobs in order to continue their antiracism work, being conscientiously tokenized by PWIs, and the resultant emotional and physical toll this incurs. “Every single one of us are human beings with full lives,” said Arya Marvazy, Senior Director of Programs at JoCI. “The wellness of the leaders should be a genuine concern for us, given how rapidly the work of JoCs is evolving.”  

The Bay Area is the heart of the rapid growth of the JoC community  in recent years. “Having spent my life in the Bay, this community holds a special place in my heart,” said Ilana Kaufman.  

Date Posted

December 2022


Jews of Color Initiative