Newsletter   /   March 2024
Celebrating Culture and Connection to Support Jews of Color in Cleveland

Celebrating Culture and Connection to Support Jews of Color in Cleveland

Samia Mansour and Ngozi Williams, educators and advocates, have embarked on a mission to redefine the narrative of the Jewish community in Cleveland, Ohio. Despite its reputation for tight-knit unity, the Cleveland Jewish community has faced challenges in embracing diversity, particularly for Jews of Color (JoC). Mansour reflects on the community’s strong sense of tradition and continuity, noting that while comforting, it can also be isolating for those who do not fit the conventional mold. Williams underscores the importance of acknowledging the evolving demographics of the Jewish community, particularly in Cleveland, where the JoC population continues to grow. 

In response to these challenges, Mansour and Williams co-founded Jews of Color: Cleveland in 2021. Their aim was to create a space where JoC individuals could connect, share experiences, and foster a sense of belonging within the larger Jewish community. Williams emphasizes the need to address the systemic barriers that prevent JoC individuals from fully participating in communal life. Central to the mission of JoC Cleveland is the celebration of diversity and cultural exchange. Mansour and Williams have organized a series of events and gatherings where JoC individuals can share their cultural heritage and traditions. These events provide a platform for JoC individuals to express their identities authentically and engage with others who share similar experiences. Williams recounts the success of their inaugural Passover dinner, where participants shared dishes from their respective cultures, fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among attendees. She also highlights the importance of Puerto Rican participants connecting with one another, sharing experiences, and celebrating their shared cultural heritage within the context of Jewish community.

As JoC Cleveland continues to expand its reach and impact, Mansour and Williams are committed to promoting leadership and empowerment within the JoC community. They envision a future where JoC individuals have a voice and representation within all facets of the Jewish community, from religious institutions to communal organizations. Williams emphasizes the importance of creating a horizontal leadership structure that uplifts and amplifies the voices of JoC leaders. By providing opportunities for leadership development and mentorship, JoC Cleveland aims to cultivate a new generation of leaders who are committed to social justice and inclusivity.

Looking ahead, Mansour and Williams are optimistic about the future of JoC Cleveland and its role in shaping a more diverse and inclusive Jewish community. Through their efforts to bridge diversity and foster unity, they are paving the way for a more vibrant and resilient Jewish community in Cleveland and beyond. As JoC individuals continue to assert their identities and claim their rightful place within the Jewish community, Mansour and Williams remain steadfast in their commitment to creating a more equitable and inclusive future for all.

Date Posted

March 2024


Jews of Color Initiative