Newsletter   /   December 2022
Meet Cohort 2 of our Leadership Fellowship

The Jews of Color Initiative is proud and excited to announce our second ever cohort of our JoCI Leadership Fellowship. Our six Fellows have each been placed in various leadership positions in the New York City Jewish organizational ecosystem, where they will continue their work as activists, educators, and leaders. The Fellows will also have opportunities to engage with one another in group learning modules, such as mentor-mentee pairings, speaking events, and reading groups. We are incredibly excited to see the amazing things our Fellows do this year. Get to know them by reading their bios below! 


Monica Rey 

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Monica is an artist/educator/activist passionate about improving the ways we communicate with one another and open ourselves to other perspectives. Her past experience as a teacher informs her work in child advocacy/parent education, anti-ableism, inclusion, and nonviolent communication. As an actor and playwright, Monica feels honored to further serve the arts community as the JoCI Leadership Fellow at Lab/Shul, an artist-driven, experimental community. 

Monica is a proud descendent of the Indigenous people of the American Southwest/Northern Mexico, as well as the crypto-Jews who sought refuge there post-1492. Monica Rey holds a B.A. in Hispanic Studies from Colorado College, an M.Ed. in Montessori Education from Xavier University, and is a graduate of the William Esper Studio acting conservatory. 


Dean Gottesman-Solomon 

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Dean is a social justice educator and group-dialogue facilitator who is passionate about building bridges between people and communities. As a Leadership Fellow of the Jews of Color Initiative, he is working with the 92nd Street Y. Dean is the co-founder and co-organizer of the IfNotNow-JOCISM leadership team, which focuses on the unique positionalities of Jews of Color, Indigenous, Sephardic, and Mizrahi communities regarding Israel-Palestine. His past work experiences include Gesher-Israel, Target Pedagogy Solutions, The Jerusalem Open House for Pride & Tolerance and Aharai Youth Program. Dean has served in the Israeli Defense Forces, earning the rank of Captain, while engaging in emergency management and disaster risk reduction with the Israeli Home Front Command. 

Building upon his interest in the role history plays in shaping identities and relationships, Dean studied Modern History & Romance Studies at Hebrew University, and identity-based group-dialogue facilitation at the Magid Institute for Continuing Education. 


Bereket Watts  

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Bereket (he/him/his) is an environmental sustainability professional and will be working at Hofstra Hillel as a Leadership Fellow to support environmental efforts and engage diverse students. At the age of twelve, Bereket moved to the US from Ethiopia in the hope of better opportunities in education. After high school, Bereket studied at Mount Saint Mary College where he obtained his undergraduate degree in Human Services. His education continued at Hofstra University, where he earned a Master’s degree in environmental sustainability and became involved with the Hillel community. 

At Hofstra University, Bereket co-founded a sustainable, affordable housing start-up that finished as runner-up in The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Challenge. Bereket hopes to continue collaborating with others to find creative ways to combat climate change. He aims to open doors for people of color to achieve more equity and equality in today’s society. 

As a fellow, Bereket hopes to bring sustainability expertise to leading environmental initiatives while rediscovering his Ethiopian Jewish heritage. 


Nicole Daghighian  

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Nicole is an Iranian American Jew born in the Upper East Side and raised in West Los Angeles. As a Leadership Fellow, Nicole is placed at Repair the World, where she will contribute to their data management projects. Nicole previously worked with Repair the World as a Service Corp member in early 2021. She organized inventory and helped plan Aviva Children and Family Services events in Hollywood, CA. Nicole also worked in medical sales, where she assisted surgeons in the operating room. Nicole is passionate about assisting people and understanding the methodologies of lead management, which she will focus on during her time as a Fellow. Nicole has a Bachelor of Science from UC Davis in Global Disease Biology. 


Jay Cohen  

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Jay (he/they) is a community organizer placed at JCC Harlem as a Leadership Fellow, where they will work on advancing mutual aid. Jay is a 24-year-old non-binary transmasculine individual with roots in Puerto Rico and Israel, and was born and raised in the Bronx, NY, where they attended public school. Jay then studied sociology to further his interest in community and mutual aid work. Jay is dedicated to advancing Black Trans liberation; he partners with different trans-led organizations to help feed people nutritious and hearty meals, and to promote community healing through the practice of food sovereignty at the ground level. Through this work, it is Jay’s goal to build bridges among intersectional marginalized communities. 


Jonah Levy 

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Jonah is an illustrator based in New York City, and a JoCI Leadership Fellow placed at Repair the World. Jonah believes the nonprofit sector can bridge cultural gaps, and is guided by his own personal commitments towards expansive representation of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC). Stylistically whimsical and bold in nature, Jonah’s illustrations prioritize accessibility, using engaging animations to convey messages visually. After attending East Stroudsburg University, he combined his writing and visual representation towards mass communication and social media. Jonah is using his visual arts and communications skills to support the social media and marketing team at Repair the World. 

Beyond creating visual art, he adores his cat, watching mini documentaries, and observing the world around him. 




The Jews of Color Initiative Leadership Fellowship is supported by the UJA-Federation of New York.

Date Posted

December 2022


Jews of Color Initiative