Newsletter   /   December 2023
Nurturing Community Voices: Research on Jews of Color in the Pacific Northwest

Nurturing Community Voices: Research on Jews of Color in the Pacific Northwest

Since our founding, the Jews of Color Initiative has helped develop more diverse leaders in Jewish organizational life, and has facilitated connectedness and belonging among Jews of Color. Still, regions of the country with smaller Jewish populations have less programming and initiatives led by and focused on Jews of Color. One of JoCI’s recent grants, in response to an RFP for supporting JoC in new localities, funds community-driven research to assess the needs and interests of JoC in the Pacific Northwest (PNW).

To gather this knowledge of communal needs and interests, Metasabiya (Tammy) Habteyes, Program Director at TischPDX, created the 2023 Cultural Shift Survey. This grassroots survey aims to gather hyperlocal data to gain a comprehensive understanding of JoC experiences in the PNW. “Through the work with the JoC Collective, I really wanted to do outreach but wasn’t sure of the path to pursue,” Habteyes said. “Talking with the JoCI Grants Team helped me develop the idea for a regional survey. Habteyes explained that the project is a collaborative effort “really rooted in the curious conversations among leaders who are out here in the region.”

The survey will garner data on the demographic, perspectives, and needs of JoC in the region. To bring the survey to fruition, TischPDX partnered with the JoCI, Tiyuv–a JoC-led research and evaluation initiative– and the Jews of Color Collective. Habteyes designed the survey to not only answer questions, but to usher in a cultural shift so that the Jewish community in the region centers the nuanced perspectives, interests, and leadership of JoC. “Partnering with Gage [Gorsky] from Tiyuv is such a godsend,” Habteyes said. “Not only were they part of the research team for Beyond the Count, but they live here in the Pacific Northwest.” The hope is that the gathered data will serve as a tool to evaluate the inclusivity and effectiveness of programs initiated by the broader Jewish community. It aims to shed light on the identity and presence of JoC in the PNW, fostering dialogue and improvements based on community input.

TischPDX aligns perfectly with this important work. Established in 2018, TischPDX’s core mission is to amplify the voices of young, marginalized, and unaffiliated Jewish leaders in Portland, Oregon. Through programs like the Emerging Jewish Leadership Incubator (EJLI), the Alumni Support Program (ASP), and the Cultural Shift Project (CSP), TischPDX empowers leaders who have experienced marginalization, including Jews of Color.

Habteyes hopes the survey will lead to change that will create a more deeply connected JoC–and ultimately, larger Jewish–community. “We know that many people in our Jewish communities, especially Jews of Color, have been feeling disconnected,” Habteyes said. “We hope that this survey can be an offering to bridge those gaps and foster a deeper sense of belonging and teshuva,” Habteyes expressed in an outreach email. The survey provides a unique opportunity for JoC to steward, conduct, and analyze research that reflects their experiences.

“I’m really hoping we can see what Jewish institutions and communities are currently offering. We’ve seen a lot of statements on inclusivity, but we want to follow that by asking JoC if they feel that mission succeeded–do we feel more included? More seen and heard? Do we feel more incorporated into institutionalized Jewish communal life? If we do, maybe that can be replicated.” While geography keeps many JoC distanced from one another in the PNW, Habteyes is curious if JoC community members are interested in coming together through group programming like webinars or retreats.

Habteyes invites eligible participants, Jews of Color aged 18 or older currently residing in the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, or Alaska), to contribute to the survey. The 2023 Cultural Shift Survey will remain open until January 5, 2024. She encourages all JoC in the region to embrace this opportunity to be part of reimagining Jewish community in the PNW. Following the survey, Habteyes plans to publish the data in a report and host discussions in early 2024 to delve into the findings and key trends. This initiative symbolizes a collective effort to amplify the voices of Jews of Color, fostering a community where everyone has a seat at the table.

“This is your community. You’re a stakeholder as much as anyone else. This survey is for JoC in the PNW to take up space. This is your space to take up. I don’t just want to hear from you. I need to hear from you so that I can do something. I can’t reimagine this community on my own. I can’t make this only in my image. This is our community.”

To participate in the survey and learn more, visit

Date Posted

December 2023


Jews of Color Initiative