Newsletter   /   January 2023
Partnering for a Paradigm Shift: Jewtina y Co. and Uri L’Tzedek’s Immigration Retreat

Partnering for a Paradigm Shift: Jewtina y Co. and Uri L'Tzedek's Immigration Retreat; image of border wall fading away

A few months ago, two of the Jews of Color Initiative’s grantees, Jewtina y Co. and Uri L’Tzedek, created an unprecedented cohort experience that centered Jews of Color and immigration rights within the Jewish community. The partnership of these two justice-driven organizations resulted in the development of the Darchei Tzedek/Caminos a la Justicia Immigration Retreat, which took place last Fall during Sukkot.  

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. Participants came from all over the United States as well as Trinidad and Tobago, and Israel. Jewtina y Co. facilitates community connection through cohort experiences, educational materials, and honoring storytelling among the Latina/o/x-Jewish community. Uri L’Tzedek is a modern Orthodox social justice movement dedicated to racial justice in Arizona and nationally.  

In both organizations, Jewish leaders of Color and their immigration stories played vital roles in crafting the retreat. Eddie Chavez-Calderón, the campaign director at Uri L’Tzedek, is a DACA recipient who experienced crossing the border as a young child. He has been part of the Uri L’Tzedek team for years expanding their support for migrants. Analucía Lopezrevoredo, the founder and executive director of Jewtina y Co., learned of her status as an undocumented immigrant before she applied to college. This unexpected news restructured Lopezrevoredo’s sense of self and what opportunities were—or weren’t—available to her. 

Lopezrevoredo and Chavez-Calderón worked with Uri L’Tzedek’s founder, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, Nicholas Jagdeo of Uri L’Tzedek, and Kimberly Duenas of Jewtina y Co., to develop a four-day retreat that was grounded in the teachings of Sukkot. During Sukkot, Jews across the world focus on ushpizin (guests)—inviting guests into one’s sukkah, serving as a reminder of the impermanence of shelter and physical homes. 

Lopezrevoredo said, “the container of Sukkot inspired us to trace our ancestral stories of movement, reflect on our historical need for refuge and shelter, and collectively imagine a world in which immigrants experience radical hospitality.”  

“The ultimate goal is to return chesed and tzedek,” loving kindness and justice,to the immigrant community,” a press release from Uri L’Tzedek stated. Noting a distinction for Indigenous and Native American Jews, the statement continued, “to do this, we need to remember that we were all strangers once, knocking at the door, asking to be let in. The right to dignity and respect is what our ancestors who came here were asking for; is it too much to ask the same for contemporary immigrants seeking the same?” 

“Jews have always been, simultaneously, strangers and commanded to love the stranger,” Rabbi Yanklowitz wrote in an op-ed calling for a new generation of Jewish immigrant-rights activists. He believes this new generation must center Jews with direct immigration experiences. 

Over the past four years, the shared experience of being undocumented and Jewish created a powerful bond between Chavez-Calderón and Lopezrevoredo. Their connection motivated them to create programming that reflected their particular lived experiences in connection with a larger immigrant rights narrative and Jewish teachings. 

Chavez-Calderón’s own experience of crossing the border as a child was foremost in his mind during the retreat, which took place at the same spot where he and his mother had been in a detention center. “I wanted to really ground myself in my Judaism,” Chavez-Calderón explained. “Understanding that my story is the story of hundreds of Jews.”  

In addition to connecting contemporary immigrant experiences to the stories of the broader Jewish community, the retreat offered the cohort a chance to name and untangle some of the intergenerational traumas that live within them, resulting in individual and collective growth and healing. “Each one of us grew during this program, Chavez-Calderón said. “We are different people than we were when we first started this journey.” 

Date Posted

January 2023


Jews of Color Initiative