The Jews of Color Initiative is excited to highlight the JoC Pro Network, an initiative featuring professional gatherings and convenings that create access and community for Jews of Color seeking to expand their careers in the Jewish nonprofit ecosystem. Previously, UJA-Federation of New York managed the Network. Today, the JoCI is proud to lead it.
The JoC Pro Network was conceived to build community and connection for Jews of Color in the professional landscape. The American Jewish community is composed of at least 12-15% Jews of Color, yet Jewish communal leadership underrepresents this reality. Oftentimes, JoC professionals are isolated as the only Jew of Color at their organization, or in their broader professional network. As such, the JoCI is eager to further professional opportunities for Jews of Color in the Jewish communal sector, and to deepen our impact in the New York area through the JoC Pro Network.
At the JoC Pro Network’s first community gathering of the year in January, Riki Robinson, Program Director of our New York Hub, facilitated the event and described the mixture of familiar faces and new arrivals as a mark of progress– and an exciting sign for future growth.
Luis Burgos, a Network attendee and operations manager of the artist-driven experimental group Lab/Shul said, “I was so excited to see JoCI is now leading the JoC Pro Network. It feels like a wonderful fit for the work they already do. It was a joy to gather with fellow JoCs and enjoy a meal together. I got to reconnect with people I’ve met through JoCI, and I got to meet some new folks as well. There was a great balance between sharing personal life and work projects. Overall, the event was uplifting, not just professionally but spiritually.”
In coming months, the JoC Pro Network will continue to engage and convene JoC professionals in the greater New York Metropolitan area. To enrich and support a pipeline of emerging talent, the Network will invite JoC working in other fields who have interest in exploring Jewish nonprofit opportunities. January’s gathering featured Rabbi Mira Rivera, the first ever Filipinx-American rabbi to be ordained at Jewish Theological Seminary.
Jade Groobman, JoCI’s Program Associate who is working collaboratively with Robinson, reflected on Rabbi Mira Rivera’s positive representation for Asian Jews: “For a long time, Rabbi Mira’s role model was herself. And now, years after she was ordained, there’s been more and more Asian folks in rabbinical school,” said Groobman.
This first event was both a significant mark of progress as well as an exciting sign for new growth in the future. “We know folks who five or ten years ago used to feel really isolated,” said Robinson. “It was hard to build resiliency to continue succeeding in a predominately white working environment as one of the few, if not only, Jews of Color. So part of this network is really to ensure that folks know that they are not alone.”
Robinson and Groobman also emphasized the flexibility built into the Network—one doesn’t necessarily need to be looking for work in Jewish institutions to benefit from this community-building program. JoC individuals working in secular education, journalism, or tech, to name a few sectors, attended the gathering to acquaint themselves with a new network and community. The opportunity to connect with established JoC leaders is one of the Network’s greatest strengths.
The March gathering of the JoC Pro Network will take place on March 14, 2023. Register at bit.ly/JoCPro-March