Back in April of 2021, a member of our research team, Dr. Dalya Perez, who also identifies as a Jew of Color, said that what she truly cares about rests in one simple question: “what do Jews of Color want to do with this data?” This simple but vital question has not only guided our research team but is shaping how we release and discuss the findings of Beyond the Count: Perspectives and Lived Experiences of Jews of Color. As we approach the launch, we held conversations with the three JoC leaders who will be panelists at the launch on August 12 where they will share their reflections on the data, shaping the conversation around our study.
“We have to know who we are,” said Ginna Green, Partner and Chief Strategy Officer at Uprise, a social justice consulting firm. Green says that she is excited for Beyond the Count to advance our communal conversation on what it means to center Jews of Color. “The reason this study is so interesting is because it goes beyond numbers or check boxes for increasing diversity and asks what our lived experiences in the community are.” She said that while diversity is important, there has been an over-emphasis on increasing the number of Jews of Color in leadership roles or who are involved in Jewish institutions. “The study is essentially exemplifying what we need to do as a community, which is go beyond just checking a box where Jews of Color become numbers, but really engage in what our lived experiences are in the community.”
Dr. Analucía Lopezrevoredo, Founder and Executive Director of Jewtina y Co., also feels like this study reflects an important moment in time. “This study is hopefully going to be the first of many studies to continue the conversation and that’s exciting to me. It’s expanding Jewish research.” Dr. Lopezrevoredo believes that while new research presents new knowledge, there are also new questions and lines of inquiry that arise. “I see this as a starting point…people are going to want to deepen their knowledge based on the findings that are coming out of this study.”
All three panelists also believe that there is an increased receptiveness in the white Jewish community that will hopefully contribute to a deep engagement with the findings. “There are more people who are willing to listen and are interested in investing in supporting marginalized communities and painting a clearer picture of the changing face of the Jewish people,” said Dr. Lopezrevoredo. “I think that’s something worth celebrating.” Green similarly said, “people are more ready to hear this and listen to this than they were five or ten years ago.”
Janu Mendel, Executive Director of Repair the World Miami, said that the already high number of people registered for the August 12 launch event is an example of the community’s readiness, while adding a reminder that the work toward racial equity and justice does not end here. “I think the response so far is a great indicator of the many partners we’ll have in the work. The release of the findings is certainly a culmination of an important process, but by no means the culmination of all the work that is yet to be done.”
The more that we learn about the Jews of Color community, the more we are able to demonstrate the nuanced and varied experiences within it, or the “mosaic nature of the Jewish community,” as Dr. Lopezrevoredo said. Because Beyond the Count researchers used surveys and interviews, the findings from the study will share real experiences and perspectives of Jews of Color, shining a light on both the themes and variations within the JoC community rather than reducing the community to a statistic. “We’re anything but a monolith.”
“I hope that in the next five to ten years, this study will be something we can point to as one of the important moments of how Jewish communities will strive to be more inclusive and considerate of the multitude of valid Jewish voices,” Mendel said. “I hope that JoCs feel safer and far less marginalized in their own local Jewish spaces. I hope that studies like this shed light on the very real need for there to be more inclusive spaces as the default, and not just as a reaction to an incident or other topical discourse of the time.”
At our launch event on August 12, Dr. Analucía Lopezrevoredo, Ginna Green, and Janu Mendel will share study findings and data, as well as thoughts on how to leverage the report to engage and transform community organizations and leaders. Register to attend here.