While discussing their experiences as people of color in Jewish spaces and in the community as a whole, I heard many experiences similar to mine – and one which was almost exactly identical. Hearing the experiences of these panelists affirmed many of my own experiences as a Jewish person of color, and this was incredibly validating. I am thankful to have been a part of this safe space to both listen and share with confidence.
Jewish culture is deeply rooted in traditional core values, structures and norms often held by our American Jewish organizations. At the same time, today’s American Jewish community is more diverse and represents more backgrounds than ever.
Today, Americans tend to think of Jewish people as white folks, but it wasn’t always that way. On this episode of NPR’s Code Switch, we dig into the complex role Jewish identity has played in America’s racial story — especially now, when anti-Semitism is on the rise.
Pointing to the many times in Bamidbar that Jews are counted, Ilana Kaufman explores the question: Who is counted? Being counted matters because to be counted is an affirmation of belonging; being counted provides context and identity. Using National census and Jewish studies data, Kaufman shows that Jews of Color are already a substantial percentage of the Jewish population.
In conversation with other people of color leading anti-racist efforts in religious communities, Angel Alvarez-Mapp, Director of Programs & Operations at the Jews of Color Initiative, discusses vital questions about Jews of Color and challenging racism in the Jewish community. Led by moderator Zeenat Rahman, Director of the Inclusive America Project with the Aspen Institute, speakers discuss racism in faith communities in today’s political and activist moment, how various faith traditions can offer road maps to fighting for racial justice, and hopes for future directions in dismantling inequality in religious communities, among others
But just because Jews of Color have been under-considered by researchers doesn’t mean we’re the first to pay attention to our community. In fact, several studies and other writings paved the way for us—and our research team—to have a foundational understanding of the JoC community. Using our own familiarity with past studies and connecting with our research team to see which writings on Jews of Color helped inform their knowledge of the community, we’ve developed a list of some research studies and books from the 2000s to today that shaped research on Jews of Color, and on whose shoulders we stand.
Collecting data is about more than just numbers. Our surveys and evaluations can either unintentionally perpetuate bias and harmful stereotypes, or promote inclusion and equity. Rethinking data collection through a diversity, equity and inclusion lens is a critical undertaking for values-driven organizations, but few resources exist to guide this process. We are publishing ‘More Than Numbers’ as a first step toward filling this gap in the field.
The following organizations, articles, books and digital materials serve as resources for congregations and other institutions to continue the work of embracing diversity in our communities.