JoCI In Session

This JoC Philanthropy Cohort is Taking Funding into Their Own Hands

Jewish nonprofits are fueled by philanthropy. While Jewish foundations are turning more and more to supporting diverse Jewish communities, rarely do Jews of Color have a seat at the table to make decisions about how Jewish foundations allocate their funds. Created in partnership with Amplifier, the Jews of Color Initiative developed a chance for JoCs to gain the skills and experience to power their pursuit of careers in Jewish philanthropy. Additionally, the cohort will be given real funds to put their learning to action, collectively determining programs or organizations to support.  

Hannah Alexander is a marketing and business development professional based in Philadelphia, PA. She has been active in Jewish non-profit organizations from high school, college and beyond. Through these organizations she participated in fundraising events, traveled to Israel several times and strengthened her Jewish identity. At four months old, she was adopted from South Korea and grew up in a Jewish household in Upstate New York that included a mother, father, older brother and many dogs. She is excited to participate in the Jews of Color Philanthropy Cohort to build upon her previous experience as well as learn from the other cohort members. 

“I think what inspires me to learn more are the Jewish people themselves,” Hannah said. We make up such a tiny percentage of the population, but we’ve had a colossal impact.” 

“As an adoptee from South Korea, I’m definitely interested in not only contributing my perspective but learning more about how Jews of Color are being supported and represented. I hope forward-thinking efforts, such as this cohort, can bring positive awareness and expand on the traditional approach to Jewish philanthropy. Based on my own experiences, diversity within Jewish communities is growing and should be reflected in the way Jewish communities will be served and supported.” 

Aaron Carpenter is a senior at Appalachian State University double majoring in Biology and Psychology who intends to pursue his Master of Public Health. His long-term aspiration is to affect systems and policy change within our healthcare system, as well as become a politician. Aaron is currently a Campus Liaison with StandWithUs and a student representative for North Carolina Hillel, and was part of the Jews of Color Career Development Program.  

Aaron sees a systemic issue in existing philanthropy and is looking to bring about change to make Jewish philanthropy more equitable. “As a JoC, we are often left out of the equation when determining where money goes in the Jewish ecosystem, and oftentimes that trickles down into the fact that JoC orgs and JoCs are among the least likely to receive that money and benefit from that money…I see my role as a JoC as someone who can provide that insight and hopefully make an impact so money is given to JoCs, JoC organizations, and good causes at large.” 

The chance to put the cohort’s learning into action by allocating funds is particularly appealing to Aaron. “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you don’t have a say in the decision. We’re going to be actually working with real money…the decisions we make will have an actual impact.” 

Rachel Faulkner is a community organizer, coach, social justice advocate, and anti-racist educator. She currently serves as the Director of Community Investments at the Safety Respect Equity Network. Additionally, Rachel served as the National Organizer for #JWOCMarching, is an alum of Bend the Arc’s Selah program, the Schusterman Foundation’s REALITY trip, and is an organizer with Black Lives Matter DC’s Cop Watch. Ultimately, Rachel is passionate about centering the voices of Jewish Women of Color in the Jewish community and in the greater world. In her free time, she takes long walks around the nation’s capital with her daughter ori Justice.

Rachel has a long history of organizing in the JoC community: “I’ve been organizing in the JoC community for over a decade with some of the most grassroots organizations, people, and communities. That has connected me really deeply in the JoC community but also in a broad way.” 

Rachel is excited by the shifting tides that are giving way to Jews of Color as decision-makers with money-giving power in the Jewish community. “It’s exciting to me that folks are, for the first time that I know of, thinking about Jews of Color as a body of people that have money-giving power. I think that’s new and it’s really exciting. It changes who people think JoCs are. We’re not thought of as having power in that way or having power at all. So it’s exciting to me that the cohort exists and is changing that narrative.” 

Tiziana Friedman recently left life in the emergency room behind to pursue her passion for Jewish community building. She works with the Jewish Federation of New Mexico in young adult outreach, PJ Library, and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and runs the Albuquerque Moishe Pod with her spouse, Eli. Tiziana strives to create innovative and meaningful programs to engage and invigorate her community. In her spare time, she can be found rock climbing or running with her rescue pup, Padfoot. As a proud Jew-by-Choice, Tiziana hopes to show others that passion can get you started, and there is no minimum time as a Jew required to make a difference. 

Tiziana has experienced both the isolation that being othered can bring as well as the powerful feeling of belonging found in community with other Jews of Color. “As a queer Black Jew by Choice I really appreciate finding spaces where I can bring my full self to Judaism.” After working with Yavilah McCoy at Dimensions Educational Consulting and participating in the UpStart JoC Career Development program, Tiziana has learned that “you can change somebody’s life just by putting them in spaces where they can be around other Jews of Color.” 

Tiziana sees her work now to change the Jewish ecosystem as part of a multigenerational effort towards racial equity. “Hopefully it will get easier with each generation to be able to find your spot in the Jewish community and feel you can impact it however you want to without having to jump through so many hoops. People like Shahanna McKinney and Yavilah McCoy and Ilana Kaufman have done so much work to make space for people like me, and I just hope I can continue that and make more space for somebody else.”  

Aayisha Ruby Gold is a passionate stage and screen actor, theater director, and published author. She received her Bachelor of Arts at Columbia College Chicago in 2013. She spends most of her time as a superhuman mother and wife to her adorable 2-year-old son and husband. 

Throughout my youth and upbringing, I have witnessed heart-wrenching housing insecurity, struggles with mental health and addiction, the struggle to open businesses and maintain ownership, among other challenges. As an adult, my Jewish values have granted me the insights and experience to empower and encourage real people. I believe Jewish Philanthropy holds the key to be profoundly transformative. 

Aayisha has worked in various roles in theater, including theater-based therapy for youth, and says these experiences have helped develop a unique way of seeing the world. “My work has granted me the ability to recognize and connect to the world in which we live in the face of difficult realities, establishing relationships and compassion for humanity. 

 

Bianca Gonzalez-Lesser (they/she) is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and the Diversity Talent Manager at Hillel International. They hold a PhD in Sociology from the University of Connecticut with expertise in race and racism. Bianca is passionate about racial justice, education, and Judaism. They hope to enter rabbinical school and continue to work on racial justice issues in the Jewish ecosystem. Bianca is a queer Latinx Jew by choice and lives in Connecticut with their wife and twins. 

Bianca approaches philanthropy through their expertise as a sociologist of race and racism. “As someone that has spent the last decade focusing on the academic understanding of race and racism, I bring to the table a deep knowledge of the ways in which race and racism operate in society, while also bringing the lived experience of someone that identifies as nonbinary, queer, Jew of Color by choice, and a migrantOften the way I think is in shades of gray instead of a binary understanding, so I always look at the nuance and ways in which we can navigate complexity.” 

Bianca wants to learn the ins-and-outs of philanthropy in order to bring about equity from within. To be able to transform the Jewish world you need to understand the way that it operates and how to work within the system to transform and change it, to be able to bring the change that is needed in the Jewish world.” 

Allyson Kohen Tang is currently a graduate student studying the religious history of China at UC Berkeley. As a Jew of Color who grew up overseas, she is particularly interested in cultural diversity, inclusion, and equity. She is also passionate about disability access in Higher Education and currently serves as the disability advocacy project director for UC Berkeley’s Graduate Assembly. Allyson aspires to be a scholar of religion and a philanthropist after she graduates. 

“I grew up overseas as a Jew of Color who was intimidated by the idea of connecting with the broader Jewish community because of my racial background. Having gone through the process of discovering and re-discovering what Jewishness means to me in graduate school, I am particularly passionate about creating an inclusive Jewish community.” This experience has guided Allyson’s worldview and how she envisions the Jewish community evolving: I deeply believe that no matter the racial, social, or cultural background, all Jews should feel at home in an inclusive Jewish community.”  

Patrice Worthy is currently the founder of TzipporahsTent.org, a website focused on the Black Jewish experience. As a Black Jewish woman and journalist, she knows the importance of providing platforms that cater to Jews of Color, particularly Black Jews. She is passionate about making the beauty of Judaism available to every Jew and believes Black Jews bring a muchneeded perspective to Judaism. 

Patrice is excited to learn about the ways Jewish philanthropy has really upheld the Jewish community, and the creative ways moving forward that people are using it to fund projects to help build more diverse Jewish communities.” She also is interested to explore the history of Jewish philanthropyand she hopes to “take those as models and amend them or edit them a little to help meet the needs of the diverse Jewish community in the future and now.”