I had the pleasure of attending the 2016 Jews of Color National Convening in New York, and for the first time in my life moved through spaces centered on and occupied by majority Jews of Color. It was life changing.
Jews of Color were present from many places, but it felt like there was a focus on coastal cites, New York and San Franciso (and perhaps LA) in particular. I didn’t meet a single Jew of Color from my state of Ohio, or the Midwest. It was expensive to get to the event. So, I hoped joining organizations like Jews For Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ) would help connect me with Jews of Color in my region. While JFREJ creates amazing Jew of Color focused content, they primarily operate in New York state.
I wanted to rekindle at home, the kind of energy experienced in Jew of Color affinity spaces and connect with Allies who support this work in Cincinnati, as well as network with Jews of Color regionally. I continued to expand a national network through JewV’Nation, a Jews of Color Leadership Fellowship through the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), and organizing trainings by Bend The Arc and Jewish Organizing Institute & Network (JOIN). Despite Cincinnati having important Jewish infrastructure, I did not find entities working on creating spaces where my identity as a brown woman did not contradict my identity as a Jewish woman.
I realized, I was waiting for something I had been dreaming about for a LONG time, and perhaps I was the person I was waiting for. I began dreaming out loud with friends, mentors and networks. My first attempt to host a Juneteenth Seder in 2019 failed, big. I was disheartened, but encouraged to continue. The revised plan, is to host monthly social events designed to create space for Jews of Color to come together, meet each other, discuss topics we feel important and support each other’s individual Jewish journeys. To take a moment and exhale.
I remember how many times I searched the internet for Jews of Color and what I largely did not find. JOCsanctuary is my first attempt to leave searchable electronic bread crumbs to enable Midwest Jews of Color to find each other and begin to create the kinds of Jews of Color communities and experiences found in other large cities. I believe in starting small and growing organically. Every creation goes through revisions and may experience growing pains. I am grateful to have connected with support along the way. I am taking a leap of faith and hope others will join me to manifest something important I believe is needed by more than just Jews of Color. Right now, I am one person who knows a handful of local Jews of Color. I seek connecting with other Jews who identify as People of Color, explore our common threads and intertwine our voices into the Jewish kaleidoscope. The tapestry is not complete without us.
Join Jews of Color Sanctuary.
tags: “jewsofcolor”, “jewishdiversity”, “jewscincinnati”, “jewofcolorconvening”, “zerotohero”.