I feel blessed to be connected with a national network of Jews of color (JoC) and lucky to have experienced JoC majority spaces, even if sparsely. It is joyful to feel community in a way that you know deep in your bones includes you. The JoC Mishpacha Project JoCISM Shabbaton was definitely that kind of event. It was an opportunity to deepen existing relationships and create new ones. I was struck by the harmonies we made together, both in song and the ways we blended needs and customs. It was also a beautiful expression of the crucial role allies play, as family, as friends, as organizations, as symbiotic supporters of this work to create affinity spaces that strengthen so much more than just the Jewish people of color present, but returns with them into their home communities… whether that is across the country or down the street. The weekend reminded me of the importance of the work of JoC Sanctuary and the ability to intentionally create the spaces we need for ourselves.
12:30-2pm EST Sunday March 6, 2022
Let Justice Well Up Torah Study Series for Jewish Women of Color
Join this text study affinity space by and for Jewish women who also hold intersectional identities as people of color. The intention is to create a space where we can welcome each other as siblings while also honoring the wealth of diversity within Jews of Color spaces. There will be opportunities to suggest text study ideas and room to express your Torah. The series is on a sliding scale of $0-36 for seven sessions which can be attended individually or collectively. No prior text study experience is required.
We will open our study will the sacrifice of Yiftach’s Daughter, exploring the offered themes of sacrifice and ritual through our unique experiences as people of color. We’ll use the framework of our study to lead us into creating Jewish ritual for the moments of our lives.
Session Dates: March 6 & 20, April 3 & 10, May 1, 15 & 29
Let Justice Well Up is hosted by Mayyim Hayyim and generously funded by the Miriam Fund.
When I was a child, I was always creating. Somewhere, on the way to adulthood, despite going into a creative profession, I left the devising ritual and imbuing meaning to other professionals. While I was taught to think and to question, that was only supposed to go so far before turning to an expert. It sounds strange to say, but I now realize I am the expert of myself and my life and in choosing what moments I want to create ritual and highlight meaning around.
Reading Inventing Jewish Ritual by Vanessa L. Ochs came at the perfect time and helped hone the ritual innovator inside me to more confidently claim ownership over my prayers and new rituals in a subtly different, but deeply profound way. Prayer had always felt meaningful and personal to me, but Ochs’ historical foundation framing of Jewish ritual development created space for me to bring a fuller authentic self to current rituals and helped me to bravely create rituals rooted in Jewish practice for important life moments I want to mark or honor.
I feel there are many lost opportunities to help Jews of Color see themselves through the people of Color in the Torah. One of the foundational reasons I created this forum is to offer a safe space, a sanctuary, for Jews of Color in the Cincinnati and surrounding areas to explore those topics among other Jews of Color craving similar opportunities for chevruta, study and exploration. Our March event topic was Celebrating JOC Ritual and beyond texts pulled from Creating Jewish Ritual, we used one of my favorite texts borrowed from a friend’s article titled Bagels, Lox, and Grits: Defining My Jewish Identity by Yolanda Savage-Narva.
One of the food elements I connect with Rosh Hashanah is black eyed peas, after reading this was a popular African dish to celebrate the Gregorian New Year. This afternoon, I was part of a program that happened in an art studio. I learned a new kiln was being fired for the first time. As as artist who has mourned the loss of pieces which didn’t make it through firing, I immediately offered a simple prayer for a vessel which will bring beauty into the world. Daily minyans and Shabbat are crucial for me, but acknowledging the relevance of art is important to me too. Bringing aspects of myself in that I sometimes feel are pushed aside helps me step into a fullness of myself and my power that is exactly what I believe God wants for me. In the end, the ritual nuances that bring me the most joy are often simple elements. How they find their place is not always easy, but it always feels worth it.