Eileen Levinson, Founder & Creative Director
Wendy Jackler, Program Manager
Jews in ALL Hues (JIAH) empowers Jewish institutions and Jewish leaders to create a welcoming Jewish future for multi-heritage Jews (one Jewish parent, adopted Jews, Jews by choice, Jews of color and those who do not fit the ‘box’) through training and consultations. JIAH also gives multi-heritage Jews the tools to be leaders and change agents within their Jewish communities. Jews of diverse backgrounds are standing at the doorway of our communities. Jews in ALL Hues provides pathways to welcoming everybody inside.
Hachnasat Orchim, the Jewish value of welcoming others, is central to JIAH’s workshops, trainings, and professional development sessions with Jewish leaders and communities. In our work to create inclusive spaces for multi-heritage Jews, our training sessions provide the tools that enable Jewish leaders, communities, and congregations to understand the best ways to practice the value of hachnasat orchim -- to welcome Jews of all backgrounds. There are thousands of Jews waiting to be welcomed into our Jewish communities across the United States. JIAH helps Jewish communities recognize the ways that they can bring Jews of all hues into an inclusive and warm environment.
*Rabbi Tarfon in Pirkei Avot: “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”
Progress within any community can be challenging. We cannot single-handedly create an inclusive Jewish environment in one day, one week, one month. Rabbi Tarfon teaches us that while we may not be able to impact every community or welcome in every Jew, we must continue to try. This Jewish wisdom reminds the communities that JIAH works with to always strive toward the betterment of our world, especially when the work is difficult. We are never free of desisting from this work.
*One of the 10 miracles performed in the First Temple was that no matter how many people squeezed in to pray, there was enough room for every person to be comfortable.
Welcoming more people into communities does not push others out. Diversity strengthens communities, and it adds new perspectives, building bridges into different aspects of Judaism. Like the First Temple, Jewish communities should have enough room for everyone. Jews in ALL Hues helps these communities understand the best ways to welcome diverse Jewish populations in with open arms, creating enough room for every person to be comfortable.
We hold the belief that we must be hands-on in pursuing justice. By utilizing tools from Theatre of the Oppressed, we are able to draw from real-life scenarios. Participants bring in what they have lived through or observed in the world. Through role playing, text study, and a process that helps participants ‘discover’ their biases, we are able to give them tools to use in pursuit of allyship and leadership roles. In Numbers 11:24-12:16, G-d envelops Aaron, Miriam and Moses in a cloud in order to talk to them. In modern commentary, the cloud had always been there. It took a spark of the divine to open their eyes to their biases, and the damage that it caused to them (leprosy). Even after that, the community decided that they would not move on without Miriam. By giving specific anti-bias tools we are helping participants to use their divine spark in order to lift the cloud of bias through which we all (unknowingly, at times) view the world. Moreover, participants have come back to say that these tools have helped them build stronger bridges both in-and-out of the Jewish community with empathy and respect.
JIAH has significantly impacted the lives of our participants from the very beginning. In our first three conferences, we concentrated on making “safe spaces” for multi-heritage Jews. About 45% of participants considered our conferences their “last chance” at connecting to the Jewish community after experiencing multiple biases (racism, xenophobia etc) throughout their Jewish lives. Since then, many within this group have gone on to pursue careers in the Jewish community. All of them still identify as Jewish due to JIAH’s support. As one participant put it, they have, “a renewed commitment to find my place in the Jewish community.”
Our professional development, ally training, and speakers bureau have all served to connect the entire community to the fight for equality. One client said it best:
"There’s a particular depth and soul that a congregation looks for when bringing in experts to speak on such essential topics like race and multi-racial religious communities. [Jews in ALL Hues] hits just the right notes of story-telling, fact-sharing, Torah teaching, and vulnerability to allow each and every participant to see themselves as critical to a present and future we can all be proud of." - Rabbi Aaron Alexander
In service of those on the periphery of the Jewish establishment, we’ve learned that Jewish wisdom has, in part, been reduced to clips and phrases. In order to obtain and understand Jewish wisdom we need to immerse ourselves in the hearts of others. We must become aware of our unconscious biases in order to connect with one another and pursue honest discourse. Through this pursual of honest discourse, we can see the essence of hashem in the faces of those who disagree with us, those who live completely different lives, and those who love on their own terms. In starting this process we can start to take the wisdom of the past off the page and apply it to the here-and-now. Jewish wisdom is easily given, and takes a lot of interaction with the world in order for one to contribute to its legacy.
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