In Jewish tradition, we say Shehechiyanu to mark a special moment we have reached together. Today, please join me to celebrate the completion of Project Shamash and the release of our new report.
My name is Analucía, and I helped design and run Project Shamash — a three-year program built by Jews of Color (JOC) to spark a future where our Jewish institutions reflect the diversity of our community.
Writing in the Forward in 2022, CEO of the Jews of Color Initiative Ilana Kaufman issued this call:
“Leaders: look at the data. Look at our communities, and commit right now to do everything in your power to reduce the percentage of Jews of Color telling us they experience racism and discrimination in the organizations we run.” 1
Bend the Arc’s Project Shamash was an investment in a future where our Jewish institutions have a roadmap for anti-racist practice and are places where JOCs can thrive. In our report you’ll find:
- Our program design,
- System for data and evaluation, and
- Findings, outcomes, and recommendations
As I reflect on the last three years, I’d like to share two big takeaways with you.
1. Programs by and for JOC leaders foster empowerment and thriving
We define empowerment as encompassing confidence, safety, freedom, voice, and resilience — it’s what JOCs need to ascend in and transform the Jewish communal settings where they continue to experience discrimination.
Participants in our JOC+ Professionals Network for JOC staff and lay leaders in Jewish institutions unanimously reported an enhanced sense of empowerment, belonging, appreciation, and value from the program.
2. We need courageous spaces for leaders of white-led organizations
In our Organizational Change Cohort for executive leaders at white-led Jewish institutions, participants grew their ability to address race equity transformation not by being in a safe space, but by identifying their fears, transgressions, and fragility in courageous space.
In their final survey, institution leaders reported new skills to identify and address white supremacy and to set and achieve organizational goals towards racial justice.
Like the JOC-led programs before us, Project Shamash took on the ethical crisis facing our Jewish institutions and the larger United States: responding to racism in our community and building a new, shared future where all of us are safe and thriving.
Senior Program Director, Project Shamash
PS: After Bend the Arc, I’ll be moving over full time to Jewtina y Co — an organization on a mission to nurture Latin-Jewish community, identity, leadership, and resiliency. You can follow along with me here!
1. The Forward, Despite 10 years of promises, Jewish leaders have failed to make space for Jews of color