The Colors of Water

by Yavilah McCoy

In 2009, I co-wrote and performed The Colors of Water, an original theatrical piece that tells the story of the four generations of my African-American Jewish family, as part of Mayyim Hayyim’s Living Waters International Mikveh Conference in Newton, Massachusetts. Since 2009, The Colors of Water has been developed into both a performance and an educational workshop that travels to schools, synagogues, churches, community centers and other venues across the country, and I’m thrilled to share selections from the show with attendees at the Judaism2030 Conference.

I have been an educator and activist within the Jewish professional community for close to twelve years now, and am constantly compelled and inspired by the potential for transformative change that diversity and inclusion work propels forward when it is done with grace, intention, forethought and an eye toward practical applicability. In writing this script with Anita Diamant and Janet Buchwald, I found an opportunity to share the unique experience of a multi-generational African-American Jewish family, and the faith and challenges that four different women experienced in regard to their Jewish communal participation and inclusion. This happens to be the story of the women in my matriarchal line, but the truth is that this could be the story of any Jewish family navigating the margins of community, and looking for an entry point that values both their diversity, history and their hope for a new Jewish future. The Colors of Water provides an exciting evening of edutainment, with moments that make the audience laugh, cry, and sit at the edge of their seats wondering where the journey will take us next.

Yavilah McCoy is an African-American Jew and the New England director of The Curriculum Initiative (TCI), a non-profit educational consultancy that services Jewish students in close to 600 prep schools across the nation. She is the founder of Ayecha, a nonprofit organization providing educational resources for Jewish Diversity and advocacy for Jews of Color in the United States.

This article is from a series prepared by presenters at Judaism2030: A Working Conference for a Vibrant Jewish Future.