The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) has selected 10 individuals to participate in the URJ JewV’Nation Fellowship’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Leadership Cohort, a nine-month program dedicated to promoting and incorporating DEI principles in Reform Jewish congregations across North America.
This cohort was created out of a need to equip Reform communities with the tools necessary to embrace and implement DEI-related practices so that all who enter them may experience a sense of belonging.
Studies show that our already-diverse Jewish community will continue to become even more diverse. An estimated 10 percent or more of North American Jews identify as LGBTQIA+, while at least 1 in 7 American Jews is a person of color, and 20 percent or more of Jewish families include relatives of color. We know, too, that the Jewish community includes family structures, faith backgrounds, disabilities, socioeconomic statuses, geographic locations, relationship statuses, and more.
The fellows will not only learn the skills necessary to grow in their Jewish leadership, but also work directly with Reform congregations to focus on the experiences of marginalized groups within our Jewish communities. In the fellowship’s first three months, fellows will engage in an intensive DEI-focused training to prepare them for the following six months – partnering with congregations and/or Reform Jewish spaces (e.g. URJ Camps, URJ Youth Programs, and more) while continuing to build their own knowledge and skillsets through further training.
In partnership with URJ staff, each fellow will work directly with a Reform community to begin (or further) its work related to DEI and to determine the community’s current understanding of these practices, as well as to identify areas for improvement. With their congregational partner, each fellow will set goals and propose action plans to accomplish their specific goals, for example: incorporating inclusive media on congregational websites and social media that accurately reflects the diversity of the Jewish people; increasing new visitor attendance; understanding and addressing implicit bias; providing more inclusive programming; or attracting and sustaining more lay leadership from marginalized backgrounds.
Each fellow brings a broad range of leadership experience as educators, musicians, public policy professionals, activists, and nonprofit executives. Furthermore, this Fellowship serves as a pathway for fellows to become – or grow as – leaders in the Reform Jewish world.
You can meet the 2019-2020 JewV’Nation Fellows here.
The JewV’Nation Fellowship has been generously funded and sustained by grants from the Leichtag Foundation, the Genesis Philanthropy Group, a URJ donor in collaboration with the Jewish Funders Network, the Jews of Color Field Building Initiative, and anonymous donors. This specific cohort is made possible by a generous grant by an anonymous donor.