In Conversation: Safety and Unsafety in Jewish Life

Join the Jewish Museum of Maryland’s Curator-in-Residence, Liora Ostroff, and a variety of facilitators as they explore discussions on safety and exclusion in Jewish communities.  

American Jewish communities and institutions must, on one hand, respond to rising antisemitism and white supremacist violence; and on the other, acknowledge the ways that Jewish institutions have created physical and emotional danger for marginalized community members and neighbors. 

This multi-program series will encourage participants to reflect on safety and exclusion within their own communities and institutions, as well as consider how to carry these conversations outward. 

Continue reading below for program topics and dates. Please be aware that space is limited, and we encourage you to register for the one session that most speaks to you.

Safety and Unsafety in Jewish Life: In Conversation with Rabbi Jessy Dressin  

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 at 8:00pm Eastern

Session theme: Imagining Jewish Futures

Register for this session here.

You can access the text sheet for the program here.

About the Facilitator:  
Rabbi Jessy Dressin works as the Senior Director of Jewish Education for Repair the World.  She has worked as a community rabbi in Baltimore for the last decade in pursuit of Judaism’s three primary goals: personal meaning making, the imperative to be part of a collective and the responsibility to make the world a more just place for all its inhabitants. She is passionate about community building and Jewish learning amongst her peer group and hopes to help activate folx in their Jewish journeys. Rabbi Jessy lives with her husband Mark and their dog, Kofi.   

Safety and Unsafety in Jewish Life: In Conversation with Dr. Harriette Wimms  

Thursday, October 21, 2021 at 8pm Eastern 

Session theme: Queer Life and Judaism

Register for this session here. 

About the Facilitator:

Dr. Harriette E. Wimms is a Maryland licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in providing compassion-infused mental health care to children, adolescents, adults, and families. Dr. Wimms is a prayer leader in both the Kohenet community and Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shtiebl. She is the driving force behind Hinenu JOC, the Baltimore JOC Community Havurah, the Jews of Color Mishpacha Project, and the JOCMP’s Jews of Color National (Virtual) Shabbaton program. Harriette is currently a Keshet contract trainer, a Kesher mentor, and a member of the Seleh Jewish Leadership Fellowship program, JOC cohort 17. A community connector, Dr. Wimms is a proud Black, Disabled, Queer, Fat, Jew by Choice, and is most proud of being mother to her 17-year-old son.

Safety and Unsafety in Jewish Life: In Conversation with Rabbi Ariana Katz    

Wednesday, October 27, 2021 at 8:00pm  Eastern

Session theme: Policing and Security

Register for this session here.

About the Facilitator:  

Ariana Katz is the founding rabbi of Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shtiebl, a warm and joyful new congregation in Baltimore, MD. Rabbi Ariana graduated from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in the spring of 2018. She is a queer white Ashkenazi femme 4th generation Philadelphian who sees rooted ritual and radical organizing as her Jewish legacy. Rabbi Ariana was the creator and host of Kaddish, a podcast about death and identity ( She is a ritual maker and ruckus organizer, and has taught learners ages 3-93 for over a decade. 

Safety and Unsafety in Jewish Life: In Conversation with Tikvah Womack  

Thursday, November 11, 2021 at 8:00pm Eastern    

Session theme: Safety in Orthodox Life

Register for this session here.

About the Facilitator:

Tikvah (Nadia) Womack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and an Expressive Arts Therapist, specializing in trauma and cultural sensitivity. Utilizing arts and with a 20-year span of experience in the mental health field, Tikvah’s clinical experience ranges from inpatient, shelters, partial hospital, in-home therapy, and outpatient settings conducting individual, family, and group therapy with range in diagnosis. Tikvah develops, facilitates, and consults groups across the developmental spectrum, professional trainings, and community and affinity conversations.

Tikvah currently works at an outpatient community agency. Tikvah lives, works, worships, and plays in Baltimore, Maryland with her husband, two young sons, and Kerry Blue Terrier. She is a part of a vibrant and large Jewish community and is a board member of diverse and growing modern orthodox synagogue Ner Tamid Greenspring Valley Congregation. In addition to her love of family, work, identity, and community, Tikvah currently loves roller skating, music, and Valerie Wilson Wesley novels. 

Safety and Unsafety in Jewish Life: In Conversation with Jennifer Folayan

Tuesday, November 23, 2021 at 8pm Eastern

Session theme: Having Conversations That Matter about Racial Justice

Register for this session here.

About the Facilitator:

Jennifer Folayan, is a local Baltimore, Maryland business owner and graphic designer that has created events and programs that serve to empower and unite survivors of rape, incest, domestic violence and foster care youth through the healing arts so that we can heal and discover our own empowered voice.

She is of Pueblo, Cherokee, Aztec and Spanish descent and serves on the Board of Directors for the Baltimore American Indian Center. She is passionate about Indigenous Peoples and healing through the Arts. She has spoken at several key events and has been active in the community for the rights of survivors, women, and Indigenous Peoples. She is an active Peer-to-Peer mentor for groups with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness.) She will be a keynote speaker in South Africa this November, 2021 at the Artizen Conference: Artists for Social Transformation.  

Jennifer believes each person has the potential to create a life that is filled with happiness and love. She serves her community through organizing events, graphic design and marketing services, and volunteer work. She is currently the Marketing & Registrar Coordinator at Pearlstone in Reisterstown, Maryland. 

This series has been developed by JMM’s Curator-in-Residence, Liora Ostroff, as part of the project A Fence Around the Torah: Safety and Unsafety in Jewish Life.  

Liora Ostroff (she/her) is a Baltimore-based painter whose work explores themes such as queerness, Jewishness, violence, and the idiosyncrasies of life in Baltimore. Her community at Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shtiebl nourishes her art practice and has inspired her to explore Jewish notions of justice and art via collaborative writing and performance. She graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2016 with a BFA in painting. 

As the Curator-in-Residence at JMM, Liora is developing community-responsive programming and curate artistic responses that address safety, security, and exclusion in Jewish communities. You can learn more about Liora and the project here and here.  

A Fence Around the Torah: Safety and Unsafety in Jewish Life has been made possible thanks to the generous support of:  

The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore 

Sandra and Thomas Hess  

PNC Foundation 

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