The JOC Mishpacha Project

JOC Mishpacha Project Logo (tree with torah scroll in its roots and moon phases above).

A new organization, the Jews of Color Mishpacha Project, aims to bring together individuals, communities, and Jewish institutions from around the country to build a gathering place for Jewish People of Color and their families, allies, and accomplices (mishpacha means family is Hebrew). The group is planning a series of workshops that will culminate in the first-ever National Jews of Color Shabbaton, May 14 to 16, with support from the Jews of Color Initiative.

Dr. Harriette Wimms, a Baltimore-based psychologist and organizer, has spearheaded the effort, drawing together like-minded Jews from around the country. (Read a recent profile of Dr. Wimms in Jmore.)

A recent study estimates that Jews of Color make up 12 to 15% of the American Jewish population, but many Jews of Color have felt invisible, excluded, or marginalized from the Jewish community. Further, American society has long associated Jewish-ness with whiteness. Groups like the Jews of Color Initiative and Jews of Color Mishpacha Project aims to confront and address these realities.

“With the Jews of Color Mishpacha Project, we’re trying to create a warm, welcoming space for Jews of Color and allies to share our experiences and find connection,” says Dr. Wimms. “There is a tremendous amount of wisdom among Jews of Color in the US and we want learn from each other and gain strength from each other that we can then bring back to our broader communities.”

Dr. Wimms was inspired to launch the organization after hearing Ilana Kaufman, executive director of the Jews of Color Initiative in San Francisco, speak in Baltimore. “She said that if you aren’t seeing 15 to 20 percent people of color in your synagogue, you’ve got a problem in your congregation,” says Dr. Wimms. “I looked around and didn’t see that.” Kaufman, herself a Jew of Color, will be one of the featured speakers at the May Shabbaton.

Weekly workshops leading up to the Shabbaton began on Feb. 14, upcoming workshops include (full information and registration links listed on the Jews of Color Mishpacha website):

  • The Sabbath and its Meaning for the Modern Jew of Color – March 21, 2021
  • Embodied Omer: Integrating Movement & Wellness into Your Daily Liberation Practice with Yoshi Silverstein – March 31, 2021
  • Black Jewish Fatherhood: Raising Race Conscious Children from a JOC Perspective – April 11, 2021
  • Intersectional and Intergeneration: Learning About Each Other Through Conversation with Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife & Gen Slosberg – April 15, 2021
  • Centering Identity Wellness: The Commandments We Keep to Ourselves – May 2, 2021
  • Preparing to Receive: An Embodied Havdalah Experience of Healing and Separation with Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife and Dr. Harriette Wimms – May 8, 2021
JOC Mishpacha Project logo. Additional text reads Hey Family, Welcome Home! Save the Date The Jewish People of Color NAtional (Virtual) Shabbaton) May 14th-16th, 2021.Save the Dat

The May Shabbaton will integrate spiritual, communal and religious project for Jews of Color and their families and allies. Interested individuals can register on the Jews of Color Mishpacha website for a nominal $9 fee.

Find more information about the Jews of Color Mishpacha and Dr. Harriette Wimms at the following links:

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