This year, 14 Reform Jewish leaders joined our 2022 Jews of Color Leadership Cohort to focus on professional development, networking opportunities, and project incubation as part of our JewV’Nation Fellowship. The JewV’Nation Fellowship’s fifth cohort (and second JOC cohort) focused on providing tools and techniques for fellows to dive into a healing, rejuvenating space. The programs were designed to teach skills that would empower JOC fellows to create spaces of justice, equity, and belonging. These efforts are continuing into 2023.
In 2022, the URJ created an affinity space for Jews of Color & People of Color as a component of our REDI work. Participant Annabelle Keimech stated, “I have gained the agency to make space for myself in Jewish communities…we have to intentionally shift our mindset about what ‘Jewish’ looks like.”
The URJ ran eight more Jewish and Newish online gathering spaces in 2022, supported by a grant from the National Center to Encourage Judaism. These online gatherings provide a space for those whose Jewish journeys include conversion to make connections, process experiences, and learn with others in a nurturing, caring community.
On May 22, 2022, Beth Chayim Chadashim of Los Angeles, the world’s first LGBTQ+ congregation, celebrated its 50th anniversary. In his remarks at the celebration, Rabbi Rick Jacobs shared that, “[the URJ is] striving to create a space where every person is affirmed…This commitment takes many forms, including making all-gender restrooms available, displaying visual symbols of pride, and providing all-gender bunks at camp.”
As part of our disability inclusion efforts, the URJ’s Religious Action Center continued its partnership with the Jewish Federations of North America as hosts of the virtual Jewish Disability Advocacy Day on February 15, 2022.
The URJ hosted two iterations of the webinar “Creating Cultures of Disability Inclusion.” One version was geared toward URJ staff and the other was tailored to congregations. Both webinars were facilitated by Emily Ladau, disability rights activist and author of the book “Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to be an Ally.” The URJ is continuing to update our content and offer free resources to our movement.