This post is by JOIN for Justice Executive Director Karla Van Praag.
JOIN for Justice is changing, and we need your help.
We are starting to focus more significant resources on how to adapt our Jewish Organizing Fellowship to better welcome and support Jews with marginalized identities.
We seek to build a Fellowship class with people who are eager to explore the connections between their unique Jewish identities and working for social change. We also seek to build an inclusive community in which Jews of color, Jews with disabilities, Jews with working-class backgrounds, and trans and gender non-conforming Jews find a supportive environment that is focused on their leadership. We are working on actively recruiting and supporting Jews with marginalized identities in our Fellowship.
Over the years, as individuals with marginalized identities such as those mentioned above have participated in our Fellowship, we have heard feedback about the ways in which the Fellowship experience sometimes replicated larger societal oppressions, and also that people struggled with feeling alone in the group.
Our communal Jewish story compels us to fight for justice, yet our Jewish institutions often replicate larger societal oppressions, and JOIN for Justice is not immune to that.
And so, as a staff, as a board, and with a key team of alumni stakeholders, we’ve been doing some serious reflection. How do we as an institution need to change? How do we consciously create the just world we envision, through our staff, our board, our program participation, and our training? We have begun this process by asking stakeholders and alumni from marginalized identities about their ideas for how to approach the work and invited them to support and/or lead our efforts to change.
We fully expect that this will be a multi-year process to change our organization to be inclusive, supportive, and diverse. In many ways, we are only just beginning to define what success looks like. We know that we are examining the fellowship broadly – our curriculum, our fellowship structure, and what support we provide through the year. We also know we must consider the ways our entire organization must change.
We are grateful for the team of alumni and stakeholders who are working with us on this process to make us better than we are. We are approaching this work with an openness to learning and being challenged and an acknowledgement of the work that remains to be done to create this organization-and this world-as it should be.
I would welcome any thoughts, comments and suggestions you may have for us. You can reach me by email here.