History

  • 2018 – Strategic Planning Process
    • As part of the environmental scan and review of successes and challenges, JOIN alumni of Color identified that they had unique needs that were not being fully met through the Jewish Organizing Fellowship. The JOIN board identified the need to prioritize new programs that would invest in the training Jews of Color, and committed to creating a Jews of Color Organizing Fellowship in the coming 5 year period.
  • August 2020 – January 2021 – Research and Discovery
    • Funded by the Jews of Color Initiative, JOIN Board member and Consultant Megan Madison embarked on qualitative research to determine if there was a need for an organizing training program for Jews of Color. Megan performed an intensive series of interviews with Jewish Organizers of Color who shared that they feel isolated and experience a non-stop demand from people who recognize the unique role that people with their identities and organizing skills can only play. Through these conversations it became clear that building the pipeline of Jewish Leaders of Color who know how to use the skills of organizing for social change is a critical step in building a better, more just future.
  • February 2021 – Proposing a Vision and Fundraising Efforts
    • JOIN launched fundraising efforts for the Jews of Color Organizing Fellowship at an event for funders where Megan Madison, with the support of JOIN staff,  presented a draft program sketch created from her research.
  • August 2021  – Initial Program Planning
    • JOIN staff Kat Macias held two focus groups with Jews of Color where they presented the program sketch Megan Madision created and sought feedback on key elements such as program structure and cohort composition.
  • September 2021 – Finalizing Geographic Clusters
    • JOIN held conversations with people in various parts of the country to identify clusters where there would be interest, partnership opportunities existed, support networks for Jews of Color were strong, and funders were eager to support the vision. Chicago and the Bay Area identified as the first two sites for the program.
  • April 2022 – Co-Directors Hired

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Jews of Color Organizing Fellowship

"Jews of Color Organizing Fellowship”' is written in the top right corner and "Co-Directors" is written in the bottom left corner. A headshot of Bryant Heinzelman, a Black man with a mustache and beard wearing a kippah, button up and tie on with an orange background in the top left corner. A headshot of Kat Macias, a light-skin Latin person with short curly brown hair and peyos wearing a teal button up, mustard cardigan, and Star of David necklace.Meet our Co-Directors Bryant Heinzelman (he/him/his) & Kat Macias (they/them/theirs)!

The Jews of Color Organizing Fellowship is the first ever national Fellowship program training Jews of Color (JOCs) in community organizing. The Fellowship provides training, mentorship, a living wage organizing job, and community support to help adult participants of all ages grow into powerful community organizers and social movement leaders.

Through this Fellowship we are building a vibrant community of visionary Jewish Organizers of Color who can organize effectively and sustainably, as their whole selves, and who are positioned to be effective changemakers in the Jewish community, in the broader community, and all over the country.

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The Jews of Color Organizing Fellowship is a 12 month cohort experience that includes training through a mix of virtual and in-person gatherings with multiple geographic clusters, including Chicago and the Bay Area and a liveable wage organizing job. 

Fellows are matched and employed at Jewish and non-Jewish host organizations, where they will work and apply the organizing knowledge and skills they are gaining, with mentors to support their growth.

Throughout the year, Fellows meet together for training in a curriculum that focuses on organizing training, leadership skills, Jewish wisdom, and Jews of Color-specific content. Topics will include community organizing fundamentals, such as leader identification, campaign planning, power analysis, and movement ecology. JOC-specific Content will focus on such areas as JOC history, Transformative Justice, and Self-care & Resilience Practices.

The Outcomes for this Program are: 

  • Fellows will gain skills to become effective changemakers, a deeper connection to Jewish wisdom, lifelong community, healing & growth, and powerful new networks.
  • Host organizations will gain skilled, supported JOC organizers on staff doing the work and doing it well.
  • Geographic cluster communities will develop deeper ties between Jewish and justice organizations,and more leaderful local JOC networks.
  • The US and the broader social justice field will see real policy change on critical justice issues at a local, state and federal levels, and a shift in the dominant image of who Jews are – within and beyond Jewish communities.
  • More Jews of Color working, organizing, and leading the way for future generations, showing up and being celebrated for the identities they carry and the beliefs that they hold dear! 

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Testimonials


Image Description: photo of Laura Loeb“The SEA Change racial equity training led by JOIN trainers at my synagogue has had a very significant impact on the direction of the congregation as a whole. The clergy and Board are doing strategic planning and because of the SEA Change experience, social justice work will be central to the congregation’s vision going forward.”

Laura Loeb, lay leader at Washington Hebrew Congregation


Image Description: photo of Rabbi Susan Shankman“Our participation in SEA Change has been a transformative experience for our congregational community. The shared experience of learning, training, and taking a deep dive into an assessment of race equity within our synagogue has strengthened relationships and provided a sense of sacred partnership that extends into every aspect of synagogue life.” 

Rabbi Susan Shankman, Washington Hebrew Congregation


In 2020-2021 participants shared that because of SEA Change… 

  • “I am more willing to take a visible, active leadership role in social justice initiatives.”
  • “I feel more confident to express issues of equity and inclusion associated with being a JOC in a majority white religious setting.”
  • “I now reflexively seek to include diverse groups as part of any decision making process.”

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The Model

The SEA Change Model is a three-part process:


Image Description: "Study" written above a droplet of water falling into a ripple effect

STUDY: In this phase, there is both a deep dive into the history of racism, modern manifestations in the local environment, and analytical tools to understand racism in the world and within the congregation. During this stage an introduction to organizing and how relational organizing can be used to address racial injustice is taught.


Image Description: "Engage" written move water with gentle waves

ENGAGE: In this phase, leadership teams engage in research projects inside and outside of the congregation. Inside the congregations, this involves seeking to better understand how issues of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are being operationalized, practiced, or overlooked, in diverse areas of the congregation. Outside the congregation, leaders meet with People of Color-led organizations that could be their partners in working to make change in their local communities.


Image Description: "Act" written at the height of a wave.

ACT:  In this phase, leadership teams launch institutional change projects inside their congregations to promote greater race equity in policies, practices, and culture. They also select external an external partner, or external partners, in order to join their campaigns. During this process, JOIN supports leaders to mobilize, educate, and bring along their larger congregation so that buy-in is created and a broader cadre of leaders from across the congregation is identified. This could also include turning members out to local government hearings, organizing a petition drive, or participating in protests or public actions.  

During the pilot, B’nai Israel and Washington Hebrew partnered with Action in Montgomery, working on  affordable housing and mental health support for teenagers, and the greater Washington, DC-based Jews United for Justice working on Paid Family and Medical Leave. These partnerships are active still today!

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SEA Change Initiative

Image Description: “SEA CHANGE Study | Engage | Act” written to the left of a swelling wave

SEA Change is a catalyst for congregational racial justice.

SEA Change trains congregations to organize and tackle racial injustice within and beyond their communities. SEA Change includes specialized training, coaching and campaigns targeted specifically at issues of racial justice and leadership development, led by expert trainers: Megan Black, Megan Madison, Jeannie Appleman, and David Schwartz.

SEA Change has been named among Slingshot’s 10 to Watch!

In 2020-2021, the SEA Change (Study, Engage, Act) initiative was piloted with two large, prominent congregations in the DC area: Washington Hebrew Congregation (Reform) and B’nai Israel Congregation (Conservative). Over nine months, 50 clergy and lay leaders from these congregations engaged in 12 sessions of training and discussion on issues of racial justice and organizing. They assessed their own congregations’ inclusiveness, built relationships with local community-based organizations led by People of Color, and worked together to act for racial justice.  

We are grateful to congregational leaders Marla Schulman of B’nai Israel and Karen Herron of Washington Hebrew, and their rabbis, whose leadership and collaboration was essential in the creation of this pilot. (You can read Karen’s reflections on SEA Change here.)

This program continues to grow! A new SEA Change cohort of synagogues begins in Spring 2022. 


The SEA Change racial equity training led by JOIN trainers at my synagogue has had a very significant impact on the direction of the congregation as a whole. The clergy and Board are doing strategic planning and because of the SEA Change experience, social justice work will be central to the congregation’s vision going forward.

-Laura Loeb, lay leader at Washington Hebrew Congregation

Our participation in SEA Change has been a transformative experience for our congregational community. The shared experience of learning, training, and taking a deep dive into an assessment of race equity within our synagogue has strengthened relationships and provided a sense of sacred partnership that extends into every aspect of synagogue life.

-Rabbi Susan Shankman, Washington Hebrew Congregation


If you are interested in bringing SEA Change to your congregation, please reach out to Jeannie Appleman at jappleman@joinforjustice.org.

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