2022 Jewish Organizing and Empower Fellows Class

2022 Cohort of Jewish Organizing & Empower Fellows

Headshot of white woman with long, curly brown hair and round pink glasses. She is wearing a black and white striped t-shirt and sitting outside on the grass.

Sarah Binney (she/her)

Sarah became interested in the intersections of Judaism and social justice while organizing a student-run Jewish community at McGill University in Montreal. After graduating in 2019 with a degree in Linguistics and Spanish, she moved back to her home state of Massachusetts. Before JOIN, Sarah worked in Public Health at the state level. Her JOIN placement is at Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong where she will be organizing local disability advocacy groups in Southeast Massachusetts. She loves celebrating Shabbat, taking long walks on the esplanade, and making pickles.

Headshot of a white person with long, brown hair wearing a blue buttoned shirt smiling at the camera. In the background are trees and the outline of a house.Michaela Caplan (she/her)

While at Dartmouth College, Michaela was involved with IfNotNow and a variety of student-led organizing efforts. She took a year off from school to volunteer as an EMT at the Indigenous-led Standing Rock pipeline protest, an experience that solidified her dedication to power-building and organizing for transformative change. After graduation, she worked as a field organizer and as a regional field director on the Bernie 2020 campaign. She then worked at a Covid respite hospital for houseless people and then as a field director for a progressive MA-based congressional campaign. Most recently, she has been working as the Communications Coordinator at Community Change, Inc., and will be continuing this work while also joining T’ruah as their Boston Organizer. Michaela is excited to be part of the Empower Cohort and to explore the intersections of disability justice, Judaism, and organizing. She is also looking forward to forming community with other organizers navigating disability and chronic illness. In her free time, Michaela loves writing, walking her dog, and making lentil soup.

Headshot of white woman with short curly brown hair smiling away from the cameraMiriam Cohen (she/her)

Miriam grew up in a small town in Maine and graduated from Yale University in 2020 with a degree in American Studies and Education Studies. In college, she organized with a student group that advocated for better financial aid and for local labor issues. Miriam started working for Massachusetts Interfaith Power and Light in October 2021, organizing religious communities around climate justice. She is developing Mass IPL’s new project to convene interfaith teams that will coordinate their local faith communities in climate justice work.

 A close-up of a white, redhead, pierced-up queer in galactic drag makeup smirking and holding up a bright orange chicken of the woods mushroom with their dirty hand. Sarah Fadem (they/them)

Sarah (they/them) is working as a JOIN and Empower fellow with a placement at SEIU 509, organizing within higher education. They have done a wide variety of organizing within the youth climate, racial justice, student and labor rights, and anti-occupation of Palestine movements over the last six years. Sarah is interested in learning and practicing anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist action, and has spent much of the last two years since graduating from Bennington College invested in street protest. Their free time is joyously spent cooking fancy vegan meals for their collective house, biking around the city, and dancing at queer functions.  

 photo of Emma Gelbard, a white person with short brown hair and glasses.

Emma Gelbard

Emma Gelbard recently completed JOIN’s Access to Power Fellowship, and is excited to spend this JOIN and Empower Fellowship year with Disability Policy Consortium MA. After graduating from Cornell University in 2015 with a degree in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality studies, as well as concentrations in Art History, Creative Writing, and Fine Arts, Emma moved to Boston. In Boston, Emma has spent the past several years working as an artist and organizing for immigration justice with Never Again Action. Emma’s art focuses on how strange it is to have a body, and how wonderful it is to share stories with it – powerful stories are what brought Emma to community organizing. 

White woman with medium length brown hair wearing blue overalls smiles at the camera in front of the ocean and trees

Zoe Grodsky (she/her)

Zoe works for the Cumberland County Food Security Council in Portland, ME. Zoe began her position as the Food Fuels Learning Coordinator in October of 2021, working towards food equity and access in the Portland Public Schools. Zoe graduated from Middlebury College in February of 2021, where she studied Sociology and Education with a focus in social movements and environmental justice. Outside of work, Zoe loves making amateur pottery and exploring the many beaches and forests of Maine!

Headshot of Annessia Jimenez, a bi-racial female with medium length very curly brown hair. Wearing a black shirt with a grey cardigan smiling at the camera.Annessia Jimenez, she/hers

Annessia works as a Community Organizer at Worcester Common Ground, a community development corporation that works to improve the neighborhoods in Central Worcester. They work to provide low-income residents with affordable and safe housing. Annessia’s work focuses on creating positive relationships with tenants, local businesses, and the city to create a better community for everyone. Annessia graduated from Suffolk University in Spring of 2020. In recent years, she has become very interested in worker rights and safety, starting when she helped to organize a union at the independently owned movie theater she worked at. Since then, she has seen how powerful community organizing can be and is excited to continue making a difference.

Headshot of Benji Kemper, a white male with short brown hair, smiles at the camera

Benji Kemper (he/him)

Benji works for the Center for Living and Working  in Worcester, organizing for the rights of people with disabilities.  Benji graduated from Brandeis in 2020 with a degree in Business.  At Brandeis, Benji coordinated Language and Cultural Enrichment, an afterschool program for middle school English Language Learners.  Benji taught 6th grade social studies as a Teaching Fellow at Breakthrough Miami where he encouraged students to think critically about history and politics.  Benji enjoys watching and playing sports, tutoring, and reading.

Headshot of Thomas Moser. A white male with brown hair and a goatee who is wearing glasses, a black undershirt covered by an unbuttoned white plaid collared shirt, and a suit jacket smiles at the camera. Thomas Moser (He/Him)

Thomas is joining NewVue Communities as a part of the Jewish Organizing and Empower Fellowship, to help with vaccine initiative campaign in Fitchburg MA, and take his first steps to further develop his leadership skills in the career of community organizing. Thomas first got involved with NewVue by joining their Arts Stewards program in the Summer of 2019, shortly after graduating from Mount Wachusett Community College with a degree in Liberal Arts with Art Concentration that same year. Before transitioning to NewVue, Thomas held a career in Human Services, advocating for adults with special needs. Thomas also has a background in creating public art to help develop safer and more lively outdoor spaces in Fitchburg, as well as utilizing his personal art to help spread messages of Art-Activism “ARTivism” both through museum exhibition and shows that he helped co-contribute & co-organize with members of Arts Collectives from Fitchburg, Clinton, Framingham, Worcester, and beyond. Additionally, Thomas has also taken his coordinating efforts in the direction of helping work as a volunteer with Fitchburg creatives and organizations to co-found an affordable art studio space that can uplift local community members.

Other contributions and hobbies that Thomas has enjoyed over the last few years have been cooking food for people in need of free meals, experimenting with new recipes, gardening, and finding a way to balance an enjoyment/understanding of all other forms of creative expression. 

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About the Fellowship

Fellowship Candidates

Our national year-long paid community organizing fellowship with city hubs in New York City, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay area is a year of field experience and professional development for an intergenerational cohort Jews of Color looking for the opportunity to sharpen their change making skills and be trained as community organizers.

We are looking for Fellowship candidates that possess:

  • A track record of leadership experience (paid and/or volunteer) addressing social problems.
  • The ability to connect with people and build strong relationships.
  • Strong communication skills, both in person and through email and other methods.
  • Self-knowledge about why making the world a better place matters to you.
  • Self-identification as Jewish and a Person of Color and an interest in exploring the connections between Judaism, your racial identity, and social justice work.

The Jews of Color Organizing Fellowship is a place where:

  • People entering professional organizing can have support in finding a paid organizing position, as well as the training and community they need to succeed as an organizer. While we can not guarantee finding Finalists organizing jobs, we do our best through our expert Matching Process.
  • People with existing organizing jobs can find training, coaching, and support in those positions. Those people can apply to be a Fellow and have their organizations apply to be a Placement.

Interested? Join the Information Call for prospective Fellows and Apply here. If you have any questions please email applications@joinforjustice.org.

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Advisory Council

Jews of Color Organizing Fellowship Advisory Council

The Jews of Color Organizing Fellowship’s Advisory Council is a diverse collection of rabbis, non-profit professionals, JOC leaders, organizers, and educators. This team gathers monthly to guide the development of this fellowship through thoughtful discussions, problem-solving, and tracking progress. We are grateful to have their support and experience on our side.

photo of Charles Espedido

Charles Espedido (he/him)

Charles (or Charlie) Espedido (he/him) is the Senior Manager for the Just program and is responsible for helping to advance Just, ILFI’s transparency platform for socially just and equitable organizations. Charles works to inspire organizations to pursue Just, provide customer support, submission reviews, and label drafting. Originally from Chicago, IL (the lands of the Three Fire Council and many tribes in the Great Lakes region), Charles graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science: Public Health from Loyola University Chicago. He previously worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Environmental Justice team and most recently as a Program Manager for the Environmental Leadership Program facilitating environmental racial equity and justice programming for the cohort of Fellows from the RAY Diversity Fellowship. In his personal time, you can find Charles taking a hot yoga class, playing tennis, being out in nature, all in one day.

photo of Cydney WallaceCydeny Wallace (she/her)

Cydney Wallace is a Torah observant wife and mother of four, born and raised on the south side of Chicago. Cydney graduated high school a year early and attended Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, where she met and began dating her husband in 2002, though she was unable to finish school due to lack of funds. Working exclusively in customer service jobs, her first job as a grocery store stocker in Sandy Springs, GA paid her just $5.45/hr in 2004. Cydney now works for CBRE, managing three mailrooms, two in Chicago, IL and one in Tempe, AZ, and oversees fifteen employees for a financial institution. After a childhood of constantly moving/being evicted, and a stint of homelessness in college, Cydney and her husband bought their first home in Chicago Lawn/ Marquette Park to be within walking distance of Beth Shalom B’Nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew congregation, where she currently serves as vice president. She joined the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs after becoming increasingly frustrated with how the 2016 election cycle was going as a volunteer of the Police Accountability campaign (now the Community Safety Committee) in 2016. She is an Avodah Fellowship alum of ’17-’18, became a board member of JCUA in 2019, and was named a Double Chai in The Chi: 36 Under 36 in 2020.
אני הכל ושום דבר שחשבת שאני אהיה

JOIN logo elementJackie Baldwin (she/her)

Bio forthcoming

photo of Jordan Berg PowersJordan Berg Powers (he/him)

Jordan Berg Powers is the Executive Director at Mass Alliance, where he previously served as Deputy Director of Mass Alliance. In his nine years there, he has helped elect new progressive leaders across the state, recruited progressive champions to run, and trained hundreds of grassroots organizers. In 2015 Jordan was recognized for his exceptional work in politics as an inaugural inductee into the 40 under 40 Poly Award. Using his expertise in talking to ordinary voters about progressive policy, Jordan is active in campaigns for saving public education, gender equality and more progressive tax system for the Commonwealth. He conducts trainings across the state on campaign strategy and management, candidate recruitment, progressive messaging and women in politics. Jordan has a Masters in International Politics from the London School of Oriental & African Studies as well as a B.A. in International Development and a B.A. in Economics from American University.

photo of Kelly WhiteheadKelly Whitehead (she/they)

Kelly Whitehead (she/they) is a 4th year rabbinical student and Jewish Nonprofit Management MA student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Kelly participated in the Reform Movement’s JewV’Nation Jews of Color Fellowship, where they learned to create and facilitate Anti-Racial Bias training for Jewish Professionals. They serve on the board of T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and was selected as one of The Jewish Week’s 36 under 36 for 2021.

photo of Leili DavariLeili Davari (she/her)

Leili (she/her) joined the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable (JSJR) in March 2022 with 11 years experience of grassroots organizing, facilitation, and leadership development. Her experience includes organizing state-level campaigns in support of labor rights for domestic workers in California as well as local school funding formula campaigns in Los Angeles. Before joining JSJR, Leili was the Selah Program Director at Bend the Arc where she led two cohorts dedicated to Jewish People of Color. Three core values that guide her life and work are: (1) To honor that each human being is created in the image of the Divine and should be treated as such, (2) Accountability is core in creating the world we want, and (3) There is a place for love within conflict. As the Director of Racial Equity and Inclusion, Leili supports the Jewish social justice field and its journey towards honoring race equity and inclusion within its organizations. She has a BA in Political Science from New Mexico State University and an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. As a woman of Mexican and Iranian heritages, Leili takes pride in cooking family recipes including Khoresh Bademjan that her Iranian late father taught her, as well as her mom’s enchiladas. She lives on the ancestral land of the Kikapoo tribe (Dallas, TX).

photo of Yehudah WebsterYehuda Webster (her/him)

Spiritual activist and community organizer Yehudah Webster works to animate and integrate anti-racist behaviors and culture in communities, supporting the collective organizing, advocacy and direct service efforts to dismantle racism systemically. As the Program Director and Faculty at Inside Out Wisdom and Action Project, Yehudah equips communities with the daily concrete spiritual tools of Mussar to subvert racism within ourselves and others through facilitating workshops, consulting with organizations, and building a community of anti-racist practice. He has presented in a wide variety of settings, including staff developments for organizations, college campuses, communal institutions, and youth group programs. Yehudah is a graduate of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice’s Grace Paley Organizing Fellowship, Bend the Arc’s Selah Leadership Program, and Inside Out Wisdom and Action Project’s Ovdim Fellowship.

Jews of Color Organizing Fellowship Advisors-at Large

photo of Rabbi Aryeh Bernstein

Rabbi Aryeh Bernstein (he/him) 

Aryeh Bernstein is a 5th-generation Chicago South Sider (rightful land of the nations of the Council of Three Fires), who is a veteran Torah educator, especially in social justice settings. Aryeh is the National Jewish Educator and Chicago Justice Fellowship Director for Avodah, Educational Consultant for the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA), and frequent Staff Educator for the Jewish Initiative for Animals (JIFA). Aryeh is the author of the 2018 article, “The Torah Case for Reparations”, is a Senior Editor of Jewschool.com, and is a member of the Tzedek Lab. Aryeh studied in several institutions of higher Torah learning and received rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Daniel Landes’s Yashrut Institute.

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Thank you for your interest in the Jews of Color (JOC) Organizing Fellowship, a national Fellowship with city hubs in New York City, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay Area. The Fellowship runs May 2023 through May 2024.

Thank you for your interest. Applications for the 2023-2024 cohort are closed. 

The sooner you apply the sooner you will hear back about an interview and your acceptance as a Finalist in the Fellowship. Preview the application here.  

Apply as a Fellow   Complete Reference


Interested and want to know more? Watch this recorded Fellow Info Call and reach out to applications@joinforjustice.org with questions.

To apply:

1) Using this link, submit your Application Form to provide us with contact information, responses to Short Answer Questions, and uploading your Resume. If the SurveyMonkey application is not accessible to you, you may send your completed google doc and resume to applications@joinforjustice.org.

2) Using this link, have your reference submit this Reference Form.

Finding a Job:

As someone interested in the Fellowship, you might wonder, “how will I find a job?” or “what does the Matching process look like?”

After you are interview, you may be selected to become a Finalist. Being a Finalist means that you are eligible to become a Fellow; if you secure an organizing job that JOIN approves as a placement. This can happen in two ways: 

1) If you are already employed by an organization you hope to be your Placement and your place of work has been accepted as a placement organization, congratulations you are a Fellow and you do not need to go through the Matching process. 

  • Note: If you are already employed in an organizing job, but your organization still needs to be approved as a Placement Organization, you can encourage your organization to apply to be a Placement. We ask that you reach out to JOIN staff about whether or not you should participate in our Matching process. 

2) If you do not yet have an organizing job, you will be supported to find an organizing job that can serve as your Placement Organization through a two-pronged approach to increase your likelihood of finding a Placement.

  1. You will be matched for virtual interviews with prospective Placement Organizations in our matching pool, who we believe will be a good fit based on what you’ve shared with us and the Organization’s needs. An organization may then request a second round of interviews, references, or other materials needed to make a hire. Once you receive a job offer through the Matching Process then – you will formally be accepted as a Fellow! You can explore our current Placement Matching Pool here
  2. You will participate in group job coaching facilitated by one of our Fellowship Co-Directors. Through this group coaching, you will be supported in your job search; to apply and interview for jobs outside our current matching pool (provided that the organization fits JOIN’s criteria as a Placement Organization). If you find a job that meets JOIN’s placement criteria, and the employer agrees to participate in the Fellowship program, you become a Fellow.

If you have questions, please contact us at applications@joinforjustice.org

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Siyyum 2022

Photo of 2022 Jewish Organizing Fellows smiling outside together on a porch outside a white house.

Photo of 2022 Jewish Organizing Fellows

“Siyyum” in Hebrew, literally “completion,” traditionally refers to the completion and celebration of one’s study of a unit of Jewish text. At JOIN, we honor our Jewish Organizing Fellows’ conclusion of their fellowship year with our own Siyyum Graduation celebration. Our annual Siyyum — now in its 22nd year! — brings together a vibrant community of people who care about social justice, healing a fractured world, and building the capacity for sustained change.

The theme for this year’s Siyyum is “Changing Our Space, Changing Through Time.”

Join us at our 2022 Siyyum Graduation

Monday, November 21, 6:30-8:30 p.m. EST

~Zoom Virtual Gathering~


Please consider supporting JOIN by honoring the graduates with a purchase of a message which will be featured in the evening’s program book. Whether individuals or organizations, in attendance or not, all are invited to personalize their ad or well wishes to honor a graduate, or to show your support of JOIN. This year we will be creating a virtual program book. The program book will be available to attendees virtually before, during, and after the Siyyum Graduation.

Click here to RSVP and/or make a donation


ASL interpretation and CART will be available during the program. If you require Spanish interpretation, please reach out to Zayn Croft at zcroft@joinforjustice.org by November 1st.

For more general information or questions about this year’s Siyyum, please contact Lenny Somervell at lsomervell@joinforjustice.org. To place an ad in the program book, please contact Zayn at zcroft@joinforjustice.org. Deadline to donate in the ad book is Sunday, November 13th.

Hear R’s story at the 2020 Siyyum

Click here to see all the 2020 Fellows’ Siyyum stories.


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