Working with organizations in California and beyond, Ilana Kaufman has drawn on her personal experience as a queer Jewish woman of color to advocate for diversity and inclusivity. Born to an Ashkenazi Jewish mother and an African American father, Ilana Kaufman was raised by her mother in San Francisco’s Western Addition neighborhood. She attended Congregation Sherith Israel, one of the city’s oldest synagogues. Kaufman studied sociology at Humboldt State University, where she was active in the Jewish Student Union. After receiving a master’s degree in Educational Pedagogy from Mills College in Oakland in 1997, Kaufman spent a decade and a half working in independent schools in northern California. In 2012, she made the transition to working in the Jewish communal world by joining the staff of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco. Working with numerous foundations, federations, synagogues, and Hillels on college campuses across the country, Kaufman has facilitated trainings for communal professionals and community members to recognize and address racism in the Jewish community through reflection, programming, and policy changes. Her public speeches and published writings provide visibility for Jews of color and LGBTQ Jews in Jewish institutions. In 2015 she gave an ELI Talk called “Racism in the Jewish Community: The Uncomfortable Truth” which amassed 45,000 views, and in 2016, she was highlighted in a New York Public Library blog post celebrating Black Jews for Black History Month. Kaufman served as the Public Affairs and Civic Engagement Director for the East Bay for the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Relations Council until 2018, when she joined the Jews of Color Initiative as CEO. JoCI’s work is focused on inspiring systemic change through grantmaking, research, and community education.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Ilana Kaufman." (Viewed on October 2, 2023) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/kaufman-ilana>.