Jews of Color Initiative Publishes "Beyond the Count," a Pathbreaking Report on the Lived Experiences of Jews of Color
On August 12, 2021, the Jews of Color Initiative (JoCI), an organization dedicated to racial equality within the U.S. Jewish community, published Beyond the Count, a report based on surveys and interviews of over a thousand Jews of color. The report brought to light the often-sidelined experiences of Jews of Color, contributing to the JoCI’s mission to acknowledge and confront racism and exclusion within American Jewish life.
The JoCI is the nation’s first and only philanthropic fund dedicated to serving Jews of Color through grantmaking, community education opportunities, and online resources, alongside formal research findings in reports like Beyond the Count. Recipients of JoCI grants include the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, the Black Jewish Liberation Collective, and more, with an emphasis on artists and arts organizations. Online, the JoCI offers resource lists and online community spaces: these include affinity spaces, surveys, bulletin boards, grants boards, and a jobs board. These online resources aim to foster an active, supportive community of Jews of Color, many of whom know few other Jews of Color in their physical communities.
The JoCI’s research serves a similar goal. In surveying larger numbers of Jews of Color than exist in many individual Jewish communities, JoCI reports reveal issues that are consistent across American Jewish communities and give Jews of Color affirmation that others share their lived experiences. Ilana Kaufman, Executive Director of the JoCI, said after Beyond the Count’s release that she hopes “there is a chorus of ‘I’ve had enough’ from every person in the Jewish community” regarding the powerful statistics and stories of racism Beyond the Count contained. Marc Dollinger, a professor of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University, echoed Kaufman’s call, noting that the report marks “a once-in-100-years kind of insight into a huge part of American Jewish life, which has been nonexistent in the literature and very much present in actual life.” In fact, Dollinger said he planned to incorporate the data into his future curricula.
For scholars like Dollinger, activists and artists like those funded by the JoCI, Jews of Color who find affirmation and community through JoCI resources, and the American Jewish community at large, the work of the JoCI offers a vast array of resources for tackling racism within the Jewish community and uplifting long-sidelined Jews of Color.
Esensten, Andrew. “‘We Are Not Alone!’ Jews of Color React to Landmark New Survey.” The Jewish News of Northern California, August 13, 2021. https://jweekly.com/2021/08/13/we-are-not-alone-how-a-new-study-validates-the-feelings-of-many-jews-of-color/.
Belzer, Tobin, Tory Brundage, Vincent Calvetti, Gage Gorsky, Ari Y. Kelman, and Daya Perez. “Beyond the Count: Perspectives and Lived Experiences of Jews of Color,” August 12, 2021. https://jewsofcolorinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/BEYONDTHECOUNT.FINAL_.8.12.21.pdf.
Jews of Color Initiative. “Jews of Color Initiative.” Accessed April 15, 2022. https://jewsofcolorinitiative.org/.
Jewish News Syndicate. “Jews of Color Initiative Announces Newest Grantees Creating More Welcoming and Inclusive Communities,” March 23, 2022. https://www.jns.org/wire/jews-of-color-initiative-announces-newest-grantees-creating-more-welcoming-and-inclusive-communities/.
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Jews of Color Initiative Publishes "Beyond the Count," a Pathbreaking Report on the Lived Experiences of Jews of Color." (Viewed on March 26, 2023) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/aug/12/2021/jews-color-initiative-publishes-beyond-count-pathbreaking-report-lived>.