URJ Continues to Invest in Jews of Color for Leadership Development

This is the second Jews of Color cohort the URJ JewV’Nation Fellowship has led

New York, NY; January 11, 2022 - Following its successful first cohort of Jews of Color in 2018, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) is proud to announce the selection of 15 individuals as participants in the JewV'Nation (pronounced "juvenation") Fellowship's second Jews of Color Leadership Cohort. This program will help to diversify and strengthen the leadership of Reform Jewish communities throughout North America and will increase opportunities for more communities to benefit from the leadership of Jews of Color.

The JewV'Nation Fellowship was originally created in 2017 and piloted by April Baskin, the URJ's Immediate Past Vice President of Audacious Hospitality. The six-month fellowship supports 10-16 Jewish leaders ages 18-118 through professional development, networking opportunities, training and empowerment aimed at expanding the field of Jewish leaders and creating communities of belonging in the Reform Movement, the broader Jewish community, and beyond.

The 2022 JewV'Nation Jews of Color Cohort will largely focus on identity building and centering issues pertaining to racism, Jews of Color, and intersectionality. In addition, the fellows will focus on understanding the implications of their own individual diverse identities and collaborating on ways to share their vision and strategies towards community restoration and creating impactful change.

A Pew Research survey in 2020 found the U.S. Jewish population is continuing to become more racially and ethnically diverse. Pew found that while 8% of Jewish Americans identified as "non-white," that figure rose to 15% among Jews ages 18 to 29. The survey also noted that 17% of U.S. Jews live in households in which at least one child or adult identifies as a Person of Color.

As America's Jewish communities continue to transform and evolve, the URJ anticipates this new cohort will have a measurable impact on camps, congregations, youth groups, North American Board, Commission on Social Action, and many other important institutions and leadership bodies in the Reform movement.

The 2022 JewV'Nation Fellowship will be led by URJ Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Director Yolanda Savage-Narva (she/her), in partnership with Fellowship Assistants Tamar Ghidalia (she/her) and Jill Housen (she/her). All three of the cohort leaders are fellowship alumni. View their bios.

"The Fellowship gave me an opportunity to be proud of being a Jew of Color, said Savage-Narva. "It provided a well-rounded, innovative approach to learning and growing AND introduced me to other Jews of Color who shared similar experiences as well as brought their own unique perspectives to our cohort. Participating in the fellowship was a powerful, unforgettable experience. I am so honored and excited to lead the 2022 JOC JewV'Nation cohort and be in community with future Leaders of Color."

The 2022 fellows were selected from a committed, passionate and surpassingly impressive applicant pool representing diversity in age, gender, sexuality, disability status, socioeconomic background, language, body type, race, ethnicity, profession, location and various other diverse backgrounds and experiences. The cohort will be provided access to leadership resources, exclusive networking and community building opportunities, interaction with previous cohort members, and leaders within the Reform Movement. JewV'Nation Fellows will also meet with JewV'Nation JOC alumni to learn and grow together, as well as with other esteemed JOC leaders in the field in order to deepen and strengthen their positions as leaders in the community.

URJ's Audacious Hospitality is a transformative spiritual practice rooted in the belief that we will be a stronger, more vibrant Jewish community when we fully welcome and incorporate the diversity that is the reality of modern Jewish life. The JewV'Nation Fellowship is grounded in the six Jewish values that represent Audacious Hospitality's guiding principles, including honor (kavod), watchfulness (zehirut), and open tent (ohel patuach).

The JewV’Nation Fellowship is proudly funded and sustained by grants from the Jews of Color Field Building Initiative, the Genesis Philanthropy Group, a generous URJ donor in collaboration with the Jewish Funders Network, and anonymous donors. The upcoming 2022 Jews of Color JewV’Nation Cohort is made possible by a generous grant by an anonymous donor and Congregation Emanu-El of New York.

Learn about this year’s JewV’Nation fellows.