Jewish Multiculturalism and Mizrahi Heritage Studies

Need

To date, the study of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewish heritage, Jewish multiculturalism, and the ethnic diversity of the Jewish people has not been integrated as a regular component of Jewish education in the USA nor in Israel. Despite the fact that over 50% of Israeli Jews and roughly 20% of American Jews are Mizrahi and Sephardic most Jewish Day Schools and history teachers are ill-prepared to teach on the subject. As North America’s Jewish community becomes more diverse, it is essential that our Jewish schools receive high-level content and support to begin fully integrating Jewish Multiculturalism and Mizrahi Heritage Studies into their regular Jewish history surveys, curriculum, and school activities.

JIMENA is working with Israel’s Ministry of Education Biton Committee, Jewish history educators, educational non-profit organizations, and local Jewish Day schools on development and implementation of our a three-part North American Mizrahi Education and Jewish Multiculturalism Initiative. This replicable initiative serves as a national model of an inclusive Jewish educational system that embraces and reflects the Jewish diversity of our own shifting communities, while educating and empowering Jewish educators and students on Jewish Multiculturalism and Mizrahi Heritage Studies.

Response

Incorporating modulated Jewish Multiculturalism and Mizrahi Heritage Studies into Jewish Day Schools will broaden and strengthen students’ knowledge, understanding and language around issues of Jewish diversity, Jewish and Middle Eastern demographics and values, and contemporary Jewish identities and experiences. It will teach on the vibrant Jewish rituals and traditions of tolerance, inclusivity, and spiritual flexibility which are core components of Sephardic and Mizrahi heritage. Regardless of family background, all students, but particularly those who identify as the “other”, will be given a safe classroom space to explore and share their Jewish identities and backgrounds.

Program Overview

Jewish schools and educators will receive one on one curriculum/teacher assessment, information, tools and facilitated support to slowly begin the process of fully integrating Jewish Multiculturalism and Mizrahi Heritage Studies into their Jewish history survey courses and curriculum. The program will help schools develop cultural continuity with Israeli society and with diverse communities that exist around us while broadening students definitions of Jewishness.

In the early phases of the project, JIMENA will compile educational content for the Jewish Multiculturalism and Mizrahi Heritage Studies Initiative. We will work with local Jewish History educators and administrators on implementation of the first module of the program – which will involve individual curriculum assessment meetings with educators, development, and support for implementation of JIMENA’s MRM curriculum. The curriculum involves a special week of daily school-wide experiential learning activities.

Immediately following the Mizrahi Multicultural Week, JIMENA will meet with administrators and teachers at each school to provide assessment and to empower the schools to continue integrating the second module of the program. At this time educators and administrators will receive comprehensive curriculum and guides to help them integrate Jewish Multiculturalism and Mizrahi Heritage content into regular Jewish History survey courses. JIMENA will provide ongoing, individualized support and trainings to the schools as needed.

JIMENA is currently recruiting an Education Program Manager. To learn more about the position and apply, click here.

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