JIMENA Launches New Initiative to Better Integrate Sephardic and Mizrahi Students, Culture, and Content into NY Day Schools

Effort funded by UJA-Federation of NY will culminate with new training programs for Jewish educators and administrators

May 23, 2023 — JIMENA has undertaken a major effort to help New York Jewish Day schools better integrate Sephardic and Mizrahi students, culture, and content. The project, supported by UJA-Federation of New York, begins with an assessment of nineteen Jewish Day Schools in New York to determine what types of interventions  school administrators and educators need to create more inclusive classrooms. The assessment’s findings will enable JIMENA to design the right training for Jewish educators and administrators.

“Jewish learning experiences must reflect the diversity of the Jewish people,” says Sarah Levin, executive director of JIMENA, which increasingly focuses on training and supporting leaders in this area. “We welcome the support from UJA-Federation of NY to create change and support schools as they shift their culture and curriculum to ensure that Sephardic and Mizrahi students, history, and culture are acknowledged, taught, and regularly included. We also look forward to expanding our operations and impact in New York.”

Pew Research Center’s study, Jewish Americans in 2020, reports that only 66% of Jewish Americans identify as Ashkenazi. Yet many Jewish day schools and informal educational programs struggle to meet the needs of increasingly diverse student bodies, including schools and educational institutions that have high enrollment from Mizrahi and Sephardi communities. JIMENA’s fellowship programs for Jewish leaders have a proven record helping institutions become more welcoming of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews.

“We’re excited to work in partnership with the day schools,” adds Levin. “Their leadership is making a commitment through this project that will benefit all of their families and the broader Jewish community.”