JIMENA Welcomes First Cohort of Campus Professionals to Sephardic Leaders Fellowship

Program Redesigned to Meet the Needs and Address Challenges for Cohort of Twenty Jewish Campus Professionals

(San Francisco) – JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa) announced the first-ever cohort of campus professionals for its Leadership Fellowship run through its Sephardic Leadership Institute. The fellowship has been redesigned specifically for this cohort.

“Campus professionals have distinct needs, challenges, and opportunities that are different from mid to senior level Jewish communal professionals and lay-leaders,” says Sarah Levin, executive director of JIMENA. “These campus professionals are on the front-lines of growing antisemitism in the United States. We want to empower and train these leaders with new knowledge and skills to support them and the students they serve.”

The select cohort of twenty Jewish campus professionals, welcomed with the support of the Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund (JCRIF), includes professionals from Stand With Us, Hillel International, TAMID Group, Springboard Fellowship, and the Jewish Agency. Fellows serve Jewish college students at campuses throughout the United States including: Tufts University, Brooklyn College, UC Berkeley, University of Illinois, Penn State University, Cornell University, UCLA, and many others. 

The Fellowship covers the history of Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, defining antisemitism, campus-advocacy 101, the Abraham Accords and a shifting Middle East, Sephardi and Mizrahi holidays and rituals for college students, and more. Sessions are led by top-tier rabbis, scholars, international activists, and Jewish educators. 

The fellows are:

  • Hedda Harari-Spencer Senior Lecturer of Hebrew, Tufts University
  • Sarali Cohen, Previously worked at Tanger Hillel at Brooklyn College
  • Maya Zinkow, Senior Jewish Educator, Berkeley Hillel
  • Joseph Gindi, Jewish History Teacher, Jewish Community High School of the Bay
  • Ben Shefter, Senior Director and Senior Jewish Educator, McMaster University
  • Rachel Merovitz, Campus Manager, Hillel Montreal
  • Karen Shalev, New England Campus Coordinator, StandWithUs
  • Jared Hoffman Teacher, Temple Ner, Tamid
  • Valerie Chambers, Campus Director Kennesaw State University Hillel
  • Sarah Cohen Domont, Director of Lifelong Learning, Kehillah Synagogue
  • Boaz Avraham-Katz, Jewish Educator, Elon University Hillel
  • Sarah Abrams, Metro Chicago Hillel
  • Alana Mantel, Campus Program Associate, TAMID Group
  • Shachar-Lee Yaakobovitz, Intrapreneurship Springboard Fellow at Penn State Hillel
  • Chloe Levian, Campus Regional Manager: Southwest, StandWithUs
  • Ruth Gal Gabriel, Israel fellow, Hillel at UGA
  • Yehoshua Hooper, Cornell Hillel, Director of Israel Experiential Education, Co-founder & mentor the to the Sephardi Mizrahi Student Council
  • Heni Bizawi, Israel fellow at Hillel Milwaukee
  • Leenie Baker, Wellness Director, USC Hillel
  • Rachael Petru, Director of Philanthropic Partnerships, UCLA Hillel

The fellowship, started in January 2021, is a six-month learning program designed for Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewish communal professionals, lay leaders, and allies, to gain classical and contemporary Sephardic knowledge from leaders in the field, build a community of practice and friendship, and gain new approaches to Jewish leadership. Each fellow participates in bimonthly learning and engagement sessions facilitated by top Mizrahi and Sephardic thought-leaders, scholars, activists, and rabbis from around the world. Participants are tasked with bringing their new-found knowledge and skills back to their Jewish institutions in an effort to help their community become more diverse, inclusive, and better representative of Sephardic and Mizrahi heritage.  For more information on the Fellowship program, please click here

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About Jimena

JIMENA was created in 2002 by former Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa who desired to share their personal stories and rich culture with college students, policy makers and North American Jewish communal and lay leaders throughout North America. JIMENA speakers have shared personal testimonies with government agencies all over the world, more than 80 Universities in North America and hundreds of organizations.  As the only organization in North America exclusively focused on educating and advocating on behalf of Jewish refugees and Mizrahi Jews from Arab countries, we remain a thought-leader and resource center for multiple institutions advancing the history, heritage and culture of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews.

Our programs aim to ensure that the accurate history of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews is incorporated into mainstream Jewish and Middle Eastern narratives in order to create balance in attitudes, narratives, and discourse about Middle Eastern refugees and the modern Jewish experience. Our programs and activities are guided by a clear set of eight organizational goals, a strong mission statement and one underlying objective, which were articulated during an in-depth stakeholder strategic planning process.