JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa
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.
JIMENA is seeking to contract a Leadership Development Consultant to design and develop a new ten-month, cohort style training program that is focused on inclusion of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews and heritage in Jewish Day Schools and campus organizations. This program should be adaptable for synagogues, Jewish universities and seminaries, and Jewish overnight camps. The Leadership Development Consultant will also modify and restructure our well-established Sephardic Leaders Fellowship.
Educator Training Program Design
JIMENA would like to design a ten-month long, cohort-based training program for Jewish educators and administrators to help them build learning and engagement spaces that are inclusive of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews and heritage. Roughly 40-50% of this program will focus on educating participants on Sephardic and Mizrahi history, heritage, and culture. The remaining time will be spent training participants on how to create and implement school policies and culture shifts that are necessary in building more inclusive schools.
The cohort may kick off with a two-day retreat followed by monthly meetings that will likely alternate between in-person and virtual depending on the needs of the group. Ideally, a training and education manager will have at least one monthly one-on-one meetings with individuals in the cohort to track progress, discuss issues that arise, and provide ongoing support to participants
Content and trainings will help participants to better understand Middle Eastern and North African Jewish communities including their immigration histories; major cultural, political, and linguistic features; etc. The program will place emphasis on the integration of practices into participants’ schools and campuses to strengthen their ability to engage, welcome, and integrate at all levels Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent.
Other aspects of the training may more closely mirror the kinds of training common to other organizations in the DEI space as the core concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion have been applied to nonprofit and corporate trainings about communities of color, LGBTQ+ communities, and issues of gender equity. Potential topics covered in the various trainings may include:
- Sephardi and Mizrahi holidays, rituals, laws, and observances
- Sephardi and Mizrahi liturgy, song, and prayer
- Supporting Sephardi and Mizrahi families and youth
- Principles and language of DEI as it relates to Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews
- Developing and adopting specific policies and practices to build more inclusive schools
- The importance of shifting school culture to welcome Sephardi, Mizrahi, and diverse families
- Creating a timeline and action plan for change
Training Goals & Objectives
- This program will help Jewish day schools and campus organizations increase and retain the enrollment of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewish students and families and will improve the social-emotional learning experiences of these students.
- Sephardic and Mizrahi inclusion will become a core value of the school and curriculum and school practices will be reassessed with Sephardi and Mizrahi culture and heritage embedded into everyday life in the school.
- Administrators and educators will increase their cultural competencies with Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews and will gain the language and tools to create a cultural shift that makes their classrooms and schools demonstrably more inclusive.
- These trainings will help create sustainable programs, services, policies, and models that meet the needs of diverse Sephardi and Mizrahi students and families.
- Develop the cultural competencies and core DEI competencies of heads of Jewish day schools, top-level administrators, educators, and campus professionals so that they have the language, knowledge, and tools to begin shifting the culture of their schools’ to be more inclusive of the growing diversity in their communities. While DEI as a conceptual framework is often considered too progressive for the vast majority of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, certain DEI concepts and principles are integral in teaching Jewish educators and administrators how to build more inclusive spaces and systems. For example exploring multicultural competencies, and curricular representation is an important step towards building inclusive schools. While our training program will not be designed as a DEI program, it will incorporate non-controversial, best-practice skills and values that are common in DEI training programs.
- Schools will be encouraged to adopt policies and documents that serve to build more inclusive classrooms and learning spaces.
- Committees of engaged Sephardi and Mizrahi parents and school stakeholders will be developed as a result of this program.
- Ideally we’d also like to see more Mizrahi and Sephardic teachers, volunteers, and administrators recruited at the schools this program seeks to serve.
Sephardic Leaders Fellowship Redesign
JIMENA’s Sephardic Leaders Fellowship is a six month cohort learning opportunity designed for a diverse group of Jewish communal professionals and lay-leaders from a range of institutions. Until now, cohorts are primarily comprised of Sephardic and Mizrahi rabbis, administrators, educators, volunteers, and activists who meet bi-monthly. Sessions focus on diverse subjects dealing with Sephardic history and culture. Each session aims to integrate culture of belonging exercises that help participants explore their identities and connect with each other.
The fellowship needs to be modified and likely expanded from a six month fellowship to a twelve month fellowship that provides a much stronger leadership training component and helps build a pipeline into Jewish communal life for young Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewish communal professionals and lay-leaders. Moving forward we are hoping to create regional cohorts of exceptional Sephardi and Mizrahi young professionals who are seeking pathways into Jewish communal leadership roles positions.
- Target population. It is challenging to convene a cohort that spans a wide range of ages and experience levels and that requires a high degree of differentiated learning. Rather, we believe that JIMENA should focus on participants in their mid-20s to mid 30s, a group that the Jewish community is eager to retain. If trained now, these young adults will go on to influence the field as they advance in their careers. We would advocate for a mix of professionals and lay leaders in the fellowship to foster relationships and respect across both sides of the management/governance divide.
- Content: Until now the fellowship has focused mostly on the culture and history of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews and while we want to retain these elements, we also need to include other topics that are relevant for a leadership training fellowship. We are also hoping to develop and formalize the culture of belonging practices within the fellowship as one of the fellowship’s stated goals is to “build a community of practice”. Potential topics might include:
- Best practices in non-profit management and governance
- History and characteristics of Jewish nonprofit sector
- Integrating DEI principles into nonprofit organizations
- Leadership models & negotiations
- Potential Format Monthly convenings of each regional cohort that might alternate between evening meetings to study and discuss a range of topics (with pre-readings provided), and half-day site visits to community institutions paired with conversations with senior professional and voluntary leaders. Monthly, one-on-one coaching sessions between the region’s facilitator and each individual member of the cohort. These sessions should follow a best-practice coaching model beginning with the establishment of professional, personal, and learning goals for each participant.
- Job or volunteer placement advice and advocacy should be a component of the fellowship. The facilitator should have the visibility and network to help move fellowship graduates into positions of greater responsibility, into new positions with new organizations as needed, or to find placements on boards for voluntary leaders in the cohort.
JIMENA IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER AND DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST ANY EMPLOYEE OR APPLICANT BECAUSE OF RACE, ETHNICITY, GENDER IDENTITY, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, AGE, NATIONAL ORIGIN OR DISABILITIES
Please submit your resume and a cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 10, 2023