2020-06-08 | Blog

Sephardic Jews In Support of Black Lives

JIMENA Young Professional’s Statement

As a unified young adult community composed of Jews of Mizrahi and Sephardic descent, we issue this statement as a call to action in solidarity and support of Black Lives. Our parents and grandparents fled religious persecution in countries throughout North Africa and the Middle East, and we’ve been appalled to witness the violence Black men, women, and children continue to endure in the same country where our families sought refuge and peace.

As we have learned through the experiences of our elders who had no legal protections in the countries they fled, Black and Brown bodies in the United States will not be safe until they are provided with a reformed justice system that truly protects their inalienable rights. We demand an end to police brutality and indifference. We commit to working together to dismantle systemic racism and to create accountability, equity, justice, peace, dialogue, healing, and true equality for those who suffer as a result of racism and hate.

During these turbulent times many of us in the JIMENA community are turning to Sephardic and Mizrahi sages, Rabbis, and thought-leaders for their wisdom and Torah. Rabbi Daniel Bouskila’s invocation of a teaching from Rabbi Abraham Shalem (b. 1928, d. 2014, from Jerusalem, Israel) is of utmost urgency. As Rabbi Shalem taught:

We must promote teachings that reflect truth and equality and a way of life that protects the human rights of all human beings created in G-d’s image without discriminating based on race, color or creed. Repairing the world in the spirit of G-d for the good of all of humanity can only happen through loving our fellow man and protecting their human rights and performing acts of charity and kindness. For this is the ultimate will of G-d”. 

We issue this personal call to action with a list of our favorite educational resources and organizations to support. As our Jewish faith commands, we must each ACT through chesed (loving-kindness) and tzedaka (charitable giving) each step of the way.

The list of signatures will be updated regularly as more JIMENA leaders add their names and statements – check back often! Please scroll down to the bottom for links to articles written by young Sephardic and Mizrahi leaders on justice for Black Lives.

Joseph Braude: As an Arab affairs specialist who speaks and broadcasts in the language, I have been receiving requests from Arabic radio and television to answer questions about the protests and violence and what these developments say about American society. These interviews provide an opportunity to clarify the situation in the U.S. — and correct misinformation or disinformation that has been spreading — to an audience for which the discussion of human rights is particularly important and fraught. So I have done my best to keep up with the news and faithfully relay what I learn.

Sanem Emregul: I chose to send extra money this month to my Kenyan friend and sister Hellen Waweru. She is a mother of color living in Nairobi, and has a young son with a heart condition. I will ask her to share the funds with those members in her community who are also struggling. For anybody interested in learning more about the history of racism in the United States, I recommend the documentary film, “I Am Not Your Negro,” and Netflix documentary, “13th” which explores the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States.

Justin Feldman: As the grandson of Moroccan refugees to Israel — a community central to propelling the Israeli Black Panthers chapter for Mizrahi equality — I chose to donate to Run With Maud to support justice for black lives, to honor the memory of Ahmaud Arbery, and revolutionize institutional change in Georgia and throughout

Sarah Levin: As a native of Chicago, IL, I chose to donate to Sista Afya to support the mental wellness of Black women in my hometown. I recommend Ijeoma Oluo’s book, So You Want to Talk About Race, as a good starting place to learn about contemporary race issues in the USA.

Analucia Lopezrevoredo: As a multinational, Sephardic-Jewtina, I stand in solidarity with the Black community as they continue to mourn the state-sanctioned murders of Stephon Clark, Eric Garner, George Floyd, Oscar Grant, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice and Donnie Sanders, and countless others, and with the Black Lives Matter movement as they work tirelessly to end anti-Black racism and violence. During these critical times, I chose to donate to NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, America’s top legal firm fighting for racial justice and equality for all Americans. I also recommend Ibram X. Kendi and JasonReynolds’ book, Stamped: Racism, Antiracismand You, to help you better understand why America is where it is today.

Aitan Mizrahi: Born in San Francisco and living in Oakland, CA my allegiance is to the Bay Area. I have been marching in the streets of Oakland and feel hopeful and know so much more is left to do. We can do better. Oakland based organizations that need support are: Anti Police-Terror Project: For the people, against state terror and Black Earth Farms: Grassroots Pan African & Pan Indigenous Farming Collective growing food in the East Bay.

Zachary Nelson: There is no room in our society for racial injustice and inequality. As a descendant of Sephardim from a world with a second status to the majority I can’t stand idle in a country that has afforded me privileges that others are not. For our society will never reach its full potential until every man and woman is valued for who they are as a person, regardless of race, sexual orientation, religion or ethnicity. I take a stand for equality and the right for peace and prosperity for all of our future generations.

Erez Safar: My goal as the founder/producer of the Sephardic Music Festival is unifying people through culture and education, celebrating diversity and common ground. By way of this work, I try and put forth a public Jewish face to multi-cultural, inter-faith, creative, and collaborative bridge-building. I chose to donate to Color Of Change, the organization helps people respond effectively and take action to injustice in the world. COC designs campaigns to challenge decision makers and hold them accountable for policies and practices that promote inequality.

Rachel Shamash Schneider: Black Lives Matter. I stand in solidarity and support, committed to the pursuit of social justice and racial equity through tzedakah (giving) and tzedek (justice). As a Board Member of Alliance for Girls, I support Bay Area leaders and organizations working together to amplify the voices of young women and girls and eliminate systemic barriers to their success. Let’s amplify our collective voice for systemic change.   

Sapir Taib: As an Israeli of Mizrahi descent, I’m happy to add my name to this statement in solidarity and support of Black Communities. I highly recommend visiting (either virtually or in person) the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC, which is devoted to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. I’m also proud to highlight Urban Gateways, a Chicago-based NGO that engages young people in arts experiences to inspire creativity, impact social change, and bring the arts to underfunded schools in the region. My husband’s family helped found this organization in the 1960’s and served on their board for many years. During the 2018-19 school year, Urban Gateways provided 95,000 students in the Chicago area with art experiences so I hope will join me and support this awesome organization.

We stand for justice; call for change. by Sephardic Seattle Network, 6/12/20

We Must Re-Think Identity, Privilege and Oppression in the Middle East. by Nave Dromi. Newsweek, 6/8/20

When Jews Attack Black Lives Matter, It Only Fuels Anti-Semitism. by Hen Mazzig. Jewish Journal, 6/8/20

Can We Keep the Focus on George Floyd’s Killer? by David Suissa, Jewish Journal, 5/31/20