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JEWS OF COLOR, INDIGENOUS,

SEPHARDI & MIZRAHI CAUCUS

WHO WE ARE

 Kavod’s Jews of Color, Indigenous, Sephardi and Mizrahi Caucus has formally existed since February 2018. Our community is open to anyone who holds any of these identities. We meet once a month and the content of our meetings varies- some of our gatherings are social, some for the purpose of learning together, and others, to take action. We strive to create a sense of connection and community between members whenever we gather. We also have occasional larger scale events, including Yom Kippur services and Pesach Seders. At this point in time, caucus membership is self defined-- there is no formal process for joining the group. Please don't hesitate to reach out to Sivan at Sivan@kavodboston.org if you'd like to get involved or have any questions!  

Affirming that we are a multiracial, multiethnic and multicultural people, we recognize the ways in which Jewish communities in the US have been internally impacted by the forces of racism and Ashkenazi dominance. These forces have caused and continue to enable experiences of isolation, exclusion and erasure for those within our Jewish communities who identify as people of color, indigenous, and who are less proximate to whiteness and/or "traditional" depictions of the Jewish experience in the US. 

As a part of a broader community committed to social justice organizing and Jewish spiritual practice, we have created a space for Jews of Color, Indigenous Jews, Sephardim and Mizrahim to heal, reclaim, celebrate, learn, grow and build power together. We enter this work with the clear recognition that our narratives are incredibly diverse, in terms of our experiences and proximities to racism and state violence, our religious connections or observances, and our heritage. We come together not to deny our differences, but rather to give ourselves the space to breathe and be honest with one another, in a way that’s often inaccessible in our broader Jewish communities, and ultimately transform ourselves, each other and our work of pursuing liberation. ​

CAUCUS HISTORY & HIGHLIGHT REEL

From Fall 2017 - February 2018, two community members started hosting Sephardi/Mizrahi gatherings. This initiated conversations with more leaders about visioning and planning what a more expansive community of Jews of Color, Indigenous Jews, Sephardim and Mizrahim could look like in Boston, and specifically one anchored in Kavod. They began having conversations with Jewish communal leaders, like Yavilah McCoy and other similar caucuses, like JFREJ’s in NYC. 

  • In February 2018 Kavod’s very first JOCISM Caucus gathering was held at the old Kavod house in JP, with around 20 people coming together to build community and envision what the caucus could be. 

  • After several months of gathering and growing the caucus, in June 2018, at the annual Kavod Community Retreat, the caucus leaders shared a letter to the wider community. This was an opportunity for caucus members to share about the process of visioning and building the group more formally with the community, and to call them into necessary internal work at Kavod around challenging racism and Ashkenazi dominance. 

  • The caucus grew considerably in the next year, with regular opportunities to connect, heal and celebrate together. In April 2019, the first-ever Kavod JOCISM Caucus Seder was held. The Seder was co-created, co-led and co-fed by the 30 members present. Caucus members created and shared publicly a custom Haggadah that reflects the myriad traditions, histories and cultures in our community. 

  • In September and October of 2019, the Caucus hosted two egalitarian Sephardi Slichot services and offered ritual learning opportunities for caucus members and broader community members. On Yom Kippur, two women in the caucus led one of the only egalitarian Sephardi Kol Nidre and Neilah services in the entire world! 

  • Around the same time, in the fall of 2019, Kavod hired its first ever caucus staff organizer through the JOIN for Justice fellowship program. 

  • Throughout the fall and winter of 2019/2020, the Caucus hosted regular gatherings at members’ homes throughout Greater Boston on topics related to colorism, language reclamation, and Black History Month. 

  • In April 2020 the Caucus hosted its second annual Passover Seder, virtually. Using the Haggadah created by Caucus members the year before, each piece of the Haggadah was led by a different member. The Seder, attended by 25+ members, contained both traditional pieces of the Caucus members’ heritage and fun innovations to best utilize the new virtual format. 

  • In May 2020, two Caucus members led a JOCISM Power Hour, to demand that the state prioritize workers’ safety and input in the reopening process, in partnership with the Jewish Labor Committee. This was our first ever explicitly political action together. 

  • In July 2020, the Caucus, in partnership with Kavod and a dozen other Boston-based Jewish organizations, planned and led a Tisha B’av Vigil for Black Lives. This event brought together hundreds of people and centered Black Jews, including several Black caucus members who spoke.


 

Sivan Ben-Hayun

JOCISM Caucus Organizer & Curriculum Team Lead Organizer

sivan@kavodboston.org

Sivan Ben-Hayun (she/her) is a Moroccan American originally from Long Island, New York. She came to Boston in 2015 through her studies at Brandeis University, and has called Boston ‘home’ ever since. Sivan began organizing during her time at Brandeis, through J Street U. She found her way to Kavod in 2019 via the JOIN For Justice Organizing Fellowship. Through JOIN, she was placed at Kavod as the Jews of Color, Indigenous, Sephardi & Mizrahi Caucus organizer. At the completion of her fellowship year, Sivan signed on to another year of being the JOCISM Caucus organizer and became the Anti-Racism Curriculum Team’s lead organizer. She is the first full-time, paid staff member of Kavod. Beyond Kavod, Sivan enjoys spicy foods, theorizing about her favorite television shows and being an all-around silly goose.

© 2020 Kavod Boston