National | Religion & Jewish Life

Jews of Color Initiative aims to have 1,000 Jews of Color complete research survey

San Francisco, CA – The Jews of Color Initiative aims to have 1,000 Jews of Color (JoC) complete a survey at, part of the first-ever study to understand the lived experiences and perspectives of Jews of Color in the United States. Led by a multi-racial research team housed at Stanford University, the “Count Me In” study is devoted to addressing some big questions: how do JoCs think about Jewish identity; what has been JoCs’ experiences in Jewish communities; how has systemic racism affected JoCs in Jewish spaces; how can the Jewish community better reflect the range of experiences and identities of all people; and more.

“We want 1,000 Jews of Color to share their stories by filling out the survey,” says Ilana Kaufman, executive director of the Jews of Color Initiative. “If we want to create Jewish communities and leaders that reflect and represent all Jews, we must get this right.”

The survey will be open until Feb. 19 and the Count Me In study is expected to be completed in July. Following analysis by the research team, the JoCI will share the findings broadly to advocate for changes in the Jewish community.

“American Jewish leaders and organizations have often associated Jewishness solely with the White Ashkenazi experience,” Kaufman adds. “This mindset has heavily influenced how organizations are structured and run, who they view as their audiences, what programs are developed and offered, and how people are — or are not —welcomed into organizations and events. We need data and sound research that builds our case, indisputably, that leaders need to think about the Jewish community through an entirely different lens.”

The Count Me In research team is led by Dr. Tobin Belzer, contributing fellow at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at University of Southern California, and includes Dr. Ari Y Kelman, Jim Joseph Professor of Education and Jewish Studies at Stanford; Dr. Dalya Perez, critical race theorist and equity strategist for Microsoft; Dr. Gage Gorsky, PhD in measurements and statistics in education from the University of Washington; and Tory Brundage, PhC, and Vincent Calvetti, MAIS, at the University of Washington.

“In these past 11 months of unprecedented crises from pandemic to racial brutality, we have felt the collective grief and the importance to center voices, stories, and leadership from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to reach a new paradigm in our consciousness globally,” says Perez. “For Jews of Color, many of us have been on the margins in mainstream Jewish institutions. This study aims to better understand stories and experiences about the intersection of racialization and Jewish life for Jews of Color. This work has never been more crucial and timely. To Jews of Color, we say that it is time for visibility, for voice, and for data — for us and by us.”