Most women’s stories never make it into history. It takes love and dedication to keep our legacies alive. So this Purim, let’s amplify and celebrate stories of modern Jewish Women of Color, Indigenous, Mizrahi, and Sephardi women whose work strengthens and broadens the Jewish community.
Read below to see the contents of each woman’s ecard and learn their incredible stories.
Then click here to send one and #ShareHerStory with your loved ones today.
Siona Benjamin is a painter originally from Bombay, now living in the US. Her work reflects her background of being brought up a Bene Israel Jew in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim India. In her paintings she combines the imagery of her past with the role she plays in America today, making a mosaic inspired by both Indian miniature paintings, transcultural myth and iconography. She has her first MFA in painting and a second MFA in theater set design. She has exhibited in the US, Europe, and Asia. She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in 2011 for art project titled: Faces: Weaving Indian Jewish Narratives and a second Fulbright in 2016-17 for an art project titled: From Motherland to Fatherland: Transcultural Indian Jews in Israel. She is represented by ACA Galleries in New York. Share Siona Benjamin’s story.
Rabbi Michelle Dardashti
Rabbi Michelle Dardashti dresses up as Vashti Dardashti on Purim and comes by it honestly: her grandmother hails from the Persian city of Shushan; her grandfather, “Nightingale of Iran,” was famous for singing in both the Shah’s palace and Teheran’s synagogues. Daughter of Iranian teen-idol turned American cantor and American folk-singer of Eastern European descent, Dardashti’s Judaism is multicultural, meta-denominational, musical, and global. She’s worked in Jewish communities from Montevideo, to Jerusalem and New York. A proud former Dorot Fellow in Israel and MTM Fellow at B’nai Jeshurun in Manhattan, Dardashti was ordained at JTS and now serves as Rabbi of Brown RISD Hillel & Associate Chaplain at Brown University where she strives to nourish a Judaism that is broad, deep, and engaged with the world. Share Rabbi Michelle Dardashti’s story.
Erika Davis was born, raised and educated in Ohio but considers herself a Brooklyn Jew. She’s a Jewish diversity advocate who works as a consultant for a variety of Jewish organizations. Erika is on the Board of Keshet and a volunteer for the Jewish Multiracial Network. She writes for blogs, websites, magazines, and online newspapers about the intersection of gender, sexual orientation, race, and religion. Erika is a gardener, a potter, a sewist, and all-around maker of things. She works as an independent birth and postpartum doula, childbirth educator, and yoga instructor confronting racial disparities for black birthing people. She collects houseplants and lives with her wife on their urban farm in the Puget Sound region of Washington. Share Erika Davis’ story.
At the age of 25, Alma Hernandez made history as the youngest and first Jewish Latina lawmaker elected. She has both her Bachelor of Science and Master of Public Health degrees from the University of Arizona and has further public health training from Johns Hopkins. As a humanitarian, she has been on medical missions to Ghana and Panama serving those in need. Politics and Public Health have played a major role in her life and continue to do so. She began her political involvement at the young age of 14 and had the opportunity to serve as a delegate for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention. She currently serves on Health and Human Services and Federal Relations committees. She is a dog mom to 5! Share Alma Hernandez’s story.
Dr. Tarece Johnson
Tarece Johnson, EdD is an entrepreneur, diversity & inclusion expert, poet, author, activist, and advocate. As a public figure, Dr. Tarece Johnson aims to make a difference in her community, nation, and the world through her acts of service, kindness, and love. As a leader in the local NAACP, Alliance for Black Lives, and March On Georgia, she has worked tirelessly on issues impacting marginalized people and communities. She fights passionately against discrimination, anti-semitism, systemic racism, oppression, injustice, ignorance, and hate. Dr. Tarece Johnson is the mother of two children, has traveled around the world, and is multilingual. Her multicultural experiences led her to create Global Purpose Academy and The Global Purpose Approach. She is also the co-founder of Multicultural Jewish Alliance. Share Dr. Tarece Johnson’s story.
Rabbi Sandra Lawson
Rabbi Sandra Lawson uses her rabbinic training to bring Judaism to where people already are in their lives. Her vision as a Rabbi is to help build a more inclusive Jewish community where all who want to come are welcomed, diversity is embraced and we can come together to learn and to pray. Sandra graduated from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2018. She also holds a Master’s degree in Sociology from Clark Atlanta University, she is a U.S Army veteran, a writer, musician, public speaker, an avid weightlifter and a vegan. She is currently serving as the Associate Chaplain for Jewish Life at Elon University in North Carolina. Share Rabbi Sandra Lawson’s story.
SooJi Min-Maranda is the executive director of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal. She also served as executive director of the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, a nonprofit policy and advocacy organization that focuses on adolescent sexual health and Korean American Community Services, a comprehensive social service agency in Chicago. The Asian Health Coalition of Illinois presented her with its Outstanding Community Health Advocate Award in 2008 and she served on the IL Human Services Commission from 2010-12. She is a member of Selah Leadership Program Cohort 9, a 2010 Chicago Community Trust Fellow and a 2010 Chicago Foundation for Women Impact Awardee. She is a 2007 Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership Delegate and a 2006 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow. Share SooJi Min-Maranda’s story.
Tamara Podemski is an Anishinaabe/Ashkenazi multi-disciplinary artist whose work on stage, screen and the recording studio has garnered such awards as the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, two Aboriginal Music Awards for her self-titled album and two awards for her music video MEEGWETCH. As a community worker, Tamara shares her cultural and creative experiences through workshops, keynotes and panel discussions. She is currently writing the second season of the documentary series FUTURE HISTORY, starring in the CBC drama CORONER and writing her fourth album. She also hopes to finally complete her degree in Aboriginal Studies and Hebrew Literature at the University of Toronto. Share Tamara Podemski’s story.
Rabbi Mira Rivera
Rabbi Mira Rivera is the first Filipina-American woman to be ordained from The Jewish Theological Seminary. Currently she serves as a Jewish Emergent Network Rabbi and Board Certified Chaplain at Romemu in New York and as a co-chair of the Rabbinical Council of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ). She co-founded Harlem Havruta, “a brave space for Jews of Color, allies and co-conspirators” in West Harlem, and belongs to the first cohort of the Jewish Women of Color Resilience Circle. She first came to New York to dance for the Martha Graham Dance Company, after which she poured her all into social justice work and the Jewish community. The song dancing on her lips is the Ladino saying: “Boz del puevlo, boz del sielo” – “Voice of the people, voice of the Heavens.” Share Rabbi Mira Rivera’s story.
Hazzan Sabrina Sojourner is a seasoned Spiritual Leader whose spoken word midrashim create a larger vision of who we are as a people, inspiring us to take better care of ourselves, each other, and our planet. She’s among many Jewish Women of Color calling the broader Jewish community to stand together “at the intersection of racism, sexism and anti-Semitism… against white supremacy, patriarchy and religious oppression in all its forms…” She recently launched, “Training the Heart to Listen,” a new tool for congregations to create transformational conversations for diversity and inclusion. Share Sabrina Sojourner’s story.
Illustrations by Jacquelyn B. Moore
Happy Purim 2019/5779, from Jewish Multiracial Network, Jewish Women’s Archive, and Repair the World.