February is Black History Month, and here in Atlanta, the Atlanta Jews of Color Council kicked off the month by offering two different types of programs to the community, the first a cultural event at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, and the second, a series of webinars focusing on different aspects of racial justice and Jewish Equity Diversity & Inclusion.
AJOCC will welcome Ethiopian-Israeli film directors and producers during their teaching residences in Atlanta. The program is sponsored by the independent arts and cultural exchange platform, BAMAH, and was made possible by grants from The Molly Blank Fund of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and from The Radow Family Foundation, and thanks to support from The Frank Family Foundation and the Lubin Fund of American Jewish Committee (AJC) Atlanta.
The first up is actor, writer, and community activist Shai Ferdo, one of the lead actors in the movie, “Exodus ’91,” shown at this year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.
Ferdo will teach as the artist-in-residence at Clark Atlanta University. AJOCC president Victoria Raggs moderated the panel discussion with the film’s director, Micah Smith, and Ferdo following the movie’s showing in Sandy Springs. The organization also offered free tickets to their members at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema Atlanta premiere.
As part of Black History Month, AJOCC members and other Atlantans participated in the JFNA weekly series of webinars: “Unsung Heroes, Black and African American LGBTQ+ Leaders,” “Combatting Racism & Antisemitism in the 21st Century,” and “Resistance – Civil Rights Movement of Today and the Jewish Community.” The webinars ran once a week from Feb. 8 to Feb. 22.
“Our goal is to elevate the voices of the most marginalized members of our community by offering programming that drives cultural change through arts-based strategies. We want to design and sustain collective experiences and creative processes that lead to expansive thinking, dialogue and community belonging,” said Raggs.
Raggs pointed out that, to date, only two Jews of color are in leadership roles at Jewish organizations in Atlanta, but that she hopes that all Jews, regardless of identity, can be represented in communal leadership roles throughout the city in the near future. As a member of the selection committee for the AJFF, Raggs said she wanted to help ensure there was a diverse movie lineup that would represent a multiplicity of Jewish people, which she believes was achieved.
On its website, www.reformjudaism.org, The Union for Reform Judaism has created a series of podcasts, videos and essays about inclusion and racial justice that can be accessed by visiting bit.ly/3xXqAjK.
Also on its website, the group states, “It is not enough to listen to the voices of Jews of color; our communities must also commit to taking decisive steps to build a more equitable future. Indeed, a key component of the pursuit of racial equity, diversity, and inclusion is action.”
AJOCC advocates for Jews of color in Atlanta and seeks to ensure opportunities for access and representation in a variety of Jewish communal spaces, including synagogues, Jewish day schools and Jewish summer camps. To celebrate Black History Month and donate to AJOCC, please visit www.ajocc.org.
- Debbie Diamond
- Black History Month
- Atlanta Jews of Color Council
- Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
- Jewish Equity Diversity & Inclusion
- The Molly Blank Fund
- Exodus 91
- Clark Atlanta University
- Victoria Raggs
- Micah Smith
- Shai Ferdo
- Unsung Heroes
- Black and African American LGBTQ+ Leaders
- Combatting Racism & Antisemitism in the 21st Century
- Resistance - Civil Rights Movement of Today and the Jewish Community
- Union for Reform Judaism
- American Jewish Committee