IKAR's Featured Speakers Series 2021: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


All sessions will have ASL Interpreting and will be held virtually

With gratitude to the Lisa & Maury Friedman Foundation for sponsoring this series

“Diversity in our Jewish Community: Spotlight on Sephardic Jews”

Dr. Mijal Bitton, Hartman Institute of North America, in conversation with Rabbi Sharon Brous

Thursday, June 17 at 5pm PT

Let’s talk about diversity in our Jewish community. Who are Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews in America? How can we build more inclusive and just Jewish communities that truly honor the full diversity of our population? (Is saying “gut shabbes” Ashka-normative? Do our Jewish institutions really see Jews of Color?) What are the intersections between political identities and Jewish ethnic identities? What are some challenges and opportunities in the liberal diversity project?

Disability Inclusion in Jewish Spaces”

Matan KochRespectAbility, in conversation with Rabbi David Kasher

Thursday, July 15 at 6pm PT

Join IKAR member Matan Koch and Rabbi David Kasher to discuss a little bit about disability inclusion in our Jewish spaces, from both a halachic and practical perspective. Matan Koch, who leads Jewish and California programming at RespectAbility, and organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so that people with disabilities can participate in all aspects of society. A wheelchair user himself, Koch brings recognized expertise as a thought leader in the field of practical inclusion as well as decades of study and teaching on the surprisingly progressive Talmudic discussions of disability. These experiences will offer introduction to both of these areas, while leaving plenty of time for a spirited discussion.

“Racial Equity, Inclusion & Belonging in Jewish Spaces

Tani Prell, 18 Doors, in conversation with leaders from IKAR’s Racial Justice & Inclusion Committee

Thursday, August 12 at 6pm

Together we will compare the construction of Blackness in America alongside the construction of Jewish whiteness. We will explore what this means for Black/Jewish relations today and the impacts of this history on Black Jews in America. Guided through a historical overview, we will also offer opportunities for reflection and next steps in the work of anti-racism.


“Queer Inclusion: Not So Fast!”  –   WATCH IT HERE

Rabbi Benay Lappe, SVARA, in conversation with Rabbi David Kasher

Thursday, May 27 at 6pm PT

The notion of “inclusion” stems from a recognition that there are people absent from our communities whom we truly hope will be a part of them. But while it might seem like the obvious solution would be to tell those folks how much we want them, and how welcome they would be if they came, that skips over the critical question at the heart of why they haven’t been part of the community from the outset. Until we ask and answer this question–why weren’t they here before?–inclusion is bound to fail. Let’s talk about the deeper issues surrounding the values, culture, and assumptions of our spaces first to make sure that our “inclusion” efforts really achieve what should be our ultimate goal of creating liberatory spaces for everyone.