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The American Jewish Mosaic

The American Jewish Mosaic

Sunday, June 6, 2010 2:00 pm

Like the tiles in a mosaic, Jewish identity is multicolored and multicultural. Differing communities contribute their own experiences, practices, and perceptions, shifting and enriching Jewish life.

Driving a discussion on this important topic, Emily Soloff brought together rabbis from communities that illustrate aspects of Jewish diversity – African American Jews of Chicago’s South Side, and anusim, the secret Jews of Latin America and Europe - to explore the multifaceted and shifting parameters of Jewish identity.

Emily Soloff is National Associate Director for Interreligious and Intergroup Affairs of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), a national position she assumed after serving as director of the AJC Chicago office. A former journalist and professor of journalism, her byline has appeared in publications ranging from Chicago Magazine to the Jerusalem Post. Her extensive experience in community and intergroup relations includes serving as a moderator for the 2009 International Jewish/Christian Symposium in Jerusalem. Spertus is fortunate to have her also serve as a mentor for its innovative Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies program.

Rabbi Capers C. Funnye, Jr. is the spiritual leader of Chicago’s Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation and National Associate Director of Be’Chol Lashon (In Every Tongue), an initiative of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research headquartered in San Francisco. Ordained by the Israelite Board of Rabbis in Queens, NY, Rabbi Funnye also serves as Rabbi of the Pan African Jewish Alliance, a program for emerging Jewish communities that seek to be integrated into the world Jewish community.

Rabbi Rigoberto Emmanuel Viñas grew up in a traditional Sephardic home to Cuban Jewish parents. He has dedicated his career to serving diverse Jewish communities by bringing all Jews together regardless of denomination, form of practice, race, or ethnicity. He is chief rabbi of the Lincoln Park Jewish Center in Yonkers, NY, and founder and director of El Centro de Estudios Judios, a Spanish-language Jewish center for Jews from all over Latin America who live in the New York area.  

The Alex and Klara Tulsky Symposium on the Jewish Future is an annual program that focuses on specific challenges facing the American Jewish community. Topics have explored identity, health and healing, and the meaning of continuity in contemporary Jewish life.