In 2020, with the support of the Jim Joseph Foundation, JIMENA launched phase one of a national study of Sephardic Jewish Americans in order to identify the goals and priorities for a larger national study. From its inception, this study was premised on four foundational goals that have been widely supported by a national cohort of Sephardic national leaders who’ve been involved in this initiative:
- To ensure that Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewish Americans are carefully included in demographic and Jewish communal research moving forward.
- To provide empirical and anecdotal data and guidance to the larger Jewish community in order to strengthen knowledge, language, and data on Jewish diversity.
- To elevate the profile, voices, leadership and place of Sephardic community leaders, scholars, researchers, and activists in the mainstream Jewish communal world in the United States.
- To create a hub of intellectual Sephardic/Mizrahi leadership who can serve as an informal Sephardic brain-trust/thought-center by shaping the Sephardic study, present findings of the study to the larger community, serve as ambassadors of the research, and ideally help build consensus on research findings.
The creation and launch of a rigorous study will help push the national field of Jewish DEI work forward with evidence, honest academic-rigor, and the involvement of a network of Sephardic leaders and communities throughout the United States. This study will be supported by the 40-member Sephardic Study Advisory Committee assembled in phase one of the project that is committed to help the mainstream Jewish community better serve Sephardic Jewish Americans.
The Sephardic Jewish American Research Study will aim to model an approach to evidence-based research which is informed by communal concerns and which adheres to the highest levels of academic rigor. This proposed study will be led by Dr. Mijal Bitton from the Shalom Hartman Institute and potentially housed and in partnership with Tulane University as a collaborative research project with Dr. Ilana M. Horwitz, Chair of Contemporary Jewish Life at the Grant Center for the American Jewish Experience. Research will include the following components:
- Literature Review
- Qualitative Community Portraits
- Population Estimates
- Final Reports & Recommendations