Tikvah Womack was preparing for a Shabbaton at her synagogue when Rina Goloskov reached out to her with an idea she wanted to discuss about making their community stronger.
Both women live in Northwest Baltimore, in diverse neighborhoods of African American, Jewish and Latinx families. Both are Orthodox Jews, while Womack is also a Woman of Color.
Rina, said Womack, was concerned about the fact that many of the community members had little relationship with neighbors who were not similar to them.
“We both felt that we wanted to build bridges and create understanding. Yet we knew we had to begin by breaking down the barriers,” recalls Womack.
Together, with the support of CHAI, The Associated agency that focuses on strengthening Northwest Baltimore neighborhoods, they created a four-part dialogue series that engaged Orthodox and African American women living in CHAI’s five city neighborhoods.
The “CHAI Community Conversations Creating a Diverse Mosaic” program was facilitated by Sharlimar Douglass who is a Diversity, Racial Equity and Inclusion (DREI) expert also lives in one of CHAI’s neighborhoods.
“We knew we wanted to start a cohort of women who were open to this idea of learning about the ‘other,’” recalls Womack. “So, we engaged women who were willing to become ambassadors and further the conversation with their neighbors and friends afterward in order to break down the stereotypes.”
Since then, these 20 women journeyed together. They talked about their identities as Jews and Women of Color, delving into the biases and preconceptions they often had about the other.
They discussed the groups’ shared commonalities and prejudices while looking at their different experiences through the lens of slavery and the Holocaust.