I was a doctoral student when I joined the Jewish communal profession. My graduate stipend narrowly covered my rent, so I found myself searching for something that could bring me connection, community, and additional income to cover living expenses. Within years, my passion for strengthening the Jewish community surpassed my passion for seeking a tenure track teaching position. While I was navigating myself out of the traditional academic route, I found myself driven to take my experiences as a sociologist–and as an immigrant, Jewish woman of color—to start my own organization: Jewtina y Co.
Jewtina y Co. is a Latin and Jewish organization born in the fall of 2019 with the goals of nurturing Latin-Jewish community and identity, bolstering the Jewish community’s nuanced understanding of the Latin-Jewish experience, and strengthening cross-cultural community relations amongst Latinos and Jews in the United States. As a social researcher, I was intrigued by what was known (and not known about our community) and spent the ideation stage of building Jewtina y Co. researching past studies of our community. During this stage, I turned to the Berman Archive (then the Berman Jewish Policy Archive), where I found it easy to search a wide range of topics and themes.
Despite race being a nebulous—often contentious—theme among Latinos, I found it important to investigate how racial identity was being developed and explored amongst Latin-Jews.
Unsurprisingly, there weren’t many studies detailing the Latin-Jewish experience. However, two studies conducted within the last 15 years provided great insights: “Latin American Jews: A Transnational Diaspora,” a study by Judit Bokser Liwerant that explored the development of Latin American Jewish ethno-national Diasporas, and the 2016 AJC Special Report, “Findings and Challenges in Contemporary Research on the Latino Jewish Populatiton in the United States.” The latter provided critical population statistics and data from ten focus group interviews with 63 Latin-Jewish participants from across the United States. While both studies were informative, they didn’t explore racial identity.
Despite race being a nebulous—often contentious—theme among Latinos, I found it important to investigate how racial identity was being developed and explored amongst Latin-Jews. This led me to “Counting Inconsistencies: An Analysis of American Jewish Population Studies”–a study commissioned by the Jews of Color initiative that highlighted how little American Jewish population studies have spent understanding the identity of multiracial Jews. This study became instrumental to the founding of Jewitna y Co., and years later, the Beyond the Count: Perspectives and Lived Experiences of Jews of Color study, solidified the importance of Jewtina y Co. and sparked an interest within our organization to continue pursuing demographic studies of Latin-Jews by Latin-Jews.
Today, Jewtina y Co. primarily serves as a community organization dedicated to nurturing Latin-Jewish community, identity, leadership and resiliency. While we are not a research institute, we pride ourselves in having built a community-archive that houses a wide range of stories written by Latin-Jews that explore identity, immigration, and many other relevant themes. As someone who spent many years studying migrant communities and telling their story, I found myself becoming more critical of the power dynamic that often exists between researchers and subjects, and instead have worked to decolonize storytelling by creating a platform that empowers people to tell their own story in their own words. Additionally, we’ve also begun exploring research collaborations and recently worked with Olamim (a Latin-Jewish Havurah in the Bay Area) to investigate what strategies and program models could best support language learning and positive ethnic identity formation among Latin Jewish families with children in the Bay Area. As we continue to grow as an organization, I’m curious to see how we grow our commitment to community-based research and how those findings can support our wider Jewish community in becoming more informed and anti-oppressive.
Dr. Analucía Lopezrevoredo is a Peruvian-American sociologist, born in Peru and raised in Spain and the United States. Passionate about the intersection of Jewish and Latin American culture, Analucía founded Jewtina y Co. in 2019 to offer Latin Jews from around the world a community in which to celebrate and explore Latin-Jewish multiculturalism.