Social Justice Education & Feminist Leadership Development Series

Most of the workshops below were developed for the first year of the Ma’yan Research Training Intensive, a program that offers training in social justice education and feminist leadership skills for Jewish self-identified girls in communities that are predominantly white with class privilege. Many of these workshops are geared towards this population, however, each of these workshops can be adapted for a range of populations to meet the needs of your group. All workshops combine small and large group discussion, personal reflection, interactive activities, and frontal teaching. To talk about adapting this series to meet your needs, contact Sonia Alexander.

Power, Oppression & Privilege

This workshop can be led as one long session (4 hours) or two shorter sessions (2 hours). It provides an overview of foundational social justice  concepts and allows the group to develop shared language. Part 1 explores different types of power, with a focus on power related to oppression, and how it has been assigned to different groups. Participants will learn the “3 I’s of oppression” model: Institutional, Interpersonal, and Internalized, and will be introduced to the concept of intersectionality, the idea that people hold more than one identity simultaneously.

Part 2 focuses on the idea of privilege. This workshop can be adapted to highlight specific systems, such as racism or sexism, or to highlight intersectionality. We will locate these ideas in an understanding of systemic oppression, encouraging participants to pay attention to larger systemic causes rather than blaming individuals. Participants will begin to explore how their personal experiences connect to the concepts, as well as how they might change these systems.

These workshops are ideal for groups who are beginning to explore conversations and questions around power, privilege, and oppression as a community.

Gender and Sexuality

In this workshop, participants will have an opportunity to explore the specifics of power, privilege and oppression as they relate to gender and sexual orientation. Drawing on materials from Keshet and other sources, participants will learn definitions for LGBTQA terms, look at issues facing LGBTQA people, and discuss how girls, women, and gender nonconforming people inhabit space. The workshop will use the lens of intersectionality to explore the unique experiences of people’s combinations of identities.

This is a workshop for people looking to gain tools and language for being more inclusive and thoughtful about LGBTQA people in their community.

Class & Classism

Part 1: Intro to Class

In this workshop, participants will learn about the unequal distribution of wealth in the United States, the mythology of the American dream and its impact, and the challenges disempowered groups in America face in trying to gain class status or economic security. Using interactive activities, participants will explore the taboos and fears many people hold about talking about class and class privilege, and learn terminology to talk about these issues more clearly.

This workshop is for participants who are new to talking about class or who have some background but want to engage more deeply in the topic.  

Part 2: Jews and Class

Part 1: Intro to Class is a prerequisite for this workshop. In this workshop, participants will learn about the history of Jews, race, and class in America, stereotypes of rich Jews, and particular challenges for Jews in talking about class privilege. Participants will learn about how anti-Semitism is related to the oppression of other groups and why dismantling it is key to collective liberation. Lastly, the workshop will explore Jewish ideas about wealth distribution.

This is a workshop for people who have already begun introductory conversations about class systems and class inequality, who are looking to explore the role(s) of Jews in the class system.

Whiteness, Race and Racism

Part 1: Race, Racism, and Whiteness

In this workshop participants learn about white privilege, racism, and participants’ personal experiences. Participants will learn about how European Jews in the United States transitioned into whiteness post WWII, what they gave up to gain whiteness, and the many Jews who were and are not granted whiteness. We will discuss what we can do to further understand whiteness and fight racism.

This is a workshop primarily geared towards a white audience who wants tools for talking about race, racism, and whiteness.

Part 2: Jews and Whiteness

Part 1: Race, Racism, and Whiteness is a prerequisite for this workshop. This workshop provides participants with the opportunity to delve deeper into the history of the concept of race, the creation and institutionalization of racism, the construction of whiteness, and where Jews fit into that history.

This workshop is for people who have had some introductory conversations as a group about race, and want to explore in more depth.

Anti-Semitism and Christian-Dominant Culture

This workshop gives participants a chance to understand and discuss personal experiences of anti-Semitism and internalized anti-Semitism. Participants will also learn about the concepts of hegemony and Christian hegemony, rooting them in concrete examples.

This workshop is relevant and accessible for people of any religious background or affiliation  who want to explore a progressive, intersectional lens on anti-Semitism.

White Femininity

This workshop explores the specific pressures and expectations placed on white girls. Participants will analyze images of “girl power,” and talk about the construction of privileged white femininity. Participants will have the chance to discuss how intersectional identities impact white Jewish women’s relationship to power; being disempowered as Jews and women while being empowered as white people.The purpose of this session is denaturalizing white femininity and illuminating the unique features of white sexist expectations.

This workshop can be offered to white self-identified girls or women, and it can also be offered to groups outside of these identities as a way to talk about community differences.

Good Girl/Bad Girl

When the Ma’yan staff have talked to teens about their experiences with white affluent achievement culture, they’ve heard again and again about the dual pressure to be a “good girl” who gets good grades, and a “bad girl” who parties and is sexually adventurous. At this workshop, participants will react to these themes, learn about some paradoxes and traps of sexism, and share personally about the particular paradoxes in their own lives. The workshop also includes a discussion of “no win” pressures about sexuality based on research from author Peggy Orenstein’s book, Girls & Sex.

This workshop can be offered to young people who share a close background with the Ma’yan teen constituents as a way to encourage them to voice unspoken community norms, and it can alternately be offered to parents, teachers, or to groups with divergent identities as a way to talk about community or generational differences.

The Perfect Jewish Woman /Jewish Womanhood

This workshop raises questions about particular pressures related to Jewish womanhood, using the Jewish text “Eishet Chayil” as a springboard. The intention of this session is to elicit participants’ knowledge and experiences about the pressures they face and the choices they make to navigate those pressures.

This workshop is for Jewish self-identified girls or women.

Achievement Culture: A Perfect Future

This workshop is an opportunity for participants to explore their own values and ideas of success, compare those to their parents’ and society’s ideas of success, and explore the ways that class identity might impact people’s expectations for their futures.

This workshop is for young people thinking through adult expectations and hearing their own dreams. For adults, this workshop can be an exploration of achievement culture and expectations of young people.

Theories of Change

In this workshop we discuss a model for categorizing approaches to social change and the different options available to people who want to take action. Participants will work through different change approaches using a case study and then reflect on their own preferences, needs, and the skills that can help them find their place in social justice movements.

This workshop is for any group that is looking to explore how participants might begin taking action for social change.