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Diversity, Inclusion, & Belonging

 

Diversity, inclusion, and belonging have always been central for Senesh, since we were founded in 1995, and we are guided in this area by our diversity statement below. As we look ahead, DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) is a priority area of our strategic roadmap. In March of 2021 our board, parents, and staff had opportunities to gather and share ideas on initiatives to advance this work. These conversations were thoughtful, informative, inspiring, and offered important insights for us as we move forward. The focus of our DEI work includes:

  • Professional training and workshops
  • Curriculum audit and development
  • Elevating Jewish diversity in our own community
  • Parent diversity committee events
  • Student and staff recruitment initiatives
  • Partnerships with outside organizations

Diversity Statement 

As an open and inclusive Jewish day school in the heart of Brooklyn, we strive to provide an unparalleled, modern academic home that is committed to the rich mosaic of Jewish life. We are committed to intentionally building this mosaic with our students, faculty, administration, and families through their diversity across ethnicity, race, nationality, Jewish identity and practice, interfaith family composition, sexual orientation, gender identity, life experiences, socio-economic status, perspectives and worldviews. We value the dignity and self-worth of each member of our community.

We believe in ensuring that our students are prepared to be global citizens who can be productive agents of change toward a more just world. Our core Jewish value of Openness/Elu v’Elu guides our work in building empathy, promoting tolerance, and valuing difference. We live this value daily at Senesh in our curriculum, programming, admissions, hiring, professional development, and dialogue with our broader community. It is integral to our ongoing journey/Masa as a school to embrace the complex conversation of diversity in the 21st century, which we believe will continue to make our school community even more vibrant and strong.

A Student Body Reflective of our Whole Jewish Community

Hannah Senesh admits students of any race, color, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

As part of our efforts to expand our student body to represent the diversity of the Jewish community, we have established outreach efforts and grants focused on underrepresented groups. Two current initiatives are:

    Detailed information is available on the grants’s respective landing pages.

    Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Policies

    Transgender and Non-Binary Student Support Policy

    Financial Aid Policy:
    Tuition assistance is available for students from Kindergarten through the 8th grade and is granted on the basis of need, consistent with the school’s commitment to diversity. 

    Employment Policy:
    Hannah Senesh Community Day School is an Equal Opportunity Employer and welcomes candidates who will add to the diversity of our school community including, but not limited to staff of any race, color, nationality, ethnic origin, religion, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

    Jewish Diversity:
    Our community represents a diversity of Jewish identity, thought, and expression and we draw on this diversity to deepen appreciation and understanding of the richness of the broader Jewish community and of our own individual Jewish identities. At Senesh, the vast experience of contemporary Jews is carefully woven and integrated into our practices, programs, and curriculum. 

    Guided by our value of openness/elu v’elu we strengthen our students’ skills to listen respectfully, find their own voices, and allow new ideas to inform their own thinking related to Jewish text study and exploration of Jewish practice and identity. 

    Jewish holidays also provide an opportunity to celebrate diversity by sharing rituals and customs from our own families and from Jewish communities around the world. 

    At Senesh, all children, regardless of gender identity, are expected to cover their heads during prayer and when eating and are taught how to read and chant from the Torah. Given the diversity of our community, some students choose to wear various types of head coverings and some wear them throughout the day. Specific concerns about these and other rituals are addressed through individual, meaningful conversations with school faculty.

    Staff Recruitment, Training, and Development

    We are conscientiously diversifying our staff and faculty with a focus on race, gender, and diverse Jewish identities. In partnership with prominent organizations, our faculty is engaged in ongoing trainings and self-directed work . Below are some examples:

    Curriculum and Programs to Support Senesh’s Commitment to Diversity

    We are auditing and developing our social studies and social and emotional curriculum through a lens of racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity so that we may:
    • Determine gaps in our curriculum and pinpoint missing marginalized voices and experiences.
    • Approach social studies through the lens of “change makers” where students learn to stand up to injustice, prejudice, discrimination, and exclusion.
    • Identify and incorporate Jewish texts and experiences to guide our conversations about equity and justice, grounding our work in Jewish values and identity.
    • Audit book choices and classroom libraries to expand representation and ensure students have “mirror” and “window” reading opportunities.
    • Expand social and emotional learning as a foundation for building community, exploring identity and bias, and developing empathy.

    We are revisiting school and classroom culture and practices related to LGBTQ+ identity and equity. You can also read about out Transgender and Non-Binary Student Support Guidelines here. 

    We are practicing civil discourse and engagement across the school , guided by our value of elu v’elu/ openness.

    We are deepening our work celebrating, appreciating, and valuing diversity in the Jewish community at Senesh and in the contemporary Jewish community in the following ways:

    • Guided by the value of elu v’elu we will strengthen our students’ skills to listen respectfully, find their own voice, and allow new ideas to inform their own thinking related to text study and exploration of Jewish practice and identity.
    • Build upon our current curriculum to broaden and deepen our understanding of the experience of Jews of other cultures. 
    • Draw on the diversity of our own Jewish community to deepen appreciation and understanding of the complexity of the broader Jewish community and of our own Jewish identities.

    We are developing school programming in partnership with organizations such as Be’chol Lashon, Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance), Facing History and Ourselves, and The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to combat bias in our learning and interactions. 

    We are continuing to build opportunities for connection and partnership with diverse communities outside of Senesh to learn from each other, celebrate differences and experience being culturally competent in diverse settings. Current partnerships include Repair the World, Emma’s Torch, Project Ezra, and Brooklyn Autism Center.

    Parent-Led Diversity Programs 

    We are so appreciative of Senesh parents and their partnership in our ongoing efforts to create a community that celebrates and embraces diversity. Our parents are deeply engaged and continue to create programming for the Senesh community and beyond. 

    Please check back here for future events.

    Please read about our past events here.

    Alumni Diversity Programs

    Hannah Senesh alumni meet the world with a sense of purpose, driven by our school values that they exemplify throughout their lives. We’re proud that our alumni come together regularly for diversity-focused events and remain steadfast in their commitment to doing good in the world.

    Check back here for updates on upcoming events.

    Click here to read about our past events.

    Past Programs and Events

    In the past year, Senesh has held several events focused on diversity and inclusion for the wider Senesh community—students, parents, and alumni. These programs included:

    • LGBTQ+ Affirming Practices Workshop Series
    • Conversations@Senesh and the Parent Diversity Committee Present: Culinary Historian and Writer Michael Twitty on Black and Jewish Food Traditions
    • Senesh Seder Stories: Passover Recipe Book
    • Senesh Parent Diversity Committee Workshop: Put it into Practice: Talking to Our Children and Communities About Racism and Inequity
    • Alumni LGBTQ+ Workshop with Keshet
    • Senesh Parent Diversity Committee Monthly Workshop: The Origins and Legacy of Slavery, Race, and Racism
    • Alumni Antiracism Workshop series
    • Senesh Parent Diversity Committee Conversation: Current Events, Race, and Racism
    • Book Fair: Jews Around the World Books
    • Senesh Parent Diversity Committee Book Club
    • Senesh Haggadah
    • MLK Day of Service
    • Hanukkah Community Arts Event
    • Sigd: A holiday among the Ethiopian-Jewish community
    • Simchat Torah with Indian dancing

        Click here to read about our past events.

        Senesh in the News

        A Four-Step Approach to Increasing Diversity in Jewish Day Schools in Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools

        In Grappling with Race, Jewish Schools Rethink Approach to Jews of Color in Jewish Telegraphic Agency