Our talented team members navigate multicultural Jewish spaces and facilitate critical identity discussions.
Beza Abebe was born in Yabello, Ethiopia, a small town close to the border of Kenya. She grew up in Hawassa and received her LLB from Hawassa University. In 2009, at the age of 23, she moved to Israel and officially made aliyah in 2014. For the last 10 years, she worked in Jewish philanthropic organizations in Israel that strive for the integration, empowerment and equality of the Ethiopian Jewish community. She worked at Tebeka, advocating for the Ethiopian community, and The David Foundation, which works on leadership and education for Ethiopian Jews.
Beza holds a masters in government and diplomacy from IDC Herzliya and a masters in law (LLM) from Tel Aviv University. Beza is currently a SJD doctoral student at Golden Gate University in San Francisco specializing on International law.
• From Small Town Ethiopia to Big City Law Student, Jewish&, October 23, 2018
Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder
Atlanta / Education Director
Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder Ph.D., Be’chol Lashon’s Education Director and a Rabbi-in-Residence, has been involved in Jewish education and leadership for over 30 years. A graduate of Barnard College, she received her doctorate from Yale University and was ordained at Hebrew Union College. The recipient of many grants and fellowships for her work on Jewish food and women’s history, in 2006 she was a Jerusalem Fellow at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem. A CLAL Rabbi Without Borders fellow, she is a frequent writer and teacher and has taught and published throughout the world. She edits Be’chol Lashon’s Jewish& publication.
Davi M Cheng
Web Master/Graphic Designer
Davi Cheng is a Hong Kong born Chinese-American lesbian Jew, an artist and accidental activist. She plays trumpet and french horn in the klezmer band Gay Gezunt and likes to sound the shofar. She is the Past president of Temple Beth Chayim Chadashim and the Art Director for Lunar: The Jewish-Asian Film Project.
Jada Garrett is a thought leader who is focused on building community through inclusive, engaging and meaningful conversations. She has over a decade of experience in leading large-scale transformation programs and excels in project/change management, culture building and employee experience. No matter which hat she’s wearing, her goal is simple: to empower organizations and thought leaders to build an inclusive culture where diversity of people and thought is welcomed, encouraged and embraced. Jada’s entrepreneurial spirit, alongside her natural curiosity, arms her with the ability to always improve on experiences. She is a firm believer in Mahatma Gandhi’s teaching that you should be the change that you wish to see in this world. With that teaching in mind and her personal experiences of being Black and Jewish, Jada is on a mission to create spaces where all Jews feel represented, appreciated and equal.
Jada lives in Atlanta with her daughter. You can often find her taking long strolls through her neighborhood or at local breweries, hunting for the tastiest craft beer.
Program Coordinator / Diversity Trainer
Shekhiynah Larks is a diversity trainer and the Program Coordinator at Be’chol Lashon. Among her various projects, she manages the Teen Tzedek Project. She is writer and active on Be’chol Lashon’s publication, Jewish&. She holds a BA in politics from the University of San Francisco. She is a native of Oakland and is very involved in Jewish life in the Bay Area.
• Birthright While Black, Jewish&, February 10, 2019
• When the Mikvah Water Touches Your Black Hair, Jewish&, November 14, 2018
Rabbi Juan Mejía
Southwest / Latin America Consultant
Rabbi Juan Mejía was born in Bogotá, Colombia. Raised a Catholic, he converted to Judaism after discovering the powerful beauty and message of Judaism. He holds a degree in philosophy from Universidad Nacional de Colombia, and a Masters degree in Jewish Civilization from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Juan was ordained in 2009 by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York. He lives in Oklahoma City, where he serves as the Jewish Educator for Emanuel Synagogue. He also serves as Rabbi in Residence for Be’chol Lashon.
Juan is a passionate advocate for converts and making Torah available to all. He has been teaching Torah in Spanish for over a decade through his website.
Director of Community Engagement
Lindsey Newman is the Director of Community Engagement at Be’chol Lashon, an organization that advocates for the racial, ethnic and cultural diversity of the Jewish community. She has over a decade of experience working to advance racial justice in the Jewish community and in the fields of women’s rights advocacy and early childhood education. She participated in the 2016 Selah Leadership Cohort, was a 2018 Fellow of the Ruskay Institute for Jewish Professional Leadership and received her B.S. degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University. Lindsey is a board member of NCJW San Francisco and a co-author of Not Free to Desist, an open letter challenging the Jewish community to re-imagine its commitment to racial justice.
• Four Questions for Lindsey Newman, UJA Blog, November 30, 2018
• What Does the End of Racism Look Like?, Jewish&, January 28, 2016
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu
Uganda / Africa Consultant
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu is a Be’chol Lashon Rabbinic Fellow and the spiritual leader of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda. Gershom is the current leader of the 100-year old Abayudaya community of almost 2,000 Jews living in rural villages in Eastern Uganda. He is the grandson of community elder “Rabbi” Samson and lives near the Moses Synagogue in the village of Nabagogye, which he and others from the community’s early 1980s “Kibbutz movement” built with their own hands. Their goal has been to gather what was left of the Abayudaya community back together after the devastating reign of Idi Amin Dada ended in 1979.
As a visionary leader, Gershom’s dream was to attend a rabbinic seminary to better understand ancient and modern egalitarian Judaism and bring the Ugandan community intomainstream Jewish life. Gershom was awarded a Be’chol Lashon Fellowship in 2003 to attend the five-year Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. He returned to Uganda in 2008 as the first native-born black rabbi in Sub-Saharan Africa and opened a Yeshiva to train African teachers and rabbis to serve their ancient and emerging Jewish communities. In 2016, Gershom became the first Jew ever elected to Uganda’s parliament.
As a member of the Be’chol Lashon Speakers Bureau, Gershom travels to the United States every year as an ambassador for the Abayudaya and other emerging communities in Africa.
Director of Strategic Partnerships & Special Programs
Julian began his career as the executive director of the European Union of Jewish Students in Brussels. In New York, he worked at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Legacy Heritage Fund, Joint Distribution Committee, and the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. Born in Germany to Colombian parents, Julian is also an award winning writer and photographer who explores Jewish identity and diversity in his work.
• More than Superman: Jewish and Latinx Comics, Jewish&, October 9, 2018
Lacey Schwartz Delgado
Lacey Schwartz Delgado is an award-winning producer, writer, director and outreach strategist who draws on her interdisciplinary background to create compelling stories that span documentary and fiction and work with innovative organizations and brands. Lacey directed, produced and co-wrote the critically acclaimed documentary Little White Lie, a top-rated broadcast on PBS’s “Independent Lens.” She also executive produced the narrative film DIFRET, the first film to win audience awards at both the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals. Lacey’s work stems from the belief that storytelling is the most powerful tool we can use to bridge societal divides in our world. Integral to her work is the development of public engagement campaigns that engage audiences to build on lessons learned in their films from inception to impact.
A native of Woodstock, NY and resident of Rhinebeck, NY, Lacey has a BA from Georgetown University, a JD from Harvard University, and is a member of the New York State bar. She served as Be’chol Lashon’s National Outreach Director for many years.
Founder / Executive Director Emeritus, Be'chol Lashon
Diane Kaufmann Tobin is the founder and executive director emeritus of Be’chol Lashon, a non-profit organization that raises awareness about the ethnic and racial cultural diversity of the Jewish people through educational resources, diversity training and media. Be’chol Lashon is an initiative of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research, a non-profit think tank where she was the Associate Director (1998-2009) and President (2009-present). The founding of Be’chol Lashon was the result of research, “The Study of the Ethnic and Racial Diversity of the American Jewish Community” (1999), conducted by Diane and her late husband Dr. Gary Tobin z’l, inspired by the adoption of their African American son, Jonah, in 1997. She is the mother of six children.
Prior to joining the Institute, Diane was the director of Kaufmann Design, which specialized in publishing, corporate/non-profit identity, and marketing (1980-1998). She was a consultant for the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Brandeis University and published their research from 1990-1998. She has also served as a community leader, including as a member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco (1980-1986) and as the President from 1986-1989.
Diane is the product of two generations of intermarriage. Her mother’s family were Baptist missionaries from England who lived in Jamaica. Her father’s family were German Jews who came to America in the mid 1800s, progressing from peddlers to building a department store. Their success was evidenced by engaging Frank Lloyd Wright to build their country home, the iconic “Fallingwater.” But what was not evident in their assimilation to America was their loss of values, motivating Diane to embark on a life-long journey to discover her Jewish identity and community. She went to the mikvah with a Conservative beit din in 1982 and identifies as a Jew-by-choice. She enjoys engaging with others on similar journeys.
Diane is an author of In Every Tongue: The Racial & Ethnic Diversity of the Jewish People (2005), and “Racial Diversity and the American Jewish Community,” Journal of Jewish Communal Service (2014), as well as articles published in Huffington Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, The Forward, J. The Jewish News of Northern California, eJewishPhilanthropy, Sh’ma, and My Jewish Learning, among others.
• Journal Article: “Racial Diversity and the American Jewish Community,” Journal of Jewish Communal Service, 2014
Dr. Gary A. Tobin z”l
Founder, Institute for Jewish & Community Research
Dr. Gary A. Tobin was the founder and president of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research, San Francisco. He was also a senior fellow with the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion. He earned his Ph.D. in city and regional planning from the University of California, Berkeley. He served as Director of the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University for 14 years, after 11 years at Washington University, St. Louis. Dr. Tobin consulted with scores of non-profits and foundations, and speaks on a range of topics, from philanthropy to religious stereotypes.
Having edited two volumes on the effects of the racial schism in America, What Happened to the Urban Crisis? and Divided Neighborhoods, Dr. Tobin targeted racial and religious prejudice in America as a key concern. He wrote books and monographs on anti-Semitism, including Jewish Perceptions of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Semitic Beliefs in the United States. His writings on prejudice in America’s education systems include The UnCivil University: Politics and Propaganda in American Education, Profiles of the American University Volume 1: Political Beliefs & Behavior of College Faculty, and Profiles of the American University Volume 2: Religious Beliefs & Behavior of College Faculty. He completed a volume, published by Lexington Books, entitled The Trouble with Textbooks, an examination of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism that saturate elementary and secondary school social studies materials.
Dr. Tobin’s Jewish demography and Jewish identity texts include In Every Tongue: The Racial & Ethnic Diversity of the Jewish People, Rabbis Talk About Intermarriage, and Opening the Gates: How Proactive Conversion Can Revitalize the Jewish Community. He also wrote about organized religion in America, having completed two works, Church and Synagogue Affiliation and The Decline of Religious Identity in the United States.
His work on philanthropy was extensive. His publications include Mega-Gifts in American Philanthropy: Giving Patterns 2001-2003, Mega-Gifts in Jewish Philanthropy: Giving Patterns 2001-2003, and A Study of Jewish Foundations. Among his previous publications are Mega-Gifts in American Philanthropy: General & Jewish Giving Patterns Between 1995-2000 and The Transition of Communal Values and Behavior in Jewish Philanthropy.
Though the Jewish community lost a great leader in July 2009, Dr. Tobin left a gift in both the work he completed and the work he initiated for others to complete. Dr. Tobin worked tirelessly to coach his team of colleagues at IJCR. He wanted his work to live beyond him, not for the sake of his own legacy, but for the sake of the greater good he always pursued. The Institute for Jewish & Community Research will continue to pursue Dr. Tobin’s vision, inspired by his passion, courage, professionalism, and optimism.
• Community mourns pioneering thinker Gary Tobin, J. The Jewish News of Northern California, July 10, 2009
• Gary Tobin, Jewish researcher, dies at 59, JTA, July 7, 2009
• Maverick researcher Gary Tobin, 59, reached out to Jews of color, JTA, July 7, 2009
• Positive Realist: Dr. Gary A. Tobin, Lifestyles Magazine, 2008