Jewish& Banner

8 Asian-American Jewish Women You Should Know

A chef, an actor, an environmental activist, an educator, and more!

Chef Leah Cohen draws on her Filipino heritage in her cooking. (Courtesy)

Last month, we marked Lunar New Year with a special Kabbalat Shabbat service led by Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin, the first Chinese-American rabbi. Mates-Muchin is part of an exclusive group of Asian-American female rabbis that includes Seoul-born Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, who leads Central Synagogue in New York City, and Rabbi Mira Rivera, who is Filipino-American and a rabbi at Romemu, also in New York City.

In addition to these trailblazing female spiritual leaders, there are many other Asian-American Jewish women who are doing cool things—including the creators of LUNAR: The Jewish Asian Film Project. Get to know them below and via their social media feeds.

Alex Chester | Instagram | Website

A proud “Hapa” (mixed race with Asian/Pacific Islander heritage), Alex is an actor and the editor in chief of the online magazine Hapa Mag. Her theatre credits include Broadway’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” Minnie Fay in “Hello Dolly” with National Asian Artist Project, Logainne SchwartzandGrubenierre in “Spelling Bee” at Fire Island Pines Art Project, and Little Red Riding Hood in “Into the Woods” with Prospect Theater Co/NAAP. She has also appeared in television shows like “New Amsterdam,” “The Closer,” “ER,” and “7th Heaven.”

Leah Cohen | Instagram

Chef Leah Cohen co-owns Pig & Khao restaurant in New York City. The acclaimed restaurant specializes in Southeast Asian cuisine influenced by Leah’s Filipino upbringing (her mother is Filipino and her father is Ashkenazi). She runs Pig & Khao with her husband Ben, who was originally her sous chef and now oversees the front of the house. A contestant on season 5 of “Top Chef,” Leah is the author of a cookbook published last year, Lemongrass and Lime: Southeast Asian Cooking at Home.

Kristy Drutman | Instagram | Website

Kristy Drutman, a.k.a. “Brown Girl Green,” is a “Jew-Pina” (Jewish and Filipina) American environmental media host, speaker, activist, and digital media strategist. As a youth climate activist, Kristy has facilitated workshops about environmental media and storytelling. She has also worked with youth from around the world to create collaborative, intersectional online media with the goal of creating conscious, culturally-relevant content to engage audiences about proactive solution-building to the climate crisis.

Arielle Korman

As the executive director and co-founder of Ammud: The Jews of Color Torah Academy, Arielle is passionate about accessible Jewish education and the creation of spaces for cultural sharing and deepening community. She has taught at the National Havurah Institute and Door to Door Tutoring, and has been a featured teacher at the Jewish singing retreat “Let My People Sing.” She performs traditional and original Jewish music and is part of the davening team at Romemu in New York City. She is also an active member of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.

Liz Kleinrock | Instagram | Website

Liz Kleinrock is an anti-bias anti-racist educator and consultant based in Washington, DC. A transracial adoptee, Liz was born in South Korea and grew up in DC. She has served as an AmeriCorps teacher with Girls Inc. and Super Stars Literacy. She also taught 5th grade in Watts and 1st through 4th grades at a startup school in East Hollywood. In addition to classroom teaching, Liz also works as an anti-bias anti-racist facilitator for schools, organizations, and companies across the country. In 2018, Liz received Teaching Tolerance’s 2018 Award for Excellence in Teaching, and currently serves on the Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board.

Maya Siegel | Instagram | Website

An entrepreneur and digital strategist, Maya has worked with companies and nonprofits including Bumble, JUV Consulting, Shiffon, and ThinkOcean. She is the founder of Space to Speak, an organization dedicated to giving youth a leading voice in the sexual violence prevention movement. She has also served as the social media manager at GenZ Girl Gang.

Gen Slosberg | Instagram

Gen is an organizer, community building, writer and researcher. She is the producer and co-creator of LUNAR: The Jewish-Asian Film Project, which highlights the experiences of young adults who exist at the intersection of Jewish and Asian American identities. She also serves as the Program Manager at Jewish Youth for Community Action (JYCA), an organization empowering Jewish youth in the Bay Area to lead in social justice movements. She is passionate about building power and advancing equity for Jews of Color and mixed-race folks. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley.

Jenni Rudolph | Instagram | Website

Jenni Rudolph is a Los Angeles-based songwriter, musician, and the creative director of LUNAR: The Jewish-Asian Film Project. A 2020 graduate of Berklee College of Music with a B.M. in Songwriting, Jenni has written music for Silk Music, Revelation Records, nonprofit The Canales Project, as well as the television series “The Young and the Restless” and virtual reality video game “Audica.” She is currently developing a collaborative music video project celebrating mixed identity, drawing from her own experiences as a mixed race, secular Jew of Color (Chinese and Ashkenazi Jewish).