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An Interview with The LUNAR Collective’s Co-Executive Directors Jenni Rudolph and Maryam Chishti

By and for Asian Jews, The LUNAR Collective cultivates connection, belonging and visibility for Asian American Jews through intersectional community programming and authentic digital storytelling.

Be’chol Lashon had the chance to interview Jenni Rudolph and Maryam Chishti, Co-Executive Directors of The LUNAR Collective. By and for Asian Jews, The LUNAR Collective cultivates connection, belonging and visibility for Asian American Jews through intersectional community programming and authentic digital storytelling.

The LUNAR Collective was looking forward to hosting in-person Lunar New Year celebrations for the first time since Covid. As the first of four gatherings, LUNAR hosted an evening of light, joy and community by and for Asian Jews at the LA Zoo on Saturday, January 21. After celebrating the year of the rabbit together, they unfortunately returned to the news that only twenty minutes away, a mass shooting took place in the majority Asian community of Monterey Park.

Jenni and Maryam opened up about the impact of the weekend’s events, and what it meant to have The LUNAR Collective at such a tragic time. They shared that while this tragedy is sad, complicated and confusing, they are grateful to be able to process this event in community with other Asian Jews. Just two years ago, before LUNAR, they imagined themselves having to navigate these feelings on their own. However, since the start of LUNAR, they have brought together Asian Jews from across the country, connecting through in-person and virtual gatherings, and through local and national WhatsApp groups. The LUNAR Collective also recently welcomed Rabbi Mira Rivera, the first Filipina-American to be ordained at The Jewish Theological Seminary. Rabbi Mira, Jenni and Maryam were able to come together in response to the weekend’s events and plan a virtual gathering space for Asian Jews to process the tragedy together.

In its mission to cultivate the connection, belonging and visibility of Asian Jews, The LUNAR Collective has gone through a rebranding since its launch in 2021. Originally a film series, they were successful in increasing the visibility of Asian Jews. Their two-season series allowed them to grow an audience and connect to Asian Jews from across the country. As their audience grew, Jenni and Maryam continued to hear their community express a want and need to connect and share space with one another. While LUNAR is still committed to digital storytelling, they have expanded to also being a multifaceted space for Asian Jews, complete with jewish learning, national community events, and ongoing digital initiatives.

Seeing their own identities reflected in the community they serve, Maryam and Jenni are excited to respond to the wants and needs of Asian Jews, and look forward to what’s ahead for The LUNAR Collective. Committed to a By Us For Us model of shared leadership, they are excited to welcome new leaders and empower them to host their own events. Rabbi Rivera’s presence also marks an exciting new chapter for LUNAR and expands what they will be able to offer the community.

Regardless of how you identify as Asian, and no matter what your Jewish background is, Jenni and Maryam want you to know you are more than enough and you have a home with LUNAR. They invite you to become involved, and hopefully join them in the celebration, joy and community of the Lunar New Year and at their upcoming community events.

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 This is just the beginning for The LUNAR Collective, who grows in their influence and increases their connection to more and more Asian Jews each year. There are many ways to stay involved with LUNAR. Check out these Calls to Action and learn ways that you can support LUNAR as allies and friends as they cultivate the connection, belonging and visibility of Asian Jews for the first time.

Jenni Bio

Jenni Rudolph (she/her) is a Los Angeles-based musician and multimedia editor with a passion for authentic and underrepresented storytelling. She was raised on the periphery of multiple communities as a mixed race, secular Asian American Jew with Cantonese and Russian Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. She serves as Co-Executive Director of the LUNAR Collective, cultivating connection, belonging, and visibility for Asian American Jews. Jenni is a Berklee College of Music graduate, Pat Pattison Songwriting Award scholar, Songs 4 Social Change honoree, and Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project fellow.

Maryam Bio

Maryam Chishti (she/her) is a proud “Mus Jew”, who works in the political/arts space in New York City, with a soft spot for work that intersects the two. She is interfaith, with an Indian/Muslim father and Jewish American mother who raised her in both religions and cultures. Maryam received a B.A. from Brandeis University in American Studies and Theater for Social Change. Outside of LUNAR, she does improv, creative writing, and runs a new Moishe House in New York City. Maryam is passionate and excited to bring more Asian Jews into the growing community.