Leah Finkelstein wants Orthodox Jews of colour to feel welcome—so she’s offering to take them to shul

Leah Finkelstein is the founder of Am Echad Inclusive Alliance, an organization that helps Jews of colour feel welcomed in the Orthodox community. (Submitted photo)

As an Orthodox Jewish woman of colour, Leah Finkelstein knows what it’s like to feel like an outsider. Unfortunately, her kids know, too—like when one of them scored a record-breaking triple double for his yeshiva’s basketball team, resulting in the school proudly celebrating the box score on an image on social media… with a photo of a different, white teammate. (She complained; they ended up taking it down—not even reposting it with her son’s own face.)

Incidents like these, and those endured by her fellow Jews of colour, inspired her to create a new organization in 2023, Am Echad Inclusive Alliance. Based out of New Jersey, the group embraces diversity within the Orthodox community; as the founder, Finkelstein herself is the driving force, engaging new members by hosting communal Shabbat meals and even offering to accompany them to shul.

To discuss her goals and her views on how racism permeates the Orthodox world, Finkelstein joins Rivkush, The CJN’s podcast about Jews of colour, for an in-depth conversation.


Rivkush is hosted by Rivka Campbell. Michael Fraiman is the editor and prodcer. Our theme music is by Westside Gravy. The show is sponsored by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and is a member of The CJN Podcast Network. Support the show by subscribing to this podcast or donating to The CJN.