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The LUNAR Collective (LUNAR)
The LUNAR Collective (LUNAR)
The LUNAR Collective (LUNAR)
The LUNAR Collective (LUNAR) cultivates connection, belonging, and visibility for Asian American Jews through intersectional community programming and authentic digital storytelling. The organization launched in early 2021 with a film series featuring 23 Asian American Jews who vulnerably shared their thoughts and experiences around Jewish intersectionality, discrimination, cultural trauma, and more. Within several months, the award-winning film series made waves in the community, garnering over 40,000 online views and screenings at museums, synagogues, and film festivals across the country. In the weeks following the premiere, Asian American Jews from across the country reached out to ask for more - more ways to connect and more opportunities to be seen. The tremendous response to this debut project made it clear that Asian American Jews were hungry to foster and build community, but lacked an entry point. In 2022, LUNAR expanded rapidly to meet this need, evolving to offer in-person programming alongside innovative digital initiatives to grow the visibility of Asian Jews. Since 2021, LUNAR has engaged more than 700 participants through 30 programs that nourish a more interconnected, visible, and vibrant Asian Jewish community, as well as additional storytelling, media, creative, and arts and culture initiatives that elevate Asian Jewish voices. LUNAR participants are predominantly young adults between the ages of 18-35 whose cultural backgrounds span 5 continents and more than 40 countries. Multifaceted programs serve as an accessible space for Asian Jews of all backgrounds to explore Jewish rituals and their Asian culture through an intersectional lens.
About the Organization:
$100,000 - $500,000
The national Jewish community is growing increasingly diverse. Of the estimated 5.8 million Jews in the United States, 12% identify as Jews of Color (Pew Research Center 2020). The diversity among young Jews is growing, indicating that in the coming decades Jews of Color will comprise a significant percentage of the American Jewish population. Despite the growing number of Asian American Jews and other Jews of Color, finding community and connecting with other Jews remains a challenge. Asian Jews in white-dominated Jewish spaces are often questioned about their Judaism, interrogated about their attendance in Jewish spaces, and even told that they “don’t really count” as Jews. In national surveys, 80% of surveyed Jews of color agreed that they have experienced discrimination in Jewish settings (Beyond the Count 2021). Asian American Jews, comprising one of the largest demographics within the broader Jews of Color umbrella, have shared feeling othered, tokenized, or excluded. Rachel, a cast member in LUNAR’s first film series, shared, “I would show up at Hillel, people would ask me if I was there for the free Shabbat meal.” Common feelings shared by LUNAR participants include: Cultural isolation Internalized shame and imposter syndrome Rejection, tokenization, and discrimination Invisibility and lack of representation No support system to heal from trauma, violence, and hate Asian Jews want to explore their Judaism, build relationships with other Asian Jews, and tell their story, but lack a welcoming avenue. LUNAR meets this need for inclusive programming, community, and connection for Asian Jews. By centering and uplifting Asian Jewish voices and experiences, LUNAR creates spaces where Asian Jews can not only be welcomed, but celebrated. One LUNAR participant shared, “As an Asian Jew, I often feel like I don’t belong, and I really felt that I do belong here.”
LUNAR provides safe and accessible ways for Asian Jews to build connections to Jewish life, culture, and identity in community with other Asian Jews. LUNAR implements three primary initiatives: LUNAR’s Hub model is a national initiative to foster a community for Asian Jews (ages 18-35) in high-impact locations. Through the Hub model, LUNAR aims to provide a welcoming home for Asian American Jews to heal from experiences of exclusion, discrimination, and the pervasive isolation that comes with being a “minority within a minority.” Existing Hubs include Los Angeles, NYC, and the Bay Area. These Hubs are run by local Asian Jewish Community Leaders, who are trained and supported by the national LUNAR team and LUNAR’s Rabbi in Residence. Hubs offer regular in-person programming, mentorship, and connection through the Constellations Program. In the coming year, some Hubs will host a weekend retreat for local Asian Jews to engage in an immersive program that intertwines social action, identity processing, Jewish ritual, creativity, and more. Jewish Learning programs are facilitated in partnership with Asian Jewish spiritual leaders and serve as an accessible space for Asian Jews of all backgrounds to explore Judaism and Jewish ritual through an intersectional lens. These programs can occur virtually or in-person, and demystify Judaism through interactive Torah study and discussion. LUNAR implements various digital initiatives that give a voice and platform to the Asian Jewish community. Building on the success of the film series, LUNAR produced a second season, launched the the #WeAreAsianJews digital campaign to amplify Jewish arts, culture, and activism, and more. LUNAR sits at the intersection of the Jewish and Asian American communities. LUNAR increases solidarity and connection between these two communities by offering bridge building events, engaging LUNAR allies in relationship building across lines of proximity. By offering a wide variety of touch points for Asian Jews, LUNAR meets participants where they are and makes all programming and Jewish learning accessible for Jews of all backgrounds. As one LUNAR participant shared, “It has been a tectonic shift to realize that I am not alone in this world.”