Tema Smith (Conversant)
The Center for Jewish Studies and the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research are pleased to announce a talk series on the intersection of Black and Jewish identities in American culture, politics, and religious life. The lives and experiences of those who identify as Black and Jewish have received little scholarly attention despite their growing prominence in current conversations around race and religion in the US and outsized contributions to Jewish and American culture. This talk series aims to amplify Black and Jewish voices and to foster new conversations around the challenges and prospects of Black diversity and Jewish diversity.
Michael W. Twitty is a culinary historian and food writer from the Washington D.C. area. He blogs at Afroculinaria.com. He’s appeared on Bizarre Foods America with Andrew Zimmern, Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates and most recently Taste the Nation with Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi. HarperCollins released Twitty’s The Cooking Gene, in 2017, tracing his ancestry through food from Africa to America and from slavery to freedom. It won the 2018 James Beard Award for best writing as well as book of the year, making him the first Black author so awarded. Kosher Soul, his follow up to The Cooking Gene, will be out in 2022 through HarperCollins.
Tema Smith is a diversity advocate, writer and Jewish community builder. She is currently the Director of Professional Development at 18Doors (formerly InterfaithFamily). This comes after seven years as a synagogue professional, most recently as the Director of Community Engagement at Holy Blossom Temple, Toronto’s oldest synagogue. Tema is also a contributing columnist at The Forward whose writing has been published in MyJewishLearning, the Globe and Mail, and the Canadian Jewish News. She speaks and trains frequently on racial equity and diversity for synagogues and Jewish organizations across North America.