26 January 2021
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is pleased to welcome Rinat Kisin to our professional team as our Inclusion & Belonging Specialist. Learn more about Rinat’s background, what she sees as our community’s greatest priorities, and her outlook on how, together, we can create a more welcoming, inclusive, and vibrant Jewish community.
Tell us about your background.
I was born in Israel and have been living in the U.S. for the past 15 years. For most of my professional career, I have been involved with disability inclusion work. In Israel, I worked at the Commission for People with Disabilities at the Ministry of Justice where I served as liaison between the government and NGOs dedicated to making Israel more accessible for people with disabilities; and in the U.S., I worked as a program officer at the Ruderman Family Foundation where I mobilized a national network of young people with and without disabilities to raise awareness about inclusion and social justice issues. After finishing my Master’s in Nonprofit Management, I joined the Jewish Federation of St. Louis as their first Inclusion Coordinator where I was thrilled to work with Jewish organizations and individuals to advance inclusion throughout the community.
What attracted you to the role of Federation’s Inclusion & Belonging Specialist?
Early in my career, I worked as a volunteer student who supported visually impaired and blind students with their academic requirements. Meeting these students and getting to know them helped me become aware of the concept of inclusion and how important it is to provide every person with an equal opportunity to thrive while, at the same time, understanding that there is so much more to be done. Last summer, after moving to the DC area with my family (where we have always wanted to live!), I was looking for professional opportunities to continue my work in the social justice/disability inclusion field, as it is my passion. I knew of the work of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and its commitment to building a culture of inclusion and belonging that is based on the value of every human being is created b’zelem elohim (in God’s image)—that we are all equal regardless of our gender identity, race, or ability. As a member of the Jewish community, I could not be happier to have the opportunity to be part of Federation’s mission and to bring my passion to this work.
What do you see as the greatest priorities for Federation’s inclusion efforts in the community?
Our greatest priority is to collaborate with other agencies, organizations, volunteers, lay leaders, and community builders to create a robust culture of inclusion and belonging, in the broader Jewish community. This means ensuring that every person in our community is heard and that they have the opportunity to shape the community in which they want to live. It means combating stigma and prejudice together and learning how to welcome and include people of all abilities who are often left out of the diversity discussion. And it means advancing opportunities for people with disabilities to fully participate in all aspects of the Jewish community.
What about working in the Jewish communal world excites you most?
I’m excited to be part of an organization that is working to strengthen Jewish life in one of the largest Jewish communities in the U.S. As both a member of the community and a professional, I’m thrilled about the opportunity to be part of the work of creating a welcoming and vibrant Jewish community that cares for each other and fosters Jewish values.
What do you like to do in your time away from the office?
Well, it’s all about the kids! When I’m not working, I’m usually driving them to their (many!) activities. I love cooking and hosting friends, and I can’t wait to do that again soon. I also love puzzles, but it takes me too long to finish one!