Ayecha was founded to promote tolerance and sensitivity in the Jewish and world communities, offering educational curricula, workshops, trainings, tutoring, mentoring, and retreats to promote the needs and concerns of racially diverse Jews and their families. Through its work, Ayecha brought together thousands of people, from various backgrounds, affiliations, and cultures to consider what binds Jews to one another, despite difference, and to examine the misunderstandings around difference that can, unfortunately, keep people apart. Ayecha’s mission of building a more inclusive Jewish community through increased awareness of Jewish diversity and support for Jews of Color in the United States is one that the organization aimed to realize elegantly during its eight-year span. There were many successes and challenges that were endured through Ayecha’s work, and there is still much work to be done that will hopefully be absorbed and adopted by the various individuals and organizations that were inspired by its model.
As the organization has now closed its doors, the challenge is passed on to each individual within the Jewish community to do more to integrate the work of inclusion into all aspects of increasing the quality of Jewish life. The hope is for the Jewish community to further expand upon Ayecha’s work and message through the daily practices and professional accomplishments of all friends, allies, and fellow advocates in the Jewish inclusion movement.
Yavilah McCoy is a teacher, writer, editor, and diversity consultant. She was raised in the Flatbush and Crown Heights areas of Brooklyn, New York where she received her yeshivah education at Bais Rivkah and Yeshivah University High School. She has taught Judaic studies, Hebrew language and English literature on elementary and secondary levels. In addition to serving the Jewish community as an educator, Yavilah has served as a member of the board of directors for the Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Hadassah, Jewish Community Relations Council, and the St. Louis Jewish Light. Yavilah is a trained facilitator for the Anti Defamation League’s “A World of Difference” program, the National Conference for Community and Justice’s Dismantling Racism Institute, and the National Coalition Building Institute of Washington, D.C. In 2003, she received the Joshua Venture Fellowship, and she utilized this training and support to become the founding director of Ayecha, a national not-for-profit that provided educational resources for Jewish diversity and advocacy for Jews of Color in the United States. Since 2003, Yavilah has become an acclaimed international speaker on the subjects of “increasing awareness of Jewish diversity” and “developing strategies for inclusion.” In her spare time, Yavilah enjoys teaching and performing her family’s legacy of Jewish gospel. She is married to Dr. Pinchas McCoy and has recently relocated to Boston where she is now the New England Director of the Curriculum Initiative. Yavilah resides in Newton with her husband and four children, Atarah Yocheved, Yair Moshe, Yonatan Nechemya, and Amalyah Tiferet.