Imani Romney-Rosa Chapman (she/her/ella)
Please tell us about yourself.
I am the founder and director of imani strategies, llc., and have more than 25 years of experience organizing, educating, and developing curriculum for social justice. I am working towards a world in which my children and the young people in our lives can live wholly and safely into their full humanity, in an equitable world in which race is not a major determinant in health, wealth, legal, and educational outcomes. I am a UJA Graduate Fellow, and I enjoy making good trouble and social identity theory. My favorite HUC-JIR course was the “Theology of Shame, Guilt, and Forgiveness” with Rabbi Seth Bernstein, which speaks directly to the work that I do.
What do you love about HUC-JIR?
I love that I have been here during a time of institutional cheshbon hanefesh — an accounting of the soul, wherein the school is moving toward reifying policies, practices, and procedures that ensure kavod (honor and respect) among all members of the community. This Judaism in action is inspiring. I look forward to the weight of that motivating us to shape where we go from here. I love the possibility of embodying and sustaining the passage from Pirkei Avot (2:16): לֹא עָלֶיךָ הַמְּלָאכָה לִגְמֹר, וְלֹא אַתָּה בֶן חוֹרִין לִבָּטֵל מִמֶּנָּה — You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.
What is most rewarding about your HUC-JIR program?
My cohort is outstanding! Both as professionals in their respective fields, and as students balancing family, work, school, and Covid-19, they are exemplary. I have never had the experience of being among people who push one another toward the next evolution of ourselves, with such hope, empathy, and pride. We are very different, and we are devoted to each other’s growth and success.
What does HUC-JIR mean to you?
Studying at HUC is the first opportunity of my life to be fully immersed in a Jewish educational institution. One of my great delights is being able to hear the cantorial students in neighboring classrooms as we move through our day. I am reminded of our traditions, I am reminded of our peoplehood, and I am reminded that Gd is with me.