The following are some of Loolwa Khazzoom's most popular programs, adaptable to children and adults of all ages. To see background information on Khazzoom, click here. To review sponsor feedback on these programs, click here. To schedule a program or to receive more information, please email.





BORDER CROSSING: Introduction to Jewish Communities Around the World

When most of us think "Jewish," we think Poland, Germany, and Russia. We think bagels and cream cheese, Jerry Seinfeld, and klezmer music. Given the way Jewish heritage has been taught and presented for decades, when we say the word "Jews," the vision that pops into our mind is not the black faces of Ethiopian Jews or the dark brown skin of Yemenite Jews.

In this program, however, Loolwa Khazzoom brings students on a 4,000 year Jewish journey around the world, revealing little-known facts about the community’s global history and rich, multicultural heritage. Through the use of colorful slides and maps, Khazzoom brings to life the interwoven tapestry that is the Jewish people, giving a face to Jews from Africa, the Middle East, Central and East Asia, Southern Europe, and Latin America.
Khazzoom also gives a voice to Jews from these communities, through engaging students in a live, interactive performance of international Jewish music. Whether singing in Judeo-Arabic, Ladino, Gaez, or Aramaic, she selects songs with choruses that are easy to follow, so that students can join in and get first-hand experience with diverse, ancient Jewish languages and melodies.

Through this sensory immersion, students gain both an intellectual and a visceral understanding of Jewish diversity. Aware of the intersection between the Jewish people and global communities, students leave the program better equipped to bring a truly multicultural awareness to contemporary issues on campus -- including the Arab-Israel conflict and general identity politics.

This program is 90 minutes long, including the question and answer period, and requires the use of the following:

  • overhead projector
  • slide projector
  • white board or chalk board
  • CD player

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Exploring Intersections, Building Bridges

Through this program, students address challenging questions about 1) Jewish identity and 2) the relationship between the Jewish community and non-Jewish communities of color. The program begins with students dividing into small groups and receiving a list of questions about racism, anti-Semitism, and global multicultural work. The groups are given 20 minutes to discuss their thoughts on these topics.

Students then rejoin in a large group for 10 minutes, listening to some personal experiences of Jews of color -- including those of an African-American Jew-by-choice, an Ethiopian-Israeli Jew, and a Latina Catholic who discovered she was a Jew by birth. Student volunteers are asked to read the written texts, including this one:

"I felt invalidated on many levels: I found myself having to explain that I was a Jew, even though my parents were Egyptian and Iraqi. Even though? How come our identity is supposed to be experienced as some kind of a contradiction? What's the difference -- Arab Jew, European Jew, Latino Jew, Indian Jew, Ethiopian Jew...It just does not compute with people. They have no problem understanding 'German Jew,' so why do they take issue with 'Egyptian Jew'? How does a politically conscious community continue to have such problems with the concept of my identity?"

Through the use of charts, maps, and entertaining anecdotes, students are next taken on a 20 minute tour of Jewish communities across the globe. This activity helps crystalize the information they have just discussed and heard.

With all this background information in mind, students are guided in a discussion about the obstacles standing in the way of Jewish multicultural education in America. Issues addressed include demographics, trends in racial classification, and the cycle of ignorance. Following this analysis, students are offered 10 easy steps to take, to bring awareness of Jewish diversity into their personal lives, activist work, and community programs.

This program is 90 minutes long, including the question and answer period, and requires the use of the following:

  • overhead projector
  • white board or chalk board
  • CD player

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Israeli Music Takes on Gender, Ethnicity, and the Arab-Israel Conflict

In Hebrew, Arabic, French, and English, hip hop has swept the nation of Israel, providing youth a platform for self-expression. Utilizing music, video clips, photographs, and song translations, this program offers students a comprehensive overview of Israel’s thriving new music scene.

The program begins with an outline of key hip hop artists in Israel over the past decade -- including Shabak Sameh, MC Jeremy Cool Habash, Arapiot, Subliminal, Hadag Nahash, MWR, and MC Shiri. Students learn about the unique role each artist has played and the particular struggle each artist has faced in the development of Israel’s hip hop scene.

Next, students listen to samples of these artists’ work, to get a sense of their influences. From the alternative rock/hip hop blend of Shabak Sameh, to the jazz/funk/hip hop fusion of Hadag Nahash, to the straight-up gangsta rap of Subliminal, students come to understand the musical forces at play in this thriving, young scene.

Through song translations, photos, and video clips, students go on to learn about the signature message each artist brings to the table, as well as the politics behind that message. Between the Zionist pride of Subliminal, the bisexual boldness of MC Shorti, the cultural angst of MC Jeremy Cool Habash, and the feminist mission of Arapiot, students come to recognize how diverse struggles for social justice propel Israeli hip hop today.

With article handouts and a list of contact information, the program closes by guiding students to additional resources about this music -- including websites where students can buy CDs.

The program is 60 minutes long and requires the use of the following:

  • VCR or DVD player
  • overhead projector
  • CD player

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An Exploration of Life at the Crossroads

How can a woman identify as a political Zionist, a cultural Arab, a religious Jew, and a committed feminist? The question is one of many in this thought-provoking discussion on women of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish heritage. From Asenath Barzani of 17th century Kurdistan -- the first female rabbi in the world, to Vicki Shiran of 21st century Israel --- an Egyptian Jew and pioneering feminist, students learn about the history and ideology of this diverse community of women.

The program begins with an overview of Jewish women’s lives throughout North Africa and the Middle East, both pre- and post-Islam. Students examine the roles of prominent Jewish women, including Queen Esther of the Persian Empire. Queen Esther has simultaneously been called an exceptionally powerful woman and a passive woman playing out a manipulative female role. Was she one, the other, or some combination of both? And how has her legacy affected Persian Jewish girls through today?

Looking at religious and cultural patterns, students go on to familiarize themselves with the roles of everyday Jewish women, as manifested in the synagogue, the home, and the greater society. How were these roles empowering, a form of ancient female bonding, and in what ways were they destructive? Addressing issues including “witchcraft,” female illiteracy, and the premature marriage of Jewish girls, students explore the sources of these roles, such as religious and political tensions between Islam and Judaism. How did donning the veil, for example, differ for Jewish and Muslim women?

Moving on to more recent history, students explore the impact that British and French colonialism had on Jewish women -- such as changing Jewish women’s dress codes and shifting Jewish women’s relationship to Muslim women. Students then learn about the pro-Nazi turbulence of the mid 20th century and the violent impact anti-Jewish riots had on Jewish girls and women in Muslim societies. What forces led to the ultimate uprooting of ancient Jewish communities throughout North Africa and the Middle East, and how did these forces affect women of the communities?

In the final segment of this program, students examine how the erasure of non-European Jewish history has affected Jewish women from Muslim societies. How do these Jewish women identify today? Students will examine the differences between those born in Muslim countries, Europe, North America, and Israel -- looking at ethnicity, religion, sexuality, and politics.

This program is 60 minutes long and requires the use of the following:

  • overhead projector
  • CD player
  • white board or chalk board

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Crisis Response for Pro-Israel Peace Activists

When people around the world hear about the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, they assume that Israelis are white European oppressors and that Palestinians are indigenous people of color being taken over and kicked out of their native home. The familiar script of European racism and colonization thus plays out in people's minds. It is from this understanding and the accompanying desire for justice that many people across the globe feel outraged by the very existence of Israel.

The reality, however, is that Jews are a multi-racial, multi-ethnic people. Most importantly, for decades the majority of the Jewish population of Israel has been Mizrahim - Jews indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa. This community of Jews lived in the region since time immemorial. Until the mid-twentieth century, in the 4,000 year history of the Jewish people, Mizrahim never left.
In the early 1940s, largely at the behest of pro-Nazi Palestinian leadership, severe anti-Jewish riots erupted throughout the Arab world. Jewish citizens were assaulted, tortured, and murdered. In a few Arab countries, Jews were outright expelled. Throughout the region, today’s equivalent of billions of dollars worth of Jewish property was confiscated and nationalized, as 900,000 Jews were forced to flee from their homes of thousands of years.

Loolwa Khazzoom is the daughter of a Jewish refugee from Iraq. Drawing from her personal and professional knowledge, she illuminates the experience of Mizrahim under Arab governments and Israel, exposing the politics that have hidden a voice which is pivotal to solving the Middle East crisis. Program participants examine the roots of misinformation about the Jewish people, considering how knowledge of Mizrahim transforms current approaches to Middle East peace work.

Upon examining the inextricable link between Mizrahi refugees, Palestinian refugees, and the current Arab-Israel conflict, participants are guided through comprehensive strategies for transforming current misconceptions of Israel and facilitating anti-racist, pro-Israel peace work. This guidance includes tips on how to create a multicultural Jewish community, nurture natural alliances with communities of color, and bring to the progressive world consciousness about the racial and ethnic diversity of Israel and the Jewish people.

This program is 60 minutes long, including the question and answer period, and requires the use of the following:

  • overhead projector
  • white board or chalk board
  • CD player

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A Multicultural Exploration for Jewish Women

In this program, participants are offered a safe space to discuss the intersections of sexism, racism, and anti-Semitism in the lives of Jewish women. We explore how the experiences of Jewish women from European backgrounds compare to the experiences of Jewish women from African, Middle Eastern, Latin American, and East Asian backgrounds. We also examine how these experiences affect our relationships with each other, with non-Jewish women of color, and with Jewish and non-Jewish men. As part of this discussion, participants screen clips from The Way Home, a powerful documentary on women transcending oppression.

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Song, Prayer, Ritual, and Food

Multicultural Jewish holiday programs are offered as hands-on, experiential activities or presentations. They include:

Middle Eastern-North African Shabbat Service

Students are led in a traditional Middle Eastern-North African sabbath service on Friday night, replete with prayer book handouts that have translations and transliterations. Following this service, Khazzoom chants the Iraqi melodies of the pre-meal ritual -- including prayers over wine and bread.

This program is 60 minutes long and requires no technical equipment.


Middle Eastern Purim Pastry Baking

Purim celebrates the liberation of Jews in Persia, but most American Jews know nothing about how the holiday was celebrated in the lands under Persian rule. As a result, most Jewish students have eaten hamintashin -- an Eastern European pastry for the holiday, but they have not eaten sambousak, ba’aba, or halva -- Purim delicacies from Iraq and Iran.

In this program, students meet in the kitchen, where they learn to cook some of these pastries from scratch, including sambousak b’shikir -- a light dough pastry with a sugar, cardamon, walnut, and rosewater filling; sambousak b’jibbin -- a light dough pastry with a feta cheese and egg filling; and ba’aba -- a light dough pastry with a fried date filling and sesame seed coating.
This program is 90 minutes long and requires a large kitchen with baking supplies, including the following:

  • sink
  • standard sized oven
  • rolling pin
  • bowls of different sizes
  • baking sheets
  • measuring spoons
  • measuring cup
  • mixer


Purim Gambling Games

In the Purim story, the drawing of lots initially condemned the Jews of Persia to death and ultimately saved their lives. For this reason, in addition to dressing up for Purim, Iraqi Jews also play two traditional and exciting gambling games on the holiday -- naqshehud and dosa -- which draw on the theme of chance. After being taught these games, students try their hand at Mother Luck, using M&Ms as “gambling chips.”

This program is 60 minutes long and requires no technical equipment.


Multicultural Passover Seder

From hitting each other over the head with leeks (to remember slavery), to chasing each other around the room (to commemorate Exodus), students are exposed to the liveliest of Passover traditions from across the globe. With hands-on training from seder preparation to seder recitation, students learn diverse traditions from countries including Iran, Mexico, Turkey, and Morocco, singing in languages including Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic, and Ladino.

This program is 90 minutes long and requires a kitchen with utensils, including the following:

  • sink
  • stove
  • bowls of different sizes
  • vegetable strainers
  • large boiling pot
  • nut choppers
  • serving spoons
  • sharp knives


Holiday Songs and Prayers

In this program, students learn ancient songs and prayers from around the world, in languages including Hebrew, Aramaic, Judeo-Arabic, Ladino, and Gaez. In addition, they learn basic Middle Eastern and African drum rhythms and traditional ululation styles, to recreate the traditional, vibrant feel of ancient community sing-alongs.

This program is 60 minutes long and requires no technical equipment.

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