Guess Who’s Coming To Seder?

[warning: if “urban parsha” is the only exposure you’ve had to this blog, i suggest you read the other entries. these are my thoughts. this will not be over quickly. you will not enjoy this. i am not your king.]

interracial dating.

i don’t think there’s a topic im more internally divided on. its complex, really, and my thoughts are divided along a secular/jewish axis.

i don’t consider myself a particularly judgemental person and im usually known to give the benefit of the doubt in highly improbable situations. however, i am a product of my environment, that environment being two african-american parents who came of age during the civil rights era and were part of the “blaxploitation” generation who ran to see horrible movies [cmon now, blackula??] just b/c it was a chance to see black ppl onscreen who weren’t the help or comic relief. as such, they instilled in their children a subtle sense of “us v them”—a sense which proved necessary to survive the weekly gauntlet of knesset/shul—and a sense which has always left me less stunned at incidents of raial prejudice than my peers.  while most others of my generation have more or less bought into the “post-racial america” myth, i had weekly reminders of the ugliness that lurks just beneath the surface of society and so i was and am always on guard.  it seems sometimes as if ppl watch newsreels of civil rights marches and forget that there were little kids in those angry mobs holding “nigger go home” signs alongside their parents. those kids didn’t disappear when civil rights ended. theyre in their 40s-60s now. theyre your teachers, your professors, your bosses, the parents of your friends. [and sure, not all of your teachers, bosses, et al, but you get my point].

now how does this relate to my views on interracial relationships?

well most don’t even phase me. korean/puerto-rican? cool. indian/haitian? whatever. but when the equation is caucasian/non-caucasian? that’s when, as an african-american, im a lil bit uneasy. after all, the civil rights movement ended barely more than 40 yrs ago and post-apartheid south africa is less than 15 years old. it was only just a generation ago when that same ethnic person would’ve just been taken against their will anyway with little to no legal repercussions. so i guess maybe i harbor a lil anger/resentment. maybe a sense of “how dare you?” [although, as i am also a product of a male-dominated, occasionally misogynistic society, of course im more ok with white female/ethnic male couples than white male/ethnic female couples].

however, since i do consider myself a progressive, free-thinking individual who realizes that ppl are individuals and that dwelling in the past solves nothing, i treat white/non-white couples like any other couple. [indulgingly pats self on back]. in fact, to use the clichéd apologetic line, some of my best friends are in white/non-white relationships. lol. but seriously, i don’t let it color my interactions, but i cant deny that initial inner sigh i feel when i encounter one.

why?

well b/c society paints snagging a white partner as the ultimate sign of social success. whether we buy into it or not is a separate issue, but i think the reflex reaction to this is what causes that sigh in many of us.  “here’s another sellout” we think.  some of us, however, lack the ability to look beyond our knee-jerk race loyalty to realize that we don’t know random couple a.  we don’t know their story. after all, i doubt when G-d is giving out soulmates He’s thinking “ok, lemme keep all my blacks over here, and my asians over here, and my whites over there.” however, it can’t be ignored that some couples are born from less savory motives. like “marrying up”. like fulfilling an [insert ethnicity here] fetish. [remember kids, just b/c you scored a marriage doesn’t mean you’re free and clear out of racism forest]. or wanting kids with “good” hair and light skin. or just plain old self-hate. these are all attitudes which cause the breakdown of community and culture and they should be called out whenever present.

now wander over to the jewish community and things get tricky. b/c as jews, we’re supposed to—have a duty, in fact—to rise above the pettiness of social constructs such as “race”. a jew is a jew is a jew. there’s no such thing, really, as an “interracial” jewish couple. its not G-d’s fault that we’re extremely socially screwed up, but socially screwed up we are. centuries of the invisibilityof jews of color [invisibility, not absence] has created the presupposition that jew=white, an idea that jews themselves have largely bought into. so not only is there the standard of white= ive made it, but also the notion that to legitimize your judaism you have to in some way be connected to something white. “of course im jewish! see? my spouse is white!” “my kids are obviously jewish! they’re part white!”

a distressing trend i find amongst non-white jews is to “hide” behind the label of being “jewish”. as if they use “jewish” as a synonym for “not [insert ethnicity here]”. or, if they’ve converted, they use judaism as an excuse for shunning ethnic friends and family and for spending all their time exclusively amongst and fawning after caucasians. so yes, while “a jew is a jew is a jew” we cant ignore the fact that the world we live in doesn’t allow for that ideal existence.  non-white jews need to build community–one where we are accepted, not merely tolerated–and “interracial” relationships are not conducive to that.

now to those of you who just said “boo”, hear me out.  and to those of you who just said “yay”, hear me out.

mostly likely right now you’re either thinking im being separatist or racist or that im sticking with black ppl and sticking it to whitey. im actually doing neither. consider this: yes israel was one people, but it was a people made up of 12 distinct tribes. each tribe was given an inheritance of land, but for 40 yrs, the tribes were forbidden from intermarrying. why? to ensure that tribal inheritances stayed within the tribe and to solidify it as a cohesive group. after those inheritances were established, the ban was lifted [on the recently passed 15th of av, no less] and tribes were allowed to intermarry again. the various non-white jews are simply not ready to “intermarry” with their white counterparts.  what base are we moving from?  what traditions are we bringing with us to an “interracial” relationship? show me a non-white jewish community, with its rabbis and minhags and organizations and beit dins and rosh yeshivas and mikvahs, and then ill show you a community—a tribe—ready to “intermarry”.  whenever i propose this i keep hearing “oh, not everyone is gonna want to do that”. im sure not everyone wanted to stay within their own tribe in the desert either. but with an eye to the future, they did it. and in the long run a stronger people emerged from it. a chain is only as strong as it weakest link.

now for all my pro-black black jews, careful. b/c any kind of thinking that finds, measures or values its judaism based on skin isn’t torah. just b/c i’m not ecstatic about “interracial” marriage in judaism doesn’t mean i would shun an interracial wedding, doesn’t mean i would condescend on an interracial couple, doesn’t mean i wouldn’t let their kids play with my kids. because, again, that. isn’t. torah. to the rabbis out there who refuse to perform an “interracial” wedding: that. ISN’T. torah. what halacha is being broken?  what averah is being committed?

cmon now ppl, think. judaism is a religion which accepts converts. whether you think the first jews were all black or all white, do you really think that everyone who converted was the same color they were? somewhere in there there had to be *gasp* an “interracial” couple. to the “jews were white” ppl: tzippora was ehtiopian, wasn’t she?  to the “jews were black” ppl: onkelos was the roman emperor hadrian’s nephew wasn’t he? and again, do you really think G-d keeps his soulmates color-coded?

to end this, i’d prefer it if at last a generation was willing to make the sacrifice to stay amongst their own to build a foundation for future generations to build from. for those that don’t, hey look, you only have each other and Hashem to answer to, really, so just live your lives. but to those who are really just trying to wash away their ethnic with judaism, or to use it to finally get that white guy/girl: we see you, you’re fairly obvious, and you don’t hide it nearly as well as you might think.

and to the rest of judaism: if this conversation is any indication, we’re sadly a looong way from mashiach. if you don’t think so, just wait about 30 years when some of this “interracial” controversy has died down. and the wrong white jewish guy and the wrong black jewish gal fall in love. and marry. and have a kid. and then the chagim roll around.

and a half-black kohen gets up to give the priestly blessing.

[this blog should be read in conjunction with the next blog “this is the aftermath”.]

–MaNishtana

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27 thoughts on “Guess Who’s Coming To Seder?

  1. So, this brings me back to what I was talking to my friend about not too long ago. We love Judaism, but when we look at the Jewish community as Jews of color, thats when things get a little tricky. While talking to my friend last week, we agreed that as Jews of color living within the Jewish community, we feel we need to marry partners that we can come home to and share our experiences with. Also when it comes to having childern, one has to be able to prepare their children for the issues they will be force to deal with as Jews of Color. This might put a lot of pressure on the Jewish person of color if they marry someone who is not also a Jewish of color. Though it might sound unfair, sometimes the best thing a person in a “Other/white realationship do for their childern is to tell them they are what ever the “other” parent is, they just happen to have a white mother/father. Being a Jew of color is hard enough, even more so if one marries someone who can never truly understand what it means to be brown/black/non-white and Jewish.

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  2. I started to say this on Twitter, but here I have the luxury of more than 140 characters, so I’ll elaborate.

    As the author clearly states, one’s skin color has absolutely no bearing in Judaism. Zero.

    The Torah makes distinctions between Jew and Gentile, between Kohen, Levi, and Yisrael, between man and woman, between adult and child. That’s it. (Okay – mamzer, nazir, etc. but still nothing about skin color)

    Rabbi Berel Wein famously said, “Don’t confuse Jews with Judaism”. I have met Jews, even Orthodox Jews, that would throw fits if their children ever married anyone with skin darker than an acorn. That’s sad, and it’s a product of absorbing the values of the Exile they live in. (America, Europe, wherever).

    Here in Israel, it is much much more common to see Jews of all types. There are Jews here who comes from multi-generational lines of Exile living across six continents.

    We learn from our Torah that Moses was the greatest man who ever lived. If he can marry a Jew with dissimilar skin tones, any Jew can.

    By the way – just in case we have any racists pretending to be concerned about Jewish bloodlines (as if we’re the British Royal family) – listen up.

    Ashkenazi Jews kept marrying their cousins for centuries, and the only thing it ever got us was Tay-Sachs.

    Thank G-d Yemenite Jews marry Lithuanian Jews. Thank G-d Persian Jews marry German Jews. Especially thank G-d for the converts. (of which I realize that the author is not one)
    They provide a huge inspiration for us spiritually, and improve (and widen) the gene pool physically.

    The Jewish people are supposed to be “A light unto the Nations”. The best example we can give to the world is to stop grouping people together by skin color. It’s just as absurd as calling a brown-eyed girl with a blue-eyed guy a “mixed marriage”.

    If the Torah does not classify people this way, we Jews have no right to do so.

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    1. I agree, we should not classify people this way. But, we do. The author is trying to elaborate that it may be best to establish a culture as “Jews of Color” before worrying about the multi-cultural ideals. Unfortunately for some, it is difficult to find people of color to marry who are jewish (depending on how specific you want to go in regards to cultural preference, black, hispanic, latin, asian, middle eastern, and so on). I think that is why there are many who marry non-jews.

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  3. Basic question: are there enough Jews who happen to be non white to form self sustaining “tribes” as per this proposal? I simply do not know. Based on my experience as a convert in Japan, there are not enough Jews who are Japanese to self sustain.

    This is a rather radical proposal, I dont have a clear idea if I agree or not.

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    1. whether you agree or not is one thing. but you’re at least humoring the idea. which is a lot more than i can say for many others. whether there are enough for every type of non-white jew to form their own “tribe” per se, is one thing. but i feel that those that can, should.
      –MaNishtana

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    2. Well, it depends… Chris, in america it is unfortunate, but many compile “asians” as one as oppose to realizing that Japanese are not like chinese, Chinese aren’t like Koreans, Koreans aren’t like Taiwanese…etc. So, ultimately I think the reason why the author elaborated African Americans (as he said he was less bothered by other mixes), as oppose to every other culture or race in the jewish spectrum. Things are different here for Black Americans in America than it is for the Japanese in Japan.

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  4. Obviously, I’m not humoring your idea. I live my life outside your box. I’m a mixed race Latina married to a white Jew. When I was trying to decide who to marry, my concerns were that they were human, spoke Spanish and were Jewish. I got two out of three (he doesn’t speak Spanish). My father at least (my mother is very happily racist) raised me to be an “equal opportunity lover.” Actually, now that I think of it this makes sense sense my father, who is a white Hispanic, married my mother, who is a brown Hispanic.

    So, I thought it was only my crazy white friends and my crazy Dominican relatives who were bent on “marrying their own kind” since it’s only those select few that flinched when my husband and I got together. And it wasn’t like I didn’t understand where they came from, well, at least when it comes to Dominican relatives who are worried my kids won’t be ‘as Dominican’ because they’re only half so. I understand people sticking together to keep a culture alive but since I’m Hispanic and we come in all shapes and colors, I have a harder time understanding keeping together to preserve a skin color or a “pure race”—something I see white Americans doing as much as black Americans.

    It sounds to me, if I’m reading it correctly, that you are trying to preserve black Jewish “culture” which would be what the aforementioned Dominicans are trying to do. But if you’re trying to preserve the black race (can the race be separate from the culture), I’m not sure how that’s any different from a white supremacist argument.

    Look, I hear you. You want black Jews to marry black Jews and create their own tribe and keep their own traditions. Again, it seems like you’re stressing the culture not the race. But you’re also saying that we’re all Jews and we shouldn’t care about skin color. I can’t help thinking you’re torn on the subject or you’re trying to mince your words because you’re afraid, rightly so that you will be called a racist.

    And I do appreciate that you tried to make this deeper than my white Jewish friend who says she won’t marry blacks even if they are Jewish. But actually, even though you talked quite intellectually about this, I’m not sure I don’t think you two are in the same racist boat.

    I’m even more troubled that to prove your point to “sacrifice to stay amongst their own,” you have to accuse some of the rest of us of trying to wash away our ethnicity or “marrying up.” Don’t you know enough of us who are marrying people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds to know that most of us are marrying for love? Why do people always assume the worst?

    Jews of color are having trouble marrying in the community because many white Jews won’t marry them. Black women, Jewish or not, are having trouble marrying period. Are you saying that you’d rather they marry each other (ah, lesbianism) than marry out of the race?

    I’m surprised those white Jews haven’t found this article and used it to their own ends. I’m glad to read that most of the people that read this said Jews should marry each other no matter what color they are.

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    1. Ma’am, it seems that the author is more over expressing a distaste for self-hate, self racism, lack of identity of Black Jews and so on. He does mention that those who marry out of love are exempt from the point he is trying to make. Furthermore, it seems you wish to hold on to views that everyone should marry every other culture. I disagree. I personally feel that a person should marry their preference. Their preference can take on varying cultures or just one. It doesn’t somehow make it wrong to wish to find someone of your own culture (as your 3 rules involved a jewish human, others may prefer a black jewish man…nothing wrong with that). I personally like humans as well :p. But, I think the bigger point he is trying to make is that there is a trend that when people venture into judaism, they sometimes associate jew=ashkenazi…therefore some feel they must push aside or stay away from associating with their black culture. Also, it seems that he wishes to have Black Jews concentrate on “Brick-and-Mortar”, as well as a defining of Black American Jewish Culture. He elaborates that the need to establish the culture first, and then venture out and intermarry as expressed in the 12 tribes. I am not sure if this means Black Jews must concentrate on developing the culture through our own shuls. But, I wouldn’t assume that white jews would be exempt from attending. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t marry whomever you want, but more over not to forget who you are as well as a Black Jewish place to Call Home (IE. Black Jewish Communities and Black Jewish Temples).

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      1. I definitely see all that in the post. Thank you for clarifying. I also am having issues with the self-hate I’m running into. As a convert, I have found way too many people telling me I’m just Jewish and I need to get over this “Dominican” thing now. And I do think we need to work on defining black American Jewish culture, Jews of color as a culture, etc. But I think we can do it, and some of us are doing it, in interracial relationships. Yes, even those with white people.

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  5. I feel like you’re mixing axes (as in axis not axe) with this discussion. Minhag and Jewish Cultures (our modern-day Tribes) don’t follow racial lines. While Ashkenazim generally have a certain range of phenotypes, and so do Syrians, Yemenites, Ethiopians, Persians, Western Sefardim, etc, that doesn’t align with ‘race’, especially when conversion is involved (although of course it isn’t always, and i’ll mix-and-match examples here). Aliza, if she doesn’t mind me talking about her, is minhagicly Ashkenazic, even though most Ashkenazim look “white”; i have another friend who’s ethnically South-East Asian and minhagicly Sefardic, and another who is East Asian and Ashkenazic. I’ve even known someone who was ethnically Scandinavian but minhagicly Moroccan!

    So i don’t know what kind of “tribes” you’re looking to create, but if they’re meant to have their own Minhag systems, and not just culinary/linguistic/etc. culture, you’ll be artificially making stuff up wholesale to get there.

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    1. Sir, it seems that you are confused on the diverse expressions of culture and race in the author’s post. I think what he is saying is that like ashkenazi jews have their own culture, customs and so on (which have contributed various wonderful perspectives to judaism), the author is saying , “So can Black Jewish America”. Ashkenazim has been heavily influenced by european culture. He simply expresses that as Much as European Jewish culture that developed through european influences, then so can Jewish culture develop from a Black American Perspective. I am sure many Black Jews get tired of the “Do what we do” mentality. As Sephardism isn’t for everyone, as Ashkenazi isn’t for everyone, as Mizrahi and so on…the author is calling for our region, our views, our perspectives, and our interpretations to make it’s mark on judaism. So, ultimately, if you are uncomfortable with that then I understand. But, it doesn’t mean his views and ideas aren’t relevant, in my opinion the call for a Black Jewish Culture is something I would like my children to grow up in. Just as he elaborated about the Blaxploitation films, it would be nice to have a home and culture of our own. As our perspective may not be everyone elses.

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    2. steg, to have a different “culinary/linguistic/etc. culture” IS to have your own minhag system. why do ashkenazim have the “culinary” difference from sfardim of not eating rice or beans during pesach? because that’s their MINHAG. [the reasons why arent relevant to this discussion right now, but you get my overall point]. and obviously minhagim and cultures dont follow racial lines, but they do ORIGINATE along them.

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      1. Minhag is a system of *religious* practices, distinct from culinary/linguistic/etc. culture, although influenced by it.

        The fact that Ashkenazim have a custom against eating rice and beans on Pesahh is a religious practice, distinct from the fact that during the rest of the year they eat less rice than Ashkanazim or Indian Jews, but chow down on cholent pots full of beans.

        Ashkenazim speaking Yiddish, Sefardim speaking Ladino, contemporary American Syrian Jews speaking ‘Syrian’ (which is a dialect of English not always mutually comprehensible with Ashkenazic Judeo-English) is not a *religious practice*; it’s a part of their general culture. It can have effect on religious factors (for instance, the pronunciations of Hebrew common in different ethnic communities), but it in-and-of-itself is not *minhag*.

        Minhag is how i wash my hands and make the brakha before eating bread. Culture is whether that bread is pita, naan, baguette, frybread or focaccia.

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    3. i tend to classify the entire “package” as “minhag”, but if those are the distinctions you’re making, then yes, i suppose my emphasis is more on “culture” as opposed to “minhag”. question: would a discussion of african american slavery and its comparison to egyptian slavery at the seder table by considered “cultre” or “minhag” to you?

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  6. I will take it one step further – it seems to me that it would be FORBIDDEN by Jewish law to make any classification of Jews by the amount of melanin ones skin contains.

    As I stated before, there is no such category of subdivision given by the Torah. Therefore, to impose one now is a violation of Baal Tosef – do not add to the Torah.

    That is different than Aliza not “getting over this Dominican thing”. Whatever cultural influences we have will tend to shape our views. I spent the past three years in New York State, and now I’m an Israeli – but I will always be culturally a Californian.

    I’m not trying to set up a California minhag or a California shul (even though there are enough of us here in Israel to do so), – Aliza isn’t starting a Dominican minhag (oh – maybe use platanos for your karpas!), and to do so for any other group would violate a second Torah command – al tifrosh min ha tzibur – do not separate from the community.

    As far as I’m concerned, we shouldn’t even use the term JOC. A J is a J.

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  7. Black Culture is a culture. It is not a “color thing” it is a culture thing. This is not in reference to the pigmented melanin in our skin, but more over the culture that we have built, developed, and expressed throught the centuries. European culture heavily influenced european jews. He is simply stating that our Black Culture should also influence. It is easy to request for no more cultural and custom divisions when you have one to call your own. Quite different for those that don’t. Just FYI.

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  8. Damn Well-

    I wish I didn’t even have my own cultural subdivision! It’s unfortunate that Ashkenazi and Sephardi even exist.

    It’s only a product of Exile. Unfortunately, we are stuck with different minhagim, because the Exile went on for soooo long that now we have no halachic basis to undo them.

    Well, at least that is the majority view – there is a minority opinion recently published here, that any Jew who lives in Israel may eat kitniyot on Pesach.

    He is on very loose footing with that one, but I certainly appreciate the sentiment.

    The 12 tribes weren’t different ethnicities – they started with 12 brothers! They had different strengths (Yissachar excelled in learning, Zevulun hunted well, Levi were the forerunners of the priesthood, etc.)

    The Jewish nation is meant to be one, singular political and cultural entity. Thank G-d, after 1,878 years of begging and pleading to G-d, our homeland was restored to us.

    It was a first step. The next step is to bring everyone home and come as close as we can to the reestablishment of one Jewish people.

    Once we install a proper Sanhedrin, we will indeed be able to cast off the custom differences that we picked up while in Exile. We can proudly stand as we did at Mount Sinai, “Like one person with one heart”

    Until then, we can at least make the future transition easier by not further splintering our people.

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    1. I am familiar with what you are saying. But, I don’t believe that a Black Jewish Community is setting anything apart. It only helps to develop judaism as did all the varying other cultures and customs of judaism. I don’t believe it should stop at, “well, we already have european, middle eastern, mediterranean, etc. all taken care of…no need to give anyone else their own community”. As a matter of fact, the american civil rights movement wouldn’t have existed if the ability for there to be Black Churches and communities was not present. There is an assortment of racism, and ignorance for black american jews. As history teaches, having black jewish communities, cultures, customs, black jewish temples and so on can help with these issues.

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    2. yes the 12 tribes started with 12 brothers, but aside from the fact that they were 12 BROTHERS not 12 TWINS [ie, their own particular experiences dictated and determined how they approached things], the reason that they were 12 tribes was b/c they had NOTHING binding them in common. the blessings yaakov gave them comparing them to different animals werent just blessings, they were him expressing concern that they were so different that there seemed to be NO WAY to unite them. not until they answered as one “shma yisrael” was he put at ease. for the 12 brothers, their differences and tribes came FIRST, their common bond of torah SECOND. what we have today is the opposite. we [or at least i] am acknowledging that we are all the same under torah FIRST, but SECOND we have different experiences and cultures which we should allow to continue to inform our execution of torah. and yes, it would be ridiculous for you to start a california minhag. because whether you wish you didnt have it or not, you actually HAVE a minhag. one which reflects you and your ancestors heritages. some of us would like a minhag to belong to so we can likewise enjoy the luxury of wishing it didnt exist. at any rate, read the next blog “this is the aftermath” for any clarifications you dont see here.

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  9. After having slept on it I’m still not 100% but my gut is clear; I disagree with this proposal. As Adam pointed out above, the 12 tribes analogy doesnt work here. Furthermore, I’m stuck with my current line of thinking regarding the fact that though 1) we are all Jews, 2) we are a “mixed multitude” (my twitter hashtag obsession) who received Torah at Sinai. This over rides ethnicity and minhagim. I’m aware that this is is a minority view and that many poskim disagree, but the simple fact is that the words of Ruth clear this whole thing right up] “your people shall be my people” clearly before “your God shall be my God”. The clauses are inseparable but the order critical. These words apply equally to Jews by birth as well as to Jews by choice.

    Steg expressed something regarding creating minhag. I was not clear if this was what the original intent of the post or not. Perhaps if MaNishtana would address this question directly it would save alot of speculation and pointless debate. I must confess I had a suspicion that this would follow the lines of previous attempts to create unique Black cultural markers out of nowhere such as Kwanza, but I’m unclear if that is really the intent or not.

    YKDWWTI, I’m aware that most Americans cant differentiate one Asian from another. When my wife and I lived in NYC, men constantly hooted “ni hao” at her even though she has a very Japanese face and doesnt look in the least bit Chinese. I’m going to guess that in the US, the number of Jews who are Black is probably greater than the number of Jews who are Asian of any type combined and certainly greater than each Asian cultural group on its own. Would MaNishanta’s proposal include separation of each Asian cultural group or do they all go in one box? What about any other cultural group which may by US judgement be part of a certain racial group but is actually a distinct cultural group on its own? Even not knowing the population numbers in the US, I’m almost 100% certain we have the problem I mentioned in my first comment regarding the issue of self sustaining populations.

    Here anyway I know Jews who are Japanese with Ashkenaz and Saphard minhag, mostly coming from where they happened to convert. The few Jews who are Chinese I know here all hold Ashkenaz minhag. I’ve never been to China so cant comment on the situation there at all. This leads me to my last point, is MaNishtana’s proposal just for Jews in the US or throughout the entire Diaspora? Is this in some way like Ezra’s orders that all foreign born wives and children be forced out in order to solidify cultural identity, or has a likkle bit of political correctness been added by token mention of Jews outside the White or Black people regarding a Marcus Garvey style separationist proposal?

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    1. try to think of it this way. im an x-large. but the judaism store only sells s,m,l and xx-large. sure i might be able to fit into the l or xx-large but it’s not made to fit ME. now i dont expect the company to make xxx-larges or x-smalls if there are only 2 ppl who are going to buy them. but im an x-large and i know about 10 or 11 x-larges, why not make and x-large? and, if everyone is distinguishing between “culture” and “minhag” the way steg is, like i said, i suppose then that i’m more about focusing the infusion of [insert culture here] into judaism. i.e., im african american, so at the seder id talk about african american slavery as well as egyptian slavery and id eat cornbread [kitniyot issues aside for the moment] b/c cornbread is a southern food cobbled together by the african american slaves down south.you [as im assuming you’re japanese] would have sushi for seudah shilishit to fulfill the “traditional” fish meal. what i am calling for, where its possible, is for these cultural additions to be uniformly practices across the appropriate ethnicity.

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  10. When people talk about all of us losing our cultural traditions and just folding into one, I get a bad taste in my mouth. That smacks of assimilation or worst to me because it’s usually some dominant culture erasing the cultures of others. I don’t understand why we can’t celebrate diversity without attacking it as being divisive.

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  11. But I’m not just a Jew. I’m a Jew of color. And I’m not just a Jew, I’m a Jewminicana (a Dominican American Jew). How is calling myself a Jewminicana any more divisive than calling myself a Jew of color?

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  12. If many of you who don’t know, there is a large population of Black Jews who are not mainstream because of this issue. And believe it or not we didn’t invent this. Minchag is used to tell you how to live the 613. I am simply saying how about letting us live the 613 in support of our traditions as long as it is halakic. The problem is who don’t have a voice. If it is not against Torah, than let us maintain our practices.

    Like, my hair for one, unprocessed you are not going to get a comb through my hair freely; as I have black hair not european. Ruling such as this keep us out of main stream, since we can not go to mikvah according to this ruling. And to top it off, some would go so far as to suggest that this is G-d’s doing. As if he favors a hair type! Many more people would understand if the prevailing standards are stacked to keep you out and compounded your isolation. And than had the nerve to tell you, you feel that way because you don’t love the Jewish people! I mean would you feel isolated if someone told you that in order to be excepted you need to cut your hair off and get a perm in order to be acceptable to the Almighty! Until then, you can not go to mikvah! That is a hell of an implication, don’t you think?

    Everyone else in this discussion who has a cemented Jewish Identity can not understand what is means to not have that. With that comes history and language. With that comes access to live lessons. I may find inspiration in all the stories that my brothers tell about how G-d dealt with them in exile, but I have my own stories as well. And many of my brothers think theirs are the only examples of the divine hand at work.

    What is wrong with wanting history that include us, minchag that reflect my cooking style as long as it is proper. If it is improper because we didn’t have the benefit of scholarship, than lets get the scholarship and let it go. We need to see ourselves in a positive light sometimes, just like everyone else.

    Now I have spoken my peice/peace.

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