We Hold These Truths To Be Pretty Obvious…

so i’m in an inspired mood.  empowered, even.  which is usually a bad thing. lol. no, no, im kidding. i thought id write in this inspired mode b/c i dont exactly relish writing out of frustration or exasperation all the time. so i decided to randomly compose a bill of rights of sorts for jews of color. dont get me wrong im not the first to have this kind of idea and there already are a couple of “privelege checklists” floating around out there.  but those lists to me seem to focus a lil bit too much on what others have or what we dont have or what we have to fight for to change. which can be a lil daunting and/or disheartening [though no less real or true]. so ive put together a lil something that focuses on what we can do, right now. by no means is it a mandate for everyone to agree with, but im sure there’s a lil something for everyone here. [incidentally, i was aiming for 13 to sorta crib off rambam’s articles of faith, but i ended up with only ten. think that means something? lol. also, feel free to shoot me in the face if i use “lil” or “something” one more damn time.]

the joc bill of rights

1-i have the right to be jewish without having to feel apologetic about being ethnic and as such being seen as “inauthentic“. this includes not having to feel guilty about taking pride in my ethnic background, referring to/quoting its influential figures, or pursuing/acknowledging issues important to it and achievements in it.

2-i have the right to be ethnic without having to feel apologetic about being jewish and as such being seen as a “sellout“. this includes not having to feel guilty about taking pride in my jewish heritage–whether acquired or inherited–referring to/quoting talmudic sages or current rabbis, or pursuing/acknowledging issues important to it and achievements in it.

3-i have a right to my anger if i am mistreated in a jewish setting or encounter without having to endure the caterwauling of ppl telling me to “be positive” or “not complain” or “to be a positive example“. i also have the right to speak out against unjust treatment without the threat of the shadow of “lashon hara” being cast upon me.

4-i have the right to answer your insipid questions concerning my judaism–especially when i am wearing the universal symbols of judaism–with as much or as little snark as i so desire, should i choose to answer your question at all. consider this: if you ask me if/how i’m jewish and im a convert, your questions are harrassing me and reminding me of where i came from–both torah no-nos.  if you ask me if/how i’m jewish and im a born jew, then you’re calling me and my family lineage into question, thereby insulting me–also a torah no-no. so either decide which strike you want against you, or you can logically infer a conclusion from context clues.  your choice.

5-i have the right to refuse to allow people half my age to treat me as if we’re equals just because i remind them of the ethnic housekeeper they live with and order around. i have the right to demand the respect my age commands.

6-i have the right to discuss/criticize the state of israel without the accusations or insinuations that my ethnic background is the reason for any disharmonious views i might hold on the jewish state.

7-i have the right to not be impressed with cowardly non-jewish minorities who are too afraid to say anything to “massa“, but feel that since i am ethnic, they are free to hurl their prejudices at me and attack me with vehement, bigoted sentiments they wouldnt dare say to my white counterparts.

8-i have the right to believe that it is not my responsibility to guide you onto the road of humanity.  if i have informed you that the words or actions you have displayed are offensive, it is not my duty to find you an alternative.  it is your duty to ensure that the actions you take and the words you speak are not offensive. just because ive reprimanded you does not obligate me to hold your hand until you’ve discovered how to treat others with the same respect you are afforded.

9-i have the right to pursue a relationship with someone who shares my background and culture without having to weather charges that i am hoping against hope for the “impossible“, being “unrealistic“, “limiting” myself, or being “racist“. if jews dont like hearing this from non-jews when it comes to partner-seeking, what makes it ok for jews to say it to other jews?

10-i have the right, should i choose to pursue a relationship with a jew outside of my “race“, to be offered a selection of partners of the same quality and caliber as if i were any other member of that race.  i have the right to refuse to be offered the aged, eccentrics, or outcasts.  i have the right to not allow myself to settle for a partner of a lesser quality or caliber than i would accept from my own race.

and there we have it. phone operators are standing by now. lol.

–MaNishtana

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Melacha Day Parade

sure this is a lil bit late, but i have a suggestion id like to make.

i would suggest that [rampant near-nakedness, general drunkenness, and occasional homicide aside] every jew, and especially every jew of color, should see the west indian day parade at least once. [and if you’re a jew who saw it pre-conversion, see it again post-jew]. i used to live in crown heights and remember listening to the music as each float passed by.  occasionally id get an extended glimpse of the parade before being shooed away from the window by my parents b/c of the slackness [500 pt caribbean slang bonus!] happening outside. but when i was a grown up, i was dragged practically kicking and screaming over to the parkway one year [“kicking and screaming” not b/c i was particularly trying to avoid the slackness [1000 pt double word score!], but b/c im not a big fan of people. can you tell?].

anyhoo, im glad i went.  because as im watching float after float go by with its different music and people dressed in their island’s flag and eating their different foods and flowing with their island’s pride and having a good time i couldn’t help but think “is this how it used to be back in the day when ppl brought bikkurim?  or would head up to yerushalayim for the shalosh regalim waving their tribe’s banner?” and channeling that present energy into vicarious enjoyment of the past was a really, really, really, good feeling. and there’s something i think we can all learn from the labor day parade.

for example, at the parade every float comes and reps its country with its own distinctive music, food, etc. and revels in it and celebrates it. but can we imagine if there was a jewish labor day parade? we’d have the ashkenazi float [with all its chabadnik, litvisher, yechi, na-nach, etc sections] and its gefilte fish, the sephardi float and its rice and beans, the temani float and its full beged-kefet, and the joc float that…well, is just pretty much the same thing we just saw in every other float, just differently ethnic. because as it stands, there’s nothing about us that would warrant its own float beyond skin.  and that’s part of why [part of why] we are looked at skin first: b/c that’s the only difference, really.  i mean, ashki/sefard and ashki/temani are also divided along a similar white v brown or less white axis.  but what comes to mind as the difference? no kitniyot v rice & beans for pesach.  tav/sav v gefen/jefen. if we’re to be looked at beyond color, then what we bring to the table needs to evolve beyond color.

as ive posted before, b/c jocs have a tendency to either join whats already around or wash away their ethnicity, instead of using their ethnicity to define and shape their observance and practices.  and whenever i propose that jocs should allow their backgrounds to influence their judaism, to create a minhag just the same way that europeans and north africans and middle easterners allowed theirs to create “ashkenaz” “sephard” “temani” etc, not only is there resistance from [some] jocs who for some reason cant comprehend the concept of having somewhere/thing that is your own, there are also opponents among those who have the luxury of actually having a homebase to operate from. their reasoning is “why cause more divisions?” [somehow oblivious to the fact that of course they don’t see the need for someone else to create what they themselves already have].

but do we really think that if, say, tobago broke off from trinidad and established itself as a separate culture that the rest of the west indies would be up in arms? that they’d try to stop them?  or do we think they’d just accept the new independent tobago and afford it the same respect in the parade as the rest of the islands. i mean they let puerto rico march, and they already have their own separate parade.  hell, guyana isn’t even invited and they still get to march. [give it up with the west-indian thing, guys. we all know you’re part of south america].

while some say it and mean it in its intended unifying sense, most of judaism seems to cling to the “a jew is a jew is a jew” mantra as a means to extinguish and discourage cultural individuality rather than to emphasize the beauty that despite being different with a disparate number of customs, we all follow the same torah as equals.  cmon now ppl, we haven’t learned yet to talk to the rock  instead of hitting it?

and then of course there’s the lesson of unity.  sure, every other day the rest of the year things may devolve into “this island” v “that island” confrontations or hostilities. or bad mouthing over who has better men or women.  but no matter what their differences are, they are all able to come together this one day every single year, leave everything else at the door, and say “we are all west indian, and let’s celebrate that. even you guyana. even though you’re really not.

now maybe this is just my experience, but ive rarely run into jews who are able to suspend whatever weekday prejudices they have for shabbat or chagim and say “we are all jews, and let’s celebrate this day together as jews.” i mean, some ppl are able to squeeze some of that out for rosh hashana and yom kippur, but lets be real, you’re just afraid youre gonna die so you’re trying to rack up some last minute points. come say hi to me and shake my hand when the spectre of death isn’t sitting on your living room couch drinking tea.

but anyways.

when i look at the labor day parade, im looking into a window into the past of what we were and into the future of what we can be again.  im not seeing that dude painted black with horns glued to his forehead surrounded by cantily sclad gyrating women, im seeing the ox with its gold covered horns carrying bikkurim surrounded by a procession of farmers and musicians bringing them to the bet hamikdash.  im not seeing the drunk dudes falling over themselves drinking guinness, im seeing a couple of guys who got caught up in the moment and feeling of simchat torah in yerushalayim and got a lil bit too carried away. im not seeing that girl convinced she can wear that too small flag as a dress…ok, so i am seeing that girl, but im also seeing the, um, y’know, the—okay so im just seeing the girl. 

but c’mon, she’s hot.

–MaNishtana

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Urban Parsha Ki Tavo [deut 26:1-29:8]

urban parsha”.  it’s just like regular torah.  but ghetto.

when y’all post up in the land, come holler at me. bring some grub by the crib.  some of them fruits and ish.  but the fresh stuff.  and imma need y’all to break the levite crew, that convert dude, the orphan and the widow off with some paper from time to time.  when y’all come through jordanville, i need y’all to get in the studio off gerizim and ebal and hook up some beats. i want sim-simma, l-veezy, ju da man, lil izzy, jo-jo, and bennie man to lay the bless tracks, and rubizzle, mr g, dr a, zeb’loon, d.a.n., and naphtallyman to spit the curse verses, aight? now im not sayin all this ish for my health.  i need y’all to do the damn thing. repsect the game and we got no beef.  i’ll make it rain for y’all. but if y’all wanna get reckless later and get yourselves all gassed up like you got things poppin, imma lace y’all up, buhlee dat. cuz im not feeling that ish. you know who i be? i can get plague and locust to roll deep on y’all.  call up some next dudes to bumrush y’all too. i will make ish hot up in this piece. have y’all running when no one’s busting shots. i’ll make sure that no one’ll wanna roll with y’all. have your shorty running off and have y’all cats eating each other and ish. that’s how i do. do y’all really wanna test this? y’all forgot how i rolled up on pharoah? or took out them og and sichon bustas? aight then.

[good lord i think i felt brain cells die writing that. and this is how some people speak?  for real?  cmon now, didnt what you just read seem even vaguely ridiculous?  well thats how you sound.  lets get it together black ppl.  acting black is acting black. acting ghetto is just acting stupid…

…as for “urban parsha“…hey, when something is really, truly, internally yours?  you can have a lot of fun with it.  shabbat shalom.]

–MaNishtana

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shemspeeding ticket

last thursday. bellhouse. 8:30. you had to be there. b/c that was when shemspeed broke my concert cherry with their shem summerfest closeout show.

first up for the night was six point star [http://www.myspace.com/thesixpointstar]. one: kudos to putting on such a good performance despite the fact there were only about 12 ppl in the audience at that point. two: kudos for being good, period. six point reminded of mid-to-late 90’s z-100 [yknow, back when they were still good and when rock hadn’t devolved into pop yet]. their sound was solid.  good vibrant rock not trying to be pop, not trying to climb out of the pop chasm, not aping the gin blossoms or pearl jam, original, refreshing, but familiar like an old friend you haven’t seen in a while.

next up and starting with a bang was…well, i don’t know their name b/c they don’t know their name, but we’ll just go with “eytan music” [http://www.myspace.com/eytanmusic]. excellent. [although i admit i saw a sax and a trombone and was hopefully expecting a lil bit more ska, but in retrospect i realize you need a couple of trumpets to pull that off]. anyhoo, imagine if queen, billy joel, the eagles, the beatles, bryan adams and night ranger all had a massive coke-induced orgy and gave birth to a child. you’d have eytan music, a multi-armed creature lubricated with melody. there was something comfortingly nostalgic about them that i couldn’t quite put my finger on. like i’d heard them on the soundtrack to my favorite movie circa 1987-92 during a particularly bittersweet moment but couldn’t remember what movie. also, they had something very key for concert full of jews: free cds.

third in line was a group i can only assume was can!!can based on the concert flyer. they were of the body-flailing-stage-writhing-crowd-jumping-super-heavy-death-metal-we’ve-got-satan-on-lead-guitar-and-beelzebub-doing-backup-vocals genre. apparently i draw the line at nin, rammstein, and tool. judging by the crowd can!!can was very good at what they did. i just didn’t like what it was that they were doing. again, not their fault, just not my thing.

after that brief detour onto cacophony drive, we merged back onto euphony highway with a [too] short solo performance by describe [http://www.myspace.com/describemusic] before the headlining dynamic duo of ylove [http://www.myspace.com/ylove] and describe took the stage. they were phenomenal as per usual [big surprise there, right? lol] and performed tracks off their “change” album [http://www.myspace.com/describeylove] such as “yaaleli”, “change”, and “make it”. now, i love “change” and “make it” [after all, i was in the videos. lol. yes, that was a shameless plug. deal with it] but the standout song for me that night was “bring it on down”. for some reason “bring it on down” breaks clear through the glass ceiling separating “jewish hip-hop” from “just hip-hop”.  i could’ve sworn fabolous or jermaine dupri was gonna come in for the next verse.

lastly, the final performance was brought to us by electro morocco, who deserved a much larger audience than the stragglers left behind after the describe/ylove performance. electro morocco was like hearing yoel sharabi in his heyday and that one sarit haddad song i like [“bosem tzarfati“]. however i am a lil bit mad that not only can’t i figure out how to purchase their music, they don’t even have the decency to have a shoddy enough myspace layout to allow me to steal their music off the site for free. [incidentally, im also looking at you, six point star].

all in all, an excellent show, even if it was held in the middle of nowhere surrounded by enough empty warehouses that one could conceivably be shanghied into a limo by edward g robinson and never be seen again.

finally, as ive promised to do for a while now, ive reviewed “until when”,  the debut album of artist prodezra, the beat-master behind the describe/ylove single “change”. [available here http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/prodezra, and here http://www.digstation.com/albumdetails.aspx?albumid=alb000030653, and on itunes]

first the bad news: “ein od milvado” and “the lamplighter” almost sound too similar to warrant separate tracks.  now the good news: they, and every other track on the cd, are awesome.

the tracks featuring nachman [“sound the alarm”, “one with him”, “stood at sinai”] are hard. there’s no other way to put it. you come away feeling a lil bit afraid that maybe the next gangsta you see might be rocking a kipah and tzitzit under the fitted cap and baggy jeans, or that the next black jew you run into keeps a glock in a hollowed out artscroll siddur. “from strength to strength” carries the same sentiment, and i just love the juxtaposition of an urbanized ashkenazi nusach with the [apparent] sounds of gunshots in the background. “the south niggun” is an infectiously addictive track that makes you very, very angry that it’s barely three minutes long. bless the good people at apple for creating the “repeat” option in itunes, b/c they’ll also have their hands full with the even more infectious and even shorterkoach”. “change”, the ylove/describe hit single, speaks for itself, but the instrumental track lets you hear the hard-grinding, ground-rumbling beat upfront and center like the front car of a rollercoaster. now if you’re trying to woo a jewish gal and get her in the mood…well, then you’re prolly breaking a gajillion rules, the least of which being yichud. so you might wanna hurry up and marry the girl so you can use “liora” to its fullest mellow, sensual potential. and maybe this is just my personal opinion, but i’d save the eponymous “until when” track and “masa l’geulah” for either the coldest of winter nights when you need something to make you get up and go, or for those hot hot summer days when you’re tooling down the highway with the top down. at any rate, get the cd. trust me.

–MaNishtana

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Urban Parsha Shoftim [deut 16:18-21:9]

urban parsha”.  it’s just like regular torah.  but ghetto.

and so G said, “so when y’all get up in the crib, y’all needs to set up some popo and 5-0. and make sure them cats ain’t shady, neither. also, don’t come up in My House with some busted looking heifer telling me “nah G, its cool. this is for you.”  that ish is not sweet. now y’all are gonna want someone over y’all like a boss, so go ahead and do you, but dude can’t be od-ing on all them rides, bagging mad dimepieces, and chasing that paper. if you happen to accidentally smoke a dude, i got you. i got some cribs set up where you can dip for a minute. when i tell y’all to roll up on some next cats, y’all be ready to roll out. but if you got a new crib you aint posted up in yet, or planted some trees you ain’t got to blaze yet, or bagged a shorty but aint wifed her up yet, or if you just straight up p*****, y’all aint got to roll with the crew.”

[good lord i think i felt brain cells die writing that. and this is how some people speak?  for real?  cmon now, didnt what you just read seem even vaguely ridiculous?  well thats how you sound.  lets get it together black ppl.  acting black is acting black. acting ghetto is just acting stupid…

…as for “urban parsha“…hey, when something is really, truly, internally yours?  you can have a lot of fun with it.  shabbat shalom.]

–MaNishtana

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Jewish is the New [insert nonexistent color here]

of all the aspects of african-american culture that black jews have at their disposal to integrate into judaism, why is it that the only one they seem to assimilate with little to no difficulty is the “uncle tom/aunt jemima/magical negro” paradigm?

you know what im talking about. those 30-40 year old grown black jewish men and women who run around with their teenaged white jewish “best friends”. the black jews who apparently come from some bizarro world where we roam the plains not unlike the wild buffaloes of yore, b/c when they see your black jewish @ss they look straight through you like you’re nothing special. or better yet, they try not to see you at all. even if youre the only two black people in the room. and everyone in their circle of all-white friends [who just adore their token ethnic acquisition] is pointing at you. then there are the ones who make painstakingly deliberate measures to seem as un-black as possible. [this includes but is not limited to shunning any and every form of music that black ppl have even looked at, let alone influenced, affecting a general ignorance of even the most publicly acknowledged of urban slang, playing the general yes-man  most especially and voraciously in cases critical of matters of or pertaining to african/caribbean peoples and/or their culture, the claiming of the most minute non-african portion of your dna as the determinant of your ethnicity, the declaration of “not seeing color/color doesn’t matter” in social or romantic situations which curiously only seems to apply when the person in question is not black, and professing a deep-seated hatred for “spicy” foods, affirmative action, fried chicken and red kool-aid]. then there’s the variant black jew. the one with “only one” syndrome.  this one shuns other black jews so he can tell his tale of woe and oppression alone.  apparently suffering isn’t very unique if there’s another guy with the same story. although i guess it is harder to be a martyr if you’re banding together with like-minded people with a common goal in mind. i mean, if change comes you might have to share the credit, G-d forbid…

a friend of mine once approached a black jew with skin as dark if not darker than my own shade of sexy milk-chocolate, and asked if he would be interested in partaking in a project showcasing jews of color. his response? [well, aside from saying “im not black. im a moor”?]

“ ill do it if you can tell me what a jew of color is.”

if i can–? motherf*cker, can you pass a paper bag test?  no? then congratulations. you’re a jew of color. and a field negro.

why my black jews?? why? why all the self-hate? do you think you’re not getting enough hate already as a black jew that you feel you need to double up? you do realize that being black and jewish is like being black with some more black added on, right? that if we happen to run across the klan they’re likely to lynch us twice?

now i realize that some of you get caught up at the conversion stage. ive heard more than twice about rabbis telling  black converts “you don’t have to worry about being black anymore b/c you’re jewish now”.

um, what?

more importantly, did you fill everyone else in? b/c im pretty sure when “black convert a” is walking down the street ppl aren’t thinking “my word, that jew has dark skin.” im reasonably sure they’re saying “why is that nigga dressed funny?”

 just sayin. if judaism had that magical power, im pretty sure michael jackson, bryant gumble, and larry elder would’ve just jumped in a mikveh and called it a day.

so please, my black jews, maybe you want to consider identifying with where you came from both jewishly and ethnically. yknow, maybe cut it down to only some ppl laughing at you. instead of everyone.

[incidentally, for those who think they are exempt from said public service announcement, feel free to replace “black” with “non-white ethnicity of choice”. if the shoe then fits, please proceed to kick yourself in the @ss and go find some damn self-respect.]

–MaNishtana

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Urban Parsha Re’eh [deut 11:26-16:17]

urban parsha”.  it’s just like regular torah.  but ghetto.

and so G said: “imma tell y’all straight up right now: y’all  can do the damn thing and we be cool or y’all can drop ship and we got beef. when y’all get up in the club, it’s on with them next g haters. let em know we up in this ish. smoke them fools and they fake a$$ g’s. i run israel…don’t be tryna swith up my flow, ya heard me? my verses be tight already, i don’t need yall messing with my bars. now if some next cat comes along tryna kick knowledge that i aint never co-signed on, then that cat is tryna clown y’all cuz he don’t run with me. don’t let him gas you up with some walking across water ish…when you up in my crib, break me off with some of that paper, cuz y’all need a reminder that I run this ish. i get money. now y’all better come through and holler at me at me in club. you know how we get crunk on the trifecta.

[good lord i think i felt brain cells die writing that. and this is how some people speak?  for real?  cmon now, didnt what you just read seem even vaguely ridiculous?  well thats how you sound.  lets get it together black ppl.  acting black is acting black. acting ghetto is just acting stupid…

…as for “urban parsha“…hey, when something is really, truly, internally yours?  you can have a lot of fun with it.  shabbat shalom.]

–MaNishtana

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Previously on “MaNishtana”…

well.  its been a week, hasnt it? full of discussions and disagreements and falling outs and such. to those of you who both here and outside of this blog understood what i was saying in “guess who’s coming to seder?” and its sister piece “this is the aftermath“, i truly thank you. im glad i could come across so many ppl who were on the same page with me and for the right reasons.

for those of you, commentors and others, who dont quite see eye-to-eye with me, i thank you as well. im not trying to make everyone think like me nor am i looking to accumulate a horde of yes-men. alternate viewpoints are always welcome and im glad [as well as pleasantly surprised] that we were able to carry on such a well thought out, respectful dialogue on the topic. i hope that despite our dissenting views on this topic you will all continue to visit this blog and give your input.

there will be a [sort of] revisiting of this topic in the near future, so i hope everyone is back for the ride. until then.

–MaNishtana

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This Is The Aftermath

a conversation held over facebook with aliza hausman of http://www.alizahausman.net/ concerning “guess who’s coming to seder“. enjoy.

manishtana

that wasnt what i was saying at all. i was saying that those jocs that there are enough of to create a group, should, if only to create a form of judaism that can stand alongside “ashkenazi” or “sephardi” or “temani” etc, etc. once that is established, then sure everyone can do what they want b/c theyll have a ground of “this is what i, as an [insert ethnic] jew bring to the minhag table. at seudah shilishit i eat ackee and saltfish, b/c this is what the blending of my culture and my judaism  has created”… never did i say that interracial marriages are ALWAYS never for love, never did i say that interracial marriages are ALWAYS someone trying to wash away ethncity.

alizahausman

i am sephardi. and ashkenazi. so obviously i have issues with that.

manishtana

but i, for example, am really neither. i may follow one or the other, but im not from either one. what i am saying is that instead of becoming the [ethnic] ashkenazi or sephardi, temani, etc, is that a jewish culture should be created that more accurately reflects where one who isnt one of these comes from. my post isnt about not marrying who you want…

alizahausman

it’s about marrying for community. i think u should post this in ur response to mine.

manishtana

…its about saying THIS here is what i am and what i follow, and this is what im bringing. b/c i feel that is why jocs in america are more seen as exotic creatures. b/c what really is distinguishing joc ashkenazi and white ashkenazi? the skin. but if we have a flair and style that makes the judaism uniquely ours, it would be a different FLAVOR of judaism which might be of interest and less on the outside appearance.

alizahausman

im out of this conversation even as a convert. i am a sephardic jew. rice, beans.

manishtana

by “ashkenaz” i mean ANY of the recognized groups. its just shorter to keep saying ashkenaz.

alizahausman

so u want recognition as ur own group? why don’t u write more about that.

manishtana

and this isnt limited to the “european” groups, but also to groups like “beta israel”. sure, i’m also black, but im NOT ethiopian, so following beta israel would not solve the problem either.

alizahausman

“european groups”?

manishtana

ashkenaz, sephard as opposed to yemenite, temani, morrocan, bukhari.

alizahausman

sephardim not all european.

manishtana

the sfardim who arent european i have usually found to be not really “sfardi” but another group like morrocan or mizrahi who are called sfardi under the blanket that theyre “not ashkenaz”.

alizahausman

i disagree.

manishtana

well again thats been my experience…ive only run into sfardim from spain or france or mizrahis and temanis. but more broadly, my point was its not a “i just wanna follow something black” b/c again, beta israel are black, but im not ethiopian, so its the same problem.

alizahausman

we’re obviously on a different page.

manishtana

i dont think we are.

alizahausman

but i do believe in valuing the traditions we come from.

manishtana

THATS EXACTLY WHAT IM SAYING! thats ALL im saying, really.

alizahausman

but ur saying u can’t do that if u marry outside ur race.

manishtana

no. im saying that too many times ive seen ppl throw away where they came from to ingratiate themselves to another race…im saying that just b/c you HAVE married outside ur race DOESNT mean that you’ve thrown away where you came from…im saying you dont HAVE to throw away where you came from just b/c you’re jewish…and im saying whats wrong with building a community with ppl of like experiences and shared backgrounds the way every other branch/sect/ethnic group/whatever of judaism has. im saying just b/c we’re one doesnt mean we cant be different, and just b/c we’re different doesnt mean we can’t be one.

alizahausman

i think u might want to clarify that on your post b/c that’s not what came across.

manishtana

im not sure how not. all the pieces are there and im sure i reiterated that in several places.

alizahausman

“well most don’t even phase me. korean/puerto-rican? cool. indian/haitian? whatever. but when the equation is caucasian/non-caucasian?” doesnt go anywhere good after that.

manishtana

sure it does. “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.””

alizahausman

true that was good. i dunno what to say. i don’t think u have to defend ur thoughts to me certainly. “non-white jews need to build community–one where we are accepted, not merely tolerated–and “interracial” relationships are not conducive to that.” i disagree.

manishtana

most times ive experienced that there’s ethnic x and ethnic x spends their time talking about  how theyre discriminated against and a need for community…then ethnic x gets married to non-ethnic, and suddenly the drive disappears…then ethnic x 2 comes along the same deal happens…then ethnic x 3,4, etc…all the while a community couldve been building…but they just dissolve into the greater picture making tiny impacts if any, where they couldve made one large one.

alizahausman

“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.” what do u mean by “their own”?

manishtana

“their own” meaning whoever there is that shares their background. im not asking the one random korean to hold out for a korean jewish girl. but if there are 10-15 male and females of whatever ethnicity, something can start to build there.

alizahausman

don’t i sort of defy ur little box? doesn’t mixedjewgirl? obviously i am very connected to latino culture and jewish culture and the mixture of both and jews of color and community for jews of color.

manishtana

you are quite honestly welcome exceptions to the rules. but you only prove my point.

alizahausman

how?

manishtana

why are you and mixedjewgirl around? you decided to SACRIFICE of your time and resources to be voices. there are joc children now that have voices to look to. voices that were not around when i was a kid.

alizahausman

i know. and i am sorry for that.

manishtana

its nothing to be sorry for. its a fact. for growth and consolidation to happen, sacrifices must be made.

alizahausman

i think u were very honest in ur post. i am just worried about how it can be weaponized by some. i am worried about a world vision that made it sound like my kids could only marry other jewish-dominican kids. i mean, i do KNOW other jewish-dominican kids. Lol. and i am building a community of them. but if they marry someone jewish-mexican i’ll eat more mexican food.

manishtana

and THATS what im talking about. collect those kids. if they stay with dominicans, fine. but if not, youve created a dominican “home” for them to belong to.

alizahausman

haha. i got it. u can write at the bottom of your post “please REREAD before commenting.” btw, kudos on having such good comments. i get such jerks lately i forget there are thoughtful wonderful jewish people out there reading blogs.

manishtana

dont worry. im new. if i make it, the jerks will come. like field of nightmares.

–MaNishtana

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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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