Jews of color, once sidelined, now being recruited by Jewish agencies

Posted in Articles, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, Social Justice, United States on 2021-09-22 01:46Z by Steven

Jews of color, once sidelined, now being recruited by Jewish agencies

The Jewish News of Northern California
2021-08-05

Rachele Kanigel, Professor of Journalism
San Francisco State University


Paula Pretlow (right) with her daughter Alison in Jerusalem.

During her 13 years as a lay leader in the Jewish community, Paula Pretlow couldn’t help but notice the obvious: When decisions were being made, she usually was the only Jew of color in the room.

As a retired executive of an investment management firm, Pretlow was a “catch” for Jewish organizations. She was well versed in the language of finance, and she had impressive professional experience and connections.

Shortly after she joined Temple Isaiah in Lafayette in 2007, her rabbi suggested she serve on its board of directors. Later, when she moved to San Francisco and joined Congregation Emanu-El, she was asked to join that board. And then a major national philanthropic organization, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, invited her to become a trustee.

Other leaders in the Jewish community sought her counsel. She was a macher, a person of influence. But as a Black woman, she rarely saw other Jews of color in similar positions of power.

That’s begun to change in the past year.

In the 14 months since the brutal murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer transfixed and transformed the nation, Pretlow has seen local and national Jewish organizations not only reach out to Jews of color but start to grapple with the racism that has festered for years in corners of the community…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

AMST 3407 – Racial Borders and American Cinema

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Course Offerings, Judaism, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, Religion, United States on 2021-09-04 00:47Z by Steven

AMST 3407 – Racial Borders and American Cinema

University of Virginia
Department of American Studies
Fall 2021

This class explores how re-occurring images of racial and ethnic minorities such as African Americans, Jews, Asians, Native Americans and Latino/as are represented in film and shows visual images of racial interactions and boundaries of human relations that tackle topics such as immigration, inter-racial relationships and racial passing.

For more information, click here.

Tags:

How I Learned to Love Myself as a Black Jew

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Gay & Lesbian, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2021-08-12 00:50Z by Steven

How I Learned to Love Myself as a Black Jew

alma.
2020-06-16

Aviva Davis
Oakland, California

While I am so proud to be a queer Jewish woman of color, it has taken an excruciating amount of work to reach this point.

As a child, I always knew I was Black, but I didn’t know what that meant for me as an individual. I certainly didn’t know how my Blackness intersected with my other identities, including my Jewishness. I didn’t even realize, when one of my friends asked me how I could believe in God but not Jesus, that my religion and my race were informing her question.

Cut to almost 10 years later, and I’m coming out of the closet. I am Black, I am Jewish, I am queer, and on top of all that, I’m a woman, too. Someone once said I decided to play the game of life on “Expert Mode.” I couldn’t help but laugh at such an accurate analogy, because although I am so proud to be a queer Jewish woman of color, it has taken an excruciating amount of work to reach this point and fully love myself…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: ,

Between Two Worlds

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Canada, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2020-07-06 21:01Z by Steven

Between Two Worlds

Toronto Life
2018-05-22

Anais Granofsky

I grew up in ​subsidized housing​ with my mom, ​and spent weekends with my wealthy grandparents at their Bridle Path mansion. If I wanted to be loved, I’d have to learn to live two lives

My mother, Jean Walker, was the 13th of 15 children, born in 1949 to a church-going black family on a farm in Ohio. The house had only two bedrooms, so her parents slept on a pull-out bed on the porch in the summer and in the living room in winter. Her seven brothers slept in one bedroom, while the eight sisters shared the other. They attended a small school where the white kids sat up front and the black students at the back, separated by a row of empty desks. When she wasn’t studying, she did chores around the farm. The girls planted the vegetable gardens with corn and green beans, churned butter, did laundry, and took care of the younger children. The boys helped with the heavy work and looked after the animals. “With 14 siblings,” my mother used to say, “you’d better get to the table quick, or you weren’t going to eat that day.” There was never enough food or money to go around, but the family didn’t feel poor. Everyone around them was in the same situation.

Jean was a sensitive girl who used to lie in the fields and watch the clouds scuttle by. Her parents were always quick with a whipping, and the casual violence wore on her soul. She found a cubbyhole in the back of a closet, where she’d hide out and devour books by the light of a bare bulb. Desperate to get away from her chaotic, rural home life, she worked tirelessly in high school to earn a scholarship to Antioch in Yellow Springs, Ohio, a liberal arts college and one of the first post-secondary schools to integrate. As a nascent feminist, she was drawn to Antioch’s progressive vibe. In 1971, she enrolled in women’s studies and journalism…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

‘Believe us’: Black Jews respond to the George Floyd protests, in their own words

Posted in Articles, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, Social Justice, Social Work, United States on 2020-06-14 00:18Z by Steven

‘Believe us’: Black Jews respond to the George Floyd protests, in their own words

Jewish Telegraphic Agency
2020-05-31

Josefin Dolsten, Staff Writer


Top left, clockwise, April Baskin, Anthony Russell, Yitz Jordan and Tema Smith. (Baskin: Jill Peltzman; Russell: Courtesy of Russell; Jordan: Courtesy of Jordan; Smith: Courtesy of Smith)

(JTA) — As Enzi Tanner participated in an online havdalah ceremony marking the end of Shabbat Saturday night, his city — Minneapolis — was being torn apart during a fifth night of unrest following the death of George Floyd, a black man, in police custody there last week.

Tanner, a social worker who supports LGBT families experiencing homelessness, said the ceremony — hosted by Jewish Community Action, a local social justice group, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, a national organization and Edot Midwest Regional Jewish Diversity Collaborative — conveyed a powerful message for black Jews like him.

“As the Jewish community reaches in and says how do we support their cause and how do we support the black community, it’s really important that people reach in to black Jews and other Jews of color and realize that we’re here,” Tanner said. “And we need our community.”

We reached out to black Jews like Tanner to understand their feelings at this wrenching moment and what their message is for the broader Jewish community. Here’s what they told us…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’m a Black and Jewish Woman. My Identity Matters.

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion on 2020-06-06 02:21Z by Steven

I’m a Black and Jewish Woman. My Identity Matters.

Kveller
2020-06-04

Faith Gabbay-Kalson

What are you?”

I have been asked this question on way too many occasions: in private, in public, by strangers, by people I was acquainted with, and by many who should have known better. Singled out, put on the spot.

What am I? Hmm… I’m a woman, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a friend, a lover of beautiful things, a designer, the list goes on. I’m human — at least that’s what I so naively assumed. Our single race has been divided up into category upon subcategory, and this world forces you into just a single, specific, and limiting box.

But what does one do when you sit on the fence between two vast divides?

I’m the daughter of a Jewish (white) mother and a Guyanese (Black) father. My story was split from the very start. However, it really is so much more complex than that. I was raised Jewish, running the gamut from Reform/Conservative all the way through to sectors of ultra-Orthodoxy. My story has evolved along the way. One thing remained constant, though: more boxes, more labels, not all of them choices…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: ,

The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Judaism, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion, United States on 2019-12-02 01:17Z by Steven

The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl

Agate Bolden (an imprint of Agate Publishing)
2019-11-12
256 pages
5.25 x 0.5 x 8 inches
Paperback ISBN-13: 9781572842755

Marra B. Gad, Inde­pen­dent Film and Tele­vi­sion Producer
Los Angeles, California

9781572842755.jpg

An unforgettable memoir about a mixed-race Jewish woman who, after fifteen years of estrangement from her racist great-aunt, helps bring her home when Alzheimer’s strikes

In 1970, three-day-old Marra B. Gad was adopted by a white Jewish family in Chicago. For her parents, it was love at first sight—but they quickly realized the world wasn’t ready for a family like theirs.

Marra’s biological mother was unwed, white, and Jewish, and her biological father was black. While still a child, Marra came to realize that she was “a mixed-race, Jewish unicorn.” In black spaces, she was not “black enough” or told that it was OK to be Christian or Muslim, but not Jewish. In Jewish spaces, she was mistaken for the help, asked to leave, or worse. Even in her own extended family, racism bubbled to the surface.

Marra’s family cut out those relatives who could not tolerate the color of her skin—including her once beloved, glamorous, worldly Great-Aunt Nette. After they had been estranged for fifteen years, Marra discovers that Nette has Alzheimer’s, and that only she is in a position to get Nette back to the only family she has left. Instead of revenge, Marra chooses love, and watches as the disease erases her aunt’s racism, making space for a relationship that was never possible before.

The Color of Love explores the idea of yerusha, which means “inheritance” in Yiddish. At turns heart-wrenching and heartwarming, this is a story about what you inherit from your family—identity, disease, melanin, hate, and most powerful of all, love. With honesty, insight, and warmth, Marra B. Gad has written an inspirational, moving chronicle proving that when all else is stripped away, love is where we return, and love is always our greatest inheritance.

Tags: , , , ,

Color Me In, A Novel

Posted in Books, Judaism, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, Religion, United States on 2019-08-20 13:28Z by Steven

Color Me In, A Novel

Delacorte Press (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
2019-08-20
384 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780525578239
eBook ISBN: 9780525578246
Audiobook ISBN: 9781984889140

Natasha Díaz

Color Me In

Debut YA author Natasha Díaz pulls from her personal experience to inform this powerful coming-of-age novel about the meaning of friendship, the joyful beginnings of romance, and the racism and religious intolerance that can both strain a family to the breaking point and strengthen its bonds.

Who is Nevaeh Levitz?

Growing up in an affluent suburb of New York City, sixteen-year-old Nevaeh Levitz never thought much about her biracial roots. When her Black mom and Jewish dad split up, she relocates to her mom’s family home in Harlem and is forced to confront her identity for the first time.

Nevaeh wants to get to know her extended family, but one of her cousins can’t stand that Nevaeh, who inadvertently passes as white, is too privileged, pampered, and selfish to relate to the injustices they face on a daily basis as African Americans. In the midst of attempting to blend their families, Nevaeh’s dad decides that she should have a belated bat mitzvah instead of a sweet sixteen, which guarantees social humiliation at her posh private school. Even with the push and pull of her two cultures, Nevaeh does what she’s always done when life gets complicated: she stays silent.

It’s only when Nevaeh stumbles upon a secret from her mom’s past, finds herself falling in love, and sees firsthand the prejudice her family faces that she begins to realize she has a voice. And she has choices. Will she continue to let circumstances dictate her path? Or will she find power in herself and decide once and for all who and where she is meant to be?

Tags: , , , ,

Natasha Díaz on Turning Her Black Jewish Childhood Into a YA Novel

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Judaism, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2019-08-15 17:41Z by Steven

Natasha Díaz on Turning Her Black Jewish Childhood Into a YA Novel

Alma
2019-08-15

Emily Burack, Associate Editor

Natasha Díaz was 9 years old when she and her mom went on Oprah to talk about the experience of being a multiracial family. Díaz, who has a Jewish father and a Liberian and Brazilian mom, had recently been featured in a documentary called Between Black & White. When Oprah asked her a question, young Natasha froze up (you can watch the video here).

Well, she is freezing up no longer — Díaz’s debut YA novel, Color Me In, fictionalizes her childhood and tells the coming-of-age story of Navaeh Levitz. Navaeh is a Black Jewish teenager whose father forces her to have a belated bat mitzvah at age 16. Navaeh’s parents are in the midst of a divorce, and the bat mitzvah is her father’s way of having her stay connected to his family. Meanwhile, Navaeh is struggling to figure out her identity, her relationship to her blackness, her privilege, a blossoming relationship, and her family. It’s a compelling and timely read.

We had the chance to chat with Díaz about writing Color Me In, #OwnVoices in young adult literature, and connecting with her Jewish identity.

How close does the protagonist Naveah’s experience as a Black Jewish teenager mirror your own?

I would say in a lot of ways it’s similar, and in a lot of ways it’s very different.

We have very similar backgrounds, racially and religiously. I am multiracial, she’s biracial. I’m Brazilian, Liberian, and Jewish, where she’s just half-Black and half-Jewish. And my parents separated, similar to her, although mine separated when I was much younger than she was. And, as a result of my parents’ divorce, it was literally in the divorce papers that I had to be raised Jewish.

Aside from that, I would say we’re completely different. I was raised very immersed in my culture, especially on my mom’s side, which is where the Black and Brazilian side is. My parents had split custody [over me], so I spent time with both families, but I’m closer to my mom’s family because a lot of my dad’s family doesn’t live in New York City. Where Naveah was sheltered from her identity, I was very immersed in mine.

It doesn’t mean that we haven’t, at times, shared a lot of the same insecurities, like feeling you don’t really fit in in either world, or you’re not really sure what part of yourself you have a right to claim or own. I’ve never had an extremely religious connection to Judaism. Culturally, though, especially growing up in New York City, there’s a lot of Jewish cultural things that I connect to on a personal level…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , , , ,

Three Things the Jewish Community Can Do Better, According to a Mixed-Race Jewish Professional

Posted in Articles, Canada, Interviews, Judaism, Media Archive, Passing, Religion on 2019-05-24 20:42Z by Steven

Three Things the Jewish Community Can Do Better, According to a Mixed-Race Jewish Professional

My Jewish Learning
2018-05-23

Ruth Abusch-Magder, Education Director and Rabbi-in-Residence
Be’chol Lashon


Tema Smith

Tema Smith’s own experiences as a mixed race person shape her vision as a Jewish professional.

Tema Smith is often mistaken for white, but this mixed-race Jew is proud of both her Bahamian and Ashkenazi roots. She is also one of a growing number of Jews of color who are making careers in the Jewish world. We met up with Smith to learn about her professional life and personal experience and to hear what advice she has for Jewish institutions.

Be’chol Lashon: Tell us about your job.

Smith: I am the Director of Community Engagement at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto, Canada’s largest Reform congregation. Not only do I ensure that the basics of synagogue life, like becoming a member and connecting with the community, are smooth, but it is also my responsibility to keep the door wide open for prospective members. It also includes creating partnerships in the community and making connections more broadly…

…Be’chol Lashon: Does being mixed-race play into the work you do at Holy Blossom?

Smith: Being mixed-race has always given me a broader perspective on the work I do. I came into this work as someone who had only been an observer, and not as someone who grew up in the Jewish community, which has made me attuned to the experiences of those who are new to the community. As I mentioned before, the fact that we were not part of Toronto’s Jewish community had a lot to do with our family’s racial makeup. This makes me especially aware of the barriers to participation that people face and pushes me to work harder on inclusion, which is what we need to do to ensure the Jewish future as the demographics shift and we become more multicultural and multiracial. I find that my position as both an insider and outsider to Jewish life lets people open up to me. I am upfront about my identity, coming from both an interfaith and an interracial family. Because of that, I’ve noticed that it is not uncommon for people to share information about their lives that they are not sure the synagogue would welcome knowing, like their own faith journey or lack of observance.

Additionally, because I pass as a white Jew, I am able to walk into communal spaces and challenge some of the assumptions of who the Jewish community insiders are. My very existence often breaks down stereotypes of who we imagine to be a committed or engaged Jew…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , , , ,