Black & Jewish in New Orleans

Posted in Articles, Louisiana, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2014-04-04 02:16Z by Steven

Black & Jewish in New Orleans

BrassyBrown.com: where women of color are first in line
2014-04-01

Marian Moore, Guest Blogger

December of 2013 found me in San Diego, California this year, attending the fiftieth Biennial of the Women of Reform Judaism. Although, this was the organization’s centennial, WRJ actually began at my synagogue in 1900 as “the Sisterhood”, the name still used by most members. When I look at our official history, I find that the Sisterhood began as a ladies auxiliary. In 1900, they took on the task of selecting the furnishings for the synagogue and maintaining the new synagogue building. In later years, they did everything from comforting the sick, funding the purchase of an organ, preparing holiday synagogue meals, and sponsoring scholarships at the rabbinical college in Cincinnati. WRJ, The Sisterhood, is still the critical heart of the synagogue. They ensure that things get done. The President of each synagogue chapter is responsible for representing the chapter on the synagogue board and responsible for defining what tasks the chapter will accept.

This was my third biennial but my first as the President of my synagogue chapter. Each time that I’ve attended these national gatherings, there are more jews of color (JOC) participants than the prior time. I attended many small panel discussions where I was the only non-white woman in the room, but when I attended the group discussions with more than one hundred attendees that was never the case. Many of our blended identities were present, from Jewish and African-American, Jewish and Asian-American, Jewish and Latina, et. al. While I was there to find out how to increase membership in my own synagogue Sisterhood, I was interested to listen as the hierarchy of both the women’s organization and the Reform movement wrestled with the recognition of the diversity of Reform Judaism and jewish life in general. I see evidence of that struggle in my life in New Orleans…

Read the entire article here.

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Before Green and Bouchet, another African American Yale College grad. Maybe.

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2014-03-25 21:41Z by Steven

Before Green and Bouchet, another African American Yale College grad. Maybe.

Yale Alumni Magazine
2014-03-07

Mark Alden Branch ’86

Just last Friday, we told you that the first African American to graduate from Yale College was not Edward Bouchet in 1874, but Richard Henry Green in 1857. Since then, though, we’ve been reminded of two other nineteenth-century alumni whose histories complicate—or problematize, as they like to say in the academy—our attempt to name the first African American graduate.

The most fascinating case surrounds Moses Simons, Class of 1809, who is, oddly enough, considered to be Yale’s first Jewish graduate. (Dan Oren ’79, ’84MD, makes that case for Simons in his book Joining the Club: A History of Jews at Yale.) But two scholars, relying almost exclusively on an account of an 1818 criminal assault trial in New York, have advanced the claim that Simons was African American—most likely, they say, the son of a Jewish man, also named Moses Simons, and of an African American mother…

Read the entire article here.

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New Contenders Emerge in Quest to Identify Yale’s First African-American Graduate

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2014-03-18 02:48Z by Steven

New Contenders Emerge in Quest to Identify Yale’s First African-American Graduate

The New York Times
2014-03-16

Ariel Kaminer

For Richard Henry Green, recently declared to have been Yale College’s first known African-American graduate, fame, or at least the certainty of his claim on history, was fleeting.

Just last month, an Americana specialist at the Swann Auction Galleries made public the discovery that Mr. Green, the son of a New Haven bootmaker, had attended Yale 17 years before Edward Bouchet, an 1874 graduate previously thought to have broken its color barrier. But while Mr. Bouchet spent a century and a half on that pedestal, his accomplishments praised with every honor, from academic symposiums to undergraduate fellowships to a portrait in Yale’s main library, the scant weeks since Mr. Green unseated him have brought nothing but new challengers.

According to an article in the journal Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, a man named Moses Simons may in fact have been the first undergraduate to break Yale’s color barrier. This possibility is remarkable not just because Mr. Simons graduated long before either of the two previous contenders — all the way back in 1809, when Thomas Jefferson was president — but because Mr. Simons is already celebrated for breaking an entirely different sort of barrier…

…The record of Mr. Simons’s trial includes references to him as “coloured,” and to the discomfort that he aroused in some “Southern gentlemen.” And the author of that trial record ended his account with a rant about keeping America free of “the African tinge.”

What’s more, a number of men in the Jewish, slave-owning Simons family of Charleston, S.C., were known to have fathered children of mixed race.

But as strongly as the trial record implies African ancestry, Dale Rosengarten, founding director of the Jewish Heritage Collection at the College of Charleston, cautioned that “unless you can actually know who the parents were, you don’t actually know.” She added: “If this man did have a dark complexion, darker than the average Caucasian, it’s possible that he had other admixtures.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Christine Buckley helped shift cultural axis on child abuse

Posted in Articles, Europe, Media Archive, Religion, Social Work on 2014-03-13 18:58Z by Steven

Christine Buckley helped shift cultural axis on child abuse

The Irish Times
2014-03-12

Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent


From Broadstreet.ie

Those who insist that history is about movements not individuals might reflect on the achievements of Christine Buckley.

Her story is history as driven by one person. She was an original, a pioneer in exposing how badly this State “cherished” many of its children, whatever their age, throughout most of the 20th century, up to 1996 when the last Magdalene laundry closed. If a high point of much of her work was then taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s 1999 apology on behalf of the State to all who had been in residential institutions as children, as well as his announcement then of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Ryan Commission) and the setting up of the Residential Institutions Redress Board, it was not all.

It is no exaggeration to claim that such huge shift in the cultural axis of Ireland, made possible by Christine Buckley, paved the way for the Murphy Commission which investigated the handling of clerical sexual abuse allegations in Dublin and Cloyne dioceses, as well as the McAleese committee which investigated the Magdalene laundries…

…Her own story, as we now know, was in many ways typical. Through its telling she liberated others to do likewise, and not just from an institutional context. Writing in this newspaper in 1997 she recalled: “My mother lived within 20 minutes of the orphanage where I was placed as a child. I never knew it. Nobody seemed to know it. After a two-year courtship she took the baby boat to England in 1946 to hide, to wait and to give birth to her dark secret.

“She forgot to tell my father that she was separated from her husband. She forgot to tell him she already had children, one of them in an institution. Two weeks after my birth we returned to Ireland. My father refused to support her. The following day she placed me with, an adoption agency, vehemently refusing to sign the adoption papers and nobody asked her why.

“Guilt ridden, my father tracked me down six months later in a baby home. For six years he was the pivot of my life until one Saturday he never came back.”…

…Her campaign began after she met her birth mother for the first time in 1985. Three years later she travelled to Nigeria to meet her father. She “told him about my life in Goldenbridge . . . and how I intended to go public about the horrors of that place once he returned to Ireland to meet my children.”…

Read the entire article here.

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New Rabbi at Manhattan’s Central Synagogue ‘a Pioneer’

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Religion, United States, Women on 2014-01-28 18:44Z by Steven

New Rabbi at Manhattan’s Central Synagogue ‘a Pioneer’

The Wall Street Journal
2014-01-17

Sophia Hollander

Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl Is Daughter of a Korean Buddhist Immigrant and an American Jew

Growing up as the daughter of a Korean Buddhist immigrant and an American Jew in Tacoma, Wash., Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl said some family members always wondered: Could she ever be fully accepted as a Jew?

Any lingering doubts were eliminated last week when the congregation of Midtown’s historic Central Synagogue voted her to succeed Rabbi Peter Rubinstein, 71, when he retires later this year. Her appointment will take effect July 1.

Rabbi Buchdahl, who is 41, will become one of only a few women—and likely the only Asian-American—leading a major U.S. synagogue. Central Synagogue boasts 100 full-time employees and an endowment that exceeds $30 million.

“She really is a pioneer,” said Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson, president of the Wexner Foundation, which develops Jewish leaders in North America and Israel. “She represents a new generation of women.” According to the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the largest rabbinical organization in North America, about 30% of Reform-movement rabbis are women.

Her appointment comes at a critical moment for American Judaism. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that the number of U.S. adults identifying as Jewish has dropped by half since the late 1950s. Fewer than a third of Jewish adults said they belonged to a synagogue, temple or other congregation…

…In addition to her unusual cultural heritage, Rabbi Buchdahl has been quick to blur other lines. According to the Central Conference of American Rabbis, she is one of only about a dozen people in the U.S. and Canada ordained as both a rabbi and a cantor

Read the entire article here.

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The Mixed Marriage

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Family/Parenting, Interviews, New Media, Religion, United States on 2014-01-12 16:18Z by Steven

The Mixed Marriage

The New York Times
2014-01-11

Interview by Lise Funderburg

Lise Funderburg, a journalist, interviewed Yael Ben-Zion, a photographer raised in Israel, about her new book, “Intermarried,” published by Kehrer, which features families from the Washington Heights neighborhood where she lives with her French husband and 5-year-old twins.

Q. What inspired this project?

A. I saw an Israeli television campaign that showed faces on trees and bus stops, like missing children ads. A voice-over said, “Have you seen these people? Fifty percent of young Jewish people outside of Israel marry non-Jews. We are losing them.” I happen to be married to a person who is not Jewish. And, so for me it was, “Aah, they’re losing me.” I’m not religious, but this campaign made me wonder more generally why people choose to live with someone who is not from their immediate social group, and what challenges they face.

Q. How did you establish your taxonomy for what qualified as mixed?

A. I wasn’t going to go in the street and ask couples if they were mixed. I didn’t grow up here; I didn’t even know what terminology to use. But I live in a very diverse Manhattan community that has an online parent list with more than 2,000 families on it. I put up an ad saying I was looking for couples that define themselves as mixed. I said it could be different religion, ethnicity or social background. I didn’t use the word race, because I wasn’t sure how politically correct that was. All the couples who responded are either interfaith or interracial or both, but my goal from the beginning wasn’t to create some statistical visual document. For example, I have hardly any Asian people, and I don’t think there are any Muslims, and the reason is that they didn’t approach me…

Read the entire interview and view the slide shows here.

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Intermarried

Posted in Arts, Books, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion, United States on 2014-01-12 15:59Z by Steven

Intermarried

Kehrer Verlag Heidelberg
2013
128 pages
57 color ills.
24 x 29.5 cm
English
Hardcover ISBN 978-3-86828-418-8

Photography by: Yael Ben-Zion

Text by: Amy Chua, Maurice Berger, Yael Ben-Zion

Yael Ben-Zion uses photography and text to reflect on intermarriage.

Following her award-winning monograph 5683 miles away (Kehrer 2010), in Intermarried Yael Ben-Zion fixes her camera on another personal but politically charged theme: intermarriage. Ben-Zion initiated the project in 2009 by contacting an online parent group in Washington Heights, her Manhattan neighborhood, inviting couples who define themselves as “mixed” to participate. Her own marriage “mixed,” she was interested in the many challenges faced by couples who choose to share their lives regardless of their different origins, ethnicities, races or religions.

Through layered images and revealing texts (including excerpts from a questionnaire she asked her subjects to fill out), Intermarried weaves together fragments of reality to compose a subtle narrative that deals with the multifaceted issues posed by intermarriage.

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The trouble with ‘passing’ for another race/sexuality/religion…

Posted in Articles, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, Passing, Religion on 2014-01-02 21:50Z by Steven

The trouble with ‘passing’ for another race/sexuality/religion…

The Guardian
2014-01-02

Koa Beck
Brooklyn, New York

The broadening of the definition historically used for those of mixed-race who ‘passed’ as white exposes the power of privilege

Racial passing“, or “passing”, was originally coined to define the experience of mixed raced individuals, particularly in America, who were accepted as a member of a different racial group, namely white. Although passing dates all the way back to the 18th century, the term didn’t prominently surface in the American lexicon until around the 19th century, specifically with a slew of literature. Mark Twain and Charles Chesnutt were among the early American novelists to explore this phenomenon, but Nella Larson’s 1929 novel Passing was the first English language book to explicitly brand itself with the term.

Many years and an entire civil rights movement later, passing still carries a largely racially charged definition – especially for me. As an American biracial woman who passes as white, I live daily with a pronounced array of privileges that are coupled with the assumption that I am white. But my passing isn’t just limited to my racial identity. I’ve also spent several chapters of my young adulthood unwillingly passing as something else: straight. A fairly conventional femininity has imbued me – at least at first glance – with heterosexual privilege, even though I’m partnered to a woman.

And I’m not alone. As LGBTQ rights continue to become more visible, complications within identity continue to overlap with the collective and individual experience of passing. The result is that passing has greatly expanded over the last century from its original racial roots to include many marginalised identities, underscoring intersectionality within American identity…

Read the entire article here.

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Melissa Harris-Perry: LGBT Advocates Need Public Progressive Faith

Posted in Articles, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2014-01-02 20:21Z by Steven

Melissa Harris-Perry: LGBT Advocates Need Public Progressive Faith

Religion Dispatches
Sexuality/Gender
University of Southern California

2011-05-31

Peter Montgomery, Associate Editor

Political scientist Melissa Harris-Perry has developed a devoted following with her appearances on Bill Moyers Journal and Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show, and her insightful commentaries on race, history, politics and culture in The Nation and elsewhere. Less well known among progressive activists may be that the self-described social-scientific data geek also makes a compelling case for a more powerful progressive religious voice in the public arena.

On May 23 (in the midst of a very public debate with her former Princeton colleague Cornel West) Harris-Perry gave the keynote address at the Human Rights Campaign’s Clergy Call, which drew hundreds of LGBT-equality-supporting clergy to Washington, D.C. for inspiration, mutual support, training, and lobbying visits on Capitol Hill.

The Civil Rights Agenda of Our Time

“My work is based in the empirical, not in the spiritual… I like data points. I like survey analysis. So what in the world am I doing here, an empirical social scientist straight girl at a clergy call around LGBT issues?” she asked. Her answer: “I believe that the struggle for equal human and civil rights for lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, same-sex-loving, gender-nonconforming and queer persons is the civil rights agenda of our time.” And, she said, “faith must be part of the work we’re doing.”   

The religious history of Harris-Perry’s own family has the sweep of an American saga. Her mother, whose Mormon ancestors pushed handcarts across the country to their promised land in Utah, graduated from Brigham Young University in 1964, having spent most of her time there, Harris-Perry says, writing articles about Mormon womanhood. Meanwhile, her father, whose great-great-grandmother was sold as a slave on a street corner in Richmond, Virginia, attended Howard University where he was “converted to Black nationalism” and shared a room with Stokely Carmichael. By the time her mother and father met in Seattle in the early 1970s, each had become a parent and had been divorced. After they had Melissa, they moved their blended family and children—white, black, and mixed-race—to Virginia in the immediate aftermath of the civil rights movement. “In that context you had to be Unitarian Universalist,” she said to knowing laughter…

Read the entire article here.

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Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion on 2013-12-20 21:52Z by Steven

Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family

Beacon Press
2013-10-22
264 pages
5.5″ X 8.5″ inches
Cloth ISBN: 978-080701319-9

Susan Katz Miller

A book on the growing number of interfaith families raising children in two religions

Susan Katz Miller grew up with a Jewish father and Christian mother, and was raised Jewish. Now in an interfaith marriage herself, she is one of the growing number of Americans who are boldly electing to raise children with both faiths, rather than in one religion or the other (or without religion). In Being Both, Miller draws on original surveys and interviews with parents, students, teachers, and clergy, as well as on her own journey, to chronicle this controversial grassroots movement.

Almost a third of all married Americans have a spouse from another religion, and there are now more children in Christian-Jewish interfaith families than in families with two Jewish parents. Across the country, many of these families are challenging the traditional idea that they must choose one religion. In some cities, more interfaith couples are raising children with “both” than Jewish-only. What does this mean for these families, for these children, and for religious institutions?

Miller argues that there are distinct benefits for families who reject the false choice of “either/or” and instead embrace the synergy of being both. Reporting on hundreds of parents and children who celebrate two religions, she documents why couples make this choice, and how children appreciate dual-faith education. But often families who choose both have trouble finding supportive clergy and community. To that end, Miller includes advice and resources for interfaith families planning baby-welcoming and coming-of-age ceremonies, and seeking to find or form interfaith education programs. She also addresses the difficulties that interfaith families can encounter, wrestling with spiritual questions (“Will our children believe in God?”) and challenges (“How do we talk about Jesus?”). And finally, looking beyond Judaism and Christianity, Being Both provides the first glimpse of the next interfaith wave: intermarried Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist couples raising children in two religions.

Being Both is at once a rousing declaration of the benefits of celebrating two religions, and a blueprint for interfaith families who are seeking guidance and community support.

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