Hanukkah (aka Chanukah) is the Jewish festival of lights and one of the most joyous celebrations of the Judaic calendar, including present-giving, game playing and the consumption of diet-busting delicacies.

MOT stage and television actress Nicolette Robinson & “Hamilton” Tony Award winning hubby, Leslie Odom Jr.

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In Jamaica, Hanukkah means Freedom

Hanukkah is the eight-day holiday commemorating the miracle of the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Revolt of the Maccabees in the 2nd century BCE. One of the major observances is the kindling of the lights in an eight-branched Hanukkah Menorah, also called a Hanukkiah. As in the rest of the Diaspora, this Jewish holiday is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Jamaica. Read more…here

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 Hanukkah in Kingston Jamaica

 Wishing You Hanukkah Lovin’

jewish children

The miracle of Chanukah is not just about a little bit of oil lasting eight days. It is about the inner healing light within each of us. Chanukah is a time when we can celebrate this inner healing light as we move toward wellness. Chanukah is also about the miracle of survival against all odds, about hope, courage and belief in one’s ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Chanukah Candle-Lighting Blessings

First night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our bodies.

Second night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our minds.

Third night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our souls.

Fourth night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our children.

Fifth night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our parents.

Sixth night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our communities.

Seventh night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the restoration of health and wellness to those who are ill, suffering, or grieving.

Eighth night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our world.

Shamash:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows through the Shekinah, the Source of Healing Wisdom and Inner Light.

Special thanks to Rabbi Malka Drucker, whose Hanukkah teaching can be found at malkadrucker.com

Mi yimalel gvurot Yisrael, Otan mi yimne?

Hen be’chol dor yakum ha’gibor

Goel ha’am!

Shma! Ba’yamim ha’hem ba’zman ha’ze

Maccabi moshia u’fode

U’v’yameinu kol am Yisrael

Yitached yakum ve’yigael!

Who can retell the things that befell us, Who can count them?

In every age, a hero or sage

Came to our aid.

Hark! In days of yore in Israel’s ancient land

Brave Maccabeus led the faithful band

But now all Israel must as one arise

Redeem itself through deed and sacrifice.

NACOEJ Ethiopian Embroidery Program. Stunning craftmanship!

NACOEJ - Ethiopian Jewish EmbroideryHandmade Embroidered Artwork can be order at: North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ)

 DID YOU KNOW?

…in Germany, the eighth and last night of Chanukah used to be very special. All the leftover wicks and oil were lit in giant bonfires. People sang songs and danced around the fire, often until the small hours of the night.

…in Yemen it was the tradition to light bon fires according to the days of hanukkah

…Turkish Jews make candles from the flax fibers used to wrap the etrog. The remains of these Chanukah candles are then melted together to make another candle used to search for bread crumbs pre-Passover.

…If you are an Ashkenazi Jew (of European ancestry) it is traditional for every family member to light a hanukkiah (menorah). If you are a Sephardi (descended from Spain and Portuguese Jews) only the head of the household lights the hanukkiah.

Sfenj (Moroccan Hanukkah Doughnuts)-c71e5d9a63fc3479

Ingredients

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2-3/4 to 3 cups of warm water (about 100 degrees), divided
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • Honey, for drizzling on cooked doughnuts

Instructions

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. In a small bowl, dissolve active dry yeast and sugar in one cup of the warm water. Set aside until the mixture becomes foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour and add 1-3/4 cups water. If the dough is heavy and a bit dry, add remaining water. Dough should be soft and smooth, but no so soft that it seems like batter.

Stir the dough until you get a nice, somewhat sticky mixture.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour. With oiled hands, reach under the dough and bring the bottom to the top and fold over. Repeat 3 to 4 more times until the dough has completely deflated. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Heavily flour a work surface. Flour your hands well and pull off a small handful of dough and squeeze it in your hand to get a single small ball of dough the size of a golf ball. Toss the ball in the flour and using your thumb, poke a hole all the way through the dough ball. Stretch the ball into a doughnut shape, about 3-1/2-inches wide. Lay on the floured surface and repeat with remaining dough.

In a heavy skillet, heat 2 inches of canola oil to 350 degrees over medium-high heat. Working in batches of 4 to 6 doughnuts (depending on the size of your skillet), gently slide doughnuts into the oil, being careful not to splash. Fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes each side.

Transfer doughnuts to a plate lined with a paper towel, and allow to drain and cool slightly. Drizzle lightly with honey before serving.

The story of the Maccabees still speak to us today, lighting our homes with faith and filling our hearts with pride.

Hanukkah, Artist Varda Livney

Shavuot, the Feast of the Weeks, is the Jewish holiday celebrating the harvest season in Israel. Shavuot, which means “weeks”, refers to the timing of the festival which is held exactly 7 weeks after Passover. Shavuot also commemorates the anniversary of the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai. The Book of Ruth is read during Shavuot. Ruth, a convert, was the model of Torah acceptance and the great-great-grandmother of King David.

King David, Ethiopian Jewish Embroidery, NACOEJ

Judaism has welcomed those who voluntarily become Jews and considers them full-fledged members of the Jewish community. The Hebrew Bible, as well as later Jewish texts, includes examples of such individuals. The most famous and honored example appears in the biblical book of Ruth, where Ruth joins the Jewish people and eventually becomes the great-great grandmother of King David, from whose descendants, according to Jewish tradition, the Messiah will come.

In our day, most Jews welcome wholeheartedly those who have chosen to become Jews. Nonetheless, some Jews-by-choice report occasional offensive comments directed toward them. Although the reasons for such attitudes are complicated, they are based on ignorance and prejudice and are by no means sanctioned by Judaism. As more and more Jews-by-choice enter the Jewish community, as we promote education about Jewish views of conversion and sensitivity to Jews-by-choice, and as public discussion of such a choice grows more commonplace, these negative views continue to fade.

THERE ARE NO “CONVERTS’ IN JUDAISM – ONLY JEWS (PDF) by Rabbi Moshe Ben Asher & Magidah Khulda bat Sarah

On Shavuot, it is customary to eat dairy dairy food. Some say it harks back to King Solomon’s portrayal of the Torah as “honey and milk are under your tongue”


Ruth & Naomi, original art by Hillary Silvester of baruchdesigns.com: Ruth Makes an Eternal Vow to Naomi. Hebrew Text: Your People are my People, Your God is my God.

Shavuot Foods Span a Myriad of Cultures

Ashkenazic: Hungarian blintzes, called palascinta, evolved as a first-cousin to the French crepe and became another popular food for Shavuot.

Beet borscht from Russia and the Ukraine, often served with sour cream, as well as cucumber soups, cheese pastries, strudel and schav – sorrel soup – are popular Shavuot foods.

Some families make challah for Shavuot with a ladder of dough on top to symbolize the giving of the Torah. Others add a set of tablets made from dough for the Ten Commandments.

Cheese kreplach became a specialty of Shavuot, according to Claudia Roden in “The Jewish Book of Jewish Food.” This stuffed pasta traveled from Venice, Italy in the 14th century to the Jews of Germany, along with other noodles which came from Italy. These evolved into lokshen kugel, dairy noodle pudding with cheese, also a holiday favorite.

Sephardic:
In “The Sephardic Kitchen,” Rabbi Robert Sternberg writes that some Sephardim make a braided round loaf centerpiece called los siete cielos, the bread of the seven heavens, whose bread is referred to as el monte, representing Mount Sinai. The seven rings of dough surrounding the mount refer to the seven holy living spaces through which the soul ascends to heaven.



Yemenite Jews:
Because the Yemenite Jews from Southern Arabia do not consider themselves a part of either the Ashkenazim or Sephardim, they do not eat dairy foods on Shavuot and presume the children of Israel knew about kashrut while waiting for Moses. They do study Torah all night and in the morning, they eat malawach, a pancake bread, with something dairy.

For other Shavuot meals, they eat meat and pita or traditional Shabbat foods with their condiments – schug, the paste made with red peppers and spices; and hilbe, a paste made with fenugreek seeds.

Jews of Persia:
In her book, “Jewish Cooking from Boston to Baghdad,” Malvin W. Liebman uncovered some interesting research about Persian Jewish eating on Shavuot. She writes that the holiday symbolized the marriage of God and the people of Israel to the Jews of Persia, so they prepare for it like a wedding, serving grain and cereal dishes, fruits and sweets.



Iraqi Jews:
Kahee, a food made from a dough which has been rolled flat, buttered, folded into squares and fried then sprinkled with sugar on top, is eaten for Shavuot by Iraqi Jews.

Tunisian/Moroccan/Libyan Jews: Some Tunisian and Moroccan Jews eat a seven-layer cake called sieta cielos (seven heavens) for Shavuot. It represents the seven spheres of God, passed in order to present the Torah to Moses. Jews from Tripoli make various shaped wafers for Shavuot. Some like a ladder, others like a hand and others like two tablets.

Moroccan Jews recite the Kiddush on Shavuot eve they take a few pieces of Matza that they saved from Passover and break them into small pieces. They then make a mixture of honey and milk. Immediately after, they blend the Matza pieces into the mix. Everyone gets their own portion, savoring the taste of this Shavuot treat.

Syrian Jews: Atayef, a filled cheese pancake, and ruz ib asal, a baked rice pudding with honey and rose water, are traditional for Shavuot.

Kurdistan Jews: For Shavuot, Jews from Kurdistan prepare a ground wheat dish, cooked in sour milk and served with butter and flour dumplings.

Greek /Turkish/Balkan Jews: Greek and other Sephardic communities serve cheese pastries and pies and delicacies based on cheese, eggs, milk and yogurt for their main meals during Shavuot. They also bake special breads with symbols on the surface of the bread such as a mountain like Mount Sinai, tablets of law, a scroll with pointing hands, Jacob’s ladder, a well in the desert or a serpent. Roscas, sweet yeast bread rings, sometimes braided, called tsoureki in Greek, are also served with cheeses for Shavuot, along with bougatsa, a cheese-filled phyllo pastry.

Italian Jews:
Some Italian Jews eat dairy dishes for Shavuot plus a special Passover dish called matza cperta, a kind of omelet. They also take the last crumbs from the Pesach matzo and feed them to the fish on Shavuot. Tortelli dolci – cheese turnovers filled with ricotta cheese – are another favorite for the holiday.


Jews of Rhodes:
Elsie Manasce in her book, “Sephardic Culinary Traditions,” which pays tribute to the Sephardim who came from the Island of Rhodes, writes that on Shavuot men and boys stayed awake throughout the first night to study and chant songs in Hebrew and Ladin. In the morning, they were served bolelmas de espinaka, a savory
spinach pastry; roskas, a hard, brown, crisp roll; soltac, a ground rice pudding; and cheddar-like kashkaval cheese.

Jews of Spain: For Shavuot, Jews of Spain baked cookies called “the peaks of Mount Sinai,” with walnut halves on top representing the asereth dibrot – Ten Commandments. They also made cookies in the shape of the Ten Commandments called “Moses’ biscuits,” which were given to children.

Cheesecake and Other Desserts: Matthew Goodman, author of “The Food Maven” column in The Forward, once wrote an article stating that he learned from British cookbook author, Evelyn Rose, that Jews first encountered cheesecake during the Greek occupation of then Palestine in the third century B.C.E.

Cheesecake was also a favorite of European Jews who made it with curd cheeses such as farmer’s cheese and pot cheese and flavored it with lemon rind.

Another form of Central and Eastern European cheese dessert is called rugelach, which is a nut and raisin crescent with cheese in the dough. Gil Marks, author of “The World of Jewish Desserts,” writes that popular desserts among European Jews include kaese fluden, a layered cheese pastry, also called Mount Sinai cake; smeteneh kuchen, a sour cream coffee cake; pirishkes, a half-moon shaped Ukrainian and Russian turnover filled with cheese; strudel filled with cheese; and zeesih lukshen kugel, a sweet dairy noodle pudding.
by Sybil Kaplan, author of “Kosher Kettle: International Adventures in Jewish Cooking” and six other kosher cookbooks.

On Shavuot, it is customary to eat dairy dairy food. Some say it harks back to King Solomon’s portrayal of the Torah as “honey and milk are under your tongue”

 Lindy’s New York Cheese Cake
Ingredients
:

1 cup flour, sifted
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup butter, softened
5 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
5 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream

Directions:
In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, lemon peel and vanilla. Make well in center; add egg yolk and butter. Mix with fingertips until dough cleans side of bowl. Form into a ball and wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease the bottom and side of a 9-inch springform pan. Remove the side from the pan. Roll one third of dough on bottom of springform pan; trim edge of dough. Bake 8 – 10 minutes, or until golden.

Meanwhile, divide dough into 3 parts. Roll each part into a 2 1/2″ strip, 10″ long. Put together springform pan, with the baked crust on the bottom. Fit dough strips to side of pan, joining ends to line inside completely. Trim dough so it comes only 3/4 of the way up side of pan. Refrigerate until ready to fill.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Make Filling: In a large bowl of electric mixer, combine cheese, sugar, flour, lemon and orange peel, and vanilla. Beat at high speed, just to blend. Beat in eggs and egg yolks, one at a time. Add cream, beating just until well combined. Pour mixture into springform pan. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 250 degrees F. and bake 1 hour longer.

Let cheesecake cool on wire rack. Glaze top with strawberries. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. To serve, loosen pastry from side of pan with spatula. Remove side of springform pan. Cut cheesecake into wedges.

May we come together as a heart centered community, building responsibility to each other and sustaining awakening¨*•ღ✫*¨*♥

Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) April 20th — April 21st.

Yom_Hashoah_candleAt the rising of the sun and at its going down,
We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring,
We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer,
We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends,
We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us
as we remember them.

Ani Ma’amin
Also known as the ‘Varshever geto-lid fun frumer yidn’ (Song of religious Jews in the Warsaw ghetto), the song ‘Ani M’amin’ (I believe) takes its words from a prayer written in the 12th century by the great Judaic philosopher Moses ben Maimon (Maimonedes’/ acronymed Rambam for “Rabbeinu Moshe Ben Maimon“). It is a declaration of faith and certainty that redemption will come in the form of the Messiah, even though he may delay. The song was sung by Jews as they rode on boxcars to the camps during the Holocaust. In the face 0f the most unspeakable horror, there was this majestic affirmation of hope.

Ani Ma’amin by Lynette, Ben Sidran: Life’s a Lesson
Ani maamin beemuna shlemah

B’viat hamashiach
V’af al pi sheyitmameha
Im kol zeh achake lo
B’chol yom sheyavo

I believe with a complete belief
In the coming of the Messiah
And even though he may tarry
I will wait for him whenever he comes.

 Personal photos from family visit to Dachau

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Blacks During the Holocaust

We Remember the Afro-German Rhineland Children

agThere, but for the grace of God, go I… ~MochaJuden

Underscoring Hitler’s obsession with racial purity, by 1937, every identified mixed-race child in the Rhineland had been forcibly sterilized, in order to prevent further “race polluting”, as Hitler termed it.

The fate of black people from 1933 to 1945 in Nazi Germany and in German-occupied territories ranged from isolation to persecution, sterilization, medical experimentation, incarceration, brutality, and murder.

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Above: Two survivors prepare food outside the barracks. On the right is presumably Jean (Johnny) Voste, born in Belgian Congo, was the only black prisoner in Dachau.

Gert Schramm, born: November 28, 1928, Erfurt, Germany, Died: April 18, 2016, Erfurt, Germany, was a survivor of Buchenwald concentration camp, where he was the only black prisoner. He was the son of a German woman and an African-American father and was arrested in violation of Nazi racial purity laws.

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Interview in German. In a nutshell, he is saying he was born in 1928, illegitimate son of an African-American and a white German woman. His father perished probably in Auschwitz, while he himself survived the Concentration Camp of Buchenwald.

Blacks During the Holocaust

bwAbove: Nazi propaganda photo depicts friendship between an “Aryan” and a black woman. The caption states: “The result! A loss of racial pride.” Germany, prewar. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Article: In Germany’s extermination program for black Africans, a template for the Holocaust

l_d16c9f116563b85d875af487dd128c32Germany’s Black Holocaust: 1890-1945. In the 1890s Blacks were tortured in German concentration camps in Southwest Africa (now called Namibia) when Adolph Hitler was only a child. Colonial German doctors conducted unspeakable medical experiments on these emaciated helpless Africans. Thousands of Africans were massacred. Regrettably, historians neglected to properly register the slaughter—that is, to lift it from the footnote in history that it had been relegated to— until now.

NEVER AGAIN must remain more than a mere slogan!

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By Allison Barnes Jan 29, 2020

In America, especially now, it is both hard to be Black and hard to be a Jew. So imagine, if you will, what life is like for a Black Jew

Even in what I would consider ideal circumstances, in liberal Northern California, where I live, navigating the Jewish world as a Person of Color has often been awkward, invasive, and othering. I routinely get strange comments made to me by other Jews who probably have no idea the impact of their words. And, while I don’t want to speak for all of us, I know that many other Jews of Color have unfortunately had the same experiences. 

Before we toss this issue aside like a lost cause, I want to tell you that there is hope! Yes, I’ve had some bizarre conversations with other Jews about my ethnic/religious identity, but I also have faith that those negative conversational habits can be unlearned. Simply put, if folks stop saying certain offensive things to Jews of Color and replace those comments with something more positive, we can begin to build a more inclusive Jewish community. 

Read on for my tips for what not to say to a Jew of Color — and what to say instead.

1. Don’t ask if they are Jewish.

If you are out in a Jewish setting (bar mitzvahs, seders, Hanukkah parties, and the like) and see someone who isn’t white, don’t go up to them and ask if they are Jewish. This question can be quickly interpreted as questioning someone’s right to be in a Jewish space. It makes them feel singled out, like you are suspicious of them. 

Instead, introduce yourself! If you are at Jewish event and you see a POC who you don’t know, go up to them and say hi. It doesn’t matter if this person is Jewish or not — although if you’re at a Jewish event, I think it’s safe to assume everyone you interact with is Jewish. Let them correct you if need be. Try to genuinely meet a new person and make a new friend through polite small talk, like, “How do you know the bat mitzvah girl?” or  “Have you tried the latkes?”

2. Don’t laugh.

This is a rough one. My whole life, one of the first reactions people had when they found out I was Jewish was to laugh. Whether out of surprise or discomfort, unless someone tells you they are a comedian, don’t laugh at someone’s identity. It is incredibly dehumanizing for someone to laugh at who you are. It is rude. Don’t do this. 

Instead, if you find out a POC is Jewish and you feel like you must comment, say something simple like “oh cool” or “neat” and move on. 

3. Don’t say, “Really? You don’t look Jewish!”

Is this from a movie I don’t know about? Is there an old-school comedy routine that relies on this line? The number of times I have heard this ridiculous phrase is immeasurable. If for no other reason, stop saying this to Jews of Color because it is not at all original; they have heard this thousands of times before! Beyond that, it shows a serious lack of both historical and religious understanding on the commenter’s part. There is no way to “look” Jewish, because Judaism is a religion that allows for anyone of any background to take part, rather than some sort of white-race subgroup. And, if we did want to discuss a “traditional” look for Jews, then we would be discussing the biblical Jews who also would not fit the Eastern European stereotype of a Jew that persists today. 

Instead, don’t say anything at all. There is no positive way to say this. 

4. Don’t ask if or when they converted. 

First things first, a Jew of Color can be a Jew without having converted. Secondly, someone else’s conversion (or lack thereof) is none of your business. It is literally a Jewish law to not embarrass people about conversion and I’m fairly certain that asking a convert this question because of their race would fit into the “embarrassment” category. This question leaves any Jew of Color — whether Jewish by birth or by choice — feeling badly. 

Instead, get to know the new people in your community. While there is never a supportive way to ask this question and it is none of your business, genuinely getting to know the people in your community shows that you support all Jews, regardless of background or Jewish path. Over time, those who have converted may share that with you, though they may not! Because again: Whether they converted or not really should not matter to you. 

5. Don’t ask if they are Ethiopian or any other specific Jewish ethnic group. 

Yes, Judaism has many interesting and distinct cultural groups, but that doesn’t mean that every Jew of Color you meet identifies as a member of one. I personally feel this comment is especially damaging to Black American Jews, whose African heritage is often obscured by the fact that their ancestors often arrived in the U.S. as enslaved people. Even in the age of 23andMe, this isn’t something worth asking someone. 

Instead, get involved with communities of Color inside and outside of your Jewish community. The more comfortable you are with people of all backgrounds, the more supported Jews of Color in your community will feel! And perhaps you will meet JOC from your community who are out exploring other parts of their identity! 

6. Don’t assume that they identify as half-Jewish, “Jew-ish,” or that only one of their parents is Jewish. 

Jews of Color can have two Jewish parents, and Jews of Color can have parents who are both POC. They do not need to split themselves into fractional identities — they can be fully Jewish and fully Black, or whatever other cultures that make up who they are. 

Instead, let this new person you are meeting tell you about themselves. These kinds of details about someone’s life are the things you learn about someone over time. 

7. Don’t force them to recite their Jewish resume. 

Questions about bar or bat mitzvahs, youth groups, and synagogue memberships absolutely have their positive place, but that place is not for when you first meet someone, especially a Jew of Color. When you ask these kinds of questions in an initial meeting, it comes off as if you’re quizzing someone in order to determine if they meet your Jewish “criteria.” It puts pressure on the Jew of Color to list all their Jewish involvement and accomplishments in order to appease your intrusiveness. It can feel like a really aggressive interview for a job you don’t even want. 

Instead, save these types of questions for when they naturally come up in conversations as you get to know someone, rather than just out of your own curiosity. It really all comes down to getting to know Jews of Color in your community as you would a white Jew. 

8. Don’t ask if they know (or worse: are related to) this other Jew of Color you know. 

Jewish geography can be fun sometimes, but this version is extremely problematic. We do not all know each other. We are not all related. Do not ask this. 

9. Don’t try to make a joke. 

After all the quizzing, poking, and prodding, inevitably, white Jewish folks I am talking to try to end the conversation with a joke… about my identity. I’ve heard so many: “You are Blewish! Get it? Black and Jewish?” Or, “You can eat fried chicken on Hanukkah instead of latkes!” Or, as they point to my Afro: “Well, at least you have the same hair as us!” My identity is not a joke. I don’t think of it as a fun, silly fact about me — my identity is deeply important to me. These comments are degrading and, frankly, often racist. 

Yes, I am sure it is difficult to close out a seriously awkward conversation you made us have about my race/ethnicity/religion. But Instead of shoving your foot further into your mouth by trying to make a joke, simply say: “It was so nice to meet you!” 

Originally posted here: https://www.kveller.com/what-not-to-say-to-jews-of-color-and-what-to-say-instead/

Yom Huledet Sameach! Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 15, 1929 ~ April 4th, 1968

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year. King’s birthday is January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21.

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives. ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Excerpt from speech by Rabbi Richard G. Hirsch, Founding Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) following the speech by Dr. King during the 1968 Selma demonstration:

“For the next 30 minutes, I offered three thoughts – the words of the Midrash. First, I said that Jewish tradition teaches us that when God created man, he created only one man. Why? So that no man would ever be able to say my father is better than your father.

Next, I shared my second thought that according to Jewish tradition, God created man using dust from the four corners of the earth. Why? So that no person would ever be able to say the place from which I come is better than the place from which you come.

Then, I delivered my third and final thought, that when God created man, he used every color of dust. Why? So that no man would ever be able to say the color of my skin is better than the color of your skin.”  Original article HERE

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

10 Tips Toward Racial & Cultural Sensitivity in the Jewish Community

1 ~ Reach out to other Jews across difference because you will find our commonalities exceed our differences by far.

2 ~ Do not assume that Jewish history and the current Jewish population is comprised most significantly of Jews of European culture ancestry.

3 ~ Consider that within the customs and traditions of the Jewish people, there is a great diversity of language, culture, custom and color. Be willing to reach for and stay connected to the diversity of the Jewish people.

4 ~ Do not assume that because a person has dark skin that they must be a convert. This is not necessarily true or fair to individuals that have been Jewish all of their lives.

5 ~ Learn to value the “inner” Jew in yourself so that you can better appreciate it in others.

6 ~ Get to know the customs and traditions of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa and welcome this knowledge as a necessary component of your Jewish education.

7 ~ If you find a person’s journey around difference to be inspiring, be it their color, background, abilities, culture, traditions, etc., try not to limit your praise of them to their being “inspiring”.Tell them what about them inspires you specifically.

8 ~ Remember that it’s o.k. to be curious, but to become fascinated with a person because of an aspect of their physicality ALONE, is to turn that person into an object in your regard. Make efforts to make your relationships with people who are different than you, more than skin deep.

9 ~ Keep in mind that Jews of Color have a lot to offer the Jewish community, both in experience and perspective and should be welcomed to participate in all levels of Jewish social interaction, including leadership.

10 ~ Remember that denial is not just a river in Egypt (smile), it can also be an obstacle toward finding lasting solutions. When we sit with the things inside us that make us the most uncomfortable, we often find deeper truth and growth on the other side. ~Courtesy of Ayecha: http://www.ayecha.org/

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Forest

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Forest was established by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in 1976 with the ceremonial planting of 39 trees, symbolizing each year of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. Below, Martin Luther King III plants a tree in the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Forest on Sept. 10, 1987, during his religious pilgrimage and study mission in Israel. The forest is located in Turan, near Nazareth. The Coretta Scott King Forest is located in Biriya Forest, Israel. Every year 100’s of trees are added to the forest during King’s birth month.

Rev. Robert A. Pruitt, pastor of African Methodist Episcopal Metropolitan Church in Washington, said during a ceremony at the forest, “Martin Luther King Jr. was great for his love of mankind, whether Christian or Jewish. How fitting that he be remembered by planting trees here. He may be buried, but his leaves are still blooming here in these hills, holy to both peoples [Americans and Israelis].”

On Sunday, January 5, 2020 thousands of Jews and no-Jews marched across the Brooklyn Bridge in a show of cross-faith unity after a string of bloody anti-Semitic attacks in the region.

Chanting “No Hate, No Fear,” a crowd estimated at 25,000 from New York, New Jersey and beyond assembled at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan under heavy police presence.

𝗣𝗿𝗲𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗥𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗿𝗸𝘀 𝗯𝘆 𝗠𝗮𝗡𝗶𝘀𝗵𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗮
𝗡𝗼 𝗛𝗮𝘁𝗲, 𝗡𝗼 𝗙𝗲𝗮𝗿 𝗝𝗲𝘄𝗶𝘀𝗵 𝗦𝗼𝗹𝗶𝗱𝗮𝗿𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗠𝗮𝗿𝗰𝗵
𝗝𝗮𝗻𝘂𝗮𝗿𝘆 𝟱, 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟬

Rabbi Shais Rishon aka Manishtana

Text courtesy of Bend of the Arc:

My wife and I have a six year old who is far too smart for our own good. Once, when she was two, my wife and I got into an argument, as you do. It was one of those angry whisper arguments because we didn’t want to wake our daughter up in the next room. We went to bed angry, woke up the next day angry and not speaking to each other, but continued getting ready for our respective days.

As I’m brushing my teeth in the bathroom, who should come in but my 2 year old. I say morning, she doesn’t say anything, but she takes my hand and leads me out of the bathroom.

My daughter leads me into her room where my wife is getting my daughter’s things together for daycare. She bring me as physically close as possible to my wife, then she taps my wife’s leg. So there were are, the three of us, awkwardly staring at each other. My wife and I look at our daughter and ask if there’s a reason she orchestrated all of this, and she looks at us…and then turns around and walks out of the room. And closes the door behind us. Apparently she was like “‘Look, imma y’all two need to work some stuff out, alright? I ain’t got the time for your shenanigans today.”

Right now, my Jews, we are all my wife and I in that story. And this rally today is the room we’ve been brought into.

We have Jews from the right and the left, with very different ideas on the sources and causes of antisemitism. We have Jews of color, who are often dismayed that the discussion of race around antisemitic attacks too often devolves into racism, traumatizing us repeatedly as we’re simply standing with our fellow Jews, regardless of race or ethnicity. 

But we are all here because antisemitism is an evil that does not differentiate between Reform or Conservative, between left or right, or between black or white. And to have any chance of beating it, we must do it together, in solidarity with both our full, diverse Jewish community with whom we share a faith and a peoplehood AND the non-Jewish communities with whom we share our neighborhoods, our streets, and our subways.

That is the solidarity that will truly keep us safe.

But if we expect those in other communities to address their antisemitism and their bigotry—as they should—then we need to be addressing harmful attitudes in our own communities too. Not because it’s the reason for anti-semitism, but because it’s equally as morally wrong.

At the same time, if we are asking for solidarity from the broader community, we must also be in solidarity with the issues that impact other communities as well. And since we as Jewish community are black, white, and indigenous; able-bodied and differently abled; rich, poor, and middle class; gay, straight, and trans, all those other issues affect us too. There is no issue that doesn’t somehow impact some community of our Jewish family because our families are nearly as diverse as America itself.

These are difficult conversations, and the moment demands they be had. But we can neither let these conversations become apologetics for terror, or devolve into racist tirades. No community—Jewish, black, immigrant, Muslim—should have to endure attacks against its existence. Ever.

Together, let’s all work towards eradicating those words and deeds of hatred, violence, and fear. Our safety lies not only in our solidarity within our Jewish community, but outside of it as well.

Today, Monday, January 6, is “Jewish and Proud Day” sponsored by the @ajc.global (American Jewish Committee). Jews living in the Diaspora are encouraged to wear their Judaica – kippah, Star of David necklaces – with pride!




 

The Col­or of Love: A Sto­ry of a Mixed Race Jew­ish Girl by Marra B. Gad

“An unfor­get­table debut 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. 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.”-Jewish Book Council
Read the Interview: Born Loving: A Conversation on Identity and Prejudice with Marra B. Gad

From the sound of the shofar at Sinai, a people was created out of a mixed multitude. We pray for the “ingathering of peoples,” but what does Jewish diversity really entail? Stacey Flint explains.


ELI talks are intended to develop a global discourse amongst Jews worldwide in which commitments to Jewish literacy, Jewish religious engagement, Jewish Peoplehood, and Love of Israel are central.

Who Counts? Race and the Jewish Future

Ilana Kaufman, Program Officer, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment, Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco
BE INSPIRED
When Jews count themselves, it matters. So who really counts? Ilana Kaufman issues a challenge to the Jewish community on race.


Racism in the Jewish Community: The Uncomfortable Truth via ELItalks

Recognized in Israel as the 5th of Iyar on the Hebrew calendar, Israel Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut) marks the date on which Israel was declared a nation by the Israeli Knesset in 1948. For many North Americans, Yom Ha’atzmaut is a time for showing solidarity with Israel’s right to exist and its importance as a Jewish state. Celebrations are common in North American cities with large Jewish communities like New York, Los Angeles, and Vancouver Canada where the day takes on a festive air and is often marked by parades musical events and fairs.

Happy Birthday Israel!!!

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