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.

jv

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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Ahavat Tzion Presents These Songs of Freedom

Joint musical collaboration CD between BAI, Zion Baptist Church and Main Line Reform Temple.

“Contrary to the belief of some, the Jews are a multiracial, multi-ethnic group. But it should not be surprising that Judaism’s 4,000-year-old creed spans geography as well as time, or that its message appeals to members of all races, on all continents.” ~Karen Primrack, Author, Under One Canopy

The Seder Table – Artist Lynne Feldman

The scattering of the Jews around the world over thousands of years, to nearly every continent, has meant that these traditions have evolved and been adapted to different cultures and settings. Here are some Passover traditions from around the world.

Black Jews Relate to Slave Narrative: The yearly reminder of freedom is what many black Jews appreciate most about Passover by Patrice Worthy

Tarece Johnson attends Temple Sinai with children Hannah and Nile.

Passover is a reminder that G-d prefers his children to be free from spiritual, emotional, physical and mental bondage. But for black Jews the weeklong holiday holds special meaning, often enriching their experience as part of the Jewish people.

The Haggadah reading often is combined with reflections on the history of slavery in America and the present circumstances of black people.

“We celebrate this holiday every year, and how many times are we reminded that ‘I am the Lord your G-d who brought you out of Egypt’?” said Sandra Lawson, a rabbinical student who belongs to Congregation Bet Haverim.

The yearly reminder of freedom is what many black Jews appreciate most about Passover.

Nadiya Boyce-Rosen said Passover is a reminder that slavery should never happen again.

“You have people trying to say slaves are the new immigrant. When it’s posed that way, you need a reminder,” Boyce-Rosen said. “It’s very important to ensure your culture lives on when you have people who try to water it down. History is important.”

The Passover seder gives Lawson the opportunity to relate the story to her black heritage and tradition of standing up against oppression. “That’s why so many Jews are involved in social justice,” she said, “because we have this holiday.”

The rabbinical student said it’s fascinating to see how blacks and others relate differently to the story.

“A lot of people don’t realize it’s a slave narrative. They are looking at it from an Ashkenazi Jewish point of view, and then when we talk about it, they realize,” Lawson said.

She uses the example of Exodus 16:3, when the Hebrews complain about starving in the wilderness as free people after having plenty to eat as slaves, to point out characteristics of people with a slave mentality.

“It’s a slave narrative and trauma story,” Lawson said. “All the kvetching they were doing about having more fish as slaves is trauma.”

There are deep connections between African-American history and the Exodus from Egypt, Tarece Johnson said, including similar struggles and oppression.

“I celebrate it from a Jewish perspective, but as an African-American I see the fight and struggles just like ours,” Johnson said. “It’s that spirit to fight and survive.”

The story has relevance today.

Boyce-Rosen said it’s like a life lesson baked into her calendar. Passover is a story about a particular group, but what applies to the group also applies to the individual.

“You look at the story and see the fight that had to occur and the work that needed to be done. It’s something that galvanizes me, and you say, ‘This is why we need to be educated,’ ” Boyce-Rosen said.

For Reuben Formey, a black Hasidic rapper who performs as Prodezra, talking to his children about slavery is important at the seder while also discussing the history of blacks in America.

“At my table in particular there’s always us speaking about freedom and slavery and the connection to it,” he said. “We compare and contrast and talk about how it is to be African-American in society and the idea of the slave mentality.”

But the relationship is complex, Formey said. Judaism allots black Jews the freedoms that come with Jewish spirituality and culture.

“Obviously, we value the skin which is African-American and the spirituality which is Jewish, so we bring those together, and it does hold special meaning to have a certain level of freedom,” he said.

There are stark differences between the Jewish and black slave narratives, Deanna (Dvora) Windham said. Jews kept their language, names and clothes — three elements essential to identity that were denied to African slaves and their descendants.

That makes a huge difference. During Passover, Windham can’t help but think about the experience of her African ancestors.

“I’m extra-careful in remembering that they were slaves, but they were stolen and robbed of being able to have families, so it became a different experience,” Windham said. “Anything I learned about it, I learned on my own, except the small paragraph in history books in public school.”

Hearing the slave narrative every year is not an option, Windham said. Even after the seder, when the story is dissected for hours, Jews reflect for a week on why we deprive ourselves of certain foods.

In that respect, she said, the story of slavery is something you just can’t walk away from.

“I wish it was something black Americans had where you sit down, tell stories and have a liturgy. There’s meaning to that,” Windham said. “It’s not optional if you’re Conservative, Reform or Orthodox; everyone is doing it. However, you’re doing it first seder; you’re talking about the Passover. I wish my cousins had that, my sisters had that or my brothers had that. It’s disheartening, but in some ways I feel lucky.” Originally posted here: http://atlantajewishtimes.timesofisrael.com/black-jews-relate-to-slave-narrative/

PASSOVER CELEBRATIONS AROUND THE WORLD

Ethiopian Jewish women making Matzoh

Destroying Earthenware Dishes: The Jews of Ethiopia strongly identify with the story of Exodus — and indeed, the first of the famous airlifts that delivered them to Israel was actually called Operation Moses. In some Ethiopian families, the matriarch would destroy all of her earthenware dishes and make a new set to mark a true break with the past. Ethiopian Jews had no Haggadahs, and read about Exodus directly from the Bible. Matzahs were homemade, often from chickpea flour, and on the morning of the seder, a lamb would be slaughtered. They also refrained from eating fermented dairy like yogurt, butter, or cheese

Whipping Each Other with Scallions

Jews living in Afghanistan developed the tradition of using scallions or leeks to stand for the Egyptian slavedrivers’ whips, using them to lightly “whip” each others’ backs. Jews have lived in Afghanistan at least since the Babylonian conquest 2,000 years ago, but in 2004 only two Jews were left in the country. It is now estimated that only a single Jew lives in Afghanistan, as the other died in 2005. The largest group of Afghan Jews in the world is comprised of 200 families in Queens, New York.

Re-enacting Crossing the Red Sea

Moses Parts the Red Sea. Ethiopian Jewish Embroidery Project: NACOEJ

Hasidic Jews from the Polish town of Góra Kalwaria, known as Gerer Hasids, re-enact the crossing of the Red Sea on the seventh day of Passover by pouring water on the floor, lifting up their coats, and naming the towns that they would cross in their region of Poland. They raise a glass at each “town” and then thank God for helping them reach their destination.

Every Passover, Jews prepare charoset, a sweet paste that can be made with fruits like dates, figs, and apples. The result is meant to remind sedergoers of the mortar in the bricks that Jewish slaves in Egypt used in their labor. In the British territory of Gibraltar, a tiny peninsula off Spain where Jews have lived for about 650 years, there’s a special recipe for charoset: the dust of real bricks, ground up and mixed in.

Tapping Guests on the Head: In a custom that began in Spain in the fourteenth century, the seder leader walks around the table three times with the seder plate in hand, tapping it on the head of each guest. Many Moroccan, Turkish, and Tunisian Jews adopted this tradition, which is said to bless those whose heads are tapped. This is sometimes connected to the Talmudic custom of “uprooting” the seder plate so that guests might ask questions about the Jews in Egypt.

Telling the Exodus Story in Costume: In many Sephardic traditions, (a term used to describe Jews originally hailing from the Iberian peninsula and North Africa), an elder member of the family enacts a skit in costume, posing as an ancient Jew who experienced the exodus from Egypt and describing the miracles he saw. In the countries of the Caucasus region, Iraq, Kurdistan, Yemen, and others, the seder (usually the head of household), would put the afikoman matzah in a bag, throw it over his shoulder, and use a cane to support himself. Sometimes a child participated, and there was a call and response with the table: “Where are you coming from?” “Egypt,” was the reply, followed by the story of the Israelites following Moses out of slavery. “And where are you going?” someone at the table would ask. “Jerusalem!”

 In the Syrian community, the custom of breaking the middle matzah on the seder table into pieces (known as yachatz) can sometimes take on Kabbalistic meaning. Matzah broken into the shape of the Hebrew letters “daled” and “vav” correspond to numbers, which in turn add up to 10, representing the 10 holy emanations of God. Jews from North Africa, including from Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, and Libya, break the matzoh into the shape of the Hebrew letter “hey,” which corresponds to the number five.

Inspecting Rice for Defects:  Jews have lived in Cochin, in the Indian state of Kerala, for 2,000 years. In the tiny community that remains, Passover preparation begins immediately after Hanukkah, about 100 days beforehand. After Purim, Cochin’s Jews scrub their house of chametz (bread and any fermented grain) and repaint them, keeping special Passover dishes in a separate room. Wells are drained and cleaned for fear of chametz, and every grain of rice is inspected for defects that might let impure chametz in. Jews usually maintain warm relations with the larger community, but during Passover and the preceding months, they keep entirely to themselves.

 

Many different customs surround the welcoming of the prophet Elijah, who is said to visit every seder. While Ashkenazi Jews (whose families came from Germany and later Eastern Europe) commonly leave a goblet of wine for the prophet, in Casablanca, Morocco, Jews would set up an elaborate chair with cushions and ornaments and leave it empty for Elijah’s arrival. And in Marrakesh, dishes are prepared using the wine from Elijah’s cup. Ashkenazi Jews often open the door to allow Elijah in, a tradition that wasn’t historically a part of the Sephardic practice.

Wearing White: Both Hasidic Jews and Moroccan Jews have the custom of wearing white to seder, possibly to signify joyfulness. Some Jews wear white on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, or on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, although this varies.

Displaying Gold and Silver Jewelry: Three passages in Exodus say that the Israelites received gold and silver from the Egyptians (for example, 12:35: “The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing”). Accordingly, Hungarian Jews had a tradition of putting all of their gold and silver jewelry on the seder table.

Tossing Pebbles in the Ocean

Among Moroccan Jews, Mimouna is celebrated the day after Passover with a generous feast of baked goods. Some say it marks Maimonides’ birthday, while others link it to the Arabic word for luck. A table is heaped with items symbolizing luck or fertility, many repeating the number 5, such as dough with five fingerprint marks or five silver coins. Fig leaves, live fish, stalks of wheat, and honey might also be included. In some parts of the Moroccan Jewish community, Jews entered the ocean and tossed pebbles behind their backs to ward off evil spirits.  Original article here.

The Inside Story on Passover

In each one of us there is an Egypt and a Pharaoh and a Moses and Freedom in a Promised Land. And every point in time is an opportunity for another Exodus.

Egypt is a place that chains you to who you are, constraining you from growth and change. And Pharaoh is that voice inside that mocks your gambit to escape, saying, “Why change? How could you attempt being today something you were not yesterday? Don’t you know who you are?”

Moses is the liberator, the infinite force deep within, an impetuous and all-powerful drive to break out from any bondage, to always transcend, to connect with that which has no bounds. But Freedom and the Promised Land are not static elements that lie in wait. They are your own achievements which you may create at any moment, in any thing that you do, simply by breaking free from whoever you were the day before.

Last Passover you may not have yet begun to light a candle. Or some other mitzvah still waits for you to fulfill its full potential. This year, defy Pharaoh and light up your world, with unbounded light!

EXODUS by Bob Marley

Open your eyes and look within: Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?
Exodus! Movement of Jah’s people

GET A GUIDED MEDITATION FOR YOUR PASSOVER SEDER HERE:

Guided visualization actually is reported not to work with about 10% of people, some of us are simply hard wired for different forms of spirituality. I mention this so those who have this difference won’t wear themselves out trying.
For those who can benefit from guided visualization it is a very powerful spiritual tool. Several major medical research centers have discovered that it can even be a tool for active healing (called psycho-neuro-immunology), although this meditation is primarily designed for shifting consciousness.
Be sure to read slowly, with feeling and honor all the pauses fully, they are very important elements…like rests between the notes of a score.

SING-A-LONG!
Go down Moses, Way down in Egypt land.
Tell ole Pharaoh to Let My People Go!
Now when Israel was in Egypt land..Let My People Go!
Oppressed so hard they could not stand…Let My People Go!
So the Lord said: ‘Go down, Moses, Way down in Egypt land,
Tell ole Pharaoh to Let My People Go!’
So Moses went to Egypt land…Let My People Go!
He made ole Pharaoh understand… Let My People Go!
Yes, the Lord said ‘Go down, Moses, Way down in Egypt land
Tell ole Pharaoh to Let My People Go!
Thus spoke the Lord, bold Moses said: Let My People Go!
‘If not I’ll smite your firstborn’s dead’ Let My People Go!
Thus the Lord said ‘Go down, Moses, Way down in Egypt land
Tell ole Pharaoh to Let My People Go!’
Tell ole Pharaoh To Let My People Go

Moses in the Bulrushes by Mary Auld, Illustrated by Diana Mayo
Lavishly illustrated retelling of the Biblical story. Includes background information about the story, a useful word section and a section of questions to encourage further thought.

 

Ethiopian Jewish Embroidery-Making Matzoh for Passover – NACOEJ

~ May All Of Us Be Listened To & Embraced & Welcomed & Supported ~ 

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