Enlightenment

Exchange Between Groups Took Place About 2,000 Years Ago

Genetic Melting Pot: David Reich (left) and Priya Moorjani found that Jews and Africans mixed genes about 2,000 years ago. (Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer)

In the Book of Kings, Solomon is depicted as an international businessman of sorts who sent ships from the port of Etzion-Geber, near modern day Eilat, to trade precious metals and other goods with various parts of the world, including Africa. Solomon also famously received a visit from the Queen of Sheba, who is thought to be from what is presently Ethiopia.

Now, a new scientific paper offers a genetic timeline that could support these biblical tales. The paper builds on two studies published last summer that were the first to use genome-wide analyses to trace the history of the Jewish people through DNA.

“It demonstrated that there was a biological basis for Jewishness,” said Dr. Harry Ostrer, director of the human genetics program at the New York University School of Medicine, who led one of the studies.

Among its many findings, Ostrer’s paper indicated that Jews have African ancestry — an observation that David Reich, associate professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, and his colleagues decided to explore further.

Reich’s team analyzed more than half a million DNA markers across the entire genomes of people from seven diverse Jewish populations — including Ashkenazim from northern Europe; Sephardim from Italy, Turkey and Greece, and Mizrahim from Syria, Iraq and Iran. They then compared the genetic data with DNA from 15 sub-Saharan African populations.

Reporting in the April issue of PLoS Genetics, the researchers found that modern day Jews can attribute about 3% to 5% of their ancestry to sub-Saharan Africans, and that the exchange of genes between Jews and sub-Saharan Africans occurred approximately 72 generations, or about 2,000 years, ago.

Priya Moorjani, a doctoral student in Reich’s lab who led the research, was surprised that the degree of African DNA was so consistent across the various Jewish populations. She had expected, for example, that North African and Middle Eastern Jews would have a greater degree of genetic mingling than Europeans, based on their geographic proximities.

So the findings, Moorjani said, may point to a shared ancestry among the various Jewish groups. “It’s definitely suggestive that most Jewish populations have a common ancestral population,” she said.

Although the Harvard team couldn’t determine where exactly the exchange of genes took place, the results complement historians’ understanding of the Jewish narrative.

“This is interesting, and it gives me food for thought,” said Norman Stillman, a professor of Judaic history at the University of Oklahoma. “Does it prove something historically specific beyond the fact that we know the Jewish bloodline was open to some extent throughout history? No. But it fits in with the rest.”

Lawrence Schiffman, a professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies at Yeshiva University, said two time periods came to mind that could support the geneticists’ findings. The first is during the First Temple Period, between about 950 B.C.E. and 600 B.C.E., when Solomon’s kingdom would have had contact with Africans.

Or, Schiffman said, the mixing of populations could have taken place a bit later, during the Hellenistic period, from about 320 B.C.E. to 30 B.C.E., when Jews were living all over the southern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and could have come into contact with Africans to the south of them.

Yet even though the biblical accounts offer possible explanations for the Reich lab’s findings, Schiffman stresses that he and other social scientists can only offer historical interpretations of the genetic data. “The facts are the ones that scientists are developing; the theories are what [historians] have,” he said. “We now have to take what they are giving us, and we have to add it to our picture of history.”

Stillman pointed out that Jews are often thought of as an insular group, because they tended to marry within their community. “But,” he said, “that doesn’t mean there wasn’t, all throughout history, an inflow of others into the group.”

As Reich sees it, genetics and history are not actually so disparate. His work, he said, is “a kind of complementary way of studying history.”   Contact Gianna Palmer at palmer@forward.com,  Originally posted HERE

The Bible-Solomon (Ben Cross, Vivica Fox)

 

King Solomon Embroidery

The North American Ethiopian Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ) Embroidery Program

 

King Solomon and The Queen of Sheba
by Blu Greenberg, Linda Tarry, and Avi Katz (Illustrator)
Publication: Simcha Media Group, 1997

Ages 4-8

 This version of the story has exciting original material. Afresh new tales and  riddles, an equal relationship, and a naturally multicultural, as well as slightly feminist, bias. Beginning like a fairy tale, it introduces the precocious African princess Makeda of Sheba, a child whose wisdom, fame as a riddler, and kindness prompts her elderly father to name her, rather than either of her brothers, his heir. And she becomes Queen. (This is the first time that the Queen of Sheba has been given a history, a family, and aggada [legends] of her own, or that she has been shown to be of the African race.) Meanwhile, “In a land far away” lives a wise Jewish King, named Solomon, who had also manifested great wisdom as a child. Inevitably, traders bring news of the other to their rulers. Queen Makeda accepts King Solomon’s invitation to visit. The two quietly earn each other’s respect and love while also discussing the other’s country and religious beliefs. They marry; she conceives his child and returns to Sheba. When their son reaches the age of 13, he returns to his father. There the story ends, but the legend continues in an afterword that explains the prevailing desire of today’s Ethiopian Jews to return to Jerusalem. While the writing is graceful and dignified, the art accomplished and charming with valid ethnic representation, and the book design elegant, the real importance of this title is its more accurate portrayal of the Queen of Sheba. — School Library Journal

Am Yisrael (Jewish Peoplehood)

The bonds of Jewish peoplehood have stood at the heart of Jewish group definition since the days of Abraham and Sarah. Judaism is more than a religion; it demands identification with the Jewish people as a whole, a familial closeness with Jews of all kinds everywhere. Jews, whether by birth or by choice, must consider themselves links in a great chain of Jewish tradition, a shalshelet (chain) that stretches across the generation binding Jews across time and into the future.

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/

 


Sung by Shlomo Gronich and the Sheba Choir

“The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.”~Wade Davis

cw-948

Jews of color account for about one-fifth of the world’s Jews. Still, to many people, Jewish means white.

Today, a new generation of diverse Jews is coming together to correct that misperception. Individuals from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds – some who were born Jewish, others who converted – are using websites, community groups and festivals to meet up and band together.

Our goal is to remind the world that Jews Come in All Colors – and that, is something to celebrate!

The Jewish Multiracial Network…Because Jews Come in All Colors Poster


POSTER TEXT BOXES:
DID YOU KNOW?
The Jews of China built their famous “Purity and Truth” synagogue in the third year of the Da Ding period (1163) of the Jin (Golden Tartar) Dynasty, in the ancient Chinese capitol city of Kaifeng.

DID YOU KNOW?
15,000 Black African Jews, who trace their 3,000 year history to the time of Israel’s King Solomon, were flown from Ethiopia to Israel in 36 hours in May 1991.

DID YOU KNOW?
Spanish & Portuguese “Crypto” (secret) Jews arrived in New Mexico some 500 years ago, fleeing the Spanish Inquisition. Their descendants still recite Shabbat blessings in Ladino (archaic Spanish).

DID YOU KNOW?
In India, the Bene Israel community—their ancestors arrived there 2,000 years ago—are called “Shanwar Telis” (Saturday Oil Pressers) as they refrain from work on the Shabbat.

DID YOU KNOW?
The Jews of Morocco make pilgrimage each year to the tombs of 13 Holy Sages, and celebrate a unique Jewish holiday called Mimunah.


By Tali Adina, Creator and Editor-in-Chief of Kehila Magazine~ an On-line Magazine for Jews of Color

Ashkenazi and/or White Jewish Privilege Checklist

jmn2007retreat172a4

Jewish Multiracial Network Retreat 2007

 

I can walk into my temple and feel that others do not see me as outsider.

I can walk into my temple and feel that others do not see me as exotic.

I can walk into my temple and feel that my children are seen as Jewish.

I can walk into my temple with my family and not worry that they will be treated unkindly because of the color of their skin.

I can enjoy music at my temple that reflects the tunes, prayers, and cultural roots of my specific Jewish heritage.

No one at my synagogue will attempt to assign me to a ethnicity to which I do not belong (e.g., assuming all Jews of African descent are Igbo or Ethiopian).

I can easily find greeting cards and books with images of Jews who look like me.

I can easily find Jewish books and toys for my children with images of Jews that look like them.

I am not singled out to speak about and as a representative of an “exotic” Jewish subgroup.

When I go to Jewish bookstores or restaurants, I am not seen as an outsider.

I find my experiences and images like mine in Jewish newspapers and magazines.

I do not worry about access to housing or apartments in predominately Jewish neighborhoods.

My rabbi never questions that I am Jewish.

When I tell other members of my synagogue that I feel marginalized, they are immediately and appropriately responsive.

There are other children at the religious school who look like my child.

My child’s authenticity as a Jew is never questioned by adults or children based on his/her skin color.

People never look at me and say “But you don’t look Jewish” either seriously or as though it was funny.

I do not worry about being seen or treated as a member of the janitorial or administrative staff at a synagogue or when attending a Jewish event.

I am never asked “how” I am Jewish at Jewish dating events or on Jewish dating websites.

I can arrange to be in the company of Jews of my heritage most of the time.

When attempting to join a synagogue or Jewish organization, I am sure that my ethnic background will not be held against me.

I can ask synagogues and Jewish organizations to include images and cultural traditions from my background without being seen as a nuisance.

I can enroll in a Jewish day school, Yeshiva, and/or historically Jewish college and find Jewish students and professors with my racial or ethnic background.

People of color do not question why I am Jewish.

I know my racial or ethnic background will not be held against me if I attempt to join a minyan in prayer.

I know my ethnic background will not be held against me in being called to read the Torah.

I am not discriminated against in the aliyah process as a Jew of my particular ethnicity.

Text not copyrighted. Developed for educational purposes by the Jewish Multiracial Network, 2006–2009. Please distribute and add to the checklist.

“Every Jew needs to feel connected and every Jew needs to feel at home.”

Welcoming Synagogues and Temples

Village Synagogue-Ethiopian Embroidery

Village Synagogue-Ethiopian Embroidery-NACOEJ

Below is a list of synagogues and temples where we as Jewish multiracial families and/ or individual Jews of color are members or have personally attended, felt welcomed and are now recommending to others.

Conservative

Conservative Judaism (also known as “Historical Judaism” and “Masorti Judaism”) is a branch of Judaism that moderates between the traditional Orthodox and the progressive Reform branches. Conservative Jews claim it is possible to maintain traditional Jewish elements while continuing in moderated modernization.

Adath Israel of Riverdale, Bronx, NY
Arden Heights Boulevard Jewish Center, Etz Chaim, Staten Island, NY (Egalitarian Conservative)
Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation, Chicago, IL
Congregation Beth Tikvah Bnai Jeshurun, Erdenheim, PA
Congregation Temple Beth-El, West Oak Lane, Philadelphia, PA (Conservadox)
Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA
Germantown Jewish Centre, Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, PA
Kol Shalom, Rockville, MD
Park Slope Jewish Center, Brooklyn, NY
Temple Beth Abraham
, Oakland, CA
Temple Beth Shalom,
San Leandro, CA (Reform Rabbi, Renewal Cantor)

Humanistic

Humanistic Judaism embraces a human-centered philosophy that combines the celebration of Jewish culture and identity with an adherence to humanistic values and ideas.

The City Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, New York, NY

Reconstructionist

Reconstructionist Judaism is a progressive, contemporary approach to Jewish life that integrates a deep respect for traditional Judaism with the insights and ideas of contemporary social, intellectual and spiritual life.

Congregation Darchei Noam, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Kol Tzedek, West Philadelphia Synagogue, Philadelphia, PA
Leyv Ha-Ir, Philadelphia, PA
Mishkan Shalom, Philadelphia, PA
SAJ-Society for the Advancement of Judaism, Upper West Side Manhattan, NY
Temple Hillel B’nai Torah, West Roxbury, MA
Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Synagogue, Northbrooke, IL
West End Synagogue, New York, NY

Reform

Reform Judaism is the most liberal expression of modern Judaism. Reform Jews affirm the central tenets of Judaism while acknowledging a great diversity in Reform Jewish beliefs and practices.

Central Reform Congregation, St. Louis, MO
Congregation Beth Or, Maple Glen, PA
Congregation Rodeph Shalom,
Philadelphia, PA
Falmouth Jewish Congregation,
Cape Cod, Falmouth, MA
Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation,
Indianapolis, IN
Metropolitan Synagogue,
New York, NY
Temple Anshe Hesed,
Erie PA
Temple Beth El,
Bakersfield, CA
Temple Beth Shalom,
New Albany, Ohio
Temple Israel,
Boston, MA
Temple Israel Reform Congregation of Staten Island
, Staten Island, NY

Renewal (Jewish Renewal – JR)

Jewish Renewal is a recent movement in Judaism which endeavors to reinvigorate modern Judaism with mystical, Hasidic, musical and meditative practices.

Kehilla Community Synagogue, Piedmont, CA

Traditional/ Orthodox

Orthodox Judaism believes that both the Written and Oral Torah are of divine origin, containing the exact words of God without any human influence.

Adath Shalom, 8 rue George Bernard Shaw, 75015 Paris, France (near to the Eiffel Tower) +33(0)1 45679796
Bikur Cholim Machzikay Hadath Congregation (BCMH), Seattle, WA
B’nai David-Judea Congregation, Los Angeles, CA (Mordern Orthodox)
B’nai Israel, Baltimore, MD (Modern Orthodox)
Chabad of Harlem, NY, NY
Congreation Ahavas Achim, Highland Park, NJ
Congregation Anshe Chesed, Linden, NJ
Congregation Beth Abraham-Jacob, Albany NY
Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, NY, NY
Congregation Mt. Sinai, Jersey City, NJ
Congregation Ramath Orah, New York, NY
Congregation Shearith Israel-The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, NY, NY
El Centro de Estudios Judios Torat Emet, c/o Lincoln Park Jewish Center, Yonkers NY
Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, Bronx, NY
Kesher Israel, The Georgetown Synagogue, Washington, DC (Modern Orthodox)
Kehillat Shira Hadasha (Halakhic Egalitarian), Jerusalem, Israel
Kehillat Yedidya, Baka, Jerusalem, Israel (Modern Orthodox)
Lincoln Park Jewish Center, Yonkers, NY (Modern Orthodox)
Magen David Sephardic Congregation-Beit Eliahu Synagogue, Rockville, MD
Mount Sinai Jewish Center of Washington Heights, New York, NY
Ohel Shalom Torah Center, Chicago, IL
Old Broadway Synagogue, New York, NY
Yakar – Ctr for Tradition & Creativity, Jerusalem & Tel Aviv, Israel

Unaffiliated or Non-Denominational

Jews, congregations and educational institutions that reject conventional denominations. They are not aligned with Orthodoxy, Conservatism, Reform, Renewal, or Reconstructionism.

Congregation B’Nai Jeshurun, New York City, NY
Kolot Chayeinu, Brooklyn, NY
Pleasantville Community Synagogue, Pleasantville, NY
Congregation Tehillah, Riverdale, NY

Temple Beth-El
(Shul by the Sea) City Island, NY

To have your synagogue or temple listed send an email to info@jewishmultiracialnetwork.org
Developed for educational purposes for the Jewish Multiracial Network.


May the door to this synagogue be wide enough
to receive all who hunger for love,
all who are lonely for fellowship.
May it welcome all who have cares to unburden,
thanks to express, hopes to nurture.
May the door of this synagogue be narrow enough
to shut out pettiness and pride, envy and enmity.
May its threshold be no stumbling block
to young or straying feet.
May it be too high to admit complacency,
selfishness and harshness.
May this synagogue be, for all who enter,
young and old, the doorway to a richer
and more meaningful life
–The Siddur for Reform Jewish Prayer

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is, for brothers to dwell together in unity.”

HINE MA TOV by Ben Sidran: Life’s a Lesson

May All of Us Be Listened To & Embraced & Welcomed & Supported.

Tizku L’Shanim Rabot ~ May You Merit Many Years!

Graphic courtesy of moadesign.com

Pomegranates are traditionally eaten on the second night of Rosh Hashanah. They are a popular choice because Israel is often praised for its pomegranates and because, according to legend, pomegranates contain 613 seeds – one for each of the 613 mitzvot. Another reason for eating pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah has to do with the symbolic hope that our good deeds in the coming year will be as many as the seeds of the fruit. King Solomon is said to have designed his crown based on the “crown” of the pomegranate


Bene Israel Family, Bombay, early 20th Century


ROSH HASHANAH, CALCUTTA STYLE by Rahel Musleah


When I and my family emigrated from Calcutta to Philadelphia in 1964, no one seemed to have heard of a Jew from India.

I remember standing up in front of my second grade class at Solomon Schechter Day School, singing the Indian national anthem, “Jana Gana Mana”, as proof that I was really a little Indian girl…and not some Pocahontas kid.

Despite the surge of interest in Sephardic culture, many people still don’t know much about the Jews of India, a group of disparate communities from Cochin to Calcutta, isolated from each other by thousands of miles as well as possessing differing origins and customs.

Bombay’s B’nei Israel community claims its origin dates back to the Greek persecution that brought on the Maccabean revolt. The Jews of Cochin, in South India, trace their roots back 2,000 years, although the earliest documentary evidence of the settlement dates from the eleventh century CE. Many Portuguese Jews fled the Inquisition and made their home in Cochin.


The first Jew to settle in Calcutta was Shalome Cohen, a Syrian businessman who left his native Aleppo and made Calcutta his home in 1798. He prospered and eventually became the court jeweler to the Nawab (nobleman) of Lucknow. Iraqi Jews streamed into India in the 1800s, both to try and emulate Cohen’s success as well as to escape persecutions in Baghdad from 1825 to 1831. Eventually, the Calcutta Jewish community grew to a population of 5,000 at its peak in the 1940s, establishing five synagogues, two Jewish schools, a Jewish hospital and other Jewish institutions.

Magen David Synagogue, Calcutta India

Today, only 50 Jews remain in Calcutta. About half the community made aliyah to the newly independent state of Israel in 1948. The other half, afraid their economic circumstances would decline after India gained independence from Britain in 1947, spread out to other English-speaking countries: England, Australia, Canada and the United States.

My parents, too, decided India was not the best place to raise a family any more. My father was already familiar with America: he had been encouraged to enter the rabbinate by a Jewish chaplain stationed in Calcutta. He was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and went back to Calcutta to serve the community for 12 years.

We went to the U.S. by ship – and although Ellis Island had been closed by then, our first glimpse of America was…the Statue of Liberty.

My father became the rabbi of Mikveh Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in Philadelphia. He spent hours with a reel-to-reel tape player, learning the Sephardic melodies that differed from the familiar Calcutta chants.

My mother, who had worked as a secretary in Calcutta then learned to cook. In Calcutta, we had relied on our Indian cook who had been trained in the rules of kashrut – as did most Indian Jewish families. Before we left, my mother followed the cook around and wrote down everything on two steno pads. At first she tried to cook, in America, mahmoosa, an egg and potato dish; beet khata, a sweet-and-sour curry with dumplings; and aloomakalas, a round, deep-fried potato that is crisp on the outside, white and fluffy within. Writing down recipes is easier than following them…We sampled a lot of burned food in those days!

When my mother turned to the women in the synagogue to guide her, they taught her how to make good Sephardi foods like…chopped liver, brisket, noodle kugel, matza balls, and sponge cake! Though Mikveh Israel is Sephardi, many of its members were Ashkenazi.

Inside of Magen David Synagogue, Calcutta India, taken from the Women’s Gallery

We arrived in the U.S. in July, with Rosh Hashanah not far off. Many Sephardi and Oriental Jews have a special Rosh Hashanah mini-seder, featuring foods that symbolize good wishes for the new year.

Our seder includes apple preserves spiced with whole cloves, dates stuffed with walnuts, pomegranate (“May we be as full of mitzvot as this pomegranate as full of seeds”), spinach, pumpkin, scallions and string beans. The blessings over the vegetables derive from puns on their Hebrew names that turn into wishes that our enemies should be destroyed. In Calcutta, we also used a sheep’s head to concretize the biblical hope that we should be “heads and not tails.” Understandably, we did away with this particular dish in America!

The seder also reflects the kabbalistic influence on our community. We recite five biblical verses – from 10 to 17 times each. The word and repetition counts, when added up, suggest numerically calculated hopes for a good year. The last verse is: “And you will have peace, and your house will have peace, and everything that is yours will have peace.”

Nothing acid or sour is eaten on Rosh Hashanah, such as the sweet-and-sour Arabic dish called “khatta.” Instead, the meal consists of tempting dishes like “mahmoora,” chicken cooked with tomatoes, spices, almonds and raisins, served on a bed of pilau (rice) and topped with none other than “roshinkes mit mandlen” -more raisins and almonds sauteed quickly until crisp and golden. We even dip the challah into sugar, not salt, after reciting the motzi.

In Calcutta, the distinctive home ritual carried into the synagogue. Instead of one special Selihot service the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah, Sephardi and Oriental Jews conduct Selihot?the special set of penitential prayers-all through the month of Elul. On erev Rosh Hashanah, a pre-dawn Selihot service began at 4 a.m., followed by the morning service and a visit to the cemetery.

Mikveh Israel Congregation: The oldest Jewish congregation in Pennsylvania.

Though I was too young to remember the synagogue observance, my parents have described Rosh Hashanah in the Maghen David Synagogue in Calcutta. At 6 a.m. on Rosh Hashanah morning, the synagogue, draped in white, began to fill with people, men dressed in white sharkskin suits (a shiny, heavy, polyster-like material). Women also wore as much white as possible.

The entire service was chanted aloud, and did not end until 1 p.m. The centerpiece of the service is a poem by Judah Samuel Abbas that describes the binding of Isaac. The shofar blasts also differ from the traditional Ashkenazi blasts: “teruah” is one long blast instead of nine short ones.

After the Torah reading, the solemn mood of the service shifted to that of an auction, as the aliyot, ark openings and other honors for the second day of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur went up for grabs. Honors for the first day were auctioned off the previous Shabbat.

Though the auction prolonged the service by almost an hour, nobody seemed to mind. Only the people interested in the bidding-about half the congregation-remained in the sanctuary, laughing and joking among themselves, but still paying very close attention.

Much of the bidding was done in increments of 26 – the numerical value of God’s name – until the bidding reached 101, the numerical value of the guardian angel Michael’s name. The opening of the ark on Kol Nidre night and reading the haftarah traditionally drew the highest bids.

Parents bid on honors for their children as well. When the Torah was taken out, a special haftarah scroll accompanied it; this light scroll was usually carried by a child. It was also a child’s job to point to the beginning of the Torah portion with a yad, or pointer.

On Rosh Hashanah afternoon, many Calcutta families opened their homes to others for the traditional reading of the Book of Psalms, accompanied by a light meal of sweets and fruit.

While the distinctive Calcutta lifestyle has vanished with the dispersion of the community, my family follows many of the Calcutta customs, including the Rosh Hashanah seder. We continue to greet family and friends on Rosh Hashanah with the traditional blessing: “Tizku l’shanim rabot:” May you merit many years.

The response is: “Tizke ve’tihyeh:” May you merit, and may you also live.

Rahel Musleah was born in Calcutta, India, the seventh generation of a Calcutta Jewish family that traces its roots to 17th-century Baghdad. She is a journalist, author and singer who presents programs on the Jewish communities of India. She is the editor/singer of “Songs of the Jews of Calcutta.” Website:  A Passage to India: Exciting…Exotic…and Jewish with Rahel Musleah
This article was originally printed here.


Additional information: Jews of India

Indian Jewish Coconut Rice Pudding

2 cans light coconut milk

1/3 cup rice

2 cardamoms

½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cinnamon stick broken

½ cup raisins

½ cup sliced almonds (options)

¾ cup light brown sugar

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

2 teaspoons rosewater


In a saucepan add the coconut milk and rice and bring to a simmer.

Add in the cardamoms, vanilla and cinnamon and cook on medium-low for 35 minutes stirring occasionally.

When the rice is very soft and the mixture has thickened add in the raisins and almonds if using.

Stir in the sugar and cook for another 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the nutmeg and rosewater and serve hot or cold.

Indian Rabbi in Israel blowing the shofar
Photograph courtesy of
Life Magazine -Your World in Pictures

May all of us be listened to and embraced and welcomed and supported – in the comin year.

Crown of a Pomegranate

Tizku L’Shanim Rabot ~ May You Merit Many Years.

Live and Become (Va, Vis et Deviens) , directed by Radu Mihaileanu (2005, France/Belgium/Italy/Israel, 140 min., in Hebrew/French/Amharic with English subtitles, 35mm)

Radu Mihaileanu directs this magnificent, epic story of an Ethiopian boy who is airlifted from a Sudanese refugee camp to Israel in 1984 during Operation Moses. Although Shlomo grows up and thrives as an adoptive son of a loving family, he is plagued by two big secrets: He is neither a Jew nor an orphan, just an African boy who survived. Three different actors, including, as the adult Shlomo, Sirak M. Sabahat, who made his own trek across Ethiopia to an airlift to Israel, portray Shlomo at various stages of his life. Israeli actress Yaël Abaccasis and French actor Roschdy Zem movingly portray his adoptive parents.

Said New York Times film critic Stephen Holden: “… Live and Become exerts a tidal pull. It makes you feel the weight of history, of populations on the move in a restless multicultural world. It makes you reconsider cultural assimilation, a process that may seem to be complete but whose underlying conflicts may never be fully resolved.”

Live and Become won the Audience Award for Best Feature Fiction at the 2005 Boston Jewish Film Festival, where actor Sirak M. Sabahat was present. It also won the Prize of the Ecumenical July at the 2005 Berlin Film Festival and a César (French Academy Award) for Best Screenplay.

This year’s annual Jewish Multiracial Network (JMN) retreat at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, CT. was fantastic!! There was a palpable joy in the air. New participants and habitual attendees combined to make the Jewish Multiracial Network’s Bar Mitzvah year one to remember. See Photos!


We are here for YOU!

Remember: “You are not alone. Just pull up a mental vision of a Jews of Color (JOC) version of the Verizon [network] commercial where all those people are standing behind the technician – You in front and all of the rest of us standing behind you ready to assist – the days of any of us fighting alone are over – keep the image present in your mind as you encounter people’s ignorance…” ~Yavilah McCoy

The Mission of the Jewish Multiracial Network (JMN) is to build a community of Jews of color and multiracial Jewish families for mutual support, learning, and empowerment. Through education and advocacy, JMN seeks to enrich Jewish communal life by incorporating our diverse racial and ethnic heritages.

The Jewish Multiracial Network brings Jewish multiracial families and individuals together to learn about and celebrate their Judaism. JMN is committed to diversity and inclusive community-building, and seeks to help it’s members strengthen their identities as Jews and members of other ethnic groups. JMN creates opportunities for learning, nurturing and support for a large and growing part of the Jewish community that often feels marginalized by mainstream Jewish organizations. You are invited to become a part of this developing national Jewish multiracial network. Click HERE!

The Jewish Multiracial Network…Because Jews Come in All Colors Poster


POSTER TEXT BOXES:
DID YOU KNOW?
The Jews of China built their famous “Purity and Truth” synagogue in the third year of the Da Ding period (1163) of the Jin (Golden Tartar) Dynasty, in the ancient Chinese capitol city of Kaifeng.

DID YOU KNOW?
15,000 Black African Jews, who trace their 3,000 year history to the time of Israel’s King Solomon, were flown from Ethiopia to Israel in 36 hours in May 1991.

DID YOU KNOW?
Spanish & Portuguese “Crypto” (secret) Jews arrived in New Mexico some 500 years ago, fleeing the Spanish Inquisition. Their descendants still recite Shabbat blessings in Ladino (archaic Spanish).

DID YOU KNOW?
In India, the Bene Israel community—their ancestors arrived there 2,000 years ago—are called “Shanwar Telis” (Saturday Oil Pressers) as they refrain from work on the Shabbat.

DID YOU KNOW?
The Jews of Morocco make pilgrimage each year to the tombs of 13 Holy Sages, and celebrate a unique Jewish holiday called Mimunah.

The Idan Raichel Project, Center City Philadelphia. Photograph courtesy of PhillyIsrael May 21-22, 2010

See the documentary Black Over White!

Synopsis: The concert in Addis Ababa is not just another performance by the Idan Raichel Project, but a journey back to the homeland of two of the Project’s lead singers, Kabra Kasai and Avi Vograss Vesa.

This music DVD was co-created by Be’chol Lashon, the Institute for Jewish & Community Research, and the Israel Center of San Francisco with the Idan Raichel Project. It celebrates the racial and ethnic diversity of the Jewish people, focusing on the multiculturalism of Israel. It features the Idan Raichel Project, one of the most popular performing groups in Israel today, blending modern and traditional music in Hebrew and Amharic, to tell about the journey of Ethiopians to the Jewish homeland.

Jews of Color Roundtable Airing On The Jewish Channel

The first show of its kind, Jews of Color explores the cultural and ethnic diversity of the Jewish community, sharing the unique perspectives of Jews from African-American, Asian, Hispanic and other non-”white” backgrounds. Defying our collective assumptions about what it means to be a Jew, and shedding light on perspectives that are too often ignored by the broader Jewish community, Jews of Color is not to be missed.

Featuring: host Joel Sanchez (Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services), Aliza Hausman (Blogger, “Memoirs of a Jewminicana”), Akira Ohiso (Author, “Survivor”), Yitz Jordan a.k.a. Y-Love (Rapper, Writer, Activist), and Yavilah McCoy (founder Ayecha).
Originally posted here:  Zinc Plate Press Blog

United Colors of Judaism
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