SUKKOT is a biblical holiday celebrated on the 15th of Tishrei as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. A Hebrew word meaning “booths” or “hut, ” Sukkot refers to the Jewish festival of giving thanks for the fall harvest as well.

Ethiopian Jewish Sukkot Celebration!

A beautiful Bnei Menashe sukkah in Mizoram, in northeast India.

Sukkot reminds us how fleeting and fragile is all that we treasure in God’s world. On Yom Kippur we recited Yizkor, the memorial prayer. A certain kind of deep learning begins in loss but cannot end there. On Sukkot we gather up our fears and failures, and boldly build a hut on shifting ground. We are not forever, but we are here now to grab life with both hands. ~ Rabbi Wolpe

On Sukkot, we leave the comfort of our permanent homes for temporary dwellings that remind us of our journey in the desert. In honor of the holiday’s historical significance, we are commanded to dwell in temporary shelters, as our ancestors did in the wilderness. The temporary shelter is referred to as a sukkah.

According to the Bible, during the Sukkot holiday, known as the Feast of the Tabernacles, Jews are commanded to bind together a palm frond, or “lulav,” with two other branches, along with an “etrog,” they make up the “four species” used in holiday rituals.

 Serigraph: Time of Our Joy by Lynn Feldman


Rabbi Capers Funnye talks about Global Judaism at Sukkot gathering.

The Sukkah in Kurdistan: Movable Feast: Sukkahs from Around the World, 2003 exhibit, Israel Museum, Jerusalem

The Sukkah in the Desert: Movable Feast: Sukkahs from Around the World, 2003 exhibit, Israel Museum, Jerusalem

The world goes around. The seasons come and go. The festivals seem to repeat themselves. Yet the message is clear. With all our differences – we are the same. With all our similarities, we are different. With all our uniqueness – we sit in one Sukkah, the same one wherever we go. And in it, we realize we are all G-dly souls, destined to work on ourselves, to grow and fulfill G-d’s wishes. Next to G-d, however – next to Infinity, we are all exactly the same. ~Rabbi Eliyahu Shear 

 May All Of Us Be Listened To & Embraced & Welcomed & Supported – In the coming year.

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

Graphic courtesy of

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

Crown of a Pomegranate


Ben Sidran: Life’s a Lesson, Track: B’Rosh Hashana featuring Lynette

L’Shanah Tovah! 

NACOEJ Limudiah Student in Rishon LeZion

What is a Shofar?

…In the seventh month, on the first of the month, there shall be a sabbath for you, a remembrance with shofar blasts, a holy convocation. -Leviticus 16:24

How is a Shofar made?

Shofar Shogood!!!

“May it be Your Will That Our Merits Increase Like The Black-Eyed Peas.”

Sephardic Black-eyed Peas

1/2 pound dried black-eyed peas, or 3-4 cups frozen black-eyed peas cooked according to directions on package

5 cups water 1 tablespoon tomato paste

3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika salt and pepper and cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large chopped onion

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

To prepare the peas: pick them over, getting rid of any pebbles and   broken or discolored peas. Soak them 8 hours or overnight in water to cover; or put them in a saucepan with a quart of water, bring to boil, boil uncovered 2 minutes, remove from heat, cover and let stand one hour. Drain and rinse the peas. Put them into a medium saucepan and add the water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook about 1 1/2 hours (or until tender) over low heat. Drain the peas, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. (I’d reserve more to be on the safe side; this doesn’t seem like enough to me.) Put drained peas into a medium saucepan. Mix the reserved cooking liquid with the tomato paste and add it to the pot. Add the coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil, add the onion, and saute over medium head, stirring often, about five minutes. (She uses a non-stick skillet; you might need more oil with a regular skillet.) When the onion begins to brown, add a tablespoon of water and saute until the onion is deeply browned. Then add the onion to the pea pot, cover, and gently heat for five minutes. Add half the cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve it sprinkled with the other half the cilantro. Beth Greenfeld.

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

May all of us be Listened to & Embraced & Welcomed & Supported in the coming year

Ben Sidran: Life’s A Lesson: Track: Avinu Malkeinu featuring Lynette


“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 Jewish People embody a spectacular bouquet of cultural characteristics which enriches our lives immeasurably. 


 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

Olam Echad! Hashem Echad! Ha’am Echad!

Lev Echad means One Heart in Hebrew and is symbolic of Jewish unity. We are allowed to think and observe differently than one another, but we must always act decently toward each other.

“One Love, One Heart. Let’s get together and feel all right.”


May all of us be listened to and embraced and welcomed and supported.

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.




Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) 2016 begins the evening of Wednesday, May 4 and ends in the evening of Thursday, May 5.

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






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.


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.


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!


Jews of Color is a pan-ethnic term that is used to identify Jews whose family origins are originally in African, Asian or Latin-American countries. Jews of Color may identify as Black, Latino/a, Asian-American or of mixed heritage such as biracial or multi-racial.

Due to several factors, Mizrachi and Sephardi Jews from North African and Arab lands vary in whether or not they self-identify as “Jews of Color.”


“The Jewish experience is built upon foundations of diversity as old as the Jewish people, a reality that may be lost to many Jews who tend to think of other Jews as being only like themselves. The historical home of the Jews lies at the geographic crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe. Jews are an amalgam of many peoples and Jewish origins include a multitude of languages, nations, tribes, and skin colors.” ~The History of Jewish Diversity/ Be’chol Lashon


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 (Jewish educator, Diversity Practitioner, and Founder of Ayecha Jewish Diversity Resources).

“The most powerful thing I want to happen in the Jewish community is that we gain more space of love for one another…”~Yavilah McCoy



At The Kaleidoscope Project, Vanessa Hidary: Kaleidoscope Founder, Producer, Director and Kendell Pinkney: Associate Producer, are driven by their desire to empower fellow Jews of diverse racial, ethnic, and interfaith backgrounds by giving them the space and tools to tell their own stories. KALEIDOSCOPE. Vivid Reflections – Boldly Diverse – Distinctly Jewish.

KALEIDOSCOPE is a narrative-arts driven initiative that was sparked by a desire to highlight the stories of Jews of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, observance levels, and interfaith experiences. Given the increasing diversity of the greater Jewish community, we feel that highlighting the complex, personal stories of diverse Jewish voices through “edu-tainment” is critically important. As we look to expand our initiative (i.e., developing a KALEIDOSCOPE diversity curriculum for Jewish communities, expanding our presence online, broadening our impact within New York and the northeast) we seek to collaborate with partner organizations in order to create a more complete picture of the diversity that already exists within klal yisrael.

Stop being so Ashkenormative!

by Larry Yudelson, The Times of Israel, December 10, 201515-2-F-hebrew-mamita-635x357

Woody Allen had it easy.

A Jewish mother, a slice of herring, a dab of gefilte fish jelly, a shmear of Martin Buber, and a put-down of mayonnaise on white bread for a punch line. Everyone knew what the Jewish menu and the Jewish joke looked like, 50 years ago.

It was never that simple, of course. New York mythology aside, not all Jews left Russia between 1880 and 1923. And not all Jews spoke Yiddish. But ask around in Syrian communities in New York City and you’ll hear stories of grandparents from Damascus and Aleppo whose Jewishness met with stares of disbelief. “How could you be Jewish if you don’t speak Jewish?” that is, Yiddish, they were asked by their Ashkenazic neighbors.

That was then. Now you can dismiss your Litvak zeidie’s ignorant arrogance with a high-falutin’ put-down: Oh, he’s being Ashkenormative again. A lot of consciousness has been raised in the past decade and half on how much the Jewish community constricted itself with unspoken, unquestioned assumptions about Jews looking a certain way, acting a certain way, eating a certain away. In a multicultural age, it began to make sense that there are lots of Jewish cultures.

And at the forefront of that consciousness raising, holding the mic and posting spoken-word videos to YouTube, was Vanessa Hidary, the self-styled Hebrew Mamita, who will perform at Temple Emeth in Teaneck this Shabbat afternoon.

Ms. Hidary grew up in a Jewishly diverse family – her mother from Syrian stock, her father Ashkenazic. Her grandmother had come from Aleppo, where she never would have heard the term “gefilte fish” – which, after all, is simply how you say “stuffed fish” in Yiddish.

She grew up not in the Lower East Side, or in Jewish Brooklyn, but in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, at 88th and Columbus. She’s a bit vague about exactly when, but has described it as during the “hip-hop era.” She went to a local public school and her best friend was a Puerto Rican whose parents owned the corner bodega. Ms. Hidary discovered what it was like to be seen sometimes as Jewish and sometimes as not. She didn’t always like what she heard people say about Jews when they thought she wasn’t one.

She graduated from the LaGuardia High School of the Arts, studied at Hunter College, and earned an M.F.A. in acting.

When it was time to put on a performing persona, to venture to the East Village performance spaces and even the famed Nuyorican Poets Cafe, she dubbed herself the Hebrew Mamita because, she said, “I wanted to represent my neighborhood and how I grew up. I grew up with a very strong Latino culture around me. Mamita is a term of endearment.”

The performance she will bring to Teaneck centers on “modern Jewish identity and race relations, my experience growing up- plus a q-and-a afterward.” Her career has taken her well past New Jersey; she has performed from Alabama to Jerusalem.

“I do sessions that deal with the basics of what does Jewish look like to you. I talk about Jewish living outside the box,” she said.

“When I was growing up, people didn’t know that much about Sephardic Jews, about Jews of different cultures and races. I think the Internet has changed that a lot. They’re starting to have a bigger presence, and the Jewish community is changing. The community is becoming more open to having different faces.”

She can’t quite believe that it has been 15 years since she first worked with Be’chol Lashon, – Hebrew for “in every tongue” – a then-brand-new organization in San Francisco, which imagines “a new global Judaism that transcends differences in geography, ethnicity, class, race, ritual practice, and beliefs.” One of Be’chol Lashon’s premiere activities is an overnight summer camp for racially and ethnically diverse Jewish children.

Locally, Be’chol Lashon’s mission is echoed by Temple Emeth’s Viewpoints committee, which is sponsoring Ms. Hidary. The committee was “formed to celebrate the diversity of the Jewish community and includes programs that highlight the interfaith, interracial, and LGBT communities.”

Ms. Hidary promises that her performance will bring “a lot of humor mixed into poignant things to think about.”

Her latest project has placed her in the director’s chair. It’s a show called Kaleidoscope. She brought together a group of a dozen “ethnically diverse Jews, Jews of color, Sephardic Jews, and had them write their experiences growing up.”

Kaleidoscope’s creation and some performances were underwritten by grants from New York’s UJA-Federation and the 14th Street Y. Now Ms. Hidary is applying for grants to “make that show happen again and attach a curriculum to that.”

Originally posted HERE.

The remarkable story of a black African from a royal lineage in Swaziland who was raised a Christian, converted to Judaism and became a Haredi Litvish Rabbi in Israel. It begins with Rabbi Natan Gamedze’s first visit home in 16 years and traces back his extraordinary spiritual journey from Swaziland to Israel. By following Rabbi Gamedze’s journey to Judaism, this story provides an extraordinary insight into orthodox Jewish thinking from a completely different background. Along the way it gently explores race issues, pre and post apartheid.

Additional information:

Who Counts? Race and the Jewish Future

Ilana Kaufman, Program Officer, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment, Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco
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

United Colors of Judaism
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