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

n598544265_628784_9428

n598544265_628785_274

n598544265_628783_8591

n598544265_628786_1085

n598544265_989790_4129

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.

D0R0004148726

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!

n598544265_628761_1819

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.

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!”

Breaking Matzah into Hebrew Letters:

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. #888888;”>

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 ~ 

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.”

11046756_897571800265349_5842454107396367882_n

“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

multiracial

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

clueless-small21

 

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.

January 27 marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated this day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD), an annual day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Nazi era. Every member nation of the U.N. has an obligation to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and develop educational programs as part of an international resolve to help prevent future acts of genocide. The U.N. resolution that created IHRD rejects denial of the Holocaust, and condemns discrimination and violence based on religion or ethnicity.

Rejecting any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, the General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution (A/RES/60/7) condemning “without reserve” all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, whenever they occur.

It decided that the United Nations would designate 27 January -– the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp — as an annual International Day of Commemoration to honour the victims of the Holocaust, and urged Member States to develop educational programmes to instil the memory of the tragedy in future generations to prevent genocide from occurring again, and requested the United Nations Secretary-General to establish an outreach programme on the “Holocaust and the United Nations”, as well as measures to mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, in order to help prevent future acts of genocide.

The Holocaust was a turning point in history, which prompted the world to say “never again””. The significance of resolution A/RES/60/7 is that it calls for a remembrance of past crimes with an eye towards preventing them in the future.

Jewish Museum Berlin – Shalechet (“Fallen Leaves”) installation by Menashe Kadishman of Tel Aviv. Occupying a corner space called the “Memory Void”, it consists of 10,000 iron faces strewn thickly across the floor. The faces are coarsely stamped but full of expression, with mouths open in suffering. Visitors are permitted to walk on the work. Doing so creates a loud, “industrial” noise and is quite a unique and moving experience.

Personal Photo –Shalechet (“Fallen Leaves”) Jewish Museum Berlin 2007

Ani Ma’amin by Lynette, Ben Sidran: Life’s a Lesson
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 Hebrew words from Maimonedes’ Thirteen Articles of Faith. It is a declaration of faith and certainty that redemption will come in the form of the Messiah, even though he may delay.

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

If you are like most people, you simply have never heard the unbelievable story of Black victims of the Holocaust. You are invited to read about the human spirit’s triump over events that occurred during this horrible piece of hidden history.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

At 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.

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:
http://www.rabbigamedze.com/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natan_Gamedze

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

David Baliaba, a prominent member of the Jewish community in Cameroon, performing Hatikvah. David composes music for the prayer services in Cameroon, and is a professional musician and performer.

 

From Canada to the Judean Hills, from Christianity to Judaism

Azriel Dror from Canada converted to Judaism from Christianity and made aliyah because Israel is “where every Jew needs to be.”
Arutz Sheva continues its series of interviews with some of the 221 olim who arrived in Israel on a Nefesh B’Nefesh flight this week.

One of the new olim on the flight was Azriel Dror, 35, who converted to Judaism from Christianity. Dror, along with his wife and five children, made aliyah from Thornhill, Ontario, Canada (a suburb of Toronto) to Susya, a religious community located in the southern Judean Hills area.

“Israel has always been in my heart and in my mind,” Dror said as the flight made its way to Tel Aviv. “The Torah says that Israel is where we should be. You see prophecy happening all the time, and Hashem has put in my heart and in my wife’s heart to go back to the Land of Israel, where every Jew needs to be.”

Dror recalled how he surprised his son, who attended yeshiva in Israel this past year, by arriving in Israel for a visit. The two toured the country from the south to the north and “I fell in love. My soul just came alive. I said, ‘This is where I need to be. This is where I need to live. Every Jew needs to live there.’”

“I still have to pinch myself that I’m here. Hashem, you made this possible. I thank G-d for his miracles. I thank G-d for catching this flight, and I thank G-d for when I land, that I can kiss the ground,” he said.
Originally posted HERE

A Kaleidoscope Of Jewish Identity By Sharon Anstey

ahuva.feature_por_300px

Ahuva in “Kaleidoscope.” Jonathan Pillot.

Cuban, Moroccan, Turkish, Libyan, Israeli, Puerto Rican, British and American influences swirl through the very Jewish stories presented in Vanessa Hidary’s “Kaleidoscope” at the 14th St Y.

Hidary, the actress, solo performer, poet and director known as the “Hebrew Mamita,” and her cast of 4 men and 8 women explore what it means to be Jewish through multiple, shifting lenses. Their compelling monologues in English with notes of French, Hebrew, English, Spanish, Ladino, Amharic and Turkish, highlight pride and joy as well as discomfort with inequalities and, for many, the bittersweet moments when grandparents and grandchildren cannot communicate easily.

Avi Amon — white, male, Jewish, Turkish, Sephardi, American — articulates the fundamental dilemma: How can we check any one box on a survey form? No one box can capture all that we are. We are forced to “shape shift.”

Raised an Episcopalian in the Bronx, Malaika Martin converted to Judaism and lived in Israel for many years. She thinks she was the only black in Beersheva in the 90s and later reigned as the “Black Queen Bee” of Tel Aviv, dispatching any competitors with contempt — to Jerusalem.

Another performer, who goes by the name Ahuva, grew up in the Ethiopian community in Ashdod and recalls that the Ethiopians walked at night and hid by day during their long journey to Israel. Her pride in Israel and having served in the IDF is evident. At the same time, her fury at the derogatory “Cushi” being hurled at members of her community is palpable.

A common thread among these monologues was “don’t tell me how to be Jewish.” As Corey Hennig who closes the evening said, as a Black and as a Jew, “the nice Jewish boy with a little more flavor,” he feels caught in the crossfire too often.

On a personal note, I witnessed a close friend grapple with this question for a long time. She was a black South African, drawn strongly to Judaism. Rabbis here in New York were willing to convert her but counseled against it as she was planning to return to South Africa — they felt that her Jewishness might be hard for her family there to digest. She lived as a Jew but died a Christian.

“Kaleidoscope” opened on Wednesday evening to an enthusiastic reception and the final performance at the 14th St Y is July 19th.

Originally published HERE.

United Colors of Judaism
Latest Tweets

Post Calendar
March 2017
S M T W T F S
« Jan    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031