Posts Tagged ‘Bene Israel’

“Shalom, Mirembe!”

 
The Abayudaya Jewish Community of Uganda and Israeli artist Irene Orleansky partnered to create “Shalom, Mirembe!” as part of a music collection from Israelites and Jews of Africa and Asia. For more information and to purchase the CD visit www.ireneorleanskyo.com The participating Jewish communities receive all proceeds from CD sales.

Lead singers – Irene Orleansky, J.J. Keki, and Rachman Nagwere
Dance – Hope Cultural Troupe
Drums – Jerry Marotta
Mix – Kirill Malahov at Music Brothers Records
Mastering – Donal Whelan at Mastering World Studios
Video – Hannah Nemer

Back vocals — Rachel Nagudi, Irene Orleansky, David Kababala, Rachman Nagwere, J.J. Keki
Stick — Irene Orleansky
Xylophone — Sula Gidenyi, Ali Walufu
African drums — Amram Kadosi, Joshua Adjah Anang,
African percussion – Joshua Adjah Anang, Irene Orleansky

New CD Release: Music of Israelites and Jews of Africa and Asia

3869086_origThe CD Music of Israelites and Jews of Africa and Asia is the result of Irene Orleansky’s  fascinating two-year journey through Africa and Asia. Equipped with a mobile studio, Irene visited nine Israelite and Jewish communities sometimes at distant and dangerous places to record music with the communities’ artists.

The story of the lost tribes started in the 7th century BC in the lands of Aramea and the Kingdom of Israel when the Assyrians invaded the Northern lands and deported ten Israelite tribes of the Northern Kingdom, thus starting the longest exile in the history of mankind. For many centuries those tribes were considered lost, until the last centuries, when technological developments in transport and communication revealed what had been previously hidden.

wj_africa-matzah2_042508The Ethiopian Jews of the tribe of Dan made an epic return when Israel airlifted them in Operation Moses in 1984 and Operation Solomon in 1991; Bene Israel of India, supposedly of the tribe of Zebulon, returned to Israel between 1948 and 1969. Right now thousands of Bnei Menashe are coming back home from North-Eastern India and Burma. Still there are thousands of descendants of the lost tribes of Israel who remain in the lands of their exile and thousands more to be rediscovered yet. In her journey, Irene was privileged to witness and actively participate in fulfilling the Biblical prophecy, the return of the lost tribes of Israel,  and to discover unique  music and culture of her long lost brothers and sisters.

While traveling, Irene saw hardship, poverty and discrimination that many of the Jewish communities in Africa and Asia encounter in their daily lives, and decided to turn it into a charity project to raise funds to support those communities in need.

All the money earned from the sales of the album will be spread among the communities to support their music and arts. By buying the CD, you are supporting the Jewish and Israelite communities in Africa and Asia. PURCHASE HERE!

Color of Jew Photograph courtesy of Artist Sabina Saad, The Color of Jews, Yellow Badge Series

The Plight of the Non-White Jew

by Jacob Duprey

The Jewish public at large is in jeopardy. They risk becoming as closed minded as those they oppose. The fact is that Jews must expand their definition of what constitutes a Jew. Jews are not a race, they are not genetically distinct nor is their Judaism predicated upon the fact that they were born that way. Additionally not all Jews practice in the same manner and some practices are quite different from the public perception of synagogue. Judaism is in fact a faith, a set of beliefs and a group of people who are united because of what they believe in.

Traditionally a Jew is thought of as a person with dark curly hair, long sideburns, a big nose, a fat wallet and a funny hat. However the definition of a Jew is rapidly expanding. The Israeli and Ashkenazi Jews form only part of the greater whole that is the Jewish Faith. Communities in China have rediscovered their Jewish roots and have begun to practice again. The Black Ethiopian Jews have been around since the 1600’s when they fought for their survival. The Indian Jews, the Bene Israel (Son’s of Israel) claim to have been in existence since the 2nd Century BCE. All of these groups are Jewish, but if seen walking on the streets you would not assume they were Jewish. Thus the original definition of Jew must be expanded to encompass the new definition.

Closer to home, Asian Jews are not taken seriously. I, as a Korean Jew, must every year explain to teachers and friends why I will not be coming in on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Everyone I meet must first be introduced to the idea of an Asian Jew. The common response is:

“You’re Jewish?!? To which I must respond “Yes”.

My friend, an Aryan-German Jew, must calmly explain to people that race and religion are independent of each other. Many people seem to believe that Judaism is a race. A common exchange is as follows:

“You’re Jewish?!?”
“Yes”.
“But you’re German!”
“Yea, well they didn’t get all of us”.

A long explanation should not be required to convey one’s religion. This is why a change is in order.

More to the point, not all Jews are born Jewish; although the population of people who convert to Judaism is small. Within my immediate family alone: my Father converted from Catholicism and my brother, sister and I were all converted from the indigent religions of Peru, China and Korea respectively. Although my family does represent something of a racial bouillabaisse it still proves the point that Jews of all shapes and colors do indeed exist and they are asking for public opinions to change.

The school of Judaism that a person follows is another division within our sect. The divisions are as follows: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist. The first two can be thought of as the traditional forms of Jewish study and prayer, the Orthodox representing the more strict and formal of the two and Conservative being the more colloquial of the two. Orthodox services are conducted in the traditional manner, in some cases even separating men from women. Conservative services are run much like a standard church service, except in Hebrew. The last two are rather different from what usually springs to mind; often prayers are said in English or members of the congregation may offer up their own suggestions. Reform Synagogues are not as formal, allowing for provocative thought and changing of customs and prayers. Reconstructionist, to which I belong, encourages challenging the old faith and improving it as an effect of time. All of these schools of thought are Jewish but the latter 2 would be thought of as less “Jewish”. This is simply not true and thus we must change our vision of what it is to be “Jewish”.

Judaism is a faith, a set of beliefs and values. It is not predicated on physical traits, genetic lineage or geographic heritage. Judaism is, in my belief, a set of values that gives us conscience and modesty. It is a way of life that gives you something to believe in; it is nothing but faith. A person is a Jew because they profess Judaism, not because they look “Jewish”. Obviously there will always be the stereotype of what construes a Jew but this author begs for a change in what you, the reader, believes to be a Jew. Public perception can change on the whim of a single person as long as the rest of the world believes them. You can be that one person.

(Note: Ethiopian Jews, Beta Israel (House of Israel),  are the descendants of the Tribe of Dan, one of the (so-called) Lost Tribes of Israel) For additional information: The Ethiopian Jews of Israel

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