For Jews of every culture and color, identity and belonging are key issues

Randi Cecchine
Yavilah McCoy, an African-American Jew and Ayecha’s executive director, right, speaks with Yehudah Rothstein at the Jewish Leaders of Color conference in N.Y.
For Jews of every culture and color,
identity and belonging are key issues
By Loolwa Khazzoom
NEW YORK, March 20 2005 (JTA) — Pele Browner, a 19-year-old Jew of African-American and Native-American heritage, was playing basketball at his local Jewish community center in West Bloomfield, Mich,when one of the other kids on the court asked him if he was Jewish. “Yes,” he said.“How does that work out?” they asked.Adam McKinney, 28, a Jew of African-American, Ashkenazi and Sephardi ancestry, often has fielded similar questions.

People say, “How are you Jewish?” he said. “I say, ‘I’m fine Jewish. How are you Jewish?’ ” Read more »


Hebrew Crunk for a sweet New Year

Here’s to starting off your New Year.  L’shana Tovah

Message to “mainstream” Jews: We don’t all look like Woody Allen or Barbra Streisand. GET OVER IT!

From Racialicious

esti mamoOkay, maybe this is some of my damnhowdidtheweekendflybysoquicklyagain angst talking, but I’m just gonna run with it. ) Saw an article in American Jewish Life Magazine about Esti Mamo, an Israeli model. She happens to be Ethiopian, and that of course becomes the focus of the story.

This is yet another instance of “Whoa! Who would have thought that this person of color would be Jewish?” Honestly, it’s so ridiculous. Obviously there are Jews of color. There have been for all of time, and there are many of us around now, actually (in this country, and in Israel). Yet, always this shock and surprise. The “Jewish community” (how much of a community is it when so many of us are not included?) needs to get over it. Read more »

Here’s just the ticket for Observing High Holy Days

By Robin Washington

Editorial page editor, Duluth News Tribune

Robin WashingtonIn my interracial, interreligious family on Chicago’s Near North Side, I did not have a particularly religious childhood. Yet it was a Jewish one. There were few Jews in our immediate area and no synagogues, so on holidays my mother would take us to the end of the line of the El to a synagogue near the high school where she taught. As testament of the city’s deliberate segregation of schools, she was assigned to a predominantly Jewish high school and, when that neighborhood changed, a school in a different Jewish area. Read more »

Canadian couple give new olim Rosh Hashana to remember

by Jenny Hazan

CJN Israel Bureau

SAFED, Israel — When the Tzahal Absorption Center in Safed suffered a direct hit from a Katyusha rocket fired by Hezbollah on July 13 – one of a barrage of rockets to fall near the centre – about 400 new immigrants from Ethiopia had already been moved to bomb shelters across Israel’s north.

Some were separated from their children for the first time, opting to let them go to southern cities for safety. Prior to their arrival in Safed, most of the new immigrants had spent five to seven years in Jewish Agency-run refugee camps, waiting for their flight to Israel. For most, the Tzahal Absorption Center – the largest of three in Safed, built for families of seven members or more – became their first home in Israel just weeks before the outbreak of the war in Lebanon. Read more »

Yavilah McCoy has a story to tell that spans generations

She’s African-American and she’s Jewish
Yavilah McCoy has a story to tell that spans generations.

The Kansas City Star


Most people are unaware of someone like Yavilah McCoy: an African-American and a fourth-generation Jew.

“People are surprised to find a Jew of color,” said McCoy, who grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home in a heavily Jewish area of Brooklyn.

Wherever she is, McCoy said, she has to explain to African-Americans that being Jewish doesn’t necessarily mean being white. And Jews want to know how she can be Jewish and African-American.  Read more »

Who’s a Jew? I’m a Jew.

I wrote this nearly a decade ago, and thought I’d share it with you. I welcome your stories as well. -src

Who’s a Jew?
By Sheree R. Curry, Copyright 1998

I went to an invitation-only Jewish event the other day that was being held at the reception hall section of a club downtown. A security guard stopped me at the door to tell me that a private party was going on inside and that I must want the club’s main entrance around the corner. I didn’t think twice about his comment, spun my heels and went to the other door in search of my event. At this main door another guard tells me that there is a cover charge to enter. “I pre-paid. My name should be on the Hadassah guest list,” I announced. “Oh,” he said, “You want the Jewish party. You have to enter it from the street side.” He proceeded to direct me back to the first entrance I approached. As I walked back down the street shaking my head at the confusion, it dawned on me that the “private party” the first guard mentioned is my party. He must have assumed I had the wrong event since I am an African American trying to enter a Jewish affair. I sauntered back up to guard number one and said calmly that the party going on inside is where I am suppose to be. He was skeptical and asked me several questions such as “Whose sponsoring the party? How much did you pay?” When semi-convinced he allowed me inside. However, his eyes followed me as I checked in at the receiving desk and a hostess scratched my name off the master guest list. Once inside, on two different occasions, other guards — both of whom were African American — stopped me to let me know that I had wandered into a private party. I just played it cool and let them know they were the ones who had made the mistake.   Read more »

Getting Acquainted

Hello, I am Sheree, the creator of this site and a Jew by Choice.  I became interested in Judaism while a senior in high school, after taking a religion course with a segment on comparative religions.  I began studying to become a Jew during my freshman year of college and I officially became a conservative Jew during my sophomore year.  I have now been Jewish for more years than I have not.  Although I converted, not every Jew of color is a convert. Some were born to one or two parents who were Jewish, whether by birth or conversion.  Please tell us your story.

Welcome to the blog for welcomes you. We hope that this forum will become your extended community. That it will be a place where we meet to share ideas on a variety of topics from religion to culture to current events as they relate to the Jewish community, Jews of Color as a whole, and the African American community. Welcome

— BAJ Editor.