Last week, someone made the mistake of filming a bunch of drunk, white Jews in Jerusalem after the Obama’s Cairo speech.
I’ve heard a lot of things said:
1. These are just stupid American Jews on a Birthright Trip in Israel. They don’t speak for anyone, they can barely speak for themselves (as the video shows).
2. This video is proof that young American Jews are a bunch of racists who use words like “n-gger” and “white power.”
3. Now that Obama’s president, we are in a “post-racial America”…and that has made some people, including American Jews, more racist.
4. The guy filming just wanted to get famous at the expense of these stupid white American Jewish kids. (Good job, no?)
5. Don’t get a bunch of white Jewish kids drunk because if you do, you’ll find out EXACTLY how racist they really are.
It is with a heavy heart that I put this on my blog because I know it will cause a lot of people pain. That’s why I’ve been sitting on this story for a week despite the news it’s made (check out “‘Feel the Hate’ for Obama”).
Over at the Frum Satire blog, there was some serious conversation about racism in the Jewish community. And damn, well, it’s about time. We are not all as thick-skinned as MixedJewGirl who wrote a blog about this video last week calling this video anything but shocking. In fact, she argues, this is reality. And so, I ask you, if it is…what are we going to do to change it?
4 thoughts on “Lesson 1: Don’t Get White American Jewish Kids Drunk?”
I have your solution Aliza…more open discussion about race in the synagogues and in the overall Jewish community. And this can begin with Jews of Color, as we are plentiful, all over this country. HOWEVER, it is a matter of being greeted with an audience who is willing to embrace discussions of race. And that, in synagogues, begins with rabbis.
Personally, there have been a couple of experiences at shul that lead me to believe any discussion of race will consistently be neglected unless a collective group stand is taken and not just one person (since I'm the ONLY adult JOC there). The first is regarding the pre-marital counseling that my fiance and I participate in with the rabbi. In trying to discuss family roots, my life is inextricably linked to being African American. And so, even though I am now Jewish, this is a part of me that clearly remains. When I bring this up as a part of my background, the rabbi consistently shoves that away, because I am a Jew, and it's all about how to live and be married as a Jew. Throughout this entire process, making preparations for my wedding, I have felt as if being Jewish has taken precedent over being an African American. I never wanted or anticipated there being tension between the two. How do I have a discussion with the rabbi to get past this? I'm not even certain where to begin…
The second and last example is one I will never forget, from last year's High Holy Days. We have to obtain “tickets” which are a part of our membership. They, along with your driver's license allow entry into shul on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Last year, I “reserved” my tickets though they were never sent to me. As my fiance and I tried to get in (everyone there knows who I am), with me having no ticket, I had to explain that it didn't come in the mail. I was yelled at and denied entry…only until my white Ashkenazi fiance stepped in to defend me. It was embarassing with the crowd of people behind us trying to get in. They finally found the tickets on the next day when we were at morning Rosh Hashanah services, though I received no apology for the mix up or even a direct address of what went wrong. They explained the mix up to my fiance, whose name was not on the tickets, and not to me…
I won't lie and say I didn't cry about the situation. It hurt, it was frustration and made me extremely angry. But who would earnestly listen to that story and declare, “Let's do something about!”? And that is why I remain silent until I can figure out how best these issues should be addressed. It's really hard, sometimes.
About the wedding, you can talk to the rabbi or you can choose not to. All the ways that we incorporated Dominican culture into the wedding had nothing to do with the rabbi. Check out my portfolio for my piece on “My Big Fat Dominican American Jewish Wedding.”
I think that you SHOULD talk to someone at the synagogue about that high holidays incident. I had the same problem. I was told to give a name at the front desk and that I would just get in but they didn't and they wouldn't even go get my in-laws so they could vouch for me. My in-laws instantly cried “RACISM!” And I'm not so sure it was but whatever it was, I was not treated in an appropriate manner and they need to know what kind of atmosphere this sets up in synagogue.
Regarding the comments about Obama on this very pathetic and embarressing video, my question is: Can we separate Obama's politics from his skin color??” Seems so simple to me. I love what he has done for African Americans, what he represents. I am thrilled to finally see some diversity represented in American government. But I am vehemently opposed to the majority of his political ideas.
Why can't anyone seem to have a logical discussion about these 2 very separate issues?? -Leah
The video has been removed…drat (although I did see it already).