culture/multiculturalism · jews of color · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism · race/racism

How do I show my children they can be biracial and Jewish?

From a prospective convert whose “father is Jewish and mother won’t admit she is.” Can you say…complicated? But she’s less concerned for herself than her biracial children.

My oldest son is under the impression that being light-skinned is the norm for the Jewish community and he is having difficulty wanting to be Jewish (although he knows that Judaism is not a race or nationality).

I was just wondering if anybody has a suggestion for ways to show him that Jews come in all colors.

—Converting in Pennsylvania

How do we teach Jewish children (and almost-Jewish children) a concept that even Jewish adults have trouble wrapping their head around?

I suggested reaching out to organizations like Be’chol Lashon and the Jewish Multiracial Network, which has a great list-serv that connects Jews of color of all ages and white parents of Jews of color.

Also, I suggested getting a copy of “I Love Jewish Faces,” a children’s book by Debra Darvick, which is now available for pre-order. I’ve already ordered two copies of this book, which hopes to highlight the diversity of the Jewish community.

What would you suggest?

7 thoughts on “How do I show my children they can be biracial and Jewish?

  1. Go to any sefardic community for a shabbos weekend, where you will see many dark skinned Jews from middle eastern places like Yemen, etc….

    Get your son an ethiopian pen pal from Israel to see those the people who make up those communities.

    I have met many people from, Japan, the Carribean, Africa, Austrailia, etc…who are converts, and run the gamuts of backgrounds and color. You need to show your son that Judaism comes in a full color spectrum.

    Good Luck


  2. Show them a picture of me. My mother was jewish, my father black. I grant though that is is not very common to see brown-skinned jews. There are many sefards in my shul but most I wouldn't call brown-skinned. All you can do is give them the tools, so that if they choose to, they will be comfortable in shul.


  3. It needs to be taught in school- we are not the world- but we have members who look like they are from every part of it.

    Be more outgoing to those who are/look different- one of the most often repeated themes in the bible.

    The above will not help your friend, but could help the next generation.


  4. I've met a surprising number of Jamaican Jews in New York. Their heritage is just as old and authentic as any other Jewish group and they are all dark-haired and dark-skinned.


  5. Contact, contact, contact. If a child doesn't have contact with Jews that resemble them, they don't grow up with strong Jewish identities. I'm lucky. My Jewish parent is a Sefardic looking mixed race Jew. I never thought being Jewish meant I had to be white.


  6. Keep your kids in the Jewish community and make sure they circulate around; they certainly will encounter other Jews of every physical description. Also be certain to send your kids to Israel – talk about 'rainbow'!


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