jews of color · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism

How Conversations Between White Jews and Jews of color often fail….

This is a great example of how conversations between white Jews and Jews of color often fail.

An African-American Jew of color posts this seemingly innocuous post on her Facebook page:

Bina Malka Stinnett is still looking for JOCs” “Jews of color”, who live near/in/will be in the LA area…. e-mail me or something via F.B! -Thanks again.
Yesterday at 12:12pm • Comment • Like

Follow the string of responses to see how quickly her post gets twisted up in someone else’s head games:

Dan M.
haha I never heard the term “joc” before. How’s life by the way?
Yesterday at 12:13pm

Bina Malka Stinnett
really? ummm Life is interesting… what’s new with you? Long time no see.
Yesterday at 12:14pm

Enter MaNishtana’s classic JOC-slapping video:

Bina Malka Stinnett
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uztlHUGFQXo
Yesterday at 12:17pm

Yoseph D.
what if i’m quite dark, but not enough? lol
Yesterday at 3:18pm

This is where it starts to go wrong. Enter the soon-to-be infamous Dovid S..

Dovid S.
Last time I checked race is a goyish concept not a Jewish one, therefore “Jews of Color” is an oxymoron
Yesterday at 10:03pm

First warning sign that this conversation with go awry: Dovid S. thinks race and racism is a “social construct” created by non-Jews.
Bina Malka Stinnett
sorry Dovid… but whatever… it’s not your issue.
Yesterday at 10:49pm

Bina Malka Stinnett
if it was YOU, you wouldn’t say that. we all have our ideas and things SHOULD be but most of the time things are not like that..
Yesterday at 10:51pm

Enter fellow Jew of color:

Jennifer T.
*sigh*
Yesterday at 11:00pm

Bina Malka Stinnett
I know I am trying….

Dovid S.
Yeah I am one of these primitive fundamentalist Jews who doesn’t look at skin color silly me
Yesterday at 11:02pm

Second warning sign: Dovid S. claims to be “colorblind”:

Bina Malka Stinnett
I am sorry but Jews SHOULD NOT look at skin color…..but guess what it still happens… And you can act like its not happening because it’s not happening to you….but things don’t get better with if we don’t face the issues…also being “color” blind isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Your skin color and other thing play a role in who u are , who u do or don’t become sometimes….it’s like o I like YOU but that other thing ( your skin I don’t like)…. well if that’s the case we can call some things into question.

Yoseph D.
I can’t say anything but i’m embarrassed of the people. HaShem and the Torah think that kind of discrimination is wrong. u know that’s some messed up stuff when G-d’s not cool with it
Yesterday at 11:16pm

Enter Aliza Hausman’s blog:

Jennifer T.
Dovid – It’s great that you don’t see color. Please, know that makes you very rare within the Jewish community & it is commendable. But, what you fail to realize as one who benefits from Ashkenazi privilege is that those of us who are not “white” have serious acceptance issues within the Jewish community that need to addressed. Also, it is because of these same acceptance issues that we need to forge a sense of community within the larger Jewish community.

http://www.alizahausman.net/2009/02/ashkenazi-privelege-checklist.html

Warning sign: Again, Dovid S. stresses that while certain groups, like BTs (ba’al teshuvas–born Jews who return to observance) are treatedly differently, he stresses that race is a social construct and calls Bina out on fighting “white racism with black racism.”

Dovid S.
Yes and BTs get treated different in the shidduchim (matchmaking) process as well. There are a lot of aspects of frum culture that contradict Torah. ie Loshan Hara (gossip) is very big, it doesn’t make it right. And don’t give me that BS political correct you wouldn’t understand. My work is almost all black, I don’t ever think of it. Yes being color blind is what its cracked up to be. You don’t fight white racism with black racism. Skin color is just an adaption to sun rays etc. Halacha doesn’t discuss skin color, Black goyim are the same as white goyim with 7 mitzvahs bnei noach (7 commandments given to Noah). And the same is with Jews, all Jews no matter what their skin color is, are the same in halacha (Jewish law). Being a Yid is about souls not your physical body.
Yesterday at 11:18pm

Julie T.
I totally second Bina. Right on girl…I’m so proud of what your trying to do 🙂
Whether we like it or not…there are minorities and stereotypes within Judaism :-/
Yesterday at 11:22pm

Dovid S.
I mean converts in general have issues being excepted by the greater Jewish Community, and this along with racism, or ego with people’s family or whether they are yeshivish or chassidishe or chabad. Trust me I get into to arguments with my fellow Lubavithers when they bash Yeshivish. And that’s nothing to do with race. The truth is there are so many divisions within the Jewish community. The problems with racism is only a symptom of a much greater disease. A 2,000 year one at that!

Julie T.
I totally second Bina. Right on girl…I’m so proud of what you’re trying to do 🙂
Whether we like it or not…there are minorities and stereotypes within Judaism :-/
Yesterday at 11:22pm

Jennifer T.
But the simple fact is you wouldn’t understand. When’s the last time you walked in to the same shul that you have been attending every week for the last 5 years and someone came up to you & asked you were the new person who worked in the kitchen? When was the last time you were at shul davening in perfect Hebrew & some random person came up to you and asked you were you Jewish? When was the last time you went to a Shabbat dinner and someone you were just meeting’s first question to you was, “so, are your parents Jewish?” When was the last time you were at a Seder & some random guest asks you “Is this your first Seder?” When was the last time some teenager at your shul made a joke about lynching you? When was the last time you went to a Jewish event & the organizer felt the need to come up to you and say “You do know this is an event for Jews?” When was the last time that upon meeting you, the person’s first question was “So, what made you want to convert?” When was the last time you were walk to shul on Shabbat & some random stranger who may or may not have been Jewish, asked you “So, when did you convert?”
Yesterday at 11:28pm

Bina Malka Stinnett
black racism wow I didn’t list colors. I think you are a good person, Dov. but we aren’t talking about textbook answers… we are talking about everyday life… I can have my thoughts and yes halacha does not discuss skin color.. but what u don’t understand is I am obligated to do my best to keep my kids Jewish if I have kids… and its not going to happen if I act like there aren’t or wont be issues that my kids will deal with as JOCs… No one will see my kids and think they are Jewish and to top they when they say they r people wil give them a much hard time ( with HOW question). I converted… my kids will be born Jewish, I can’t expect them to put up with as much as I am willing to deal with as a convert….this is thing I am willing to do: address the issues. I will not sit and hope things pan out.

I didn’t bring up dating.

Warning sign: Dovid S. brings up segregation:

Dovid S.
So what’s your solution, should there be Black Shuls, Black Yeshivas, Black Smicha (Rabbinic Ordination)?
Yesterday at 11:30pm

Yoseph D.
It is unfortunately as the gemara says, alma d’shikra. It’s a world of lies.
Its the people that mess it all up. Torah remains pure. G-d help us. I’d never turn down a shidduch based on race, nor turn down a friendship because of it. I want a Jewish tsedeket, regardless of the packaging of the soul. The people who aren’t cool like that should be ashamed. I don’t totally see it like David, but I certainly, as my personal choice choose what’s right over what’s prevalent

it’s a contradiction to believe Torah is truth, and to discriminate based on race…

Jennifer T.
You’re right that there are many divisions within the Jewish community – all Bina is trying to do is work on the one that directly affects us – the ones dealing with acceptance of Jews of Color & creating a Jews of Color community.

But, *sigh* to you thinking this is a conversion issue. Most Jews of Color are NOT converts & this way of thinking is part of the problem.
Yesterday at 11:33pm

Dovid S.

So how far should the accepted segregation should we take it? And I say we because you are just as much of a Jew as I am!

Jennifer T.
Dovid – how about a shul were people just don’t stare at me like I have three eyes or ask me stupid questions? But, that being said I would LOVE to one day attend a shul where I saw several people that looked like me (and with better music =) ) & where if I one day, G-d willing, have children they can play with other children who look like them. But, I don’t think that is necessary at a Black shul – just one that has some diversity.
Yesterday at 11:39pm

Dovid S.
How about this crazy idea, a shul which is about Hashem
Yesterday at 11:41pm

Jennifer T.
We’re not talking about being separated or segregation – just TRUE inclusion within the larger community. There is a difference. Also, just cause I love me, doesn’t mean I hate you.
Yesterday at 11:42pm

Jennifer T.
Why can’t I have both?

Yoseph D.
If u can bring better music to my shul, and drop European songs of suffering, I think I can find a minyan of people to pay you… ahahha
Yesterday at 11:45pm

Warning sign: Dovid S. hates “political correctness”:
Dovid S.
What we don’t need is political correctness in shuls. Diversity of backgrounds doesn’t mean skin color. I know since my shul is just a bunch of white Jews it’s not “diverse” in the PC sense. But it is, in the sense we have people from vast backgrounds, from Naval Officers to former potheads, yet we all share one thing, we make a decision to become frum. Our kiddushes aren’t social clubs or as a lot are in Crown Heights, drinking clubs, it’s about serving Hashem. If people are dedicated to Hashem, no one cares about skin color. Taking Aspirin to treat fever from the flu doesn’t cure the flu
Yesterday at 11:49pm

Bina Malka Stinnett
Dov, that fact that u have “so much to say” and aren’t listening… makes my point…we are talking just at black and white… we are talking about Asian, black, Latino, whatever… Indian…

Jennifer T.
LOL! Let’s do it!!!
Yesterday at 11:50pm

Dovid S.
I know you aren’t only talking about Black when it comes to so called diversity
Yesterday at 11:51pm

Warning sign: Dovid S. brings up affirmative action:
Dovid S.
But will there also be the diversity quota when it comes to your Rav of the shul?
Yesterday at 11:53pm

Jennifer T.
I’m not, but thanks for completely missing the entire point of this dialogue.
Yesterday at 11:55pm

Jennifer T.
Yes, she must be a Black Chinese Jewish Lesbian raised in Mexico, fluent in Farsi with one foot.

*sigh*
Yesterday at 11:57pm

Bina Malka Stinnett
Dov. no matter how much u try u aren’t going to really understand……we can talk about this when u have little brown Jewish kids going to a day school…. and maybe wondering why some kids won’t hold their hands…. yea its happens
Yesterday at 11:58pm

Dovid S.
Classic so-called diversity, inclusive as long as you agree with us, if I disagree with how we should deal with the internal racism within our community, then I missed the point of the dialog. I didn’t miss the point, because plenty will just deny it or say there is but it’s at a small degree. I recognize its a massive problem, but the way isn’t to create so call “diversity” Jewish community of people of color, which basically means non white Jews.
Yesterday at 11:58pm

Jennifer T.
You’re absolutely right! The best way to deal with this issue is to not form our own community, but for those who are doing the excluding to start including. How exactly would you suggest we go about doing that?

Warning sign: Dovid S. starts talking about how he’s been oppressed to derail the topic at hand even further:
Dovid S.
You think I don’t know what discrimination is like? are you kidding? Don’t give me your PC nonsense, I have been attacked in front of my house for being Jewish, I know what it’s like. I know what it is like to be told these girls are too Ivy League girls their not in your league because my father isn’t Jewish and I am not a New England (or West Cost) Elitist, but from a small hick town. Guess what People of Color aren’t the only ones getting discriminated against. My 1st shidduch date they didn’t even look at personality, he saw oh your dad isn’t Jewish and you’re from a hick town and so is she. Yeah I know brown kids are going to have problems with it. But again you diversity, it based on skin color not on ideas, it is if u don’t think like us, you missed the point.
Today at 12:04am

Yoseph D.
Kidnap their leader and force him to undergo skin pigmentation… J/K, but…

how about form a group or organization and team up with community leaders to speak out against it like the ADL does on TV regarding anti-Semitism
Today at 12:06am

Yoseph D.
Maybe even work with the ADL a bit, because it IS a form of anti-Semitism…
Today at 12:07am

Bina Malka Stinnett
Well I don’t mean to bring anyone down…. I am not going to wait to be “included”…we have to work on change now… I would like to have a list of reasons to stay in a community that makes u feel 2nd class.. To give my children someday.
Today at 12:09am

Enter another Jew of color in an attempt to help:

Shais R.
@dovid: aren’t there Syrian shuls? Russian shuls? Sephardic shuls? Sephardic yeshivas? Syrians smichas? why exactly should we not get the same?
Today at 12:09am

Dovid S.
ah Jennifer, that’s where real solutions aren’t so easy. While tznius is an issue, that all these wonderful Rabbis like to deal with, they can’t change it since women who dress un tznius know it and don’t care. (I am just using an example of an issue in the frum world that is so over talked about) I think the solution is to talk to our Rabbis about it and say it is a serious issues that needs to be addressed. And by ones who have legitimacy not a certain media favorite Rav. I mean I was stunned when the 1st girl who I was gonna be set up with, someone said she is black, is that ok? I was like what? Of course it is, what’s she like? Ya know if the girl has blonde or red hair, or str8 or curly hair, that wouldn’t come up.
Today at 12:10am

Yoseph D.
or just move to Israel, the most diverse collection of Jews in the world
Today at 12:13am

Shais R.
and no one here is playing the “who’s more discriminated against” game. We aren’t discounting your experiences, so why are you discounting ours? You don’t understand. you CANT. it is IMPOSSIBLE. just as we cannot understand YOUR experiences. Sure “in theory” we should all be dancing around holding hands singing “hava naglia” but obviously, 2,000 yrs of exile later, we clearly ain’t there yet. Just b/c you’re happy on your side of the tracks doesn’t mean that the other side doesn’t exist or is any less valid than yours.

Bina Malka Stinnett
based on my stated comments how can anyone say JOCs don’t need their own community…
G-d willing I will have children and they will see other JEWISH kids that “look like them’
Today at 12:15am

Warning sign: Dovid S. thinks the only reason there are Russian shuls is because the Russians there can’t speak English. Read on for his thoughts on assimilation:


Dovid S.
Well there are Russian shuls for Russian immigrants because they have weak English, ya gotta be able to communicate in a shul. Btw a lot of the Russian shuls also have members of the Bukharian community, and Kavkaz community as well. There are Sepharadi Yeshivas/Shuls because of minhag (custom), and the minhag of tefila (prayer), but I know tons of Sephardim who go to Ashkenazi Yeshivas. And at least half if not most Israeli Lubavs are Sephardi. But with Sepharadi shuls its based on minhag of tefila, but there is no Sepharadi Yeshiva system. In Israel Charadi (ultra-Orthodox) Sepharadim go to Litvish Yeshivahs, and Dati go to Dati ones.

Jennifer T.
Whoever said you didn’t know what discrimination is like? I don’t even know you. That being said – you have no idea what it means to be discriminated against in your own community based on the color of your skin & that is the issue that I *thought* we were discussing.

Again, there are many diversity issues that need to be worked on, but the one that Bina is working on is the issues that JOCs face. We’ll let you work on the ones that Jews from hick towns with non-Jewish dads face. If you want to form a JFHTWNJD group and put out a call looking for other JFHTWNJDs, trust me no one will respond to your status telling you are wrong and discriminating against others and that your issues are trivial & do you want to start your own shul and that they’re just trying to be PC because they personally love all JFHTWNJDs.
Today at 12:17am

Tasha M.
Bina, I hate that JOCs have so many issues to deal with. It is wrong and against torah. At a minimum JOCs need the support of other JOCs just so they know they are not the only one going through the problems mentioned. Then non-JOCs need to start focusing more on action then skin color superficial differences. May moshiach come and all bigotry be wiped off the face of the earth.
Today at 12:22am

Shais R.
No one told Reuben “hey you don’t NEED to be a separate tribe. You can just go over to where Shimon is at.” or “I don’t see a need for zevulun to get his own piece of land when he can just share where Ephraim lives”
Today at 12:22am

Dovid S.
The tribes are based on the father, just like many people whose minhagim are Ashkenazim have sepharadi mother, or vis versa. And btw, you do know for instance in the Spanish inquisition many Spanish Jews went to Russia, and they took on Ashkenazi Minhag, and there was Ashkeanzim who went to N Africa and took on Sepharadi minhag. This thing of a Sepharadi shul next to a Chassidic, etc is a post WW2 thing. Its modern. And that’s exactly why a Sepharadi who become Lubav changes their nusach (order of prayer according to customs). However the tribes were not based upon skin color, and as Jennifer said that’s what we were discussing, and we got very caught up on the examples. My main point is creating sub communities will not address the issue. And then there will be a feeling of not belong within the JOC shuls within the different sub ethnic groups of Jews. Will the Chinese feel excluded from the Blacks and want to start a Chinese Jewish Community? Remember separate but equal also was meant to deal with the racial animosity but it didn’t. It only made things worse.

Shais R.
it’s a yes or no scenario. are there these different enclaves? yes. why? b/c the ppl in them have something in common or require something that cant be found in other enclaves. they need something of their own. bnai yisrael were one ppl right? now tell anybody, but they were made of twelve DISTINCT tribes…

Yoseph D.
v’ahavta l’reacha kamocha…… and Dovid, if more people thought along the lines of what you’re proposing perhaps there wouildnt be a problem, but as things stand, we do have a problem, and I pray its solved asap. So I’d be happy to see Bina take on this goliath within our people-the Jewish people… One Day, we’ll see true ahavat Yisrael
Today at 12:33am

Bina Malka Stinnett
AMEN
Today at 12:37am

Dovid S.
Torah explicitly discusses the various tribes and their land sharing. Remember it is based on Yaakov Aveinu’s 12 sons, and they were all tribes because they were tzaddikim. However with land appropriation since Levi had none the tribe of Yosef was divided to Menashe and Ephraim. However that is directly from Torah, and as I said earlier this type of divisions are not from Torah but from man. And even the whole Sepharadi Ashkenazi thing of today is modern, it use to be you change to the minhag of the place you reside. Torah created the 12 tribes, man created the concept of looking at a Jew with a different skin color, or even minhag as different. The idea of only wanting to marry an Ashkenazi, just like treating a Black Jew, or Asian, or Indian Jew etc differently is also manmade. But the only solution to problems are not with another fake man made answer, it is with Torah.
Today at 12:37am

Shais R.
this doesn’t address my question. do these separate enclaves exist? yes. and aside from your obvious assumptions, being a JOC transcends “skin color”. it is also a community and culture that forms from being perpetually looked at as an outsider by every conceivable sect/ethnic collection of Judaism without having a base to call their own.
Today at 12:39am

Dovid S.
I want to know where in Torah it says that? If it isn’t Torah it isn’t Jewish
Today at 12:41am

Dovid S.
Torah is Jewish culture
Today at 12:42am

Shais R.
there are several things that aren’t “torah” that are Jewish. yet they have been adapted and cause Judaism to evolve.
Today at 12:42am

Yoseph D.
dovid, don’t u see there’s a dichotomy between torah and people. to cope with the problems, it’s important for people to get support from others experiencing the same injustices
Today at 12:43am

Shais R.
and if you want to ply that “where in torah” line we’ll be here all night. Chanukah, Purim, kippot, cholent, ushperin, yom atzmaut, lag b’omer….but you seem intent on ignoring the obvious parallel I was making btw the separate tribes and today’s modern situation. perhaps if this were a matter which directly affected you personally you wouldn’t persist in being so dismissive. this is our life. it is unfortunate if it makes you uncomfortable. I see no reason to continue this dialogue.
Today at 12:46am

Dovid S.
Judaism isn’t meant to be changed, You shall not add or take away, there is Minhag Yisroel halacha he, and also Minhag had the same gematria as gehenim. I do not see a dichotomy between people and torah. As its well known when Moshe Rebbeinu received the Torah and the angels protested, and he went through the various lavs and it didn’t apply tothem since they have no yetzar hara, and we do. Torah is the solution to everything, Ah, yes it may be hard to see how Torah can fix this injustice, but that is the challenge of golus. This is an area of Ahavas Yisroel that needs to be addressed. It wasn’t too long ago when mainstream orthodoxy looked at a non frum Yid as if he were a goy not that isn’t the case, and Kiruv is a big thing. Kiruv is all about Ahavas Yisroel, and so is combating racism with in the Jewish community.
Today at 12:52am

Dovid S.
Chanuka is in Gemara Shabbos, Purim is in Megilas Ester, kippot is in gemara and halacha to keep one head covered, the gemara says to have a hot meal on shabbos, in in the old days the way to do that on shabbos day was with cholent and its kept today bc its just that good tasting, yom atzmaut is a Zionist thing not a Jewish thing, lag b’omer as well from the gemara. However as I have stated, bc I don’t agree with you on how to combat it, you feel it makes me uncomfortable. New things in Judaism created by man makes me uncomfortable (I don’t say hallel on Yom Atzmiut). btw I have had many arguments on the other hand, when I have heard racist comments about Black goyim. I ripped apart one of my friends when he said the N word, and I said racism is a goyishe concept, there is no concept of race. Black goyim are no different, then White goyim. The only difference between me and Politically Correct Jews in LA and in LI, beside the fact I have no problem at all living around African Americans, is the fact I am consistent. If you knew me you would understand this is just my personality, Bina, you can agree with me on this one that I am just a difficult person. [Really? Really?]
Today at 1:05am

Jennifer T.
Difficult?!? You don’t say?!?

So what would be your solution for JOCs being more included in the larger Jewish community and how exactly should we express and deal with the specific issues that we have? You still haven’t answered that question from 137 comments ago. And, being more observant, observing Torah, etc. is not an answer. I want concrete ideas.

Jennifer T.
Difficult?!? You don’t say?!?

So what would be your solution for JOCs being more included in the larger Jewish community and how exactly should we express and deal with the specific issues that we have? You still haven’t answered that question from 137 comments ago. And, being more observant, observing Torah, etc. is not an answer. I want concrete ideas.
Today at 1:14am

Yoseph D.
I gave mine above….
Today at 1:15am

Dovid S.
My idea, is to talk to your Rav about it, and say it is a very explain to him the situation. Have you done ever done this?
Today at 1:16am

Jennifer T.
we’re talking on the large scale. This is issue is not specific to one community or one shul. Shais is in NYC, I’m in California & this issue has existed everywhere I have ever lived – Philadelphia, Maryland/DC, Ohio, Memphis. In Conservative shuls, Reform, Orthodox – across the board. This is WAY larger than talking to an individual Rav.
Today at 1:20am

Yoseph D.
organization partnering with community leaders…
Today at 1:21am

Dovid S.
I understand this, my point is to build within, start small, because maybe your Rav can start to address it. Look at what Rosa Parks started by sitting in the front of the bus. I would say write letter to Jewish Papers. But I think with speaking to Rabbis, especially if they are part of an umbrella like OU, Young Israel, Agudah Yisroel, Chabad ect, they can also address it.
Today at 1:23am

Jennifer T.
@ Yoseph – That’s exactly what Bina is trying to do.

@ Dovid – That’s exactly what Bina is trying to do, but to follow with your Rosa Parks example – this is an issue that JOCs first need to come together to determine exactly how OUR issues should be addressed and to offer support & community to each other. Nobody said to Rosa – let’s first go talk to the mayor or the bus company owner or the “good” white folks first and have them deal with – no, the Black community of Montgomery decided how to best deal with their own issue. Let us have some self-determination on the JOC issue.

We’ll let you have JFHTWJD issue.

Dovid S.
An example is never the same, you have hit what has bothered me about Binah’s comment. All Jews are one people. (And btw being sarcastic by putting quotes of good white folks is insulting to the whites her were murdered for the struggle for equality.) The whole problem is from division. You cannot solve a problem of division with division. (I think you are forgetting history, the NAACP was formed by Blacks and Whites, the earliest abolitionists were Whites along with Blacks. Dr. King’s partners were White [although they tended to be Jewish]) Why are you felt unwelcome? Because they look at you not as a Jew but as an African American. So how is the solution going to come from focusing on race? The solution needs to be on focusing on our soul not skin color. And trust me this shabbos I am going to make a lot of people feel uncomfortable. The idea of division among Jews makes me cry. That’s one of the reasons I can’t live in Israel, all the divisions among Jews, Right-Left, Secular-Religious-Dati etc.
Today at 2:04am

Yoseph D.
hahaha, JFHTWJD

Jennifer T.
@ Dovid – I’m just going to say it – when it comes to this issue, your ignorance speaks VOLUMES. Every issue within the Jewish community would be solved if folks would focus on their soul, but we are human and humans are IDOITS. Of course, we are ONE people – but is this the reality of how we are actually treated? Of course, not. All, Bina is trying to do is correct the small piece of the Jewish community that directly affects her. How is this wrong? Do you also have a problem with women’s groups that meet to discuss issues that are specific to women? And BTW telling me that I am forgetting MY history is so insulting. My quotes around good were because just you do the right thing doesn’t make you “good” or “special” – it is what you are supposed to do.
Today at 2:17am

Enter yet another Jew of color to offer Bina support:

Sasha K.
Dovid,

You don’t know very much about the Civil Rights Movement. Rosa’s action was inspired by her teach in participaton in the Highlander Folk School, which taught non violence as a means of fighting for civil rights.

I don’t think you understand the psychological impact of children not seeing themselves represented on their identity. Unfortunately, it causes a lot of self hate and anger. The famous doll studies by the Clarks explain the phenomenon.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_and_Mamie_Clark

What Bina is trying to accomplish is something similar. Perhaps we should have Bechol Lashon help us fund a conference in Philadelphia next year. We will need our own resources. We have organizations, yet we lack synagogues.

Dovid S.
Everyone here can insult me, call me ignorant, etc. The simple fact is I do understand the civil rights movement, I used it as an example. My point is, and the fact Jennifer said considers her history black history and not Jewish history proves my entire issue. You want to look at the color of ones skin not the content of ones character. I don’t consider European history my history, I only consider Jewish and American history my history. The Spanish inquisition is my history even though I am Ashkenazi. I belief in a color blind society, I belief in no divisions between Jews. As I said earlier the concept of race is a goyish concept not a Jewish one. In fact even though because Jennifer likes to call me ignorant because I think differently, and do not subscribe to the politically correct hypocrisy. BTW the modern understanding of race which is white black Asian is based in eugenics. Prior to the eugenics movements race meant ethnic group. And sub Sahara Africa has more ethnic groups then nay other place region. Someone from Ghana is a completely different ethnic group then a Kenyan. Yet when we have this racist concept of only looking at skin color we would think they are the same. Jews are all one people, whether we are White, Black, Sephardi, Yemenite, Asian etc or a Convert. What binds us together is our Torah, and our neshama (soul). However all of those here who assume my disagreement is because I have not educated enough on Black issues or whatever, would have heard what I have said to my racist Jewish friends when they have said the N word about Black goyim, I bet anything would have agreed with me. I have said on the opposite end when my friends have said the N word, that the concept of race is a goyish concept not a Jewish one. Would u also have called me ignorant, and I don’t know history? Of course not, only because I do not agree with your politically correct hypocrisy do you feel the need to if all else fail, insult me. I oppose all forms of racial segregation!
9 hours ago

Jennifer T.
ig•no•rant (gnr-nt)
adj.
1. Lacking education or knowledge.
2. Showing or arising from a lack of education or knowledge: an ignorant mistake.
3. Unaware or uninformed.

My use of the word is correct, even if you don’t like it. You clearly lack knowledge on what it means to be a Jew of Color. You clearly lack education and knowledge on the history of the Civil Rights Movement – you use Rosa Parks as an example, yet you don’t understand or know the full history behind the Movement. You are clearly unaware of the need for JOCs to have self-determination in solving our issues within the Jewish community. Your responses are not un-PC, they are ignorant.

How do you know what I consider MY history to be made up of? I am a Jewish Black American Woman – Black History is my history, Jewish History is my history, American History is my istory, Female History is my history, African History is my history, British history is my history, World history is my history – you are the one pigonholing me into one box.

Dovid S.
My point of using Rosa Parks was to the issue of starting small, because she started small, if you will look at what that was in context to. I was referring to speaking to one local Rabbi. So therefore that isn’t ignorant. She started small. My point in bringing up Rosa Parks is how one small act can transform things, which is why if you or Bina haven’t spoken to your Rav about the issue you should. So what is ignorant me disagreeing with the idea of JOC community? That is an opinion not a fact. Can’t one have a different opinion? So what was historically inaccurate about how Rosa Parks small step being the catalyst to the Montgomery bus boycott? My point was how a small act can lead to something major. Like how speaking to ones Rav or writing to papers etc can lead to a bigger thing. Rosa parks 1st refused, then the bus boycott started. As I said the idea of JOC community, is an opinion. Any issue effecting Jews effects me. True, people can be part of several ethnic groups. The question is what do u relate more to. The only European history I consider my history is Jewish parts of it, just like I consider the history of Ethiopian Jews my history, and Yemenite Jews my history. But the bigger question is what to you relate more to, the history of people who have the same skin color as you, you being a Jewish which is above nationality or skin color? Lets talk about something real not name calling which you reverted to, which is what people do when they run out of intellectual arguments. I will admit fault and wrong when I did, and I admit, when Bina told me about how she felt more I should have taken it more seriously, as a major issue. On a larger scale I think that’s the problem is as a community, we all knew there was this unspoken treating Jews who look different as 2nd class citizens. The mere tolerance of it is accepting it as right. I can tell you I will make plenty feel uncomfortable this shabbos when I will address it to people. As well as talk to a very well known Rav, who has spoken about racism before.
8 hours ago

Jennifer T.
Why should I have to pick one part of me and make that more important than the rest of me? Why can’t all of what makes me, me be equally important? Why do I need to fit into your box of who I should be?

Also, Bina’s status was just asking for other JOCs in the area to contact her – what makes you so sure that she wasn’t looking to “start small” once people contacted her? Your Rosa Parks example is actually perfect – Bina is looking to start something that will unite her part of the community into action to in act social change on the larger level – this is EXACTLY what Bina and other JOCs are trying to do. And if you look at the actual history of the bus boycott, you will find that the African American community was actually very well organized BEFORE the refusal to give up the bus seat & contrary to public belief, Rosa Parks’ refusal was not a spontaneous act, but actually a VERY well planned out form of social protest. Again, a perfect example because we as JOCs need to be organized BEFORE any action be it speaking to an individual Rav or starting a letter writing campaign or whatever.

Dovid S.
But see where an example is not perfect is when dealing with a problem within the Society, is much more difficult then changing oppressive laws. Although to be fair the discussion very much mutated. The problem is a Jewish problem not a JOC problem. Therefore segregation will only make it worse. In fact all the racist Jews probably support this JOC community. I think it should be Jews of all minhagim and colors should come together to discuss the racism within our community. You disagree with me fine. I think segregation is wrong. To assume that there aren’t plenty of frum Jews, who are disgusted by this racism, is simply not true. I believe in inclusion.
8 hours ago

Enter a very pissed Aliza Hausman:

Aliza Hausman
This is one of the most disgusting things I’ve seen in a while.

I think Dovid is just afraid we won’t let him into our JOC shuls. Apparently, as Shais mentioned earlier, it’s okay for Syrians to have their own shuls and Russians to have their own shuls. Perhaps, even I am allowed to go to Sephardic services held primarily in Spanish (one of my native tongues) and Hebrew. As long as I don’t notice that some of the Sephardim and I share the same skin color.

It’s okay for someone to call themselves an Ashkenazi Jew but a Jew of color…NEVER. Dovid, please read my blog. It was linked earlier in this dialogue–which is really just your monologue. You will read time and time again what happens to JOCs and figure out quickly why JOCs are building their own community WITHIN the community. Bina never said we were SEGREGATING ourselves. We still go to predominately Ashkenazi shuls but when the things we see in the Ashkenazi shuls make us cry, we very quickly find a JOC friend to console us even if it’s just with “I know, I’ve been there. It happened to me yesterday.”

I HAVE spoken to my rabbi. (Bina never said she hadn’t.) I’ll be giving a talk at the synagogue about racism in the Jewish community–Jews of all races are invited. I give this talk at any and every synagogue that asks me. This doesn’t mean I cannot and don’t also sit down and talk with JOC groups about the problems we’re facing. But apparently you think the former is kosher but the latter is not. I also attend groups for writing, groups for women, groups for Spanish speakers–is that also segregation? You could come to my Spanish speaking group, but if you don’t speak Spanish, you wouldn’t understand what’s going on. Kind of like what’s going on here. Because you’re not a JOC, you’re having a hard time understand a totally benign post on FB.

Well, maybe you have a problem also with Sephardim going to their own synagogues? I know an Ashkenazi shul that refused to let the Sephardim in their community have their own minyan because that was SEGREGATION. So these people couldn’t even daven (pray) in their own traditional way.

You can come to our JOC meetings, too, if you SHUT UP and listen. Actually listen. Which you have not done throughout this entire string of posts. You don’t want us to do our own thing because you feel it excludes YOU but we never said you couldn’t come to the JOC party, too.

So it’s okay to be Orthodox? Reform? Conservative? It’s okay to go to those shuls and SEGREGATE yourselves based on your religious affiliation. In Israel, Americans often congregate towards other Americans, forming their own communities and synagogues.

But according to you, it’s not okay to form a club or a synagogue based on the DAILY oppression we face as JOCs. It’s not okay for us to form our own safe spaces to reinvigorate ourselves before we face the UNSAFE Jewish community at large. It’s not okay for us to congregate together with others who look like us and deal with the same issues on a daily basis…but it’s okay for YOU. You who don’t even have to go out of your way to look for other Jews who look like you, think like you, pray like you but apparently, that’s not a form of segregation.

If you don’t see why your thought process is sick and twisted, nothing any of the JOCs say is going to help you or Jews who think like you. You should apologize to every JOC on this thread. You should appreciate every single moment each one of us wasted trying to explain our situation in the Jewish community. You should appreciate how racist it is for you as a white Jew to tell us that we as JOCs are not even allowed to create our own communities within the dominant community to keep ourselves safe from people like you.

Bina is not even safe on her own Facebook page. Bina, my heart goes out to you.

With love,
La Jewminicana–the Dominicana American Jewess
13 minutes ago • Delete

Dovid S.
Actually I asked several times, and you are the only one who said anything about speaking to their Rav. And it is good you have given talks about racism, I think that needs to been done a lot more. So you need to be kept safe from people like me who think there is no difference between you and I? That’s racism? BTW I don’t like the whole American communities in Israel, its the reason why you have people who live in Israel for 20 years and can;t order a pizza in Hebrew. 1st of all reform and conservative isn’t Judaism since they do not accept the Torah and Talmud ect as truth from Hashem. How is me disagreeing with you forming JOC communities based on the color of ones skin preventing it? How is being against any movement based on the color of ones skin racist? Unlike the good Ashkenazim who live among all Whites in Long Island, my next door neighbors actually are Black. Being for a colorblind society makes me racist? Wow
14 minutes ago

Dovid S.
Again Aliza being a Jew is about a soul not skin color. Btw I have no problem living around non Jews. I did it for 20 years being the only Jew with all my friends so really a bad example. You can’t stop being a Jew.
11 minutes ago

Aliza Hausman
You’re not colorblind, you’re just blind. By the way, this is the end of my part of the conversation. Good night.
10 minutes ago • Delete
Dovid S.
Goodnight, even though its only Wednesday its not too early to say have a good shabbos
9 hours ago

After I had left, Dovid S. added another warning sign: Jews who are not Orthodox aren’t really Jews.
Jennifer T.
Dovid – you can’t stop being a Jew & being a Jew is about your soul, but those in the Reform & Conservative movements are not Jewish – You REALLY can’t be serious??????

Also, I never said I hadn’t spoken to my Rabbi regarding this issue, I simply said I don’t think it is the solution to solving this issue on a large scale – take some time an actually read what I am saying, not just assuming what I am writing.
38 minutes ago

Bina Malka Stinnett
* I am just saying:
_ I have spoken with my Rebbitzin (rabbi’s wife) about the issues I face as a JOC,(Love them: we even talked about what Aliza wrote in the Jewish journal ) because it has been a painful road after returning from Israel with ” Kosher” conversion, knowing Hebrew, & having studied with some great people in Jerusalem… only to have people treat me worst than they did before…. not trust my halachic thoughts at all even when I was able to back it up… on top of that when someone ( not a JOC/maybe even not Jewish) says the same thing its a different story…
Dov. , just let it go… you are wrong on this one.. if u want to gain something from all of this… listen/read and take to heart what has been posted.

You will never understand, have you ever been locked out of a JEWISH store… “because you didn’t look Jewish”- so why should they buzz you in… can you image how I must have felt… and that’s just one event.. there are MANY. YOU WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND what it is like. Have you ever seen people passing out Shabbat candles and then when they get to you they stop. (wearing a star of David and black tights)

I can just image how my kids will feel it such things happen to them…. because I image if I was born 100% Jewish I would feel the same…which most likely would be: BYE BYE Judaism, f** this, who needs to a part of a people who don’t want you… its easier to just be black/Asian/..etc…

Sorry if you are upset. But that’s not my focus… my goal in life will be to do my part to ensure that my kids 9 and others have a community/network of people/place where they can be all of who they are and not leave half of who they are outside when they walk into a shul or their opposite.
2 minutes ago

UPDATE: Bina says that later Dovid S. emailed her and asked her if she thought he was a racist.

15 thoughts on “How Conversations Between White Jews and Jews of color often fail….

  1. I couldn't bear to keep reading. It reminded me of a conversation many years ago with a WASP, male college friend who affected the “colorblind” attitude and left me nearly in tears when he stubbornly refused to acknowledge that I or anyone else could have had negative experiences based on their ethnicity as determined by appearance. I didn't even care whether or not my friend was racist, but I was hurt because his denial of my experiences implied that I was mistaken in my interpretation of events which basically meant that *I* was to blame for my feeling bad about the events.

    Since the post is from a FB conversation, I have to wonder how Dovid S. came to be Bina's “friend”. This is one reason that I am a little careful about whom I “friend”. In her place, I would set “hide” for his posts and put him in a group such that he could no longer post comments on my wall or have access to all aspects of my FB account. I actually did that to a high school friend with whom I had not been in touch for over 25 years and who turns out to have become rather creepy. I had noticed that his postings seemed a little odd, but then I found out that my sister who dated him in high school (and had been the one to connect him to me in FB) had cut off communications after he expressed an unhealthy interest in teenage girls. (He's in his late 40's.)

    Like

  2. Good god, it's like a slow-motion train wreck. I feel silly for posting without reading all of it but, well here's some stuff on my mind. The guy is the special kind of idiot whose stupidity is massive enough to hurt other people around him. I've encountered “criminal stupidity” in the community before, and race issues are just the half of it. It's bad enough to see rape and abuse happen, but the frum community's reaction almost pushed me away from orthodoxy. Not only did they make mistakes with the worst human costs, but I also saw them compounded their mistakes over and over and over. Getting things wrong once never seemed to be enough, and there are times when I wonder why I'm still here.

    So why am I still here? Because even though the community is–even in this latter day of Judaism–the conduit for the tradition itself, I still think that that tradition is bigger than anything done by the people I've known and met. So now I've got a problem. I'm supposed to identify myself with all Jews. I mean, I've seen the politics of dividing yourself from the community. It never leads anywhere good, and the only Judaism of value to me is one that accepts all Jews, because they are me. I've learned too much about the mechanisms of self-hatred throughout Jewish history to accept a solution of cutting myself off from other people, and I've only seen it lead to loneliness and grief.

    I wish I could say things could change while we're all still young. I doubt they will.

    Like

  3. i dont know…
    Dovid presented that in a poor way but i see what he is trying to say. I think he is saying ANY segregation is bad in the Jewish community whether that be ashkenaz/sephard/syrian/russian/hispanic/french/american/black/white/asian..you name it. He is saying that instead of people segregating themselves, they should instead publicize and make white Jews aware of Jews of color (like Aliza, you do with your blog and speaking…)

    but, on the other hand RIGHT NOW Jews of Color are treated differently and saying how things should be in an ideal world is not helpful and unrealistic.

    i guess what im saying is i see both sides. and in general, this post just makes me sad about the way the jewish community is.

    Like

  4. Ms. Hausman:

    You mentioned that you will be speaking at a synagogue on the topic of Racism and Judaism. I live in NYC and am wondering which Synagogue you will be speaking at.

    Thanks,

    Donna

    Like

  5. I don't think, I hope we all understand that this is bigger than a Jewish problem. I'm showing this throw the microcosm of the Jewish community but these issues occur in the broader community. There can be no doubt of this when you learn that threats against the “first black” president's went up 400% since the last president. I mean, does healthcare reform really make people THAT angry? Don't answer. 🙂

    Like

  6. I disagree, obviously, with what Dovid sees as segregation. Am I segregating myself by wanting to meet more Spanish speaking Jews who I can speak Spanish with?

    I think it is important that Sephardim, Syrians and such have their own shuls where they can practice their own traditions. This doesn't mean they separate from other Jews. We can and should have diversity within Judaism.

    Not every Jew of color wants to be, nor should be, a public figure. It is not the job of all Jews of color to educate white Jews. Also, there is a dark side to being in the public eye which I've only touched upon lightly on this blog.

    Support systems are very important and I think converts and Jews of color and other minorities with the Jewish community need to be able to have their own safe places to go to and re-energize. Now, I would like my support system to be a Dominican kosher restaurant in Washington Heights. Please build one! 🙂

    Like

  7. I disagree, obviously, with what Dovid sees as segregation. Am I segregating myself by wanting to meet more Spanish speaking Jews who I can speak Spanish with?

    I think it is important that Sephardim, Syrians and such have their own shuls where they can practice their own traditions. This doesn't mean they separate from other Jews. We can and should have diversity within Judaism.

    Not every Jew of color wants to be, nor should be, a public figure. It is not the job of all Jews of color to educate white Jews. Also, there is a dark side to being in the public eye which I've only touched upon lightly on this blog.

    Support systems are very important and I think converts and Jews of color and other minorities with the Jewish community need to be able to have their own safe places to go to and re-energize. Now, I would like my support system to be a Dominican kosher restaurant in Washington Heights. Please build one! 🙂

    Like

  8. OK. Once I got over the defensive feelings that came over me, I looked over the discussion again.

    Here are more thoughts:
    I don't think Bina wanted to create a JOC-only shul, but rather a JOC support group, which I think is a very different thing.

    I think Dovid envisions JOC going off and forming their own separatist enclaves rather than simply trying to maintain some self-esteem while being subjected to discriminatory treatment. I do hope and indeed believe that attitudes will change (I'm an optimist), but I am realistic enough not to expect any such change to be overnight. It is unreasonable to ask JOCs to just tough it out on their own until the rest of the Jewish world stops being bigoted.

    Dovid thinks that having been treated badly for other reasons means that he gets the privilege of not being sympathetic to others for being discriminated against. Would he feel that it was fair if the other posters told him that he was just “being too sensitive” about being treated badly for having a non-Jewish father and being from a hick town? And furthermore that since that behavior is simply incorrect on the part of his dates, that HE shouldn't be bothered by it.

    I am so glad that most of the members of my own minyan although primarily Ashkenazic are about as accepting as possible about all kinds of differences: ethnicity, Jewish background, sexual orientation, mental disability, mental illness, autism, and even gender identification. We have a number of non-white members and children, as well as some members who are “different” in all the other above ways. My family was even treated decently for the many years that we were technically an “intermarried” family before I converted.

    So I and my children can feel secure in our own Jewish community and it lets us more easily shrug off incidents like having our presence in a rabbinically supervised all-kosher supermarket questioned. It is that sense of security that I think that JOC who don't have such a supportive community hope to gain from a JOC support group. And thus I would argue that contrary to what Dovid thinks about JOC groups, that they can allow JOCs to be able to continue to mix with other Jews and hopefully change attitudes because they do not feel beaten down and wanting to hide in a corner.

    Like

  9. I think its clear from dovid's comments that what his ideal of the jewish community is a bland monotone sheet instead of the vibrant and beautiful quilt that it is.

    P.S. just a side note, but as a lurker on this blog for a while i just want to say “Aliza, Rock on Girl, Rock on!”

    Like

  10. So, I assume this guy deserves one huge JOC slap -or more?

    I can only imagine how you (or in this case, your FB friend) feel when insulted, and then to have your experiences marginalized it just rubbing salt in the wounds.

    It is true that in an ideal world, Jews of all nationalities, races, languages, cultures, etc, etc, etc should feel comfortable davening together ( not forced to), but last time I looked out my window or turned on the news, it was not an ideal world.

    There is nothing wrong with creating a support group-for lack of a better phrase-to discuss shared experiences.

    Dovid just needs to sit back, calm down and chew over what he read. Hopefully he will soon realize he was totally missing to original point.
    as far as a Kosher Dominican restaurant- are you willing to open one in Albany? Or and restaurant for that matter-we are desperate!

    Like

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