Email received on Purim
I had to share this with you! It’s about the always annoying question: “Are you Jewish?”
So, yesterday I went to a Purim party with two of my friends, one who is an Israeli Jew and another who is Dominican and Catholic. I am also Hispanic, though not Dominican. We went to a Chabad party and overall had a good time until the questions of “Are you Jewish?” came up!
Besides myself and my friend Juan, there was only one other person of color there but we were cool with it. During the time, we were there, my Latino friend Juan and I were the only ones that kept getting the questions:
“Are you Jewish?”
“How did you hear about the party?”
“Do you know what Purim is?”
At one point, this guy came up to talk to me and the conversation started off nicely and then he looked at me and asked, “Um, so how did you find out about this place?”
I told him I go to many Chabad parties and he said, “Are you Jewish? Because you don’t look it.”
I was getting really impatient, so I said, “Oh, I’m sorry, do I have to look Jewish to be Jewish? Do I have to look Ashkenazi?”
He laughed and told me I looked Hispanic. I replied, “Well, maybe that is because I am Hispanic. And I hope you are educated enough to know that there are many Latino Jews.”
He said, “Oh. Yeah, I know, I just never meet any.”
We exchanged a few more words but I ended the conversation when he kept asking me how I knew so much about Jewish “things.”
Even though I haven’t converted yet, this exchange annoyed me. I was intimidated about going to Jewish events at my college because I didn’t know if would be accepted. The population is almost exclusively Ashkenazi and most of the kids are really young, anywhere from 18 to 22. Turns out they are more accepting than most adults I’ve met at parties outside the community. At my college, no one has ever once questioned my identity.
Hispanic Woman Converting in NYC