Meet the biracial woman who grew up believing she was white until uncovering her mother's affair with the African American father she never knew she had
Erica Tempesta, DailyMail, January 23, 2015
A woman who grew up believing that she was a white Jewish girl with two Caucasian parents has created a powerful documentary which details her discovery that her biological father is actually a black man with whom her mother had a brief affair.
Time to Look Within: Some Thoughts About Racial Diversity Within the Jewish Community
Jessica Trubowitch, Jewish Community Relations Council, January 16, 2015
As part of that introspective process of looking at our perceptions, we, the Jewish community, with all of our diversity, need to wrestle with finding the language to describe the differences in our community without reinforcing hierarchies based on race or how one enters into Judaism.
Jewish Community Center in Bridgewater announces its February programs
The Messenger-Gazette, NJ.com, February 11, 2015
What makes her biography striking is that Schwartz, a woman with light brown skin and dark curls, grew up believing she was white. A discussion with Schwartz will follow the film.
'Little White Lie' Screened As Part Of Dinner & A Movie In Woods Hole
Enterprise Staff, Cape News, January 8, 2015
On January 17, the Woods Hole Film Festival and Quicks Hole Tavern present the next installation in the 2015 season of Dinner & a Movie, the winter film series of the Woods Hole Film Festival.
When Being Black Is a Family Secret
Susan Reimer-Torn, Forward, January 2, 2015
When Lacey Schwartz was accepted at Georgetown University, it was a dream come true. It also blew the lid off a tightly-guarded secret.
Racial Diversity and the American Jewish Community
Diane Tobin & Aryeh Weinberg, Journal of Jewish Communal Service, December 29, 2014
The American Jewish community has become embedded to a degree in America's racialism, whitewashing Judaism's most valuable asset in an interconnected world: its diversity under a singular Jewish Umbrellah
Beyond latkes: Chanukah around the world
Ruth Abusch Magder, My Jewish Learning, December 12, 2014
SAN FRANCISCO (MyJewishLearning.com)-Chanukah is observed with joy and celebration in Jewish communities around the world. There are eight nights of lights and blessings the world over, but there are also many ways that different communities make the holiday uniquely their own.
Defusing the Racial Timebomb
Diane Tobin, My Jewish Learning, December 4, 2014
Over the last few weeks, as America waited for the Grand Jury decisions in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, we have been touring with our documentary, Little White Lie, encouraging proactive, positive conversations about race and identity with Americans of all backgrounds.
Black, Jewish and challenging ideas about the face of federation
Rebecca Spence, JTA, December 1, 2014
"There is a deeply established set of assumptions about who represents federation," said Kaufman, who stands nearly 6 feet tall. "So when I walk into a space where they've seen my name, which is a very traditional Jewish name, they cannot fathom that a person of color is going to walk in the door."
Movie Review: ‘Little White Lie’ ignites emotional family drama over identity
Justin Rocket Silverman, New York Daily News, November 30, 2014
The story of how Schwartz came to understand her real identity is the subject of "Little White Lie", now playing in select theaters. The movie is more than a decade in the making, as Schwartz began filming herself in her college she struggled to understand who she is.
A Secret Falls From the Family Tree, and a Girl's Identity Branches Out
Ben Kenigsberg,The New York Times, November 23, 2014
Ms. Schwartz's parents, Peggy and Robert Schwartz, who divorced, both say that to varying degrees they had convinced themselves of the Sicilian-ancestry story, even though Lacey Schwartz's biological father, Rodney Parker, was an acquaintance of family and friends.
Movie "Little White Lie" Creator Lacey Schwartz Talks Not Knowing She Was Black [VIDEO]
JENBKLYN, Hot97.com, November 26, 2014
Could you imagine living your entire life not knowing your true ethnic background? Movie director Lacey Schwartz can. Watch her talk about her new film "Little White Lie" and more:
Movie Review: ‘Little White Lie’ ignites emotional family drama
Martin Tsai, Los Angeles Times, November 26, 2014
Reared as a "nice Jewish girl," filmmaker Lacey Schwartz had harbored doubts about her identity since high school. She finally pressed her parents for answers and has captured her discovery with the documentary "Little White
Grantee Profile: Be'chol Lashon
Jon Moskin, Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, November 14, 2014
Diane Tobin, a mother of six, including Jonah, an adopted child of African–American origin, founded Be'chol Lashon, a Federation–supported nonprofit dedicated to strengthening the Jewish community through initiatives that imbue ethnic, cultural, and racial inclusiveness.
Diane Tobin, Huffingtonpost, November 12, 2014
It's hard to know where to begin unpacking the issues raised by Judy Maltz's article, "Number of 'wannabe' Jews equals that of recognized Jews" in Haaretz. We at Be'chol Lashon are concerned not only about the suspect language, but that this sweeping generalization made by scholars is based more on conjecture than sound research.
Not Black or White
Robert Wiener, New Jersey Jewish News, October 20, 2014
"Filmmaker Lacey Schwartz explains that she "comes from a long line of New York Jews." But despite having a much darker complexion than either of her parents, Robert and Peggy Schwartz, she told NJ Jewish News, "I actually grew up believing I was white."
Does 'No Body Talk' Ignore Race?
Diane Tobin, JTA, September 29, 2014
"In a Jewish context, often nobody talks about race. I need to talk about race. I don't feel supported by a community if I can't trust that my experience is valued. And you can't value someone's experience if you don't talk about it and understand what it is."
Op–Ed: Why We Encourage Body Talk at Camp Be'chol Lashon
Diane Tobin, Forward, September 28, 2014
"Judaism has never shied away from the complex. On the contrary, our tradition teaches us to take on the complicated. As our children embark on a new school year, let us empower and enable them to engage thoughtfully. Let's work together to open spaces and encourage skills that allow for healthy and productive conversations about difficult topics.
Uganda's Jews celebrate New Year
ntvuganda.co.ug, September 27, 2014
The Jewish community in Mbale, Uganda has celebrated the New Year in a festival that has lasted two days.
‘Colorblindness’ blocks our view of racism, injustice
Diane Tobin, Jweekly, September 25, 2014
Dealing with the complexity of race means acknowledging difficult realities, and Jewish tradition teaches us to lean into rather than shy away from complexity. This Jewish New Year, as we engage in cheshbon hanefesh, or "accounting of the soul" — to transform ourselves into the people we want to be — let us push our understanding of Jewish and race.
Documentary explores racial identity
Kimberly C. Roberts, Philadelphia Tribune, September 25, 2014
"I really felt that by doing the film about family secrets and how to deal with these things in an open and honest way, [we] could move forward with a lot of the issues that I felt were really important for us to talk about on a larger societal level."
Wrestling with Race During the New Year
Diane Tobin, eJewishPhilanthropy, September 22, 2014
On Rosh Hashana we are supposed to leave the old year behind. But coming off of a summer that was fraught with racial unrest, instead I suggest that we keep this summer close to our hearts and make 5775 a year that changes the conversation about race in the Jewish community.
An Idyllic Childhood Lost, A Jewish Mother Powerless
Courtenay Edelhart, Jewnited Nations Magazine, September 22, 2014
The carefully crafted bubble I have created for my black Jewish children is bursting. Here we go.
Wrestling With Race on Rosh Hashanah
Diane Tobin, Huffington Post, September 18, 2014
As increasing number of Jewish families are multicultural, how we talk about and deal with race carry implications for the Jewish future. This Jewish New Year, as we engage in Cheshbon Nefesh or "accounting of the soul" — to transform ourselves into the people we want to be — push your understanding of Jewish and race.
Leaving Guilt Behind Before Rosh Hashanah
Ruth Abusch Magder, Jewish Exponent, September 22, 2014
Here is a radical proposal for the New Year: Forget the guilt and instead lean into what you love to become the best possible version of yourself.
AJC event celebrates ties with Hindus
Michele AlperinNew Jersey Jewish News, September 9, 2014
Friendship between Jews and Hindus was the theme of a celebration of IndianĐJewish artist Siona Benjamin, held Aug. 26 at the Princeton home of Judith Brodsky and Michael Curtis.
‘Give Peace A Chance?’
Elicia BrownThe Jewish Week, September 9, 2014
I ask my family to consider how we can improve ourselves in preparation for the Jewish New Year. For our project, we decide to focus on refraining from harsh speech for seven days.
Sammy Davis Jr., In His Own Words, On Choosing Judaism
JTA, August 26, 2014
‘Heeb Magazine inspired by our tweeting Sammy Davis Jr. feature in 1960 Ebony Magazine.’
Where Jews of color go to ‘feel normal’ at summer camp
Rebecca Spence, JTA, August 18, 2014
Now entering its sixth season, Camp Be'chol Lashon integrates traditional Jewish practice with educational activities that speak to the diversity of Jewish life around the globe.
Reprinted: Times of Israel, August 20, 2014, Jewish Exponent, August 20, 2014
Documentary reveals Jewish mother's ‘Little White Lie’
Rebecca Spence, JTA, August 11, 2014
"This is a very personal story, but it's also universal," she said. "It's a project about family secrets and the power of telling the truth."
Reprinted: Times of Israel, August 17, 2014
‘Little White Lie’: New documentary explores biracial woman's quest on racial identity
Charing Ball, theGrio, August 09, 2014
It's a story which many might find far–fetched: a biracial black woman led to believe most of her life that she was a white Jewish woman.
Rabbi Juan Mejia: From Catholicism to Judaism
Roberto Loiederman, JewishJournal.com, August 5, 2014
"What I'm looking for, as a rabbi, is for these communities to look forward, to look to the future. "I don't care who your grandparents were," Mejia said, summing up his attitude and his mission. "I care what your grandkids are going to be."
After the ‘White Lie’ Implodes, a Rich Narrative Unfurls — ‘Little White Lie,’ Lacey Schwartz's Film About Self–Discovery
Felicia R. Lee, New York Times, August 1, 2014
"Can you bring your full self through that door," she said, "or do you feel you have to leave a piece of yourself behind?".
back to school | Independent Sunday school serves growing demographic
Jessica Kraft, JWeekly.com, July 24, 2014
Rabbi Ruth Abusch–Magder, the rabbi–in–residence at Be'chol Lashon, an S.F.—based nonprofit advocacy group for racial inclusiveness in the Jewish community, said that as the number of interfaith and multiracial families increases in the Bay Area, PASJE fills a niche often overlooked in the Jewish community.
Schoolboys, not soldiers: A mother responds
Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder, Jewish Journal, July 1, 2014
We have lit candles and attended vigils for Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel. In the aftermath of such a tragedy, how does a Jewish mother respond to the unthinkable?
Painting Pictures of India's Jews
Leah Koenig, The Forward, Marc 12, 2014
In order to weave food directly into the painting, Benjamin mixed ground turmeric — a spice commonly found in Indian cooking — with red and yellow paints to deepen their hue and bring a touch of scent to the piece.
The Jews of Uganda —Leading by Example to Create Peace
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, Kehilla, January 2014
The Synagogue & Community Center will be at the very center of spiritual and communal health. It will provide space for a Childcare Center, freeing up time for women to engage in our economy, marking a significant step in the growth of my community.
Camp for Jews of color gets a visit from suddenly famous culinary star
Alix Wall, Jweekly, January 2, 2014
Twitty is an independent scholar studying the foodways of African American slaves in the South. He was a scholar–in–residence at a three–day Be'chol Lashon Family Camp — a retreat for Jews of color — held last month in Petaluma.
Chief rabbi recounts Ugandan Jews' trials,triumphs for JFSA
Sheila Wilensky,azjewishpost.com, November 21, 2013
This fall, Rabbi Sizomu toured the US and discussed proposed new Childcare Center in Uganda. Given the challenge women face balancing education and work with having a family, the new Childcare Center will ensure the active participation of women in the economy.
Pew to the Rescue: Saving Jewish Demography
Diane Tobin & Aryeh Weinberg , Huffington Post, October 15, 2013
They say that genius is often only revealed after death. The late Jewish demographer, Dr. Gary A. Tobin, was widely respected during life, however some of his most important insights are just beginning to be realized.
Seeing Jews of color as ‘different’ is racial profiling, too
Diane Tobin, Jweekly.com, August 8, 2013
It maybe harmless curiosity, but the consequences of treating those we perceive as "different" with suspicion can be damaging, not just to the individual, but to the community as a whole.
Young, Black, Jewish and Profiled
Diane Tobin, Huffington Post, July 30, 2013
Yet, "racial profiling" is not just about situations that potentially involve the police. For Jonah, it is about more often than not looking different than those around him, about constantly fielding stereotypes and assumptions, some flattering, some insulting.
Where Children Pray
Ruth Abusch Magder, MyJewishLearning.com, July 29, 2013
At Camp Be'chol Lashon where I work now, the campers lead the service. Some are very familiar with Jewish prayer while others are encountering it for the first time.
Black And Jewish And Read All Over
Julie Weiner, The Jewish Week, July 16, 2013
I'm proudly biracial. I'm very adamant about this. I don't understand why people pick one.
Our Lunch with Rabbi Gershom Sizomu
Bradley Machov, TCJew Folk, April 30, 2013
"In our community we have not lost anyone to Malaria in three years." It's obvious by the way he says this that Rabbi Sizomu is as proud of this as anything in his life. The Abayudaya are currently trying to raise money for a new synagogue
What Yamulke says Duluth all over it?
Robin Washington, Duluth News Tribune, April 14, 2013
SAN FRANCISCO - For four days each May, I wear a yarmulke pretty much continuously. Not because it's any Jewish holiday (they tend to run one, two or eight days) but because I'm celebrating my indentity among others doing the same.
Black Jewish Relations at a Crossroads
Harold Brackman, JPost, May 16, 2013
This year, 2013, is an important milestone in the history of Black-Jewish relations - a subject involving two Diaspora peoples whose histories spans continents that is of considerable interest to Israelis as well as Americans.
Nish'Ma - Leaders By Choice
Diane Tobin, Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Ideas, April 3, 2013
Converts, unburdened by collective tragedy, have the potential to change the collective mindset of the Jewish people. We should embrace the wisdom of our ancestors and those among us who bring fresh dedication and affirmation to the future of Judaism.
Jewish People of Color
Arise America TV, May 1, 2013
Jewish people are more diverse than many assume-20% of America's 6 million Jews or 1,200,000 are African American, Latino/ Hispanic, Asian, Sephardic (Spanish/Portuguese descent), Mizrahi (North African and Middle Eastern descent) and Mixed-race.
The Face Judaism in America is Changing
Ruth Abusch-Magder, June 11, 2013
The face of the Jewish community is changing," explained the TV announcer.
I had to smile. She was right. The two people she interviews are examples of that change.
'Magical' teacher wins one of four educator awards
Emma Silvers, JWeekly, May 30, 2013
Kenny Kahn, the award winner in the informal education category, puts his personal experiences of growing up African American and Jewish into his work as the associate director of Camp Be'chol Lashon in West Marin, where he aims to educate children on the multiplicity of Jewish identities, communities and cultures that exist worldwide.
2013 Be'chol Lashon Media Award Winner: Simone Weichselbaum
Simone Weichselbaum, A New York Daily News reporter was selected for her piercing, respectful, accurate and often entertaining reporting of the multicultural borough, in particular its Orthodox Jews and Jews of color.
Congratulations to Kenny Kahn, winner of the prestigious 2013 Diller Award for Excellence in Informal Jewish Education
Camp Be'chol Lashon Co-director Kenny Khan is this year's receipient of the Helen Diller Award for Excellence in Informal Jewish Education for which he receives a $10,000 prize. Kahn provides mentorship throughout the year to multiracial Jews like himself, helping them celebrate the many strengths of their identities.
Mazel Tov to Be'chol Lashon's Southwest Director Rabbi Juan Mejia.
Be'chol Lashon, March 2013
Theorist carries impact
Rachel McDevitt, The Temple News, February 19, 2013
In her eight years at Temple, Be'chol Lashon scholar, Jane Gordon has made a solid impact on students and faculty alike.
Ruth E. Kott, University of Chicago Magazine, January-February, 2013
Be'chol Lashon scholars, Helen Kim and Noah Leavitt, investigate how racial, ethnic and religious identities intersect among couples where one spouse is Jewish American of any racial or ethnic descent and one spouse is Asian American of any religion or ethnic descent in "The Newest Jews? Understanding Jewish American and Asian American Marriages."
The Be'chol Lashon Media Awards honor excellence in coverage of Jewish diversity.
Mazel tov to Be'chol Lashon Media Award winners: Roberto Loiderman, Erica Lyons, Lesley Simpson and Yuvi Tashome
A Jewish Marriage Resolution We Can Keep
By Diane Tobin, The Huffington Post, January 14 2013
Thinking that we can change the choices individuals make is a fool's errand. Trusting our children's instincts and focusing on fostering the positive attributes that Judaism has to offer will have a far greater impact upon not only the raw number of Jews, but on the strength of Jewish identity as well.
4 Women Who Converted to Judaism
Elicia Brown, Jewish Woman Magazine, Winter 2012
Coming from unique backgrounds, they turned to faith for tradition, marriage, support and more.
“When people have issues about converts, they stem from a fear of the past, of people being protective of blood and lineage,” she says.
THE BENEI ANOUSIM MOVEMENT: ORIGINS, LIMITATIONS AND OPPORTUNITIES
shma.com, December 25 2012
Every couple of months the Jewish press of the Diaspora or Israel offers us a new installment of a riveting story: descendants of Sephardic Jews forced to convert during the time of the Inquisition return to their roots after centuries of hidden Jewish life.
Video: Treasured Rabbinical Moments, Rabbi Capers Funnye
African American Registry, November 2 2012
Caper Funnye shares a few memories of his outreach as a Rabbi and as an activist.
Video: "Punk Jews" - Evan Kleinman
Leadel.net, September 5 2011
Following a community of artists expressing Judaism in unconventional ways this independent documentary changes something in the way you'll view your people... to the better we hope.
A Promised Land
By Brendan Spiegel, Narratively | NYC, October 23 2012
It was largely these questions of identity that led Mekonen to embark on a film project of a personal nature for the first time. His self-narrated documentary, “400 Miles to Freedom,” made with his wife, Shari, tells the story of his personal journey, from Ethiopia to Israel to New York, while also exploring the larger world of non-white Jews and their struggle for acceptance.
Why Choose Judaism?
By Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder, My Jewish Learning, October 18 2012
But why would they choose Judaism? This is a question I hear often. There is nothing more that I love about being a rabbi, than hearing those who choose Judaism explain their choice –which they do as part of the conversion process.
By Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder, My Jewish Learning, September 20 2012
There are white Jews, Black Jews, Asian Jews, and Arab Jews – but blue Jews? No, no such thing exists. Which is exactly why artist Siona Benjamin paints them. If the Jews are blue, one cannot simply assume a race or identity to them, they could be anyone, at any time.
Come spend a facinating weekend with Indian Jewish Artist-in-Residence Siona Benjamin at Be'chol Lashon's annual retreat: "Sukkot Under the Stars".
To Reluctantly Go Where No Jew had Gone Before: The Adventures of the First Global Prophet
By Rabbi Juan Mejia, Sh'ma a Journal of Jewish Ideas, September 20 2012
Jonah is a book of firsts. It is the first time in the Bible that an Israelite gets on a boat (Moses’ basket joyride notwithstanding). It is the first time that an Israelite prophet is sent on a good will mission to a foreign nation. These firsts place Jonah in a very sui generis category of prophet that can teach us a lot in these troubled times in our global village.
An Inclusive Global Vision for a Diverse Judaism
By Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder, RJ.org, September 4 2012
To create truly inclusive and welcoming communities, the type of global learning that happens at Camp Be’chol Lashon needs to become the norm in Jewish life. Indian, Ugandan, Chinese, and Yemeni Jewish customs and history are more than just curiosities. They are keys to opening up our understanding of Judaism as a global historic and contemporary reality.
Judaism and Global Identity: Photo Exhibits To Showcase Communities Around the World
By Erik Ludwig, 3200 Stories, August 31 2012
While today’s Jewish population centers are Israel and the United States and Jewish lineage is often talked about as being Ashkenazi or Sephardi and sometimes Mizrahi, such simplified borders don’t reflect the multifaceted ethnic, cultural, and racial diversity of the Jewish people.
Kosher McDonalds and Jewish Cowboys
By Ruth Abusch Magder, My Jewish Learning, August 23 2012
The roots of Jewish life in Argentina are relatively new, prior to the late 1800s there had been a small smattering of Sephardic Jews who had come to the country but the Inquisition followed and all signs of Jewish life disappeared. Today Argentina is the home to the world’s largest Spanish speaking Jewish community.
By Debra Rubin, The Times of Israel, July 7 2012
For the most part, the “others” have not flocked to the organized Jewish scene, in part feeling unwelcome, says Diane Tobin, the San Francisco-based director of Be’chol Lashon (Hebrew for “In Every Tongue”), which supports racially and ethnically diverse Jews. “Interpreting lack of denominational affiliation as lack of caring has negative repercussions and can become a self-fulfilling prophesy,” she says.
Welcome! Please Check Your Identity At The Door
By Lacey Schwartz, RJ.org, June 27 2012
One can appreciate the desire for racial neutrality, it speaks to a vision of a world where the color of one’s skin does not matter. But, as a Black Jewish woman in America, I know this to be wishful thinking.
Always a Jew, always an Olivia
By Renee Ghert-Zand, The Times of Israel, June 24 2012
Last year Carolivia Herron was awarded the Be’chol Lashon Media Award for her contribution to children’s literature. “Carolivia successfully captures many aspects of her black Jewish experience. She is deeply rooted in her history and her Judaism as reflected in her autobiographical ‘Always an Olivia,’” said Diane Tobin.
1 in 4 New York Jewish Households Identify as
By Diane Tobin, The Huffington Post, June 20 2012
Non-White or Sephardic
There is a buzz surrounding the results of the newest New York Jewish Federation population study, and for good reason. Among it's findings, the study reveals that 12 percent of New York Jewish households are "non-white" and 13 percent are Sephardic for a total of -- with some overlap -- an impressive 25 percent of the Jewish population of America's most Jewish city. Over 400,000 Jews are living in diverse Jewish households, approximating or exceeding the total Jewish population of any one country in the world, excepting the United States and Israel.
A Jewish-Asian Couple’s Union Leads to a Scholarly Interest in Intermarriage
By Samuel G. Freedman, The New York Times, June 15 2012
The Jewish-Asian love affair, as the research by Ms. Kim, 39, and Mr. Leavitt, 42, indicates, is built on a deep sense of shared commitment to “tight-knit families, hard work, and educational advancement,” as they wrote in the journal Contemporary Judaism. Their major research paper on the subject appeared in February, just three months before arguably the highest-profile example of the phenomenon, the wedding of Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, to his longtime girlfriend, Dr. Priscilla Chan.
Multiracial Jews Moving Beyond Isolation
Now 12 percent of the community, racially diverse Jewish households making their way into mainstream — but still less ‘engaged’ than others.
By Julie Wiener, The New York Jewish Week, June 12 2012
“To call everyone ‘Jews of color’ is really a disservice because there’s so much variation,” said Diane Tobin, director of Be’chol Lashon, a San Francisco-based group that conducts research and offers various programs throughout the United States, including an overnight summer camp for multiracial Jewish children. “Between intermarriage, conversion and adoption, there’s so many different paths and ways people are identifying as being Jews.”
Are All Jews White? The Woody Allen Syndrome
By Diane Tobin, The Huffington Post, June 7 2012
A version of the childhood game telephone played out over the weekend, albeit unintentionally, when reports came out of a new policy instituted by the City University of New York (CUNY) to augment their racial categorization by adding a White/Jewish category for faculty applicants. If the CUNY flap tells us anything, it tells us that it is time we engage in an honest discussion about racial and ethnic diversity in the Jewish community, as well as the broader issue of multi-layered identities among all peoples.
Newly Found Jews and the Politics of Recognition
By Stuart Z. Charmé, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, May 15 2012
In the latter half of the twentieth century, tribal groups throughout Africa and Asia who regard themselves as Jews. Comparing the various organizations that have been devoted to outreach to newly found Jews reveals very different ways in which the idea of recognition can operate. Be’chol Lashon offers a kind of recognition that explicitly deconstructs the normative status of rabbinic Judaism and the cultural traditions of white European Jews.
Old becomes new as couples personalize wedding ceremonies
By Debra Rubin, JTA, May 15 2012
There is a growing practice of couples putting new spins on ancient wedding traditions. From adapting non-egalitarian parts of the ceremony to having friends officiate, it’s all part of a trend toward personalizing the wedding ceremony.
Arduous journey to freedom — and Israel — profiles Jews of color
By Dan Pine, JWeekly, May 10 2012
Director Avishai Mekonen titled his documentary “400 Miles to Freedom” to signify the distance between his home village in Ethiopia and the Holy Land of Israel. In 1984, at age 9, he walked every mile of it.
Israel’s Shifting Color Lines
By Irin Carmon, Tablet, April 23 2012
They thought they were the only Jews left in the world, and then they made it to the promised land—and found some surprises. The journey itself was treacherous, and Mekonen almost didn’t make it. In what forms the true emotional core of the film [400 Miles to Freedom], if a jagged one, he explores for the first time his kidnapping at age 9 from a refugee camp in Sudan en route to Israel.
We Are a Global People
By Diane Tobin, EdJewTopia, March 2012
Although race may be the most “visible” identity, in reality all Jews have multiple identities. Influenced by globalization and the increasing popularity of social networks, diversity and inclusiveness are a key lens through which young Jews build identity and make choices about Jewish engagement.
Facing the Charge of Racism: New Research on Jewish Student Identity
By Aryeh Weinberg, Institute for Jewish & Community Research, March 30 2012
Accusations of racism have become a staple of anti-Israel protest on campus and, for Jewish students, these charges can negatively impact their college experience and raise important questions about their Jewish identity. The irony of the racism accusation is that young Jews are firmly committed to the global world in which they live.
On St Patrick’s The Rabbi Wears Green
By Ruth Abusch-Magder, My Jewish Learning, March 15, 2012
A few years back, the son of friends wore a green shirt to school on St. Patrick’s Day that said “Kiss Me, I’m Irish.” The response from his teachers, “You’re not Irish, you’re Jewish.” To many people it might seem odd to think of Jews celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. But for Rabbi Sara O’Donnell Adler and many other Irish Jews or Jews of Irish decent, nothing seems more natural.
Guest Post-Reflections on Oprah’s Hidden Culture-Hassidic Brooklyn
By Erika Davis, Black, Gay and Jewish, February 21, 2012
Last week, a television special entitled America’s Hidden Culture, A look into the Chassidish World aired on Oprah’s OWN network. While it has been much debated, both criticized and lauded, I’m going to share what may be a slightly different perspective.
How Is Biracialism Changing America – And The Jewish community?
By Diane Tobin, RepairLabs, February 10, 2012
As the parent of a Black Jewish child, I want my son to feel at home in the Jewish community. It seems to me that it is in our self interest to welcome everyone with open arms, yet it occurs to me that we may need to be sensitive to what Alvin Toffler described in the 70’s as “Future Shock”—the stress and disorientation of too much change in too short a time. I wonder how much time is too short? And, what role does race and ethnicity play in being Jewish in America.
Jewish Culture Gets A ‘Master’ Class
By Eric Herschthal, The Jewish New York Jewish Week, February 7, 2012
In the last decade, study after study has shown that Jewish culture — films and books — rather than traditional institutions like synagogues has become an increasingly important part of American Jewish identity. This thrilled Jenna Weissman Joselit but what worried her was that there was no clear training for the future leaders of these institutions.
Sh’ma Blog: Confessions of a First Time American Jewish Voter
By Juan Mejia, Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Ideas, January 16, 2012
During my first years of adaptation to the American way of life, I must confess that I found many things confusing. Chief among them, was the seriousness with which young people took politics and the democratic process here.
Sh— Jews Say to (Non-White) Jews
By Erika Davis, The Jewish Daily Forward, January 12, 2012
The "Shit Girls Say" videos have been an online phenomenon with a number of spin-offs. As I watched this video for the fourth time, I realized that someone should make a video called "Shit White Jews Say To Black Jews."
Increasing diversity redefining America's Jewry
By Stephanie Siek, CNN, December 28, 2011
The face of Judaism in America is changing, as the community becomes more diverse through intermarriage, adoption, immigration and conversion. Be'chol Lashon is trying to foster an expanded definition of Jewishness, one that includes the diverse backgrounds of Jews around the globe.
Nation’s First Asian American Rabbi Inspires Social Change
By Rebecca U. Cho, KoreAm, December 6, 2011
As a child, Angela Buchdahl stood out as the lone Asian face in the synagogue and at Jewish camps. Today, she holds the distinction of being the nation’s first Asian American rabbi and is helping to redefine what it means to be Jewish.
ADL and AJC Suffer Big Drop in Donations
By Nathan Guttman, The Forward, December 9, 2011
IJCR's Aryeh Weinberg says all signs indicate that major multi-issue organizations need to learn to adapt to the new reality, mainly by offering their donors more of a say on how their contributions are used.
Lacey Schwartz Gets Outside The Box
By Kylie Jane Wakefield, Jewcy, December 5, 2011
Whereas Lacey’s life story is unique, her honest no-holds-barred approach to resolving questions and pushing boundaries is universally compelling, resonating with younger generations who are searching and whose Jewish identity is one choice among the many identities they navigate.
"Funnye, you don’t look Jewish": Rabbi Capers Funnye in Toronto
By David Bale, Friday Night Magazine, November 30, 2011
"You already black. Now you have to go and be a Jew, too? You’re twice cursed." That’s what an American Southerner once said to Rabbi Capers Funnye Jr., who converted to Judaism long ago and became a rabbi 25 years ago. In response, says the rabbi, "I actually think I’m twice blessed."
Rabbi Funnye’s first trip to Canada
By Riva Gold, The Canadian Jewish News, November 24, 2011
After 25 years in the rabbinate, Rabbi Capers Funnye finally made his first trip to Canada this week to speak about African-American and African Jewry.
“I am here because I want to tell you my story, and the story of countless other African-American and African Jews who indeed feel that they are ba’al tshuvah, returners to the faith,” Funnye began.
Song of the Sea: Jewish Life in the Caribbean
By Juan Mejía, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Winter 2011
My own involvement with the Shirat Hayyam community began soon after my ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Hailing from a similar background as the members of Shirat Hayyam – my ancestors were hidden Jews in the mountains of Colombia – and being the first Latino convert to be ordained as a Conservative rabbi, I felt that I had a responsibility to increase the availability of Torah materials in Spanish.
Jewish Giving In The Global Village
By Brad Hirschfield and Erik Ludwig, The Jewish Week, November 22, 2011
Tzedakah remains a powerful creator and reinforcer of ethnic, cultural and religious values. Even as Jews from the baby boom and next generations give less to synagogues and religiously affiliated institutions, they report having deeply held beliefs about righteousness, justice and protection of the vulnerable.
Capers Funnye’s double indemnity as a black rabbi
By Charles Lewis, The National Post, November 19, 2011
Rabbi Capers Funnye used to endure this joke: "Funnye, you don't look Jewish." Rabbi Funnye, born in South Carolina in 1952, is an African-American who converted to Judaism as a young man when he began having serious doubts about the Protestant Christian faith of his birth. He now runs one of the oldest black synagogues in the United States, Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken in Chicago, which is 95 years old.
Ugandan rabbi visits Utah to raise awareness of African Jews
By Lisa Schenker, The Salt Lake Tribune, November 18, 2011
Uganda isn't a place that typically springs to mind when people think of Jewish populations around the world. But Sizomu, a small man who exudes an air of calm, wants to change that. He hopes to turn his 1,500-member community of mostly poor subsistence farmers into a thriving center of Judaism in Africa that will benefit his people and their Christian and Muslim neighbors.
What does a Jew look like? Ask Rabbi Capers Funnye
By Riva Gold, Haaretz, November 16, 2011
I started my journey, back in 1970. I began studying Judaism two years later in college and just continued to study. I met a group of young men from an African American congregation and studied with them. It was ironic because just as the pastor of my church told me ten years earlier that he thought I’d make a good minister, my teacher said he needed good educated men to come into the rabbinate and that I’d be a good rabbi.
Reaching Around the World
By Cindy Trane Christeson, Newport Beach Independent, November 4, 2011
"He has a remarkable story," said Bill Shane, executive director of Temple Bat Yahm. "Connecting with him has given great opportunities to help make a difference in another part of the world, to reach beyond our own small boundaries and fulfill the commandment of making this world a better place."
Field of dreams:
Kenny Kahn finds his passion coaching high school football
Dan Pine, Jweekly.com, October 20 2011
Kahn, 29, might claim a one-of-a-kind profile in the annals of Bay Area high school football. He grew up in Richmond, the son of a Jewish mother and black father, played football at El Cerrito High, studied poetry in college, returned to El Cerrito and in 2008 become the youngest head coach in school history.
You Stand this Day, All of You
Melanie Aron, Union for Reform Judaism, October 3 2011
Yom Kippur is a time of gathering for our communities and we look out to crowds not so different from Moses’s assembly. The machers of our congregation will be there, and also, those we see just once or twice a year. Let’s look a little more closely though this year. Who will we see in our sanctuaries? And who will not be present? Do our congregations reflect the makeup of our communities?
Adding a Little Color to Summer Camp
Steven Philp, Moment Magazine, August 24, 2011
According to a New York Times article, Be’chol Lashon—which translates to "In Every Tongue"—has done in two short years what many Jewish communities have failed to accomplish: make the Jewishness of Jews of color a statement of fact, rather than a question.
Camp mirrors a girl's diverse Jewish biography
Johanna Ginsberg, New Jersey Jewish News, August 17, 2011
"I was looking for a camp for Beza that would be an inclusive camp where she would not feel different because she is black and Jewish..." When they heard about Camp Be’chol Lashon, a multicultural Jewish camp in California, they jumped. This year’s participants included campers from a variety of backgrounds, including African-American, Chinese, Brazilian, and Ethiopian.
Prayer, and Bug Juice, at a Summer Camp for Jews of Color
Samuel G. Freedman, The New York Times, August 12, 2011
On Sabbath morning, as fog still hung over the valley, the campers walked past the Torrey pines and blackberry bushes toward the garden. There, several rows of chairs had been arranged in front of an altar fashioned from a folding table covered with Senegalese cloth and a Torah scroll on loan from an Orthodox synagogue.
On Raising Asian-Jewish Children
Renee Ghert-Zand, The Forward, May 30, 2011
The recent Forward article “Raising Children on Kugel and Kimchi, and as Jews” centered on a new study that found that many families in which one parent is Jewish and the other is Asian are raising their children as Jews. The research was conducted by a married couple of sociologists, Helen Kim, who is of Korean descent, and Noah Leavitt, who is Jewish.
From the Four Corners
Alex Joffe, Jewish Daily, May 24, 2011
Are most Jews white? The impression that this is so is partially the result of the calamitous and decimating events of the 20th century, in which the great centers of Europe were lost to Nazi genocide while those of the Middle East and North Africa were lost to Islam.
Uganda’s Rabbi Comes To Baltimore
Neil Rubin, Jewish Times, May 13, 2011
Growing up amid central eastern Africa’s tumultuous 1960s and 1970s, Gershom Sizomu knew that being Jewish was far from usual. After all, his father — a rabbi like his father before him — was once arrested for building a sukkah and ransomed from the arresting police officer with five goats.
Black Jews From Chicago Sing with Northfield Congregation
Rob Neustadt, Winnetka-Glencoe Patch, May 3, 2011
African-American Jews are rare. Yes, a number of Ethiopian Jews immigrated to Israel and the United States in 1984, but a congregation on Chicago's South Side has flourished with converts and other ethnic groups. They recently collaborated with a North Shore congregation to perform "Jewish Music Like You've Never Heard Before."
Ugandan rabbi speaks in Foster City
Carina Woudenberg, San Mateo Times, April 30, 2011
Less than two hours after stepping off the last plane on a series of flights from Uganda, Rabbi Gershom Sizomu stood ready to acquaint the West with the budding Jewish community in his home country -- or at least the 40 or so people who came to the Peninsula Jewish Community Center to hear him speak.
African rabbi to visit South Florida
Sun Sentinel, April 26, 2011
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, a third generation leader of the Abayudaya Jews in Uganda, will visit South Florida early next month to speak at several synagogues and Jewish day schools in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.
Hallelu-YAH! Jewish Music Like You've Never Heard Before
Tribe Local, April 24, 2011
Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken’s Choir presents spirited and infectious music that is sure to have everyone dancing in the aisles. The choir uses musical instruments and is explosive and energetic. They sing from their hearts and with talent and enthusiasm that is unlike anything to which most Jews are accustomed.
Diversity a Common Theme in Children's Passover Books
Ruth Abusch-Magder and Maya Kasoswsky, The Sisterhood, April 15, 2011
Passover is a time for storytelling. One of the main purposes of the holiday is to allow one generation to tell the next generation the story of how we came out of Egypt and journeyed from slavery to freedom. In choosing among the possible additions the Seder, we have focused on books that celebrate the diversity of Jewish families and those that introduce the themes of Passover.
Jewish Like Me
Suzanne Selengut, The Jerusalem Report, March 30, 2011
African American Jews, like Rison, are on the forefront of an identity
revolution. “American Jew” used to be synonymous with Ashkenazi food, music and religious practice, but those markers of identity are on their way out. In an
increasingly diverse country, where racial barriers are crumbling, American
Judaism is reflecting a widespread cultural shift, explained Diane Kaufmann
Tobin, president of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research (IJCR), an
independent think tank, in a telephone interview with The Report.
A ‘Knead’ To Bake
Elicia Brown, Special To The Jewish Week, April 5, 2011
According to Jewish law, the entire process of creating matzah, from the moment the water touches the flour, to the moment the discs are removed from the oven must be completed within 18 minutes. After each batch, the group wipes down all of the equipment and counters. “There’s an element of a race,” says the rabbi, who is a San Francisco resident, and works at Be’chol Lashon (In Every Tongue), A Global Jewish Community: Institute for Jewish & Community Research.
Expanding the Definition of Jewish Food, One Rice Ball at a Time
Ruth Abusch-Magder, The Forward, The Jew and the Carrot, March 24, 2011
Homemade inari sushi, mandle bread, rice balls, spicy edamame, hamantaschen, and rice crispy treats. If there was anything incongruous about the offerings at the recent bake sales for Japan earthquake relief at Brandeis Hillel Day School, a pluralistic Jewish day school in San Francisco, no one seemed to notice. The mix of Jewish, Japanese and American treats spoke directly to the palates of this unique modern Jewish community.
What's Inside? 'Hidden Foods' for Purim
Ruth Abusch-Magder, The Forward, The Jew and the Carrot, March 15, 2011
Masquerades, double identities, and hidden truths are the very essence of Purim, the story, the parties, the carnivals, and as it turns out the food too. Traditionally, across the Jewish landscape, food was as integral to Purim celebrations as it was to Passover or Rosh Hashana. In addition to gifts of food, there is the mandatory celebratory meal, the Purim Se’udah or feast.
Ruth Abusch-Magder, Sh'ma, March 2011
This summer, I began work as the rabbi-in-residence for Be’chol Lashon, an organization dedicated to celebrating the full diversity of Jewish peoplehood, with particular attention to racial and ethnic plurality. My first week coincided with Camp Be’chol Lashon and as I drove into the campsite that we shared with a local choir camp, I realized that my assumption about Jews had to change. It was easy to distinguish our children from the choir gang. The choir campers were all white, while the Jewish children were a showcase for the range of human skin tones.
If I try to be like him, who will be like me?
Sh'ma, March 2011
Let’s stop focusing, for a moment, on what pushes Jews away from Judaism and start focusing on what compels Jews-by-choice, or converts, to choose Judaism. Why are non-Jews drawn to Judaism? How do they fashion a new Jewish identity where there was not one before? If we uncover what so compels non-Jews to choose Judaism, then we might also understand what we could do to help those already Jewish identify more strongly with Judaism. -- Juan Mejía
Students urged to win awards for reporting on anti-Semitism
Jewish Tribune, February 24, 2011
Kenneth L. Marcus, director of the Antisemitism Initiative at the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco, told the Jewish Tribune:
“We’ve been very concerned about the resurgence of antisemitism on North American college campuses. Although much of our research tracks United States institutions, we’ve been very concerned about the situation at several Canadian universities. I’ve been to Canada three times in the last year or so to address the alarming incidents we’ve seen there. We would be quite pleased to receive submissions from Canadian students.”
Rabbi Sizomu Loses Election, Alleges Rigging
Matthew Fishbane, Tablet, February 22, 2011
By 5 pm Friday, voting in Uganda’s general election was coming to a close. In Nabugoye, where voting had taken place on the hillside below Moses Synagogue, some shouting ensued. Agents for MP Yahaya Gudoi Wojje, the incumbent, wanted to know why more voters were being allowed in, while supporters of the main opposition candidate, Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, shouted back that electoral commission rules clearly state that people in line on the hour must be permitted to cast their ballots.
Uganda rabbi says defeat in election not kosher
Anna Cavell, The Jerusalem Post, February 21, 2011
Uganda’s only rabbi is contesting the outcome of Friday’s election to parliament, saying the vote was rigged.
According to results released on Saturday, Rabbi Gershom Sizomu came second with 14,872 votes in the race for MP for Bungokho North constituency in the Mbale District, trailing behind the winner, Yahaya Gudoi, from the ruling NRM party with 16,744 votes.
Faculty couple research cultural identity issues in Asian-Jewish intermarriage
College News, February 7, 2011
Helen Kim, assistant professor of sociology, and husband Noah Leavitt, visiting assistant professor of sociology and general studies, recently completed a series of in-depth interviews with 37 Asian-Jewish couples, continuing their research on how such couples express their cultural identities.
Mixing Reggae and Torah, But Don’t Call Them Jews
Yardena Schwartz, The Jewish Daily Forward, February 2, 2011
Review: Yardena Schwartz’s recent piece "Mixing Reggae and Torah, But Don’t Call Them Jews" makes a big story of a very small group of spiritual seekers. It is important to recognize that there is a distinction between the group described in this article and Israelites. Unlike the community described by Ms. Schwartz, the majority of Israelites do not disassociate from the Jewish people. It is also inaccurate to include Moreh Kahtriel Ben Yisrael and his followers, who actively distance and distinguish themselves from Judaism, as black Jews. Our late founder, demographer Dr. Tobin’s estimate of 50,000 and 150,000 black Jews refers to the heterogeneous population of black Jews who are Jewish by heritage, conversion and adoption. It is crucial to appreciate the diversity of black Jews, and to recognize that many identify with mainstream movements indistinguishable from Jews of all races and ethnicities.
Diane Tobin, Director, Institute for Jewish & Community Research/Be’chol Lashon
Rabbi Capers Funnye, Beth Shalom Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation/Associate Director, Be’chol Lashon.
Tiger Moms tamed by American experience
Sue Fishkoff, JTA, January 25, 2011
Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin earned two A’s, one A-plus and one A-minus during her first semester at the University of California, Santa Barbara. When she told her Chinese grandfather, she was disappointed but not shocked by his response.
'Obama rabbi ' to keynote MLK celebration in Newark
New Jersey Jewish News, January 6, 2011
Rabbi Capers C. Funnye, Jr., a first cousin of First Lady Michelle Obama and the country’s best known African-American rabbi will lead an interfaith celebration of life and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Congregation Ahavas Sholom, Newark, on Sunday, Jan. 16, at 2 p.m. (doors open at 1:30).
Ugandan rabbi runs for his country’s parliament
Lee Chottiner, The Jewish Chronicle, December 30, 2010
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, a Conservative rabbi and the first from the indigenous Abaydaya tribe in the central African nation, has thrown his, er, kipa, into the ring, and is running for the Ugandan parliament.
If he wins, he will become the first Jew elected to national office in Uganda, as well the only rabbi seated in a nationally elected government outside of Israel.
Buńuelos: A Curious Christmas and Hanukkah Connection
Juan Mejia, The Forward, The Jew and the Carrot, December 6, 2010
One of my most cherished childhood memories is Christmas Eve at my aunt Carmenza´s house. There, among family and friends, she would produce an endless parade of the traditional Colombian dishes for the holiday. Chief among them, were delicious, golden, crispy buńuelos, savory deep-fried balls of heavy cheese dough, often served as a snack or as part of dessert on Christmas Eve.
Commentary: Our Bodies, Our Homes
Ilana Goldhaber-Gordon, Hadassah Magazine, December, 2010
According to Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder, currently the rabbi-in-residence for Be’chol Lashon, a research and community building initiative based in San Francisco, Jews have been making that distinction for centuries.
African rabbi in bid to become first Ugandan Jewish MP
Jennifer Lipman, The Jewish Chronicle, November 18, 2010
A Ugandan Jew who grew up under the Idi Amin regime is hoping to become the first rabbi serving in a national parliament outside of Israel. If Gershom Sizomu is elected he will also be the first Ugandan Jew elected to national office. The African country goes to the polls in February 2011 and this week Rabbi Sizomu will find out if his application to stand for the parliamentary seat of Bungonkho North, in the city of Mbale, has been accepted by the electoral commission.
Ugandan rabbi runs for parliament
Staff, JTA, November 18, 2010
Native-born Ugandan Rabbi Gershom Sizomu is running for the country's national Parliament. If elected in the February 2011 vote, Sizomu would be the first Jew elected to national office in Uganda and also the first rabbi to be seated in a nationally elected government outside of Israel, according to Be'chol Lashon, an American-based organization committed to strengthening the Jewish people worldwide.
'Eating the Fat' and 'Drinking the Sweet' on Sigd
Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder, The Forward, The Jew and the Carrot, November 4, 2010
The 29th day of Cheshvan (November 6th, this year), exactly 50 days after Yom Kippur, marks the Ethiopian Jewish holy day of Sigd, a celebration of the Ethiopian fall harvest and a day where Jews in Ethiopia historically reaffirmed their belief in the Torah and expressed their yearning to return to Israel. The holiday is marked by fasting for the first part of the day.
Fair trade Judaica sale to show off global goodies
JWeekly, October 14, 2010
Diane Tobin, director of Be’chol Lashon, hopes the diversity of items at the fair — and the wide range of their origins — will serve as a reminder that Jews are far from a homogeneous group. “We live in a global society, and Judaism should reflect that growing identity... This is an opportunity for us to create awareness of the global nature of the Jewish people.”
Visit our Online Catalog where you'll find fantastic gifts for Chanukah.
Counting What Matters: A Roundtable
Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility, October, 2010
Numbers count, and while our people have always been relatively few, how many is too few Jews? Since the days of King David, our numbers have been a source of contention. Today is no different. This month, Sh'ma explores these questions in the context of demography and more. Diane Tobin weighs in: "I think it is important for us to realize that for Judaism to be part of the marketplace of world religions, we must be more flexible in our ability to accept people and recognize them as Jews."
Denominational Dialogue: A Success Story
Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder, The Jewish Week, September 28, 2010
We read with great interest Rabbi Naftali Rothenberg's online Opinion piece, "Time To End The Reform-Orthodox Wars "(August 31). Rabbi Rothenberg is reacting to very real and very troubling elements of the reality of modern Jewish life that affect all of us in negative ways.
An Interview with Filmmaker Lacey Schwartz
Drawing Conclusions: Yeshiva University Museum Artist-in-Residence Blog, September, 2010
I met Lacey Schwartz, Director of Outreach for Be'chol Lashon, in 2008 while attending the ROI Summit of Young Jewish Global Innovators. Though our interactions were brief I sensed a sort of camaraderie with Lacey since we both explored our Jewish roots through creative means.
Rabbi Funnye's Sukkot Plans
By Renee Ghert-Zand, The Shmooze, September 14, 2010
While President Barack Obama spent Labor Day weekend at Camp David, his wife Michelle’s cousin, Rabbi Capers Funnye, is heading out for a very different kind of camp experience over Sukkot.
Cooking New Recipes for a New Year
By Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder, The Forward, September 7, 2010
Taking something familiar and finding the new possibilities captures an important element of the renewal work that we are meant to do at Rosh Hashanah. Just as we look inside our kitchen cabinets and remix the old ingredients to create new tastes, we look inside ourselves to reconsider our pieces in new ways.
A Meaningful Holiday for Parents of Young Children
By Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder, The Forward, September 3, 2010
Even when a congregation offers tot services and babysitting options, the thought of getting to synagogue for Rosh Hashanah with small children can be daunting. But skipping services does not mean giving up on the meaning of the holiday.
Jews of All Colors
By Renee Ghert-Zand, Truth, Praise and Help, September, 2010
The West Coast is almost always on the vanguard of social change, and the shifts in the Jewish community I have described above are no exception. San Francisco is fittingly the home of B'chol Lashon (In Every Tongue), an organization advocating for the growth and diversity of the Jewish People, recognizing the impact of intermarriage, adoption and conversion on the contemporary Jewish community.
Tobin Health Center Opens in Mbale, Uganda
By Amanda Pazornik, j. Weekly, July 22, 2010
On the day of the grand opening of the Tobin Health Center in Mbale, Uganda, health professionals were already hard at work treating patients inside. The center was open for business, commemorated by a lively celebration featuring musical performances and speakers.
Don't Miss the New Video Podcast
Growing a Global Jewish People
By Diane Tobin, Torah at the Center, January 2010
I love listening to the voice of my son Jonah practicing his Torah trope, ancient lyrics that he sings with a new, rich voice, adding another dimension to his repertoire of Jewish skills. He is proud of himself and is looking forward to his bar mitzvah, an important moment when he will affirm his Jewish identity—one of many identities he embodies.
Rabbi Funnye's Message of Inclusivity
By The Wandering Jew, Jew School, October 29, 2009
Throughout the talk, Rabbi Capers Funnye repeated his message of the need for inclusion, acceptance, and a better understanding of how a diverse Jewish population can learn from each other. He gave examples of how African-American Jews can help build bridges between synagogues and churches and mosques.
Davi Cheng, "One-Stop Shop" Minority
By Candy Cheng, chineseandchosen.com, October 26, 2009
Davi Cheng is the Los Angeles Regional Director Be’chol Lashon, an institute for Jewish and community research. Davi came to the U.S. from Hong Kong when she was 14 and she currently lives in Los Angeles. She often introduces herself by giving all of her names: Wai-Fong (Chinese), Mariana (English) and Davi (Hebrew).
Jews of color come together to explore identity
By Sue Fishkoff, JTA, October 13, 2009
At the most recent Be’chol Lashon fall retreat, held Oct. 2-4 at Walker Creek Ranch just north of San Francisco, parents interviewed said they don’t want to segregate their children from the larger community. Most, but not all, send their children to mainstream religious schools and belong to synagogues. They look at the Be’chol Lashon activities as supplementary, giving them space to explore their connection to Judaism without having to explain who they are.
Sukkat Shalom: From Uganda to U.S. and Back
By Amy Klein, Jewish Journal, September 30, 2009
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu is starting a health clinic in Mbale — this after getting malaria under control by distributing mosquito nets, digging wells and teaching about sanitation and health — all with the support of Be’chol Lashon in San Francisco, which advocates for the growth and diversity of the Jewish people.
Rabbi educates Crypto-Jews about their history
By María Cortés González, El Paso Times, July 31, 2009
Colombian Juan Mejia, who was raised Catholic, found out he had Jewish roots when he was 15 years old. In casual conversation, his grandfather mentioned that his grandfather was Jewish. From that time, Mejia became interested in his family's Jewish history and began a spiritual journey. He visited Israel when he was 20.
For first-timers and old pros, Israel in the Gardens delights the senses
By Amanda Pazornik, j. weekly, June 11, 2009
Inside the Be’Chol Lashon Kids Interactive Zone, Israel in the Gardens’ first-timers Kim Lawrence and her 3-year-old daughter, Kendall, created photo magnets and colorful flowers made of bright pink and purple tissue paper. “My daughter is loving the art and music,” said Lawrence.
Is Jewish the New Black?
By Cord Jefferson, TheRoot.com, June 10, 2009
It's been a bit of a mixed bag for blacks and Judaism lately. In the heartland city of Cincinnati this month, 45-year-old Ohio native Alysa Stanton became the first African-American female rabbi. Sadly, Charles Taylor, the former Liberian dictator awaiting trial for war crimes, made news, too, as a convert to Judaism. Party crasher.
To be young, gifted, and black...and Jewish
By Anthony Calypso, theGrio.com, June 9, 2009
As a child Tamar Manasseh's favorite prayer was the Sh'ma (pronounced sha-mahh) because she had to cover her eyes to recite it. But as she left home every morning to go to school Manasseh, now 31, had to lose the Star of David pendant on her necklace because it was identical to a gang sign in the painfully impoverished Englewood neighborhood in Chicago where she was raised.
Introducing America's First Black, Female Rabbi
By David Kaufman, TIME, June 6, 2009
"This is an exciting next step in my journey," says Stanton, who feels both blessed and burdened by her "first-ever" status. "I'm honored and awed by this achievement," she continues. "But I am foremost a rabbi who happens to be African-American, not The African-American Rabbi."
The Reel Deal: Follow filmmaker Lacey Schwartz behind the lens as she works to redefine the face of Judaism
By Jen Jones, JVibe, May/June 2009
By way of daring documentaries and forward-thinking films, Lacey Schwartz seeks to inspire others to think "outside the box"—literally. "My documentary is about dual identity," says Lacey of her upcoming film, cleverly titled to reference forms that instruct people to check just one box in regards to race.
Newly ordained Colombian rabbi vows to help Conversos
By Ben Harris, JTA, May 28, 2009
Raised as a Catholic in Colombia and educated at Christian schools, Juan Mejia was on his way to becoming a monk when he discovered as a teenager that his family had Jewish roots. After a torturous journey, Mejia converted and began training for the rabbinate. Now he is dedicating his rabbinate to helping Jewish descendants like himself who want to reconnect with their roots.
First African-American female rabbi to take N.C. pulpit
By Sue Fishkoff, JTA, May 17, 2009
Diane Tobin sees Stanton’s ordination as an important step in mitigating the marginalization felt by many Jews of color. “There are so many who do not identify with the mainstream Jewish community,” Tobin says. “As more people like Rabbi Stanton come along as role models, others will see themselves better reflected in the community.”
Be'chol Lashon Media Awards
By Malka Faden, San Francisco Examiner, May 4, 2009
The 2009 Be'chol Lashon Media Awards were presented on Sunday, May 3, honoring excellence in coverage of Jewish ethnic diversity in print, broadcast/film and new media.
Passover, the Exodus Story and Black Jews: The Black Rabbi From Chicago
By Maureen Fiedler, Interfaith Voices, April 2, 2009
As a young man in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Capers C. Funnye Jr. was encouraged to become a pastor. Instead, he went to rabbinical school. Now one of about 27 black rabbis in the United States, he heads an Ethiopian Hebrew synagogue on the Southwest Side of Chicago. Rabbi Funnye joins us this Passover to share his struggle for acceptance and explain why blacks and Jews have so much in common.
By Zev Chafets, The New York Times Magazine, April 2, 2009
Funnye hasn’t built all his bridges yet, let alone crossed them, but the progress he has seen — both as a black Jew and as a black American — has mellowed him.
Families in Flux
Be'chol Lashon cosponsored opening night at the NY Sephardic film festival. Thank you to all who attended Zrubavel. The event sold out and it was a great show of diversity and support!
By Allison Hoffman, Jerusalem Post, February 9, 2009
The New York Sephardic Jewish Film Festival is using its 13th year to introduce a slate of films that explore how families knit themselves closer together...From the centerpiece feature about an Ethiopian clan shattered by the pressures of adapting to life in Israel to a series of documentaries about vanishing Jewish communities, the films highlight the strains faced by parents trying to pass on the traditions they once took for granted to children and grandchildren who see them as foreign.
Rabbi Funnye A Portrait of Change: Nation’s Many Faces in Extended First Family
By Jodi Kantor, The New York Times, January 21, 2009
Diversity inside families, said Michael J. Rosenfeld, a sociologist at Stanford University, is “the most interesting kind of diversity there is, because it brings people together cheek by jowl in a way that they never were before."
Black and Jewish: Rabbi has roots in Georgetown
*Be'chol Lashon Associate Director, Rabbi Capers Funnye featured
By Idelle Kerzner, gtowntimes.com, January 11, 2009
In August 2002, Nigerians living all over the world from Ibo ancestry came to this sacred spot to honor these souls who could only find freedom in death. Amongst the clan of Nigerian brothers, stood Rabbi Capers Funnye from Georgetown. With a kippah, or head covering, upon his head, he offered prayers.
Few people, however, think he is Jewish.
Leavitt and Kim Embark on Study of Jewish-Asian Families in America
By Brenna McBride, Haverford.edu, January 2009
Throughout 2009, Leavitt and Kim will use survey responses as a springboard for conducting more in-depth interviews with selected couples. Eventually, they hope to publish their findings as an academic book.
To learn more about the study or participate, click here.
Life Through a Lens
By Rahel Musleah, JWMagazine.org, December 2008
Lacey Schwartz, 31, also places personal conflict front and center. Outside the Box, still in production, documents her attempt to confront her dual black and Jewish identities—and that of 400,000 black Jews in America. It opens with a series of stark statements: “Lacey Schwartz’s high school friends never asked why her parents were white. Neither did she. On her college application she had to state her race by checking a box. Unable to answer the question, she attached a picture instead.” Georgetown University enrolled her as a black student, which eventually blew the lid off the family secret: Her biological father was black. The revelation changed her life.
Obama's cousin-in-law Rabbi Capers Funnye battles to open the gates of Judaism
By Julie Gruenbaum Fax, New York Times, November 28, 2008
Funnye, 56, has dedicated his life to chiseling away at the conventional, but increasingly inaccurate, conception of who is a Jew.
Web extra video: A Chicago TV station visits Temple Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation
Diane Tobin Featured in Bubbe's Kitchen
Rosh Hashanah (September 30/October 1, 2008)
Welcome to Bubbe's Kitchen, where Jewish Family & Childrens services stirs up a little family tradition with your favorite recipes. Whether you are a Bubbe or a Zayde, or just want some new kosher culinary tips, drop by Bubbe's Kitchen to see what's cooking.
5768: A Chronology
By JTA Staff, JTA.org, September 22, 2008
Taking a look at the highlights of the Jewish year. JTA published a chronology of highlights from the Jewish year 5768. Here is just one. Read all of them here.
May: LOS ANGELES
– Ugandan Gershom Sizomu is ordained as a Conservative rabbi by American Jewish University, making him the first official rabbi of Uganda's Abayudaya community.
By Niko Koppel and Sarah Wheaton, The New York Times, September 10, 2008
Even as Senator Barack Obama has tried to overcome skepticism by some Jewish voters, he has been keeping a little family secret. Turns out that a member of the Obama clan is a rabbi.
An Evening With Rabbi Sizomu
By Masada Siegel, The Jewish Advocate, September 5, 2008
The African drum beat was combined with the violin, clarinet and myriad musical instruments. The energy in the room was overwhelming and the room was filled with a sea of white faces, with dots of color interspersed. All eyes were on Ugandan Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, his brother JJ and his son, all wearing colorful African kippoth.
Michelle Obama Has a Rabbi in Her Family
By Anthony Weiss, The Forward.com, September 2, 2008
While Barack Obama has struggled to capture the Jewish vote, it turns out that one of his wife’s cousins is the country’s most prominent black rabbi — a fact that has gone largely unnoticed. Rabbi Capers Funnye, spiritual leader of a mostly black synagogue on Chicago’s South Side and Michelle Obama’s paternal grandfather, Frasier Robinson Jr., were brother and sister.
Who is an African Jew?
By O. Stav Hillel, The Jerusalem Report, September 29, 2008
Last July, in the city of Nabugoye, in Eastern Uganda, the group of Jews known as the Abayudaya ("People of Judah" in the native Luganda language) convened for the installation of Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, Uganda's first chief rabbi and the first black sub-Saharan rabbi to be ordained by an American rabbinical school.
Black Jewish filmmaker sets out to capture her identity
By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz.com, August 6, 2008
Lacey Schwartz began to ask herself questions about her identity only at age 18. How did it happen that her American-Jewish, white parents gave birth to a dark-skinned girl? She discovered that the father who had raised her since birth was not her biological father; her biological father had been her mother's lover and a family friend.
More blacks explore Judaism
By Patrik Jonsson, The Christian Science Monitor, July 17, 2008
Like many of the growing numbers of Protestant blacks in America and Africa converting to Judaism, Elisheva Chaim grew up believing she had a "Jewish soul."
Freshly-ordained Ugandan rabbi gets ball rolling on returning home
By Roberto Loiederman, JewishJournal, July 16, 2008
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, the first black sub-Saharan rabbi ordained at an American rabbinical school, has had a very busy time since returning to Uganda in June, after not having lived there for five years.
Choosing to Be Chosen
By Don Lattin, California Magazine, July/August 2008
Rabbi Capers Funnye, the spiritual leader of Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in Chicago, doesn't look Jewish- at least to some Jewish eyes.
Positive Realist: Dr. Gary Tobin
By Debbie Cohen, Lifestyles Magazine, Spring 2008
Dr. Gary A. Tobin knows how to make a point- even if it's not always easy to hear what the well-known demographer and President of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francsico has to say. Tobin challenges traditional ways of thinking about Jewish communal life.
In Living Color
By Rachel Sarah, Jewish Living, July 2008
Raising a biracial Jewish daughter, a mother finds herself answering many questions: from her child, from total strangers, and from her own heart.
"Mommy, you became Jewish when you had me."
That's how Mae, my eight-year-old daughter, explains it, and she's right.
Faith draws more blacks: The changing face of Judaism
Rachel Pomerance, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 18, 2008
Pamela and Jim Harris have gotten used to the stares.
It's not that people have never seen traditional Jewish garb before. They've just rarely seen it on a black couple.
Gay rabbis getting married—and marrying
Amy Klein, The Jewish Journal, June 17, 2008
It's almost 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 17, and the line at the West Hollywood Park snakes around itself, as some 400 people wait to obtain marriage licenses on this first official day that the State of California is issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples (aside from one wedding on Monday).
Jews' faith journey leads from Uganda to L.A. and back
By Sandy Banks, Los Angeles Times, June 10, 2008
The music was distinctly African, driven by pulsing drums and lively melodies.
But the lyrics were in Hebrew, sung by a diminutive rabbi with coal-black skin and a yarmulke as colorful as its history.
Three countries share limelight at Israel Expo
By Julie Anne Ines, Orange County Register, June 1, 2008
The Jewish community of Orange County threw a bash in honor of the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel, but Israel Expo 2008 also celebrated the 60th birthdays of the democracies of India and South Korea.
Far-flung communities seek place in the Jewish world
By Sue Fishkoff, JTA, May 6, 2008
Miguel Segura Aguilo’s ancestors were executed as Jews five centuries ago in Spain, but he is not welcome in his local synagogue today.
Gershom Sizomu, who will be ordained this month in Los Angeles as a Conservative rabbi, dreams of setting up the first yeshiva for African Jews in his Abayudayan village in East Uganda.
Ugandan Gershom Sizomu ordained as first black sub-Saharan rabbi
By Brad Greenberg,
The Jewish Journal, May 21, 2008
Gershom Sizomu has had a wonderful five years—four spent enjoying the for-granted luxuries of Los Angeles and one indulging in the spiritual gravity of Jerusalem—and now he is set to return home to lead a small Jewish community in rural Uganda.
Think Tank Aims To Infuse Jewish Mainstream With Dashes of Color
By Rebecca Spence, Forward.com, May 8, 2008
- Go to almost any Jewish conference and you’ll likely find the ethnic makeup to be largely, and unsurprisingly, white.
But at a recent plenum in San Francisco, a group championing ethnic diversity in Jewish life turned that situation on its head
Meeting unites far-flung communities seeking place in the Jewish world
By Sue Fishkoff, JTA, May 7, 2008
Miguel Segura Aguilo’s ancestors were executed as Jews five centuries ago in Spain, but he is not welcome in his local synagogue today.
Gershom Sizomu, who will be ordained this month in Los Angeles as a Conservative rabbi, dreams of setting up the first yeshiva for African Jews in his Abayudayan village in East Uganda.
Reform student on track to become the first black female rabbi
By Sue Fishkoff, JTA, May 7, 2008
She’s proud to be black, proud to be a woman and proud to be a 45-year-old single mother who raised her adopted child on her own.
And when she says that next May, following her ordination as a Reform rabbi, she will become the first black female rabbi, the huge grin on her face lets folks know she feels pretty good about that, too.
On Being Black, White, and Jewish
Lacey Schwartz, Jewcy.com, March 21, 2008
Like any typical upper-middle class Jewish girl growing up in the Eighties, my life revolved around the Bar Mitzvah party circuit, Gap clothing stores, second base, and Madonna. Something was off, though...
Black Rabbi Reaches Out to Mainstream of His Faith
By Niko Koppel, The New York Times, March 16, 2008
Having grown up in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Capers C. Funnye Jr. was encouraged by his pastor to follow in his footsteps. Instead, he became a rabbi.
America's Filled With Potential, If Only the Community Could See It
By Gary Tobin, JTA, March 6, 2008
A study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life shows that Americans are switching religions more than ever. As many as one of every two adults does not practice the religion in which they were born or raised.
A Nation of Many Colors
by Shoshana Kordova, World Jewish Digest, January 1, 2008
Monique Apatow, a black Jewish woman, was walking down a street in her Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Shaul with an Ethiopian friend and their children last year when a group of ultra-Orthodox boys threw stones at the two families and shouted "kushi!" - a word that in Israel bears the connotation of "a racist white American calling an African-American a nigger," as Apatow puts it.
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Black Rabbi Seeks to Bridge Divide
by Ben Harris, JTA, December 31, 2007
Rabbi Capers Funnye, spiritual leader of Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in Chicago, wants you to know that he likes gefilte fish - a lot.
"I love it," he told JTA in a recent interview. "I love lox. I love borscht. Some of my congregants don't even know what borscht is."
Bush Burns Hanukkah Candle at Both Ends
by Nathan Guttman, December 12, 2007
The Jewish festivities began at a discussion that Bush held with 15 Jewish communal leaders who escaped religious persecution in their countries of origin. After that, he moved on to a Hanukkah candle lighting, where a menorah that belonged to the great-grandfather of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was lit.
Bush uses menorah lighting to meet Jews who knew persecution
by Beth young, JTA, December 11, 2007
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- President Bush used his annual Chanukah meeting with Jewish leaders to invite figures who had experienced persecution throughout the world.
One People Many Faces
Opening our eyes and our attitudes to the expanding racial and ethnic variety of Jewish life.
By Rahel Musleah, Jewish Woman Magazine, December 2007
Helen Wanderstock had difficulty picturing an Asian child on the bimah becoming a bat mitzvah—until she and her husband adopted a baby of their own from Vietnam. "It’s made me think differently," says Wanderstock, "about what being Jewish is."
Museum Exhibit Shoots Down Jewish Stereotypes
by Dan Pine, j. weekly, October 13, 2007
Blue skies and safe streets, Sears lawn mowers and Schwinn bikes. A father and son fishing down by the old creek. A mother pushing a baby carriage. They are bucolic images of suburban America. Except the women wear long skirts and the men wear kippahs and tallits.
In Spain our name was messiah
By Yair Sheleg, Haaretz, October 2, 2007
Until he was 15, Juan Mejia was secure in his Catholic identity. He grew up in Bogota, Colombia, in an upper-middle class family. Suddenly, his grandfather hushed the uncle and told the stunned relatives that his own grandfather had been Jewish.
Black Jews In America
by Steve Kramer, GBMNews, August 22, 2007
On our recent American visit, we had the pleasure of attending the wedding of the daughter of our dear friends, the Braunsteins. Lauren, an educator who received her Master's degree a few years ago, had met her husband Walter on JDate [online dating service catering to Jews]. Walter Isaac, is a Jewish man completing his doctorate at the Center for Afro-Jewish Studies of Temple University. What's a bit unusual is that Walter is a black Jew himself.
Local Jewish Community Aids Ugandan Rabbi-to-be
by Jonathan Shugarts, Republican American, August 6, 2007
Gershom Sizomu traveled to the United States from a land of dirt roads, mud huts, and a history of brutal dictatorship that clouded the rolling hills of his native Uganda in fear.
But Sizomu, 38, will be a rarity when he returns to his homeland. He will be the only ordained rabbi in Uganda and will lead a small community of African Jews known as the Abayudaya who live in a small village called Mbale.
Israel in the Gardens
by Dan Pine, j. weekly, May 25, 2007
At this year's Israel in the Gardens, a Jewish percussionist from Uganda will lead a parade of Israel supporters around the Gardens. All theway around. "Walk a Mile for Israel" which circumnavigates Yerba Buena Gardens, is but one part of the entertainment on tap at the Bay Area's annual love-in for the Jewish state.
Black Jew illuminates diversity of Judaism
by Dianna Marder, The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 5, 2007
Much of the study of African Americans and Jews relates to relationships between the two groups.
But Lewis Ricardo Gordon, a Jamaica-born, Yale-educated author and Temple University professor, is studying African-Americans who are Jews.
Shades of Gray
By E. B. Solomont, American Jewish Life Magazine, April 1, 2007
The problem was the boxes on her college application. The ones where you check white or black. Lacey Schwartz didn't know which to check, so she sent a picture instead, which led the school administrators to enroll her as a black student, one who inexplicably had two white Jewish parents. That's how she made it 18 years before blowing the lid off the family secret: That her mother had an affair with a black man, that she was the product of their union.
Taste of Uganda: Rabbi Reaches out to Children Through Music
by Sara Cunningham, Courier-journal.com, March 24, 2007
Gershom Sizomu shared his musical message in English, Hebrew and Lugandan yesterday with schoolchildren and members of a local synagogue. "Behold it's a good thing and pleasant for brothers and sisters to sit together," he sang.
For Sizomu, language can cross all boundaries when it's set to music.
Montclair Identify Expert to Explore Growing Awareness of Multiracial Jews
By Johanna Ginsberg, New Jersey Jewish News, March 1, 2007
"I have to figure out my Jewish identity in a way my husband doesn’t have to"ť said Lisa Williamson Rosenberg, who identifies herself as black and Jewish. He says, "I’m Jewish,"- no one debates him or gets into an argument with him. It was the same for my mother. No one says, "Oh, how did you get to be Jewish? - Everyone asks me those questions."
Book Review: In Every Tongue: The Racial & Ethnic Diversity of the Jewish People
By Diane Tobin, Gary A. Tobin, and Scott Rubin. San Francisco: Institute for Jewish & Community Research, 2005. 251 pp.
American Jewish History Journal, Volume 93
By Ephraim Tabory, Bar Ilan University
March 1, 2007
The authors' main focus is on what they call "diverse Jews," and their primary study relates to the United States. They estimate that "at least 20 percent of the Jewish population in the United States is racially and ethnically diverse...
Intermarriage Studies May Be Right; Community's Fearful Response Isn't
by Gary Tobin, JTA, February 15, 2007
We keep producing studies that prove that children of intermarried families are less likely to be Jewish than children from two born Jews.
There's nothing wrong with the research; my studies show the same thing. However, our responses to the findings, which come from fear and suspicion, are troubling.
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Deconstructing the Asian Jewish Experience
by Joshua Brandt, j., The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, December 8, 2006
Much of the study of African Americans and Jews relates to relationships between the two groups.
A recent forum on Asian Jewish identities emphasized commonalties while shattering stereotypes. But before debunking the prevailing paradigm of the Ashkenazi Jew, the panel had to come to grips with an equally important question: What constitutes "Asian?"
Have a feliz Chanukah at multicultural holiday fiesta
by Dan Pine, j., The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, December 8, 2006
Much of the study of African Americans and Jews relates to relationships between the two groups.
A recent forum on Asian Jewish identities emphasized commonalties while shattering stereotypes. But before debunking the prevailing paradigm of the Ashkenazi Jew, the panel had to come to grips with an equally important question: What constitutes "Asian?"
Fasting Has a Way of Humbling the Self
by Rabbi Capers Funnye, NPR, September 20, 2006
In my faith of Judaism, we are commanded to fast specifically on Yom Hakippurim, which is coming this year on Sunday evening, the first of October. And we are directed in the Torah to fast from sundown of the ninth day of the seventh month until sundown of the tenth day of that same month.
The fasting, for me, on a very personal level, has always been a way for me to open myself up to see things clearer, to be drawn closer in my relationship to the God of Israel.
Book Review: Troubling the Waters: Black-Jewish Relations in the American Century
by Jane Gordon, diverseeducation.com, August 24,2006
Cheryl Lynn Greenberg, in Troubling the Waters: Black-Jewish Relations in the American Century
, reopens the question of whether there was a “golden age” of cooperation between Black and Jewish groups from the 1940s-1960s.
Ethiopian Jews' Panel Touches Questions of Race, Religion
by Rachel Sarah, j. weekly, August 4, 2006
"If you're presented with choices, such as being both black and Jewish, then who are you?"
This question, posed by Scott Rubin, was at the heart of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival's panel discussion on Saturday, July 29 at Berkeley's Roda Theatre. Rubin, a senior research associate at the Institute for Jewish & Community Research, was moderating a panel discussion on race, adoption and Jewish identity.
"Awareness Growing, Local Rabbi Says"
by Christine Cox, South Bend Tribune, June 22, 2006
Every Friday at sunset, 6-year-old Livya Zeitler of Elkhart helps her mother, Melanie, light candles to welcome Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath.
Together they pray over wine and the traditional chalah bread, covering their eyes to show God respect. Livya has been able to recite these prayers since she was 3 1/2.
Funny, you don't look Jewish!
by Davi Cheng, Beth Chayim Chadashim, May 29, 2006
At the end of the Beth Chayim Chadashim Humanitarian Award Brunch, I walked over to meet our guest, Bruce Vilanch. Before I even had a chance to open my mouth to introduce myself, Bruce reached over with his gigantic hand, and sporting a huge smile on his face he took my hand firmly in his and shook it warmly. "Funny, you don't look Jewish!" he said.
"South of Main" Takes Top Award
Linda Conley, Staff Writer, Spartanburg (SC) Herald-Journal / GoUpstate.com, May 14, 2006
A book that details life in one of Spartanburg's early black neighborhoods and its demise, has received an award as one of the best books produced last year.
"South of Main," published by the Hub City Writers Project, recently received the top award for Multicultural Nonfiction titles for adults in the Independent Publisher Book Awards competition. ... [Among the] finalists receiving recognition in the category is "In Every Tongue: The Racial & Ethnic Diversity of the Jewish People" published by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research.
Colombian Rabbi Igniting a Revival
By Caitlin Kelly, New York Daily News, May 6, 2006
Conducting Jewish prayers requires a minyan, a group of 10. Conservative Jews allow that number to combine men and women. Even then, at Temple Emanuel, a 66-year-old synagogue in the Bronx, Rabbi Juan Mejia has to skip sections of the service, so few are his congregates. The synagogue, a spacious, bright room with pale yellow sectioned windows, once required additional stadium seating on its balcony on High Holidays - such as Rosh Hashanah, which this year runs tomorrow through Wednesday - to accommodate more than 700 worshipers. Today, with only 26 paid members and 60 alumni members, Temple Emanuel resembles a guttering flame about to blow out.
New Study Ponders Key Question: How to Promote Active Converts?
Rachel Silverman, JTA, April 12, 2006
NEW YORK - Low conversion rates among intermarried Jewish families continue to plague those working to reverse the demographic downtrends in American Jewry. ....more
Jewish Moms, Chinese Daughters
By Merri Rosenberg, Lilith Magazine, March, 2006
It's just a little hard for me to think of this little China doll taking my mother's name. Your grandmother--this would be hard to explain to her.
Thinking About Jewish Tolerance
Leslie Bunder, Jerusalem Post, February 21, 2006
A Jewish diversity conference held earlier this month in San Francisco brought together people from various backgrounds and regions - Europe, Israel, Africa, Asia, North America, South America, Australia - for a gathering that pretty much resembled a United Nations of Jews.
Funny, You Don't Look Jewish: Local Synagogue Explores the Changing Face of Judaism.
Taressa Stovall, Montclair Times, January 25, 2006
When Lisa Williamson Rosenberg explains to people that she is biracial – black and white – and Jewish, the reactions vary. Some people are accepting, some are surprised, others are incredulous. And some have told her point-blank that, no, it's not possible to be black and Jewish at the same time.
Out of Egypt
Ira Rifkin, Jerusalem Report, January 23, 2006
As American demographics are shifting, so too are those of American Jews away from the white Ashkenazi stereotype. Then again, Jews haven't been ethnically 'pure' since the time of the Pharaohs. Lewis Gordon grew up in the Bronx, a center of Jewish life until the closing years of the last century. In that, Gordon's background is typical for an American Jew. Untypical is that his father was an Afro-Asian Jamaican and his mother was a mixed black-white Jamaican Jew who traced her maternal bloodline to Jews from Scotland and her paternal line to Jews from Jerusalem. Both sides emigrated to the Caribbean in the late-19th century and intermarried with local blacks, and while some of the offspring assimilated into the larger Christian community, others, like his mother, Patricia Solomon, remained Jews.
Get Down, Moses
Elena Oumano, Village Voice, December 13, 2005
The Maccabee warriors' trouncing of synagogue-defiling Greeks (a victory, incidentally, that blew Jewish chances to trade patriarchy for paganism) pales next to the Savior's birth. But Hanukkah offers its own charms and boost to the economy - eight days of presents and that catchy"Dreidel" tune. This year's Hanukkah could beat out the Christmas competition in New York, thanks to a burgeoning wave of musicians recording and performing individual takes on Jewish identity.
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American Jews Grow in Diversity
Gary Tobin, charlotte.com, November 28, 2005
American Jews are often stereotyped as a monolithic people of European origin. Jews are in fact as diverse as any demographic group in America -- and perhaps the most diverse demographic group.
"In Every Tongue" Shows Changing Community
Robert A. Cohn, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, St. Louis Jewish Light, November 16, 2005
A newly published book, In Every Tongue, by Diane Tobin, Gary Tobin and Scott Rubin, proves conclusively, based on solid research, that today's Jewish community is absolutely NOT that of your Zayda and Bubbe from the Old Country - or even that of your Mom and Dad from l950s suburbia. The book, published by the prestigious Institute for Jewish and Community Research based in San Francisco, proves the surprising fact that at least 20 percent of Jewish America is ethnically and racially diverse.
American Jews Embrace Demographic Diversity
Gary Tobin, DuluthNewsTribune.com, September 30, 2005
On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, Jews across America will pause to consider how to improve themselves and their communities in the year to come. No doubt, many will contemplate how the country reacted to the terrible destruction wrought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. A disproportionate number of the victims were poor and black, rekindling a national dialogue on race and class. Yet Americans poured millions of dollars into the affected areas, moving beyond racial stereotypes and boundaries.
Book: U.S. Jewish Community Is Far More Diverse Than Most Realize
Joe Eskenazi, JTA, September 18, 2005
Look at the Jew on your left. Look at the Jew on your right. OK, now look at two more Jews. Odds are, one of you is "ethnically diverse."
That's the claim Gary Tobin makes in a new book exploring racial and ethnic diversity within America's Jewish population, "In Every Tongue." The San Francisco demographer maintains that perhaps 20 percent of the nation's Jews are Sephardi, Mizrachi, racial minorities or of mixed race.
"It's a big deal when you start translating it into the number of human beings," said Tobin, who co-wrote the book with his wife, Diane Tobin, and Scott Rubin.
New Research Finds 20% of Jewish America Is Ethnically and Racially Diverse
HispanicBusiness.com, PRNewswire, September 14, 2005
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- New research debunks the commonly held view that America's Jews are a monolithic people of exclusively white European ancestry. In their new book, In Every Tongue (Institute for Jewish & Community Research, $25, 251 pages) noted scholar Gary A. Tobin and co-authors and show that American Jews are a multiracial people -- perhaps the most diverse people in history.
Outreach Advocates Cheered by Findings of Unexpected Ties
Jennifer Siegel, Forward, July 8, 2005
Advocates of outreach to interfaith couples are touting a new survey that they say upends previous arguments against efforts to reach out to the children of mixed marriages.
Rabbi extends a rare invitation
Ann Pepper, Orange County Register, May 22, 2005
Rabbi Nancy Myers is putting together bags stuffed with books on Judaism, little goodies from Israel and some music from the cantor at her synagogue, Temple Beth David in Westminster - because she's getting ready to step out of line a little bit.
Kosher Gospel Rocks the House at Seder Celebrating Jewish Diversity
Chanan Tigay, JTA, April 14, 2005
Fifty years ago, Joshua Nelson's grandmother would not have walked up to a synagogue in her New Jersey neighborhood, entered and prayed. "That's because she was black," Nelson says, "and black Jews didn't generally pray at shuls dominated by white, Eastern European Jews.".
The Face of Jewish Uganda
Shelli Liebman Dorfman, JN, Detroit Jewish News ONLINE, March 3, 2005
J .J. Keki looks very much like his Ugandan neighbors. He grows coffee, bananas and maize on his farm; travels on dirt roads by bicycle-taxi and pumps water from the ground several times a day to carry home to his family. But no matter what he is doing or where he goes J.J. always has a kippah on his head, eats only kosher foods and on Friday nights and Saturdays, he walks to synagogue for Shabbat. &That is because I am Jewish," J.J. explained.
West Coast conference brings together Jews of color from across the globe to celebrate diversity.
Debra Nussbaum Cohen,The Jewish Week, Serving the Jewish Community of Greater New York, February 25, 2005
San Francisco - Before a packed house of some 400 people at the Fairmont Hotel here, 45 voices from Temple Beth El's choir soared in songs melding Hebrew lyrics with the passionate energy and rhythmic lilt of gospel music, all backed by a rocking band.
Embrace Jewish diversity
Editorial, Staff Writer, J, the Jewish news weekly of Northern California, February 4, 2005
As this week's cover story on Asian Jews makes plain, the face of Judaism is changing before our eyes.
With conversion, transracial adoption and intermarriage becoming facts of American Jewish life, we have no choice but to expand our definition of who is a Jew. It is wrong to stare at those who don't "look Jewish".
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S.F. conference brings together far-flung Jewish communities
Dan Pine, Staff Writer, j., The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, October 8, 2004
In the lobby of San Francisco's opulent Fairmont Hotel, Ephraim Isaac wasn't hard to spot. He was the one wearing the white djellaba (robe), natalah (fringed scarf) and gobah (wedding cake-shaped head covering).>
Bay Area Jewish Parents Accept Joys, Struggles of Interracial Adoption
Vicki Larson, j., The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, October 8, 2004
It isn't too hard to pick out Ruthie Heller in her 12th-birthday photo, even if she weren't wearing colorful balloons fashioned into a hat atop her head.Among the four Orthodox Jewish girls, arms around each other and flashing wide grins, Ruthie's creamy bronze skin, dark brown eyes and facial features are a dead give-away.
Gaby Wenig, The Jewish Journal, September 17, 2004
Davi Cheng had some trepidation when she went to Hillel for the first time. She tried to feel comfortable, but she couldn't understand the language of the services and the liturgical rituals were confusing.
Diversity Rules at One-of-a-Kind Shavuot Festival
Dan Pine, j., The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, May 28, 2004
There wasn’t a bagel in sight. Instead, the hundreds of moms, dads and kids attending the multicultural Shavuot festival at the Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center had other fish to fry. It made sense to forgo the customary Askenazic fare. Though just about everyone at the Sunday, May 23, event was Jewish, most of the people were of African, Asian and Latino descent. Most of the music rocked with a Ugandan beat. And the cherished ideal of am Yisrael, the people of Israel, on this day came in rainbow colors.
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Myth of Uniformity
Rob Eshman, The Jewish Journal, July 10, 2003
A lesbian, a Chinese American and a black man walk into a bar.... It's not the start of a joke, it's the beginning of a minyan.
It takes 10 Jews to make a minyan, or quorum for communal prayer, and at least three of the people on stage at the University of Judaism last week fit the description above.
Brothers' Judaism Swings to an East African Beat
Max Gross, Forward, January 17, 2003
Having a tough time finding a good Jewish day school for your kids? Have you considered Semei Kakungulu School outside Mbale, Uganda?
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The More Jews the Better?
Sue Fishkoff, Beliefnet, July, 2002
One thing that has always set Jews apart from Christians and Muslims, something we point to with pride, is that Jews don't push their religion on other people. Jews don't proselytize. But we sure used to. Most Jews today may not be aware of it, but Judaism has a long history of not only welcoming, but encouraging gentiles to become Jewish.
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Shades Of Gray: Multiracial families are growing rapidly and changing
Debra Nussbaum Cohen, The Jewish Week, June 28, 2000
As dusk fell on a Saturday night not long ago, 45 Jewish children and their parents gathered together on the deck outside a retreat center dining room in the northern reaches of Connecticut to bid farewell to the Sabbath.
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Black and Jewish in America
Sue Fishkoff, Jerusalem Post, April 2, 1999
Rabbi Capers Funnye, Jr., spiritual leader of the B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in Chicago, represents a minority within a minority.
Born and raised as a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Funnye once won a scholarship to the church's theological seminary. He is now the only black Jew sitting on the Chicago Board of Rabbis, creating his own national statistic.
Jews embrace rich history of diversity: Roots of Judaism blossom into array of multi-ethnicity
Michael Dougan, San Francisco Examiner, March 31, 1999
Victor Osborne does not, as they say, look Jewish. Neither does Patricia Lin. But Osborne, an African American, and Lin, of Taiwanese descent, will be among thousands of Bay Area Jews breaking unleavened bread at sundown Wednesday to celebrate the beginning of Passover.
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Organization for black Jews claims 200,000 in U.S.
Michael Gelbwasser, j. the Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, April 10, 1998
Descriptions of Robin Washington's ethnicity are often incomplete. Some people look at his skin and assume that he is black. Others look and think that he is white.
Few people, however, think he is Jewish.
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