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Black and Jewish: African American Jewish Identities in the Early Twenty-First Century


Dr. Jamie Wilson is partnering with Be'chol Lashon on his upcoming book, Black and Jewish: African American Jewish Identities in the Early Twenty-First Century. It will be a collection of autobiographical narratives that expands the definition of what it means to be Jewish in the early twenty-first century. The essays will give voice to those who stand at the intersection of African American and Jewish communities, documenting the history and traditions of Jews of African descent in the United States.

If you identify as African American and Jewish (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Renewal, post-denominational, or unaffiliated/secular), please consider sharing your spiritual journey with us. In thinking about your essay of 1,500 to 3,000 words, you should consider some of the following questions:

  • What movement (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Renewal, post-denominational, or unaffiliated/secular) of Judaism do you belong to? Why did you choose this one? If you are a secular Jew, what do you see as the position of secular Jews in Judaism?

  • How do you describe your ritual observance? Do you have a favorite Jewish Holiday? Why is it your favorite holiday?

  • How do your Jewish and African American identities intermingle and coexist? How do you navigate your religious community and your racial community?

  • If you are an African American Jew by Choice, why did you choose to convert to Judaism? From which faith did you convert? Do vestiges of your previous faith coexist with your Jewishness? How did your family understand your conversion?

  • If you were born Jewish, explain the Jewish heritage you inherited.

  • If you see your Jewish identity as a returning to Judaism, explain your notion of return. Why did you return?

  • What is your Hebrew name? If you selected it, how did you select it? If it was given to you, why was it given to you? What does it mean?

  • What is the place of the State of Israel in your life?

  • What do you see as the future of Judaism?

Please click here to share your story and photograph. The deadline is June 1, 2010. Essays will be edited by Dr. Wilson. Due to publishing constraints, only a select number of essays will be published in the book. The remaining essays will be featured on the Bechol Lashon website.

For more information, please e-mail info@bechollashon.org. Or call us at 415-386-2604.