Article Discussion: Yes You Can Be Black AND Jewish

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This topic has 3 voices, contains 11 replies, and was last updated by  kevin M Zimmerman 7 years ago.

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July 2, 2010 at 4:00 am #4797


Click here to read the article: Yes You Can Be Black AND Jewish

July 2, 2010 at 1:49 pm #4801


Well done. Mrs. White. Very enlightening.

July 4, 2010 at 4:44 am #4809

Virginia May Reynolds

You truly are an inspirational woman, Debbie! Wow, your article is insightlful indeed.

I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. Actually, my husband who is Jewish, but his Judaism comes from his mother line (interfaith again) comes mainly from a German family but has Sephardi in him as well. Incidentally, although I look very British (red hair) I believe I have Spanish ancestry (I’m from the west coast) from the times of the Armada or thereabouts.

Now, black and interfaith, funny that you mention because my husband is godfather to a little girl called Fionghualah (pronounced Fionulah or something like that – sorry that name defeats me!). Her father is Baptist and originates from Jamaica. Came from very humble origins and is now a professor at Oxford. He met his wife when he was a doctoral student. His wife, Sheila, is from Ireland and she used to be a Catholic nun. She became dissilusioned with the system but not her faith and she became just a lay Catholic. She still believes very much in her faith and the girl is being brought up as Catholic. She’s partly black, like your kids and yes people find strange that she goes to Catholic school for instance. We are all for interfaith and although this is mainly a Jewish/interfaith other side, maybe they would find it interesting.

I’m sure both Franklyn and Sheila would have a fair deal to contribute in terms of their interfaith and black/white situation.

Thanks so much for your comments. So enlightening….

July 5, 2010 at 11:59 am #4810


I want to suggest another perspective. I live in Israel, and the reality here is so very different from what you describe (before I go on, I want to emphasize that I am not suggesting there is no racism here, just that Jewish identity is much more broadly defined and accepted.)

Here in Israel, there are over 100,000 Ethiopian Jews, as well as a significant number of African and African-American converts. Here, it is not in the least bit unusual to see a Black person walking down the street wearing a kippah, getting an aliyah at synagogue, eating in a kosher restaurant. All of these things, and many more, happen every day, and no one bats an eye. It is considered normal. (For that matter, a Spanish Jew is very normal here too – the people who told you that you can’t be Jewish and Spanish obviously are ignorant that there is a large Jewish population in Brazil and Argentina, as well as a Spanish population in Israel, and that there are hundreds of thousand of descendants of conversos from the Inquistion worldwide, and some are even discovering their heritage and coming back to Judaism).

May I suggest that you bring your children on a visit to Israel where they can walk down the street and realize that Jews come in all colors, and that it’s totally normal. That’s something that’s much harder to demonstrate in the U.S., where the Jewish community is much more homogenous. If a visit to Israel is not feasible, then there are many resources on the internet where you can demonstrate Jewish diversity to your children (a great place to start is – which provides resources about diverse Jewish communities, past and present, all over the world).

July 6, 2010 at 4:20 am #4812

Virginia May Reynolds

Thanks so much,

Yes, certainly my husband and I with my kid will visit Israel.  Dan always wanted to and he is the one that although he claims himself agnostic, he keeps it kosher but non the less.  We live between England and America, so well spotted!  He works for the police and that’s almost all I can say but Daniel is a beautifull person; when I first met him (as a friend of my brother) I could not believe that someone so rich could be so nice and humble!  He lost his parents at 5 in a car accident.  However, he was so full of fun and life!  I was only like 11 and hell I liked him!  I knew he was beyond my reach and then we met in London…  After a few dates, he asked me to move in.  Ended up getting  married in a forrest, my way! (after a few years though).

We discussed shiva and he has no hang outs about it,  Both her parents had died and he was still recovering from surgery himself (much before I met him) but he wanted to be part of it, part of the community, even if his parents were interfaith themselves,,,,  Dan was very mature for 5; he chose to attend the funeral (and delay it because its own surgery and desire to be there) and conducted himself like an adult etc… Of course, I’m in love with this man…

July 6, 2010 at 4:25 am #4813

Virginia May Reynolds

Yes, I had a crash on my husband when I was 11 but in case my last post was sort of ambiguous, no we were in our twenties when we started dating etc.

July 6, 2010 at 3:58 pm #4817


This is an example of Jews engaging in a practice they should know better than to engage in – prejudice. I cannot tell you how often someone thinks I’m a worker or in some other position and not a member (of the synagogue, organziation, etc.). But I don’t let them off the hook, as they must realize that being Jewish doesn’t equal being white.

It’s quite sad, and being a NYCer (Brooklynite born and raised in Boro Park in fact), I’ve faced more discrimination at the hands of Jews – those who should be so much more enlightened given the history – than from anyone else.

It something I hope will change when we start our family because I will not allow them to feel lesser than anyone else…

It is up to you to not only instill pride in your daughter, but you are also charged with diminishing these views when confronted. If no one ever speaks up, then everyone will always assume that any half-hearted remark is acceptable. Whether meant innnocently or not, a comment like “you don’t look Jewish” is as racist and disciminatory as someone just saying you can’t possibly be because Jews are white.

July 7, 2010 at 9:07 pm #4833

Virginia May Reynolds

Oh, sorry, I often type and research at night when I’m well too tired and sometimes a little excited about topics and I go on tangents.  My apologies for going in a complete one!  also for answering as if I had been the poster.

What I was trying to say all along, is that although I haven’t suffered race prejudism in my actual family setting, I had seen it done in friends, hence the reference to my black/white, Baptist and Catholic friends (as above).

People are more often ignorant than shallow but in my humble opinion both are a problem.  Even I who were not brought up Jewish or in Spain know what level of persecution Jews had in Spain (Muslims also by the way).  It’s something that I grew up to believe was something that belonged in history books until the sad advent of mass religious terrorism etc.  I have friends of all creeds and walks of life and I’m just so sad that this continues.

I guess the best way to deal with it is educating our kids to be better than that and to be strong!

July 7, 2010 at 9:08 pm #4834

Virginia May Reynolds

When I said ‘answering as if I had been the poster’ I don’t mean that I was impersonating the poster but merely going on a ‘me, me, me’ sort of rant.

July 8, 2010 at 9:51 pm #4840

Debra Darvick

Wonderful article, Debbie. You touch on so many sensitive and salient points. May I add to your book list my children’s picture book:
I love Jewish faces? It is for ages 2 – 6 and shows Jews of all colors and ages engaged in Jewish life and life in general. You may read an excerpt at
I wrote it for all the reasons in your article — Jewish kids of color need to see their Jewish families reflected in their books. And the wider Jewish community needs the heads up that not all Jews look like they come from Eastern Europe.

August 22, 2010 at 4:04 am #4996


I am an African American woman my religion is Baptist- Christian. My 5 year old son will be attending a Hebrew Charter School I chose this school because it taught a sec ond language and the school’s test score were great. I recently attended the schools orientation and noticed a very very small number of African-American children should I be worried ?

November 8, 2010 at 1:05 am #5193

kevin M Zimmerman

im jewish as well my mom and dad or white im black my mother is jewish sjnce she was little and i was adopted at age 2 into and loving caring family who gave me the world at my feet and still do love you mom and dad u have set me for this New York city life ppl will be as jewish ppl we pay them no mind just know God has blessed use with overflow oh your story was great

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