June 6, 2006
The African-American and Jewish communities share many historical traits--liberal politics, recent tragedy, experience in the civil rights movement--but culturally, they're miles apart. What happens, then, when a Jew and an African-American fall in love? Can they bridge the gap between the two cultures? Should they? How do they fit into each other's communities?
Prepare to be educated and challenged by the new issue of our Web Magazine, where we share powerful perspectives from people in multicultural interfaith relationships, their children, and black converts to Judaism.
Take Lesley Williams. An African-American, she converted to Judaism ten years ago because of the religion's emphasis on ethics and social justice. So why does she still feel like an outsider in her own synagogue? Read more in Waiting Outside the Promised Land .
Or, Alina Adams, a white Jew married to a black man. "Sometimes I get so carried away in a discussion," she says, "that when the person I'm talking to responds in an unexpected way, I actually find myself thinking: Can't she see that I'm saying this because I'm black?" Read more in Nuclear (Family) Fusion: Seeing the World Through Another's Eyes .
Kyra Davis, on the other hand, is black, Jewish, well-adjusted--and has never been called an Oreo. "The biggest challenge multiracial people face today," she says, is not "an inability to be accepted, but an inability to communicate to the world that we have not been rejected." Read her refreshing perspective in The Challenge of Being Me .
Lisa W. Rosenberg's experience has been a little different. Once she got to college, she encountered identity politics and felt forced to choose whether she was black or Jewish. Discover her decision in Being "Both": Claiming Dual Identity as a Biracial Jew .
Black Jews also bring a unique cultural perspective to the arts. Justin Warfield fronts a group called She Wants Revenge, but he's got nothing but gratitude for his Russian-Romanian-Jewish-Southern-African-American upbringing. Read Karla S. Blume's profile of this up-and-coming star. And Carolivia Herron, the author of the popular children's book Nappy Hair, converted to Judaism because she likes its emphasis on "wrestling with God." Read more in in Jacqueline Sternberg's profile .
Meanwhile, Esther Meyers bridged the cultural gap between her Jewish background and her husband's Muslim upbringing by focusing on shared values--and communicating them to their son, in Common Values Shared between a Jew and a Muslim .
What do you think? Please join our online discussion on the topic: Growing up in a black/Jewish family, or living in a black/Jewish relationship, which community has been more accepting: the black community or the Jewish community?
Also in This Issue
While the top leadership of the Conservative movement has recently become more welcoming to interfaith families, the movement's Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs has been advocating outreach for years. Now, the group is helping synagogues learn how to better incorporate their intermarried members. Read more in Sue Fishkoff's article .
Meanwhile, Rabbi Sam Gordon, the founding rabbi of Sukkat Shalom, a Reform synagogue with many interfaith families, is gravely concerned about Reform leader Rabbi Eric Yoffie's statements on conversion last fall, in A Rabbi's Response to Eric H. Yoffie's Conversion Message .
Lastly, do you sometimes wonder how completely unobservant Jews can feel strongly about raising their children Jewish? Wendy Weltman Palmer shares her insight in Dear Wendy: Giving Our Future Children a Faith .
We'll be taking an extra week off but returning with our issue on Interfaith Weddings/Accepting Children's Choices on June 27.
Micah Sachs, Online Managing Editor
Write for Us!
We're looking for writers on the following topics:
1) Travel: Has being part of an interfaith family or relationship changed the way you see things when you travel?
2) How do you respond when your children--or you--hear negative things about intermarriage?
If you want to write on these topics, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Connections In Your Area--Featured Event
The DaVinci Code and Judaism
Join a discussion as Rabbi Harry Manhoff, of Congregation Beth Shalom in San Leandro, sorts out the myth and facts about Judaism and Early Christianity from Dan Brown's bestselling book. Was there a conspiracy to hide the offspring of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene? Have we moderns abandoned the "divine feminine" in religion? And who really had sex rituals? Rabbi Manhoff has written and lectured extensively on early Christianity and promises to offer entertaining insight into what really happened in the last two millennia.
The event takes place on June 26 at 7:30 p.m. and is sponsored by Building Jewish Bridges, Oakland, CA, and co-sponsored by the Berkeley Richmond JCC. For more information, click here .