Posted on: October 30, 2016
A friend I made at Pardes posted the “Food for Thought” (pictured above) on Facebook today and I thought (and commented) wouldn’t it be great if shuls passed these out for JOCs and Multiracial Jewish families? And instead of waiting for a shul to maybe do it, I thought I’d create one myself.
If you’re a member of a congregation, feel free to copy and amend this for your community’s individual needs.
At Congregation X our Mission Statement states that we’re an open, inclusive and diverse community, but it’s come to our attention that not all of our congregants feel welcomed in our synagogue. Here are some ideas about how more long-term and established congregants can live our Mission Statement and be more open and welcoming to our members and their families.
Avoid Saying: Are you Jewish?
Why: Let’s presume that if they’re in shul on Shabbat that they are Jewish. And if they’re not, why is it so important? Just avoid asking this all together.
Say Instead: What did you think of the service today?
Avoid Saying: Are you new here?
Why: They may have been attending here for years and you just may not have met them. Saying this may imply that you don’t think they belong here.
Say Instead: I don’t think we’ve met yet. My name is …
Avoid Saying: Did you convert?
Why: By asking someone who is a Jew of Color or member of a Mulitracial Jewish family if they’ve converted assumes that because they do not look like you that they’re not “really Jewish”. If you want to know more about them, ask a more sincere question.
Say Instead: Will I see you next week?
Avoid Saying: Do you know X, they’re also Asian. Or anything of the sort.
Why: Because two people share the same ethnic or racial background doesn’t necessarily mean that they know each other. It also can make someone feel as though you are singling them out for being a Jew of Color, which can be uncomfortable.
Say Instead: I’m so glad to have met you today! This is my daughter/son, …
What am I missing? Post your additions in the comments below!