a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Heading (Back) to Israel

Posted on: June 20, 2016

In less than two weeks I will be going back to the Holy Land. A land that is holy to so many people and religious traditions and a land that is holy for me in my Jewish self and me in my Christian past. When I was home recently I listened to a lot of Pimsleur’s Language CDs in the car, trying to hammer out some basic skills for my almost month-long time in Israel. My oldest nephew, annoyed we weren’t listening to Top 40 radio piped up from the back seat.

“What are we listening to?” he whined.

“I’m learning Hebrew.” I replied.

“Hebrew. Is that the language Jesus spoke?”

“Well, yes. Maybe,” I stammered wondering how to handle the hot potato of varying religious beliefs with a nine year old. Turned out he’s a smart cookie. But, Dodah Erika already knew that.

“I think,” I continued, “that Jesus probably spoke many languages. Hebrew or something similar to it like Aramaic may have been his language.”

“So where do they speak Hebrew now?” he wondered aloud.

“In Israel mostly, I’m going there this summer.”

“Israel? That’s in the Bible! It’s where Jesus lived!”

“Sure is,” I said. “There are even places under the city where you can walk on the same street that Jesus walked.”

It was cool. For another five minutes and then I relented to their whining and changed the channel.

Later in my trip home, after reassuring my mother countless times that I would be perfectly safe in Jerusalem (BzH) I showed her some pictures from my first trip. Which, I don’t think I’d done before. I showed her the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and where legend has it that Jesus was crucified and buried. I told her that I intended to travel to Bethlehem to visit Rachel’s tomb to pray, that I was excited to be able to spend three weeks at a Jewish institution doing Jewish learning. And I tried to help her understand how important it is for me to do this work, not just for myself but for other Jews of Color and to help broaded and support Jewish Leaders of Color in our Jewish Communities.

While so much of this trip is about me. Much more of it is about the significance of having more Jewish leaders of Color be educated in Torah, Jewish text and Jewish oral tradition. It feels strange and exciting and scary and it’s all happening in less than two weeks!

Just over a month ago I started a Go Fund Me Campaign to help cover the cost of my flight to Israel and while I have stopped fundraising for the campaign, I wanted to write a final blog post about it in the hopes of securing a few more investments in my Jewish Education.

Thank you to everyone who has made a donation so far. I really appreciate it! If you haven’t donated and are in a place that you can, please consider making a donation in the next two weeks. If you cannot make a donation, please feel free to share this post or my campaign with someone you think can.


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