a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

“Jews are a lot like Black Folks”

Posted on: January 15, 2011

That’s what my mom said after we got back from shul last night.  I took her to CBE, not my shul but the shul I go to hear Noah sing every month.  Like always, the singing was amazing and because of CBE’s Human Rights Shabbat the chapel spilled out into the lobby of the synagogue.  We arrived a little late and squeezed into a pew.  The normally warm chapel was sweltering and I looked at my mom’s face that had already started to perspire.  We’ve been battling the famous NYC what to wear in the winter syndrome.  You bundle up because it’s cold outside, then get into the store or restaurant and start to sweat then you bundle up again to leave and then get into the subway and start to sweat.  It’s even worse when you’re in your mid-fifties, I’m told.I couldn’t have brought her to a better service.  Not only did Noah sing but the congregation was sponsoring a talk given by Daisy Khan from the American Society for Muslim Advancement, Iain Levine from Human Rights Watch, and Rabbi Bachman, CBE’s rabbi for their “Human Rights Shabbat”.  The discussion was to be moderated by Lisa Miller from Newsweek.  Unfortunately, we were not able to attend the talk but the discussion on human rights brought many people to CBE that were Jewish, Christian, Muslim, as well as those who do not identify with any religious organization.  It was great to see the chapel filled with the familiar faces of friends as well as identifiably Muslim men and woman all sitting in a service, praying to the same God.  Because of the discussion that followed service, Rabbi Bachman did not give a sermon but noted that we were running late, he said something to the effect of, “we are Jews afterall.” 

It was great to see the music move my mother.  After getting used to the way that the siddur is used, and showing her the English as well as the transliterated Hebrew she really got into it.  She was singing or humming, clapping her hands and bopping her head to the music.  When we got home she talked about Noah’s singing and commented that a lot of the congregants were  really getting down.  She liked how the music had soul and noticed that many of them had rhythm.  She especially loved that Rabbi Bachman talked about “Jewish Time” since blacks commonly run on “Black Folks Time”-nitouriously late. 


The best, though, was that she read my article on the Jewish Forward’s Sisterhood, she read my blog, and she’s excited that I’m becoming a Jew.  Reading the English in the siddur helped, I’m sure, she just kept saying, “It’s just the Bible!”  and it is, minus that whole “New Testament” part.  Bottom line, she’s into it and she’s already said that she’s coming to the mikvah with me and be a part of my conversion service.  I couldn’t have asked for a better Shabbat.


2 Responses to "“Jews are a lot like Black Folks”"

It’s great that your mom is so supportive!

it was really great! it felt amazing!

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