a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Merging my Black Southern Jewishness…on a Plate

Posted on: September 7, 2012

Black-eyed peas, collard greens and corn bread on January 1st were a staple in my home. My mother, a North Carolinian born in the south, raised in the north and still in the Midwest made sure that we ate a full plate of the beans and stewed greens. She said they’d bring us wealth and luck, her mother told her the same thing and to this day on January 1st I eat black eyed peas an greens.

When my partner, a white Jew from Texas, insisted we buy black eyed peas on January 1st the first year we dated I raised an eye brow (or at least I tried since I can’t actually raise one eye brow). What did this white girl know about greens and black eyes for New Year, I thought. Turns out, the tradition isn’t a black American tradition, but a southern tradition.

Since I was always the only black girl in school, having a tradition no one else shared, I assumed it was based on my race. It felt good to know that my sweet Texan Jew also shared this tradition. It was a shock to us both that Syrian Jews (and other non-Ashkenazi Jews) also eat black eyed peas and greens for Rosh Hashanah to insure a healthy and prosperous new year.

I wrote a piece for The Jew and The Carrot about this wonderful tradition. It even includes my mom’s black eyed peas recipe.

Shabbat Shalom!

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