a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Oops They Did it Again?

Posted on: July 23, 2012

What’s with the obsession with Commandment Keepers and Hebrew Israelites? Is it because real black Jews aren’t exciting or exotic enough? Is it because it’s too hard to really dig into the issue of diversity (or the lack thereof) in mainstream Jewish communities? Is it to make it easy and simple? If you’re a black Jew and you want to have diversity hey look! there are others like you, now go away. Thing is, it’s not simple. Real black Jews aren’t interested in anything but real Judaism. And while folks like me who are fairly secular and push against halacha, I can still see a wolf dressed up in lamb’s clothes.

I turned on my computer this morning to see that The Forward has published not one, but two pieces about “black Jews.” I have a lot to say about this. In fact, I’ve already said it. Thankfully, I don’t have to say it again-my buddy Shais at MaNishtana has done it for me.

An Open Letter To Forward.com, Hebrew-Israelites, And Everyone Else In The World

Dear Forward.com, Hebrew-Israelites, and White Jewish Media in general,

Stop.  Just…Stop.

I was greeted this morning with a link in my newsfeed of an article on the Forward.com website with the headline “Black Jews Gain Wider Acceptance” splashed across my screen.

However, the little thumbnail attached to the picture revealed what I could only assume were outtakes from a casting call for an urban remake of “The Ten Commandments”.

Yes, that was a mean thing I said just now.

But I’m tired. And frustrated.  A lot of Black Jews are.  And by “Black Jews”, I mean actual ones, not practitioners of an invented pseudo-Judaism cobbled together by opportunists and sprinkled with a light dusting of the Black Church in different clothing.

A friend’s status on Facebook succinctly sums up the frustration of the [actual] Black Jewish community:

 “Wow Forward…Way to step outside of your preconceived notions of what a Jew is…Sigh, Hebrew Israelite does not equal black American Jew. The two things are not synonymous. Acceptance of Israelite communities doesn’t mean anything about the greater acceptance of black Jews in America. In fact it says the opposite–it says in order to meet my diversity agenda I will not address or acknowledge the issues facing black Jews actually in the mainstream community (because I assume they’re not there), but discuss the acceptance of a community far out of the mainstream that just happens to be black. Fact…If they were white, they wouldn’t be entertained. Why do discussions of black Jews actually never talk about black Jews?…ugh

So please, for the love of everything good and decent in Moses’ beard, 1-Hebrew-Israelites, STOP saying you’re Jewish (especially when you’re pandering to the White Jewish camera, because you know damn well when you’re standing in front of your congregants at Temple Bnei Bet El Shalom Adath Congregation of Commandment Keeping Abyssinians, you’d rather die then call yourselves Jewish), 2-White Jewish Bleeding Heart Liberal Overcompensatingly Inclusive Media, STOP picking up anything that’s Black and looks slightly maybe Jewish and calling them us.

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3 Responses to "Oops They Did it Again?"

thanks yesterday a friend of mine sent me the article from forward.com and this morning i sent him the article from MaNshtana explaining its more complicated than appears on the surface

Ugh-I can’t even deal with it, which is why I’m glad Shais took care of it. As I’ve said before, I totally respect Israelites and Commandment Keepers-I think they’re traditions are great, it’s great that they’ve found a spiritual connection, it’s great that they’re good people-It’s just NOT JUDAISM! I mean, I was thiiiis close to falling down the rabbit hole-between Commandment Keepers and Jews for Jesus it’s a HUGE mess. If you’re a black person interested in Judaism you can easily be fooled-they need to stop kidding themselves and stop proclaiming they’re Jews and just call themselves what they really are.

[…] written about Hebrew Israelites before and while I generally think that writing about Messianic Jews and Hebrew Israelites  gives […]

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