a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self


Posted on: July 23, 2014

IsraelPalestine“And among the people of Moses is a community which guides by truth and by it establishes justice.”

– Qur’an 7:159

For over three weeks I’ve been sending prayers to Gaza, Israel and Palestine.


According to my  Facebook and Twitter feed (which is getting thinner and thinner the more I unfriend and unfollow) it would seem that all of the problems in the world are because of the Jews (or the Arabs) depending on which banner you’re camped under. While I’m still hanging out somewhere in the middle, I find it incredibly interesting that with the rest of the horrors happening in the world people aren’t out protesting other embassies or joining rally cries against other countries, even our own.

For instance, this weekend over 700 people were killed this weekend in Syria in what activists are calling the deadliest 48 hours to date. As Syrians fight on either side of the conflict hundreds of people are dying each day. 700 people, and it’s not even a blip … because Jews aren’t involved?

A quick trip to the BBC and you’ll see that terrorist continue to kill innocent men, women and children in Nigeria, war continues to rage in the Sudan. Not to mention fighting in Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali…just to name a few. A civilian plane was shot down and hundreds of the world’s top AIDS researchers, men, women and children died. Have we stormed the Russian embassy or are we damning the Ukraine?

Somehow, it seems, when Israel (ie. Jews) come on the scene the pitch axes are raised and the hate-filled language comes spewing out so vile that if you close your eyes and listen closely you can almost hear, “Dirty Jews” “Death to Jews!”Hitler was right!”  “Christ Killers.” Oh, wait, they are saying things like that in Germany at an “anti-Israel” protests.

Of course we say Occupiers (yes, settlers are horrible and the Israeli government’s tolerance of them is horrid) or Apartheid or shout Free Palestine when much of the shouting comes from the mouths of people who just recycle the words and phrases they hear around them. I wonder how many people have had conversions with Israelis or Palestinians to ask them about their lives, what they experience, what they feel.

I have and I find these personal connections a blessing because as the missals continue to fall I think of people I know and I pray for them. I pray for their families. I pray for their neighbors. My prayers cross boarders, race, and religious lines because I’m praying for people, not a country.

It’s really fucked up that hundreds of people are dying in Gaza. It’s more fucked up that Hamas doesn’t really care all that much for the people in Gaza to stop the fighting.

It’s also really fucked up that hundreds died in Syria over the weekend, that hundreds are dying in Nigeria, Mali, in the Sudan. It’s fucked up that women in Saudi Arabia can’t drive without a male escort and it’s really fucked up that I can’t marry my fiance and have our marriage recognized in the majority of the United States. It’s fucked up that in my country I am not even a second or third class citizen, but as a black, female, Jewish lesbian I am on one of the lowest rungs of society. If I say it’s fucked up and that my country is fucked up, am I anti-American?

It’s fucked up that black people, as a whole in this country, have been and always be prevented from the same privileges as white people and that men are still seen as superior than women. It’s fucked up that the police violence against blacks continues to go unchecked.

It’s also pretty fucked up that a country cannot defend itself without being called every ugly word under the sun by just about everyone. Israel, a blip of a country, the only place for Jews to live Jewishly, is villanized for defending itself. But let me just remind everyone that Egypt and Israel agree on a ceasefire that Hamas has ignored. That both Israel and Egypt have set up blockades in Gaza in an effort to lessen Hamas’ grip on the Strip. 10 years ago Israel completely pulled out of Gaza and turned it over to Palestine. Israel donated greenhouses to help the people of Gaza to grow food. 

I wonder if all of the noise we’re making about Israel and Palestine wouldn’t be better served if it was directed at racial inequality right here in the United States. What if we turned our attention to the gigantic wage discrepancy between women and men. How about we march on Washington to demand that every person, regardless of sexual orientation or gender is given equal rights. Let’s protest outside of the Nigerian consulate and demand that the government stop the Islamist from raping and kidnapping children. Can I get a group of people together to talk about the fact that the middle class is disappearing, that children right down my block don’t have enough to eat and that queer teens are at a higher risk for suicide than their peers?


I’m not oppose to opposing opinions, I just wish that there was a bit more education behind them. A bit more understanding. And a whole lot less antisemitism.

I don’t know a single Jewish person who hates Arabs, in fact I know a lot more Jews who are friends (real friends, have you to my home, our kids play with one another, falling in love friends). I don’t know a single Muslim who is a terrorist.

I can’t control the Jewish people who are making the most noise. I also can’t control the Muslims who are making just as much noise. I can’t control the hatred and as much as I want, I can’t control the love. So, I take a page from my good friend, Israeli, activist, father and Jew, Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie, “Can we expand our circle of care? Can we expand our notion of ‘We’? It goes against so much of what we’ve been taught – and we are being called to expand our circle of ‘We’. We have a lot of work to do….”

Our job, as Jews whether we consider ourselves Zionists or not, whether we believe in a two-state solution or we don’t, whether we have feelings about Israel or we do not, is to love.

According to Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel, peace is one of the three pillars that sustain civilization, the other two being justice and truth. Peace is the condition for the enjoyment of all other blessings. There may be food, there may be drink, but “if there is no peace there is nothing.”

Comments will be closed on this post. Instead, I hope you will join me in a prayer for peace. 



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