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Bee

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PostSubject: One people...   Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:30 am

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/one-people-means-including-me-and-all-people-of-color-too-1.434566
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tamar

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PostSubject: Re: One people...   Thu Jun 07, 2012 12:01 pm

Bee wrote:
http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/one-people-means-including-me-and-all-people-of-color-too-1.434566

Bee, do you have an opinion to go along with the url you posted?

I am sure that the article is true of some shuls but my shul is welcoming and in fact has a welcoming committee that works at every service to make sure every new person is welcomed to our shul.

Our rabbi does not speak on the evils of intermarriage. I would also caution you to see the Jewish world as not just orthodox but Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Renewal.

Orthodoxy is not the only way to be Jewish. I think maybe you should visit some of the other shuls that represent the other streams of Judaism and get a first hand experience.

I will say that Jewish people do tend to be very close knit and my shul is no different. We have had non Jews who were Jews for jesus and messianics come into our shul. We have had Muslims come to our sit in on our shuls speakers and act badly.

We have had our Hebrew classes for adults be taken over by Jews for jesus and have had to cancel the class because of past activities of theirs, such as handing out pamplets in the parking lot, leaving their pamplets in our restrooms.

There is a level of mistrust and there are reasons for this mistrust.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: One people...   Thu Jun 07, 2012 2:36 pm

tamar wrote:


Orthodoxy is not the only way to be Jewish.

That is not what the article or this thread is about. I read the article last night after a black convert posted it on her blog. One of my congregations is very welcoming to all people whether black, white, asian, latino, tattooed all over, disabled, young, old, gay, straight but it is true that not all are like that. Actually, there is another congregation right across the street from mine that I found very unfriendly. Nobody spoke to me and the potential convert I brought along except the Rabbi and she already knew me. So, it happens and even more so to people of color. Bee, do you follow Aliza Hausman? She's Dominican and write about this topic a lot.
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tamar

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PostSubject: Re: One people...   Thu Jun 07, 2012 2:50 pm

Dena wrote:
tamar wrote:


Orthodoxy is not the only way to be Jewish.

That is not what the article or this thread is about. I read the article last night after a black convert posted it on her blog. One of my congregations is very welcoming to all people whether black, white, asian, latino, tattooed all over, disabled, young, old, gay, straight but it is true that not all are like that. Actually, there is another congregation right across the street from mine that I found very unfriendly. Nobody spoke to me and the potential convert I brought along except the Rabbi and she already knew me. So, it happens and even more so to people of color. Bee, do you follow Aliza Hausman? She's Dominican and write about this topic a lot.

I know that Dena, I read the article. My point was that the other streams are more welcoming and that orthodoxy does not speak for all Judaism. The article seemed to speak about orthodoxy. My shul has folks of all races.

As to the thread Bee just posted the url and no comment to go along with it to say what the thread was about.

I was asking for some comment to let me know what the thread was about.

My concern is that Bee only is getting the orthodox view and I do acknowledge that within orthodoxy there is much less welcoming. But that is not always found in the progressive streams of Judaism.

They tend to be more welcoming.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: One people...   Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:31 pm

tamar wrote:


I know that Dena, I read the article. My point was that the other streams are more welcoming and that orthodoxy does not speak for all Judaism. The article seemed to speak about orthodoxy. My shul has folks of all races.

The article was written by an Orthodox woman so yes, she was speaking of visiting Orthodox shuls. However that doesn't mean this isn't an issue everywhere. It's also not just a problem inside the walls of the synagogue. It's not a denominational debate. So the question is how do we respond? What can we do about it? How can we make sure people do not feel like this in our communities? Those of us who "look Jewish" according to the American stereotype don't have to deal with this so perhaps every once in a while we need to be reminded.
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: One people...   Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:28 pm

I saw this link and posted it because I have heard about situations like this before but never read about it. I really did not know how to word a description for this thread. I can relate on a smaller scale because I am a minority and have endured racism all my life. The question I have on this article is the reason for the looks or cold shoulders for this person. Is it fear or something else ? It just can't be a race issue? I know when my husband and I get the stares and whispers its usually only at a Judaica store and once we heard "Sephardim" ...I think they couldn't figure out a Filippino and a Mexican. There has been times where they were unhappy of the store owner selling books to us but they always defend us. I think they have a right to investigate and make sure any new comers are legit.
Tamar, my husband attends an Orthodox Shul but also on occasion attends a Reform one with me here. There is more reform congregations closer to us than any other affiliations, I believe there are 3 now. The closes one in a nearby town just opened around 4 months ago but I have not attended yet. I personally lean towards MO because on my personal beliefs on Torah & Talmud. The people I encounter at the Reform congregation are wonderful, I just do not connect with them like I do with my Orthodox ones. I am very comfortable with separation and modesty but struggle with the hair covering situation and wigs...I freak out on wigs. My Rabbi's do not expect me to wear head coverings but do expect modesty and do not shake hands. When we first attended the Rabbi was a female and she was extremely wonderful, then when we attended services it was a male Rabbi and he right away shook my hand which I was shocked and did not know how to deal with that and when others came to shake my hand I was feeling confused. I appreciate the friendliness but I just feel I am more at home in a more conservative environment.
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searchinmyroots

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PostSubject: Re: One people...   Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:29 pm

tamar wrote:


My concern is that Bee only is getting the orthodox view and I do acknowledge that within orthodoxy there is much less welcoming. But that is not always found in the progressive streams of Judaism.

They tend to be more welcoming.

I'm not sure if I agree with this statement.

Although it may be true in some areas and in some "circles", there is an overwhelming sense of "welcome" within the Orthodox communities.

You not recognize it, but it is there. I know from what I see here in the many different streams of Orthodoxy here in NY.

One may not seem "freindly" until you start to speak with them.

I can show a couple of examples within the Brooklyn Orthodox communities where a "person of color" is very well accepted. One was even on Oprah's "Next Chapter Series".

Yes there are some struggles, but that isn't sometihng that isn't prevalent outside of the community as well.


Last edited by searchinmyroots on Fri Jun 08, 2012 9:39 am; edited 1 time in total
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: One people...   Thu Jun 07, 2012 10:00 pm

I have to agree with SMR. Once they do talk to us they will go out of their way to show hospitality. My husband was buying books at an Orthodox and Haredi community and some local Rabbi's were hanging out at the book store. My husband always keeps a low profile but is well known in that part of town. The Rabbi who was the center of the group kept eye balling my husband, he felt a little uneasy and purchased the books he ordered and as he was practically running out the door the Rabbi stopped him outside..he asked him why he bought a certain book. My husband could have taken this to offence and responded negatively but he didn't...he gave his honest reason for it and how he came across a book by her (Nechama Leibowitz ). The Rabbi politely kept asking more questions on his interest in the book he had and asked him who told him about her, he was fascinated by a non Jew studying her works. He finally explained to my husband that he was a student of hers and worked with her 30 something years. My husband told him that she was light years ahead of her time...he said no. That she was light years behind...it was a beautiful momment for my husband because he understood what he meant. Then the Rabbi taught him something that is very much reminicent of Leibowitz...so my husband shared a funny Talmud story that made them both laugh. They parted as friends. This last week, same thing but on the plane from Atlanta to Maryland, an Orthodox man and his young son sat next to my husband. The whole trip they talked, shared life stories, had Talmudic discussions (other than the times they were praying). At the end of their trip he would not leave without exchanging information and he told my husband that if he would go to his Shul that night they would convert him... I have nothing but respect for the men in black. Its one thing to be friendly but to exchange knowledge and share a love for Torah...priceless!***

(***disclaimer*** I am sure its also true for other affiliations, this is in response to the Orthodoxy not being so welcoming)
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: One people...   Thu Jun 07, 2012 10:07 pm

BTW, my husband is dark skinned, foreign lookin and tatoos all over both arms and shoulders.
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: One people...   Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:10 pm

I haven't been to the Orthodox synagogue in my city yet, but I hear that it's very, very welcoming. It seems most of the Jews in the city--of whatever denomination--have been there at some point. The rabbi there and the female rabbi at one of the Reform synagogues are friends and sometimes go to each other's services.

It's also the only shul with a mikvah, and it's available for everyone in the community. And some of the ladies in my Conservative synagogue were talking about it, and one said she wears her beaded kippah there (beaded or lace kippot are dominant for women at my shul), but otherwise doesn't cover her hair and no one has ever complained or said anything to her. The women's section is not even curtained off; it's just a slightly raised platform on one side of the bimah.

And a lot of people drive there, because the rich section of the city took over and the vast majority of people have no hope of affording housing there. And I've never seen a bus running in that part of town (seeing how rich people don't ride them).

So, I think it qualifies as pretty modern Orthodox.
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PostSubject: Re: One people...   Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:21 pm

I'm reading you all here and keep thinking that you have amazing options - so many denominations, so many rabbis and congregations with so much differences in approaches to Judaism or to any other Judaism or Jewish-related issue: gender, race, everyday life... It’s so priceless.

Maybe I’m idealizing your situation, of course, and I’m sure I am to some extention, but here we have only one rabbi, and as far as I can find out, he’s mostly Orthodox oriented. Of course, I will not make my opinion towards him before I actually meet him (no, I haven’t contacted him yet and yes, I’ll do it definitively and that moment is surely approaching!), but these days I searched through his lectures on You Tube and tried to learn more about his own approaches to Judaism. Well, he seems pretty Orthodox, but not radically, I’d say. I even seemed to like it, since I’m personally not interested only in seriously studying Judaism and Torah, but also in being solidly observant. But there are some things that concern me: at one of his lectures he made some reference to Reform Judaism that was, to some extent, sarcastic, like “oh, they’re the ones who say you can eat pork and drive on Shabbat and still be a Jew” which I didn’t like at all - I mean, you cannot generalise any denomination like that and you can certainly not make assumptions and mockery of someone’s approaches! And also, I saw his appearance on a local TV show which was examining the question of homosexuality and monotheistic religions; so he was representing Judaism. Although he didn’t speak a lot (which is actually a good thing because all that you could hear was a quarrel of guests and the host of the show followed with some pretty harsh words towards the audience who wanted to know why monotheistic religion seem to deny the possibility of openly being gay or transgender and a member of a congregation, and of course, the possibility of gay unions/marriages), he was pretty bold in statement that Judaism (he presented it in general, without even mentioning that there are multiple views in Judaism - being that of everyone of us, to that of every rabbi, to the extent of different denominations existing in Judaism!) bans homosexuality and that is out of question. To be honest, I’m glad that he didn’t speak more. The whole atmosphere in the studio was so hostile.

As someone who strongly advocates human rights and who actually professionally work in the field of gender and queer studies and issues, I can only hope that I will find some openness towards these questions in the congregation here and within rabbi’s personal approach and that I will not dive into one more homophobic, xenophobic, and, generally, otherness-phobic community. Sad

I hope I wasn’t off topic too much. I was following your discussion on a denominations issue and their openness, and on the different attitudes towards certain “sensitive” social questions like, for sure, racism/fear of a racial unusual/Other, where this topic actually started from, is. Actually, all these issues are in the domain of broad question of one people, I think.

Long story short: I believe it all depends on a rabbi and/or a congregation. You are lucky for being able to chose.


Last edited by Sarit on Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:51 pm; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : correcting grammar and writing mistakes)
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: One people...   Fri Jun 08, 2012 4:26 pm

It is possible in that some situations because of bad treatment in the past someone goes to a shul, is ignored and believes it's because of their skin tone when in fact it's just because the congregation isn't friendly toward anyone. I already mentioned myself but I also remember a friend who visited a shul where she was completely ignored the entire time. She's also white. So..that could be the case in some circumstances. But I understand why someone would feel that way, especially if they have been treated badly in the past.
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: One people...   Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:58 pm

The first synagogue I went to (Reform) was not terribly friendly. They weren't rude, and I didn't feel like I was purposefully ignored or shunned--more like neglected. There were a couple of people I got kind of friendly with, because I knew them from Torah study, but, after I waited a year for conversion class, and was told by the rabbis that they weren't going to have it and I was going to have to wait indefinitely, I went to another shul and no one's ever come looking for me (even though the rabbis and the office have my e-mail).

It's enough to make you paranoid--especially as I heard other people gushing over how friendly and welcoming everyone was.
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PostSubject: Re: One people...   Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:18 pm

Or just assume that people are more invested in their own battles than yours? It's unfortunate, but true.

I mostly visit Orthodox shuls when traveling and the LEAST friendly was actually the shul where my converting rabbi led services. We are usually invited to a meal after or study or what not and it was the only time we weren't treated like that - a large Conservative shul.

As Sarit says, it really depends on the leaders in the group. My synagogue is REALLY welcoming because it's so small and they need fresh blood. I'm invited to a "new member welcome party" on Sunday and I've been there for 2.5 years or so. I would rather they not come looking for me as much as they do!

As for the color issue, as long as it's ingrained in Judaism that it's okay to ask because of your appearance, it's going to. I'm sorry. My Jewish husband looks very all-american white and he was detained at Ben Gurion airport because they thought he was a fraud for listing "Jewish" on his passport. I'm always terrified of being "found out" because of the past and that's really where the issue lies - what people bring to the subtext.

Speaking of which, I loved this article: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/06/07/white-like-me.html

Because it's not simply a religion, but a bloodline, it's going to come up. It's almost racist in its entrenchment and there's not much that can be done about it - and of course it will be stronger in Orthodox arenas than liberal arenas. Orthodoxy arose out of a desire to preserve separation, liberal movements wanted integration.

I had the stupidest exchange the other day that I am still wondering at for this very reason. The clerk checking me out asked if I was Jewish (because my last name is Horowitz now that I'm married). And it's been happening ever since I changed it from McNamara. And you know what I said?

"Well, I married a Horowitz."

Because, despite being more religiously committed than 97% of the Jews I know, and despite even having enough Jewish blood that this guy would have just accepted a "yes" as a Jew himself, still don't feel like I can say "Yes" to that question because of how it came up.

It's a complicated identity matter. Skin color, name (my parents in law won't call me by my first name because it is clearly not Jewish), whatever, it's all complicated.
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