Bein Adam Lchavero

Bein Adam Lchavairo is a blog dealing with interpersonal relations within the Jewish community and the interactions of the Jewish and Gentile worlds. We're new. Be gentle.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Black History Month.

Today, February 1st, kicks off Black History Month.

You may recall that my inaugural post was about Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). How the thought that we needed a day (other than Tisha B'av, of course) set aside just to remember it seemed off, as growing up it was such a part of life.

Don't laugh but I feel the same way about Black History Month. A friend of mine once commented that he finds it fascinating that people view history as something that would be too diluted if "you put too much Black in it".

Black History is American history. Textbooks on American history should be thoroughly "integrated". Instead, we get chapters or separate texts. Even worse, some schools save February as the only real month they focus on Black History. Plus there's the fact that some treat it as Black Trivia month (and no, George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter. Check wikipedia if you don't believe me).

"But," you ask "What does this have to do with Judaism?"

It has everything to do with Judaism. Because being Jewish isn't something that's limited to those of Eastern-European ancestry. In fact, in the historical scheme of things, fair-skinned Jews are a recent invention.

Yet when someone pictures a Jew, they tend to picture an Ashkenazi.

When we learn about Jewish History, how much focus is spent on Sephardic history? Aside from the expulsion from Spain and the Rambam I can't think of anything we covered in class (this could just be my faulty memory, of course). Does your child know that the first shul in NY was Congregation Shearith Israel, a Sepharidc shul? That's right, there was life before the Lower East Side.

How many U.S. Jews even knew that there are African Jews? Are they taught about in school? Do you interact with them? I just found out this year that there is a Falasha shul near where I grew up in one of the boroughs of NY. That boggles my mind. How did I not know this? The only Black Jews I knew about were the "Black Hebrews".

This February, let's try to think outside the the generally Ashkenaz-centric boundries of American Jewery.


Blogger Ezzie said...

Funny. I just wrote a post today about racism... and I didn't even remember that it was Black History Month! That actually ties in well with my post...!

1:51 PM  
Blogger TBLJ said...

I just wanted to say Hello. I like your post. There are lots of Black Jews in this country and the rest of the world. Thank you for reminding people.

11:37 AM  

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