Black and Jewish, and Seeing No Contradiction

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nobody keeps track of how many black Orthodox Jews are in New York or across the nation, and surely it is a tiny fraction of both populations. Indeed, even the number of black Jews over all is elusive, though a 2005 book about Jewish diversity, “In Every Tongue,” cited studies suggesting that some 435,000 American Jews, or 7 percent, were black, Hispanic, Asian or American Indian.

“Everyone agrees that the numbers have grown, and they should be noticed,” said Jonathan D. Sarna of Brandeis University, a pre-eminent historian of American Jewry. “Once, there was a sense that ‘so-and-so looked Jewish.’ Today, because of conversion and intermarriage and patrilineal descent, that’s less and less true. The average synagogue looks more like America.

“Even in an Orthodox synagogue, there’s likely to be a few people who look different,” Professor Sarna said, “and everybody assumes that will grow.”

Through the Internet, younger black Orthodox Jews are coming together in ways they never could before.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

2 Comments
Posted August 29, 2010 at 1:47 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

Black Jews in Africa are not particularly rare. Perhaps most notable are the Lemba of Zimbabwe and environs, but they are far, far from unique. In the case of the Lemba, chromosomal studies have demonstrated descent from Aaron, thus the men are members of the Levitical priesthood. Their “Sane” is probably Sana in Yemen, and the same chromosomal studies suggest arrival in southeastern Africa (presumably by sea) some 1300 years ago.

August 29, 6:42 pm | [comment link]
2. A Senior Priest wrote:

Try going to Israel sometime. Then you’ll see that Ashkenazi is far from the only representation.

August 29, 6:58 pm | [comment link]
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