’” said the law school-bound Columbia University senior. It’s like this encapsulating term for everything that is ‘other.’” Get Jewish Week's Newsletter by email and never miss our top stories Free Sign Up Weinstock, who describes herself as “one-fourth Puerto Rican, one-fourth black, half white, and 100 percent Jewish,” has grown accustomed to feeling like the ‘other.’ From being rejected by an Orthodox all-girls high school’s honors program, to being asked: “What are you?
” at her college Hillel orientation, to being questioned about the shape of her lips on the Jewish dating app J-Swipe, she is used to having her Jewish identity questioned because of the way she looks.
Be’chol Lashon (in every tongue), a nonprofit that strengthens ethnic and racial inclusiveness in the Jewish community, found that 20 percent of American Jews (about 1.2 million people) identify as Latino, Asian, African-American, Sephardic, Mizrahi and/or mixed race.
“I remember my bar mitzvah, getting to the top of the bima and looking out …one side was predominantly white Ashkenazi, and a very large contingent on the other side was African-American.~ Jason Daniel Fair, 31, likes to say his parents met in prison. His mother, who sued the State of New York in the 1970s because they wouldn’t let her become a police officer, ended up working at a corrections facility in Baltimore.There, she met Jason’s father, who also worked at the facility.I had to keep reminding myself that this is different for other people.” Though he grew up predominantly in an African-American neighborhood in Baltimore, his parents would shuttle him to Hebrew school several evenings a week.
His father, who had agreed to raise Fair and his two brothers Jewish, committed wholeheartedly to the undertaking.
She discussed the issue with The Jewish Week in May, during the largest-ever Jews of Color conference in Manhattan.
“JMN members used to have to light themselves on fire to gain entry to mainstream Jewish organizations,” she said, referring to the difficulty Jews of color have had getting recognition in such forms as funding and leadership roles at communal organizations.
She, her mother and her younger sister converted to Orthodox Judaism shortly after moving to Staten Island in the early 2000s.
“A lot of people, even to this day, will look at me and my mom and be like, ‘So … ’” Only recently did Weinstock begin to embrace the experience, viewing it as a rare opportunity to straddle two distinct worlds.
The burgeoning national conversation about race, as police shootings across the country continue to spark outrage and the Black Lives Matter movement continues to gain momentum, also fuels the conversation in the Jewish community.