By Yvonne Chireau, Nathaniel Deutsch
Black Zion explores the myriad ways in which African American religions have encountered Jewish traditions, beliefs, and spaces. The collection's unifying argument is that religion is the missing piece of the cultural jigsaw puzzle, that much of the recent turmoil in black-Jewish relations would be better understood, if not alleviated, if the religious roots of those relations were illuminated. Toward that end, the contributors look a number of provocative topics, including the concept of the Chosen People, the typological identification of blacks with Jews, the actual identification of blacks as Jews, the sacredness of space and symbols, the importance of scriptural interpretation in creating theology and self understanding, the dialectic of exile and redemption in communal history, and the integration of ethnicity and religion in constructing group identity. Ranging from the Nation of Islam to the Hebrew Israelites and from Abraham Joshua Heschel to Martin Luther King, Jr., the book sheds light on a little examined but vitally important dimension of black-Jewish relations in America: religion.