The Narrow Bridge: Jewish Views on Multiculturalism

The Narrow Bridge: Jewish Views on Multiculturalism

The Narrow Bridge: Jewish Views on Multiculturalism

The Narrow Bridge: Jewish Views on Multiculturalism

Synopsis

Through a collection of essays by scholars and activists, this text examines multiculturalism within and beyond the Jewish community. It looks at such issues as: what is multiculturalism to Jews? How have tensions between Jews and Blacks developed? How can synagogues reach gays and lesbians?

Excerpt

Cornel West

If all the black, brown, red, and yellow people in America were to disappear tomorrow, leaving behind no trace of their histories, the country would still be multicultural. But there would not be a heated debate about multiculturalism. This is so primarily because of the tremendous weight of white supremacy--with its influential constructs of positively charged whiteness and negatively debased Blackness--in the American past and present. the sheer gravity of race overshadows the rich multicultural diversity among white Americans. and the relatively mild Gentile supremacy--as measured against white supremacy--has rendered Jewish identity problematic. (It is important to note that a small yet significant number of Jews in America are of Middle Eastern and African origin. This complicates Jewish identity in America even more.) Yet since anti-Semitism is as Christian as the New Testament and as American as cherry pie, Jews in America have been forced to forge identities between the Scylla of religion and the Charybdis of race.

Since the early American Jewish settlements--especially in New York, Charleston, Newport, and Philadelphia--Jewish identity has oscillated between an inescapable suspicion of Christian America and an incredible recognition that they were not the despised and degraded underdog in White supremacist America. Although they were barred from residing in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, forbidden to build a synagogue in New York in the late seventeenth century, and not entitled to hold public office during much of the eighteenth century, the major targets of white Anglo-American hostility were Catholics, Indians, and Blacks. By the early nineteenth century, significant assimilation had set in--a governor of Georgia, a mayor in Richmond, a mayor in Charleston, cadets in the first classes at West Point and Annapolis, U.S. senators in Florida and Louisiana, the chief justice of the California Supreme Court, four generals in the Union Army, and the commander of the Mediterranean fleet were . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.