The Tent Widens as Racial Diversity of Jewish Community Increases

By Rubin, Bonnie Miller | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), December 19, 2014 | Go to article overview

The Tent Widens as Racial Diversity of Jewish Community Increases


Rubin, Bonnie Miller, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


CHICAGO - Meira and Tyler Burnett always look forward to their family's annual Hanukkah party, when they will light the menorah and enjoy traditional potato pancakes, called latkes. The siblings, ages 11 and 14, respectively, also sing in the children's choir at B'nai Yehuda Beth Shalom, where four of the eight participants are African-American - just like them.

"When I tell friends at school that I'm Jewish, they don't believe me, said Meira, at the south suburban Homewood synagogue. "But that's what I am.

The American Jewish population has always been overwhelmingly white, with Central or Eastern European roots - synonymous with matzo ball soup, bagels, Maxwell Street pushcarts and "Seinfeld - and it's common to hear Jewish people refer to themselves as members of "the tribe.

But today, as Jews celebrate Hanukkah, the eight-day holiday that began Tuesday, the tribe looks different, because of interracial marriages, adoptions and conversions. And while the white majority still holds true, experts say more racial and ethnic diversity can be found across the spectrum of Judaism.

"There's more variety of narratives than ever before, said Chava Shervington, president of The Jewish Multicultural Network. The Philadelphia-based organization started in 1997 with 20 families and has grown to more than 950 members and almost 3,000 Facebook followers, she said. Its tag line: "Because Jews come in all colors.

The increase in diversity is difficult to quantify. The Chicago Jewish Population Study, conducted every decade by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago first asked about race in 2010. It found that 4 percent (or 5,600 Jewish households) are multiracial, including black, Hispanic, Asian and biracial members.

"People used to look at being Jewish only through a (European) lens, but that's changing, said Marsha Raynes, director of Project Esther, the Chicago Jewish Adoption Network of Jewish Children and Family Services.

Jerry Kaye is seeing the diversity too. As executive director of Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute, a Jewish camp in Oconomowoc, Wis., participation by nonwhites is at its highest in his 40 years at the helm, he said.

While the camp does not track youth by race, "it's a rainbow, Kaye said. "One of the things going on in the reform movement right now is audacious hospitality. ... Our doors are open, no matter how you got here.

The Burnetts' journey has been anything but typical. Their 65- year-old grandmother, Cathy Burnett, who is white, married an African-American man whom she met at college in the 1970s. They had a daughter and later divorced. In 1984, she married Ignacio Tejeda, a Hispanic lapsed Catholic, who converted to Judaism three years ago.

The children are engaged in all aspects of religious life. Tyler's Hebrew is fluent enough to read from the Torah on the High Holidays. He's a member of Barney Ross AZA, a social group for Jewish high school boys. And at temple he assists with the children's choir, which the kids jokingly call The BYBS Gospel Choir.

Meira will have her bat mitzvah in two years, but given her grandfather's lineage, she's also lobbying for a quinceanera, a traditional Hispanic celebration of a girl's 15th birthday. Meira and Tyler are enthusiastic Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute campers, where Meira tells curious cabin mates: "I'm the same as you guys ... I just look different.

The Jewish Multicultural Network and other groups say they are seeing more outreach from synagogues nationwide. Spiritual and lay leaders are soliciting advice on how to be more welcoming, especially as membership at mainstream congregations has dwindled in recent years. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Tent Widens as Racial Diversity of Jewish Community Increases
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.