I love the look on the faces of our students when I point out to them that Moses could not have had the pinkish white skin that I have. First their brows furrow, then they go wide, then they smile with understanding and agreement.
Since Moses descended from people born in Canaan (with ancestry harkening back to Ur, near the intersection of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) and he grew up under the hot Egyptian sun. His skin had to be significantly darker than your average caucasian. That means that Cecil B. DeMille got it wrong casting Charlton Heston as Moses, at least with regards to skin color.
Not that skin color should matter. Often – too often – it seems to matter. Especially in Jewish life. But it shouldn’t.
Introducing Be’chol Lashon, Celebrating the Mosaic of Jewish Life
Thankfully, there exists an incredible organization, Be’chol Lashon (In Every Tongue) which “grows and strengthens the Jewish people through ethnic, cultural, and racial inclusiveness. They advocate for the diversity that has characterized the Jewish people throughout history, and through contemporary forces including intermarriage, conversion and adoption. And they foster an expanding Jewish community that embraces its differences.”
Be’chol Lashon’s monthly eNewsletter overflows with insights, news, arts and culture, and a plethora of programs and events. They run kids and family camp, send out speakers, and encourage creative mitzvah projects. Be’chol Lashon reminds us of the fact that Jewish community has always been a mosaic.
Or Ami Has a Multicultural/Multiracial/Multiethnic Webpage
At Congregation Or Ami (as our “Multicultural/Multiracial” webpage declares),
We celebrate that Judaism has always been mosaic, a beautiful collection of different colored and shaped pieces. We are also “Mosaic” in that we connect back to Moses, a Hebrew child, raised by Egyptians, who married a non-Jewish woman of color and became the leader of his people. We rejoice that at least 20% of the Jewish population is racially and ethnically diverse, including African, African American, Latino (Hispanic), Asian, Native American, Sephardic, Mizrahi and mixed-race Jews by heritage, adoption, and marriage. Recognizing that we are all created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God, we are pleased to welcome the multicultural/multiracial/multiethnic Jewish individuals, couples and families in our community.
Some couples that begin with two individuals from different backgrounds need to integrate separate lives into one family. Some families adopting a child from a different culture look to celebrate all parts of the child’s mosaic. Individual Jews, raised in multicultural homes, strive to be accepted as Jews, no questions asked. Remember: you are not alone.
Congregation Or Ami, our Rabbi Paul Kipnes, Cantor Doug Cotler, Rabbi Julia Weisz and our Reform Jewish movement, welcome you. Congregation Or Ami is already proud to be a home congregation for many multiethnic, multiracial and multicultural individuals, couples and families, and we welcome you to share in the warmth of our community. We invite you to begin a conversation with Rabbi Kipnes to share your hopes or questions about being part of Or Ami.
Congregation Or Ami offers individuals and couples who connect to multiple cultures, races and/or ethnic groups the opportunity to explore their Judaism in a warm, welcoming environment. We work to empower people to make Jewish choices for themselves and their families and we strive to provide resources to inform educated decisions. We strive to be a welcoming place for people of diverse religious backgrounds, sexual orientations, and ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds. We invite you to begin a conversation with Rabbi Kipnes to share your hopes or questions about being a multicultural, multiethnic and/or multiracial individual or family at Or Ami.
[Note: It is quite possible that much of this language was borrowed from Be’chol Lashon publications.]
So let’s celebrate: our Jews and Jewish families of all colors, racial or ethnic backgrounds, and cultural connections. You make our mosaic ever more colorful, engaging and interesting.
Tell Your Non-Caucasian Jewish Friends
Check out Be’chol Lashon, and share it, especially, with your non-caucasian Jewish friends. Check out: