Thursday, August 9, 2012

Black Jews

Just musing...

There is an interesting phenomenon going on.  There are many Black Jews in existence... and ever increasing. However, there is a great disunity going on within that "community."  Disunity in the sense that many speak of wanting a shul together and yet, it is too hard to do... they speak of social events to participate in and that ends up being a strain on the organizers (trying to encourage people to come and contribute).

All this, when the Hebrew Israelites, people of "the Kingdom" etc seem very much so that they are traveling across the globe to Africa spreading their beliefs.

As the saying goes...

"Falsehood can get half way across the world before Truth can get its pants on!"

And why is that?

Just to backtrack, I want to look at the Black community in general.  I think there are alot of holy sparks there...but scattered.  We have been encouraged to think that we are lowly and nothing, etc., thus, with the amazing snowball effect occurring, Black folks have taken it upon their own selves to make sure each one knows that they are lowly and shouldn't raise their heads too high or expect to deserve anything. (there are exceptions of course) This is done out of training, out of protection that their loved ones aren't seen as "uppity," partly out of habit, and maybe partly out of not wanting to exert the effort to bring about positive changes and yet not wanting another to show us down either.

But nevertheless there ARE the holy sparks --plain as day-- all around.  And these sparks need to be elevated.  Every group has their share of holy sparks.  For Black folks you can feel it in the music, in the way many flock to the church as their center point-Madea definitely picked up on that one.  It is also seen in the fact that, until recently, a Black athiest was an oddity.

However these holy sparks are fallen.  Scattered on the floor and stepped on without people knowing that they are holy.  And some sparks being picked up but held backwards or upside down -such as listening to the loudest loud mouth.  Or being overly criticizing constantly.  Yes, you can spot a firey person with their "words of coals."  But still one must pay attention to what is being said; just because it's loud doesn't make it right.

The mandingo myth attributed to Black folks once upon a time.  Why? Interestingly there is a connection to sexuality and spirituality... the way the Bible explains how someone KNEW his wife...there is a connection to  knowing and sexuality. And knowing, knowledge, true wisdom is of the wisdom of Hashem.

A more ugly example is the gang rapes that occur, the trains, even that can be seen as a spark gone very wrong.

And in the Black churches, the members are so devoted you would think this was always their religion! They so took it to another level.

So what to do with these shards of holiness?  How to help those to see them laying about and to pick them up the right way? And since many are not Jewish, is it even up to them to pick up those sparks? Perhaps its just up to the Jews to reach out in that direction for the sake of those sparks waiting to be elevated?

I want to note that these "shards" are considered holy in Judaism, but I can not speak for other religions. So from the point of view of other religions these may not be holy sparks at all!

There are religions that are close to Judaism --not quite Judaism yet-  but a sort of stepping stone for some or a permanent dwelling place for others.  Hebrew Israelites, Messianics, Kingdom, Commandment Keepers, etc and so forth.  They may at least recognize the shards.

For those Black folks who choose Judaism either at bar mitzvah or upon conversion, among them still many would rather not see these sparks or not do anything about it. Even in the Black & Jewish community, I see folks speaking in the same "keepin' it real" way, but not saying anything different.  In debates, folks still try to talk down or insult others as a means of winning the argument, and most interestingly, many prefer to include amongst themselves Heb. Israelites and others simply because they are black and not necessarily because they share the same values.

At times I wonder if the reason Black Jews don't want to spread their wings or create their own shuls, or help communities in Africa, etc is they would rather enjoy the rich Jewish life --which is plentiful. Lots of holidays, the family or shul is the focus, one can be very busy with mitzvoth, with hitbodedut, with building one's own malchut (kingship).

Another possible factor is that perhaps there is a fear of maris ayin --the appearance of doing wrong.  With the many wayward groups of Black folks disgracing the Black community, I wonder of some are afraid that doing something that appears "too black" may have the scent of maris ayin?

At any rate, whatever the reason may be, there are still the holy sparks to be picked up, brushed off, and made to shine. B'ezrat Hashem (G-d willing) soon.

(and then there are the instigators that dwell among us, who wouldn't care one way or another about a topic really, but will run with the loudest idea just to appear knowledgeable or tough or I don't really know)


יונה אברהם said...

Shabbat Shalom Miriam!,
A very right on and timely post!I must admit that I am one that doesn't try to do outreach to Black non Jews,in other words to try to connect with their holy sparks and perhaps draw them closer to Torah.

I took the attitude that I would live my life as up front religious Jew and those that I worked with or came into contact with could see me and if they so chose they could ask questions and I'd answer them.I had Shabbat and Yom Tov meals and invited co workers-all non Jewish Blacks to come and even go to synagogue.I didn't think to have them read anything about Judaism beforehand,and you can imagine how strange an Orthodox service must have been for them!.lol

I worked at The California African-American Museum for 10 years after having lived in Jerusalem for 6 years.When I first returned to Los Angeles,I had the idea of teaching Biblical Hebrew at one of the Black churches,but when I broached the subject to my Aunt,she reacted as if I'd suggested doing a stiptease at the church!She told me that no one would be interested,and I like a fool believed her!Worst still ,I didn't want to go inside any church anyway,so I never checked into it.How I wish I had!Like you said I was concerned with marat Ayin,but who would have seen me except Blacks in South Central!

No,there's not much Black Jewish unity,just like there isn't much Jewish unity,but that doesn't mean we should give up!If there are too many reasons why we can't have our own synagogue in the US,is there any reason why we couldn't have a hospitality committee that invites visiting Black Jews for a Yom Tov?

We need organization along the lines as the Hebrew Israelites,but that means some of us has to sacrifice and keep it up until we succeed!

Miriam said...


I do want to point out that even perfecting oneself is a good thing.

Not to give anyone guilt, we all did what we can, could at the time. And we are still alive and can do mitzvoth,so we can still effect changes.

I suppose we can try something here, the "problem" hasn't reached our shores in great numbers yet.

Anyway, we can continue on one on one email.