In response to Dr. Robert Weissberg’s defense of a derogatory Yiddish word, Zek J. Evets raises a challenge to call out those who stay silent in the face of bigotry.
As a Jew I am constantly at odds with the alternating bigotry and social justice pressures in Judaism. I go to shul and see all White faces, but I know Jews of Color exist. Why aren’t they there with us saying the Kaddish? Why aren’t we including them in our congregations? I recognize the numerous and myriad Jewish contributions to civil rights, literature, social justice, art, music, equality, etc. I also recognize the problems with Zionism in Israel that destroys Palestinian identity and promotes their genocide. I recognize the problems with Jews like Eric Cantor and the man from the video who support reactionary politics aimed at prejudice and discrimination instead of the equality Jews have sought for themselves since before even the diaspora.
We White Jews like to pretend that we’re also “others”, that we’re NOT White. And that’s somewhat true — up until about the 1970′s, Jews weren’t considered White — but now we are. And consequently we pass, we secularize, we hide our identity to “fit in” with more privileged Americans. We ignore anti-Semitic bullying, racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry in order to preserve our newly acquired White privilege.
But what about Jews of Color? Even among Reform Jews there is a pushback against their inclusion to our communities, to our places of worship. The simple fact that we frame it like this, as if only Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews are really Jewish, is testament enough. (Don’t even get me started on the Conservative or Orthodox.)
Watching that video, and hearing Jews try to justify the use of words like “schvartze” gives me a dose of collective shame so deep I mentally stumble. We call ourselves “the chosen people” but if I were God (if God exists) I wouldn’t choose a people who act like this. I wouldn’t choose us after the Crown Heights Riot, the colonization of the Palestinians, and the frighteningly large number of educated Jews who participate in organizations like American Renaissance.
It’s hard to be proud of my heritage when our own people are working furiously to destroy us from within.