Deconstructing Black Bar Mitzvahs

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Apparently Paul Marx decided to answer my burning question from yesterday, “What is a black bar mitzvah?”

With an op-ed in The Forward, the professor explains the serious need for a rite of passage for teenage black boys, combating the problem of, as he states, “shootings and murders of young blacks by young blacks”:

In 1966, a black man who gave himself the name Ron Karenga invented the seven-day festival of Kwaanza. By celebrating black Americans’ African heritage, Kwaanza was intended to be a more meaningful African-American alternative to Christmas.

Among the seven principles to be celebrated during the seven days of Kwaanza is that of Kuumba. Its principle is that blacks should do as much as they can to leave their community more beautiful and beneficial than they inherited it.

Here, then, is an opportunity for creating a rite of passage for black boys — a rite of passage that can have a lasting impact, as many a young Jewish man can attest to.

In the remaining days of the year that follow Christmas, Kuumba should mark the passage of black boys into manhood — responsible manhood. A serious ceremony should be held that honors every boy who turned 13 during the past calendar year.

A series of ceremonies should be held in neighborhood meeting places, such as churches, schools, clubs and restaurants. The high point should be a formal initiation and the plentiful giving of gifts. (MORE)

Posted on October 17, 2007

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