The seders of my adult life are quite different than those I experienced in my youth. The main reason for this is that I am married to a Moroccan Israeli who has his own rich traditions from which to draw from. Early in our marriage, my husband experienced his first Ashkenazic seders at my parents home. However, once we decided that we were ready to host our own seders, we happily merged customs from both of our backgrounds to create our special family experience.
I am temporarily living in my Grandma Gertrude (pictured above)’s house. So my kitchen is actually, my grandma’s kitchen.
Atlanta, Georgia is home to one of the world’s largest and most active communities of Jewish moms, the online Facebook group Jewish Moms of Atlanta or JMoA has nearly 3,000 members and is a vibrant daily meeting place and resource. Be’chol Lashon caught up with Nicole Marcellus Wiesen, one of the founders and moderators of JMOA.
I am an oddity: I am both African-American and Jewish.
Purim is all about the hiding. Esther hid her identity from King Ahashverosh. Haman hid his evil side from the King. And as our tradition teaches, the name of God does not appear in the written account of Purim, because even God is hidden in the Purim story.
They were older than me, by at least five years, and I was afraid. Though my Satmar Hasidic neighbors were my friends, their cousins usually approached me with disdain whenever I’d go over for a playdate. On one occasion, they bullied me and lifted my shirt up. He asked “where are your tzitzis?” feeling uncomfortable I stammered, they said “you call yourself a yid!? Gai ahein you goy!” I tripped as I begged my feet to carry me towards the door, but then it got worse, they poured cold water on me, and repeated the abusive slurs. I walked home crying to never tell a soul until over a decade later. –How?!
Though they did not start off life as Jews, Puah Millsaps and her multiracial family have never felt more welcome than they do in the Jewish world. Be’chol Lashon caught up with this busy mom between homeschooling lessons to hear more about her family’s unusual journey, their joys and challenges.
The final process of converting to Judaism is to meet with the beit din (a rabbinic “court” of three learned Jews, usually clergy, who meet with a candidate for conversion). During the beit din, the council asks questions of the person converting to assess his or her sincerity. When I went through the process two years ago, I was asked two important questions that are very relevant to what is going on in the world today.
For some people, fitting into the status quo is soothing, comforting, peaceful. Not for me. For me, seeking a life of truth, has brought me peace. Knowing truth exists is comforting, and experiencing virtues of truth has been soothing to my soul.
How can Jews talk about race? How can Jews not talk about race? Race is part of all of our lives no matter the color of our skin or Jewish background.