The Best Multicultural and Racial Stories of 2017

A look back at 2017 as told in the stories of racially and ethnically diverse Jews

As poet Aaron Samuels narrates in the video above, a new year is beginning. Looking back over the year that was, there is no single way to tell the story of our many experiences of 2017. So our first annual roundup of multicultural and racial perspectives on Jewish life highlights, no surprise, a diversity of perspectives.

2017’s most popular story on this blog came from Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein, who wrote about growing up mixed-race in an ultra-Orthodox enclave in New York. Rabbi Isaiah recently joined the Be’chol Lashon team, so look for more from him in the coming months.

One of our most impactful posts drew worldwide attention to the plight of the Abuydaya Jews of Uganda, who, along with their Christian and Muslim neighbors, were affected by the famine that struck East Africa. With your help, lives were saved.

Our interview with Souks also had a big impact, bringing this Jew from Laos out of anonymity and garnering international attention. Read his original story and stay tuned for updates from his recent trip to spend time with the Jewish community in Laos.

For many people, 2017 was shaped by the biggest story of 2016: the American election. For Mordechai Ben Avraham Hazzan, the election was personal, because he ran for Congress and did not win. Many of our readers were surprised by what he did next, but to him, it was the most natural next step.

Hazzan’s was not the only story about Israel. Penina Agenyahu wrote about her two journeys to reclaim Israel as a homeland, once from Ethiopia and once from the United States. Filmmaker Avishai Mekonen focused his attention on the Ethiopian Jewish heroes whose bravery and sacrifice made possible the mass migration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

No surprise, Jewish moms inspired us all year long. Of particular interest were moms Brandie Itman, and Victoria Washington whose very different stories both blended work and family.

But it is not just the moms. Teens too had lots to say, the artistry and power of Tova Ricardo words should not be missed and as Aviva Davis headed to college she also had a clear vision of her identity.

Nor were the little ones forgotten. At Be’chol Lashon, we frequently get to hear from people who say “We need diverse books” (#Weneeddiversebooks) in the Jewish world. Singer-songwriter Sarah Aroeste’s foray into the world of children’s literature brought us the first Ladino/English children’s book while Pamela Ehrenberg’s Hanukkah Dosa, about a multicultural Jewish family, became an instant classic.


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