Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The color of Jews

Most Jews are now considered ‘white.’* But more and more Jewish families are multicolored. There are many avenues to a multiracial family identity. Conversion, intermarriage, adoption, and plain old, born that way. Here is a terrific and affirming article about the Be’chol Lashon summer camp for multiracial families that started this year in northern California. Be’chol Lashon is a program that supports multiracial Jewish families and offers education to the Jewish community about the multiracial Jews among us. Their associate director is Rabbi Capers Funnye, First Lady Michelle Obama’s cousin.

You’ll note that the article says that the 2000 National Jewish Population Study found that 5.4% of America’s Jews are non-white. But a 2004 study by the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, Be’chol Lashon’s parent organization, puts the figure at about 10 percent. That’s national. In the San Francisco bay area two studies have found that the Jewish community has more like 14% non-white Jews.


*For Jews who grew up before Jews “turned white” in the 1970s, there is still a struggle to be seen for who they were growing up – a racial minority. Jewish demographer, Dr. Bruce Phillips, states that Jews “turned white” in America after years of being a brown race that, in the 1930s, was ranked as worse than Poles and Irish, but better than Hispanics and Blacks. You’ll note that a lot of people were being considered “not white.”