Friday, December 28, 2018

What not to say to a convert

“When I walk into a room and say to people I meet ‘I’m Jewish’ often I will get the response ‘but you’re Black.'” Since when are the two mutually exclusive? People often make offensive racial assumptions about Jews (and converts) of color. Just like we’re not all named Rosenberg, one convert of color says it’s helpful to note that “Judaism is not a ‘race’ of white people. One of the things people should be mindful of is not to assume all people of color in the synagogue are converts (or the help, for that matter).” Yavilah McCoy (The Color of Jews)

Goy jokes are not funny.

“Words like shiksa (gentile woman) and shaygetz (gentile man) both derivations of the word for “dirty” in Yiddish, don’t make converts feel welcome either. Blondes with blue eyes, converts or not, tend to hear these words more often than converts like me with olive skin and big brown eyes. Still, my first Passover went south after someone repeatedly threw the word shiksa around along with some other ugly words about non-Jews. At the first bar mitzvah I attended, jokes about non-Jews were flying all over the place.”

Much of the advice in this article also applies to Christians. I stopped attending a Bible study by a pastor on a topic in which I was interested because of the sly little digs at Catholics, since I knew some of the invited guests were Catholics, or some grew up Catholic.

Much of if boils down to being an insider or an outsider whether a small town, a group, a church, a club, a resident new to the neighborhood, an alumnus, or a political campaign.  We just can’t assume we are all like minded.

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