Let’s revel in our rainbow

Too often we hear of Jews who are black, Asian, Hispanic or somehow just don’t resemble what most people think of as typically Jewish say they feel unwelcome in typical synagogues.

Some may be Jews by choice, some may have been adopted, some might be the children of interracial relationships, some may even have Jewish families that go back generations. Whatever the roots of that Judaism, all should be considered just as Jewish as those with two Ashkenazi parents.

After all, we Jews have long been multiracial and multicultural. Just think of the Jews from Ethiopia, from Yemen (60 of whom the U.S. State Department have resettled in the United States in recent days), Jews living in India and the Jews of Kaifeng, China, some of whose descendants just recently moved to Israel.

We should appreciate the dynamics, cultures, foods and traditions that multicultural families bring to the Jewish community.

Instead, however, many of those families today don’t feel comfortable in traditional synagogues and Jewish groups.

That’s why it’s good to see them not giving up on Judaism, but finding places of their own. This week, for example, we report on a new multicultual group, Chaverim L’Shalom, which held its first Shabbat dinner Friday at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in the District.

On the other hand, it’s a bit disturbing that those forming such groups feel that their needs are different from those of other Jews in the area and can’t be met in existing synagogues and chavurot.

What is it about our traditional Jewish synagogues and groups that makes so many people — whether gay, single or part of interracial families — feel that they are not welcome?

It’s time for Jews to look inward, remember when we were not welcome in certain clubs or neighborhoods and extend an open hand to Jews of all sorts.

We already have too many political and denominational divisions within Judaism; let’s not add color and culture to that. The Jewish community is a rainbow of people, and our institutions should reflect those multicolors.

We all will be richer for it.


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