What Not to Say to Jews of Color — and What to Say Instead

Image by Annalise Art via Pixabay

In America, especially now, it is both hard to be Black and hard to be a Jew. So imagine, if you will, what life is like for a Black Jew.

Even in what I would consider ideal circumstances, in liberal Northern California, where I live, navigating the Jewish world as a Person of Color has often been awkward, invasive, and othering. I routinely get strange comments made to me by other Jews who probably have no idea the impact of their words. And, while I don’t want to speak for all of us, I know that many other Jews of Color have unfortunately had the same experiences.

Before we toss this issue aside like a lost cause, I want to tell you that there is hope! Yes, I’ve had some bizarre conversations with other Jews about my ethnic/religious identity, but I also have faith that those negative conversational habits can be unlearned. Simply put, if folks stop saying certain offensive things to Jews of Color and replace those comments with something more positive, we can begin to build a more inclusive Jewish community.

Read on for my tips for what not to say to a Jew of Color — and what to say instead.

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