They Wouldn’t Even Bury Her

Identifying names and locations have been obscured to protect the subject and her family. To avoid naming the direct city in which this incident occurred or to cast undue aspersion on the Jewish community of a different city, we have edited the location to the state.

We’ll call her Yonah.

She was only a Facebook friend. We’d spoken a few times virtually. Chimed in on the same threads in the same groups that we both belonged to with our mutual friends. Even shared some of the same articles and blog posts (some of which were mine). She was vibrant and funny. She was young.

We’ve moved! You can read the rest at Multikosheral!


20 thoughts on “They Wouldn’t Even Bury Her”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I am horrified! I already knew that Ashkenazi Jews have accepted the stereotype of what a Jew is supposed to look like. I say “Ashkenazi” because they are usually main offenders here in America.. But let me tell you a story that illustrates how Jews have internalized what is basically an antisemitic stereotype of Jewish appearance. Unlike the story you shared, it is actually funny I was the office manager of a synagogue for several years. I am blonde(with a little help from Clairol now, but an original blonde) and blue eyed. One day a woman came in to ask about some event we were holding. She was not a synagogue member. She said to me, “You’re not Jewish, are you!”(not that it would be any of her business if I wasn’t)–Anyway, I laughed and said both my mother and father were Jewish so I guess that I must be. And she stared at me very closely–and said, “You can’t be Jewish! “–Now, again, I make no comparison with the tragic story you shared. But it just shows how stereotypes of all kinds have infiltrated our community. And how important it is to fight against such stereotypes and welcome all of our people. To deny burial to this young woman was a true “shanda”. I am saddened by her death and by the extra suffering of her family because of behavior that is against all Jewish principles!


    1. I’m ashkenazi and i don’t have any stereotype of what a jew should look like so your statement is wrong. Regardless of color, background or level of religion.

      Perhaps you could stop being the one who stereotypes another group of jews.


      1. I am not “stereotyping” you. I am also Ashkenazi. The majority of Jews in America are Ashkenazi. I apologize if I offended you. That was not my intent.


    2. I think this sort of behavior is mired in centuries of persecution so that Jews want to identify with other Jews. And this is difficult to do because, as you say, it is a stereotype and not really based in reality.


  2. MaNishtana, Thank You for sharing this with us. The pain & confusion that her mother must feel truly hurts my heart.
    To struggle & fight in life for acceptance, for a place, for peace & to be refused even in death.
    We JOC’s walk this path because wr are truly called to the “Covenant.”
    Blessings memory for our sister.


  3. Baruch Dayan Ha’emet. Had I known about this issue would have been there to support her family and friends. For the most part, the JOCs I have online are the only JOCs in my life. I’ve met some in person but outside of my children, I am alone. I don’t think my community would treat us this way, but if it does in can only hope and pray that my online community will be there. Thank you for sharing this. May Youth’s memory be for a blessing.


  4. This is a sad story of racism. People tend to expect much more of their own religion in terms of righteousness, but people are disappointing. This is also a story of non-compassion; it is shameful and disgraceful, especially in light of the fact that we all come from Ethiopia, anthropologically speaking. And, lastly, this is a story of the absence of love, with the saving grace that at least one rabbi recognized how to be human.All Jews are people of color; they have always been, though arrogance and convenient loss of memory makes them think otherwise.


  5. someone needs to report this community … if she was a true Jewess (Jewish mother or proper conversion) this needs to be revealed …. this is not Jewish …. this community needs to be revealed


  6. Baruch dayan emet… and perhaps we white Jews need to think a little harder about that conventional phrase. Dayan emet is in the singular. There is precisely one true judge. That means that when we judge our neighbors, we’re guaranteed to be doing it wrong.

    And if we’re going to judge wrongly anyhow, we’d best err on the side of kindness and inclusion. There is a horrible paranoia in the observant Jewish community — a desperate need to prevent any chance, no matter how slight, of making a mistake in our Torah interpretations which leads us to be insufficiently harsh with each other or with ourselves. Yet we are blithe about even likely or obvious errors which lead us to be insufficiently lenient.

    The way I was taught it as a child, this is precisely the reverse of the halakhic protocol. Yes, you can put a fence around the Torah in ways which do nobody any harm. But in cases where there is even the slightest risk of damage to someone, the law tells us we must take the chance of erring on the side of avoiding that harm. This is why pikkuach nefesh covers so much ground — there are a lot of medical conditions in which strict adherence to ritual will *probably* not kill you. But HaShem more than permits us; HaShem *orders* us, not to take that faint chance.

    Enough is enough. We need to recognize the harm that exclusion and rejection and shame do to human beings. We need to accept that we will never be true judges, and so we must take special care to judge kindly. And we bloody well need to start treating people like Yonah with the decency to assume that they are who they say they are, exactly as we do with chalky-skinned newcomers who have blue eyes, dark curly hair, and big noses.

    An appearance of Slavic ancestry is no guarantee of Jewishness. And we are not true judges, who could afford to rely on our own ability to perceive.


  7. I am sorry the family has to deal with this, and I am sorry this has become a public issue in the Jewish community.
    I believe that the Ger represents the journey of the ‘authentic’ Jew, Avraham and Sarah. They should, as the Torah teaches be given kavod (honor , respect) accordingly. They weren’t born into it, but made a conscious choice to accept the yolk of Torah.
    It is not clear however in this situation if the person was born a Jew or was in fact a Ger. Also, this is an issue that the Rabbi (and members) of this community should have vetted upon the congregants arrival to that community.
    if a person has not completed the conversion process, they are not yet Jewish. Not all conversions are recognized by all communities. There are even Orthodox conversions that have been questioned.
    The divisiveness of conversion is an ‘interim’ problem that will be remedied through the process of the unification of Jews and the coming of Mashiach.
    May He Come Now.
    May she rest in peace.
    Leib Getzel


  8. What makes a Jew into really being a Jew?

    These situations happen all over the world; unfortunately this is part of human nature, and Judaism teaches us to try to emulate being angels, on our way to reaching Hashem. That is what mitzvot are all about, and burial is only one of them. I’ve gotten to know Indian (from Cochin, India) Jews; Syrian Jews, Mexican Jews, Moroccan Jews (married to one), and many more. Each one looks like his/her country of origin people do.

    Being Jewish is not in the blood or in the face, it is a state of being, and should be reflected in our daily actions. Every time we treat a human being like that we do onto ourselves an anti-mitzvah, and that gets to be known not only among us but to the whole world.

    As a people we have more than our share of problems, I encourage myself and all of our brethren to work against this kind of behavior every day.

    Congratulations to you, Sir, for helping this lady receive proper treatment and for letting us know about this so we may use it as an example.


  9. I am Jewish and live near Chassids- and I have fairly strained relations with them. There was a sign put up in Yiddish on my block demanding that women step aside to get out the way of men walking down the street. I feel frequently disrespected as a woman, and someone who does not “count” as one of them because of how I dress and live. My husband is Korean and has been treated VERY badly when he is seen with me. I can imagine how terribly People of Color are treated by a community that is so insulated.


  10. Baruch Dayan Ha’emet. I feel for the family of this young lady. There are still people who do not or will not understand that being Jewish does not have a certain look. We JOCs are a part of G_D picture, too. May her mother be strong.


  11. Baruch Dayan Ha’emet. I am sorry to read this young lady’s family has to go through this upsetting situation with her prayer community. I do understand as a JOC, that there are people who do not or will not accept someone who don’t look like them. They can’t see that being Jewish is not a color or race. We JOC can only stand strong and face this down and be true in our way and keep the Commandments.


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