A New Year, A New Friend

It was a Rosh Hashanah miracle. My family was settling into our seats before services when my 12-year-old daughter elbowed me.

“Mama! A Black lady!”

It’s not that I’m the only one at my Bakersfield, California, synagogue. There are a couple others in the congregation, but they don’t come often, and when they do, they don’t speak to me. So a new African-American woman was a source of excitement and trepidation. Continue reading A New Year, A New Friend

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My First Time At The Mikvah

In the deep stretches of Northern California, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I met with a group of fantastic women to explore my first mikvah experience. I had met them all—clothed—a couple nights earlier for Rosh Hashanah services, and had seen the sweet nature of their congregation. When I arrived at the meeting spot with my friend, it was quite obvious that we were a bit late. Everyone was already naked, relaxing on the lake’s shore.  Continue reading My First Time At The Mikvah

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Jennifer Cramblett, a woman from Ohio, plans to sue a sperm bank after erroneously being given sperm from a Black man. This has led to a torrent of charges of racism, particularly after the lawsuit alleged that the mother has “limited cultural competency relative to African-Americans and steep learning curve, particularly in small, homogeneous Uniontown, which she regards as too racially intolerant.”

As both the mother of biracial children, and as an adoptee, I have mixed (pun intended) feelings about the criticism of Cramblett’s actions. I find it odd that Black community continually tells the world how much harder it is to raise a Black child, and yet seems offended when someone from outside the community makes a similar assertion.  Continue reading A Case of Mistaken Identity

New Year, New Judaism

“Do you want wine, beer, or scotch?”

“Scotch,” I immediately answered. Nearly before Gordon could even finish the word.

I entered the living room—my caramel wife, cinnamon daughter, and grey-eyed blonde-haired mother-in-law following behind me—to the scene of three little tykes scampering around the on the floor while their parents, Matthue and Itta, and Gordon’s wife and brother Rachel and Seth were lounging on several seating surfaces ranging from couch to folding chair, heartily engaged in the labor of polishing off a bottle of Glenmorangie 10 standing beside a plate of organic pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

No, this wasn’t game night or a weirdly classy Super Bowl party. This was Rosh Hashanah. (After services, naturally).  Continue reading New Year, New Judaism

Hiding My Prominent Black Feature

After 30 years of “not the one” encounters, I met, fell in love with and married my besheret (soulmate).

We met on December 7, 2012, were engaged February 23, 2014 and married four months later on June 24, 2014. I could not have been happier or imagined a more pleasurable, fulfilling experience than being in his presence. As the day of the wedding neared my joy and excitement grew, but there was a lingering fear of what was coming…covering my hair.  Continue reading Hiding My Prominent Black Feature

Rambling Rose On The Sidewalk

My sister always taught me the importance of cultivating an interesting personality, possibly because she knew our personalities would otherwise be constantly overshadowed by our “interesting” cultural/ethnic backgrounds. She warned me about a lot of things that my starry-eyed self wished to never succumb to; such as, the unnervingly loud warning signs that shoot off in a woman’s brain when an endless barrage of men comment on her status while she tries to enjoy a normal walk down the street. Also, run-on sentences, but I never really listen.

Here’s what I actually want to say: Walking in public places has become an alarmingly frightening thing for me, and I almost don’t want to do it anymore.  Continue reading Rambling Rose On The Sidewalk

Grateful For Slavery?

I have a complicated relationship with people from South Africa, particularly when they are over the age of around 35, since I typically envision them having grown up enjoying the fruits of apartheid. This was not much of an issue before I moved to Israel, as I could count the number of South Africans (and to some extent, other White nationals of African countries) I had met in the States on two hands, while keeping several fingers free.  Continue reading Grateful For Slavery?

An Idyllic Childhood Lost, A Jewish Mother Powerless

The carefully crafted bubble I have created for my black Jewish children is bursting.

They spent the early years of their childhood at a Jewish preschool in Indianapolis that was surprisingly diverse. Between Jewish racial minorities and large numbers of non-Jewish families who enrolled for the highly regarded academics, there was no shortage of black and brown faces studying alongside my kids.

I loved Indianapolis, but I was a single mother living far from family, so seven years ago I moved to Bakersfield, California, to get closer to relatives on the west coast. The black and Jewish communities here are extremely small, and the cultural isolation has been stifling to a degree I hadn’t anticipated.  Continue reading An Idyllic Childhood Lost, A Jewish Mother Powerless

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