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The Colors of Jews

Racial Politics and Radical Diasporism

Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz

Publication Year: 2007

Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz exposes and challenges the common assumptions about whom and what Jews are, by presenting in their own voices, Jews of color from the Iberian Peninsula, Asia, Africa, and India. Drawing from her earlier work on Jews and whiteness, Kaye/Kantrowitz delves into the largely uncharted territory of Jews of color and argues that Jews are an increasingly multiracial people -- a fact that, if acknowledged and embraced, could foster cross-race solidarity to help combat racism. This engaging and eye-opening book examines the historical and contemporary views on Jews and whiteness as well as the complexities of African/Jewish relations, the racial mix and disparate voices of the Jewish community, contemporary Jewish anti-racist and multicultural models, and the diasporic state of Jewish life in the United States.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Title Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Who, what is the Jewish people? The question dazed me when I first asked it. I thought I knew, had always known, the answer. The Jewish people lived in Brooklyn, and if your father made money, you moved to a coveted “private house” on Long Island. (Mine didn’t.) Jewish grandparents had foreign accents. Jewish grandmothers made chopped liver...

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pp. xv

A book like this rests on the generosity of many. I thank all the people who shared with me their time, perspectives, and experience: (in alphabetical order) Ammiel Alcalay, Katya G ibel Azoulay (a.k.a. Mevorach), Beejhy Barhany, Naomi Braine, Jordan E lgrably, Rabbi Capers F unnye, Rachel Goldstein, Lewis G ordon, Rabbi Lynn G ottlieb, Linda...

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1 Are Jews White?

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pp. 1-32

In the early 1980s, as an experienced antiracist activist, I began thinking and writing about being a Jew, and became engaged in progressive Jewish politics. As I wrestled with racism and anti-semitism, people asked...

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2 Black/Jewish Imaginary and Real

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pp. 33-66

racial discourse is mired, and to situate Jews appropriately in this discourse, I’ve suggested a tripartite racial scheme based on cultural stereotypes and gradations of privilege that exalt whiteness. But racial reality is not a tidy trinary either. To the extent that race has meaning, it reflects...

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3 Who is this Stranger?

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pp. 67-104

Who are the Jewish people? By the mid-sixteenth century, “Jewish communities could be found in countries as far-flung as Jamaica, Brazil, Y emen, Afghanistan, E thiopia, India, and China, as well as in many countries in E urope . . . today the World Jewish Congress identifies 120 countries with a Jewish community.”,sup>1 Since so few people, including Jews, know about Jewish histories...

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4 Praying with our Legs

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pp. 105-138

The late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel is reported to have said, of the famous 1965 Selmato- Montgomery civil rights march, “I felt like my legs were praying.” In cities across the nation, Jews have created locally based, visibly Jewish antiracist, antipoverty...

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5 Judaism Is the Color of This Room

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pp. 139-192

Looking at a room packed with many Jews of color come to participate in a Jews of Color Speak O ut, African American Jew Robin W ashington declared, “Judaism is the color of this room.”1 A number of innovative organizations and projects have emerged that are focused front and center on Jewish racial and ethnic diversity. The discourse of these groups is not primarily about battling racism—...

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6 Toward a New Diaporism

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pp. 193-226

In the late nineteenth century, in response to a confluence of antisemitism, European nationalism, and biblical concepts of exile and return, some Jews dreamed of a homeland. Zionism-the-movement sought to normalize Jewish life by creating a Jewish state and ingathering the scattered Jews. Sometimes the projected homeland was biblical...


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pp. 227-256


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pp. 257-268


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pp. 269

E-ISBN-13: 9780253116796
E-ISBN-10: 0253116791
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253349026

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 22 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2007