What Color Are Jews?

Shabbat Gathering

This fall Building Jewish Bridges will be offering a series of panel discussions and classes on Jews of color. Studies of the bay area find that 14% of our Jewish community are Jews of color. That means that AT LEAST every tenth Jew you see is a multiracial Jew or lives in a multiracial family. How did BJB get into this topic? First, studies also find that the majority of multiracial Jewish families include non-Jews, making them a part of the Interfaith community. Second, on a personal level, as more friends and, yes, relatives were Jews of color this topic took on a very intimate meaning. In dialog with Rabbi Jackie Mates-Muchin of Temple Sinai, a Chinese Jew, a program developed. Working with Lehrhaus, we are able to add a very thoughtful academic element to the program.

Whether you, yourself are white, black, Asian, Hispanic or something else, if you are Jewish, this topic is important for you to understand. We need to be attuned to our community, ready to care for each other, to help raise all our children, and to integrate those who come to our community and are seeking a connection.

Please join us for the following programs. All programs will be located at and co-sponsored by Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland.

Asian and Jewish
What is it like to live with the assumption that you can’t possibly be Jewish? A panel of local Asian Jews (born Jewish, adopted, or converted) will discuss the experience of living in the Jewish community. Their stories are funny, painful, honest and remarkable.

Refreshments will be available. Please RSVP so we’ll know how much coffee and bagels to get.
Sunday, Oct. 23 at 9:30am. Come early and enjoy coffee and the photo exhibit now hanging: Scattered Among the Nations.
Please sign up here.

Black and Jewish
Hear a panel of local Black Jews (born Jewish or converted) discuss the challenges they meet daily and ways that we, their fellow Jews, can be better advocates, allies, and family members. What are the funny stories? What are the annoying ones? Join us for a thoughtful and intimate conversation about how it feels to be Black and Jewish.

Nov. 6 at 9:30am
Please RSVP; we’re buying snacks. You can do so here.

Multiracial Jews: Born This Way
The biggest job children have is to figure out who they are. What if they’re Jewish, a child of color, and trying to understand what the adults are saying about them?
Come hear a panel of local Jews of color discuss what it is like growing up Jewish. How can we support multiracial families in our community? How can we be better at drawing this often unaffiliated segment of our community into Jewish life?

Sunday, Dec. 4 at 9:30am

Rabbi Graetz

Jewish from Argentina: A Rabbi’s Tale
Explore the South American Jewish experience and how is it different from North America. What are the feelings of ethnic difference? How does one acculturate to the United States? What family and cultural traditions remain the same and what changes? Is there a feeling of ‘otherness’ even though we are all Jews? Rabbi Roberto Graetz will share personal experiences and reflections on his past and present.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 7:30pm
$18; please register here.

Imagine the Jewish Future: Judaism in the 21st Century
With Diane Tobin
Worldwide, the number of Jews is stagnant. Decimated by the Inquisition, the Holocaust, high intermarriage rates and low birth rates, Jews now comprise only 0.2% of the world’s people. In focusing our attention on traditional demographic models and Eastern European definitions of Jewish behavior and belonging, we miss out on the ways in which communities and individuals are Jewish in the modern world. Join us on our journey as we discover some of our lesser-known fellow Jews around the world and explore the multicultural reality that is American Jewry today.

Diane Tobin is the founder of Be’chol Lashon (In Every Tongue) whose mission is to grow and strengthen the Jewish people through ethnic, cultural, and racial inclusiveness.

Date: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 7:30 – 9:00 pm
$18 Please register here.

Rabbi Mates Muchin teaching
Rabbi Mates Muchin teaching

Jewish Identity Development for Multiracial Jews
Children experience life quite differently than adults. We will address what it is like to grow up Jewish if you don’t look Jewish. What comments and behaviors impact a multiracial child’s sense of their Jewishness? What happens to a child whose Jewish parent is ambivalent about their own Jewish identity? We will discuss what we can do/say to support those around us and will contemplate when is silence golden.

Join Dr. Jerry Diller, emeritus professor at The Wright Institute in Berkeley and psychotherapist who has focused extensively on identity development for multiracial people, and Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin, rabbi at Temple Sinai and a Chinese Jew, in conversation about developing healthy and happy identities in multiracial families and communities. Dawn Kepler of Building Jewish Bridges will moderate the conversation and facilitate Q&A from the audience.

Date: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 7:30 – 9:00 pm
$18, please register here.

Additional co-sponsors are Temple Beth Abraham, Oakland; Beth Jacob Congregation, Oakland; Congregation Beth El, Berkeley; Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, Beth Israel, Berkeley, Kehilla Community Synagogue, Piedmont; Temple Beth Hillel, Richmond; Sherith Israel, San Francisco.