14 Mar

It’s the big bagel and lox, I mean elephant, in the room–the Black/Jewish relationship.

When talking with a couple of friends who are black about starting this blog, that very topic came up.  Things would start out positive enough.  I am Jewish, and we’d share that both of our people knew oppression–Slavery, and the Holocaust.  We’d talk about the many Jewish people who were engaged in the Civil Rights Movement, including work on the Voting Rights Act.

But then things would get dicey.  I’d listen to talk about Jewish retailers owning stores in black neighborhoods, not paying their black employees well, not keeping the money in the black community.  I’d hear about the Jews controlling Hollywood, the media, the entire entertainment industry.  It seemed as if all Jewish people were being made out to be evil; exploitive.

I have always been awful at thinking on my feet and being able to talk through conflict, but I think I at least managed to say that it seemed like general, stereotyping comments were being made about Jews as a whole (I know, just like the many general, steroptyping comments made on a daily basis about Black people–some I’ve even made here on this blog, right?:).  I think one of the friends remarked these were simply facts, not opinion, and that he trusted Jewish people as individuals, but not as a group.  He would have to elaborate on that, though.

Dicey, right?

I know this is only the tip of the rugelach, and there will be more to come on the Jewish/Black relationship, but we have to start somewhere.

Jews and Blacks:  Discuss.






  1. Steve March 14, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    Good topic but wrong analogies. For the slavery comparison, the oppression under the pharaoh is more appropriate (how could you forget Charlton Heston – “Let My People Go”). And for the Holocaust I think the Klan (KKK) is more representative of Nazi Germany.

    The business angle (money and control topic) crosses all ethnicity, cultural, and racial boundaries – as a species we are just plain greedy (insert image of Daffy Duck here – “mine, mine, mine – it is all mine – I am filthy stinkin rich”).

    • Wendy Jane March 14, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

      Thanks, Steve. I knew I shoulda paid more attention in Sunday School. Your analogies are more on the mark. And, yeah, but did you know Daffy Duck used to go by the name Daffy Duckowitz?

  2. Myrna Griffith March 14, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    Yes……I’m oppressed, too. There are many factions in our world today that are. I’m one of the oppressed, poor
    old generation forced to rely on federal and state help to
    keep me from living in my car. Neither black nor Jewish, but who knows….might have some American Indian in my blood….NOW..let’s talk oppression with a capital

    • Wendy Jane March 14, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

      Thanks, Myrna!

  3. Manny March 17, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    Let’s be clear: chattel slavery–the brand of slavery that Africans who came to America endured was like no other. Slavery, prior to the type practiced in America, was something that was an acceptable practice for many generations all over the world. It was used to pay off debts, for repayment of crimes and was for a specified period of time, and most importantly, slaves typically were not mistreated. However the chattel slavery that became famous in America was unprecedented. It meant that the slave and all of his progeny were subjected to the bondage and it was intended to be forever. There are some historical accounts of up to 10 million Africans taken and enslaved or who lost lives en-route to the new land-America. This number is staggering when you consider the Earth’s population four hundred years ago was significantly less than now. Primarily European Jews are “white” and on the surface will not be discriminated against because of how they look. The comparison between “oppressed” Jews of today and blacks is, well in a word, ridiculous. Let’s see; the nation known as Israel today was a land given to Jews due to the crimes of Hitler in Germany. How this event allows land to be given to foreigners from Europe to co-habit with the people in the Middle East, whom had NOTHING to do with what Hitler did is another discussion. Yet this is one significant difference; along with resources from western societies as well as the blessings to sustain, maintain and protect themselves in that land. Another significant difference is that in America in order for companies, institutions, and groups to hold any sway or clientele or any ability to effectively entice legislation they have to form lobbies. These groups can petition the government and can entice it to do its bidding. The more money a lobby has the more influence it has–that’s just a hard to swallow truth. The Jewish lobby AIPAC is arguably the biggest in America. What does this mean? They will not be oppressed ever again, anywhere in the world, the lobbyists in America make certain of this. And as long as America wields the position and power that it has so it will be and as long as the lobbyist keep fattening the wallets of the legislators. And lastly reparations were paid to those Jews who suffered at the hands of Hitler and there are billions of US aid dollars that goes to that country each year for over 40 years…. Please tell me again where and how are the comparisons? And please anyone feel free to educate me if I have missed or misunderstood something. I will gladly accept whatever feedback….

    • Wendy Jane March 17, 2012 at 11:34 pm #

      Hi Manny,

      Thanks very much for sharing your thoughtful comments here. You go into great detail, with much complexity about a number of things here.

      I do want to begin by saying that I agree, as another friend commented here, that to have slavery and the holocaust as a comparison is an incorrect analogy. And, you are absolutely right. There is nothing that compares with the slavery that was practiced right here in America, and I don’t believe I meant to say they carried equal weight. I apologize if that was unclear. I was stating part of a conversation that I had with a friend who is black, where we both acknowledged that both of our peoples have known suffering. Yet, I do not mean to say they were of the same scale. I do believe Jews are still discriminated against–most people that belong to hate groups, hate Jews, as well as Black people, immigrants, and anyone else who is not like them. True, on first glance they may not get discriminated on because of their skin color, but if they were found out to be Jewish, that would be another story.

      I don’t consider myself a political person, and I am an American Jew, not an Israeli, and as you said, that is another discussion.

      I’m glad that you have shared your opinion here. This is all new to me, and I think primarily I want people to be able to respond, to share their thoughts and opinions, and to come together to move our connections forward in a positive way. I wish our audience was bigger so that more voices could respond. Please feel free to invite friends to visit the site, so that can start to happen more.

      Thanks again.

      • Manny March 18, 2012 at 9:53 am #

        Thank you Wendy; I responded to this with a lot of passion I hope that is not misconstrued. That topic is a very hot one and one very dear to me. And yes we can go down the list and point out every race, creed and culture and find where there is discrimination with very few exceptions. Everyone has their biases nonetheless the differences are in institutionalized discrimination which has proven to be the most effective and damaging. I have no doubt Wendy that your intent here is good and I applaud your bravery for seeking to fuse different and very wide perspectives that otherwise would not consider or hear each other.

        • Wendy Jane March 18, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

          Thank you, Manny! It’s good to be passionate about the things you care about, so again, thanks for sharing your views, and for your support of the blog.

    • JSAYWAT March 18, 2012 at 9:00 pm #


      • Wendy Jane March 18, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

        Hey Jay–nuff said to Manny’s first post? Thanks!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Blacks and Jews and Matzo: My First Swirled Passover | Wendy Jane's Soul Shake - March 28, 2013

    […] As I helped to clear the matzo ball soup bowls from the table, I had a brief chat with Diana in the kitchen, and thanked her for inviting me to my first diverse Seder.  She quickly mentioned the Black Jew connection, which made me think of a much earlier post I wrote here, I’m Oppressed, You’re Oppressed. […]

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