Torah Study at the Congregational Meeting, the Torah of Race
The Rabbi led us in a discussion of two texts:
1) The beginning of Chapter 12 of the book of Numbers:
1 And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married; for he had married a Cushite woman.
2 And they said: 'Hath the LORD indeed spoken only with Moses? hath He not spoken also with us?' And the LORD heard it.--
(FYI, "Cushite" means some kind of African and it is still used in a disparaging way re race)
2) This poem by Kolot student Ruby Simon
By Ruby Simon
People pull their eyes back
Pretending to be Chinese
Someone called me ugly
Which I can deal with
But he said it was because of my race
How do I heal with
Racism that comes in many different shapes and forms
Sadly I have had my fair share since I’ve been born
Judged before I have been even given a chance
My friends tell me of stories they have had to endure
I wish racism was a sickness with a cure
My friend was walking through the mall
And a group of white guys was passing
She was black, she wasn’t small
Look at that fat n-word
And started laughing
A fourteen year old black girl was walking down the street
Her three year old son was holding her hand
People gave her dirty looks like she was such a disgrace
What they didn’t know is that at eleven she was raped
How can you judge a group of people like that
I am so fed up of hearing laughter at people’s races
When we are all the same
Well we are all different
But skin color’s not to blame
We’re not meant to all be the same
But we need to respect one another
I wonder sometimes if racists themselves are afraid to respect other people
Because if they do they might find those other people are equal
We use racism like a weapon
Like a gun that can break any shield
But you keep dreaming or you’ll never live through
It might help the future and make history
That could be with you
A dreamer once stated
“I have a dream”
It helped make history
But up to now it hasn’t been fully seen
The Rabbi spoke about the Numbers text, how the complaint about race covers something deeper, as is so often still true, then sheI read Ruby's poem. She then asked people to come up as a table or group with a first line for the Torah of Race. Here is some of what was written:
In the beginning, a man wanted to be a god, so he said, "Let there be race."
In the beginning, humans were created in the images of God.
In the beginning, we were sent to elementary school. And it was mostly white and highly divided.
In the beginning, God created love and man created hate and division. (Except I don't buy it because God created us with enormous potential.)
In Capetown, South Africa, I was the only white person in a marketplace full of Blacks. Everyone should know what it feels like to be in the minority.
We are all made in the image of God. In the beginning, man created God. And God is the God of all.
When I was a little girl, my mother went to the salon every 2 weeks to get her hair straightened. I loved it best when it was curly, the way it naturally came out of her head. But she said her natural hair would never do. Because it made her look Puerto Rican.
Racism exists even when we don't expect it, in our mothers, among Jews. The mother with very curly hair, afraid to look Puerto Rican; the family that moved to Israel and fractured into racism of Sephardim vs Ashkenazim; the itch of curiosity about difference and shame about engaging it.
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