You’ve probably noticed by now that there are many members of our Jewish community who don’t “look Jewish”.  Today, America’s Jewish community includes people from all over the world; of many different colors; and of a variety of sexual orientations.  Some of us have visited Beth Shalom B’nei Zaken Ethiopian Congregation in Chicago, whose rabbi, Capers Funnye, is a black man leading a largely black congregation (he also is a cousin of Michelle Obama).  In Manhattan, Rabbi (and Cantor) Angela Warner Buchdahl serves as senior rabbi of Central Synagogue. Born in Korea to a Jewish American father and a Korean Buddhist mother, Rabbi Buchdahl is the first Asian American to be ordained as cantor or rabbi in North America.  My own niece, Jamie Hoi Belgrad, was adopted as a one-year-old from Vietnam by my sister, Lisa, and finds that she is not the only student at Beth Emet in Evanston whose (birth-) parentage is not Ashkenazic Jewish.  Of course, Sephardic Jews from Africa and the Levant have never conformed to the Ashkenazic stereotype anyway.

This Friday night, we will have a chance to explore some of these changes through an Eli Talk by MaNishtana, the pen name of a black Chicago Jew whose name is Shais Rishon, titled: “What Makes This Jew Different Thank All Other Jews?  Race, Difference, and Safety in Jewish Spaces.”  With a combination of gentle humor and sharp insights, he will introduce us to issues that require a new way of thinking about “who is a Jew” and a sensitivity that also is new.  Consider this another entry in our continued, year-long learning about “loving your neighbor as yourself.”

Robin and Stew will host; please sign up for our potluck dinner:  For further info, contact Robin: (847) 833-6348; [email protected]

6:00    Snacks & schmooze
6:30    Kabbalat Shabbat
7:15    Bentsching, meal and Birkat Hamazon
8:00    Eli Talk: Shais Rishon on “What Makes This Jew Different Thank All Other Jews?  Race, Difference, and Safety in Jewish Spaces” and discussion.
9:00    Dessert

I wish you a good week and I look forward to sharing Shabbat with you.