As we celebrate the end of Pesach, it has come to my attention that many of us spent the holiday season surrounded by family and friends, but also being questioned and challenged. Though it is always hoped that the holidays will be a time of joyful celebration and togetherness with family and friends, it can be challenging when one is out and about in their community. For example, my brother shared a story of how a woman invited him to a bacon festival and became annoyed when he declined. Rather than let it go, the woman persisted and demanded to know, “Who does not eat bacon?!” While I am not sure how he responded, I can say, MANY people do not!
Whether a person chooses to forgo pork for spiritual/religious reasons, or because they just do not enjoy the taste – does anyone truly owe an explanation for why they don’t want to eat something?
Now, you must know that this post is clearly NOT about pork. It is however about a growing concern that I (and many others in the JOC community have) about the demand to explain oneself and to verify/justify their Jewishness or legitimacy ALL.THE.TIME. While this experience may not be exclusive to Jews of Color, I have no doubt that it definitely occurs more often.
The Jewish community is obligated to address issues like these in a real and reassuring way. No one wants to attend Shul, or go to work, or visit the Kosher mart and be grilled! And frankly, no one has to put up with it either. Being a JOC is just as beautiful and fulfilling as any other Jewish identity, like a beautiful gemstone, ours is just one that is multi-faceted.
In the spirit of chesed,