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Are Jews of Color Really Jews?

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In a brand new ELI Talks video, social activist MaNishtana talks about the necessity for Jews to examine their attitudes towards Jews of color. The first few minutes of this 13-minute video sound a little like a standup comedy routine. Then he gets serious.

MaNishtana is a pseudonym for a 35 year-old man who was born into a Chabad family in Brooklyn, NY. His real name is Shais Rishon. He is the oldest of five children of African-American Jewish parents. He is FFB - frum from birth - meaning that he was born both Jewish and religious. His pseudonym comes from the Four Questions of the Passover Hagaddah which begin "MaNishtana" - how is this different?

In the first few minutes of the video, MaNishtana recounts a story of a Chanukah party he attended in which someone asked him, "So are you really Jewish or are you just playing around?" Behind his very amusing response lies a clear sense of weariness.

Imagine if, everywhere you went, you had to validate yourself as a Jew.

Rishon, in his MaNishtana persona, explains why questioning other people's Jewishness is actually a very un-Jewish thing to do. The video is highly watchable, even as it asks us to examine some of our Jewish assumptions about which we are the least proud.
 
 
 
ELI Talks presents important social and religious issues in video format with the goal of opening up discussion about issues of Jewish engagement, literacy and identity.
 
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