It’s hard to believe that I’ve been writing for the Jewish Multiracial Network for an entire year. It’s been a year of deep introspection, reflection, and learning about whom I am as a person and who I want to become. While I am excited to continue contributing to this incredible organization and learning about Jews of Color, the end of 2015 signifies a milestone in my life.
In my first blog post, I talked about how excited I was to embark on this journey and add my unique perspective and insight on how the Jewish community treats Jews of Color. With many lessons and words of wisdom along the way, one stands above the rest. This past year has taught me the importance of exclaiming, “Hineni, here I am!” and being able to be fully present. To be able to see, hear, and understand what used to be invisible to me. To look beyond the things that life readily presents to me and explore what is in the shadows.
In 2015, we’ve had moments in the Jewish community that fill my heart with joy and pride, including marching with the NAACP’s Journey for Justice and increasing conversations and action around “audacious hospitality” and “radical inclusion”. And then we’ve also had moments that fill me with pure disgust and embarrassment, such as more stories of police officers following Jews of Color in synagogues and outright rejections of the merits of the Black Lives Matter movement.
This past year has taught me that while exclusion and racism may be happening in our community, I must be totally present, hineni, in order to see and grasp the effects these hurtful attitudes and actions have on people. I know that this insight and lesson will enormously enhance my reflection and preparation for the coming year.
In the process of taking action against a challenge, it always begins with ideas and conversations. Here are some questions to start these important and necessary conversations for the Jewish community in 2016:
What are the assumptions that people make about Jews of Color?
What should be the Jewish community’s role in fighting racism in the world?
What privileges do we hold in society?
How do we better demonstrate compassion, love, and understanding for everyone in our community?
What is our commitment to tikkun olam, or repairing the world?
Even among our successes, this year was an especially hard year for justice, love, and peace in the Jewish community. While progress begins with ideas and conversation, it must lead to meaningful action. Each and every one of us needs to exclaim, “Hineni, here I am” and be fully present as we move forward in future, walking boldly together, hand in hand.