Intersectionality and Jews

We are all human, we are born, and we are for sure going to die one day. The video above is so intense, everyone was watching with hope, we don’t know them personally, but each of them is like one of us.  Why do we feel the need to separate everything?  In the Soviet Union on our passport it said Jewish as our nationality.  One of my African American Jewish friends shared how for some reason America chose to define the white and black difference.

Shariff Mordechai Hazan When you think about it: this is the US government’s worst creation- “race identification based off of complexion”. The government created this polarizing idea of black and white, we have to get rid of it

For people like myself who ran from discrimination, I really do not get it, and I am not a white, anglo saxon, that came to America from England.  I am a big mix of wonderful stuff, so why keep on sectioning ourselves, instead of sharing and celebrating ourselves.

Intersectionality (or intersectional theory) is the study of overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination or discrimination. The theory suggests that—and seeks to examine how—various biological, social and cultural categories such as gender, race, class, ability, sexual orientation, religion, caste, age and other axes of identity interact on multiple and often simultaneous levels. This framework can be used to understand how systemic injustice and social inequality occur on a multidimensional basis.[1] Intersectionality holds that the classical conceptualizations of oppression within society—such as racism, sexism, classism, ableism, biphobia,homophobia, transphobia, and belief-based bigotry—do not act independently of each other. Instead, these forms of oppression interrelate, creating a system of oppression that reflects the “intersection” of multiple forms of discrimination.

We are all mixed with so many different cultures, religions, identities, races, backgrounds, and orientations.  It really does shock me when within a group that is already standing for freedom of expression and identity, that there could be people singled out and discriminated against.

Example 1

Within the Jewish community there is every race, variations of observation, culture, nationality, background, and then there are mixes in between.  I love and have always loved diversity, and am shocked that my fellow Jewish brothers and sisters separate themselves from each other.

Example 2

In a recent LGBT convention, A gay Jewish group was singled out and discriminated against! WHAT?

Yes we are the human race,

We all have our roots,

I want my children to know their roots,

I want my children to learn about everyone else’s roots,

Diversity makes life interesting,

Otherwise we would be really bored,

Coach Yulia

Leora Noor Eisenberg
Woody Allen is, supposedly, the token Jew of the secular world. Whenever someone “looks Jewish,” s/he must be short with pasty white skin and curly hair and have an overbearing mother. The Jew must be unathletic and nerdy, obnoxious but successful. And, above all, s/he must have a prominent nose.

I am not Woody Allen; neither are my parents or are my friends. But we are Jewish, thus begging the question, “but how come you don’t look Jewish?”

If one person accidentally asks me why I don’t look like Woody Allen, I will pretend to be the utter stereotype of the Jew. I will call my mother, I will put on my glasses, I will speak in the nasal voice of Fran Drescher, I will make kugel and I will try to set someone up with my brother. I will tell you stories about Jewish summer camp and I will make my nose more prominent than ever.

But I am not Woody Allen. And I resent the idea of “looking Jewish.”

Historically, Allen’s movies created a forum for American Jewishness– poking fun at it and normalizing it. He was one of the comics and artists that brought it to the forefront of American culture, and after him came Jerry Seinfeld, Fran Drescher and the like, all artists who made their Jewishness part of their onstage persona and created an image of the American Jew as their neurotic characters.

The televized Jew has become the image that most Americans subscribe to– overly Ashkenazi and neurotic. Woody Allen.

But it you were to come to any meeting of my friends, you find that none of us fit that stereotype. We are Indian Jews, we are Nigerian Jews, we are Ethiopian Jews and we are Russian Jews. We are bad at sports, we are good at math, we have overbearing parents, we have calm parents. We have white skin, we have olive skin, we have brown skin, we have black skin.

And we all, more or less, look Jewish.

“Looking Jewish” is a strange phrase that holds true only to a stereotypical image that is broadcast on television. Almost none of us fit all the superficial characteristics of Woody Allen– and frankly, should never hope to, since G-D gave us all our own unique gifts.

Nonetheless, many of us, at one point or another, are going to be asked why we “don’t look Jewish.” And to that, I offer you this answer.

Jewishness cannot be contained in my appearance. It is in every part of me– the way I think, speak, dress and act. To assume that a Jew in today’s world must look or act a certain way in order to be sufficiently Woody Allen-esque or Jewish is silly. We don’t measure any other culture by how much they look like a certain television icon that popularized it.

To say that someone “looks Jewish” means that there must be a certain template that we must fit. But, say, if I am tall, Persian and good at sports, does that mean that I don’t? If I have blonde hair, am Russian and have an overbearing mother, does that mean I don’t? If I am quiet, have a small nose, and grew up in Serbia, does that mean I don’t?

I look just as Jewish as Woody Allen not because I look like him, but because I’m Jewish.

Because all of us are Jewish, and our identity cannot be confined to a certain set of arbitrary physical characteristics.

Because we all look Jewish.

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