Colors of Jews: Racial Politics and Radical Diasporism / Edition 1

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Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz exposes and challenges the common assumptions about whom and what Jews are, by presenting in their own voices, Jews of color from the Iberian Peninsula, Asia, Africa, and India. Drawing from her earlier work on Jews and whiteness, Kaye/Kantrowitz delves into the largely uncharted territory of Jews of color and argues that Jews are an increasingly multiracial people—a fact that, if acknowledged and embraced, could foster cross-race solidarity to help combat racism. This engaging and eye-opening book examines the historical and contemporary views on Jews and whiteness as well as the complexities of African/Jewish relations, the racial mix and disparate voices of the Jewish community, contemporary Jewish anti-racist and multicultural models, and the diasporic state of Jewish life in the United States.

A Jim Agnew The Literary World book pick

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Editorial Reviews

Beverly Guy Sheftal

"In the aftermath of 9/11 and the volatile politics of the Middle East, this carefully researched and compelling study is timely and sure to provoke debate in various circles. It is an important contribution to our understanding of the Jewish diaspora and contemporary race relations writ large." —Beverly Guy Sheftal, co-author (with Johnnetta Betsch Cole) of Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women's Equality in African American Communities

Tony Kushner

"Kaye/Kantrowitz is a courageous activist and thinker and her invigorating, illuminating book does what all great political writing should do—it refreshes your mind and spirit by effectively discombobulating habitual complacencies, and re-acquaints you with the world." —Tony Kushner, Pulitzer Prize-winning, author of Angels in America

Chandra Talpade Mohanty

"Every once in a while a book comes along and smacks you in the face with its wisdom, intelligence, and compassionate politics. The Colors of Jews is such a book. Its documentation of radical, anti-racist Jewish history, its unwavering commitment to the practice of solidarity across deeply divisive borders, and its elegant interweaving of personal, communal, activist and scholarly voices in mapping a complex and visionary landscape of struggle make this an invaluable book for our time." —Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Professor of Women's Studies Syracuse University, author of Feminism Without Borders, Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity

Susannah Heschel

"Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz has long been an astute interpreter of Jewish culture and politics. Her new study The Colors of Jews is fascinating and provocative, filled with original insights. It will both inspire and challenge its readers to think more deeply and act more forcefully." —Susannah Heschel, author of Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus

From the Publisher
"Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz has long been an astute interpreter of Jewish culture and politics. Her new study The Colors of Jews is fascinating and provocative, filled with original insights. It will both inspire and challenge its readers to think more deeply and act more forcefully." —Susannah Heschel, author of Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus
Si Kahn

"Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz is among our most creative, provocative and courageous thinkers and writers..In The Colors of Jews, she once again upsets our applecart of easy assumptions and expectations, challenging us to go beyond the usual lines that limit and divide us." —Si Kahn, Executive Director, Grassroots Leadership

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253219275
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 5/17/2007
  • Edition description: Annotated
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz is Adjunct Professor in Comparative Literature and Women's Studies at Queens College of CUNY and has taught in the Bard Women's Prison Initiative. She is a feminist scholar and poet whose many books include The Issue Is Power: Essays on Women, Jews, Violence and Resistance; My Jewish Face & Other Stories; and The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women's Anthology (with Irena Klepfisz). She lives in Elmhurst, New York.
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Table of Contents

Preface     ix
A Note on Language     xiii
Acknowledgments     xv
Are Jews White?     1
What's White     2
The People of Contradictions     10
Apartheid/American Style     16
Jews: Race or Religion?     26
Christian Centricity     30
Black/Jewish Imaginary and Real     33
The Black/Jewish Tangle     33
Am I Possible?     37
Exodus     47
Media Coverage     49
Media Hype     51
Solidarity     57
Nationalism and Feminism     60
Who Is This Stranger?     67
The Cultures of Jews     73
Mizrahim     73
Sephardim     80
Post-Colonial Jews     85
Feminist Ritual     87
Ashkenazim     87
De-Ashkenization     89
U.S. Jews     99
Praying with Our Legs     105
Fighting Slumlords, Building Coalitions: Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (Chicago)     111
Confronting Power in the Jewish Community: Jews United for Justice (St. Louis)     118
Trying to Change Congregational Life: Jewish Community Action(Minneapolis)     124
Bringing Our Bodies to the Picket Line: Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (New York)     128
The Place to Go for a Progressive Jewish Voice     135
Judaism Is the Color of This Room     139
The Temple of My Familiar: Ayecha (National)     142
Crossing Many Borders: Ivri-NASAWI/Levantine Center (International)     148
A Mixed Multitude: Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation (Chicago)     156
Respect and Knowledge: Beta Israel of North America (International)     160
Hospitality Is the First Principle: Congregation Nahalat Shalom (Albuquerque)     164
Jews Were All People of Color: Center for Afro-Jewish Studies (Philadelphia)     172
I Promised Them It Wasn't Going to Happen Again: Central Reform Synagogue (St. Louis)     181
Jews of Color Speak Out     185
Transformation in Partnership     188
Toward a New Diasporism     193
If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem     193
If I Forget Thee O Doikayt, O Haviva Ottomania     195
Home     196
Diasporism and the Holocaust     200
Israel and Diasporism     204
Anti-Semitism and Diasporism     207
A Jewish Tradition: Radical Justice-Seeking      213
To Change the Way Racism Is Fought: Shifting the Center     219
Diasporism and the Colors of Jews     221
Notes     227
Bibliography     257
Index     269
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