The Wrong Kind of Jew: A Mizrahi Manifesto:

The Wrong Kind of Jew: A Mizrahi Manifesto:

by Hen Mazzig
The Wrong Kind of Jew: A Mizrahi Manifesto:

The Wrong Kind of Jew: A Mizrahi Manifesto:

by Hen Mazzig


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When people ask what I'm passionate about, Judaism, likely, comes first. If you ask where I'm from, the answer is Israel, so usually a dead giveaway. But if you dive into my ethnicity or race, I will tell you that my family comes from North Africa and the Middle East—Tunisia, and Iraq, to be more specific.

So you're Arab? people often ask. And I respond, no, I'm a Jew.

I'm Mizrahi. The Jews of the Middle East and North Africa are known as Mizrahim. But few people—Jewish and non-Jewish alike—know of us. There are many reasons for that, one of which is that for too many, Mizrahim are "the wrong kind of Jew." We're not only unfamiliar, but our culture shatters stereotypes and unspoken rules. We break the expectations many hold about Jews and race, the Middle East and religion, and even politics and oppression.

Because of my Mizrahi heritage, I don't fit into what many people see as the secular, cultural tenets of Judaism.

I like bagels, but I don't consider them my cuisine. I don't have opinions on Katz Deli or whether or not they are better than Langers. What kind of meat is Pastrami? I'm still not sure. My grandma doesn't make matzo-ball soup when I'm sick or even on the holidays. Instead, she's making a stew that most of my Jewish friends can't pronounce.

Yes, my grandparents were in the Holocaust. Can't get more Jewish than that, right? But their streets were never lined with swastikas or German soldiers. No one scrawled "Jude" on their homes or businesses. They didn't survive Auschwitz or Dachau or Buchenwald. They were due to be sent to Nazi camps with unknown names. Their neighbors were shot and raped in antisemitic riots, which most people, even most synagogues, don't commemorate.

For some, I'm not just the wrong kind of Jew; I'm a bad Jew. I'm bad at meeting expectations of what Jewish looks like, sounds like, thinks like, and means.

But I have the audacity to know that I am a bad Jew and feel good about it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781642937237
Publisher: Wicked Son
Publication date: 10/21/2022
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 473,178
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.55(d)

About the Author

For over a decade, Hen Mazzig has been an educator on Jews of the Middle East and North Africa. Mazzig has appeared as an expert on Jewish issues on four continents, hundreds of college campuses, BBC, Sky News, TEDx, and countless Shabbat dinners.

Mazzig grew up in Israel as the son of Mizrahi Jewish refugees from Iraq and Tunisia. As a young Israeli, Hen served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for almost five years as an openly gay commander. He served as humanitarian officer in the West Bank, and worked as an intermediary between the IDF, the Palestinian Authority, the UN, and many non-governmental organizations.

Mazzig’s writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, NBC News, Haaretz, the Forward, International Business Times, and numerous other publications. His work and story have inspired many young people worldwide with over one hundred million users who have interacted with his online content. He was named in Algemeiner’s top one hundred people positively influencing Jewish life in 2018 and 2021. In 2022, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting selected Mazzig as the recipient of their Portrait in Courage Award.

In 2019, Mazzig cofounded the Tel Aviv Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to using data-driven social media strategies to stand up for Jewish people and other minorities online.
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