the jewish identity

anonymous asked:

hi, i'm sorry if this has been asked but in your powerpoint you said that the tumblr sj community is guilty of antisemitism. what kind of things has it done? also, i love your blog!

I’ll take this one since I’m the blog’s resident Jew.  Oy vey, where do I start…

  • SJ community loves to police Jewish identity and silence actual Jews when they talk about their own identities.  This usually happens in context of either “Are Jews White?” or “Jewishness is just a religion” conversations.  In reality, Jews are an ethnoreligious group that ethnically originated in the middle east, and while some ethnic Jews have light skin, it’s actually due to centuries of forced assimilation in European and Slavic countries through rape, which is a big reason why Jewishness is matrilineal.  Furthermore, there exist Jews who do not look white at all.  There are black, brown, and asian Jews who are all ethnically Jewish, and these conversations erase them.
  • “Jewish privilege”.  Fact: It’s not a thing.  It’s actually a very common anti-semitic trope that says that Jews run everything so they are not oppressed.  Jews are oppressed, and face anti-semitic violence.
  • “Anti-semitism is not just about Jews, there are other semitic people.” While yea, there are other semitic people, the term “anti-semitism” was created by Germans in the 19th century to refer specifically to the hatred of Jews because it sounded more scientific.
  • Blaming anti-semitic violence in Europe on the actions of Israel.  I see this literally every single day on this site, and it’s very upsetting.  Jews that live in the diaspora are not responsible for Israel’s actions, and especially should not be suffering at the hands of white people in Europe under the guise of anti-zionism.  
  • Finally, and this is a big pet peeve of mine.  The only people I ever see reblogging posts about anti-semitism are other Jews.  Even a lot of my non-Jewish followers will reblog posts about racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. but ignore posts about anti-semitism, and that as a Jew makes me feel unsafe. 

That’s enough for now.  If you’re interested in learning more about Jewish identity and anti-semitism, you are welcome to check out my personal blog: yochevedke.  I discuss that stuff a lot.  

-Yeva

banning the star of david pride flag from a march due to your anti-zionist leanings is wrong on so many levels, not to mention the fact that it buys in to the narrative that apartheid israel somehow has the sole claim on jewish identity, which it wants you to think it does.

if somebody wants to wield an israeli flag at an explicitly anti-zionist pride march then yeah, tell them to take a hike, but equating the star of david with the actions of an apartheid state is no better than equating the muslim moon and star with the saudi monarchy. incredibly short-sighted.

A PSA on Jewishness, because apparently non-Jews just have to know this stuff and can't figure it out on their own

Jews are an ethnic group. Global Jewry is made up of several different ethnic groups, the largest of which are: Sefardi Jews, whose ancestors historically lived in the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) and western Europe; Ashkenazi Jews, whose ancestors historically lived in central and eastern Europe; and Mizrahi Jews, whose ancestors historically lived in MENA (Middle East/North Africa). There are other groups of ethnic Jews living in other places in the world as well. Jews from all of these groups have moved across the world, largely due to persecution in their host countries, and formed new communities in new places, so that there may be longstanding communities of Ashkenazi Jews in France, and Sefardi Jews in Morocco.

All ethnic Jews have ancestral, genetic heritage stemming from the Levant (specifically, the area now known as Israel and/or Palestine). All Jews also have cultural heritage stemming from the Levant. This is no less important or relevant than genetic heritage.

Some Jews have mixed heritage (one Jewish parent only). They are also Jews. The matrilineal descent question is a question of Jewish religious law, and is interpreted differently by different Jewish denominations and individuals. (My personal stance is to affirm patrilineal descent.) 

The religion historically practiced by Jews is Judaism. Ethnic Jews may practice any religion they please; this does not mean they are less Jewish in terms of their heritage. Non-ethnic Jews may convert to Judaism; this does not make them any less Jewish in terms of their religious practice. Judaism does not proselytize.

Judaism as a whole takes no global stance of Zionism as a political ideology. Different Jews have different opinions on Zionisms (plural intentional, because Zionism takes a lot of forms), and while they may be good or bad people, and you may agree or disagree with their politics, their Zionism or anti-Zionism does not inherently make them any more or less Jewish. 

The question of Jewish identity is ultimately not the purview of non-Jews. It is nothing more or less than gross arrogance for non-Jews to assume that their opinions on this question are remotely relevant or of interest to Jews, and the persistent insertion of some non-Jews into these private conversation is extremely offensive.

If you are not Jewish, and have written, or are considering writing, a post on  Jewish identity/ethnicity, I have some advice for you: don’t. You almost certainly don’t know what you’re talking about, and you definitely can’t have a better understanding of these complex issues than someone who is actually Jewish themselves. If you really feel, for some inexplicable reason, that you simply must weigh in on this issue, consult an actual Jew before doing so. 

POC Profile: Jewish Middle Eastern from Israel

I was born in Israel and moved to the United States later on. I’m of Yemen, Egyptian and Syrian descent but am 100% Mizrachi Jewish. My family all moved into Israel in or right after World War II, having gone through its affects in context of the Middle East. I am bilingual (Hebrew and English) so I may also point out some bilingual experiences. 

I see a lot of talk about Ashkenazi (European) Jews and the Arabic/Muslim community in the Middle East, but barely see any information about Mizrachi Jews (which is a huge ethnicity). 

Culture/Holidays: Even though Mizrachi Jewish culture is very similar to its surrounding Middle Eastern community it’s also extremely different. Because Jews were segregated from Muslim (and other goy religions) neighborhoods they grew their own cultures and traditions, and because they were far away from their Ashkenazi sisters the holidays are celebrated differently. Some even created new holidays! A good example of this is Mimuna, a Moroccan-Jewish holiday celebrating the finish of the intense Kosher within the Passover season. I’ve noticed that in my Grandma’s Yemen household we celebrate holidays differently than in my Ashkenazi friend’s households (also extremely differently than in American Jewish households). We read different parts of Magalas, sing different songs, and if we do sing the same songs they are probably set in different tunes. Simply, search up traditions for the specific area you’re writing about, because chances are they celebrate it differently than most Jews you see in the USA (or any European country) do.

Food: You know how people make jokes about white people food being bland? It’s the same in the Jewish community. Food is very different within the Jewish community. You heard of kugel? That’s an Ashkenazi food. So is defiltefish and chunt and matzabre (although matzabre does have a Yemeni equivalent called ftut where you soak the matza instead of fry it). Middle Eastern Jewish food is amazing! Although I can mostly only tell you about Yemen food, it’s such a great area to explore. Yemeni Jewish food is very filling and has a lot of dough based recipes (such as jachnun and malauach), and has amazing spice and sauces like schug and chilbe. A lot of the food is also pita based (the cuisine very rarely involve bread). And Just like how the shnitzel snuck into Ashkenazi food, goy Middle Eastern food became a common in the Mizrachi community, like shwarma, falafel and shakshuka. 

In Israel there are some really common food differences than in the USA. Falafel is the common street food (similar to getting one of those ham and egg bagels in a coffee shop in an inner city area in the USA). Almost every house is equipped with pita, and bread is of higher level than the usual pre-cut soft white bread that is found in Supermarkets in the USA. The Mizrachi and Ashkenazi cuisine gets really mixed (such as having Ashkenazi defiltefish with Yemeni chilbe as a spice) and there are some stables that everybody eats (like shnitzel with ptitim or spaghetti).

History: The main thing I want to say here is that yes, the Mizrachi community was affected by WWII. Just like with Trump, when a powerful nation f**** up, the whole world feels it. The Holocaust was not exclusive to Europe. The Mizrachi community was hunted for literally thousands of years in the Middle East (seriously, that’s what many of our holidays are about) and it absolutely did not end until we were able to move out. My Yemeni grandmother had to run away from Yemen and walk the whole way through Saudi Arabia to get to Israel because their community was being murdered in masses, the Jewish community in Yemen is practically extinct, everybody who could moved to Israel. My grandfather in Egypt faced the same causes to move into Israel, even though his family was powerful in Cairo back then they left all their belongings when his uncle was killed on the street by an anti-Semitic riot.

Identity Issues: Back in Israel my identity wasn’t an issue for me. I was Jewish (like everybody) and Mizrachi (like many). But when I moved to the USA it was different. All the Jews here were Ashkenazi (except for the small Sephardi community) and none of the Middle Eastern community here was Jewish. They barely even thought it existed. I still have people who are shocked when I say I’m a Mizrachi Jew, because they thought that Judaism was almost exclusively a white religion. Which I can’t blame them for when that’s all they see around them. But it’s still a problem. Middle Eastern meetups commonly wouldn’t accept me as a Middle Eastern person, and even more so shunned me for being Israeli even though I’m not anti-Palestine. I would still go to meetups like this even though I was commonly called a terrorist or would have to deal with anti-Semitism, because even though I was the only Jew there, these people still dealt with similar problems to which I did living in this which supremacist nation - I felt closer to them than I did to Ashkenazi Jews (and unlike in Ashkenazi communities I was not treated as a token POC).  I stopped going when my mom banned me from such meetings, because someone in the group threatened to hurt me. I’m not saying it’s not okay to be disgusted by Israels actions against the Arabic community around it (I am too), I’m just saying that shunning me from that community when I had no other community to go to because of something I could not and did not have any say in was not the right answer in my opinion.

Language: One aspect that the Ashkenazi and Mizrachi community have in common is the Holy language, Hebrew. In Israel that’s the main language that is spoken, other than minor communities who speak Arabic or Ultra-Orthodox communities who speak Yiddish. Still, the communities were separated for so many years that there are many alternate pronunciations and accents. As you may have noticed in the food section, Ashkenazi food names are a lot more European, while Mizrachi names are a lot closer to Arabic and other Semitic languages. 

Misconceptions: Judaism is not a white religion! That is not to say that Ashkenazi Jews aren’t white, but saying that Judaism is a white religion cuts POC Jews (or JOC? I’ve never seen that in use) out of their goy communities. Judaism is found all around the world, there are Latinx Jews, East Asian Jews, African Jews, Hispanic Jews, and Middle Eastern Jews. The only place I would be shocked to find a Jewish Ethnicity in would be Native American tribes. Also on a different note, bilinguals do mix up languages. I see bilingual people shunning monolingual authors for having characters accidentally answer in the wrong language, saying “whoops! I was thinking in my /other language/!” But I do this so commonly that my friends joke that I’m a badly written bilingual character. I’m just saying that the bilingual experience is vast, and not everybody thinks the same.

Things I’d like to see less of/Stereotypes I’m tired of seeing: Every Jewish family being written like the Maus family. All of them are white German Jews who’s family suffered through the Holocaust. Don’t get me wrong, Holocaust survivor’s stories are so so important. But all the Jews I see in media are Jewish studies professors in the upper middle class suburban area who adopted a kid of a different race and made them hilariously Jewish in an out of place way. It’s so boring. And nonrepresentational. Please stop creating stereotypical cookie-cut Jews. Also the idea that Jews are the extreme end of being white, where Jews can’t even start to understand people of color, or white Jews marking themselves as people of color. 

Things I’d like to see more of: More Mizrachi Jews! I’m telling you this is such a rad community, and it is barely explored in literature. Once when I tried to find any books or studies about Yemeni Jews in English, and all I found was one book about Yemeni-American second generation girls in Michigan (it’s called “All American Yemeni Girls” by Loukia K. Sarroub, and is an amazing study you should read). All I found was this one book! This tells me that both the Middle Eastern and Mizrachi communities are lacking in literature. 

Please just consider integrating different Jewish communities into your story if possible.

Shira’s Note:

Great post! I just wanted to add a note that I’ve seen a Native+Jewish blogger on Tumblr; I’m not sure if there was a conversion or intermarriage at some point but I would hate for that one blogger (whose URL escapes me at the moment) to feel erased. Another note about the bilingual thing: it is VERY, VERY important for people writing bilingual characters to understand that different languages treat their bilingual speakers different ways. The ways Yiddish sneaks into English are different from the ways Spanish sneaks into English and both are different from the way Mandarin sneaks into English. Don’t extrapolate the Yiddish-inflected English from TV sitcom Ashkies as the way Spanglish works, for example. This post is a testimonial as to why.

Third, lol: “All of them are white German Jews who’s family suffered through the Holocaust.” it me, so thank you for contributing this post so that my voice isn’t the only one on here. We all really appreciate it.

–Shira

Hey, all these posts about Jewish-Black solidarity are so important but we should definitely be careful not to imply that Black and Jewish are always separate identities, because as much as we need to rely on each other to survive, Black Jews need that even more. 

“Why do you have so much pride in being Jewish?”

It’s a question I get all the time. In my inbox, from my friends who are annoyed that I talk about it so much. It’s a question I get all the time.

And I struggle not to say because I can. 

I have so much pride in being Jewish because my grandparents still have their “Jude” stars from the Warsaw Ghetto. Because so much of our family history died in Bergen Belsen and didn’t make it out of Dachau.   

I have so much pride in being Jewish because my mom’s car was shot at 17 times by Neo-Nazi while she was driving through Arkansas, all because she had a Star of David bumper sticker. They said their aim was to kill her. It was a miracle they missed. This isn’t history, either. This was 1992. 

I have so much pride in being Jewish because when, in 5th grade, when they painted a swastika on my locker and threw pennies at me in the hallways, the principe said “anti semitism isn’t real. Try being nice to them.” 

I have so much pride in being Jewish because when my cousin asked his school bullies to please stop heiling Hitler, they beat him within inches of his life. He was the one who got suspended for “inciting violence.”

I have so much pride in being Jewish because after all the persecution, after all the hatred, we still sit down for Seders and Shabbat. We still laugh and joke in Yiddish- refusing to let it die out. We still make challah on Friday and seek refuge in our synagogues. We wear our kippahs and tzitzits with boldness and courage. 

I have so much pride in being Jewish because I can. Because we have fought for the right to be Jewish for millennia. Because we are still here. 

anonymous asked:

oh hey bee tee dubs–ashkenazi jews are not an ethnic minority, and you are not a person of color. you're white. you're straight-up white. and claiming to not identify as such is super racist. you're adorbs, though.

Nope, sorry. 

First of all, before I “you know nothing, Jon Snow” your ass on the Jewish front, let it just be established that my Dad is biracial, so even if I wasn’t ¾ Ashkenazi, I wouldn’t be “straight-up white.” I’m part Desi, and you can’t erase that. 

Secondly, Jews—be we Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrahi, Cochin, Beta Israel, etc.—are all part of a distinct ethnoreligious group that makes up less than 0.2% of the world’s population. This is not just my own personal perception; this has been well-established in the scientific community through genetic testing. 

Basically, all Jews (with the exception of people who have converted) are Semitic peoples descended from the Hebrew peoples of the Levant region (again, this is all scientifically confirmed). In this rendering of Jesus, done by anthropologists at the University of Manchester, you can see how the average Jew would have looked in roughly 30 CE: 

Surprise! It’s a brown dude! Because neither Jesus nor any Hebrew Israelites were white. 

So what happened? Well, in 70 CE The Romans expelled the Jews from ancient Israel, and we were forced into what is known as the Jewish Diaspora. We subsequently scattered all over the world, and through centuries of forced assimilation and rape (have you ever wondered why Jewishness is only passed on through the mother? It’s because of how often Jewish women were raped), we came to break into sub-ethnicities based on where we currently located. Ashkenazim were in Germany and Eastern Europe, Sephardim were in Spain and Portugal, Mizrahim were in the Middle East and Northern Africa, the Cochin were in India, the Beta Israel were in Ethiopia, etc. We no longer all looked alike, however, we still remained bonded by both Judaism itself and our inherited DNA (many of us still possess common traits, even among the post-Diasporic divides). 

A recently study of Ashkenazi genes specifically determined that “despite [Ashkenazim’s] close ties with Europe, no more than half [46%] of their DNA comes from ancient Europeans, the researchers found…the rest of the Ashkenazi genome comes from the Middle East.”

Ergo, although most Ashkenazim appear to be white Europeans, our DNA tells a very different story (not even to mention that fact that we are still constantly racialised by gentiles—people love to tell me whether they think I do or do not “look Jewish” all the time). 

Moreover, regardless of how Jews look and what part of the world we’ve lived in, we have been and continue to be “othered” by gentiles— particularly white ones—who have gone to great lengths to exclude white-passing Jews from the ranks of whiteness (there are certainly Jews of colour, including Ashkenazi Jews of colour, but you were obviously referring to white-passing Jews), through means of harassment, expulsion, and genocide. Of course, the Holocaust is the most obvious example of Jews being regarded as and killed for being non-white (I believe Hitler’s phrasing involved calling us unclean vermin who were a threat to the aryan race), but the Nazis were far from being the only group to persecute Ashkenazi Jews for being non-whites. In fact, the word “antisemitism” was coined in 1879 by writer and theorist Willhelm Marr, because he thought it sounded more “scientific” than “Judenhass” (Jew hate) and he really wanted to drive home the fact in his writings that we were non-white Middle Easterners.

Ironically (given the current political climate), the European concept of Ashkenazi Jews being non-white Middle Easterners was so common that there are countless examples of Jews all over Europe being told by the majority to “Go back to Palestine” where they came from. Here is graffiti on the window of a Jewish-owned shop in Norway:

It reads: “Palestine is calling. Jews are not tolerated in Norway.”

In 1902, there was a march through the Jewish quarters of London, where protesters shouted “Go back to Jerusalem.” Most likely, these Jews had all come to the UK from Russia or Ukraine, but they were still seen as non-white Middle Easterners in the eyes of the white Britons. 

I did some personal genealogy research over the Summer and found the immigration records for some of my family members. Here is the transcription of the record for my great-Aunt Rose (at the time, known as Ruchel): 

Did you catch it?

Race: Hebrew

That’s right, even in America, Jews were long considered a separate race from whites. This isn’t some distant relative I’ve never met before. This is my grandmother’s sister, whose kitchen table I used to sit at while she baked mandel bread. This is the sister of my great-Aunt Sophie, who is currently 98 and still remembers when signs in front of hotels said “No Negroes, No Jews.” 

Now, I realise that I look white to most people, and there is absolutely no denying that I am a beneficiary of the white privilege that exists in American society. That fact is absolutely NOT in dispute. However, I can and do identify as a white-passing beneficiary of white privilege rather than as a white person—not just because of my genetics, not just because of my history—but because a whole lot of white people have made it pretty damn clear to me over the years that I’m not one of them. I grew up in a somewhat conservative, predominantly white environment, and the number of kids and adults alike who acted like I lied to them upon learning I was Jewish was, in retrospect, kind of disturbing. 

And while yes, I have privileges many people of colour do not have, I also don’t have the full range of white privilege, in that I don’t automatically make everybody’s “white person” list and therefore can’t walk through through certain places without wondering if I’m going to have my ass kicked if anybody “finds me out.” 

White-looking Ashkenazi Jews are not exactly people of colour, and I never said we were. We live in a strange limbo in which we’re neither white enough for white, or non-white enough for non-white. However, we are an ethnic minority and we do have the right to identify as white-passing given our DNA, our history, and the way white people still regard us and treat us. 

I appreciate your concern and I’m sure you meant this from a place of constructive social justice criticism, but you’re 100% wrong about Jewishness as an ethnicity, and hence, you’re identity policing an ethnic minority. That is super racist, so please stop.

And yes, I am adorbs. Thanks for noticing. 

marvelouslymadmm  asked:

I have a Half Roma (father) half Ashkenazi Jewish (Mother) character who's parents met while working together on the Holocaust Museum being opened in DC(90s). I currently have her family being very disapproving of the marriage, and his brothers disliking her family for being snobs, as background tension for his childhood. Are there any resources or feedback on racial tensions and religious tensions I am missing between the two groups? I really want to get this right, as I love the character.

Writing about tensions between Jewish and Rroma in-laws

I’ll be blunt: there are tensions? If there are, I am completely unaware of them. What I usually see is Jewish Tumblr and Twitter users reminding each other to remember that we stick together with Rroma people because of shared bullshit, and speaking out to educate random non-Rroma gentiles (and each other) not to use the g-slur. I would also find it totally reasonable that Jewish characters might be anti-Rroma by accident or uneducated about Rroma people even being a real thing because of not knowing any better, like if someone hadn’t educated them, or if they were anti-Rroma because people who aren’t Rroma can be anti-Rroma, not specifically because they’re Jewish.

Jewish people sometimes have religious tension over interfaith marriages because our parents get freaked that if we marry gentiles we’ll all die out. There’s a such thing as marrying someone of another faith but promising to bring the kids up Jewish. I know more than one person who came out and their parents were like “okay, fine, but still marry a Jew.” The other reason parents get freaked out is that deep down sometimes it’s very hard to believe that a gentile really does think we’re human and okay and not secretly plotting between ourselves to take over the world. Like, you know that General Order 66 thing in the third Star Wars prequel where suddenly all the stormtroopers just know what Palpatine means, and start killing all the Jedi? Some gentiles think we’re up to shit like that so the idea of marrying a gentile means worrying that deep down inside that’s what they or their family think of us. You know what, though? This is very similar to some of the toxic mythology about Rroma people out there. So if both sides believed the non-Rroma gentile slander about the other side, then maybe that’s where the tension comes from, too.

But can we talk about this “both sides hate the other” idea for a second? I don’t know your background, but if someone who’s not a member of two marginalized groups chooses to write a story that makes both of those groups look bad for giving each other trouble, that makes me a little uncomfortable. Think how awkward it would be for a straight cis guy to write about the tensions between lesbians and bisexual women. It would almost seem as if lesbians and bi women were each other’s biggest problems, rather than straight people and cis men specifically perpetrating the most discrimination and systemic oppression against all women who love women. 

Now, as I said, I don’t know your background–if you’re Jewish or Rroma yourself, find a writing buddy of the other group and together you can talk about ways to make your story really ring true–if that’s a realistic conflict in the first place, anyway.

By the way, there’s no reason you can’t have family tension that doesn’t have anything to do with people’s ethnic background. Personality differences can happen within marginalized communities just like anywhere else, and plenty of people don’t get along with their family’s in-laws or find them snobby or not good enough. Just make sure your fictional in-laws’ “objectionable traits” aren’t directly derived from lazy stereotypes.

–Shira

Erasure of Jewish Identity and Culture in Marvel

(Not including X-Men films: I’m not up to discussing the tragedy of the X-Men movies and the complete erasure of all Jewish characters besides Magneto, the villain, today.)


Honestly, as a Jewish person in America this ongoing erasure of Jewish identity and culture Marvel is committing doesn’t even surprise me. This sort of subtle anti-Semitism that Marvel is participating in is par for the course. The erasure of Jewish identity and culture is so common most people don’t even pause to consider it, and if they do they don’t consider it anti-Semitic. After all, they don’t hate Jews, they don’t insult Jews, they don’t attack Jews, they don’t think Jews are bad or evil, so OF COURSE it isn’t anti-Semitism if you just pretend that Jews don’t exist and destroy Jewish character’s identities. It’s just a change of backstory, after all!


The erasure of Jewish characters and the destruction of characters created by Jews is not a change of backstory, Marvel, it is anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is defined as hostility, prejudice or discrimination against Jews. By erasing Jewish characters you are discriminating, or participating in unjust treatment, against them on account of their religion. By ignoring the huge contributions of Jewish writers and artists who gave life to so many comics characters you are being prejudiced. Your hostility, or unfriendliness and opposition, to the inclusion of Jewish characters and the defamation of characters created as allegories by Jews are anti-Semitism, Marvel.


Ignoring, or ret-conning, the fact that Wanda and Pietro Maximoff are ethnically half Jewish and Roma, and always have been, is anti-Semitic and racist. Their heritage may not have played a significant plot point, but it certainly influenced their decisions and motivations. Turning Jewish-Roma Wanda and Pietro Maximoff into volunteers for the fascist-Hydra organization headed by von Strucker, a Nazi, to conduct illegal medical experiments on, is wrong.



Turning Steve Rogers, who has always stood as an allegorical shield for the Jewish people against the Nazi’s and fascism in general, into a fascist Hydra member, is disgusting. Turning Steve Rogers’ who served as Erskine’s (a Jewish scientist’s) golem, his creation and stand-in, to defeat the Nazi’s into a member of Hydra, is revolting.


Fun fact: Captain America’s iconic shield is an allegory in and of itself. What in English is called the Jewish Star or Star of David, one of the most recognizable Jewish symbols in the world, is in Hebrew called the Magen David (Yiddish the Mogein Dovid) which translates to the Shield of David. Steve’s shield with the star on it, used to protect him as he fought Hitler and the Nazi’s in the early comics, was an allegory to a powerful and well known Jewish symbol that the Nazi’s were corrupting. It was a ‘spit in your eye, fuck you’ to the Nazi’s and Jack Kirby and Joe Simon knew that their Jewish readers, desperate for news that the Nazi’s would be stopped and their families were safe, would recognize it.



I’ve seen comments on the Jewish actors in the MCU not being allowed to play Jewish characters. I feel that if in canon the characters are actively shown not to be Jewish, or it’s heavily implied at least, then it’s appropriate for the Jewish actors to portray that character as Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Atheist, or whatever that character religiously identifies as. However, for a character like Darcy Lewis, who is not a canon character in the comics at all, how hard would it be to have her say a throwaway line about her Bat Mitzvah? Or to have Jane Foster (whose religion is never mentioned in the comics) mention her Bubbe (grandmother) in a ‘my Bubbe always said’ way?


I have to wonder what would happen if Marvel suddenly decided that Sam Wilson wasn’t black? What if they thought Wakanda would be better served as a European nation? What if Kamala Khan was found to support a fascist regime? Why is it okay to erase and ignore Jews as both characters and creators? Why are Marvel’s actions not being called out as the anti-Semitism it is?



It doesn’t matter what reason Marvel gives for their choice to make Steve Rogers’ a fascist, a Nazi. It doesn’t matter if it’s a plot twist, a time-change, a clone, a triple agent or a cry for attention. Marvel has taken a character that has stood for freedom and doing the right thing, a hero and a symbol of hope not only to Jews but to people around the world that there are people who have the courage to fight back against oppression, and they have destroyed him. They can never take this back, there is no ‘oops’ here. Even if they retcon this arc in the future, like they did with William Burnside, they have destroyed the legacy of Captain America.


Wasn’t it enough to erase Wanda and Pietro Maximoff’s past? Why do you have to ruin Captain America too?


Jack Kirby and Joe Simon received death threats for creating Steve Rogers, Captain America, in a time when many Americans were either Nazi sympathizers or content to keep their head in the sand. It was a time when Jewish families checked their mailboxes every day praying for a letter from their parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins still in Europe. It was a time when the US turned away boatloads of Jewish refugees fleeing Europe.  It was a time when the Third Reich steadily gained more and more land and more and more power, and while many European nations fought back against the rise of fascism the US refused to involve itself in Europe’s war despite knowing the threat Hitler posed. Kirby and Simon were surrounded by this environment of fear, because no one knew what was truly happening in Europe, but knew they had to do something about it. It is an insult to the memories of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon.  It is morally repugnant to make Captain America into a Nazi.



Marvel has erased Jewish identities of characters in both the comics and the films. That was bad enough. But now? Marvel has taken a hero I love, and have loved since I was a child, and perverted it. They have taken Captain America and twisted him around into a parody of all that he has ever stood for. They have taken a character that was literally created by two Jews to stand against the Nazi’s and say ‘screw you’ to Hitler for all the Jews who couldn’t, and made him into a Nazi. As a Jew and a fan of comics for most of my life I feel like I have been spat on and kicked while I’m down. 

Eric Richard Bittle is Jewish

Tw: mentions of antisemitism

Ok, hear me out. I know there is a lot of evidence pointing to Bitty being a good Southern Christian Gay and like, that is completely plausible and if that’s your jam, great! But because I love projecting and rubbing my Jew-y hands on everything, here is a theory about Bitty being an extremely assimilatory southern Jew who only really gets in touch with his culture and Jewish identity once he gets to college in the North East.

So I did some research and while “phelps” (Bitty’s maternal family name) isn’t the dead ringer that “Birkholtz” or “Zimmermann” is, it still has a history of being a Jewish surname in the Anglo-Saxon region. So to me, Bitty is Jewish on his mom’s side, but his paternal family is very southern Christian and so, really that’s what he grew up with, because being Jewish in the south? Well… that’s a whole thing.

My mom grew up in Atlanta Georgia, and in her high school, she was the only Jewish person by a long shot. My grandfather taught at Emory and so they didn’t belong to a temple, and went to Hillel sometimes during the bug holidays, but for he most part she wasn’t involved in religious affairs because it wasn’t “normal”.

I think something along the same lines happened to Bitty. His Moomah always made Jewish food for their family, but only made Southern food for company. At Chanukah, they would put up a Christmas tree, but put a Jewish star as an ornament and call it a “Chanukah bush.”

Bitty had a friend in second grade named Timmy who came over for a play date one day, only to never come back because his mom saw their mezuzah on the front door and forbid them from hanging out again. “Timmy doesn’t need to be influenced by that kind”

After that, well, Bitty stops asking his mama to make kasha varnishkas for his lunch (someone once told him it looked like he was eating pasta with dirt in it) and he stops going to temple on rosh hashana, and he starts calling his Christmas tree a Christmas tree. When someone tells him he “doesn’t look Jewish” he knows it’s a compliment.

The Monday at school after the Closet Incident, there’s a swastika keyed into his locker.

Because it’s one thing being the gay kid in a small town, it’s a whole other thing to be gay AND Jewish. It’s like he’s had two strikes against him since he was born.

When he moves to Madison he begs his mom not to put up a mezuzah. He can’t understand why she starts crying, but she doesn’t put it up. It’s a fresh start.

The rest of middle school and high school, Bitty secularizes.

When one of his teammates in his coed team tells him he’s acting “like a Jew” when he asks her for money for the team shirts, Bitty bites his tongue so hard he draws blood.

When all the kids in his tenth grade English class throw pennies at Mr. Bloom during his lecture on Eli Wiesel, Bitty stays after and helps pick them up.

Fast forward to freshman year at Samwell, and Bitty is hanging around the haus just before Rosh Hashana.

Holster is talking to Ransom and Jack about putting something together for dinner, maybe picking up some matzo ball soup mix and some ruggies from a deli near by.

Bitty, who shuddered at the though of soup coming out of a box blurted out without thinking “you know, I could whip up some of my grandmas matzo ball soup? And maybe some kugel?”

All three of the other boys look at him with wide eyes.

“I didn’t know you were Jewish Bittle,” Jack quirked a brow in intrigue.

“Well,” Bitty said, face heating up, “I- I’m not JEWISH Jewish. My mom is Jewish. My Moomah is Jewish, but ME? I don’t know.”

Everyone else seemed perplexed by this statement, but Holster’s eyes lowered a bit.

Bitty took that to mean ‘I hate you why would you say that you should just leave’ and promptly scrambled out the door, a whirlwind of “sorry got to go’s”

Later that week, someone knocked on Bitty’s dorm door, and that someone was Adam Jacob Birkholtz, certified Nice Jewish Boy and hulking mass.

“Uh, can we talk?” Holster asked a bit sheepishly.

Bitty agreed and lead them into his room.

Holster sat on his tiny bed and asked, “what did you mean before? When you said your mom and grandma are Jewish but not you?” It was tentative, but Bitty could tell the question wasn’t an accusation.

“Well I mean, I don’t really celebrate anything anymore. For all intents and purposes my house was a secular house all throughout middle school and high school.”

“But bitty,” holster sighed, “just because your half Jewish doesn’t mean you can’t be Jewish. And even if you aren’t practicing that doesn’t mean you can’t be Jewish either. I had a friend in high school that was half Jewish and people at temple would make him feel unwelcome. You don’t have to worry about that here.”

“Oh um, thanks? But it’s not that. Look, I know I’m Jewish. People have been making that clear to me for my whole life.”

“What do you mean?” Holster asked.

Bitty then began to regale all of the things he’s experienced. All of the prejudice, the slurs, the pennies, the swastikas. All of the pain that came with being the Jew in the south.

Holster listened, “Bits, that’s really rough dude. And like, I get it, some things are too painful. But it’s not like that at Samwell. Sure there are assholes everywhere, and it’s not like there’s never any antisemitism but, if you haven’t noticed based on the hockey team already, you aren’t alone here! There’s a whole Jewish community that’s got your back.

"Listen, why don’t you come to Hillel with me for Rosh Hashana, we can make your Moomas soup together! And maybe even Jack will help and not complain. Just, I don’t want you to have to feel like that about yourself.”

Bitty begins to decline the invitation but then something stops him. He remembers being a little kid, dipping apple slices in honey and chasing his mama around the house with sticky fingers.

“Alright I’ll go.”

And he does.
And he loves it.

He starts going to Hillel with Holster after that, and sometimes Jack tags along, sometimes so does Shitty. And in his Sophomore year, Nursey comes along with, and then his junior year comes Tango.

He makes matzo ball soup by the barrel, and re-learns the prayers for the Shabbat candles.

But it’s in his freshman year that he goes home for Winter break and pulls out the old Star of David ornament and puts it on the tree.

He asks his mom if he could help light the Chanukah candles and she looks shocked at first, but then she smiles and says “of course sweetheart.”

Later he hands her a present. It’s a long and thin box wrapped in silver paper with a little blue bow on top.

She takes it from his hand carefully, like its a shard of glass or something.

She opens it and It’s a silver mezuzah cover.

It’s a fresh start.

We have all seen this film. The Noble Gentile in Nazi Germany is so terribly, terribly moved by the plight of the Jews- perhaps he rescues one, a girl. Perhaps they fall in love. (The girl cannot rescue herself- all Jews were unconcerned by the Shoah, or perhaps unable to help themselves without the aid of the Noble Gentile. The film isn’t about her, anyway. It’s about the Holocaust, but it isn’t about Jews. Not really.)

Perhaps, at some point in the film, the Noble Gentile will make a thoughtful remark on the ‘real’ Holocaust- this may be a sweeping statement on technology, or environmentalism, or anything but Jews and Roma. The girl will nod thoughtfully at this wise statement, perhaps readying herself for decades of being rhetoric, a metaphor.

It is Not Allowed for the film to end with the girl making aliyah- although the unnamed girl is fleeing a genocide, this may polarise the audience, and we don’t want to lose sales. If she moves to America, she will be welcomed with open arms. We can lie to ourselves for the sake of narrative. It’s okay.

The girl has no agency. The girl has no narrative. The girl is a prop for the Noble Gentile’s pain- the goyim suffered, don’t you know! The girl barely exists.

Q&A religion

yourbitchystudentcollector said:Hello Ms. Clare I’m a big fan and I was wondering 2 things. Does shadowhunter culture change depending on the area, like east african shadowhunters having a different culture than American shadowhunters. And a while ago you answered someone saying that there couldn’t be any muslim shadowhunters because of shadowhunter culture, but what about mundanes who became shadowhunters? like how Simon is still Jewish even though he is now a shadowhunter.


Shadowhunters live all around the world, and as such, their culture is absolutely shaped by the mundane cultures that surround them. Quoting an earlier post on the subject: 


“The thing is, Shadowhunters have their own religion. They worship Raziel, and as such, they can’t be Muslim or Catholic or belong to other religions the way mundane humans can. However, they do live spread out across a world that contains many different beliefs, and bits of regional culture do bleed over into the lives of the Nephilim. Jem speaks often of beliefs (reincarnation, the Wheel of Life) that are specific to Buddhism. Though Cristina prays to the Angel Raziel literally, there is a lot about her beliefs that is tinged with Catholicism and echoes of the culture she grew up around. So in essence, Cordelia and her family have absorbed some of the surrounding culture and religion, like Jem did when he was growing up in Shanghai.”

Humans who ascend are in a different position, since they bring their own beliefs and identities with them, however they are expected to worship Raziel as their creator and prophet, which essentially contradicts pretty much every existing human religion (which is why I said that there weren’t really Muslim or Christian Shadowhunters — because being a Shadowhunter and believing their beliefs is often not compatible with other religions, and since those religions are part of mundane culture and they are forbidden mundane culture — well, you can see the issue.) Simon is not willing to give up his Jewish identity, so he’s essentially flying under the radar and working at the rather complicated process of reconciling his Judaism with what he thinks about Raziel, angels and the Shadowhunters. 


Other ascendents have done this as well— retained, reconciled and adjusted their own beliefs and practices even after they ascend. Like Simon, they generally try to keep a low profile around their beliefs, since they could technically get in trouble for acting on them in a way that seems to contradict belief in Raziel — and like Simon, they’ve usually developed something of a hybrid religion, a way to make their beliefs and Shadowhunter beliefs compatible. You’ll definitely hear more about Simon’s experiences and where he is with his Judaism in Queen of Air and Darkness, and with Cordelia’s mother in TLH, you will see a character whose life is deeply inflected by Muslim culture as well as Shadowhunter belief.

Writing gay romance between Jewish characters with two differing levels of observance

I’m writing (or, right now, more planning/outlining, with occasional writing of small scenes that I can’t get out of my head) a novel about two Jewish men who fall in love in a very Xtian, conservative town. The older of the two (late thirties) is more closeted, reclusive, and is somewhat separated from his Jewish identity as a result of a combination of assimilation and intermarriage further back in his family. The main character (mid-late twenties) on the other hand is very involved with his synagogue, works at a Hebrew summer camp, keeps shabbos, etc.

My issue is that I’m very observant (conservaform) and so is my family; I know a few folks who go to my synagogue who are “high holy day Jews”, or might also come for a wedding or bris or bar/bas mitzvah, but not many who are non-observant to the degree of this character (hasn’t set foot in synagogue since being a child, didn’t have a bar mitzvah, has a pair of somewhat observant grandparents and some cousins/etc who are observant, but most of his immediate family isn’t observant). So I’m not sure how to portray the secondary character without someone going “why not just write a Jewish guy in love with an Xtian guy” or something, because even if his relationship to Judaism and Jewish culture are somewhat distant, they’re still there. I’m also afraid that someone is going to say “why are you bashing Xtianity” about some of the subject matter (as someone who has lived in a small town, I have a decent bit of material from personal experience on Xtian antisemitism), but really the main point is that I want to portray two Jewish men loving each other.

I want to write this but don’t want goyim in particular to try to argue that I should have just made my MC’s romantic interest Xtian in the first place, because one main theme I want to explore, which I haven’t seen explored much in fiction, is being gay and Jewish. Specifically, one concept I had for the second character is how his being closeted comes largely from a place of being raised in a Xtian-secular household in a very Xtian town, and homophobia being very religiously where he lives, and so him sort of being reluctant to explore religion at all; but then seeing how the MC is Very Jewish and somewhat-openly gay, and feeling both nostalgic for the parts of his grandparents he sees in the MC (speaking Yiddish, cooking traditional Ashkenazic food), as well as longing to be as comfortable with both his sexuality and to have a relationship with G-d as the MC does.

I don’t know if this is a weirdly specific character/plot concept, but it just came to me I guess and it’s been at me long enough that I’ve started to try to outline writing it. I just want to see more gay fiction with religious, specifically Jewish, characters. Thanks for any advice you can give.

Thank you for submitting a question so close to my heart! Looks like I need to break this down into several parts: 

1. How to portray secular Jews as something distinct from Christians, secular or otherwise - this may not be as hard as you think it is because you’re Jewish and your factory settings, your defaults, your unexamined ideas, may already be different from the Christians around you. Like, I was in my 30’s before I found out that gentiles don’t do the chair dance. I thought everyone did that. Give The Upside of Unrequired by Becky Albertalli (review here) a read – her main character tells the audience that “we’re the kind of Jewish family who eats bacon” and religion itself isn’t really a presence in her life, but she still finds it meaningful that the boy she’s working with at her new job turns out to be a fellow Jew.

Other possible markers of secular Jewishness:

  • Finding Jewish representation/acknowledgment of our existence in fiction (or the Jewishness of celebrities) meaningful
  • Casual use of the most common Yiddishisms (maybe not entire curse phrases, but, like, using the word ‘kvetch’ in ordinary conversation)
  • General feeling of alienation or otherness around super overt displays of Christianity
  • Foods like matzo ball soup or latkes (for your Ashkie characters, anyway; this might be different for other subgroups of us.) 

In my new release Knit One, Girl Two, the main character Clara is a secular Jew and one of the details I used to illustrate that is that her first kiss involved sneaking off with another girl during a friend’s bar mitzvah reception. She also refers to her grandparents as Bubby and Zayde and has strong opinions about which Jewish foods she does and doesn’t like. She’s slightly awkward around the love interest’s higher level of observance, which is something secular Jews might feel out of self-consciousness—if the character cared. A secular Jewish person and a gentile person don’t approach an observant Jewish person’s observance in the same way. The gentile may misunderstand or have misconceptions; the Jewish person might feel self-conscious for not participating. Or feel nostalgic for observant people in their past (like “oh, my grandma used to –!”) 

2. How to portray your own marginalization without sounding like you’re bashing the privileged group. Now, you’re not really obligated to watch out for the feelings of a group that has hurt you by having power over you… but at the same time I 100% understand not wanting to step on toes just to save your own peace of mind. Some suggestions for this:

  • Having some of the Christians in the town be nice, but powerless to stop the jackwagon ones.
  • Flat-out having your character say “I’m not mad at Christianity; these people don’t even seem like they’re following Jesus in the first place”
  • Cut down on the more painful elements and focus on your main characters’ reactions to their hurt rather than describing the bigotry itself. That will cut down on how much your bigoted characters hurt your RL readers, so they’ll be mad at them for your main characters’ sake but not for their own sake and it’ll give them a little distance. (Example: “OMG, I can’t believe how much of a jerk Todd was being, saying all that garbage about Jews and gay people.” Instead of “Todd walked into the room and shouted that Jews are X and gay people are Y!”)
  • Try to cut down on having the most bigoted characters belong to groups marginalized along another axis. You’re going to perpetuate fatphobia if your most bigoted character is also your only fat character, and if I were reading this story I’d be uncomfortable if the homophobic/antisemitic characters were Black unless a Black author was writing it because from a white pen this could easily be read as blaming those two -phobias on Black people instead of white supremacy where it belongs. 

3. I don’t think you’re going to get “you might as well have made him Christian” coming from outsiders because you’re a Jewish person writing Jewish characters. Just speaking from personal experience.. In any case, a secular Jewish character is not a Christian character. Sometimes they can come off that way when gentiles write them, because they won’t know what kind of details to add to make their being Jewish not seem arbitrarily pasted on, but I doubt that would happen from a Jewish writer. 

4. “One main theme I want to explore, which I haven’t seen explored much in fiction, is being gay and Jewish.” 

I have several recommendations for you! 

First of all, Jordan S. Brock’s just come out with a m/m novel called Change of Address based on her own experiences with PTSD and a service dog—it’s even dedicated to the service dog. Like her, the love interest is a Jewish adoptee, and the character’s observance mirrors her own – he and his father don’t allow bacon in the house but they’ll eat pepperoni as long as it’s somewhere else, for example. 

Out of print but easy to find in libraries through ILL is The Dyke and the Dybbuk, Ellen Galford’s paranormal f/f comedy about a demon who possesses a Jewish lesbian cab driver and makes her get a crush on an Orthodox woman as a prank. (Review)  

I also collected this list of free queer Jewish SFF short stories, which includes nonbinary representation. As far as my own works go, I really tried to infuse the Tales from Perach collection with all the joy and gratefulness both Judaism, Jewishness, and queerness have brought to my life – there’s a lesbian’s grateful prayer of thanks for her relationship with her wife, an elderly trans woman and her husband attending services, and a royal family with two moms and two dads putting on an exceptionally lavish Purimspiel that includes a scripted swordfight. 

I’m glad you’re writing something to add to this and expand the body of LGBT Jewish literature, especially something where both members of the couple are Jewish.

–Shira

this was such an entertaining read!!! ​all I do is complain and it’s great to have a cultural excuse that goes back for centuries. this book made me love the tribe even more and realize that the jewish culture and experience is so eerily similar despite regional differences.

The Prince of Egypt (problem number 1)

Someone asked me (in person) what I think was the worst injustice in the movie “the Prince of Egypt”, and my answer is going to sound weird at first, but once you hear the explanation, maybe it will make more sense.

My answer is, they robbed the leader of the jewish people of his jewish education and Pharaoh’s daughter of her jewish identity.

Moses (Moshe in hebrew) did not grow up thinking he was an Egyptian. Not remotely. When Yocheved (his mother) put him in the basket on the river, Miriam followed the basket, until it reached Pharaoh’s daughter, whose name was Batya. Now, Pharaoh’s daughter wasn’t just coming down to the river to bathe herself. It’s explained specifically in Tractate Sotah (in the talmud) that she came to ritually immerse herself in order to convert to Judaism. I’ll say it again, Pharaoh’s daughter was converting to Judaism when she found Moshe. Miriam knew this, and went up to Batya and asked her if she needed a jewish caretaker to help her raise the baby and give him a jewish education. After Batya agreed, Miriam brought Yocheved, Moshe’s own mother, to raise her own son in her own jewish household (until about age 5-6 when he went to go stay by Batya in the house of Pharaoh). Moshe always knew he was jewish! His mother was jewish, his foster mother (Batya) was also jewish. He always knew his sister Miriam, and his brother Aharon.

So as a side point - if that’s the case, why did Pharaoh agree to let his daughter raise a jewish baby as her own? He came up with a test to figure out if this baby boy was wise and power hungry (and thus a threat to his own son). He placed in front of Moshe a bowl of gold, and a bowl of burning coals, and if he reached for the gold, he was a concern, and if he reached for the coals, he would be safe to keep in his house. An angel took hold of Moshe’s hand and put it in the coals, after which Moshe put his hand in his mouth, burning his tongue, and giving him a speech impediment that would plague him until the last 40 days of his life (something else they conveniently left out of the movie). Because Moshe couldn’t speak clearly, he had to bring Aharon with him as a spokesman when he spoke to Pharaoh - the arrangement sort of that Moshe would whisper it to Aharon, and Aharon would relay to Pharaoh what Moshe intended to say. So in addition to the gross inaccuracy of the movie in general, those of you who make a big deal about Ableism by movie makers doing away with character disabilities. Here is an example of a real historical figure who had a REAL speech impediment that makes a big difference in how Moshe should have been communicating. Why do you remain silent? Please reblog this, thanks.

One thing that especially bothers me about the Chicago D*ke March is the implication that LGBT Jews merely existing is inherently pinkwashing. It politicizes LGBT Jewish identities by stating that all LGBT Jews exist to distract people from the Israel/Palestine conflict. And that is entirely antisemitic and a gross misrepresentation of LGBT Jews.