Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

Barack Obama’s Rabbi

The New York Times report on “Barack Obama’s Rabbi”, Capers Funnye Jr., suggests that Obama has been hiding this connection and neither assertion is true. Having known Rabbi Funnye for years, I thought that a few things should be clarified. For Starters, he is not Obama’s Rabbi. Not that he could not be – Funnye is smart, funny, compassionate and a true community leader. In short, he has all of the personal skills and sensitivities that one looks for in a religious leader. But he has not played that role for either Senator Obama, or for Michelle to whom Rabbi Funnye is related. In fact, he is not even a member of a group calling itself Rabbis for Obama, which is sponsoring a pre-Rosh Hashanah conference call for Rabbis and the Senator later this week.
But it’s the claim that Obama was hiding something that is most troubling, despite there being no evidence that he did so. It’s troubling because it’s plausible that Obama would need to hide his connection to Rabbi Funnye, given some of the painfully pathological relationships that exist between some segments of the Black and Jewish communities on the one hand, and the attitude of Jews to Jews who may not look like them on the other.
The rising tensions between elements of the Black and Jewish communities are no secret, and in the case of Obama, are typified by his relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The fact is that the relationship between these two communities was cemented for generations by a shared sense of victimhood. And as each group began to compete for the mantle of most victimized, relations were strained to the breaking point. In the worst cases, each group identifies their former allies as perpetrators of the victimization e.g. the number of blacks who believe that “Jews run this country” and the number of Jews who still think that Barack Obama is a Muslim/Muslim sympathizer who hates Israel.


And while one might think that having a rabbi would dispel some of the latter’s baseless suspicion, one would be wrong. Why? Because, for many Jews, Cappers Funnye Jr. can’t be a rabbi because he doesn’t look like a rabbi, he’s black. Guess what? We come in every color! In fact, if racial purity was an issue, then I suspect that most of those reading these words would not qualify as Jews. Since most of us are probably relatively white and European looking, and Abraham and Sarah were from the Middle East, other people must have gone swimming in our gene pool. Go figure.
I would love for Barack Obama to have a rabbi. I would like him to have a few. Just as I hope that he would have pastors, imams and spiritual teachers from many traditions. And I think it would be quite interesting for Cappers Funnye to be one of them. But even more than that, I would love to wake up and find that hiding that fact was not even imaginable given the strength of the relationships between the black and Jewish communities. And that’s something that we can all work on, regardless of who becomes the next President, what faith we follow, or the color of our skin.

  • Giora

    The US Jewish population can be broken into several groups. Two of the most dominant of them are:
    Lake Side Liberals also known as Limousine Liberals.
    Religious Jews.
    Lake Side Liberals like to pretend they are feeling the pain of the black population yada yada yada yet they tend to support the Democratic cause and Obama’s camp.
    Religious Jews are in more complex:
    * They won a life achievement award as the Ultimate Victim of the World. Obama’s skin color is a living reminder others suffered too.
    * They love the Chiwawa Machismo of the Republican Party foreign policy (Backed by no action – see Georgia)
    * They are consumed by their self image of the week diaspora Jew to an extent they will support any bully who is against the Muslims regardless of place and cause since they think it helps Israel (hint, it does not). Oh and I forgot to mention any distinction between Muslims and Arabs is foreign to them.
    Is it any wonder Obama is walking on eggs with this issue?

  • jestrfyl

    What better name for a Rabbi than Funnye!!! Is this really his name? WOW! Pleae tell me he is not like a bald man named “Curly” or a big man named “Tiny” – or a certain Biblical son named “laughter” who was humorless and easily duped.
    As a former community organizer (my current favorite t-shirt is “Jesus was a community organizer; Pilate was a governor”) and a product of the UCC, I am sure Obama realizes the importance of connections with all sorts of groups. So seeking out the wisdom and advice of a rabbir, especially one with a family connection, would only make sense. Seeking out a Rabbi named Cappers Funnye strikes me as inspriration.

  • chaim baruch-chaim

    Rabbi Funnye’s first name is Capers, as Rabbi Hirschfield typed in his first paragraph, not Cappers, as typed in the later paragraphs. His congregation’s website is:

  • Matthew Robinson

    it’s like Hilary
    he is letting this story go and trying to make tenuous ties to a rabbi to pander to Jewish voters
    the bottom line is he is an opportunist (like Hilary and Kerry) who will do what it takes to be popular and get votes
    that he is even entertaining the option of speaking to known terrorist supporters who want to destroy Israel with “no preconditions” is absurd and frightening
    the other option may not be perfect (esp to the more socially liberal of us) but at least we know where it stands

  • sara

    I am a practicing Jew, over 65, a woman who marched with Abraham Heschel and Martin Luther King AND I would stand with and vote for Obama for President because of the policies on our economy, health care and hope for a new foreign policy. I say this both loving the United States and Israel. sara

  • Scott

    The financial markets are disintegrating due to massive incompetence and corruption, and we’re supposed to give a tinker’s D– about a rabbi twice removed on his wife’s side?
    Perhaps Rabbi Nero has some other tunes he’d like to fiddle

  • Ruvain

    Scott’s a little harsh, but on the other hand, it does seems that right now there are more pressing topics. How about Justice?
    The Nationalization of AIG did seem the right thing to do. They had to know that these loans were fraudulent. Maybe the average Joe has no way to know, but it’s the world’s largest insurance company. Didn’t it notice that Countrywide and others were selling more mortgage loans than people buying homes? AIG insurers homeowners. Surely it had some idea how many legitimate home owners there were in Southern California. Thus, when AIG asked for a bailout, the government nationalized the company by taking an 80% shareholder interest. That seems just. Now the taxpayers, who were to be the patsies for AIG who was ripping them off, are the owners of that company. That seems just.
    The downside is that it is unconstitutional (like that ever bothered the GOP) and the government is a 1,000 times more inept at running a business than Wall Street.


    I gather this is the Rabbi of a small Jewish black congregation. Yes I know that you are supposed to use the term African American but if you are not of African but of say Jamacian or other descent it would not apply and I do not know where the congregants ethnic backgrounds come from nor does THAT matter to me.
    I wish the congreagation and their Rabbi the best.
    However we have many more pressing issues these days and this is not one of them.
    there is a term used where someone has person they listen to a lot and can be referred to as-someone has been listening to their “rabbi” again. No need for the person to be any special religon.
    In fact you hear about a fighter listening to his or her “rabbi” meaning the manager.
    just a fyi

  • stewart perry

    I do not understand the black community’s hostility to we Jews. We were there marching for them at the time there were demonstrations in the South. Some of our people were murdered supporting blacks trying to gain equality in the South. The blacks have never to my knowledge rallied against anti-semitism. And they are hostile to us because why?

  • James Mc

    I am an African-American that was raised in large Jewish community on Long Island, NY. I love and respect all God’s children, I am also going to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur. I will stand up for any anti-semitism anywhere and anytime.
    James Mc

  • Ruvain

    Justice? Maybe Rabbi Nero (to borrow a term) should pay attention to who’s screwing whom and I don’t mean in the Paris Hilton sense.
    One example: The Hartford has lost 44% of its value in the last 12 months and isn’t paying claims in a fair and honest manner. The CEO is Ramani Ayer and here are 4 of insider stock transactions.
    2-27-08 Sold 100,203 shares @$76/share for income of $7,615.428
    2-27-08 Bought 100,203 shares @34/share at cost of $3,406,902
    2-27-08 Net Profit for one day . . . . . . . . . . . . . $4,208,526
    4-30-08 Sold 40,000 shares @71.99/sh for income of $2,879,600
    4-30-08 Bought 40,000 shares @34/sh at a cost of $1,360,000
    4-30-08 Net Profit for one day . . . . . . . . . . . . . $1,519,000
    TOTAL Net Profit for just two days . . . . . . . . . . $5,728,126
    Remember Ayer ended up with the same number of shares as when he began. Who said you can’t have your cake and eat it too?
    HIG stock value yesterday $51.36.
    Thus, we have the top insider making $5.7 Million in two days as his mismanagement causes the company’s stock to sink 44%

  • Shana Bellin

    I have a question. Do blacks today acknowlege that the civil rights movement was led arm in arm by black leaders and men and women who were, to my recollection, predominantly white and Jewish? I am 75 years old, white and Jewish and remember it well. It brought out the best in us as human beings. In spite of the hatred and antipathy of some blacks towards us today, the success of the civil rights movement remains one of our finest hours, Blacks and Jews alike. I thank G-d that it has opened the door to the possibility of America having its first black president in Barack Obama.

  • Scott

    Maybe you should ask someone who’s Black
    You had to waste your time on The Harford when you could have done AIG? They’re the ones that went bottoms up. How’d you get this Hartford data? Are you an insider with beef?

  • Lucy Silver

    All said is fine, except do not even pretend that Obama knows or understands anything Jewish. His life experience has been broad. He was born and raised the son of a white woman who had had a brief enconter with an African. He lived in Hawaii, Indonesia, attended Muslim schools with a Muslim step-father, and was basically guided by his mother’s WHITE family. His exposure to Jews has been non-existent, even at Harvard. Despite his WHITE upbringing, he felt ill at ease in a totally white world, and married a sister. He is not a bro. The only reason he is where he is now is because he escaped the “African-American” label–until the election. He is FAR MORE white than black.
    All of the Civil Rights cooperation has gone down the tubes, and Obama is not a product of that fight.

  • Karen

    In response to Shana’s question. Yes many black people are aware that the Jewish community supported the Civil Rights movement.. Obama also highlighted this fact in one of his speeches early this year. I believe Barack Obama is a unifier. He will bring this country together not keep it divided along racial lines. For those who say he is not black enough that statement is false. He is a black man he has been subjected to alot of racism in this election and he has chosen to downplay that to keep the election focused on issues that affect everyone across the board. The most recent attack was by a group sponseredby Focus on the Family which featured Obama on a box of waffles wearing a turban saying point the box to Mecca when eating. That was disturbing and very divisive. People who call themselves christians should not use lies and smears. Vote according to what each candidate’s position on the issues and leave all the baggage of racism, sexism and ageism behind. God Bless all

  • Scott

    Back to the justice thread.
    maybe Rabbi Nero would be so kind as to pen an essay that when corporations request a taxpayer bailout, each executive who made money by buying and selling company stock while the company was no the skids must repay all their income from their stock manipulations.
    What does the Talmud says about goniffs keeping their booty while innocent by-standers bear the losses?

  • scott

    typo! It should have been, “. . . while the company was on the skids” and not “no the skids”

  • Anonymous

    1. Funnye is supposed to be the rabbi of an Ethiopian congregation, yet clearly his is not Ethiopian. This would be like an Ashkenaz leading a Sephardic congregation, or a Sepharad leading a reform congregation.
    2. Whatever religion Obama is today his wife having a distant relative who is a rabbi is irrelevant to the question.
    3. As a politician from Chicago I am sure Obama has more important things to hide than one of his wife’s relatives.

  • Sally Schwartz

    It will come as a surprise to the Pritzker family, with whom Senator Obama takes vacations, to David Axelrod, his campaign manager, to Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, who says he has known and worked with Obama for ten years see — — that Obama doesn’t know any Jews. Get your facts right–Lashon Hora is particularly bad when the evil tongue involves spreading incorrect facts.

  • Lucy

    I had read about Rabbi Funnye a few years ago, before I had heard of Barack and Michelle Obama. My impression of him was positive. It still is. His connection to the Obamas is interesting, if not earth-shakingly important and I am certain they were not “hiding” him. He and Michelle had not seen much of each other since childhood so I doubt they even thought to make a big deal out of it. When I learned of the connection yesterday evening and I did not think twice about it. It is fascinating to think of the road he took to becoming a Jew and a rabbi.
    I disagree with those who chastised Rabbi Hirshfield for choosing such an insignificant topic, rather that something of greater import, such as the disaterous economic situation. How people view each other, judgements, prejudices, attitudes,etc. is actually quite important and probably more up the Rabbi’s alley than numbers in the stockmarket. Plenty is being written about that right now by economists and other financial experts. It is important but most of us do not wish to think about it constantly. As a small business owner, I am well aware of the economic downturn and skyrocketing prices. I just hope that somehow, we can see a turnaround. So far, no one really seems to know just what to do.
    I don’t think Barack Obama has any problem with Jews. I don’t think MOST African-Americans are anti-Semitic. Certainly some are but some of ANY group is going to hold such prejudices. Unfortunately, there are people who will always hold and perpetuate unpleasant steriotypes, sometimes even about their own group! I see it here frequently.
    Anyway, I think the Rabbi’s blog is interesting and usually enjoyable to read. He usually gives me something to think about, or makes me see something differently, even if I don’t agree. I won’t complain about that!
    Lucy G.

  • Merrily

    I wish I didn’t have to hear this. I don’t think I have heard one word from Sen. John Mc Cain about race. It actually started with Barack.It actaully started with his comment about his picture on a dollar bill.
    What is the matter with people. I am not voting for Barak because he is black and I am not a socialist or a communist.

  • Anonymous

    What concerns me with Obama is the Muslim influence his father had on him. Obama did go and listen often to Rev. White’s bashing and cursing America. That I LOVE. Muslims teach there children at an early age to hate AMERICA and our FREEDOM. (911)
    So what did Obama learn from his Muslim father? To listen an be-friend people like Rev. White on Sunday bashing and cursing America. Yes you can say it matters not what his parents did. I know very much how parents influence there children I am one. So the facts are still that Obama listened to the terrible things Rev. White said about America. They should leave this Great Nation and live some where else if they feel that hostile toward America.
    No Way would I vote for Obama.
    Great People like George Washington would be amazed that Obama was ever in the running for President of America.
    In God We Trust and pray for the future President to know and worship the Prince of Peace.
    May God Bless America always.

  • Wallace Brand

    In the 1960s there was a schism in the black church. Many left community with integrationist, nonviolent Martin Luther King and became separatists, afro-centrics,and other forms of isolationist. Many went to Islam and some to Judaism. Not all of those who went to Judaism are real Jews. Some are just pseudo Jews. That is not to say that there are no black Jews. Many were rescued by the Israelis from Ethiopia. Rabbi Funaye of the Black Hebrews just doesn’t happen to be one of them. He is converted from the Christian faith as are many or perhaps all in his congregation.
    I am very surprised that the Obama campaign has now raised issues of the religious beliefs of Governor Palin. I am also surprised that “Black Liberation Theology” is not already a matter of national debate.
    I think the biggest problem Obama and his wife Michelle have ahead of them is the question of whether they have for 20 years soaked in “Black Liberation Theology” without their spiratual roots being steeped in it. That Trinity United Church of Christ is a church which has adopted “Black Liberation theology” is undisputed. [I was going to cite to a link on the website of Trinity Church that expressly stated that Trinity Church has adopted Black Liberation Theology as the theology of the church, but they have just removed it from their website. However they still sell copies of Cone’s book, “A Theology of Black Liberation (Ethics and Society) and advertise it on their website].
    Black Liberation Theology is not black separatism, but is an afro-centric ideology. Here is what Black Liberation Theology is as defined by two of its principal adherents, Dr. James Hal Cone and Dwight Hopkins:
    “Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us AND AGAINST WHITE PEOPLE, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him.” [my emphasis] “The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community … Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the DESTRUCTION OF THE WHITE ENEMY.” [my emphasis] “What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. “Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love.”
    I am not making this up. This is pretty serious stuff:
    “If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him.” And this: “Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy.”
    So Americans can vote, if they want to, for someone who wants a God who is “against white people” and a God who “participates in the destruction of the white enemy”.
    As someone who is not an Afro-American, I view this with some dismay.
    There is an aphorism that says: “No good deed goes unpunished.” Black Liberation Theology is a theology that hates Jews, not despite their disproportionate help in defending black civil rights such as the help of Schwerner and Goodman who died in Mississippi for black civil rights, but because of it. This is a theology that hates Jews because it has adopted the isolationism of Black Liberation Theology and therefore rejects the notion that the current affluent status of some elitist Afro-Americans is due to anything except Black Power. Why? See: Black Demagogues and Pseudo Scholars, by an Afro American Professor at Harvard, written1992:
    It was published as an op-ed in the NY Times some 16 years ago, long before Obama’s character was in issue. Professor Gates is still at Harvard. Although it focuses on a single book written on behalf of Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam to charge Jews with dominating the slave trade, it discusses the history of the schism in the black church in the 1960s with some remaining true to Martin Luther Kings Clhristian faith of non-violence and integration and others leaving for separationist, afrocentric, and even to the Muslim and Jewish faith.
    When Jeremiah Wright was interviewed on Fox News, Bill O’Reilly attempted to ask him about Black Liberation Theology. He refused to respond until O’Reilly had read the books of Dr. “Hal” Cone or Dwight Hopkins, the foremost promoters of Black Liberation Theology. This raised my interest and I went to where I found one of Cone’s books entitled “The Theology of Black Liberation (Ethics and Society), still advertised and sold by Trinity Church, and two of the interesting reviews of it that follow:
    “Bigotry knows no color, February 22, 2008
    By Haim (NYC)
    If anyone has ever tried to tell you that a black man cannot be as ignorant, racist, and bigoted as a white man, Dr. Cone will prove otherwise.
    Cone tries to blend Christianity, marxism, and islam into some kind of new cosmology, but does not seem to reveal much knowledge of Christianity, marxism, or islam, and he seems to know almost nothing of world history or elementary economics. In a long and highly repetitive diatribe, he does reveal a bred-in-the-bone hatred for all things white and European.
    “A Black Theology of Liberation” has nothing to do with theology or liberation and, one hopes, it has nothing to do with black people.
    I suppose this book is important if you need to know something about the origins of Black Liberation Theology, or if you want to know something about Barrack Obama’s spiritual roots, otherwise this is a sad little book written by a bitter, ignorant man.”
    “Anti-Christian Heresy, October 31, 2005
    By Dad Of Four In Mississippi (Mississippi) –
    There’s not anything theological about this book at all. In fact, it’s not about God, Jesus Christ, Christianity or any other religion. This is nothing more than a hate-mongering diatribe on why blacks should hate whites (and a poorly-written one at that). Here are just a few choice excerpts:
    1. “[W]hiteness is the symbol of the Anti-christ.”
    2. “The goal of black theology is the destruction of everything white, so that blacks can be liberated from alien gods.”
    3. “The black experience is the feeling one has when attacking the enemy of black humanity by throwing a Molotov cocktail into a white-owned building and watching it go up in flames. We know, of course, that getting rid of evil takes something more than burning down buildings, but one must start somewhere.”
    4. “Black theology seeks to analyze the satanic nature of whiteness and by doing so prepare all nonwhites for revolutionary action.”
    5. “We have reached our limit of tolerance, and if it means death with dignity or life with humiliation we will choose the former. And if that is the choice, we will take some honkies with us.”
    6. “To be black is to be committed to destroying everything this country loves and adores.”
    Why anyone, regardless of race, creed, color or even religion would buy this rubbish is beyond me. It’s nothing more than hate-as-theology.”
    Obama has renounced Wright, his former mentor, he has renounced the Trinity Church, but according to the black columnist Erik Rush, he has never renounced Black Liberation Theology and has refused to answer questions about it, even written questions. Now that his campaign has raised questions about Sarah Palin’s faith, would it not be appropriate to raise questions about his faith?
    I have voted for Democratic candidates for President since 1948 (except for Jimmy Carter’s second run) but I will be voting for Senator McCain and Governor Palin this time.
    I grew up in Hollywood in the WWII years, but I live near Washington, DC now.
    Wallace Edward Brand

  • Zvi I Weiss

    I think (for Orthodox Jews) that the issue is not whether Obama’s Rabbi is black but rather (a) was he converted and, if so, was the conversion valid [Remeber Sammy Davis Jr.?), (b) where did he earn his Rabbinic ordination, and (c) what sort of “Jewish values” does this rabbi preach.
    Havin been close to Yemenite and othre Sephardic Jews who clearly do NOT look “white”, I take some exception to the statement about Jews relating to other Jews. I think it is more a matter of how “educated” Jews are in their own Judaism. Rabbi E. Feldman (past Editor of Tradition and Rabbi Emeritus of the largest Orthdox Congregation in Atlanta [where his son is now the Rabbi]) once noted that ther are Jews who would prefer that their children marry non-Jews rather than Chassidim — presumably because a chassid does not “look like” a “contemporary Jew”. Similarly, there are Chassidic groups that will go ballistic if someone “marries out” of their own group — or [horrors!) marries a “litvish” (non-chassidic) person. Thus, the apparent antipathy toward “Jews how do not lok like me” is not necessarly racial/racist at all.
    It is in the above contect that I feel we should look to the issue of “Obama’s Rabbi”. Will Obama learn about Classic Jewish values? Will he understand the dpth of feeling for these values? Will this Rabbi actually convey these values?
    Those are the questions that should be raised…

  • Yoshiyyahu Hoffman

    Sally Swartz and Wallace Brand two great commentations from totally opposite viewpoints! Wow! really refreshing to see! Why? Because when people base their insights and knowledge on actual facts and incidents things relatively look the same from every angle. However when you are basing your view and observations on the leftist and liberal media they are as muany views as their is tiolet seats in a prison facility.
    I know you liberals are grinding your teeth by now, but let me share something with you.
    I grew up in the South, I am Jewish, I am a fifth generation Virginian, and I am proud to be a Jew, and a Southerner. I grew up in the heat of the civil unrest of the sixties. I was taught to treat every man the same regardles of color or religion as long as they conducted themselves in the proper manner. One of my daughters even ask me one time if it would bother me if she married an Eithiopian Jew? My replay was if you can be sure this is HaShems (G-Ds) will for you and he is a good observant Jew, you will have my blessing!
    However when I was growing up we played together both blacks and white, even when the “N” word or “White cracker” was used 99 times out of a hundred it was in a joking manner. Until…….. The civil rights groups showed up! …… then day was no longer day and night was no longer night….. I was no longer welcome to play with my black friends (at the voice of their parents) and and the other children that were not Jewish didnt care for my company either. In short we the Jews of the area I grew up in were marked for helping the blacks receive the rights they had been given and many of the blacks blamed us for not haven reeived all they wanted…. in short not hating anyone but being hated by everyone….. I could type a thousand reasons why people like Obama and this sort really bother me. I will say this the impression that we are prejudice in the South is a Hollywood money maker only. Here were I live we live together and share the same sorrows and happiness, we help each other and we work together and eat together. However I have lived in the North several times and especially in New York City and Chicago and Detroit, there everyother group hates the other….. in short most all of them are prejudice… I guess when everybody hates the other you don’t feel it so much. Because here were I am and where I grew up we didn’t have problems until people who thing they got the answers, came in and stirred things up. The Deomocrats and liberals are the only ones I hear having problems with religion and races anyway as well as making smears against a woman vice president candidate. If this is how they deal with making a campaign I fear to see how they will handle running the country!
    One last comment, it is always true politicians are always everyones friend and have all kinds of associations when they are running for office. However I have my own saying “When can you believe a politican?, When you have shot him in the second knee cap! Because then he has no chance of escaping!” I am not a Republican and I am definitely not a Democrat, and I am not on any mode medication as it appears some are here either and I prefer to deal with realities and not liberals.

  • Leah

    I read all about Michelle Obaqma’s cousin the Rabbi. What I found on the internet is that this group does not pasrticipate in traditional Judaism becuse traditional Jews might not accept them because of their color. Hogwash. People of color have the most complicated and delineated lines of color and consider themselves,according to their shade to be better than others. I am also not sure that this group is different than Jews for Jesus who also come from various backgrounds and do not participate in traditional Jewish seminaries either. Both these groups have Rabbis, consider themselves to be Jewish, or Hebrews, or Israelites, but are prejediced themselves against traditional Jews. Jews accept converts, after turning them away three times, by tradition, study, learning, and other rituals, and are not to question their faith, but accept them as Jews. Thus I do not understand the rhetoric about the prejudice of Jews toward other Jews, regardless of color. The only place this questioning might apply would be from people from remote and non traditional backgrounds with a claim that might be just to emigrate to Israel for a better life.

  • catrachel

    The first poster is way off base. Obama spent one whole month with his father. Furthermore, while there are extremists who are hostile toward the USA there are many very good peaceful people who are thrilled to be able to live in this nation of social peace and plenty.
    Extremists come in many religions and have caused pain and destruction in the name of their narrow interpretation of G–‘s teachings.
    There is the Jewish extremist who murdered Prime Minister Rabin, the Christian extremist who blew up the Oklahoma City Courthouse, and of course the Muslim extremists who perpetrated the attack on 9/11/2001.
    It is extremism that is dangerous, not an entire religion or those who worship within it.

  • Al Eastman

    I’ll believe Barak Hussein Obama has a Rabbi when the name of his Mohel is made public!

  • Niecie

    I am a black woman who is also a practicing Jew. It has been my experience that many African Americans,(not all) just like those of many races, do not understand that Jewish is not a race. It’s a culture; a religious tradition.
    I have been on the receiving end of anti-semitism by my own African American people. Some have made terrible remarks about Jews and they did not even know that I am Jewish also. They become shocked and surprised when I tell them. And they feel very stupid, needless to say appearing quite foolish.
    Being a Jew is not necessarily synonymous with being White. It has nothing to do with race.
    Prejudice is always the result of not being educated, not matter who is doing it.

  • isaiah

    Moses married a black woman! Moses’ wife circumcised her kids(previous wife). Jacob was embalmed by the egyptians.

  • eliyahu aben david

    yes white southern protestant democrats aka the ku klux klan the military wing of the southern democratic party murdered martin luther king jr

  • Natan Or

    First, a little about myself. I am of mixed ethnicities: African, Slavic, and Latin. As I was born in the U.S., I am currently labeled African-American. My father was a non-practicing Catholic whose patrilineal line included Russian Jews who converted to Orthodox Christianity. My mother, the descendant of African slaves, was an ordained Protestant minister. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was taught to choose friends by the content of their character, not their skin color or professed religious beliefs. However, I was also taught that my family was in the minority in this regard and that for the many skin color and religious belief trumped character every time. I attended evangelical Protestant churches until the age of 12 or 13 when I decided that I was unable to embrace the fundamental tenets of Christianity. In college and graduate school developed an interest in anthropology and took courses and, eventually taught, courses in world religions. I attended Muslim Friday prayers with my Arabic language TA, I conducted a research project on African-American female ministers. As a young adult I was moved to convert to Judaism after years of academic study and research into the world’s religions. For me, Judaism was the closet fit to the values I was raised with and the conception of G-d I had arrived at (my youngest sister converted to Islam after a similar spiritual journey). Going in I expected that my former status as a Gentile, my Conservative conversion, and my skin color would create issues of varying import and complexity within the Jewish community. I similarly expected that my embrace of Judaism would create parallel issues in both the African-American and larger American societies to which I already belonged. To my pleasant surprise, my conversion has largely been a positive experience and has afforded me the opportunity to positively serve as a conduit for increased understanding and dialogue.
    Now I would like to address some of the issues I have read in previous posts:
    (1) I have known African-Americans for all of my life (just as I have known Jews, Muslims, whites, Asians, etc), most of whom are Christians. Outside of a few exceptions (so-called Black nationalists, college students developing their identity and questioning the status quo, and out-right bigots – every group has them), I have experienced the Anti-Semitism feared by some of the Jews posting on the internet. Sure I have heard sympathies expressed towards the Palestinians (to a group recalling apartheid and Jim Crow this seems reasonable); I have heard sadness and regret at some the Israeli state’s actions; and consternation at the current state of Black-Jewish relations. I have also heard the belief in Israel’s right to exist and defend itself; recognition and appreciation of the Jewish role in founding Historically Black Colleges and our winning of Civil Rights; and the contributions of the Jewish people to the world at large. To take the ideology and actions of the few as indicative of the whole reminds me so much of the “blind men and the elephant;”
    (2) Regarding Cone’s book, “The Theology of Black Liberation,” I have read the book and quoted from it extensively in my graduate thesis on African-American woman ministers in the Pentecostal Church. I have also read “Is G-d a White Racist,” and several feminist critiques of the Christian church. All of these texts made salient points germane to my research, but I took none as indicative of a gospel to guide my thoughts or actions. Books are published ultimately as commodities to be purchased. As we can intelligently gather from entertainment/sensationalist/fear-mongering nature of our national media, conflict and controversy means profits. Cone’s book emerges out of the Civil Rights movement and post-Civil Rights Black power struggle in the 1970s. Not meaning to diminish at all the socio-political and economic import of the circumstances giving birth to the book, I would argue that its presence in Rev. Wright’s church is more a product of the Reverend’s formative years as a Civil Rights and Black Power activist than a measure of the congregation’s orientation vis-à-vis our current society. In my humble opinion, the book is more about freeing those African-Americans not already enlightened as to how the structures of ideological domination and subordination are maintained, in this case through the Euro-centric constructions of whiteness and “rightness” within Christianity, from self-destructive beliefs and behaviors – than about white people or relations with white people;
    (3) When I attended church, I can honestly say that I listened to a theology I found to be inherently flawed. Nonetheless, there were aspects of the general Christian tenets I found to be universal truths with application to my life. That which I found to be unless, anachronistic, or mythological, I simply failed to absorb or consider further. Family and friends I speak with on these subjects demonstrate similar propensities – they take what they need from their churches and ignore the rest. I have never met a person of Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or other faiths, who uncritically believe every single tenet of their tradition. My Rabbi expresses views at odds with some or more of our congregation: he is sometimes too liberal, sometimes too conservative; he is at once too naïve about the prospects of peace in the Holy Land and again too much of a Zionist; and to others he is too Reform in his views, while others think he succumbs to the tyranny of orthodoxy. Yet we all remain his congregants for our own “selfish” reasons. It is difficult, I understand, for non African-Americans to understand the political role pastor’s play in African-American communities. Politicians understand this, as exemplified by their abjection courting of benedictions and blessings from prominent religious figures. Point to any African-American political figure and there will be some prominent pastor somewhere in their near or far past. I sincerely doubt that any politician can rise to a position representing a political entity of any significant African-American population without cozying up to the local power-Pastor. This rule extends to the Republicans and their constant massing of the Radical Christian right. Politics does indeed make for strange bedfellows and the very nature of our system breeds these unholy couplings of convenience – and destines their eventual divorces. Obama is not alone in having a pastoral albatross in his past – McCain, Hillary, and now Palin have their own; and
    (4) I’m not quite sure when dialogue, diplomacy, sanctions, and coalitions came off the international political table. For the last eight years we have seen the negative effects of the current administration’s “DieHard” and “Rambo II” approach to international affairs. In a world of asymmetrical warfare, dirty nukes, and post-cold war ICBMs stewing in the cholent of economic meltdown, is direct military confrontation the first incendiary candle we want to light? Part of our entrapment in Iraq, and current economic quagmire, is the result of our leadership’s disrespect for dialog and neglect of negotiation. We have neither the economy nor the manpower, much less the mandate, to attack and invade everyone who threatens us. Its ironic that we teach our children that violence of a last resort option of self-defense and advise them to talk out their differences, yet we disparage leaders who hold that the carrot of dialogue should preface the stick of military might.
    It is my opinion that Islam, Hillary Clinton, madrassas, Rev. Wright, flag pins, tangential relationships, and wanting to dialogue with enemies, are all convenient excuses. I recognize that die-hard Republicans will necessarily tow the party line (as will die-hard Democrats), but it is the Democrats who say that they will vote Republican that cause me to cry “For shame!” Rather than honestly say, “I just can’t bring myself to vote for a man of color,” they cloak their bigotry in unsubstantiated pseudo concerns. When their children ask, “what did you do in that critical moment in our nation’s history?” I hope they can honestly say, “I chose the wrong man, at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons. Can you ever forgive me?”

  • eastcoastlady

    I sure don’t understand the harshness of some of the posters here regarding the topic of this article.
    Bruce Feiler recently asked the same question about the number of black Jews. No one railed at him for having posted an “irrelevant” question.
    Rabbi Joshua Nelson, another black man, came and spoke to my congregation one time. It was wonderful. Why not speak to something here regarding one of our POTUS candidates? I bet you’d be interested if it were something a little more controversial.
    If you want strictly financial and political articles, there are plenty of websites you can go to and find talking heads (but you won’t likely find David Byrne…).
    On the other hand, for general interest articles with a religious connection, tune it here, same bat time, same bat channel…

  • Joe

    Natan: THank you for your honest and deep insights into some of the issues as they stand.
    However, I cannot even begin to imagine a two-state solution that will satisfy the Palestinians, and allow Jews to retain access to our Holy Sites.
    Arafat and Abbas, not to mention Hamas, have a “100% or nothing” approach to the issues of Jerusalem and “occupied territory” in Israel.
    If the Arabs get what they demand, the 1967 borders will be re-established. NO JEW WILL BE PERMITTED TO PRAY AT ANY HOLY SITES, including the Kotel, the Western Wall of the Holy Temple. In addition, based on history, it is Arab policy to destroy any remnant of Jewish historical presence in the Middle East, as was done by Jordianians between 1948 and 1967, where Jewish holy sites were turned into toilets and destroyed. Jews could NOT even approach the holy areas under threat of getting shot.
    Mr. Obama believes, perhaps in innocence, that this (a “divided Jerusalem”) is an acceptable solution. He will, of course, be permitted to enter Arab-controlled East Jerusalem, as long as no one in his traveling party is Jewish.
    Anyone who in true decency believes that ALL faiths should be permitted to visit their respective holy sites and pray there, will NOT support a solution where the Jewish people will once again be denied access to our Holy Sites (as we are today, from Joseph’s Tomb, which was destroyed by Palestinians after Israel gave up the site, and Rachel’s Tomb, which must be approached by Jews in armored buses with armed guards, and prayer there requires one take his/her life in their hands).
    As far as Jersualem being an international city, controlled by a neutral force permitting all faiths to pray there, this was categorically REJECTED by the Arabs when proposed in 1947, and they will NOT tolerate such a solution today either.
    The current, continued destruction of the Temple Mount, where Jewish artifacts are being unearthed by the Waqf of the Mount and put into garbage dumps, reflects the Palestinian’s believe that
    Keep in mind that during WWII, the Palestinian leader, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Al-Husseini, spent at least part of the war in Berlin, planning with the German high command, the deportation of Jews from the Middle East, to death camps in Eastern Europe. There was no State of Israel, nor was there “occupied territory” back then.
    I have NOT seen anything in the media the reflects the Palestinians’ desire to live in peace with Jews in the ara. Let them come forth and offer a solution that allows everyone to worship at their holy sites and peace, and let them rebuild Joseph’s Tomb, and not attack Jews who wish to visit those places under Palestinian control, and then we’ll have something to talk about.
    Let the Palestinians’ fellow Arab bretheren, the Saudi oil ministers, who spend their money on gold-plated cars and gold-plated castles, who can’t spend all their billions even if they wanted to, on improving the welfare of their Palestinian bretheren. Let them take the money they give to each homicide bomber “martyr” in Israel, and give it instead to hungry families. Let them convert the refugee camps into attractive villages for their Muslim bretheren to live in.
    Then we could have mutual cooperation and peace in the Middle East.
    Jews have as much right to exist on the Earth as any other nation.

  • Chana Silverman

    Natan Or – your post is too long – next time shorten it – you are smart enough to be brief and still state your points, never the less I enjoyed reading it . You have come home, I am glad you did. (

  • Chana Silverman

    Joe, American Presidents who are not Jewish will not understand what a true Jewish state is so the best we can hope for from our Political leaders here in the U.S. is to continue to support Israel’s right to exist how ever imperfect that existence is. President Bush’es Road Map for peace was terrible and not nearly as pro-Israel as it should have been. I take comfort in knowing the Master of the Universe is on our side. Why do I believe that? – Because I believe the Torah is an inspired document about our relationship with Hashem, and many of the problems we have with our Middle East neighbors began eons ago.
    Muslims do not acknowledge the Torah or any of the Hebrew Scriptures as valid, truthful documents so any thing we say or do will not change there attitude towards us. It is their loss in so many ways and may result in their demise. I continue to pray for peace and hope the Muslim community will evolve into truly spiritual people who love and accept others. If you ever read the poems of Rumi the Sufi Muslim there is hope.
    I do not think the current Palestinian Muslims are truly religious people, but a people locked into a past way of being that has nothing to do with intelligent religious reasoning and are locked into a culture that has rendered them quite nuts. I think their plight is very sad and I wish them no ill and if there is any thing I could do to help them I would do it.(Except give then Israel, of course.) I lament their Arab brothers just use them to torment us; However, I know that they cannot and must not ever be trusted. Shalom

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