Sunday, July 01, 2007

From the "All roads lead to Rome" department

I just spent a few years waiting for the bus, moving stuff from the old place to the new one, NYC-grad-student style. The other people waiting for the bus were a large group of people, two women, a few girls, and one little boy, the adults scolding the children in ways that suggested the ties must be familial. All the women were wearing long denim skirts. Being presumptuous, I figured that because the family was black, they were not Hasidic Jews. But then I noticed that the whole group, the women, girls, and boy, all had little tassels, two on each side, hanging from the bottom corners of their shirts. That, and one girl's "Shma Yisrael Picnic" t-shirt, suggesting something Hebraic. If that didn't confirm things, the kids were asking the adults what they were allowed to eat in a Dunkin' Donuts, and had a good laugh over the idea that coffee might contain pork. I couldn't help thinking of the time in Chicago when I spent only a couple of years waiting for the bus with a very blond Mennonite family, which I also found intriguing; I think before then I had no idea who the Mennonites were, and if you asked me today...

So of course I had to Google this, but what exactly is this? I've heard of Black Hebrews or Black Israelites, but am iffy on the details, and again, this may have been something else entirely. Maybe this group of people happens to like tassels and long denim skirts, but dislike pork. But in any case, what I found, in my three minutes of research, is a page explaining that some of those commonly thought to be Jews are not Jews, that Jews are never of European descent, that the real Jews "are today being ignorantly called: Hispanics, Indians, Blacks, Gypsies, Moors, Sephardim, and Aborigines." So there is a belief system under which I am a "shiksa," which is amusing enough in itself, but the reason for this post is that this web page beings with a discussion of, among others, Bernard Lazare. Which establishes once and for all the universality of "19th-20th Century French Jews" as a topic of study.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're also a gentile in Utah.