Grappling With Today’s Realities From a Black-Jewish Perspective

Grappling With Today’s Realities From a Black-Jewish Perspective

Jewish Exponent: What it Means to be Jewish in Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

David A. Love

The author with his wife, Sarah Katz, and son, Micah.

As an African-American who is a member of the Jewish community by choice — and is also raising a Jewish child of color — I have a unique experience. And yet, I view my experience as part of the future direction of the diaspora. My link to Judaism involves multiple identities, a passion for social justice and a commitment to nonviolence.

I had my first experiences with the Jewish community while growing up in the Laurelton section of Queens, N.Y., in the 1970s and ’80s. The community had several synagogues, which I occasionally visited with my friends. In addition, the house in which I was raised had a mezuzah in the front door, left from the previous family who had lived there — a foretelling of what was to come, perhaps?

At Harvard College, I studied the Holocaust and genocide with Erich Goldhagen, a Holocaust survivor. Later at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, under the late Harry Reicher, I researched the Nuremberg Laws and their connection to the Jim Crow segregation laws in the American South.

When I married my wife, Sarah Katz, we became members of Mishkan Shalom in Roxborough, marking the beginning of my introduction into the Jewish community. Mishkan is home because of its progressive social values. It has provided an open and welcoming environment for us — particularly an “outsider” such as me — and interracial and interfaith families. When we sat shiva for our first son, Ezra Malik, who was stillborn six years ago, the congregation wrapped themselves around us…

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