Mini Documentary: Judaism and Race (2006)


Judaism and Race is a mini-documentary directed by Avishai and Shari Mekonen and executive produced by Be'chol Lashon, featuring community leaders Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, Rabbi Capers Funnye, Rabbi Manny Viñas, and Professor Ephraim Isaac, among others. It explores Jewish diversity and challenges conventional ways of representing ethnicity in the United States today by presenting personal stories of people struggling to reconcile multiple identities. We are led on the journey by Ethiopian-Israeli co-director Avishai Mekonen, who sets out to find and connect with other racially, ethnically and culturally diverse Jews (Jews of color) throughout the United States and Israel seeking answers to the questions: What is the history of Jewish diversity? Who is a Jew, really? Who decides who is an “official” Jew? How do the multiple identities of Jews of color speak to issues of dual identities of all kinds? Ultimately, the stories of the people in Judaism and Race shatter many assumptions about the intersection of race and religion while they illuminate both universal and contemporary concerns of dual identity and the human need for visibility and connection.

Museum Exhibit
Judaism and Race was included in an exhibit curated by the The Jewish Museum in New York featuring ten commissioned photography, video, and multimedia installation projects by thirteen artists. Rather than offering familiar stereotypes, these works raise thought-provoking questions about Jews as well as America's multicultural society in general. They encourage the viewer to consider: What is Jewish? What is multiculturalism? What is photography? By collaborating with their subjects through a variety of means, the artists in this exhibition have pushed the limits of traditional documentary, artistic and aesthetic approaches to investigate the nature of photographic media and its ability to create truthful representations. Following the exhibition at The Jewish Museum in New York (September-January 2006), the exhibit also traveled to the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles (March-August 2006), then the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco (October-April 2007).

In the News
Jewish News Weekly
New York Times
Village Voice

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