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Black, Gay, And Jewish: Passover Lamb And Sweeping Statements

By Erika Davis
Published: April 15, 2011

My culture is black and queer while my religion is Jewish. This is not to say that they cannot coexist. To some Jews that I meet whose culture differs from my own, it becomes an issue of Iím wrong and they are right. This happened most recently with an acquaintance, who happens to be a lazy Jew. When I say ďlazyĒ I mean heís not observant. This is not to say that an observant Jew isnít lazy, itís just that New Jews tend to be more observant than your average secular Jew because weíre knee deep in Judaism. This argument can be saved for another time.

Just for clarification hereís a list of things that are not Jewish. 1. Jesus (as Godís son) 2. The Pope 3. Easter 4. Christmas 5. Bacon 6. The New Testament

On the contrary, things that are Jewish are vast and varied based on location, culture, and tradition. One of the reasons that my connection to Judaism is heavily leaned towards the spiritual and religious aspect as opposed the culture of Judaism is because some people cannot get past the fact that their Jewish culture is not the Jewish culture. This fact was made perfectly clear when I was telling this particular person what I would be serving for Pesach. I got to the part where I was telling him that I would be roasting a lamb and he interrupted me by saying, ďYou canít serve lamb at Passover!Ē Funny, thereís a lamb bone on the Seder plate and in temple times there was a paschal lamb. Not to mention that the Angel of Death passed over the homes of Jews during the last plague because of the lambís blood. I amused him, though, and asked why he felt lamb couldnít be served for Pesach. He didnít have a definitive answer except to say that itís not what you eat on Passover. Then sealed the deal (and an invite to my Passover table) by saying no one in his family would eat lamb.

Huge statement, right? Not everyone likes lamb. I realize this which is why Iíll have a fish option and another meat option. But to say that no Jew eats lamb on Pesach is absurd. Surely the Jews of ancient Israel were eating lamb and Jews in the Middle East today eat lamb. According to the Pesach menus suggested in my 3 Sephardic/Israeli cookbooks there are Jews today that eat lamb for Pesach. I will be one of them.

Hearing sweeping ďJewish StatementĒ like his is nothing new to me. Itís not the first time that Iíve been told that who I am and what I am isnít really Jewish. It has become so frequent that Iíve gotten used to it, which is bullshit. As a rule, I donít put up with bullshit so instead of keeping closed mouthed I told this person that while their Jewish culture differed quite drastically from mine, I would be serving lamb at my Seder table and that my Seder would be Jewish. Middle-Eastern and Sephardic with hints of Southern American, Ashkenazi and African American stables but most definitely Jewish. The fact of the matter is there are thousands of Black Jews, Latino Jews, Asian Jews and Gay Jews too. Weíre all Jewish and how we Jew is just as Jewish as how you Jew-even if itís different.

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