Racism and Chinuch: What do we teach our children about diversity?

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  • #607884

    Why do so many frum Jews have issues with RACISM?!?!?!?! When I was in public school, I only had to deal with the fact that my school was 30% Jewish and I was the only frum girl, however, I always was tolerant of other people who were not like me (aside from the significantly large Jewish population, the rest of the school was either Muslim, Hindu, Christian (and many different types of Christian denominations), and other ethnic and religious origins, I would never think to be anti a specific ethnicity.

    Then one day, I decided to go to a Bais Yaakov, I spent the whole year either hearing how we as bais yaakov girls, shomer shabbos Jews, were superior to everyone, even non- religious Jews (my mom and brother are not shomer shabbos and I was in shock that they let me switch there). And now I understand why there are so many frum Jews that feel racism is ok. There is clearly something wrong with our system of chinuch from this aspect. What do you think?

    #929151

    Torah613Torah
    Participant

    I agree with you that racism is wrong. I’m sorry you had such an experience in Bais Yaakov.

    I’m a product of the system and I always winced at these attitudes (and occasionally voiced my disagreement.)

    #929152

    sushee
    Member

    It is absolutely true that yidden are superior. No question about it. We are the am hanivchar. We are the chosen nation.

    #929153

    yytz
    Participant

    Very good question! It should be obvious that any form of racism is against the Torah. It is forbidden to use derogatory names to refer to individuals, so of course it also forbidden to refer to racial or cultural groups in such a manner. It is also an aveira to hurt anyone with words. And we are supposed to judge everyone favorably, and learn from every person (Avos). Don’t despise anyone, since every person has his hour (Avos.)

    This is a very important issue, since for the vast majority of Americans and people in other countries, it is obvious that racism is wrong. So it is a huge chillul Hashem when any frum Jew says or does anything racist. Being non-racist is part of what “derech eretz” entails now. If we want to be a light to the nations we have to abide by the minimal standards of decency of society — and then to show non-Jews that the Torah allows us to go beyond derech eretz and be even better people.

    #929154

    sushee, I hear that. But that doesn’t give us the right to put down gentiles.

    #929155

    akuperma
    Participant

    Of course Yidden are superior. When I was little, and realized that there black Jews, and Asian Jews, and all sort of Jews – I figured out that “race” is totally irrelevent. We all chose to be Jews (note to snotty FFBs, your ancestors were converts). Since it is impossible that blond blue-eyed goyim were superior to dark skinned Jews, racism is obviously absurd from a Jewish perspective.

    Arguing for any sort of racial supremacy implies belief either in the aspects of Darwinian theory (and in particular social darwinism) that reject the possibility of divine creation, or indicate belief in the theory of multiple creations. We have a kaballah that Ha-Shem created all humans, and that the only meaningful distinction is that we chose to accept Torah. The belief that one race is descended from Adam ha-Rishon, and another race from someone else, is pure apikorses.

    #929156

    Torah613Torah
    Participant

    I agree with yytz, but want to add that we should be proud of serving Hashem. That has nothing to do with race.

    #929157

    In yeshivas, Roshei Yeshivos and Rebbeim put down nochrim all the time. I can hear that we shouldn’t say it out loud for obvious reasons, but in essence it is true.

    #929158

    playtime
    Member

    Dear snowbunny3318,

    First of all, your trailblazing desicion to attend Bais Yaakov, even as your family was non-religious, inspires me.

    The bais Yaakovs, and any other Jewish religious schools do not dismiss, much less negate the countless stories in the Torah of equal opportunity. So numerous are the lessons of equality in Chumash alone, that they are always borrowed in Christain parochial schools to teach morals to their own students.

    The Torah calls us “Mamleches Kohanim V’goy Kadosh” – a princly, holy nation above others, and the Gemara expounds on the word “Achicha”, “your brother”, refers to your brother in observance. So the Observing Jew is indeed singlar.

    However, being that we are the Chosen People, we are chosen from on high, and not chosen by the world (In fact, history shows quite the opposite). It is a private singularity.

    Doesn’t every religious peoples view themselves as singular?

    That frum Jews are unnatural at embracing people from outside their creed, is an utmost virtue. It denotes of their sheltered childhood from the influences of gentile culture, and it certainly should not be compromised for ideals of cultural embracement.

    I hope this helped.

    #929159

    The hard part of chinuch today is getting the children to WANT to do the mitzvos and be tzniusdig and i think that the teachers/parents often use the line “we are better than them” to get the children to have a feeling for why we have certain restrictions and the goyim dont. I am not validating this behavior but because i do work in a school setting and hear the issues that arise, I do understand why teachers use this phrase and why they focus on us being the ‘am segulah’ and being a cut above the others.

    #929160

    YehudahTzvi
    Participant

    A point that I feel is being missed is that racism in the frum communities is not only against gentiles. The racism that I have witnessed has largely been directed against fellow Jews who look different than the “norm.” There are Jews of all colors and shades. I would love to see a frum world where parents and teachers tell their children not to stare, mouth agape, at others who look different than them and that “Jewish-looking” does not necessarily mean white.

    #929161

    Curiosity
    Participant

    An Ethiopian Jew or even a black Jewish convert is no less worthy than a vanilla Jew, but that’s not to say that chazal don’t attribute certain characteristics to various races. Chazal very much believe in “stereotypes” – ie: Yishamel being violent, Yisrael being kshei oref, bnei Canaan being better suited for subservience, etc…

    #929162

    benignuman
    Participant

    I too am often bothered by the racism I hear in frum circles. However I think that a distinction needs to be drawn between generalizing about a group (be it racial, cultural, national, political etc.) and judging an individual based on that generalization.

    Every individual is a tzelem elokim and can make free moral choices. It is true however that there are generalization that can be made about groups. The key is not to judge the individual before you based on some characteristic that known about his group in general.

    #929163

    Avi K
    Participant

    Akuperma, am hanivchar does not mean superiority but a special mission. A Jew can rise higher than a Goy but he can also fall lower. It all depends on his individual deeds.

    #929164

    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    Oh. I thought this thread was going to be about racism.

    #929165

    akuperma
    Participant

    Avi K. Correct. Race is defined based on purely physical inherited characteristic based on a common ancestry. For example. sub-Saharan Africans have dark skin. Racism is the belief that such characteristics justify classifying people, assuming their characteristics. For example, someone cited the statement (dictum really) that the Bnei Yismael are violence-prone. But for this to be a racial characteristic (as opposed to a cultural norm), then one would expect Jews descended from Yismaelim to show the characteristic, which isn’t the case. By way on contrast, Black Africans who convert to Judaism still look Black. Believe in “racism” is, as I said, denying both the nature of the Jewish people as the people who chose to accept Torah, and suggests that one doesn’t accept the idea that all Bnei Adam are created in Ha-Shem’s image.

    #929166

    apushatayid
    Participant

    any true concept can be twisted beyond its original meaning. doesnt mean the original concept is wrong. for clarification speak to someone you look up to for guidance.

    #929167

    playtime
    Member

    Talking about racism, I’d like to pay tribute, today, on the anniversary of the icon of racial equality, Martin Luther King Jr. It is a speech that is ranked high up there among that of Socrates in his final parting hour, anomg Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty, or give me death”, Lincols Gettysburg Address, and Reagan’s “Tear down this wall”.

    Here are some exerpts of Martin Luther’s “I have a dream”. Included, are poetic lines from tanach, which Mr. King was fluent in.

    I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

    I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

    I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

    I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

    #929168

    sushee
    Member

    MLK was an anti-semite and a drunk.

    #929169

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    The civil rights movement greatly helped jews.

    Prior to the 1960’s there was much anti-semitism in the US. Jews were not allowed to live and go many places and religious liberty was not really tolerated.

    After the civil rights movement , it became ok and differences were accepted. The laws not only prevented discrimation against race, but also creed. Laws were passed to mandate early friday leaving without penalty. Laws were passed that one could take off Yom Tov. Laws were passed that jews could get any job they wanted (Hollywood was mostly Jewish because that was one of the few jobs jews could get)

    #929170

    gregaaron
    Member

    @zahavasdad:

    Yup, it greatly helped – for about 40 years.

    Then, the country’s collective mindset became that to be Republican is racist, to believe in 7 Mitzvos of B’nai Noach is bigoted, and religious freedom is ironically titled.

    #929171

    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    sushee = Joe?

    Besides, you never responded as per why you won’t help NW by testifying to his innocence. Since I haven’t heard that you will testify, I have no choice but to classify you as an Avaryan.

    #929172

    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    snowbunny3318: The unfortunate answer is that the further you get to the “right”, the more it becomes “us vs. them”. Them can include non-Jews, Jews who are not frum, non-Chassidim/Yeshivish/Yerushalmi, Tzionim, or even anyone not from your specific Chassidus. This has nothing to do with Racism, which while being a problem for RW Yidden in general (just because they believe it is a Mitzva to not do PC, which lumps together respect for other races), it is getting better with more knowledge of Frum Yidden of Color.

    I have heard that in Rabbi Bender’s Yeshiva (which is at the forefront of chinuch in America), they discipline children for using the term “Shvartze”. If only it were true throughout the Yeshiva world.

    #929173

    DaMoshe
    Participant

    gavra_at_work: As someone who learned in R’ Bender’s yeshiva, I can attest to that! I well remember on my first night there (for dormitory orientation), R’ Bender spoke about the security guards who were there for our protection. Many of them were black. He said that if he ever heard anyone saying anything racist about them, there would be immediate consequences, even if it wasn’t said in front of them. He said if he ever heard someone say the “N” word about them, it would mean an immediate expulsion, no questions asked.

    #929174

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    gavra_at_work: As someone who learned in R’ Bender’s yeshiva, I can attest to that! I well remember on my first night there (for dormitory orientation), R’ Bender spoke about the security guards who were there for our protection. Many of them were black. He said that if he ever heard anyone saying anything racist about them, there would be immediate consequences, even if it wasn’t said in front of them. He said if he ever heard someone say the “N” word about them, it would mean an immediate expulsion, no questions asked.

    B’H

    #929175

    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    gavra_at_work: As someone who learned in R’ Bender’s yeshiva, I can attest to that! I well remember on my first night there (for dormitory orientation), R’ Bender spoke about the security guards who were there for our protection. Many of them were black. He said that if he ever heard anyone saying anything racist about them, there would be immediate consequences, even if it wasn’t said in front of them. He said if he ever heard someone say the “N” word about them, it would mean an immediate expulsion, no questions asked.

    I have much respect for Rabbi Bender, and this just adds to it.

    #929176

    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    Sushee, he was actually pro-Israel.

    #929178

    yichusdik
    Participant

    Haleivi, from Sushee’s perspective, that support of Israel probably makes him an anti-Semite.

    In general, racism is not only stupidity, it can lead to halachic violations very quickly. A Jew is a Jew, either from his mother’s status or from a halachic conversion. Full stop. So if there is a black or asian or hispanic individual who converts and becomes part of the community (I know many such, including the wife of a nephew of the Sepharadi Av Beis Din where I live), he is a complete Jew. To hold any racists thoughts about his skin colour or background at that point is an issur on many levels, including not hating your brother in your heart and in violation of veohavto loreacho komocho, among others.

    On the other hand, Jews are distinctive, are responsible first and foremost for each other before non Jews, and endowed by HKBH with obvious gifts (as well as obvious challenges). Jews have been chosen – not because of their racial characteristics, but because of their special repationship with Hashem.

    Now some here would argue that that makes us superior all by itself. I would argue that it makes us, well, chosen. With special responsibilities non Jews don’t have. With critical impact on the welfare and well being of the whole world. With additional responsibility to be a light to the nations. Better? Superior? I suppose, in the manner that a Chef is superior to a home cook. It is a matter of training, instruction, and responsibility, and we are lucky enough to have the Torah to teach us about all of them. But superior because we won the lucky gene pool sweepstakes, and have to do nothing at all to earn or hold our status? I don’t think so.

    #929179

    playtime
    Member

    To sushee, re: “MLK was an anti-semite and a drunk.”

    with

    Conversely, here is an excerpt of a letter written by Martin Luther King Jr. to a friend of his who was anti-Zionist:

    “. . . You declare, my friend, that you do not hate the Jews, you are merely ‘anti-Zionist.’ And I say, let the truth ring forth from the high mountain tops, let it echo through the valleys of God’s green earth: When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews–this is God’s own truth.

    “Anti-semitism, the hatred of the Jewish people, has been and remains a blot on the soul of mankind. In this we are in full agreement. So know also this: anti-Zionist is inherently antisemitic, and ever will be so.

    #929180

    There is still no reason to condone racism in our school system. I just don’t feel comfortable with the fact that I graduated in a high school class where people in my class were somewhat racist.

    By the way, RACISM is when you say DEROGATORY comments/ DISCRIMINATE against a person or group of people because of their RACE.

    #929181

    ZABACHUR
    Participant

    I agree in essence, and having grown up in an “out of town” community I was always very tolerant and politically correct. That pretty much went out the window when I came to “town” and being in a neighborhood where the crime rate is almost as bad as the graduation rate has not been conducive to tolerance. I think it has to end at some point. If I was in this neighborhood and hadn’t experienced the acts that these “people” perform then it would be one thing. I have been mugged once, my car broken into, and lets not forget my dorm being held up and hundreds of dollars stolen from my friends. At a certain point these “people” don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt anymore. People should not be judged by outer appearances and I have no problem with people who become successful in life and contribute to society, but when they are getting benefits akin to a salary to the point that it isn’t worth it to find a job it just becomes ridiculous. I don’t condone racism, I merely condone realism.

    #929182

    I am not referring to that type of situation, my mom is like that as well. I am just saying that we should not assume that just because the crime rate is so high among a specific ethnicity, does not mean that we should assume that everyone is bad.

    #929183

    ZABACHUR
    Participant

    Well then I must say I agree

    #929184

    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    but when they are getting benefits akin to a salary to the point that it isn’t worth it to find a job it just becomes ridiculous

    Why do you have something against Charaidim and Kollel Bochrim? 🙂

    #929185

    THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS THREAD. I believe that we already have enough threads about this.

    For Example:

    http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/coffeeroom/topic/whats-wrong-with-the-draft?view=all

    And This one below as well…

    http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/coffeeroom/topic/how-much-money-does-the-israeli-government-give-to-kollel-families

    #929186

    ZABACHUR
    Participant

    Haha no gavra…they are the intended recipients of such benefits. Most of them are doing something for society. Keeping the world from being destroyed actually. Pretty worthy in my book.

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