Color-Blind Judaism

Question

What is Judaism’s position on racism? I’m asking this in light of tragic events and the widespread coverage of what people are claiming to be acts of racism, especially in Minnesota recently.

6 months

Answers

  1. There is absolutely no place or existence of racism in Judaism. Period. A person of any color, nation, or background may be or become Jewish. There is absolutely no discrimination. Judaism is renowned for its teachings and practice of ethical and social justice throughout history.

    I personally have had students who have come from virtually every “race” one can imagine. Once when I was teaching an ex-NBA player I asked him if he felt any racism (because he was black) from other students or from the community. He told me that on the contrary, he felt that people were especially warm and helpful to him and went out of their way to help him adjust and fit in. He eventually went on to become a businessman and marry a wonderful Jewish girl and establish a lovely Jewish family. There are many other stories I could share with you such as this one.

    The Torah commands the Jewish people, “and you shall love the stranger because you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deut 10:19). This verse serves as a reminder that it is all too easy to forget what it feels like to be an oppressed minority when we are not in that same minority. It reminds us that we must be ever mindful of how it feels to be a minority that is perhaps treated unfairly, and that we must not simply look after ourselves.

    There is a famous book about a fairly-irreligious Jewish couple who had difficulty conceiving. They were living in China because the husband had a Fulbright scholarship. One day he was in a train station and heard a baby crying. She was left abandoned under his seat, in a bamboo cradle. The book is called “The Bamboo Cradle” and is an inspiring and heart-warming story that encapsulates the beauty of Judaism and Jewish values. Without addressing any specific incident in the news, since I don’t have all of the facts and am not in a position to judge, I can still state categorically that racism is antithesis to Judaism and that in my opinion the entire Jewish nation and all people of morals and ethics should denounce and protest any act of racism in any manner legally possible.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team