Shortly before the world’s Jews welcomed year 5777 earlier this fall, National Public Radio’s Leah Donnella published a short personal essay entitled, “Black, Jewish And Avoiding The Synagogue On Yom Kippur.” In it, she described several unsettling incidents that left her feeling unmoored, a biracial Jew without a place in established Judaism. As the 25-year-old daughter of a white Jewish mother and an African-American Catholic father, Donnella says that she hopes the article will prompt American Jews to take stock of their assumptions and treat Jews of color not as strange, out-of-place, curiosities but as members of an increasingly diverse and vibrant spiritual community.
And although Donnella makes clear that she speaks for no one but herself, the fact that there are approximately 200,000 Asian, Black and Latino/a Jews living in the US further shows that her voice needs to be heeded and taken seriously.
Donnella spoke to Eleanor J. Bader by telephone two days after the Presidential election. Both interviewee and interviewer did their best not to dwell on the upsetting outcome.