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Black Judaism: Story of an American Movement (Hardcover)
by James E. Landing (Author)

Path: Books and ebooks Spiritual - Black Judaism

Black Judaism: Story of an American Movement

Editorial Reviews

Association of Jewish Libraries, September/October 2004
"...a much needed analysis of this little known religious phenomenon."

Book Description
Throughout most black societies today, there are Jews who are not accepted by the worldwide community of Rabbinic Jews. They are known as Black Jews, and the movement they represent is known as Black Judaism. Originating in the post-Civil War southern states, the early leaders of this movement were motivated by oppression and racism to migrate north. There they came into contact with Rabbinic Jews and the Judaism they represented, but Black Jews and Black Judaism were rejected.

Black Judaism continued to spread and reached the continent of Africa where it became an integral part of the Independent Black Church Movement and an active component of the various struggles for independence. It also spread to Latin America, especially the West Indies, and is known there in its most varied form as "Rastafarianism."

During the turbulent Civil Rights era, an uneasy alliance developed between some Black Jews and Rabbinic Jews, but rejection soon followed. Black Judaism has never had a large number of adherents, but its influence far exceeds its numbers, making it one of the most important social movements in African-American history.

Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism

Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism

If you have ever wondered what being born Jewish should mean to you; if you want to find out more about the nature of Judaism, or explain it to a friend; if you are thinking about how Judaism can connect with the rest of your life -- this is the first book you should own. It poses, and thoughtfully addresses, questions like these:

  • Can one doubt God's existence and still be a good Jew?
  • Why do we need organized religion?
  • Why shouldn't I intermarry?
  • What is the reason for dietary laws?
  • How do I start practicing Judaism?

The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism was written for the educated, skeptical, searching Jew, and for the non-Jew who wants to understand the meaning of Judaism. It has become a classic and very widely read introduction to the oldest living religion. Concisely and engagingly, authors Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin present Judaism as the rational, moral alternative for contemporary man.

Jews and Blacks: A Dialogue on Race, Religion, and Culture in America

Jews and Blacks: A Dialogue on Race, Religion, and Culture in America

"Credible and important."—Kirkus Reviews. With a new epilogue on the simpson verdict and the Million Man March.

From Publishers Weekly - The complex history and diverse voices of the relationship between American blacks and Jews necessarily mean that two individuals can't definitively represent hardly homogeneous groups. Thus, readers might best see these edited dialogues as an instructive introduction to the territory. West (Race Matters), who teaches Afro-American studies and religion at Harvard, and Lerner (Jewish Renewal), founder of Tikkun magazine, range from personal histories to current controversies. They disagree on topics like black criticism of Israel and the depth of black anti-Semitism, and they make some worthy points on topics like the symbolism of the Holocaust Museum and the current estrangement of the two groups. However, both men are of the left, and their rhetoric sometimes degenerates into a laundry list of laments, especially Lerner's harping on his "politics of meaning." Their ultimate proposal: a campaign of "healing and repair in both communities," aimed at fighting both anti-Semitism and racism. An ambitious agenda, given that, as they note, there are currently few links between Jewish and black progressives.

Black Zion: African American Religious Encounters with Judaism (Religion in America)

Black Zion: African American Religious Encounters with Judaism (Religion in America)

This volume explores the myriad ways in which African American religions have encountered Jewish traditions, beliefs, and spaces. In contrast to previous works, which have typically focused on the social and political relationship between blacks and Jews, Black Zion places religion at the center of its discussion, thereby illuminating a critically important but little explored aspect of black-Jewish relations in America. The essays gathered here examine groups such as the Nation of Islam and the Hebrew Israelites, individuals such as Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Joshua Heschel, and topics such as the transformation of synagogue space into African American churches and the symbolic role of the Jew in the Haitian religious imagination. This collection draws on sacred texts, interviews, and ethnographic and archival research to discuss the shared elements in black and Jewish sacred life, as well as the development and elaboration of new religious identities by African Americans.

Featuring contributions from a group of renowned scholars and writers, this groundbreaking volume reveals a great deal about both African American religions and the meaning of Judaism in the contemporary world. It is essential reading for students of religion, history, cultural studies, black studies, and American studies.

The Black Jews of Africa History, Religion, Identity

The Black Jews of Africa History, Religion, Identity

The last several decades have seen the emergence of a remarkable phenomenon: a Jewish "rebirth" that is occurring throughout Africa. A variety of different ethnic groups proclaim that they are returning to long-forgotten Jewish roots, and African clans trace their lineage to the Lost Tribes of Israel. Africans have encountered Jewish myths and traditions in multiple forms and various ways. The context and circumstances of these encounters have gradually led, within some African societies, to the elaboration of a new Jewish identity connected with that of the Diaspora.

This book presents, one by one, the different groups of Black Jews in western, central, eastern, and southern Africa and the ways in which they have used and imagined their oral history and traditional customs to construct a distinct Jewish identity. It explores the ways in which Africans have interacted with the ancient mythological sub-strata of both western and African ideas of Judaism. It particularly seeks to identify and to assess colonial influences and their internalization by African societies in the shaping of new African religious identities. The book also examines how, in the absence of recorded African history, the eminently malleable accounts of Jewish lineage developed by African groups co-exist with the possible historical traces of a Jewish presence in Africa.

This elegant and well-researched book goes beyond the well-known case of the Falasha of Ethiopia, examining the trend towards Judaism in Africa at large, and exploring, too, the interdisciplinary concepts of "metaphorical Diaspora," global and transnational identities, and colonization.

What Went Wrong?: The Creation & Collapse of the Black-Jewish Alliance

What Went Wrong?: The Creation & Collapse of the Black-Jewish Alliance

For nearly a century, blacks and Jews were allies in the struggle for civil rights and equality in America. Sometimes risking their lives, they waged battle in the courts, at lunch counters, and in the academy, advancing the cause of all minorities. Their historical partnership culminated in the landmark court decisions and rights legislation of the 1960s - achievements of which both groups are justly proud. But thereafter, black nationalist activists diverted the movement for civil rights into a race movement, distancing blacks from their traditional allies, and the old civil rights coalition began to disintegrate. Today, relations between blacks and Jews may be at an all-time low. Hardly a month goes by without fresh outbreaks of hostility and conflict. Controversial figures like Louis Farrakhan, Khalid Mohammed, and Leonard Jeffries fuel Jewish fears about a rising tide of black anti-Semitism - fears that were horribly confirmed for many Jews by the anti-Jewish riots in Crown Heights in the summer of 1991 - and blacks respond with bitter charges of Jewish hypocrisy and racism. The facts of the historic civil rights alliance have grown dim for both groups; indeed the very existence of the alliance has been questioned by some black and white historians who claim that Jews were never very important in the movement, while others argue that their interest was a limited and ultimately selfish one. Now it is even claimed that Jews financed the slave trade and conspired with the mafia to promote racist stereotypes in Hollywood. What went wrong between blacks and Jews? Historian Murray Friedman, also a long-time civil rights activist, takes this question as the starting point for the firstauthoritative history of black-Jewish relations in America. Friedman's book traces this long and complex relationship from colonial times to the present, engaging the revisionists at every point.

If the civil rights era was a golden age of black-Jewish relations, "such memories obscure a more complex reality," notes former federal civil rights offical Friedman. Now a regional director of the American Jewish Committee, he takes a fair-minded but somewhat Jewish-oriented look at a relationship that began with the founding of the NAACP in 1909. Proceeding chronologically, he provides a solid account of events, anecdotes and conflicts, often differing with revisionist scholars Harold Cruse and Claybourne Carson Jr., who questioned the motives of Jews who aided the black struggle. While Friedman ably summarizes such flashpoints as the 1968 New York City teachers' strike and the rise of Louis Farrakhan, he doesn't do justice to others, like the 1991 Crown Heights riots. Given that blacks and Jews now "have their hands full sorting out their own problems," Friedman suggests, resignedly, that it may not be possible to normalize relations soon; Jews, he proposes, should simply relate to blacks as they do to other groups, comfortable in both concert and disagreement.

Chosen People: The Rise of American Black Israelite Religions

Chosen People: The Rise of American Black Israelite Religions

Jacob S. Dorman offers new insights into the rise of Black Israelite religions in America, faiths ranging from Judaism to Islam to Rastafarianism all of which believe that the ancient Hebrew Israelites were Black and that contemporary African Americans are their descendants. Dorman traces the influence of Israelite practices and philosophies in the Holiness Christianity movement of the 1890s and the emergence of the Pentecostal movement in 1906. An examination of Black interactions with white Jews under slavery shows that the original impetus for Christian Israelite movements was not a desire to practice Judaism but rather a studied attempt to recreate the early Christian church, following the strictures of the Hebrew Scriptures.

A second wave of Black Israelite synagogues arose during the Great Migration of African Americans and West Indians to cities in the North. One of the most fascinating of the Black Israelite pioneers was Arnold Josiah Ford, a Barbadian musician who moved to Harlem, joined Marcus Garvey's Black Nationalist movement, started his own synagogue, and led African Americans to resettle in Ethiopia in 1930. The effort failed, but the Black Israelite theology had captured the imagination of settlers who returned to Jamaica and transmitted it to Leonard Howell, one of the founders of Rastafarianism and himself a member of Harlem's religious subculture. After Ford's resettlement effort, the Black Israelite movement was carried forward in the U.S. by several Harlem rabbis, including Wentworth Arthur Matthew, another West Indian, who creatively combined elements of Judaism, Pentecostalism, Freemasonry, the British Anglo-Israelite movement, Afro-Caribbean faiths, and occult kabbalah.

Drawing on interviews, newspapers, and a wealth of hitherto untapped archival sources, Dorman provides a vivid portrait of Black Israelites, showing them to be a transnational movement that fought racism and its erasure of people of color from European-derived religions. Chosen People argues for a new way of understanding cultural formation, not in terms of genealogical metaphors of "survivals," or syncretism, but rather as a "polycultural" cutting and pasting from a transnational array of ideas, books, rituals, and social networks.





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