ON ACTIVE ALLYSHIP
This post is a bit different than my usual content. However, I firmly believe that true allyship is not a noun but a verb. That means taking action.
There is a big misconception (fueled by centuries-old antisemitic tropes and the “model minority” myth) that Jews have universally achieved a privileged status in the world. This is not true (that is not to say that individual Jews can’t be privileged in some ways — just as any other person can, minority or not).
The following slides outline some causes you can support to help Jewish people in need today.
SAVE TUNISIAN JEWRY
Like other Jewish communities from the Middle East and North Africa, Tunisian Jews experienced a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the 1940s. What was once an ancient vibrant community of ~120,000 Jews shrunk to 20,000 by 1967. Only a little under 2000 Jews remain in Tunisia today.
For a while, it seemed the situation for Tunisian Jews was improving. Unfortunately, things have taken a quick downswing. The new president Kais Saied spread inflammatory “anti-Zionist” messages during his campaign, which have targeted the Jewish community in various ways. The mayor of the island of Djerba, where most Tunisian Jewry lives, has started targeting the Jewish community in similar ways (changing traditionally Jewish street names, posting anti-Zionist signs in Jewish neighborhoods, etc).
HOW TO HELP: it’s hard to find information on how to help, but a man named Moche Uzan is working hard to recover material property and assets that were lost during the ethnic cleansing of Tunisian Jewry. You can also visit minorityrights.org/minorities/jews-10
ANTISEMITIC OREGON LAW
In 48 out of the 50 states, a unanimous jury is needed to convict a suspect. In Louisiana and Oregon, however, a racist and antisemitic law from 1898 and 1934, respectively, could send a person to prison even with a non-unanimous jury.
Non-unanimous jury laws were pushed by the KKK to “establish the supremacy of the white race.” In 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that non-unanimous jury laws are unconstitutional. Even so, Oregon refuses to give those convicted under non-unanimous juries a new fair trial.
Oregon and Louisiana have a long history of white supremacy and antisemitism that exist to this day.
HOW TO HELP: visit stillinprison.org and themarshallproject.org
HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS IN POVERTY
Poverty among Holocaust survivors, both in the US and Israel, is one of the most pressing issues in the Jewish community.
1/3 of Holocaust survivors in the US live in poverty. 25% of survivors in Israel also live under the poverty line. In New York, where most US-based Holocaust survivors live, 40% live in poverty. The statistics are even worse for Russian-speaking Holocaust survivors from the Soviet Union, both in the US and Israel.
HOW TO HELP: visit holocaustsurvivorcare.org, meuhedet.co.il, survivormitzvah.org, or bluecardfund.org
HELP ORTHODOX COMMUNITY
The often insular Orthodox Jewish communities of New York and New Jersey are disproportionally targeted in hate crimes. Additionally, 43% of Haredi Jews in the greater New York area live in poverty. In some areas, the rates go up to an astounding 70%. Because of religious dietary restrictions, Haredim often can’t go to local food banks to receive assistance.
Since the past year, COVID-19 has hit the Orthodox communities of the US and Israel especially hard.
HOW TO HELP: visit advocacy.ou.org or metcouncil.org/kosher-food-network
SUPPRESSION OF KAIFENG JEWRY
The Kaifeng Jewish community of China is over 1000 years old, though only about 1000 Kaifeng Jews remain to this day, with only ~100 still practicing Judaism.
Despite its ancient history, Judaism is not recognized as a religion by the Chinese Communist Party. In recent years, the Chinese government has been cracking down on “unapproved” religious practices, meaning that the Jewish community is being targeted.
Kaifeng Jews say they are scared to practice their traditions for fear of the authorities. The government has also been razing any physical trace of the community, such as a 12th century synagogue.
HOW TO HELP: visit chinesejews.com and sino-judaic.org
JEWS OF THE FORMER SOVIET UNION
After 70 years of systemic repression, the elderly Jews of the former Soviet states are the poorest Jews in the world. For decades, the Soviet government discriminated against Jews socially and economically and dismantled their institutions. With few (if any) local Jewish institutions to rely on, over 100,000 elderly Soviet Jews require foreign aid to survive.
HOW TO HELP: go to jdc.org
HELP ETHIOPIAN JEWRY GO HOME
In the late 1970s, the Ethiopian government started violently persecuting the ancient Ethiopian Jewish community for practicing their traditions and so-called “Zionist activities.” They were also forbidden from emigrating in search of a better life.
In the mid-1980s, the Israeli government began secretly airlifting the persecuted Ethiopian Jewish community to Israel. These operations continued in the 1990s and 2000s with the help of The Jewish Agency. ~4000 Ethiopian Jews have died en route to Israel.
Unfortunately there are still ~8000 Jews in Ethiopia who are trying to reunite with their families in Israel.
HOW TO HELP: visit olim-beyahad.org/en or iaej.co.il
to learn more about Ethiopian Jewry, follow @blackjewishmagic