I’ve noticed a lot of guys at both the nearby Conservadox and MO shuls have Asian wives or girlfriends who have either converted or are in the process of converting. Almost half the kids at the Conservative shul are hapas, maybe 10% at the MO shul. As a kid, I remember one or two mixed raced kids at our shul, and I have come to regret the way that I mistreated or outright ignored them. Our community is finally discussing some of the ways we can become a more inclusive space for converts, especially converts of color and their kids, so I am curious as to the experiences of mixed-race Jews, specifically those in the Orthodox community.
So does your background come up often? Do you ever doubt your Jewishness? Do you feel uncomfortable in Ashkenazi synagogues? Do you avoid Judaism altogether? If you went to a Jewish day school, were you able to form strong friendships? If you plan on having kids, are you hesitant to raise them in Orthodox spaces because of what you experienced? As you got older, did you begin to identify more strongly with your non-Jewish background?
Have you managed to find an Orthodox shul that accepts you? I’ve heard that Sephardic shuls are more welcoming to mixed-race and non-white Jews – do you agree with this? I don’t think this has anything to do with Sephardim being more accepting, just more jovial and warm and touchy in general.
Some Jews of color think that their presence reminds Ashkenazi Jews of their whiteness and white privilege, which can breed animosity, do you agree with this? Personally, I do take umbrage at being called white, because I don’t believe it defines me or my experiences, but do you see Jews from Europe as white? Is it just because of skin tone? What defines whiteness for you?