Posts Tagged ‘Be’chol Lashon’

Always A Jew, Always An Olivia

June 24, 2012

This article was first published in The Times of Israel.

According to Jewish tradition, all Jews were standing at Sinai. As a child, Carolivia Herron was sure she, too, had been there; that she has seen Moses. But as a little African-American girl with “nappy hair” (of which she later wrote in a so-titled,controversial children’s book) and a Baptist mother and a Methodist father, there would have been little, if any, reason to think that she really had a “yiddishe neshama” (Jewish soul).

But, as it turned out, Herron was Jewish — but neither she nor anyone else (or so it seemed to her) knew it at the time. The story of how exactly this came to be is amazing, and it is one that Herron is now sharing through her latest children’s book, “Always an Olivia: A Remarkable Family History” (Kar-Ben Publishing, 2007).

This professor of comparative literature and African American studies’ genealogical narrative is one of Sephardic Jewish ancestry, but with some highly unusual twists, including a kidnapping by pirates, a rescue by the US Marines, and a long sojourn with the Geechees (also known as the Gullah), a unique community of free African-Americans — former slaves — living on the coastal islands off the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida.

Click here to read more.

© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.


Kugel and Kimche

May 30, 2011

This interview was first published as “On Raising Asian-Jewish Children” on The Sisterhood blog of The Forward.

Sociologists Noah Leavitt and Helen Kim and their son Ari

The recent Forward article “Raising Children on Kugel and Kimchi, and as Jews” centered on a new study that found that many families in which one parent is Jewish and the other is Asian are raising their children as Jews. The research was conducted by a married couple of sociologists, Helen Kim, who is of Korean descent, and Noah Leavitt, who is Jewish. Having written a post for The Sisterhood about the stereotypes about Jewish men and Asian women that are found in popular media — a post that garnered quite a few pointed comments — I was eager to get a behind-the-scenes look at Kim and Leavitt’s methodology and findings. The researchers spoke recently with The Sisterhood.

Renee Ghert-Zand: How did you end up choosing the specific 37 couples that ended up being the sample in your study?

Helen Kim: We worked with Be’chol Lashon. They helped us send out a screening survey. There were waves of responses. We recruited people based on where they were in the queue of 250 or so responses as they came in. We also chose couples so there was a wide range of different demographic variables: ethnicity, religious affiliation and religiosity, kids or no kids, age. For instance, we didn’t want to have an overrepresentation of Chinese-Americans.

Click here to read the rest of the interview.

© 2011 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Here’s Your Chance

November 15, 2010


You’re Jewish and you’ve always wanted to be in a music video? Well, here’s your chance. Be’chol Lashon and Shemspeed Music Group are looking for extras to cast in Y-Love‘s new song, “This is Unity.” You can either apply to be an extra on the set in New York on November 21, or you can film yourself singing, dancing or what-have-you to the song’s chorus and upload the video by December 1, with hopes that it will be edited into the final cut.

Be’chol Lashon, being an organization that supports ethnic and racial diversity within the Jewish community, is looking for JOC’s (Jews of Color) for the project. However, non-JOC’s are also encouraged to participate. After all, the call for participants says the overall message of the song and video is that Jews come in all shades. So, that would kind of make Ashkenazi Jews like me a JOC too, because as far as I last checked, white is a color.

You may not want to listen to the chorus at this point unless you are actually willing to come up with a video concept. The driving beat behind the lyrics, “Olam echad, Hashem echad, ha’am echad. This is unity” (One world, one God, one people. This is unity), is hard to get out of your head. I should have waited until the music video was out…but then if I had done that, you wouldn’t have known about what could possibly be your big break.

© 2010 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.