This piece was first published in The Times of Israel.
Avraham Dov Rosenblum gets stared at a lot on the streets of Israel. That’s because he’s not an elderly Ashkenazi man, as his name might suggest, but rather a 6’2”, 200 pound, 20-year-old, dark-skinned African American football player for the Ramat Hasharon Hammers. Rosenblum (known as Avi), who came from Albany, California to join the semi-pro Israel Football League, doesn’t let the inquisitive looks faze him.
“People stare at me all the time, but I just stare back at them. I think it’s amusing,” he says. The adopted only son of a white Jewish couple, he’s had a lifetime to get used to people’s prejudices and misconceptions.
“He’s had many experiences walking in to Jewish teen dances and being told, ‘Excuse me, but this event is for Jewish kids,’” recalls his mother, Debby Graudenz, the daughter of a Holocaust-survivor rabbi. “We’ve watched him deal with these kind of situations.”
She’s proud of how despite challenges like this, her son has successfully integrated the various aspects of his identity. She attributes much of the relative ease with which Avi has done so to the acceptance and support their family has received at Netivot Shalom, a Conservative congregation in Berkeley, where they have attended Shabbat services every week since Avi was five months old.
“I’m black, but I’m really Jewish,” Avi puts it simply. Graudenz, a child, adolescent and family psychotherapist, and her husband Rom Rosenblum, an applications engineer, adopted their son in the first public trans-racial adoption in the state of Texas.
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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.