Op-Ed: How I learned to embrace my Black and Jewish heritage
This week I have the pleasure of hosting a guest column from my son Isaiah who is the youngest of my three sons. He’s here in Portland to help my wife, Adrienne, and I celebrate the one-year anniversary of our wedding date.
Isaiah was born in New York to a father from Israel and a mom from Jamaica, where he grew up. He grew up in Brooklyn with his mom, three sisters, and two brothers. Isaiah’s mom and I met at the University of Pennsylvania, and when Isaiah was a year old, she moved with me to Portland so he could continue her college education.
For the purposes of this column, I’ll give my perspective on why I started to embrace my Jewish heritage.
It starts with my father. Isaiah tells me he was always proud of his heritage. As he was growing up, he and his dad would look alike almost to the point of being twins. But his Dad’s blackness and his black heritage led him to love black folks way more than any of his black friends.
“I’ve heard that my daddy loved me and my sisters the most out of all of our family that I know.”
“He’d call us at night during the school year and say we’re going out. He’d take us to the movies. He’d take us to Brooklyn,” he says.
I always loved the stories my father told me about how he was treated as a kid. I remember one day he told me he didn’t have a car, we still had to walk the 1-2 hours to go to school. When we arrived at school we were always the last ones there.
But my father never forgot the things that made him who he was. My father saw his Judaism as a love for the culture and a way to embrace other cultures. He found his identity in his culture after he was away from his home in Jamaica for a few years.
Isaiah says he didn’t know he had a Jewish heritage when he was born. I always knew my Dad was a Jew. Isaiah, too, felt he was a Jew and when he was a child he always thought that he was Jewish. When he was in the sixth