Jewish Bigotry

The recent protests in Israel by Ethiopians reveal an all-too-common hypocrisy.

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Comments (41)

(21) Patrick Dempsey, July 1, 2015 7:13 PM

The Holocaust

Having Written 3 Books on the Subject, it was not purely the Intolerances that brought it about, but the Indifferences which allowed it to happen. From that I gauged a position by which that Jewish Tragedy might teach us all a lesson in Tolerance! Sadly, all too often others learnt the lesson of hatred, emulated it and still persist with it in alarming propensity for more Genocide's. The Jews have been handed a poisoned Chalice of Remembrance which will seek, Always to Remember, Never to Forget. We too must choose never to forget what was exacted in our name!

(20) Beverly Margolis, June 6, 2015 9:45 PM

What is wrong with me?

I love everyone. Color, ethnicity...I don't have the "hate" gene in my body.
Especially, I love all Jews, even those who are super duper Jews who keep all 613 laws minus the ones who don't apply to them. Laws concerning animal care don't apply to anyone who is not a farmer.
Then there are my black and Hispanic neighbors. We get together at each other's homes for dinner and barbeque's. I do not understand why some people don't like people they've never met. I like meeting new people because how can I know if they're decent people? There are very few people that raise the little hairs on the back of my head, but upon smiling at them and say hello, I usually discover that they're really nice folks because I'm always looking for the good in people.
Let's face it, our fear of the other comes from the days when we lived in caves when it made sense to be afraid of strangers. It is an ancient fear and it is more than time to dump it. We're all children of one Father. I even like Muslims in our community, the're really nice folks like anyone else.

(19) Anonymous, June 6, 2015 6:55 AM

on Africans

Lori is really comfortable with her videos (which is why I always watch them). But with my experience of Africans there is no comforting them or explaining especially in a charged context (where racism is mentioned) and it is impossible to say the correct thing, whatever you think it is, which is why when it comes to racism and Africans it is best to just be silent.

Anonymous, August 23, 2016 10:34 PM

Silence on Racism breeds Racism

Plenty of organizations against racism with blacks and whites working together.

(18) Scott, June 5, 2015 5:25 AM

Its Parr of a larger problem.

Last week I was walking down the street and found myself staring at a young orthodox couple and for a few seconds couldn't figure out why.

Then it hit me...the girl was black. Under the headscarf and the modest dress and that expression a woman wears when shes with "the guy" was an Ethiopian. And then I kind of giggled when I realized what happened. I recognized her as a Jew first and then saw that she was black.

I wish that happened all the time and with everyone.

Unfortunately one of the horrible effects of diaspora is that for milinea Jews were separated another and we started associating the physical characteristics and diaspora cultures of Jews in our tiny little diaspora prisons with what "Jewish" looks like or dresses like or acts like.

Had we remained in israel or returned before spending two millinea in diaspora, Jews of different colors would not be unusual. Nor would the startlingly different customs of the diaspora developed streams of observance become so divisive now. There might be one siddur. One minhag for pesach. One standard for dress. One people united behind a common understanding of how to serve one G*d.

Its like trying to have a football team where none of the player want to share a locker room and everyone brings their own rule books and coach. I seriously doubt that team will ever win a game.

I feel bad for the Ethiopians who are ill served today in Israel. I think they have a point and I will try and help.

But its part of a greater problem-a problem that is more deadly to Israel that any Arab or BDSer. Jews separating themselves from other jews. Jews ostracizing other Jews. Jews treating other Jews with contempt.

Israel is to be a light to the can this happen if we can't even see each other? When will we truly return from diaspora to be a people?

Shoshana-Jerusalem, June 8, 2015 1:10 PM

Not true

All the things you said about the Jews in the next to the last paragraph of your comment are not true. Come to Israel and see.

Arutz 7 recently did a short video survey of the "man on the street" and it seems that everyone of them like the Ethiopians. I also like them and all of my friends also like them,and millions of Israelis feel the same way as I do.

How many people do you know who don't like Ethiopians? The one man who Lori spoke to?

Anonymous, August 23, 2016 10:33 PM

People Don't Riot for No Reason

Rioting is often the culmination of long-suppressed anger. The Ethiopians have had good reason to feel there is racism in the country, and the best response would be to engage with them directly. There is often a pitfall of conflating an accusation of societal racism with accusing EVERYONE of racism.

Deborah, August 23, 2016 10:31 PM

Absolutely well said

Nothing to add here; you've hit the nail on the head.

Deborah, October 18, 2016 11:31 AM

A Thoughtful Analysis

Many issues of bigotry are wider than the bigotry itself; in fact, the bigotry is often a manifestation of said problem.

(17) Beverly Margolis, June 4, 2015 9:48 PM

Until we learn...

How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity! (Psalm 133:1)

If that be true, what happens when we DON'T live in unity?

The result is what we are seeing now, the world has turned on us like a lamb being attacked by a wolf. As WE hate, so it is turning back to us.

Of all the people in the world, Israel is so fragmented, it makes the Republican Party seems to be like a love fest. They are like species that eat their young. As we hate each other, so the world will continue to hate us individually and corporately.

All the good that Israel did by flying in the Ethiopians has gone down the tubes and ALL Jews should hang their heads in shame. The fact that we are hated 'round the world for nothing, now they have a reason. BUT the world has always hated us for no good reasons.

Beam me up, Scotty.

(16) Asher, June 4, 2015 7:17 PM

Just a thought

There is a line in Talmud that "The Convert Comes to Convert". Also there is some debate that Jewish Souls are born in non-Jewish Bodies. Yet in all that, we must never loose sight of the fact that we are all Jews. That is how we are seen, regardless of any labels and or divisions we put on ourselves, or any walls that stop us from being a single people. We may be different in how observant, or not observant we choose to be. Yet we are still one people.

(15) Tirzah, June 3, 2015 11:36 PM

Ethiopian Jews are NOT "Converts"

We are NOT "converts" to Judaism. Upon making Aliyah to Yisrael many Ethiopian Jews were told that we had to "convert". My family asked, "what do we convert from? Judaism? And what should we convert to? Judaism? While it is acceptable to received the generous efforts of sincere teachers who would like to assist in orientating many while making Aliyah, "Converting" implies that we are not accepted as already being Jews. When in fact many Jewish authorities have confirmed our heritage. However, Jews arriving from Europe were accepted. Our ancient fathers were not all of European complexion.
Ya'acov's father-in-law had flocks that were "black and white". But G-D Gave a Miracle. Ya'acov's flock was birthed out of the limited "black and white" flock of his father-in-law and was a mixture of colors...a variety. To me, this is the limited thinking of the western world. "Black and White" should not be the determining factor in deciding "who" is a Jew. There should not be immediate suspicion based on a person's complexion. So I wonder, if G-D were to allow Avraham, Yitz'chak, and Ya'acov("Yisrael") to walk into a Synagogue today, especially in America, and if they did not identify themselves, would they be told that they had to convert?

honest, June 4, 2015 1:43 PM

but what about the hard issues

Okay. Has the Talmud been passed down in the Ethiopian community from the beginning, the Talmud being coded in the 300 - 500's CE in Israel cementing the foundations of Judaic law. If not was kosher marriage and divorce and conversion practiced in the Ethiopian community from the beginning? (otherwise can mean Mamzer or even non-Jewish entries) Things unfortunately are not so simple. Conversion is a simple step that can help alleviate worries. Without the Law (Judaic) we would all be Mamzers or not even technically Jewish

honest, June 4, 2015 8:55 PM

same for India and Russia

The Bene Menashe Jews from India I also think undergo conversion and certainly many Russians need to undergo it
So its NOT a color thing. .

Shoshana-Jerusalem, June 6, 2015 11:25 PM


It was very strange that when they first came over they had never heard of Chanukah or Purim...

As far as being "Jewish in origin" is concerned, so was J.C.

Many of them are church goers and a kindergarten teacher in the religious school system told me that when they finish dovening many of the Ethiopians kids made the sign of a cross in the air and the teachers of course didn't let them.

It could be that those who kept Jewish tradition were really Jews or a tribe of non-Jews with Hebraic customs. Rav Moshe Feinstein poskined that they ARE Jews but have to convert. Did they?

You mentioned converting as a cure for being a momzer. It won't help a thing. A momzer is a child born to a mother who committed adultry.

But all this aside, I do not see bigotry against them and it seems to me that they are as accepted as anyone else.

honest, June 7, 2015 5:02 PM

re mamzer

Hi. I meant I think the mamzer issue is a sfek sfekla (double mystery) Maybe they are not halachically Jewish and if they are maybe they are not mamzer so we can be lenient if we are not sure. The conversion to be on the safe side is to absolve the question if they happen to be Jewish (Jewish mother according to Halacha or kosher convert) In any case all Kosjher Jews are 100% Jews no matter the color.

Anonymous, June 8, 2015 9:40 PM

purim and channuka

I'm not entirely sure, but I think the reason for them not having Purim and Channuka is that these are (and I may be wrong here) that came into existance after the 10 tribes were exiled, so only the tribe of Judah (and those within Judah) witnessed the events of Purim and Channukah.

Mike, June 4, 2015 2:33 PM


there are several "groups" of people from Ethiopia who came to Israel, also based on their own identification (which doesn't mean that the individuals of these groups are all the same or that they have not changed their own identification)

One group was that of people who seriously kept the Jewish tradition

Another group consisted of people who had been forcibly converted to christianity but nevertheless was Jewish in origin

A third group consisted of relatives of people of those groups, with various degrees of closeness.

Some people in Ethiopia lived the most Jewish life they could imagine, other people were indeed estranged, and some are simply relatives.

There are definitely people who have converted to Judaism, and this is not a bad thing.

Ruth, June 6, 2015 8:14 AM


I got the point of the Ethiopian Jews that they are already practicing Judaism before Aliyah to Israel and it might be wrong to use the word "Convert" to Judaism for them.

Since the mainstream Judaism the Ashkenazi Jews, wish to re-orientate the Ethiopians and other Jews bought in from third world countries to Israel, into their way of practice; it is better to be open about it, and explicitly address them as converts to Ashkenazi Judaism.

Mike, June 8, 2015 9:35 PM

different people from Ethiopia

I personally do not want to re-educate anyone, and I actually find it sad that many children of Olim from Ethiopia do not really learn Amharic anymore.
I'm all for following one's fathers tradition and I would find it awesome to learn more about Ethiopian or Yemenite minhagim.
In short, I'm all for them preserving their culture. I also find it sad that many children and grandchildren of Olim have somehow lost the connection with cultures from which their parents/grandparents came. It is not that there is nothing good in those countries.

Still, not everyone who came from Ethiopia was actually Jewish (some were only relatives).

Beverly Margolis, June 4, 2015 9:54 PM

It is more than disgusting

I am shocked that the hypocrites in Israel wanted you to convert? I already ARE Jews, why should they make you "convert?" It makes me shake my head in disbelief.

Jews and blacks are both persecuted and have been persecuted from the git-go. As a Jewish woman who was born in the United States, I accept everyone as a child of Hashem. I love all Jews, despite their bigotry, I can only hope that sometime over the next thousand years or so we will all lean to love all people. I do, and I love you.

(14) Simcha Gavish, June 3, 2015 11:29 AM

In the non-haredi world most have children inter-married.

One of the most famous love stories in Jerusalem at the begining of the last century was between Eliezer ben Yehuda's son Itamar and Leah Abushdit a sepharidi girl whose parents would not permit her to marry an Ashkenazi eventually they married. Today common. We are on the right track. It takes time.

(13) Anonymous, June 3, 2015 10:58 AM

How do we change this?

Great, great video, as Tony Bennett would say. Lori, I can anticipate your response that might say: immediately we can change this situation in Israel by changing ourselves; by eliminating the racism or prejudices in our own lives. But I find this situation, against Sephardic and Ethiopian Jews despicable and unacceptable. As an Ashkenazi Jew, I'm embarrassed and appalled. Certainly as American Jews, we can somehow have an influence. I can just hear the guy in the comment section who says they "raise the race card" immediately responding that we American Jews don't understand and should mind our own business but we are all Jews and H-shem has a reason for everything. I know for a fact that there is prejudice against Sephardim and Ethiopians so if that guy would be honest he'd recognize truth and that maybe its time for a little tikkun repair. Meanwhile, there must be more that both American and Israeli Jews can do to stop the injustices. The world is watching how we treat our own and then they turn and say, "See, this is how they treat the Palestinians too." We are better than this. We are to be a light unto the nations!! Your story was spot on. We are not like others and we must treat each other better. I know life is tough in Israel but it certainly won't get easier when there are behaviors, absolutely unaligned with Torah, going on in the holiest place in the world.

(12) anonymous, June 2, 2015 10:08 PM

Excellent, Lori. Funny enough, though, I thought it was the other way around that Sefardi Jews think they are better than Askkenazi Jews. Too funny. I get ranked on about my improper pronunciation of everything Hebrew....too funny, though.
You know what? I love my fellow Jew no matter who. :)

(11) Gail, June 2, 2015 4:44 PM

Our Blessed Brothers and SIsters

It is with pride and joy that our Brothers and Sisters from Ethiopian have moved to Israel. The Blessing that they bring to their Home ,Israel ,brings forth the message that;All of Israel LIves! Remember-----They are out dear Brothers and SIsters. By the way if I was lucky enough to have my son bring home one of our Ethiopian sisters as his wife,I would welcome her into my heart and family.

(10) Victoria, June 2, 2015 4:34 PM

You are slowly doing it...

I am very proud of you, you are addressing the issue of racism on the website. It takes a huge amount of courage to admit when things are done wrong and work toward rectifying it.

I am going to offer two suggestions. One -- practice accountability rather than denial. Two -- discourage divisiveness based on image across all communities. One very large exclusion I've observed and experienced has come from the orthodox jews. I could care less until I saw the effect on the children. I've watched the self-imposed divide between such children and others based on differences of race and dress style alone. I've watched the tears of a small child and the only comfort that I could offer is that acceptance by that group of people is irrelevant. Although children can make bad choices, what I found more shocking is how such division is demonstrated, perpetuated and encouraged by the adults themselves.

Causing hurt is not the Jewish way and should be highlighted and discouraged by the parents. Please remember and teach your children to not judge the book by its cover but focus on getting to know the person at their essence.

peace, June 4, 2015 3:07 PM

orthdox have different cultural nuances

I am not sure if you are from Israel or in the US regarding race relations. Regarding Orthodox, it needs to be nioted we are generally very religious, especially when compared to "general society" standards. While among general society there is a common problem of teen unwanted pregnancy, for example, among the Orthodox premarital is actually rare. Regarding dress the girls wear skirts and modest attire. We are very committed to this behavior. We are also cognizant that outside our circles life style is very different and therefor tend to be protective - but Respectful.

(9) Shoshana-Jerusalem, June 2, 2015 4:30 PM

loshen harah

I don't think there is any prejudice against the Ethiopians. It seems that they are very nice people and pretty well integrated into Israeli society.

Among other things, they were angry about Madah not using them as blood donors, because of the diseases found in their blood. It seems to me that a person with a blood disease on his own shouldn't even want to donate to someone else. And thank you very much, but I don't have to get sick to avoid being called a raciest.

What happened with the soldier was a disgrace, and I hope they will arrest the policeman, and not just discharge him. But who said they beat up the soldier just because he was an Ethiopian?

The thing that bothered me most was that the whole demonstration and the riots came very soon after what happened
in Baltimore, with all it's unpleasant comparisons..

Anonymous, June 4, 2015 3:03 AM

yes, It was Baltimore inspired

I totally agree with you. That is what I thought when I read the news about the Ethiopian Jews in Israel...young people imitate America in all sorts of things or events because it looks cool...racism against Ethiopians is not something noticeable...Also, Israelis are not politically correct and I think if the blood carries diseases, why carry it on, does not make sense...that is taking precautions, not being racist...

(8) Martin, June 2, 2015 3:44 PM


I hope I am wrong but somehow I think you were hinting that the Ethiopians are converts. This has been a big controversy here and some Rabbis have said they needed to undergo a conversion process. But others strongly rule they are "true" Jews and no conversion is needed. It can be an big insult to most of the Ethiopians who are orthodox. We must accept them as brothers in every sense of the word and welcome them home. they serve proudly in the military and to our great sorrow some were killed in last years war. I went to a shiva call for one of the fallen and it was Israel at its best. The long line of people waiting to pay respect were Ashkenazy, Sephardic, young and old, religious and secular. A united people feeling the great loss of a member of the Ethiopian community born in Jerusalem a little more than 20 years ago. let us all open our minds and our hearts.

Shoshana-Jerusalem, June 3, 2015 1:42 PM


The halachik question of whether or not the Ethiopians were Jews or a non-Jewish tribe with Hebraic customs started about 300 years ago when they were first discovered. This had nothing to do with their color. Rav Moshe Feinstein z"l ruled they are Jews but have to convert. Though this is unpleasant, it is not at all insulting. There were hundreds, if not thousands of years of intermarriage and therefore this was the ruling. Many religious Russian immigrants also convert because of this. The Ethiopians are a wonderful people and are being welcomed beautifully. Lori really exaggerated. The religious problems manifest themselves mostly because of the many Ethiopian women with crosses tatooed on their foreheads. A school teacher told me that when they finish praying many Ethiopian children make the sign of a cross in the air and the teachers tell them to stop. But the government insists on bringing them here. By the way, there are also missionaries among them, converting Ethiopian Jewish children to Christianity.

(7) Anonymous, June 2, 2015 3:09 PM

Bigotry exists in Israel

Unfortunately, bigotry exists in Israel and among Jews. I have seen it first-hand. However, I also think that it is too easy to blame social ills on prejudice rather than try to resolve them. This means that responsibility and effort must come from BOTH sides. Those discriminated against often also only see skin color and do not see that there are things they, too, can do to help the situation...and, of course, we, as Jews, must be willing to change, to grow, to be responsible for our actions and, yes, our feelings toward others.

(6) Sharon, June 2, 2015 10:48 AM

another view

So that your viewers don't have to rely on the perspective of a single Israeli individual, I'll weigh in here. First of all, nearly all the Ethiopians I knew personally are lovely, respectable, and likable.Among the police and army there is a high incidence of incidents which place Ethiopians at a disadvantage. Basically, there is a huge cultural gap whose effect has even extended to second generation Ethiopians. It is also true, that the Jewish State has invested huge sums to bring them here and to help them adjust. That's the reason some people feel they are takers. There's a lot complexity and mistakes were made. But I can tell you that most Israelis don't dislike Ethiopians at all. Most have had good experiences with the ones they know. Regarding general bias between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews, it should be noted that it's a two-way street. However I know tons of young people who marry cross the divide, so in some time, it will hopefully cease to exist.

(5) Anonymous, June 2, 2015 8:36 AM

not much discrimination

I have lived in Israel for 30 years, and I do not believe there is very much discrimination against Ethiopian Jews. I live quite close to them, in fact. I do think they had a hard time fitting in because they are very shy, respectful of elders, and respectful of religion. When the children becgan watching TV and learning aboiut black people from other cultures, they began to act like them. It is a great shame, because instead of learning more about being Jews, are missing out. This is the fault different agencies that did not emphasize being Jewish. I have seen Ethiopian doctors, nurses, bus drivers, teachers, rabbis. They can be very industrious, but they are losing their children to foreign cultures.

(4) Nancy, June 1, 2015 10:49 PM

Ashkenazi & Sephardi Jews

The only difference I can see is how the words are pronounced. I am an Ashkenazi Jew, but am no better or worse than a Sephardi Jew.

(3) Mike, May 31, 2015 11:44 PM

fiction and loshon hara

I'm a Jew living in Israel and I have never discriminated against an Ethiopian, nor have I ever seen any discrimination. The Ethiopian people that I encounter are treated with respect and I have never witnessed anything negative being done to them.
In my experience, people from Ethiopia are also very polite (and unfortunately also a bit shy)

The Chafetz Chaim said that it is also loshon hara to say something about yourself something negative that is not true.

As far as I'm concerned the demonstation was not about discrimination, as the demonstrators also said! It was a spin by the media to avoid repeating the actual claims of the protestors which may very well be justified.

I totally agree that there should be no sinat chinam.

In my opinion the guy Lori was speaking with was a fool, probably repeating every 'shtus' that he hears

(2) Alan S., May 31, 2015 3:18 PM

Sadly, Jewish people are no less or more bigoted than other peoples or nations. One would think that, as the Rebbitzen mentioned, our experiences and our heritage would make us less bigoted than others. After all, this is what we are 'chosen' for. However, given our almost tortured treatment at the hands of other peoples and nations thru the centuries, we could almost be forgiven for our bigotry. But of course, wrong is wrong, so our bigotry to other Jews is just as wrong and evil as the bigotry we've experienced. Our human frailty shows ; thank goodness it is not a Jewish religious directive.

Zsolt, May 31, 2015 8:06 PM

"Love thy neighbor…"

I agree with you.
There is no difference in between nations since it is our self-serving, egoistic nature that drives us to behave against each other.
Except that we Jews have received the remedy in the form of Abraham's "Love thy neighbor as thyself" and then in the Torah.
When we can put the remedy into practice as at Sinai, with unity "as one man with one heart", and with real mutual responsibility no minority, social layer, nationality will have a problem integrating into Israeli society.
Moreover through such shining positive example we could show the world the only way of solving the global problems threatening our future.

Mike, June 2, 2015 9:15 AM

do you really believe that?

it is forbidden to say things that are not true about oneself, and about other jews

also, if you have not lived in Israel, you are relying on other people for their opinion.
Don't believe everything that people say

JRD, June 2, 2015 3:40 PM

Well said Lori; Great analogy.

So true Alan @ "Sadly, Jewish people are no less or more bigoted than other peoples or nations. One would think that, as the Rebbitzen mentioned, our experiences and our heritage would make us less bigoted than others."
It's really sad how some Jews could make other Jews feel like strangers, unwelcomed, invisible and uncomfortable.

(1) Mitch, May 31, 2015 3:13 PM


Beautiful reminder to be human.
(Funny, I've been thinking of those very psukim in response to recent events.)


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