Wendy Kalman
Wendy Kalman
There are many ways to see and understand

The deliberate exclusion of Israelis and Jews from immigrant and Jewish events

In this event, New York mayoral candidate held a havdallah service during Shabbat, effectively excluding all observant Jews. Image taken from Twtitter (https://twitter.com/jacobkornbluh/status/1406427602265559054/photo/1)

Two different ways of excluding Jews took place this weekend. Both, sadly, by groups purportedly supporting social change and justice.

The first was in Philadelphia, where a food truck festival called “Eat Up the Borders” disinvited the Moshava Israeli food truck because organizers feared a protest. At the same time, this same group proclaims that it is aligned with “people of all races, nationalities and sexual orientations” and that its mission is ”to break down our everyday barriers through shared experienced through language, food, and culture.” Except apparently food representing the nation of Israel. They saw nothing wrong with disinviting Moshava, a month-old business.

There was backlash. In the end the organizers actually deleted their social media accounts and cancelled the festival. Before deciding to cancel, the organizers insisted that they stood “by our initiative to give vendors from all nationalities a platform to showcase their talents and provide an awesome experience for all” (italics added for emphasis) and that its goal is to “promote small, family, or immigrant owned businesses within the Philadelphia area.”

The Moshava food truck is Israeli immigrant owned.

So, on the one hand we have Israeli Jews being excluded by a group that supports immigrants because of who they are. And Eat Up the Borders insisted throughout that they were true to their own mission. Sigh.

And then in New York, we have mayoral candidate Maya Wiley hosting a havdallah service assumedly to appeal to the Jewish community. Havadallah separates Shabbat from other days. It marks the day of rest’s end after sundown by engaging the senses. One of the rituals requires lighting a candle, something that is forbidden during Shabbat itself. This havdallah event was held before Shabbat ended, which means no observant Jews could attend. While the candidate is not Jewish, the registration page refers to JFREJ, a Jewish social justice group, and its commitment to virtual accessibility.

So, on the other hand we have observant Jews being excluded – I am not sure why. Do only some kind of Jews count but not others? Equally infuriating was that a Jewish organization apparently helped the candidate organize this Jewish event – which excluded Orthodox Jews from participating either in person or virtually.

Given how visibly Jewish people, that is, those who are very observant, and Israelis, are the main targets of the growing violence against Jews in this country, and given how those fighting for social justice are blind to the bias they themselves are displaying, I am not sure how this can get any better.

And it saddens me immensely.

About the Author
Born in Brooklyn and raised on Lawn Guyland, Wendy lived in Jerusalem for over a decade submerged in Israeli culture; she has been soaked in Southern life in metro Atlanta since returning to the U.S. in 2003. Recently remarried, this Ashkenazi mom and MIL to three Mizrahi sons and a DIL in their 20s splits her time between managing knowledge in corporate America, pursuing a dual masters in public administration and integrated global communications, relentlessly Facebooking, enjoying the arts and trying to bring a wider perspective to the topics she covers while blogging.
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