Ashkenazi/White Jewish Privilege Checklist
The Ashkenazi/White Jewish Privilege Checklist was developed by Corinne Lightweaver, Sasha King, and members of the Jewish Multiracial Network online discussion group, 2006–2009, to teach about the white privilege conferred upon Ashkenazi Jews by the Jewish community. Please distribute the Ashkenazi/White Jewish Privilege Checklist, use it in workshops, and add to it.
The following statements are examples of ways in which white Ashkenazi Jews have privilege because they are white. The privileges listed below are ones that many white Ashkenazi Jews may take for granted today, but which are not available to most Jews of color in the United States.
Please check all the statements that apply to you. At the end, try to list at least two more ways you have privilege in the Jewish community based on your race or ethnicity.
___ I can walk into my temple and feel that others do not see me as outsider.
___ I can walk into my temple and feel that others do not see me as exotic.
___ I can walk into my temple and feel that my children are seen as Jews.
___ I can walk into temple with my family and not worry that they will be treated unkindly because of the color of their skin.
___ I can enjoy music at my temple that reflects the tunes, prayers, and cultural roots of my specific Jewish heritage.
___ No one at my synagogue will attempt to assign me to a ethnicity to which I do not belong (e.g., assuming all Jews of African descent are Igbo or Ethiopian).
___ I can easily find greeting cards and books with images of Jews who look like me.
___ I can easily find Jewish books and toys for my children with images of Jews that look like them.
___ I am not singled out to speak about and as a representative of an “exotic” Jewish subgroup.
___ When I go to Jewish bookstores or restaurants, I am not seen as an outsider.
___ I find my experiences and images like mine in Jewish newspapers and magazines.
___ I do not worry about access to housing or apartments in predominately Jewish neighborhoods.
___ My rabbi never questions that I am Jewish.
___ When I tell other members of my synagogue that I feel marginalized, they are immediately and appropriately responsive.
___ There are other children at the religious school who look like my child.
___ My child’s authenticity as a Jew is never questioned by adults or children based on his/her skin color.
___ People never say to me, “But you don’t look Jewish,” either seriously or as though it was funny.
___ I do not worry about being seen or treated as a member of the janitorial staff at a synagogue or when attending a Jewish event.
___ I am never asked “how” I am Jewish at dating events or on Jewish dating websites.
___ I can arrange to be in the company of Jews of my heritage most of the time.
___ When attempting to join a synagogue or Jewish organization, I am confident that my ethnic background will not be held against me.
___ I can ask synagogues and Jewish organizations to include images and cultural traditions from my background without being seen as a nuisance.
___ I can enroll in a Jewish day school, yeshiva, and historically Jewish college and find Jewish students and professors with my racial or ethnic background.
___ People of color do not question why I am Jewish.
___ I know my racial or ethnic background will not be held against me if I attempt to join a minyan in prayer.
___ I know my ethnic background will not be held against me in being called to read the Torah.
___ I am not discriminated against in the aliyah process as a Jew of my particular ethnicity.
____ I have never had the police called on me or have been escorted out of a service by a policeman for doing nothing other than praying while being a person of color.
_____ I have not been asked to leave a shul or a class or have been barred from entering a shul or a class due to my skin color.
Text not copyrighted. Developed for educational purposes by the Jewish Multiracial Network, 2006–2009. Please distribute and add to the checklist. For more information about the Jewish Multiracial Network, visit www.jewishmultiracialnetwork.org.
Take a look at the Jew of Color Roundtable: http://kehilamagazineofficial.wordpress.com/why-kehila/the-jew-of-color-roundtable/