Aliza Hausman is a first-generation Dominican-American Latina Orthodox Jewish convert or “Jewminicana” who discovered she was born Jewish of Sephardic Jewish Turkish ancestry post-conversion. She is also a writer, blogger, educator & speaker. This blog chronicles her thoughts on being Hispanic & Jewish, focusing on identity, Judaism, Jews of colors, Latinos, diversity, race, ethnicity, conversion to Judaism, culture, multiculturalism, illness, disability, books, films, news & more….
"There are Hispanic Jews? No way! I've never heard of any."
Wish I could send this article below to every Jew (especially Jewish New Yorkers) who has uttered that statement in my presence! Doesn't anyone remember what the Spanish Inquisition was about? And don't they know that "Don Francisco," host of the beloved "Sabado Gigante" show is a Chilean Jew who was born Mario Luis Kreutzberger Blumenfeld. Yes, really!
"Jews from Latin America first began arriving in what is today's New York City in 1654, when a group of 23 Sephardic Jews escaped from Portuguese rule in the Dutch colony of Recife in Brazil and came to New Amsterdam."
If you haven't already, subscribe to the blog (the link is underneath my photo) and you won't miss any of my now sporadic--but hopefully back to daily some day soon--posts! I am grateful for all your lovely fan mail and your prayers for my health.
By the way, I thought that last quote says it all.
"We have so much love for Israel. But it seems like Israel does not love us back."
I have long ago lost patience with the Jews, white or of color, who refuse to see the pain so many converts and/or Jews of color suffer at the hands of other Jews because they have had the luxury not to suffer the same experiences.
I have no patience for the letters from fans who promise that "everything is better in Israel" when the news, and the very next fan letter, tell me differently. "But non-Jews are racist, too!" is no excuse.
So many times as a convert, as a Jew of color, I have felt a great love for Israel--the people and the state--but it feels like Israel does not love me back.
As a mother, I can only imagine how devastating it would be to lose a child. So I was shocked and saddened when I heard that several young people had taken their own lives recently after being bullied for being gay -- or because people thought they were gay.
No one should ever feel so hopeless or tormented that they take their own life. Bullying of any kind, for any reason, is unacceptable. As adults, it's our responsibility to create a safe environment for our children. That includes setting an example of respect for one another -- no matter our differences.
That's why I’m writing to you today. In the wake of these terrible tragedies, thousands of Americans have come together to share messages of encouragement and hope with LGBT youth across our country who might be having a hard time in school or in their communities. And I wanted to share with you the video that Barack recorded to join his voice with all those who have told their own personal stories.
Middle school and high school can be tough for any kid. But it can be especially wrenching if you’re taunted or harassed by your peers, if you are made to feel worthless or alone because you don’t look or act like everybody else. And if you’re in that situation, it can be hard to imagine that things will ever change. But they will.
If you've been bullied, you need to know that this is not your fault. There are adults -- whether in your family, your school or your community -- who can help. Most importantly, you need to know how special and valuable your life is not just to your family and friends but to the entire country. You truly have a bright future ahead of you.
If you’re a parent worried about your child being bullied, or a young person who’s being bullied by their peers and aren't sure where to turn, you can learn more here:
Please take care of yourselves and of one another.
Michelle Obama First Lady of the United States
To watch more "It Gets Better" videos, click here. One of the most noteworthy videos features Congressman Joel Burns, it is a must-see.
Everyone's been telling me I need to check out this song but I didn't get a chance until loyal fan, Debbie B. sent me a link. Check out India.Arie's, "I Am Not My Hair." Dare I say it...it's pretty awesome!
Ran into someone today from shul where I haven't been going as much as I'd like because of all my health problems. (Fingers crossed--wait, someone told me that was avodah zarah, hmm!!!--it looks like some of my health issues are turning around and all your prayers are starting to work. Don't stop though, I could use all the prayers I can get!) Anyway, this person commented that she thought it was me when she saw my very distinctive head (hair?) bobbing up and down Pico Blvd.
I'm way overdue for a haircut but can't seem to find the time to get it done. Thankfully, Southern California has its own Ouidad though people in the area have made some hilarious suggestions for where else I could get my hair cut. Note: Most "black" and/or Dominican hair salons don't actually know how to style/cut curly hair since their patrons mostly want to straighten it. Though it was a big shock to here that there are enough Dominicans out here to warrant a Dominican hair salon. Where are they hiding?!
A warning, this trailer is definitely not for kids though the scene that inspired me to write this has children in it.
Event: Press Film Screening of Nora's Will (Cinco Dias Sin Nora)
Date: Friday, October 15th, 2010
Place: Laemmle's Royal Theatre, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025-3094
Details: Tell them Aliza Hausman sent you. I was personally invited by Ryan Ackerman from Menemsha Films.
"Nora had a plan. It would bring her ex-husband, Jose, and the rest of their family together for a magnificent Passover feast. But there is a flaw in her plan- a mysterious photograph from the past, hidden under the bed, which leads Jose to reexamine their relationship and rediscover their undying love for each other."
Read the reviews! It sounds like it's in the same vein as My Mexican Shiva which I loved as I alternated between laughing and crying throughout the film.
Event: Taste of LimmudLA: "Post Traumatic Conversion Disorder" Date: Saturday, October 23, 2010 Time: 8pm-10pm Place: Milken Community High School, 15800 Zeldins' Way, Los Angeles 90049 (parking on site)
Join (my friend) Avi Montigny, public speaker, teacher and founder of the only website, jewsbychoice.org, connecting Jewish converts worldwide no matter what stream of Judaism they have converted through as he discusses "Post Traumatic Conversion Disorder" something Avi and I have been discussing for the past few years as a result of our work with converts.
The new Mr. and Mrs. Smith-like TV show, Undercovers follows a black couple getting back into the CIA spy game after retiring five years earlier to have "a normal life" and run a catering business. I can't remember the last time I saw a show on Network TV that had not one but two people of color as the main protagonists, can you?
The Event features Blaire Underwood as an Afro-Cuban-American United States president! Underwood is not himself Hispanic but his TV wife is light-skinned Puerto-Rican actress, Lisa Vidal! Maybe next year's TV president will be a Jewminican! But for now, the plantain jokes in Episode three of Undercovers will suffice! In that episode, a minor character continually refers to a suspect as a plantain as in "The plaintain is in the building!" and "The plantain is in the elevator!"
Undercovers stars actors Boris Kudjoe (Ghanaian-German) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (South African-English), both really hot black actors with mixed biracial/ethnic backgrounds, as Steven and Samantha Bloom. Kudjoe is actually a Jew of color by matrilinealdescent with a maternal grandmother who survived the Holocaust though her own Jewish mother did not. Kudjoe was not raised Jewish and is now a practicing Christian (Methodist, specifically).
Here are some funny Jewish quotes I've collected since the fall season started:
1. "The butcher ran out of beef ribs and asked if he could use pork and I said 'yeah.'" (Lizzy, Samantha's little sister)
"For the Chan-Finkelstein wedding?" (Samantha Bloom)
"Yeah, is that bad?"
"Lizzy, he's an Orthodox Jew!"
"Yeah but she's Chinese, I kinda thought he'd gotten over it."
2. "The wedding went so well, they made me an honorary Chinese Jew!" (Lizzy)
2. "I need to know that my children will be free to worship who I tell them to." (Rachel) "Sure, of course. Yeah, [our kids] should totally go to Jew church and wear those hats and eat that salty orange stuff on their bagels." (Non-Jew Finn to Jewish girlfriend, Rachel on Glee)
3. Puck explaining that though he's a proud Jew, he is not uncomfortable around Glee members who are Christian and talking about Jesus on the "Grilled Cheesus" episode:
"I don't like people using J-Money to cramp everyone else's style... I see God every time I make out with a chick."
"I’m a total Jew for Jesus. He’s my number one Heeb." Oy vey.
"I actually went to temple with my nanny yesterday."
Wow, I've really been getting a lot of email lately from new readers and fans! Thank you for sharing so many of your amazing stories with me! I hope that people can be patient awaiting my responses. I am no longer responding to every email but I do read all of them and I try to answer the most time sensitive ones as quickly as possible. For the next few months, I'm also avoiding committing myself to speaking or writing engagements or continuing to offer support to converts over the phone and Skype.
A couple of things to please keep in mind when reaching out to me for help. I'm not a social worker and am on the whole very unfamiliar with Jewish organizations in LA or elsewhere that can help if you're dealing with a financial, health, job related crisis, etc. With queries of that nature, I do try to gather the most information I can and then forward it on to more knowledgeable friends who are social workers and might be able to direct you to the right place. But again, because my experience is so limited in this area, I don't have the greatest track record of being able to help in these situations.
Again, I'm just a blogger, writer, speaker, teacher, Rebbetzin-in-training-wheels, etc. While I can probably connect you to a rabbi or community if you're interested in converting or offer advice or support to someone just starting out the process, usually the most help I can offer someone is an ear or connections to others in similar situations. Outside of my limited area of "expertise" (freelance writing, blogging, speaking, Jews of color, Jewish diversity, Jewish multiculturalism, Jewish conversion), I'm pretty useless. For instance: Though I have linked to many different types of articles on adoption in the Jewish community, I do not know very much about it and will usually direct people to check out The Jewish Multiracial Network" or Be'chol Lashon or recommend they contact friends who have firsthand knowledge in this area.
Also to keep in mind, I'm not from Los Angeles and though my husband was raised here and we have family out here, I'm still getting my bearings and networking to make contacts out here in my aforementioned areas of expertise. I've only really just gotten here and most of my stuff is still piled up in boxes!
Since May, I've been dealing with a lot of health issues unrelated to my fibromyalgia. Being chronically ill all the time and then developing health problems on top of that can be pretty frightening and overwhelming. Plus the move from New York to Los Angeles also took its toll on my body. I'm not sure when and if I will be able to return to blogging, freelance writing or speaking regularly but I thank you all from the sweet emails you've sent my way and I hope that I've been able to connect you to others who could use the blogging, freelance writing and speaking gigs.
Thankfully after many months of rejections, I have finally obtained healthcare in Los Angeles on September 1st! Now I'm getting to know my new doctors...and how to get around my posh surroundings. I have a palm tree in front of my apartment! How cool is that?! Not so cool is having your doctor tell you that you're not well enough to even take driving lessons in a place that doesn't have a subway system! Thankfully as a native New Yorker, I don't think too much about walking 2 miles to the nearest movie theater.
By the way, as long as we're talking about stuff that is not cool...having people I know well or worst people I barely know constantly asking me intrusive questions or making callous comments about my employment status or the status of my uterus is so not cool! I can remind myself that I'm fat, childless and broke without any help from outsiders!
And now...ONward to go answer some of those emails and try to figure out the (laughable) Los Angeles public transportation system!
Check out this totally random Sesame Street YouTube video that's been circulating and making thousands laugh uproariously!
Some great quotes: “And from there the Lord scattered them over the face of the entire Earth.” (Gen. 11:8). What was the sin of the Tower of Babel, and why was it necessary to scatter them and create many languages? Are not geographical distance and the differences of language and culture the primary bases of misunderstanding and fear of the other? What did this people do to deserve that their unity be shattered and that this terrible curse be brought to the world?
While many explanations have been offered to explain this sin, the simple sense of the verse indicates that their very sin was that of unity, of being one. Immediately upon Noah’s exiting the ark, God had declared: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth.” (Gen 9:1), while those who built the Tower said: “Come…and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” (Gen. 11:4, and see Rashbam there). When God looked at what they had done, God saw not only one language but also that “behold, the people are one.” It was this unity, the fact of having one language, being one people, and wanting to stay that way, which was their sin. After their punishment, the fulfillment of God’s blessing to “fill the Earth,” was realized, and the peoples were “divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.” (Gen 10:5; and see verses 21, 31-32).
Sadly, there are many today who reject this approach, and who would like to believe that all Jews do or should look alike – white and Ashkenazi – and that all Jews should think and act in exactly the same way. Sometimes this desire expresses itself in a demand for a centralized rabbinic authority, one that would define one standard for all Jews, and reject any differences of practice or opinion. This is happening more and more in recent years with the Israeli Rabbinate, and has had a tragic impact on so many Jews, and also on so many prospective Jews – prospective converts whose very difference could so benefit the Jewish people.
Okay and did anyone else read this line and think "WE ARE BORG!" and "Resistance is futile!": "Certainly there is a danger when unity becomes uniformity, when dissenting voices are silenced, and when everyone’s thoughts, words and actions are molded by a groupthink mentality."