Black Jews Rising

The AJC says the number is at 150,000 in the U.S. alone — and rising. The paper profiles a former evangelical couple who are making the conversion. “For a black male to put on a kipah and go wandering around in a predominately black community, you get the strangest looks,” said Pamela Harris.

Highland, where Pamela Harris works as the senior nonclerical staff member, at least eight of the roughly 20 people learning about Judaism with Rabbi Hillel Norry are black.

At the Marcus Jewish Community Center in Dunwoody, roughly 20 percent of the nearly two dozen people enrolled in Steven Chervin’s introduction to Judaism classes are black.

Although there are no sound statistics on the subject, anecdotal evidence suggests that, in the past 15 years, increasing numbers of black Americans are exploring Judaism, said Gary Tobin, president of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research in San Francisco.

“Ten years ago, it was almost unheard of that a black person would come in and want to convert,” said Rabbi Ilan Feldman, who is working with the Harrises and two other black people pursuing conversion.

The numbers here seem a little large. I’ve been to dozens of synaogues in the last few years and I can count the number of black Jews I’ve seen on one hand. Am I missing something?

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