The Treatment Ashkenazi Jews Essay

The Treatment Ashkenazi Jews Essay

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European Jews have been persecuted and subjected to anti-Semitism for centuries. Renowned scholar Miri Rubin outlines the treatment Ashkenazi Jews were subjected to from accusations of host desecration to causing plagues in her study Gentile Tales (1999). However, according to Nathan Katz and many other scholars, minority Kaifeng Jews from China and Cochin Jews from India “were regarded with affection and esteem by their neighbors, who even bestowed gifts upon their synagogues” (1995). They never experienced anti-Semitism and were treated as equals. On the other hand, Ethiopian Jews were also a minority group in their region, but faced harsh anti-Semitism. Although this phenomenon is well known among scholars, it is less well known the fate of these minority groups once they attempted to return to Israel under the Law of Return. After reaching Israel, minority groups faced racism and found their authenticity as Jews questioned simply because they were not Ashkenazi. In some cases, this was in stark contrast to the peaceful and harmonious relations they had with neighbors in their previous homes. Ultimately, the way that the Israeli rabbinate defines Judaism under the Law of Return is flawed and serves as a mirror to the deep-rooted racism that plagues Israel. Minority Jews from different cultures and backgrounds each have a unique experience when they arrive in Israel. However, they are all united in the fact that they are treated differently as a result of their race and/or forced to go through a conversion process to become “legitimate” Jews.
Although the Kaifeng Jews did not experience anti-Semitism, they encountered other obstacles as a result of their minority status; they are not recognized as a true minority group in Chi...


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... to board a bus but the driver would not let her on. When she inquired about the reason the driver responded, “Can’t you see I am not taking black people? Did you have buses in Ethiopia, or even shoes?” ("Israel: The Tribulations of Being an Ethiopian Jew”). It is disheartening that Ethiopian Jews cannot live somewhere where they are treated as equals. Additionally, “about 52 percent of Ethiopian-Israeli families live below the poverty line, compared to 16 percent among the general Jewish Israeli population” ("Israel: The Tribulations of Being an Ethiopian Jew”). Shay Sium, an Ethiopian Jew recalls her childhood in Israel: “Growing up was an everyday struggle. For those who are different, the Jewish people can be a very closed community. Simply because I am Ethiopian, life has been harder than it is for others” ("Israel: The Tribulations of Being an Ethiopian Jew”).

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