To Be Black, Jewish, and Other by Diana Kindzred

As part of our continued conversation about the intersection of Judaism and race in America

As many of you know by now, I am the bi/tri racial product of a Sephardic mother and an Afro-Cuban man with an Irish Catholic mother.  

My Dad was born in Cuba. My parents met in the 1930s at Mr. Ludsky's Christmas office party in Chicago. My Dad worked for Mr. Ludsky in his food store before getting a government job as a graphics designer. My Afro-Cuban dad taught me more about Jews and Judaism than anyone else. With their background, my parents wanted us, my sister and I, to live with other people of different nationalities and ethnicities. Hyde Park has always been welcoming to upper class/wealthy Black people as well as a center for German Jews. It was the home of Julius Rosenwald of Sears Roebuck, the co-creator of the NAACP who built many schools in the South for black children of freed slaves. So, they set up home in Hyde Park.

After the war, many Black as well as White soldiers brought back what were called "war brides" so, growing up in the post WWII years, I was surrounded by many bi-racial children in the post WWII years. In fact there were three other girls in my neighborhood with Jewish fathers and black mothers named Bernstein and Prince.

I left home to explore the world through the military. Here I got my first taste of racism. White females would just come up to your face and say: I don't like you!  The N word came out from a couple of them - and, yes, they were punished for that. I stayed to myself and traveled to NYC and the Eastern seaboard a lot. Oddly, while in the military, I dated both Black and White guys who were very nice. I was most lucky to be stationed outside of Philadelphia.

I did work for the Jewish community in Philadelphia and stayed close to my Rabbi, Herman E. Gross and the few Jewish guys stationed there on the post. Rabbi Gross later moved to Israel. After the 1967 Six Day War, he wanted me to move there too but my dad wouldn't hear of it. I went to college at Northwestern. In the late 1960s college life at Northwestern wasn't good for either Blacks or Jews. I ended up working for Jewish firms most of my career. And I have been a community activist my entire life. 

Race has always been an issue for me. Being stopped by the police in the newly integrated Western suburbs were terrible; being given a  driving ticket for no reason; White female soldiers and Black males driving were asked for bribes.

Some of my ancestors were brought here as slaves. Others came as free immigrants others, as refugees who were forced to leave their country of origin. Yet, I've traveled the world and I still say that this is the BEST country in the world.  

I'm happy to have been born in America.