Black Jews

In Judith Weisenfeld’s first chapter was the first time that black Jewish people had been discussed. Some parts of the chapter were a little hard to wrap my head around like how Rabbi E. J. Benson called black Jews Hebrews and white Jews ‘Jews.’ But white Jews were called ‘Jews’ because they were Jews of European descent. I kind of understand that and the need to separate themselves from white Jews. And it was not strange to me that the black Jews did not want to be called ‘Negroes.’ Benson told his congregation to call themselves ‘Ethiopian Hebrews’ and not ‘Negroes’ as that was an insult. There was a lot of background information, such as black Jews being descendant of Abraham because he had smooth skins while the white Jews were descendants of Esau because they had hairy skin. This confuses me because I guess that I am unaware of these “stereotypes.” I just don’t understand how they could come up with that conclusion. What exactly specifies as being hairy?

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