Ethiopian Hebrews

I really enjoyed reading about Ethiopian Hebrews in chapter 1, “Geographies of Race and Religion,” of Judith Weisenfeld’s book New World A-Coming. Since we have focused primarily on African American Christians, it was refreshing to hear about another religious community’s struggles, especially during such a tumultuous point in American history. The ideas toward Jewish racial identity set forth by Arnold Josiah Ford were striking. Since the 1920s-30s were decades which produced an increase of anti-Semitic beliefs on a global scale, the distinction Ford makes between Hebrews and Jews using racial identities displays a religious conformity to societal standards and practices of the early twentieth century. Later on in this chapter, Ford’s co-founder of BBA, Mordecai Herman “stressed Judaism’ s advantage in that it taught how to live rather than preparing people to die, which he saw as the substance of Christian teaching” (36). I hadn’t thought of this religious teaching comparison before between Christianity and Judaism. Herman’s succinct description here has truly left a lasting impression with me.

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