Jewish Journal


by Tera Greene

July 22, 2010 | 4:59 pm

My first passport

I don’t know if you guys have been keeping up with the new bill that is being proposed by the Ultra-Orthodox Shas party that will basically deny the right of a convert to make Aliyah (return back to Israel/Citizenship), but it really has me thinking of how sad it is that anyone feels they have the right to deny people so blatantly, causing rifts and unnecessary schisms amongst humans. True, I believe in screening people to insure they have the best interests of your home and Person at heart (I mean, I don’t just let anyone come into my abode), but I also subscribe to the adage of doing unto others as you’d want them to do unto you (I paraphrase The Golden Rule). 

I look back at just how many rules of denying identity could be applied to me if they were still in effect - and some are -, and if this law were to pass, well, here’s what I’d have to offer in life, as a 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd class citizen:

As a woman, I’d definitely not be able to vote, and true to form, we still don’t have complete equal rights (and even less depending where you are in the world), but I most-certainly would only be able to be a housemaid of some sort, with no schooling or option of schooling.  Just having babies, no matter how cute I think they are, would drive me crazy.  Beyonce and her army of Independent Women wouldn’t last a day…

But, before being considered a woman, I’d just be Black.  Never mind I have Irish and Native American blood; I’d be a slave and certainly still wouldn’t be able to vote.  As someone who has worked for the Census in 2000 and 2010, when it came to the enumeration process way back when, if I were lucky, I’d maybe be part of the 3/5th of the population who were able to be counted.  Yes, contrary to belief, the Constitution did not define slaves as 3/5ths of a person; instead, it counted them as 3/5ths toward representation to straddle the lines between those that wanted to count slaves as full people, and those who wanted nothing to do with a slave being represented.  (The three-fifths compromise is found in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the US Constitution). I’m curious if this was ever amended to reflect a full 100% of the population needed to be represented (though, many Blacks choose not to be counted anyway). 

And what of being a homosexual? Currently Canada, The Netherlands (Holland), Belgium, Portugal, Iceland, Spain, South Africa, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Mexico, Argentina are the only places you can legally get married as a gay individual.  And there are other places that will at least recognize same sex couples, including the UK, Germany, Norway, Iceland, and Israel. I’ve purposely left out California, though I live here now, because come November, if marijuana passes it’s legality of rights, I’ll be really perturbed that a dang plant has more acknowledgement that me in this state called Cali.  And I’m a vegetarian, for pete’s sake, with funny hair and the last name of Greene!  Joking aside, and outside of the idea of subscribing to the institution marriage, as a homosexual, there are still utter bigots who kill, bludgeon and bully LGBTQ individuals, no matter their age, status or religious/spiritual views and practices. 

So, how much more identity denying could there possibly be, you ask? Well, as a convert, with Israel’s new bill, I would be denied a place to live that I feel is so beautiful and so my vibe, if I were to choose to want to make Aliyah one day (and I’ve thought of it).  It’s offensive on so many levels, starting with the foundations of Judaism resting upon G-d, Torah and Israel.  Torah, specifically, you have the whole entire Book of Ruth, but more basically, Jews were the first to proselytize for Converts.  (See also Genesis 12.5 in the Tanakh, “..., and the persons that they had acquired in Haran”, which speaks of the people they had acquired, which means converted; and Book of Ruth 1.14, “,... and your G-d, my G-d”, which tells of how back in day, all you had to profess was that the ethical monotheistic One G-d was your G-d to be accepted into the fold).

Biblical scriptures aside, in a nutshell, I’m just tired of being Denied, even if it’s just an attempt to do so that never comes to fruition.  Though, history has proven that denying a People their rights somehow finds its way to light, and I ponder When will history stop repeating itself?.  It’s as ridiculous to hear anyone try to say someone can not do or Be within the Jewish sect, as it is to hear that Christians follow the Commandments, because even before we get into the act of breaking the laws, the majority don’t even acknowledge the first one: “I the Lord and your G-d who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage…” (Exodus 20.1).  When it’s a denying from the people that are of your own Tribe or family, it’s a big slap in the face, especially when many of those people who this specific law would not apply to were born Jewish, but don’t follow traditions, and don’t even prescribe to the foundations of Judaism, even in part.  I have a lot to offer, and all these laws that we create upon each other just to feel so Big and Powerful and therefore alienate the people who will help us grow and live in longevity within our microcosm of communities and larger global society as a whole, cause me a pain in my stomach.  True, not everyone will invite you to their table, and you can always be bold to invite yourself; but what’s the point of being pro anything that doesn’t want to recognize you and/or the things you contribute to its well-being as a Peoplehood?  I’m not saying I’ll definitely want to live in Israel, but it’s a thought, and with this bill, I feel saddened that I could possibly be denied, yet again, simply because humans have become so Power-mongering that they forget the simple, yet more powerful might of The Golden Rule.

Please also see “Conversion Bill Postponed By 6 Months”, which at least bides more time for minds to think more graciously upon this law.  And go here to read a lot of commentary on Aliyah.

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Tera “Nova Jade* Greene is a professional lesbian of color and Jew by Choice.  She is a producer of music and film, a renowned DJ and always finds herself in the midst of...

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