On Being at the Intersection of Central Brooklyn’s Black and Jewish Communities

Chava Shervington (Photo via Brooklyn Deep)

Crown Heights, writes Brooklyn Deep’s Keisha Dutes, “is America’s most infamous Black-Orthodox Jewish conflict zone.”

The site just launched, as part of its Third Rail podcast program, a three-part series on the intersection of the two communities, exploring some of the issues, tensions and myths surrounding the two communities and their interactions.

In the first segment, entitled “Blewish: The easy myths and hard truths of Black-Jewish relations,” Third Rail co-hosts Veralyn Williams and Mark Winston Griffith speak with Chava Shervington, a Black Orthodox Jewish woman who spent five years in Crown Heights and now lives in Los Angeles.

Shervington spoke about having lived with her husband and children in Crown Heights as active members of the community, and she said there were a lot more Black-Jewish families, some of whom have lived in central Brooklyn for decades, than people realized. She noted that she and her husband are Sephardic, by contrast with Lubavitch and other Hasidic communities in Brooklyn. And she talked about the dynamics of living within the Jewish community, and the perpetuation of stereotypes that both Blacks and Jews may have of each other.

She said that she “fell into” a more observant community following law school and noted that her sister has also became Orthodox. “It is my life story….at this point the intersection is very natural to me.”

Go to Brooklyn Deep to hear more from Shervington about how she “owns and claims” both of her identities, and how “nobody is going to tell me I don’t belong somewhere.”

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