Jewish Dissimilarities–by Melissa

Growing up near a Jewish Community

We’ve all been around Jewish communities at one point or another and I know we never for a split second stopped to think that there were so many differences among them. I’ve become so intrigued about what the entire Jewish population looks like, acts like, and even talks like. Growing up in Brooklyn, NY, near Borough Park, I always thought all Jewish people were the same. The men always wearing top hats, payot and dressed in dark clothes and the women in knee length skirts, all neutral dark colors and very conservative. I remember being in junior high school with a Dominican classmate and years later I had bumped into him in Borough Park and he was dressed “Jewish” and even had his hair in a Jewish style. For many years I was intrigued and thought about how this boy I knew became part of the Jewish community. This is exactly where I can relate to Alanna Cooper when she asks “Is there a single Judaism and Jewish People?” (xii) In general, many may classify the Jews as one type based on the neighborhood. As we’ve been learning there are so many differences in the way they practice their religion, in how they look and even how they interact with one another.

Working in the Jewish community

I started working in a private Jewish elementary school in 2013. This is also referred to as a “Yeshivah”. This is when I realized that not all Jewish people looked the same and were nowhere near the same as each other. I quickly learned and was amazed when I started meeting Jewish people from different backgrounds. I have met Jewish people from Israel, Mexico, Syria and many other places. This brought me back full circle to that classmate years ago that had become Jewish. By working at this Yeshivah I started learning how similar and also how different people were in this Jewish community. In this specific school the Jewish are classified as either Sephardic or Ashkenazi. In Borough Park most were Hasidic Jews. Hasidic Jews can be either Sephardic or Ashkenazi. As I learned from the book Aleppo Chronicles, “both accept the Bible, the Talmud, and the same Code of Law in almost exactly the same form.” (Sutton 486) It seems that the main difference in classifying one or the other is depicted by the different ways Hebrew is spoken. In the book Bukharan Jews, the author, Alanna Cooper was so intrigued by this difference also.

Jewish diaspora class at Brooklyn College

When I had the chance to take the Jewish Diaspora class at Brooklyn College I was ecstatic. It was my time to learn about all the questions I had about the Jewish communities that I didn’t know about on a local and global scale. The history behind the Jewish people is very interesting, intricate and profound and it may take a lifetime to know everything there is to know. In the meantime working where I work and taking this class has enlightened me about so many things I once didn’t know.


Temple Beth-el of Borough Park in Borough Park, Brooklyn, Sunday, Mar. 16, 2014. Borough Park is a predominately Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. (Credit: Linda Rosier)

Works Cited

Cooper, Alanna E. Bukharan Jews and the Dynamics of Global Judaism. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2012. Print.

Sutton, Joseph A. D. Aleppo Chronicles: The Story of the Unique Sephardeem of the Ancient Near East, in Their Own Words. New York: Thayer-Jacoby, 1988. Print.

Rosier, Linda. Temple Beth-el of Borough Park in Borough Park. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2016.

This entry was posted in Student Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s