Transcript for First Asian American rabbi talks diversity
Well, I feel really grateful that I grew up in a very tight-knit jewish community in Tacoma, Washington, where I was accepted and as one of only three Jews in ply high school my sister and I were two of three of them so people thought Jews looked like us. Once I left the little bubble of Tacoma and went into the wider jewish world I would say that I faced a lot of questions and some of them were from, you know, curious people and some of it was more challenging and I think that, you know, judaism in America has often been seen as very white and that is changing quite a bit but people do think of Asian heritage and jewish heritage as two separate things but if you go back into historical communities, there are actually historic communities in China and India that have been jewish and Asian for a long time. Something you spoke on to that exact point there, folks came to you after those tragic shootings at the spas in Atlanta and want you to speak as a member of and leader of the asian-american community but you more so see yourself as a leader of the jewish community who happens to be asian-american but that is actually a good point to make in that you can't just depend on one group to handle their own issues. We all need to kind of be intertwined and helping each other out when it comes to sometimes bigotry and hate. Absolutely. I was hesitant at first to speak because I don't feel like I'm leading an Asian community. I feel like I lead a jewish community which is primarily not Asian but I realize that I am a korean-american and proud of it and I needed to speak in this moment and I think just as you said, one of the things I learned as a rabbi is Jews cannot fight anti-semitism alone and can't expect that the black community has to fight racism alone and the Asian community can't fight anti-asian hate alone and each of these race itches and bigotries have their own permutations and are a little different from each other, but at the base, we all are trying to fight prejudice and hatred and bigotry and we need to do this together and that was one of the reasons I felt like I had to step up and speak. Well, you're going to do just that right now as you'll be able to talk to Americans of referee faith, of every culture right now. We always ask our faith Friday guests to give us some inspiration heading into the weekend so I give you the floor. Well, that's beautiful. I know that my Muslim brothers and sisters just finished their holy festival of Ramadan and we as a jewish community are going into the festival of shavuot this weekend and that is a celebration of standing at sinai and receiving our sacred text but essentially what our text says in deuteronomy is that we were all there, meaning, not just people back then at sinai but in future generations and not just the elders and leaders but also the water choppers and the water drawers and wood choppers so people, women, men, children, even the stranger and what we have an opportunity to reaffirm in every moment and this holiday celebrates this is that we each can have that mountaintop moment where we choose again to enter into a life of purpose, ethical living, a way that we want to treat our family, our business partners, the most vulnerable people that have come out of this pandemic that we have an opportunity to affirm a sort of covenantal promise of who we want to be in the world and I think that is a very hopeful message for us and it includes anyone who chooses it. It wasn't coerced. We have to choose it each and every day. And let's go to that mountaintop and reaffirm our lives in this moment wherever we come from. Well, that is certainly beautiful. Thank you so much, rabbi Angela buchdahl. We appreciate your time today. Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.
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