Privilege Checklist

*Please note, I did not create this list nor did I give it the original title. I’ve changed the title due to it being offensive to Jews of Color who are Ashkenazi.*

The Ashkenazi White Jewish Privilege Checklist was developed by Corinne Lightweaver, Sasha King, and members of the Jewish Multiracial Network online discussion group, 2006–2009, to teach about the white privilege conferred upon Ashkenazi Jews by the Jewish community. Please distribute the Ashkenazi/White Jewish Privilege Checklist, use it in workshops, and add to it.

The following statements are examples of ways in which white Ashkenazi Jews have privilege because they are white. The privileges listed below are ones that many white Ashkenazi Jews may take for granted today, but which are not available to most Jews of color in the United States.

Please check all the statements that apply to you. At the end, try to list at least two more ways you have privilege in the Jewish community based on your race or ethnicity.

___    I can walk into my temple and feel that others do not see me as
outsider.
___    I can walk into my temple and feel that others do not see me
as exotic.
___    I can walk into my temple and feel that my children are
seen as Jews.
___    I can walk into temple with my family and not worry that
they will be treated unkindly because of the color of their skin.
___    I
can enjoy music at my temple that reflects the tunes, prayers, and cultural
roots of my specific Jewish heritage.
___    No one at my synagogue will
attempt to assign me to a ethnicity to which I  do not belong (e.g., assuming
all Jews of African descent are Igbo or Ethiopian).
___    I can easily find
greeting cards and books with images of Jews who look like me.
___    I can
easily find Jewish books and toys for my children with images of Jews that look
like them.
___    I am not singled out to speak about and as a representative
of an “exotic” Jewish subgroup.
___    When I go to Jewish bookstores or
restaurants, I am not seen as an outsider.
___    I find my experiences and
images like mine in Jewish newspapers and magazines.
___    I do not worry
about access to housing or apartments in predominately Jewish
neighborhoods.
___    My rabbi never questions that I am Jewish.
___
When I tell other members of my synagogue that I feel marginalized, they are
immediately and appropriately responsive.
___    There are other children at
the religious school who look like my child.
___    My child’s authenticity
as a Jew is never questioned by adults or children based on his/her skin
color.
___    People never say to me, “But you don’t look Jewish,” either
seriously or as though it was funny.
___    I do not worry about being seen
or treated as a member of the janitorial staff at a synagogue or when attending
a Jewish event.
___    I am never asked “how” I am Jewish at dating events or
on Jewish dating websites.
___    I can arrange to be in the company of Jews
of my heritage most of the time.
___    When attempting to join a synagogue
or Jewish organization, I am confident that my ethnic background will not be
held against me.
___    I can ask synagogues and Jewish organizations to
include images and cultural traditions from my background without being seen as
a nuisance.
___    I can enroll in a Jewish day school, yeshiva, and
historically Jewish college and find Jewish students and professors with my
racial or ethnic background.
___    People of color do not question why I am
Jewish.
___    I know my racial or ethnic background will not be held against
me if I  attempt to join a minyan in prayer.
___    I know my ethnic
background will not be held against me in being called to read the
Torah.
___    I am not discriminated against in the aliyah process as a Jew
of my particular ethnicity.

____ I have never had the police called on me or have been escorted out of a
service by a policeman for doing nothing other than praying while being a person
of color.

_____ I have not been asked to leave a shul or a class or have been barred
from entering a shul or a class due to my skin color.

Text not copyrighted. Developed for educational purposes by the Jewish Multiracial Network, 2006–2009. Please distribute and add to the checklist. For more information about the Jewish Multiracial Network, visit
http://www.jewishmultiracialnetwork.org.

4 thoughts on “Privilege Checklist

  1. This is kind of offensive because it assumes all Ashkenazim are white.

    I am Ashkenazi and I am a person of color. I am mixed race and my mother is white. I have been raised exclusively in Ashkenazi traditions and this post only perpetuates erasure of those of us who are Ashkenazi of color.

    It goes back and forth between Ashkenazi and white Ashkenazi. But if this was aimed at only white Ashekanzim, a privilege would be “People assume you are Sephardi or Mizrahi because of your race.”

    1. Rachel I apologize. I believe that the list is aimed at white Ashkenazi and white Jews in general. I did not create the original list nor gave the list its title. I have changed the title of the checklist. I attend a conservative Ashkenazi shul and this has never dawned on me that it would be offensive to Jews of Color. Thank you for bringing this to my attention and once again I apologize.

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