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The Black Orthodox


Nechemyah Davis
Twenty years ago, the hotbed of Brooklyn racism was Crown Heights. I tell my friends to try to educate their children so they know G-d created all kinds of people. My hope is that by talking about it, eventually a person who looks across the subway platform and sees a black guy in a hat with peyas will think, Maybe he’s not Amish. But we’ll never stop being black. It’s who we are. It can get tiring, but being black and Jewish for us is the ultimate test of how to be righteous. It’s a jungle out there.

Because I converted, my experiences can really set me apart. I was at a friend’s house and happened to mention a bikini, and one of the girls there didn’t know what that was. Part of me was thinking, That’s beautiful, she’s so modest. But the other part was thinking, How blind can you be?


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