This study assesses from a North American Sephardic (Spanish-Jewish) perspective, the ambiguous relationships among Jews, “people of color,” and definitions of “whiteness” in order to re-evaluate multicultural education in the United States. My intent is not to polarize multiple cultural identities but to illuminate and clarify differences in Jewish histories, identities, and cultures. The assumption that all Jews are and can pass as white, and therefore “have privilege,” denies the complexities of racism, anti-Semitism, whiteness, assimilation, and multiculturalism. In a world where hierarchical divisions narrowly define our perceptions, our relations to power, and our multiple identities, Sephardic non-white Jews are often simultaneously defined and excluded by “whites,” “people of color,” and by those who are themselves stereotyped as the “monolithic Jew” (i.e., the German or Eastern European Jew). By examining historical and social constructions of “whiteness,” I hope to compel Jews to politicize the construction of our identities within the context of the diaspora and cultural workers to strengthen the vitality, complexity, and legitimacy of a multicultural curriculum.

This content is only available via PDF.