In last weekend’s New York Times Sunday Review, Wajahat Ali, an author and journalist at Al Jazeera America, contributed a piece on the heavy burden he felt choosing a name for his son as a…Muslim-American parent. Although the piece is now titled online as “For Muslim-Americans, Baby Aidan or Baby Muhammad?”, but its original title in print was “Choosing the Muslim-y Name.” Ali described the common practice he has observed of giving Muslim-American children names like Aidan, Adam, Sarah, Layla, and Sophia, but rarely names like Muhammad. He queried… >> Read More
I am Ahmed.
Well, not really. But kind of.
By now, most likely everyone has heard the story of the 14-year-old Texas boy—brown-skinned, Muslim, last name Mohamed—who was arrested,…fingerprinted, and interrogated on suspicion of bringing a bomb to school. It was, in fact, a homemade clock. (When my 6th grader first heard the story, he asked me, “What was there that could ignite? Do his teachers and principal know how circuits work?) Some in the media and online have tried to reframe the… >> Read More
Sometimes I worry that I talk about Judaism too much. As much as I use the words Jew, Jewish, or Judaism, I’m saying them in my head even more. It’s become a tic of sorts, a knee-jerk reaction…to the random information that comes at me all day long. What’s more, I have this habit of looking for fellow Jews in situations where a person’s religion or heritage is irrelevant. I worry that it’s gone too far. A friend tells me her sister met a great guy. Is he Jewish? I think, but… >> Read More
"What are you?"
When asked this question, I always say that I am an American Jew. As the fourth generation to be born in New York, I don’t align myself with other countries. Many European…nations expelled their Jewish populations. If they didn’t want my family, why would I claim them now? But my answer masked a simpler truth: For most of my life, I didn’t know where I came from. Relationships with my father’s family were strained. I didn’t want to hurt him by dredging up a past best… >> Read More
The JCC of the Upper West Side (in New York City) held an art exhibition last month. It was called “Migrants Nation” and, according to curator Vitaly Umansky, “Artists represented in this…exhibition underwent assimilation either into an Israeli or American reality; they all have personal stories; they are all individuals. However, they all share one history. Regardless of the environment to which they had to assimilate to, they all have different levels of nostalgia, analysis, and assimilation.” All of the artists in the exhibition were born… >> Read More