Blacks are turning to Judaism — is it good for the Obamas?


The Christian Science Monitor takes a look at the “black conversion movement” – as in conversion to Judaism.

Numbers are hard to pin down. Besides well-known conversions such as that of the late entertainer Sammy Davis Jr., black Jews remain an unfamiliar part of the American religious landscape. Yet Lewis Gordon, director of the Center for Afro-Jewish Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, estimates there are as many as 1 million blacks with Jewish blood in the US.

Another recent study by the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco estimates that there are as many as 150,000 practicing black Jews in the US today, with synagogues across the country reporting increasing numbers of blacks either exploring or converting to Judaism.

The story has a few interesting details/quotes, but doesn’t come close to backing up the ambitious claim in its subhead: “Conversions to Judaism among African-Americans are growing in a way that could affect the presidential election.”

The writer takes a stab or two at pushing this thesis:

Sen. Barack Obama is lighting up connections to the black-Jewish alliance of the 1960s while at the same time trying to calm Jewish fears over his Muslim middle name and ties to pro-Palestinian activists. This could have critical implications in key states with large Jewish populations such as Florida and Pennsylvania.

In the end, though, the article fails to produce a single black convert to Judaism who is voting against Obama because he’s bad for the Jews. It does have a few quotes from Dov Hikind, a Democratic state assemblyman from Brooklyn, explaining why black hatted Jews will note vote for Obama.

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