Ariel Amaru (25) was raised by her Jewish mother in Boulder, Colorado. Amaru’s mom built a conservative household. One where meat was to be eaten without dairy, Shabbat was for resting, and Sundays were spent at Hebrew school. Her dad, who is Jamaican, wasn’t really in the picture during the formative years of her life. Growing up in a predominantly white community, Ariel felt like she wasn’t able to explore and connect to her black identity until she moved to Washington D.C for her undergraduate studies.
Now a law student at the University of Colorado Boulder, Amaru is still discovering herself. “I feel like I’m figuring out what I want Judaism to look like and how I want to fit it into my life,” Ariel said.
When asked how she experiences being a Jewish woman of color, Ariel expressed that she sees a lot of connections to being black and being Jewish.
“I think being a woman, being Jewish, being black, I have a lot of intersecting lenses with which to view the world. I think I get to see a lot of perspective and always never quite fully belong to one.”
Being the only black person in her synagogue, as well as her family, and not growing up with the cultural understanding of blackness, due to growing up in a white population, Ariel described her experience as “empowering but also very lonely.”
With a strong connection to the religion and culture of Judaism, Ariel shared with me what makes Judaism so special.
“The fact that Jews have maintained such a strong cultural political presence worldwide with the amount of adversity that has been thrown against us is astonishing to me. The resilience in Judaism is probably one of the most beautiful aspects of it to me as a religion and as a culture.”