Deborah Archer was raised overseas by her Jewish mother and African American father. Deborah spent her developing years with her brother and sister growing up in Scandinavia. Her mother passed down traditions, and holidays but never truly explained the meaning of them.
“I grew up culturally Jewish but not necessarily religiously and not necessarily understanding everything,” Deborah said.
Deborah told me about the first time she felt more aware of her Judaism and what it meant to her. Her freshmen year at Brown University she met an orthodox Jew who lived on her floor.
“It was Rosh Hashanah and she invited me to her room for apples and honey and I said, ‘My mom used to do that!’ And she looked at me and said, ‘Well are you Jewish?’ And I said yes. She realized I had no clue why my mom did that and said, ‘Oh I need to help you.’ And that was where my journey began.”
Now a mother of three, and raising them Jewish, Deborah continued to learn more about Judaism when she joined a synagogue in Fort Collins, Colorado. Members of the congregation opened their arms to Deborah and her family. Although accepted by her community, she expressed to me the challenges she still faces being a Jewish woman of color.
“I think that’s the hardest part. Feeling like you still always have to prove yourself, and prove that you’re Jewish enough, black enough, or Hispanic enough, whatever you are.”