Judaism's Black Converts Growing Part of US Mosaic

More African-Americans switch religions even as Obama seeks to renew connection
By Green Point,  Newser User
Posted Jul 17, 2008 8:55 PM CDT
"There is a great desire ... to re-establish the very powerful and successful alliance between the African-American community and the Jewish community," one blogger says. "Obama will appeal to that."   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The number of African-Americans converting to Judaism is growing, the Christian Science Monitor reports, at a time when Democrat Barack Obama is seeking to renew what was once a strong alliance between the groups. Politics, though, plays a small role; "Obama's candidacy, African-Americans choosing to be Jews ... is all part of the great American story of freedom and choice," one observer says.

Indeed, one survey finds that 40% of Americans switch faiths at some point, and while one estimate puts the number of practicing black Jews in the US at 150,000, another says there could be 1 million African-Americans with Jewish blood. "It's odd to see black people convert to Judaism, and even Jewish people look at me strangely," one convert says. "But once everybody sees that I can recite the prayers in Hebrew, their attitudes change."