Crown Heights, Jewish, Racism

Oh No,They Didn’t!- Gombo’s Heimishe Bakery Worker Makes YouTube Video Mocking African-American Non-Jewish Customer

Goy jokes aren’t funny…

What was a worker at Gombo’s Heimishe Bakery thinking when he made a YouTube video making fun of his African-American non-Jewish customers?

The problem of Jews looking down on non-Jews is an age-old one. Not all Jews do it, but many do. Some Jews think that Jews are better, “chosen” and that a non-Jew is a “lower form of life.”  Some may say it is bad for me to talk about it. They say openly stating that some Jews feel superior to non-Jews leads to antisemitism. But it isn’t a secret. Non-Jews sense it when a Jew feels superior to them. And how will we solve this problem if we don’t talk about it?

Disgusted, time and time again I have heard Jews rant about the “goyim.” Goyim is a Yiddish word that only means a person who is not Jewish. But as with the word shiksa, it is usually used in a derogatory way and as a put down to a non-Jew. Around some Jews, I sometimes got a sense that putting down non-Jews made them feel better about themselves. It gives them a feeling of power. And in their social circles, that behavior is acceptable.  And it shouldn’t be.

The demonization of the non-Jewish community, especially the African-American community, in Crown Heights is nothing new. There have been tensions in the area between the African-American and Jewish community since before the Crown Heights Riots. Crownheights.info, in particular, has targeted the non-Jewish community.  There are many examples of how this publication will publish photos of non-Jewish criminals but not Jewish ones. In Man Arrested After Stabbing Roommate, 2 Israeli Bochurim Arrested for Alleged Assault and Israeli Bochur Arrested After Punching Cop in the Face, the Jewish criminals were not named nor were their photos published. In Attempted Cell Phone Mugging Turns Wild-3 Arrested, Man Taken Into Custody for Menacing Others at 770 and Woman Arrested for Shoplifting From Grocery, photos of the non-Jewish criminals were published.These tactics add to the fear and weariness some Jews have of the non-Jews in Crown Heights.

Videos like I Couldn’t Stop LAUGHING! The JEM Chanukah SEQUEL! are part of the problem. It is part of an “us against them” mentality. We have to see non-Jews as part of our community.  We have to see them as human beings. We have to give them some value. They are not here for us to mock. They are not here for our “entertainment.”  And in the case of this bakery, these non-Jews are their customers, so the bakery should appreciate them and show them a little respect.

When it comes down to it, it is about being a good human being. A good human being might see themselves as different from someone else but doesn’t see themselves as superior. I may be very different from someone else. But that is ok. That doesn’t make them lower or less than me.

If we as Jews don’t want people to hate us or discriminate against us, then we must not do the same to them. I find it ironic when I hear a racist or Islamophobic comment from a Jew and then in the next sentence they cry about antisemitism. Are you for real? You want people to be nice to you, but you can’t be nice to them.

I think that Gombo’s Heimishe Bakery’s African-American customers will be very saddened by this video.  If I were them, I wouldn’t feel comfortable going inside this bakery.

In solidarity with the African-American community of Crown Heights and because this video just isn’t right, I will be boycotting Gombo’s Heimshe Bakery until they remove the video and issue an apology. I encourage others to do the same.

Also published in the Times of Israel

Update: Just heard from someone who is knowledgeable about the production of the I Couldn’t Stop LAUGHING! The JEM Chanukah SEQUEL! video that the actor that dressed up like the black woman in the video was from JEM Community Center. And that the person who posted the video on YouTube is the rabbi’s daughter at JEM Community Center. But that doesn’t change the fact that it was shot at Gombo’s Heimishe Bakery’s and a Gombo’s Bakery employee is acting in it.

My concern is with Gombo’s Bakery because I live in Crown Heights. The fact that this happened on their premises and their employee was a party to it is appalling.

As for JEM’s involvement, that is deeply disturbing. Look on their website see what they do- https://www.jemcommunitycenter.com/

 Very sad that a community center that serves “thousands” would be party to this. I was honestly hoping that someone had just attached their advertisement on the end of the video at Gombo’s. But it looks like this is far worse than I thought.
I have confirmed that the YouTube poster Chaya Illulian has the same last name as the rabbi of the JEM Community Center. So I believe that this information that I have received is correct.
Update: Due to over 320 Facebook shares of this article on Times of Israel and pressure from the Jewish community and elsewhere on the makers of the I Couldn’t Stop LAUGHING! The JEM Chanukah SEQUEL!  video on April 5, 2017 the video was deleted from YouTube.

4 Comments

  1. Mark Williams Jr.

    I disagree with the argument that this reporter claims.

    While this video is a disgrace, it is immoral to attempt to make an entire religion look bad because of a single persons actions.
    This is what’s wrong with the world these days. People nowadays are taking individuals and placing them in groups, while claiming that an individual of a group defines the entire group.

    This is plain out wrong and deceptive.

    Reply
    1. Andrea Karshan Author

      I am Jewish myself. I am not trying to make my religion look bad. I am talking about a real problem that we have in our community. I love my religion. I love my fellow Jews.But this behavior by some Jews is just wrong. Read the article again. I said SOME Jews do this, not all.

      Reply
  2. Bob Smith

    “If we as Jews don’t want people to hate us or discriminate against us” – you are misrepresenting yourself. You are not Jewish until you have gone to the beit din and the mikveh.

    Reply
    1. Andrea Karshan Author

      I am not halachically a Jew. But I am a patrilineal Jew. So for all intents and purposes of this article, I am speaking as I identify, which is as a Jew. I think that you would find that many in the audience of this article would see a patrilineal Jew as a Jew. This article is different from the other article you commented on. In the case of that article “Did the “religious police” just take over Crown Heights?” it was important to mention that I am not halachically a Jew. It was pertinent to the article. Most who don’t consider patrilineal Jews Jews still feel that patrilineal Jews do have a Jewish connection and a Jewish voice, especially patrilineal Jews in the process of conversion. For me to not include myself in the “we” would have been considered a misrepresentation to most of the audience of this article.

      Reply

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