Why a Mizrahi Jew loved Dumisani’s Seder

Educated in a missionary school, Rachel Wahba had a negative impression of churches and pastors. But Pastor Dumisani Washington and his Mizrahi Project changed all that (with thanks: Lily)

As a Zionist Mizrahi Jew, I long to be in an environment where the Mizrahi exodus into Israel matters. The church seder opened with a clip from The Mizrahi Project, where Joe, an Iraqi Jew tells his story of surviving the Farhud, Baghdad’s pogrom, and eventual expulsion.

Rachel Wahba: ‘ugly Jew’

When a pastor goes to such lengths to develop and preserve the trajectory of Jews from Arab lands in the service of understanding Israel as a national liberation movement for all Jews, the personal becomes very political.

If it wasn’t for Dumisani, I doubt I would have found myself at a church celebrating the first night of Pesach. Historically the Last Supper doesn’t hold good memories for me. As a stateless Jew at Stella Maris, Easter was the worst time. We studied the painful pictures of Jesus carrying his cross up Calvary. I became the ugly Jew who convinced the Romans to kill Jesus. And to make matters worse, I was the unremorseful Jew who refused to be baptized out of Judaism.

I am no longer the murdering Jew in a Catholic missionary school, and no one here is trying to convert me or Israel. I am a Mizrahi activist and I love Pastor Dumisani Washington as should every Zionist Jew. His awareness and activism as a Zionist who understands the importance of teaching the Mizrahi experience needs to spread to the larger Jewish community.

He is doing what I have longed for from my rabbis — to incorporate the modern-day Mizrahi exodus out of Arab lands into the Jewish/Israeli narrative. To correct the destructive anti-Zionist rant that Israel is a European settler enterprise.


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