“Dad, I want to have a bar mitzvah! And — I’ll get a Hebrew name. I’m going to go with either Shlomo or Shmuel.”
So says young Andre Jr. — much to the dismay of Andre Sr. — in the trailer for ABC’s new family comedy, “Black-ish,” set to debut September 24.
This African American kid’s desire to have a bar mitzvah, even though he’s not at all Jewish, sets us up for his dad’s big concern: “Lately, I feel in order to make it, we’ve all dropped a little of our culture.” Worried about his family’s shifting racial and cultural identity, the father resists — “Jr., when you turn 13, I’m throwing you an African rites of passage ceremony” — at least at first.
The premise of the show is funny — but, for a Jewish viewer, it’s more than just that. In “Black-ish,” Jews represent the counterpoint to blackness. They are, in other words, the epitome of whiteness. They’re as white as white can be.
But Jews weren’t always perceived that way — far from it.