A recent question asked about Jews doing Sujood, the Arabic word for prostration. And while it is acceptable to ask about the meaning of this word for clarity, or to ask how it relates to Judaism, there were some comments and questions that were not as acceptable. In this answer and others I am witnessing a lot of hostility toward Jewish questions that don't "look Jewish" to our Ashkenazi members. People saying that Sujood or Sigd is not a Jewish word. Or saying Ethiopians don't practice Judaism and therefore nothing can be learned from them etc.

Here is Wikipedia's definition of Ashkenormativity

Ashkenormativity refers to a form of Eurocentrism within Ashkenazi Jewish culture that confers privilege on Ashkenazi Jews relative to Jews of Sephardi, Mizrahi, Ethiopian, and other non-Ashkenazi backgrounds, as well as to the assumption that Ashkenazi culture is the default Jewish culture. The term is most commonly used in the United States, where the majority of Jews are Ashkenazi. Ashkenormativity is also alleged to exist in Israel, where Ashkenazi Jews experience cultural prominence despite no longer constituting a majority.

I don't want to use the word racism, because I don't think that's what this is. It seems to me that Ashkenazim come from a culture that "anything new is forbidden from the Torah," and so when confronted with something new or wildly different, such as prostration for prayer, the first impulse is to declare it not Jewish. And for this site, which pertains to Judaism, which has been around for thousands of years in many countries and languages, there are going to be things we have never heard of. I'll be honest, I know almost zero yiddish. All of it sounds alien to me, but I accept it as a Jewish language and all of its words as Jewish words. I don't think it's a stretch to ask for others to do the same for Judeo Arabic, Judeo Aramaic, Amharic, or Ge'ez when it's relevant to Judaism.

I would love for there to be a post or section that describes what Ashkenormative is, so that way when someone makes an answer or a comment that falls under that paradigm we can send them to go look in hopes they will re-approach their question or comment.

Does anyone else have any experiences or ideas regarding this topic?

Note: Per @DoubleAAs comment I want to make it clear that this issue doesn't only exist amongst Ashkenazim. I'm only using the word Ashkenormative as it has a useful definition to describe the problem I want to address

  • 1
    For those who do not refuse to use Sefaria, here is an interesting set of sources sefaria.org/sheets/258180?lang=bi
    – Edward B
    Commented Jun 6 at 18:25
  • @EdwardB Thank you for those sources.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jun 6 at 20:35

1 Answer 1


This is too nebulous and reliant on mind-reading*. We should just judge favourably and offer assistance and polite correction when necessary, as always.

I am a sefardi fully immersed in the Ashkenazi world and have never even considered the word "racist", not to mention any sort of special word to describe the very normal "hey, you are doing something different to how I was raised" surprise that is a common point of human-normative psychology :)

Anyway, aren't there some sources that the Sefardim will have the dominant culture after Moshiach Ben David (who will be from "Arabia"). :P

*plus you know, you can just make a wikipedia page and write whatever you want. It's not good to offer over-the-internet diagnosis and directions to a random wikipedia page scolding people to check their privilege... this isn't college!

  • In the past few weeks I've had members of this board say flat out that Ethiopians don't practice Judaism. I'm not attempting to describe a nebulous check your privilege thing. I'm saying that when people say a word "isn't a jewish word" but it's the word that Aramaic and Amharic speaking Jews have used for 2,000+ years, or that these groups don't practice Judaism.... I want such comments to be addressed in a way that is helpful rather than just oh hey you're racist go f yourself
    – Aaron
    Commented 16 hours ago
  • @Aaron IMO, we should just judge favourably, treat them like they want to learn, and offer assistance and polite correction when necessary, as always.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented 16 hours ago
  • The vibe I got from people wasn't that they wanted to learn from this topic. Rather they were upset that I would dare insinuate one could learn something Jewish from Ethiopians or Karaites. Coincidentally, 2 groups that Ashkenazim at large don't accept as Jews.
    – Aaron
    Commented 15 hours ago

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