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Reflections on Jewish American Identity: Loretta Kendle

May 31, 2022

In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, we spoke with Co-Chair of Central's Jews of Color Core Group Loretta Kendle about what Jewish American identity means to her.

Where did you grow up/where are you from? 

Loretta Kendle: I was born and raised in Sunnyside/Woodside, Queens.

What does being Jewish mean to you? 

Loretta Kendle: Being a Jew of Color mean that I get to intertwine my rituals, customs and culture in a way that deepens my connections to Hashem.

What is your most meaningful Jewish memory, experience, or moment?  

Loretta Kendle: My most meaningful Jewish memory was observing Tisha B’ Av in 2020. Despite all the horrific events that transpired during that time, I was reminded that humanity is not beyond repair. Therefore we must continue to be compassionate towards others and stand up for those who are forced to remain silent.

Is there a Jewish American figure who inspires you?

Loretta Kendle: I admire Tracee Ellis Ross for her activism. I also admire her for showing young girls and women what is possible when you don’t allow others to define you.

In your opinion, is there something special/significant/unique about being a Jewish American? What does the intersection of these identities mean to you? 

Loretta Kendle: In my opinion there is something special about being Black, Jewish, and Cherokee Indian. The intersection of these identities gives me the strength and courage to stand for those who are not seen, heard, or who are forced to remain silent out of fear. As Jews we are all mandated by Tikkun Olam to stand with our brother and sisters in times of social injustice.

Thank you, Loretta! And happy Jewish American Heritage Month to all. We look forward sharing more of our community’s stories and perspectives throughout the year.  

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