This article argues for the consideration of Fran Ross’s novel Oreo (1974) within a Jewish American literary tradition given its articulation of black and secular Jewish identity, its recasting of more conventional “shiksa”-oriented exogamy narratives, and its frank depiction of the pressures exerted by white Jewish racism on Jews of color, both in familial and broader societal contexts. The article frames the novel as responding to broad thematic tendencies in prior depictions of simultaneously black and Jewish subjects in American Jewish fiction and journalism, which tended to consider Jews of color as novelties or frauds. The close reading also features a juxtaposition of Oreo’s use of a mezuzah as commenting on gendered aspects of Sammy Davis Jr.’s conversion narrative within his memoir Yes I Can. The article considers anthropological scholarship on nonwhite Jewish identity, analyzing Ross’s literary depiction of the black and Jewish and female body alongside accounts which comment on problematic associations of nonwhite Jewishness with “impossibility.”

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