Interview with Jennifer Okewunmi '21 and Adina Scheinberg '21
This week, justArts spoke with Jennifer Okewunmi ’21 amd Adina Scheinberg ’21 who hosted the Black Jew Dialogues: Comedy Show
JustArts: Tell me a bit about yourselves?
Jennifer Okewunmi: My name is Jennifer Okewunmi. I am a sophomore. I am major in HSSP and biology. On campus, I am part of the wonderful Brandeis Bridges Cohort. Aside from that, I am a CA in Skyline. I am a biology TA … I am on the E-board of the Brandeis African Student Organization.
Adina Scheinberg: My name is Adina Scheinberg. I am a sophomore. I am majoring in American Studies and minoring in Legal Studies and NEJS, which is Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. In addition to Bridges, I am involved in Common Ground, which is a Jewish-Muslim dialogue group. I am involved in the Conservative minyan on campus. I am in a Jewish a cappella group called Ba’note. I do general tutoring with Waltham group.
JA: What inspired you to organize a comedy show?
JO: [L]ast year’s e-board decided what our cohort would like to put on, so it was their idea to have a Black Jewish comedy group coming to campus … I really got into it because I like to laugh ... A lot of people would rather come to something that is comedy and laugh than come to a lecture.
AS: Yeah, I think these topics can be really heavy and it’s important not to make a joke out of them, obviously. ... I think that once you can see through different lenses, one of which being humor, you are really able to grapple with it … And I also think that comedy makes difficult subjects more accessible sometimes.
JA: The mission of your organization is to help build close relationships between the Jewish and Black communities. Do you see the potential of your organization expanding in the future to also bridge the gap between the Jewish community and other minority groups?
AS: While obviously we don’t represent everyone in the club, [these are] just our personal opinions, I do think there is a history of certain tension between the Black and Jewish communities. So I think this club is serving that specific purpose… I think by keeping it specific, we are really able to target certain specific issues that only arise between these two communities. … With that being said, I totally think there should be more inter-culture dialogue on campus in general, and I would love to see more groups similar to Bridges pop up or even [for] Bridges to collaborate on something having to do with a larger initiative to bring people together.
JO: Brandeis is founded on a lot of Jewish morals and pillars, and I believe that’s a huge component why the Jewish and Black communities are involved in Bridges… Like Adina said, we had our good times and bad times, but there’s so few Black students on campus, so it is important to salvage the relationship.
JA: Anything you want to add or say to our readers?
JO: If you’re reading this, and you identify [as] Jewish or Black, please apply! You will not regret it. I learned so much and made so many friends thanks to Bridges.
AS: Even if the fellowship is not for you, we really trying to create a lot of opportunities for people to get involved on campus… everyone is welcome.