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(My) Jewish Identity Crisis

2010 December 4
by Jacqueline Moss

Chai: life/living in Hebrew

I am the daughter of Jewish man and a Catholic woman.  In both religions, faith is matrilineal.  But I was never baptized or confirmed, so I’m not Catholic.  I also wasn’t born to a Jewish mother, so I am not Jewish either.  But since I was a little girl and started exploring the faiths of both my parents, I was drawn to Judaism.  I don’t practice any religion, at least not in the sense that I regularly attend services, participate in structured prayer, or am heavily involved in either the Catholic or Jewish communities.  This is mostly because I have a deep-seated mistrust of organized religion.  But all my life, I have studied Jewish history and Jewish culture, and I very much identify as a Jew.

But I have been told by Jews and Gentiles alike that I am not Jewish.  This struggle with Jewish identity was brought into sharp focus by the experience of one of my close friends (who is not Jewish), as she faced her own struggle with Judaism and Jewish identity as her wedding to her Jewish fiancé approached.  Whether or not to have a Jewish wedding was a difficult decision for my friend, as well as the debate as to whether to convert.  In the end, my friend and her husband decided to incorporate some aspects of the Jewish wedding ceremony, but that she did not feel comfortable converting at the time.  One of the reasons my friend was hesitant to convert was because she did not want to be a member of a religious community that rejected her–and her marriage–as a non-Jewish person of mixed race.  In the Jewish community, the issue of interfaith marriages is very contentious.  Some Temples and denominations openly accept intermarriage, but the Jewish establishment vehemently rejects intermarriage, claiming it is the leading cause of the dying out of Jewish practice, religiosity, and even the Jewish “race”.  Many Rabbis will not perform marriages for interfaith couples.  Despite this, intermarriage rates among Jews are high, and so are the numbers of children born to those interfaith couples.  There are many adults and children who, like me, are the products of such interfaith marriages.

My friends struggle brought up my own issues with Judaism and Jewish identity because after my friends’ beautiful and joyous wedding, a number of the guests and wedding party went to the hotel bar.  While there, I was talking with a mutual friend (who is a Jew of mixed race) about Judaism and Jewish identity.  I was telling my friend how tired I was of being told I wasn’t really Jewish when another friend–who is not Jewish–patted me on the arm and said, “But Jackie, you aren’t really Jewish.”  I was incredibly hurt by her words.  Who was she to tell me what my identity really was?  I do not think my friend meant to hurt my feelings, but I still felt her judgment was intrusive.  For the first time, I understood what some of my friends must have felt when I told them they weren’t really Catholic, because they did not adhere to the mandates of the Catholic Church (using birth control, having premarital sex, being pro-choice, etc.)  I realized how insulting and hurtful my words must have been, because for the first time a friend told me I wasn’t Jewish.

But I reject this.  To me, Jewishness–and other religious and cultural identities–are not something that can only be passed from mother to child.  Jewishness not just a religious, but a cultural identity.  And how does it make any sense for boards of Rabbis to decide who is and is not Jewish, simply based on the faith of ones’ mother?

This has been an issue of contention repeatedly in the UK, where Jewish faith-schools–which are publicly funded–have faced charges of racism and discrimination by denying admission to students whose mothers are not Jewish.  Faith schools follow the national curriculum, but also adhere to their own religious traditions, and admit students of their faiths but also students of other faiths.  Last summer, the parents of a child who applied to be admitted to the Jewish Free School sued because their son was denied admission on the basis that he was not Jewish.  This determination was made on the judgment of the Chief Rabbi, who did not recognize the child’s mother as Jewish because she was was not born Jewish.  Even though the child’s mother had converted to Judaism, she wasn’t Jewish enough.  The case was taken to the British Court of Appeal, which found that the school had violated British law, stating “the requirement that if a pupil is to qualify for admission his mother must be Jewish, whether by descent or by conversion, is a test of ethnicity which contravenes the Race Relations Act”.  Reactions by the British Jewish Community were not positive

The Board of Deputies is deeply concerned by the potential ramifications of today’s Court of Appeal judgment for Jewish Faith schools,” it said in a statement. “The effect of this judgement is that Jewish schools will not be able to give preference to applicants on the basis of their faith (as permitted by law) applying the criteria that have always been used by Jewish religious authorities.

The Jewish Free School appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, but the Appeals Court decision was upheld.  I can understand why the Jewish Community is upset.  The British Supreme Court is mandating that the Community base admissions–and essentially who is Jewish–not on the 3,500 years of Jewish law, but on British law, and I can see how the community would view this as a violation of their religious autonomy.  But at the same time I am grateful for the rulings of the British Court, because I think ones’ religious or spiritual identity is determined by more than the religion or faith of ones’ parents.

I have friend, she has one parent who is Jewish and one parent who is Catholic, like me.  But because her mother is Jewish–according to traditional Jewish law–she is Jewish.  But I, with a Jewish father and Catholic mother, am not Jewish.   We both have one parent who is Jewish, so doesn’t it seem somewhat arbitrary that because my Jewish parent is my father and not my mother that I am not Jewish?

My friend, the one who told me I wasn’t really Jewish, made the argument that because I am not Jewish based on traditional Jewish law, I am therefore not Jewish at all.  But this often depends on how Jewish law is interpreted, and by which denomination of Judaism one is using to make such a judgment.  In Conservative or Orthodox Judaism, in order for one to be Jewish, their mother must be Jewish.  But in Reform or Reconstructionalist Judaism, one Jewish parent (either paternal or maternal) is enough, and more of an emphasis is placed on being raised religiously Jewish.  This struggle over Jewish identity and who is or isn’t Jewish big issue in modern Judaism, but it seems only to be an issue of contention in the Jewish Diaspora, where assimilation and intermarriage is common.

But in Israel (which has the largest population of Jews outside the United States) and where intermarriage is less of an issue and the debate over “who is a Jew” is not as prominent, roughly more than half of the Israeli Jewish population defines itself as secular.  Many Israeli Jews do not participate in strict observance of Jewish law, but do attend some Shabbos and go to Temple for the High Holy Days.

My point here is to illustrate that Jewish identity, religion, and culture are complex, and who is a Jew or not a Jew often depends on who you ask and by what set of standards and what denomination one uses to make that determination.  In the United States and much of the Western World, if the Jewish establishment refuses to accept mixed marriages and the children that are the products of such marriages, then the Jewish community really will be in danger of dying out.  Judaism, and Jewish identity is changing.  We aren’t confined to the shtetl anymore, we are no longer a community forced to be insular.  Who we marry and how we choose to practice (or not practice) our faith should not bar our partners or children from being a part of the Jewish community if they want.  Again, not all Jewish Denominations and communities are so narrow-minded, and there are many Reform, Reconstructionalist, and Progressive communities that welcome mixed marriages and half-Jewish children.  In the end, I agree with what Amy Bloom said when using her feelings on Jewishness to discuss her feelings about who gets to be a Feminist in an article for Slate

If you want to call yourself a Jew (God help you), who are we to object? Mazel tov. You’re a Jew; here’s an eggroll.

174 Responses
  1. December 7, 2010

    Very interesting perspectives — thank you for sharing.

    And congrats on being Freshly Pressed … you’ve obviously touched on a timely, important topic! 🙂

  2. December 7, 2010

    In my opinion, religious freedom should be at the base of this issue. Excellent post!

  3. Rena permalink
    December 7, 2010

    Try looking in to Islam, I did… exspecilly when I had the same issue.. if you have any questions you got my email..
    great post

  4. December 7, 2010

    Great post…thanks for allowing us to share in your thoughts concerning this subject.

  5. December 7, 2010

    Great post on a complex issue. My understanding (and it might be incorrect) of the “If your mother is Jewish, so are you” arose because of the sexual assaults of Jewish women over the centuries during the pogroms, resulting in technically non-Jewish offspring. It was a way to protect the mothers and the children. But, like you said, if you consider yourself Jewish, great, have at it. That goes for anything that we choose as our identity that gives meaning to our lives.

    • December 8, 2010

      “if you consider yourself Jewish, great, have at it. That goes for anything that we choose as our identity that gives meaning to our lives.”

      Really? What if I choose to be a rapist as my identity to give meaning to my life?

      • December 26, 2010

        So being Jewish is at the same level as being a rapist? Did you really think the author of that phrase did not anticipate your nonsense when she was using the word “identity” in a serious way?

  6. December 7, 2010

    Great piece. My father is Jewish and my mother raised me Catholic. I love my Catholic faith, but I also, love my Jewish grandmother. This article speaks for those of us who do not fit comfortably into either location completely. We might threaten Judaism with our existence and Christianity with our challenge, but we still exist – we half-breeds of sorts. Only recently, at age 36, (and during Advent no less) have I decided to proactively become comfortable being a Catholic who can, also, cook kosher.

  7. December 7, 2010

    I found this really interesting, as it relates to my own questioning of religion, culture and belief systems. I am a Jew (both parents are Jewish) but I am, for the most part, a secular Jew. I say “for the most part” because, once I had a child of my own, suddenly participating in the Jewish community became more important to me. Why? Because, I am married to a non-Jew. We have a daughter, who by Jewish law is, of course, Jewish. She has been to Hebrew School and we try to carry on some of my family’s traditions. At the same time, when she is with her paternal grandparents they take her to church and religious school. I know that some of my new found “religiousness” is based on trying to make sure that she knows where she comes from from both sides.

    However, while I legally can identify as a Jew, I’ve struggled for a long time what that identity means. When I read something like this, my struggle gets even more difficult, because I cannot embrace any belief system that is about exclusivity. the idea that “You can’t be one of us because (fill in the blank)” is ridiculous. Judaism, the religion comes through the mother. And yet, although I was raised as a Conservative Jew by a Mother who was an Orthodox Jew, I have never felt Jewish “enough.” I don’t believe in every facet of religious, and I never will.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that I understand your identity crisis because, even though I am a Jew, I never will truly belong to the club.

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed and on presenting me with some food for thought.

    • December 7, 2010

      I’ve struggled with that same guilt of not feeling Jewish enough (I was raised Reform by a Jewish father and a converted Jewish mother).

      I’ve grown up in a place where there aren’t many Jews, and none of my friends are Jews. It’s frustrating to feel like an outsider and I deal with it on almost a daily basis.

      Be strong, and do what you believe is right for YOU, not for stupid rules some people made up. So many people get caught up in the pettiness religions bring to the table and they forget to look at the bigger picture. Don’t let those people drag you in to their minutia if you don’t agree with it.

      • December 7, 2010

        I find that, when I am in a place where there aren’t many Jews, I cling even more to the identity as Jew. I currently live in a town where there are approximately three of us who are Jewish on both sides. There are probably a few more who are Jewish from one side of their family. The majority are some denomination of Christian (I cannot count how many churches there are in this town). If you do not belong to a church, then you are looked at as somehow lacking. The church is the second family here.

        I spend time with people who look at religion as a part of a greater, intellectual conversation; with people who believe in the importance of spirituality and kindness but do not adhere to one specific religion. That is closer to my belief system, although I am still rooted in Judaism.

        And yet, because of where I am, the first party I threw in my new home was a Chanukah party. It is amazing how many identities we go through, based on where we are. My identity is often one of being outside. But, I value that identity in many ways, because I think I understand people better from being on the outside looking in.

        Today’s conversation, however, has led me to a HUGE realization. None of us are alone. We have this larger community of writers who respond in kind and caring ways. So, Rachel, although I’ve never met you, I just want to say, you are not alone.

      • December 8, 2010

        Jewishness is in the heart and it is Hashem, the Elohim the One and Only G’d who can see straight into it and see that you are a believer. That last bit is the main point, which is going to decide to which faith you belong. What are the things you want to believe and what are the regulations are laws you want to keep to. Jesus Christ was a Jew and all his followers, also heathen can be reconciled with G’d and be accepted as His children. In the Catholic Faith they honour three Gods (God the Father, god the son and god the Holy Spirit) but please be aware that in the Christian faith there are also those who only accept One God, Jehovah/Yahweh. (And this are not only the Jehovah Witnesses). Perhaps you are come to the point that you have to choose for this Only One God and put aside the Holy Trinity, and not having to deny your Jewish roots but taking them a step further, becoming an accepter of Jesus, being the promised Messiah. You then can call yourself a Messianic Jew are become a Christian of the Jewish Root.
        I do hope you will investigate the matter of Jesus being the Messiah and that you find ease at heart in the blessings this saviour brought to mankind.

  8. December 7, 2010

    I think that one’s religion is a matter of their own choice. Would you like someone else to tell you your own choice? Furthermore, if someone else tells you your own choice, aren’t they depriving you of your own identity?
    The first line of The Declaration of Human Rights says exactly what I’m trying to say: All humans are born FREE.
    We have the power to make our own choices, our own destiny. Why should someone else do it for us?

    • December 8, 2010

      We do have to make our own choice, which is also going to mean if we sin or not. All the temples and churches with the different denominations are a thing of men. And Jehovah, our G’d wants that we distanciate from this world and keep His Laws. It is not because a certain group of people does not want to accept you in the group of people G’d called His People that you would not belong to this Israel.
      As TheEveryday Muser points out: all humans are born Free, which implicates that they should bear their own responsibility of their own free choices and that nobody has the right to impose their classification on to them.
      The Jews, as chosen people by Elohim G’d, should be open to others to come to G’d. In case they refuse others to follow classes in their schools and when they say to others they are not welcome in their midst, they work against their Most High Lord. How are they going to be able to convert people? But on the other hand you also could think this opens the Way to the group of people who was considered to be a Jewish sect two thousand years ago and was called The Way. Those followers of Christ Jesus (Christos the Messiah) are still around. Not all the Christians gave in to the heathen paganist thought of Trinity, and that small group can still grow and show to whom they belong and who they really want to honour, namely God Allmighty and knowing that they can come to Him because we have our High Priest and Mediator Jesus Christ Yeshua/Yashua.

  9. Jacqueline Moss permalink
    December 7, 2010

    I am seriously overwhelmed by the response my article has garnered. My struggle with my Jewish identity and whole thread of “exclusivity” that seems to runs through the Jewish establishment really bothers me. I feel Jewish, I feel a deep affinity with Jewish culture and Jewish people, and to be told by Jews and non-Jews alike that I am not Jewish “enough” is deeply hurtful. I deeply appreciate how my struggle has resonated with others, and value all of your responses and thoughts. I knew before I was not the only person facing this struggle, but its so nice to know other peoples’ stories and experiences.

    • Jacqueline Moss permalink
      December 7, 2010

      I’d also like to give a shout-out to Cyndi Lou at The Squid & Whale Tattoo on Munjoy Hill in Portland, Maine who did my tattoo which is the featured image for this article.

    • Stephanie permalink
      December 7, 2010

      Judaism has survived as long as it has because certain observant Jews have maintained Jewish law, tradition and ritual for thousands of years. If Jewish law changes to accommodate what people “want” to make them feel more comfortable, I can only imagine what would become of the religion.

      I too felt a strong connection to Judaism so I chose to convert in a Conservative synagogue. My conversion is not recognized by Orthodox Jews. I’m OK with that.

      “Choosing a Jewish Life” by Anita Diamant may be a good resource for you. There are many stories of people in your exact situation in this book.

      I am not offended or hurt when an Orthodox Jew tells me I am not Jewish. I know what I am.

      Having taught in a Jewish Day School I saw many children of mixed religion homes. I saw them confused and unsure, especially as they got older. Jews do not believe Jesus is the Messiah. His mother was not a blood descendant of David. The Torah says the messiah will be a direct descendant of David. how confusing for kids to have Easter and Passover! One remembers what Christians refer to as the Messiah and one we open the door for Elijah who might usher in the Messiah!

      I wouldn’t let others’ opinion of your religion bother you – religion often results in a lot of pain anyway.

      • December 8, 2010

        Stephanie, you seem so intelligent and smart I am sure you are absolutely capable to convert by Orthodox Beit Din.

  10. nearlynormalized permalink
    December 7, 2010

    My grandmother use to say, “We are all GODS children and all our bleet (German, Yiddash accent) is red.” She was a true spirit and all the other BS about religion is just that BS…To be controlled.
    Enjoy your adventure,.

  11. December 7, 2010

    very wonderful insight, thanks for a great post/read.

  12. December 7, 2010

    Rabbi Hillel’s view was that the core of Judaism was ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. I think that’s true; but I think it’s the core of being a human being in general.

    Identity is always complicated. Life is. Another famous wordsmith once said “And this above all unto thine own self be true and it shall follow as the day the night – thou canst not then be false to any man”.

    • December 7, 2010

      Hi Richard,

      I always thought this was the wisest and most quotable of quotes by Shakespeare – was in fact a personal mantra of mine, until I realized that I could not be true to myself until I was quite certain of who I was. So, while his words ring wise, it is in fact quite difficult to be true to one’s self. Identity crises are very common, even amongst the mature.

    • December 7, 2010

      Shakespeare’s quote is kind of ironic in this situation. They’re such beautiful words, and yet his plays (most notable The Merchant of Venice) are grossly Antisemitic. It’s a real shame.

      I enjoyed you article, Jacqueline. I think if you identify yourself as Jewish, you are Jewish. You should embrace this and others should embrace you. Not to would just be wrong on both counts.

  13. December 7, 2010

    I can imagine how insulting it feels to you to be in this position. When you say being Jewish shouldn’t only be a function of who your parents are I totally agree. I say this while still holding an Orthodox position. Being Jewish means belonging to an extended family. A person can convert and belong by stating his or her willingness to cast one’s lot with Jewish destiny (i.e. to want to belong no matter whether it’s good for the Jews or bad for the Jews) or by being born into that family. The rules for what it means to be born into that family seem arbitrary on the face of it but when one’s only identity is one of lineage and not religious practice or belonging, the default of what it means to be family is going to be defined by what has determined the meaning of family for two thousand years. If you want to be part of the tradition there’s a way to be part of it. Does this make sense to you?

  14. December 7, 2010

    Thank you for the post. I have been struggling with this as well lately. My mother is Sephardic Jew as was my father (who I’ve never met) and my adopted father is Ashkenazi Jew. We have latin roots as well as Hebraic roots and it’s a bit confusing at times. I claim all of my heritage but I’m a messianic believer. I believe in Jesus and the resurrection but I don’t throw out the old testament like most christians. In that, I am different than most but I’m ok with that fact. I am who I say I am and no man can make me believe otherwise.


    • December 7, 2010

      Oh man, I’m a Christian, and the Old Testament is absolutely incredible. I have noticed the same thing; Christians seem to pay so much attention the the New Testament they forget about the base. The thing all of it was built on! I’m working through the OT myself (haven’t gotten too far yet- just got to Exodus; I only just started).

      • December 7, 2010

        As long as both you and defiant don’t fall into the trap of the modern form of the Judiazers, the Hebraic Roots movement.

        Yes, we still follow the Ten Commandments, but we are covered by grace, not the law. If you feel that having a Seder or practicing some other ancient Jewish customs and festivals gets you closer in your walk, have at, just don’t think it’s a necessary part of walking in the Christian faith.

        Legalism is just as much a sin as antinomianism. Balance is the key.

        The thread of Christ weaves thru the whole Bible. The New completes and fulfills the Old. We are in the Church age, and while the heritage of our spiritual past may enrich our walk, let us not allow ourselves to go off the deep end so to speak.

    • December 7, 2010

      As a Christian, I’ve not run into many Christians who throw the Old Testament. I have, on the other hand, known many Christians to throw out the entire Bible, Old and New.

  15. December 7, 2010

    I am a Jew.
    I happen to agree with the Jewish grandmothers from the movie “Crossing Delancy”…talking to 2 little grandchildren. One crying because the other told him he was going to die one day.
    Grandmother says” You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.”
    If you want to be Jewish go be Jewish,and don’t let no one tell you nothing else now go eat your salami sandwich.”
    Personally I don’t see what the big draw is if one has a chance to bow out but nu…

  16. Tracy López permalink
    December 7, 2010

    Congratulations on being a featured blog today.

    I really relate to this post. My current blog actually came into existence on a similar matter, (how I identify vs. how people view me.) … It’s a very frustrating thing.

    Coincidentally, I feel like you’re a “sister” who understands this unique position. My father is Jewish and my mother is Protestant. I also grew up feeling more drawn to Judaism and various other cultural roots, but ultimately not being a big fan of organized religion.

    As it ended up, I married a Latino Catholic and now attend mass. LOL.

  17. December 7, 2010

    i can only say one thing…you are who you want to be, dont listen to anyone telling you that ‘you are this” or “you are that’ based on law created thousands of years ago.

  18. December 7, 2010

    Thanks for sharing! I’m also jew

  19. December 7, 2010

    Be who you want to be! Worship as you want to worship. And a happy Chanukah, if you’re celebrating the holiday.

  20. December 7, 2010

    Thanks so much for your insight on this. My maternal grandmother was a refugee of the Holocaust. She left her religion behind in the old world out of fear for her life, and years later, she converted to Mormonism. By birth I am considered to be Jewish, but I know little about the Jewish religion, except what is taught in the Old Testament. Because I was raised Mormon and remain active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by choice, I have little doubt that I would not be accepted by the Jews either. I am Drawn to my Jewish identity, and enjoy learning about my Jewish ancestors (my great-great grandfather was a well-known Rabbi), but really do feel that alienation (or more bluntly, rejection) at the same time as well.

  21. gabby permalink
    December 7, 2010

    Thanks for sharing this, it’s close to home for me. My Jewish father is non-observant. My Greek mother is all about church. (eventually they divorced). I have always been more comfortable with Jewish beliefs than with Christian beliefs.But, I never took the extra steps of learning more or converting. I felt like an outsider in synagogue and in church. My husband is a non-observant Catholic. We raised our kids without formal religion, but hopefully with respect for all traditions. I eventually joined a Unitarian Universalist congregation, which embraces the idea of individual spiritual journeys. I’m very comfortable there. Thank you again for this article!

  22. December 7, 2010

    I somewhat oppose to traditional religious set ideas of identity. you are what and who you are- if you feel Jewsih- you should be allowed to call yourself a Jew. To me religion is more of a spiritual state of being rather than someonw else’s view of you.

  23. December 7, 2010

    This is very well-written. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and frustrations. I am not Jewish, but studied World Religions and grew up within the Christian faith. I do not practice organized religion as I believe it kills a person’s spirituality by strangling it with dogma imprisons it within ritual. There are as many paths to God as there are people to walk upon them. Your path is yours. You define you, what you believe, and how you show your reverence to your Creator. It is true, Paul went to great lengths to show that Jesus was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, to convince his contemporaries of the unending Jewish connection of the “new religion”. Both he and Jesus were critical of their Jewish peers because of their strict adherence to the letter of the law. He implored them, for example, to understand that circumcision was not as much an outward symbolic act, but an internal, spiritual one. Circumcision of the heart is what removes the egocentric, arrogant part of the person who is hardened to the love of God. There are many today in all faiths who have failed to have this conversion experience and accept and be a mirror of this love. Thus, there is a large degree of exclusivity and non-acceptance. Any blessing that are mine to give, I extend to you on your journey …

    • December 7, 2010

      What you’re espousing is relativism and universalism which at its very core boiled down is wholly contradictory, illogical philosophical foundation. Most religions at their structural level do not agree with each other. If there be a God, He exists according to some absolute rules. If that be the case, then religious universalism is incorrect.

      Stating that there are multiple ways to God then is a statement out of apathy, pride and ignorance.

      I recommend Francis Schaeffer’s, “The God Who Is There” to you and others on this blog who have a rather universalistic/relativistic view of faith and religion.

      • December 7, 2010

        Do you make it a point to hijack comments on other bloggers’ posts or just this one? Your argument begins with presumption, continues on with baseless assertion and draws a wholly unfounded conclusion.

        And I must say, in my opinion, your response reeks of the same qualities you accuse me of: pride and ignorance. But this is nothing new to me. The arrogance of men who believe they need to compartmentalize every viewpoint and reduce it all down to trivialities they can then easily dismiss is a common occurrence. That you apparently feel justified in recommending further reading exemplifies this behavior.

        Yet there is a kernel of truth to be found in this little exercise. Narrow-mindedness knows no boundary of ethnicity or culture, especially with regards to faith and religion.

        Jacqueline, I apologize for my little rant. In my opinion (for what it’s worth!), if you practice Judaism and have convictions of faith and practice that conform to those of Judaism, then you should hold true to your belief that you are Jewish, regardless of whether or not you were born to a Catholic woman. These are societal constraints. You are on your path. If God is in your heart, he walks with you.

      • December 7, 2010

        Jospeh – I am not hijacking this thread any more than you or any of the myriad others who’ve been telling their stories and opinions in response to Jacqueline’s story.

        As for yourself. You specifically stated, “There are as many paths to God as there are people to walk upon them.” That sir is a relativistic, universalistic statement. Period. Look up the definitions of relativism and universalism.

        As for your perception of my arrogance and narrowminded judgementalism. I’m not judging you, I’m using the Bible to base my statements. Christ states he is the ONLY way, that there is only ONE way – not many. Christ was and is prophecied thru the Old Testament.

        Am I narrow-minded? Yep. I believe there is only one way to God. Jesus Christ. That doesn’t mean I’m brainwashed or don’t sit down and hammer out what and why I believe what I do. I compare, contrast and test. I find relativism and universalism glaringly wanting.

        Do you have a book to recommend? I tend to be a willing and voracious reader.

  24. December 7, 2010

    I’m going to go at it very simply like thus.
    Krimchak Jews and Egyptian Jews (descendants of those from Alexandria) are patrilinial in descent. Abrahamic tradition probably was patrilinial until the Roman times. To me it doesn’t matter what the religious guy says, in my mind I always say f**k him because he does not define me only I do that. Only you decide who you are that’s it everyone else is secondary.

  25. December 7, 2010

    Opinions are like a-holes, everybody’s got one. Just live your life the way you feel most comfortable, and don’t worry about other folks. And Happy Hannukah!

    • December 8, 2010

      I would agree with that, although I only have one asshole and several opinions. But I know what LeMar means and agree.

      I’d say you’re a ‘wannabe’. You’re a wannabe connected. We all wannabe connected, the difference is you are brave enough to talk about it publicly.

      As for ‘watering down’ a faith and culture, I’m all for it. The more insular a faith or culture is the more threatened it will feel by this prospect. This seems to me even more reason to water it down. It’s time for humanities divisions to be erased, in the brave new world before us we will identify as ‘gladtobes’ – glad to be alive, glad to be human.


  26. December 7, 2010

    I have plenty of expereince in this area with non-jewish cousins to Jewish fathers, my GF and her kids aren’t Jewish, and she doesn’t know if she’ll convert. My brother’s Wife coverted before they married, down to the 11th hour even.

    Here’s what I have say, and I hope this helps. Do you feel Jewish? Do you want to be Jewish? Do you want to tell people that you’re in fact Jewish? I ask this because even if you’re born Jewish (which I am) it still has to be a choice, and its up to you to make that Choice.

    Until I first visited Israel, i was a Jewish American. I was embarrased of my Judaism and hid it from friends who weren’t Jewish. Now I’m an American Jew. I had my horizons widened by my visit to Israel, which you might not have to chance to — but the choice is yours.

    Of course, once you make that choice, you will have to decide which expectations you want to live up to. Knowing and being able to recite prayers, learning hebrew, knowing/clebrating the holidays, and a long list more.

    My temple allows interfaith marraige, and is holding an open-forum this weekend about how the temple can better reach out to interfaith couples in the congregation. The Choice is yours, and you have to live with and answer for those choices. If you’re in, welcome to the Tribe, most of us have been lost for quite a while. If you’re not, believe me, we’re here to offer you advice and opinons on what you’re missing.

    We don’t go out recruiting like the mormons, and despite our losses, we’re not hurting for members. All we ask is if it hits the fan, that you stand your ground.

    • Alexandra permalink
      December 7, 2010

      Excellent! Thank you.

  27. December 7, 2010


    Our actions signify who we are and not the labels that people paste on us. One should not choose a faith merely to gain social acceptance, but our choice should be on merit. Is the religion or belief of our choice appealing to our mind? Is it practical? Does it promote humane values? All this and more should be explored and out of one’s own personal study and volition one should choose a path and way of life.

    You may also find this to be of interest. Why Islam Is Against Antisemitism?:

    Good writing.

    A Muslim friend.

  28. December 7, 2010

    And . . .for better or for worse, you’ll have some catching up to do.

  29. Alexandra permalink
    December 7, 2010

    Excellent post, thank you. I learned recently, that it has not always been like that – that the mother had to be a jew in order that the kid would be considered a jew. In fact, before that, the father was crucial to be considered jewish. Some people argue that in times of war and rape it comes to the handling that the mother must be a jew, because so many times, it was not possible to know who the father of child was, but one always knows who is the mother. For that reason, I would think, that you can consider yourself a jew. You do have jewish blood in your veins. And if you want to be a jew, live like a jew – you are a jew. Besides, “jew” comes from “Yehudi” which means whorshipper of HaShem (but surely you know that:). Greetings and a hug.

    • December 7, 2010

      After Bar Kochba rebelion[I think] they changed it from father to mother, except the Krimchak(Crimean) and Alexandrian(Egyptian) didn’t follow through for various reasons. In Russia it was considered an ethnicity and still is to some degree, which I like since it stops being a religious factor and I can just consider it a bloodline factor. Ergo religious ceremony etc becomes irrelevant to identity in my mind.

  30. Genya Shimkin permalink
    December 7, 2010

    While at Bard, I attending a presentation by Susan Kahn, who is the Director of Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the author of “Reproducing Jews: A Cultural Account of Assisted Conception in Israel.” She spoke about the lengths to which couples (and single women) in Israel must go to ensure a Jewish baby. For example, all surrogates MUST be Jewish, as it is the uterus that confers Judaism, but any sperm donors CANNOT be Jewish, because Halakha stipulates that a Jewish man cannot spill his seed. So any baby (or fetus) that results from a sperm donation, is necessarily a “half-breed.” Contradictory? Certainly.

    It’s amazing how badly people want to put each other in small, restrictive boxes. I often enjoy Passover Seder with the family of my best friend, the red-headed daughter of a Jewish father and an Irish Catholic mother who makes the brisket. My bestie and her sister are grossed out by the shankbone, so they make one out of paper. Their Christmas tree is topped with a Jewish star. And they wouldn’t have it any other way. They are a family, they love each other, and they are perfect just the way they are.

    My paternal grandfather was a Russian/Ukrainian Jew who married a German/Jamaican Christian who was raised in Panama. My maternal grandparents were 100% Roman Catholic. What does that make me? And why does it matter? Sometimes I have faith. Sometimes I don’t. But I’m no less human.

  31. Genya Shimkin permalink
    December 7, 2010

    …so that should say “I attended” Wow.

    Great piece, Jackie! Keep ’em coming!

  32. December 7, 2010

    This is a well written and timely piece concerning a subject that has become part of my life. Thankfully, we are getting into an age that religion can be discussed with thoughtfulness and controlled passion. Each of our journey’s through life is as individual as our DNA’s. The beauty of our creation is that we are all different from each other in finding our own ways to our Lord and Savior. I myself, am no longer a supporter of organized religion in its present sense in large ego centered church structures and the self-centered ministers and pastors who head them. I have a Presbyterian minister in East Texas to thank for that.

    • December 7, 2010

      Gee, that sounds like a mixture of apathy and universalism.

      Sorry to hear that a minister and a church spoiled things for you, but we as Christians are encouraged to commune and worship with other believers… and that means going to church. No man, no Christian is an island. You separate yourself from the body of believers to find God on your own, you run the sharp risk of wandering off without realizing it.

      Don’t let the actions of a few taint your walk with Christ and the importance of fellowship with believers – which the internet cannot properly provide.

  33. December 7, 2010

    This was a wonderful read.

    My father is Jewish, and my mother Catholic as well. When I was young I attended services and a bit of Hebrew school, but I honestly do not practice much. However, I still identify myself as Jewish (sometimes jokingly calling myself a “bad Jew” due to my lack of practice or extensive knowledge), and that identity is important to me. Especially now at a Catholic university, it is a part of myself that I value!

    Hearing about your own inner struggle has made me realize I am not alone in any of this, even if the situation is slightly different, and that is comforting. Thank you!

  34. December 7, 2010

    Wasnt you a good son of your parents? Is this whole article about you NONSENCE?

    What happens to the multiculturalism? You willhave to be first a good son to your parents. Who cares for the rest?
    What do you think of former YUGOSLAVIA? Serbs were egaged to Mjuslim women and viceversa, Croats were engaged with Serbs and etc….

    Than came americans and destroyed that all. So who cares for you? NO ONE!

  35. December 7, 2010

    Fascinating post! Just a quick question: why is it that the Jewish establishment doesn’t recognize a person as Jewish when the Bible does? For example, Ruth, a Moabite woman (Gentile) who followed her Jewish mother-in-law Naomi to Bethlehem, married Boaz, who was Jewish, and gave birth to Obed. Chapter 4 of the book of Ruth says that Obed begot Jesse and Jesse begot David. Now if Obed is not recognized as Jewish (because his mother was not Jewish), then how can his grandson King David be considered Jewish? Food for thought anyway. -Norma

  36. December 7, 2010

    If you want ot know what jewish identity is and is not – consult the torah. let god be your guide.

    • December 7, 2010

      Torah is irrelevant as I stated earlier, in my mind identity can be tied to ethnicity and descendancy instead of religiosity. Works better for me.

  37. December 7, 2010

    I think you should consider yourself whatever you “want” to be. It is between you and your God! No one else can decide for you and it should not matter what anyone else says. Do NOT listen, people always have opinions and unfortunately they share unsolicited information. It really is no one’s business. The less said the better, less confrontation, if that is what bothers you. Believe and practice what you will and make yourself happy!
    I myself was born and raised Catholic and have since rejected much of their strict protocol, it makes no sense to me, all their fire & brimstone, yet when I want, I will say God Bless you. I still believe in a higher power. I am very spiritual. I pray where and when I want. Not in THEIR church. I do what works for ME. It is my life, between me & the powers that be, and I need to feel comfortable and I am. I do my best everyday, try to treat people with love and kindness, that is what matters! So, do what works for you!

    • December 9, 2010

      I do agree with you in a sense, but half the problem is people not making a stand! There is obviously a massive flaw in their establishment which is clearly prejudice and wrong and needs to be addressed and changed. If it was any other instituion making you feel like this you could probably take them to court and sue them, not religion though we all just accept that! (Especially in the UK!) and I am really starting to wonder why? We can discuss everything as long as its what people want to hear. What about debates? changes need to be made, updated and if I were you I would just love to cause a stir, you have already established you are not alone in feeling like this.

  38. Jürgen permalink
    December 7, 2010

    You could always reply, that while you might not be a Jew, you’re Jew-ish 😉

    Strange how a cultural, religious thing turned into a race and ethnicity thing. There has of course always been religious discrimination, but it really only turned into this religion/ethnic mix idea in the 1800s. With Germany (and others) turning nation-state, identity was suddenly based mainly on ethnicity. Herzl’s Zionism is of course a reaction to that. It’s like saying, “if you lock me out, I will lock the door from the other side, and not let anyone in.”
    Unfortunately that’s still the mindset of a lot of orthodox or Zionist Jews. But fortunately, the reform-movement also started in the 1800s. And since you’re at the point, where you wouldn’t tell people that they’re not Catholic, if they don’t subscribe to conservative Catholicism or if they criticize the pope (which is a very Catholic thing to do..) you soon might be at the point where you tell people who declare you non-Jewish what you think of them.. 😉
    If you want to look at some witty remarks: Marcia Pally has a good satire on Jewish exceptionalism (
    Or have a look at Hannah Arendt.

  39. nwjew permalink
    December 7, 2010

    Very touching piece.

    For many, the idea of Judaism as a thread that crosses the generations is very important. They want to know that Jews share a genetic as well as cultural heritage.

    There’s no prohibition to conversion; anybody who wishes to be Jewish can be Jewish, and they can choose the “level” of Judaism that suits them. However, there is no universally agreed level and inevitably those who wish to live by a stricter definition will not accept those who convert according to a more liberal approach.

    I don’t think it is for any of us to decide who is right and who is wrong. Just as you are rightly upset by those who accuse you of being “not Jewish” when you identify Jewishly, those people are surely equally entitled to hold on to their own understanding of what it means to be Jewish.

    In an ideal world the Jewish denominations would work focus on what they have in common rather than their differences, especially as anti-semites don’t distinguish between us. That said, it’s the antagonism between the different Jewish “sects” that provide me with most of my blogging material so I’m not complaining too much!

    • December 7, 2010

      Conversion implies agreeing to the principles of a religious based anchor.
      Ethnicity simply has one being who he is by bloodline irrespective of others opinions.
      Variance of opinions is good let everyone define things they want defined, but the problem is when they want to impose their will on the world and try to define what I am to myself based on their worldview…

      • December 8, 2010

        I think we agree. Judaism is both a club and an ethnicity. If you don’t qualify by ethnicity then you can join by conversion if you want to.

        It’s pretty much universally accepted in the religion that unless your mother is Jewish you have to go through a conversion process before you can call yourself Jewish. The notion is full of anomalies, for example, there are many halachic Jews who define themselves as atheists, yet they are part of the club whether they like it or not, and yet these boundaries do work as a mechanism for enabling us to maintain our identity, sometimes with horrific consequences. Jews have given their lives over the centuries rather than be defined other than Jews. We’re therefore entitled to ask for a genuine commitment of those who wish to become Jewish, I feel.

        That said, there are many progressive institutions within the Jewish world that would recognise Jacqueline as Jewish without any problem. If she wished to join one of those synagogues she would surely find it a lot easier to deal with those who don’t consider her to be Jewish. However, I suspect there is more to this. It is about wanting to be accepted by those who do not accept, and while that may be painful for Jacqueline it won’t be resolved by kind people sympathising with her and criticising those who refuse to recognise her as Jewish. If she wants those people to recognise her as a Jew she needs to convert in a way they are satisfied by.

        Post-denominationalism is on the rise and it will be interesting to see how post-denominational Judaism copes with people who simply wish to call themselves Jewish without undergoing some kind of conversion process. I’m all for a Judaism that is free of the authority of religious movements with their politics and hierarchies, but I also want to feel part of something that has clear boundaries. I don’t want to sound exclusivist, on the other hand I don’t go in for the idea that someone can be Jewish just because they decide they want to be. Judaism involves a number of commitments.

        Ultimately, there are various versions of the club and if you are converted into one version, another may not recognise your conversion as valid. That is how clubby people behave, and it’s why it took the court system here in the UK to enable a child to attend the Jewish school of his choice.

        I’m trying to see this from both sides. Nobody has the right to define me, only I can do that. On the other hand, a club has rules and the people in the club are entitled to impose those rules. If I want to call myself a member of the club then surely I have to play by the club’s rules? After all, I can’t claim to be a member of the local golf club without paying the fees and abiding by their rules. I can call myself a golfer, and I can play on municipal courses, and I can play by the rules of the game, but the rules of the game are not the same as the rules of the club.

        Messianic Jews are not Jews, they are Christians. Why? Because they do not share the commitments of Jews. They share the commitments of Christians. In other words, they don’t observe the rules. If they or anyone wants to be a Jew they have to undergo a process of conversion to Judaism that is recognised by other Jews. I don’t really see another way about it.

  40. December 7, 2010

    Great post! I am Jewish, but I did not grow up in the religious sense of Judaism (I just wrote a blog post about this). So I can relate to your story because even though I am technically Jewish, I had “more Jewish” people tell me that I wasn’t much of a Jew because I didn’t go to temple or because my family didn’t belong to a synagogue. This judgment is what’s wrong with society today. Being Jewish (or not) is completely your decision and it’s what you make of it. Not what someone else thinks of it.

    I also related to your friend’s story as I’m intermarried. My husband has the same thoughts as your friend; he was not comfortable converting to a religion that was rejecting him. Anyway, thank you for sharing your story!

  41. December 7, 2010

    Great, thought provoking, post. I think there is a danger whenever we place labels on ourselves or anyone else. My bi-racial nieces and nephews have a difficult time because they aren’t accepted by either race and it hurts my heart for them. Your faith is personal and yet we have a need to connect with others who worship the same. I can only hope that you find a home where you are welcomed and celebrated for who you are and what you bring with you. Trials like these only make us more loving and sensitive toward others who are suffering their own discrimination.

  42. December 7, 2010

    i personally think that religion does more harm then it does any good. think about wars and conflicts and prejudice etc but thats my opinion anyways 🙂

    • December 7, 2010

      Atheism has caused far more war and death than all other religions combined, specifically within the last century.

      • mrsclib permalink
        December 7, 2010

        Really? Would you like to provide some proof or evidence for that?

      • December 7, 2010

        Mrsclib – Mao, Stalin and Hitler. Communists and Fascists. Hitler was also a social Darwinian. Mao killed around 40 million of his own people, Stalin around 20 mill and Hitler massacred over 6 million, not counting all the people killed in their wars.

        Neither Christians or even the Muslims going all the way back to Mohammad can compare to what those three men did in about thirty years time.

        “Dr. R. J. Rummel, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii, is the scholar who first coined the term democide (death by government). Dr. R. J. Rummel’s mid estimate regarding the loss of life due to communism is that communism caused the death of approximately 110,286,000 people between 1917 and 1987.[26] ”

        * Quoted from:

        Communism is an atheistic religion/ideology by its very nature.

        author Dinesh D’Souza:
        “Taken together, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the witch burnings killed approximately 200,000 people. Adjusting for the increase in population, that’s the equivalent of one million deaths today. Even so, these deaths caused by Christian rulers over a five-hundred year period amount to only 1 percent of the deaths caused by Stalin, Hitler and Mao in the space of a few decades.”

      • December 9, 2010

        Really? I am actually offended at the link you are trying to make here. The war was not started on account of Hilters lack of religious beleif! The man was a powerful racist, prejudice individual. And why I think about your ‘God’ would have created him! So be careful where you pass the buck on this one. Try reading The God Debate by Richard Dawkins, the man has a very good point and many of them! May broaden your mind ever so slightly,
        A caption from the named book =)

        a world with no religion. Imagine no suicide bombers, no 9/11, no 7/7, no Crusades, no witch-hunts, no Gunpowder Plot, no Kashmir dispute, no Indo/Pakistan partition, no Israel/Palestine wars, no Serb/Croat/Muslim massacres, no Northern Ireland ‘troubles’. Imagine no Taliban blowing up ancient statues, lashing women for showing an inch of skin, or publicly beheading blasphemers and apostates. Imagine no persecutions of the Jews – no Jews to persecute indeed, for without religion they would long ago have intermarried with the surrounding populations.

  43. December 7, 2010

    I’m not Jewish or from a Jewish ancestry, but I do come from a legally recognized ethnic minority steeped in Catholicism – Cajuns. I too have a deep seated distrust of organized religion; that said, I’m a “devout” Christian. I attend services and am even a deacon at my church. I was born again as a young boy and over the last decade have grown in my desire to walk with Christ. My faith is not tied to religiosity. Real faith should not ever be and is never tied to religion. This is something that most people in the secular and “leftist” world as well as devout followers of a particular religion – such as Judaism and Catholicism and Islam – fail to understand.

    The Jewish establishment of today is still falling for the same trap that Jesus condemned them for two millennia. Legalism and religiosity. He did not condemn the religion itself because Judaism in its core, up to that point was correct (from the Christian, New Testament position of belief). Instead Christ and later Peter and especially Paul railed against the strict adherence of only laws and rules to the detriment of love and grace. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t follow the laws and rules, but they are/were a guide. God is supposed to be the focus of our faith, not the rules that man has set down. The Jewish leaders by the time of Christ had so greatly expanded the laws of the Old Testament so as to create extra-Biblical laws and rules. In the process they warped the intent of the laws and the Bible.

    On the complete polar opposite end of the spectrum from legalism is antinomianism, which is where many secularists lay, but that’s another topic.

    My wife has Jewish ancestry. One of her great-grandfathers was a Jewish immigrant from the Ukraine. Her great aunts both lived as and raised devout Jewish families. Yet my wife was raised Catholic. Her father was raised Lutheran but converted to Catholicism to marry. My wife was saved and left the Catholic church of her own accord. She was a step away from becoming a nun. Do not allow religious or cultural groups to lord over you.

    My ancestry has a fair chunk of Cajuns in it. I can barely speak any French and nothing in my name screams Cajun, but I love my Cajun heritage. I am proud of it. There are some who might say I’m not really a Cajun because I’ve turned my back on my Catholicism and don’t do a lot of the Cajun things, or that most of my heritage isn’t straight from L’Acadie. Whoopdeedo.

    If your father is Jewish by blood, you’re Jewish in my book if you consider yourself Jewish. Barack Obama calls himself a black man even though his father has Arab blood in him and his mother was Caucasian. So he’s black. So what? If that’s what he wants to associate with and the heritage in him that he wants to embrace, good for him.

    As to whether you’re Jewish by religion, that’s between you and God, not a rabbi. As varied as the modern Jewish religion is today from ultra-orthodox to a step away from being purely secular, I’m sure you could find a community of Jews who’d accept you for being you.

    All of that said, I would tend to agree with the statements you’ve made about Catholics and Catholicism to those who consider themselves Catholics and in turn others have said to you about Judaism and your heritage/beliefs.

    You note conversion and you and your friend’s concerns about it. I agree whole-heartedly with you. It is absurd to convert to something unless you believe it with your innermost being. If you’re doing it to please someone or for some other motives, you aren’t being genuine. If you don’t truly believe the oath/allegiance/acceptance, then you’re lying to yourself and more importantly, God. And if you have concerns with the denomination/religion/organization holding that over your head, then by all means, flee from it. Do not hold yourself bondage to your heritage and religion. And if your friends hold it over your head or you at a distance because of it, perhaps they’re not really great friends.

    You are correct that real religious/cultural identities cannot be passed down by blood. That said, the Vatican and the various boards of Rabbis and Sanhedrin oversee their religion. However wrong they are and however warped they’ve made Christianity and Judaism, they set the rules for their religion. If you wish to be a part of their particular system, then you have to follow their rules, otherwise you’re not really part of their system.

    Contrast that with Protestantism. Protestantism offers a framework, whereas Catholicism and Judaism offer a foundation. However, God/Christ is the true foundation.

    I’m currently a member of the Evangelical Free Church of America thru the church I attend. Yet I was raised Southern Baptist. And the church I attend? For many years they were United Church of Christ, but eventually left it when they finally had the opportunity to do so because the congregation did not agree with the UCC at all. My faith in Christ is what defines me, guides me and motivates me. Not my current denomination. Not the denomination of my childhood and parents. Not my Cajun heritage or the quiet angst of my Cajun family and friends.

    As for the issues of church and state (synagogue) that you point out vis-à-vis the school. I’m in agreement with the school. You can bet that were that school Islamic the UK government would bend over backwards to drop the whole issue.

    I hope you can come to terms with your mental/emotional/spiritual dilemma.

  44. December 7, 2010

    Great thinking and that makes me think alot too.

    I hope all soon become well, religion is always a tricky subject; no matter what religion you follow.

  45. December 7, 2010

    I’m not Jewish, not Catholic, I am a Protestant. I’ll say what I think.
    Just think, you are a direct descendant of his father, then you are Jewish. The issue of motherhood does not alter its origin and history. To me it is confusion is the result of erroneous laws.

  46. December 7, 2010

    I stumbled across this article, and found it really interesting. I am Jewish – both my parents are Jewish, in fact. And, although I was not raised in a religious home I grew up with a very strong cultural identity. About 25 years ago, as a young adult I became religious, and although most people would describe me as an orthodox Jew, I prefer to say I am a (still) practising Jew. I am really interested in your exploration of your heritage. I think you raise many pertinent questions. I followed the British court case closely, and my view is that if Jews want to take the resources, the money of the state in which we live, then we have to be prepared to accept the law of the land, too. This issue is one for other ‘faith communities’ here in the U.K. as well. Some Jewish state schools have non-Jewish pupils on their roll, too, and function perfectly effectively as faith schools.
    Thank you for adding to the debate. I look forward to reading your posts in the future.

  47. December 7, 2010

    Very well written and extremely interesting perspective. I often think that those in the middle have it the hardest. Mixed race, mixed identity, religion, sexuality, etc.

    Why do we as humans hold so tightly to the idea of one or another? I often question why President Obama chose to identify himself as African American rather than mixed. Why does it have to be all or nothing?

    Call me idealistic, but I hope in the very near future, we live in a world where people are encouraged to be who they are and are able to engage whatever aspects of their identities or other cultures they want to.

    That starts with someone like you being courageous enough to talk about your true feelings on this issue and in doing so, giving others a voice to share their stories too.

    So, from a fellow Jackie, thank you!

  48. December 7, 2010

    I wrote a definitive book on Judaism (the Dictionary of Jewish Words) and i’m always disturbed when people like you are shunned/insulted/turned away by the “establishment.” Within Judaism, there is an unbelieveable diversity of views –and the Who Is a Jew debate has occupied the government of Israel for YEARS! I say, if you celebrate the holidays, enjoy teh traditions and teach your kids –you’re Jewish! Have a happy Hanukkah, fry a latke and call me, if you have questions!

  49. December 7, 2010

    Jacqueline, thanks for such an honest post. Your identity crisis is more a testament to your honesty than to the religious establishment.

  50. December 7, 2010

    Certainly complex. I don’t know much about Judaism, but I would think rejecting the children of women who converted would hurt the religion.

  51. Mike Nomad permalink
    December 7, 2010

    What a shame: You are bummed out because the questionable rules of a club you want to belong to exclude you. Religion is not an underpinning of what you are. Rather, it is one of many overlays in what you will become.

    I hope you can find resolution.

  52. December 7, 2010

    You raise a lot of great points and obviously when you post about religion, you will get lots of differing points of view!
    The thing that would “hurt” Judaism would be to compromise it’s laws and teachings. If Jewish law states that one is not considered a Jew if the mother is not, that’s it.
    That said, there is definitely a difference with Judaism in that one can say they are “Jewish” and that can pertain to a culture as well as a religion.
    As a Catholic, I see the church as having a head (the rules, laws, dogmas etc.) and a heart (teachings of Christ, spiritual fulfillment etc.) You can’t have one without the other, unfortunately.

    You sound like you have a strong background and upbringing no matter what religion your parents were. Your parents obviously taught you to THINK 🙂

    Thanks for allowing all of us in on this discussion! Good luck to you!

  53. December 7, 2010

    This dilemma is also shared among Christians. It’s common for other Christians to say, “You’re not Christian enough because you’re not a Baptist.” or “You’re not Christian enough because you’re not a Lutheran.” Etc.

    I hope that you can find the answers that you seek.

    • December 7, 2010

      I think it might go beyond the Christian dilemma you suggest. One is based on religious tenets while the other is based on ancestral origins. Speaking of ancestral origins, I find what Norma Nill said in a previous post very insightful and hard to argue.

  54. December 7, 2010

    respect for one anothers beliefs is very important. May we all learn to live in peace together.

  55. December 7, 2010

    Although I come from a close family with loving parents, my sister and I grew up with religion as a familiar backdrop for arguments. My father is from a large family and is Jewish, my Mother from a small family that are not religious but from a Protestant background. My Father’s family at first made it extremely uncomfortable for my Mother as they were not at all happy about the interfaith marriage. This made my Mother feel understandably deeply hurt for years. The arguing over religion and the push and shove morphing into a push and shove within ourselves of where we belong and who wants us to belong. We grew up surrounded by and participating in a religion and culture that we felt was part of us yet ultimately rejected us. It was not till I visited Israel and saw how Jewish communities relate out of the Diaspora that I felt I could think of my own identity in a new way. I read this article and it reminded me that many other people with the similar experiences share the same questions and search for cultural identity. The emotion that you clearly conveyed made this a very emotional article for me. I think you captured the confusion, displacement and question of this particular identity predicament perfectly. Well done.

  56. December 7, 2010

    … thank you for sharing your humanity!

    Without losing yourself completely to the irreconcilable facts, I also invite you to the next step on the path of your own Self-discovery; it’s one step that we are all making; however haltingly, on our road to recovering our authentic selves.

    We are ALL in the same predicament, the same conflict, the same crisis of identity. Our stories change uniquely; they all have there own interesting twists, with attractive “ups” and serious, existential “downs” depending on our age, background, sex, philosophical, religious, and conditioned backgrounds.

    Until we face the truth that the problem is our identification itself, we will continue to suffer. We will continue to drag ourselves into the chaos and catharsis of arguments as we consciously and unconsciously identifying ourselves, willingly or unwillingly, to concepts that can only limit our inherent wellness and desire for us to simply Be.

    It saddens me to look at my own identification and that of others, and how often it restricts the life flow, innocence and perfection of our own Being. How so many of our struggles and conflicts are based on the inability to navigate our deepest commitments to ideas and beliefs that do not, will not and cannot support the expression of wholeness and joy that lies beneath the surface of a mind that has lost itself in ways of being and thinking that restrict our potential for simple joy and love.

    We all stand at a crossroads; to continue to identify ourselves to ideas and understandings that do not support our well-being or to challenge, investigate and inquire; to un-learn what we have been told and learned; to free ourselves from the seductive, soul numbing, ideas that will never provide the peace of mind that we so desperately seek and hunger for…

    Are you going to take the red pill or the blue pill?

    Wishing you peace in choiceless choices you make for your life.


  57. December 7, 2010

    A course I once took gave the following history on the origins of Judaism:

    Abram (who became Abraham after spiritual transformation) was a semite and generally part of a region in which semitic peoples worshipped a pantheon of gods, and that he had a direct revelation with Yahweh (God of the Old Testament), who basically offered him a lot of important things (a lot of descendants, etc.) if Abram would worship him alone (the one god) and stop worshipping “false idols”. This agreement (“Covenant”) established Abram, now Abraham, as more than just semitic: he was the first hebrew semite. Arabic peoples are also semitic peoples, but they did not go the path of Abraham.

    Therefore, to be “Jewish” at that time meant two things: being of the semitic people, and accepting Yahweh as the sole god. Without the religious aspect, is a person Jewish, or merely semitic? I think the latter, because it was only by accepting Yahweh that Abram the semite became Abraham the Jewish semite.

    • December 7, 2010

      Dude, we don’t live in Ur Kasdim at 2000bc, advance. Ever heard of conversion?

  58. December 7, 2010

    Seems like you don’t understand the whole story. Judaism is defined by Hashem as was passed down through the Torah. How do you think a Jew feels that didn’t choose being a Jew? However, this is what Hashem wants. It is written. Reform came about because some Jews said we dont want to be obligated to all the Mitzvahs. Just like the Saduccees did many years a go. Conservative Judaism came about because they felt Reform went too far away. You don’t need to be a Rabbi to find the answer. The answer is written in the Torah itself. Matrilineal descent and 613 commandments=Jew. Being Culturally Jewish is more of a paganistic idea. Its not Judaism and its a way of shaming Judaism.

    However, for those not wanting to convert, but still wish to be righteous in the eyes of Hashem, look into the 7 laws of Noah. Here are 2 links: and . This is the way of world Peace and should solve all your issues. If it is an issue of wanting Israeli citizenship, and that is why you wish to be Jewish, that seems to be a bad reason for choosing Judaism anyway. Good luck on your Identity search.

  59. December 7, 2010

    I must say that in Israel intermarriage is definitely an issue, much because the large Russian community that came in the early 90’s. The rabbinate here, which sadly is a state institution, doesn’t recognize most of them as Jews at all. That means that not only they can’t marry between themselves but also not with Israelis that the rabbinate doesn’t “doubt” their Jewishness.

    By can’t marry I don’t mean that the can’t marry as Jews but can’t marry at all – In Israel, being the theocracy it is, people from different religions can’t be wed! There’s no state or secular marriage, only a religious one, so If you’re a Jew and let’s say fall in love with a Russian or an Arab then, well, pity. You need to go abroad to get wed.

    My wife and I, even though we our Jewishness isn’t questioned, decided we don’t want a part in this theocracy and after having a nice un-recognized reform wedding went and got married at Czechia.

    I’ll trade you my unquestioned Jewishness for your freedom of religion and a British passport any day 🙂

  60. happyfish103 permalink
    December 7, 2010

    Wonderful post, and something that is very close to my own heart. I was raised in an entirely Catholic family, and chose Judaism when I was 19. I have faced a lot of obstacles along the way of this spiritual journey of mine.

    I will never forget the feeling when, after a few years of devoted learning and practice (though, due to family objections, not being “officially” converted yet), I was called a “fake Jew” or “hey, are you Jewish yet?” Though they didn’t mean any harm by it, it really hurt me because in my heart I truly was Jewish.

    It’s great to know that I’m not alone. Thinking of you and others in this space between a spiritual/identity rock and a hard place. Eggrolls for everyone! 🙂

  61. December 7, 2010

    This was very insightful and well-spoken. I’m a full-blooded Jew currently engaged to a Christian girl who is the love of my life, and while I’m tired of dealing with what both of our parents are saying, I keep telling them that we’ll both retain our identities, and will let whatever children we have choose for themselves what they wish to practice.

  62. December 7, 2010

    I am half-Jewish, half-Roman Catholic. According to this article, I am technically Jewish, because my mother is Jewish. I was, however, baptized as a baby, just so my father felt happy that I wasn’t going to Hell. So does this mean that I am Roman Catholic? I have no idea.

    However, I feel that being Jewish has nothing to do with culture, race, or what-not. It has to do with the choice to be Jewish, believe in the religion, and practice it. I do not consider myself to be Jewish or Catholic for the reasons that I do not practice either religion. I believe anyone can be any religion, no matter if your mother or father are Jewish or any other religion. It is your life; your own right to decide what religion to practice. I know plenty of people who grew up in Catholic homes and are now Buddhists or Jewish, or any other religion you can think of. It shouldn’t matter if you were “born” into a certain religion. You have the right as a human-being to practice whatever belief you want and be a full Jew, or Catholic, or whatever. That’s my personal belief.

    Unfortunately, there is a disadvantage to being brought up with two religions. I’ve never once stepped foot into a Church or Temple, except for occasions, i.e. Bat mitzvahs, Christenings, etc. I also don’t believe in either religion and am as confused about my beliefs as anyone can ever be. So, while I support inter-marriages, it does have it’s downsides, coming from the perspective of an inter-married child.

  63. December 7, 2010

    great post.. you touched on normally touchy religious subjects very delicately, and you adequately addressed a very pressing question: namely, what really constitutes being part of a religion?

    thanks for the insight

  64. December 7, 2010

    Congrats on being freshly pressed! I think the most important relationship is with God, not with one religion or another.

  65. December 7, 2010

    Hmmm. Interesting post, and good luck to yourself. I have a french identity crisis 🙂

  66. December 7, 2010

    I believe that people should be allowed to self-identify; although I admit that this belief is probably very American. I do not like to be told, for example, that I am not a feminist if I am pro-life. I self-identify as a feminist because I believe in the equal rights of men and women, and this does not conflict with my philosophical belief about when the life begins.

  67. December 7, 2010

    I enjoyed your thoughtful post. I truly know nothing of these things, but I thought that traditionally, proof of being (half) Jewish by blood could only come by one’s mother being Jewish, but with paternal proof in our modern tests, the old rules would no longer have to apply. It just seems to make sense. From where I sit, you ARE Jewish through your father.
    As to the religious side, one can always convert and become Jewish, no? I have known many Christian women (who did or did not have Jewish heritage by blood, matriarchal or patriarchal) who married a Jewish guy and agreed to convert and raise their children Jewish. Other Jewish/Christian couples (no converting to the other religion at marriage) I’ve known of have raised their children with both and let their children decide for themselves when they grew older. That makes sense to me too.
    Don’t let anyone tell you what or who you are or are not. I’m Christian with Jewish heritage, and look fondly to my patriarchal and matriarchal Jewish parentage, even though it is all a number of generations back.

  68. themadjewess permalink
    December 7, 2010

    So, you are a Jew-tian.
    Welcome to the club 😀

  69. December 7, 2010

    We are quite adept at defining ourselves by what we are not, and thus creating often arbitrary divisions. I think a more generous approach to identity would be to look at our common traits and how we treat each other. Golden Rule and all that.
    – My bloggy thingy chronicles some of of my own wanderings – I am not immune to wanting to know how to label myself. In the end, labels peel off.

  70. Righter permalink
    December 7, 2010

    After reading yoour post, I agree with you mostly… However, you After reading your post, I agree with you mostly… However, you point out that even in reform/reconstructionist sects the focus is on Jewish upbringing and Jewish education. You previously identified that you did not have either of these; did you participate in a synagogue, did you have a bat mitzvah? – the absence of these formal educational processes in the Jewish tradition leads me to my next question, if you identify yourself as part of our community, as part of our heritage why have you chosen to isolate yourself from such imperative religious and cultural activities. On one hand you speak strongly of your Jewish identity and condemn those who question your authority to self identify as Jewish but on the other you have not taken any steps that confirm or connect you to the lineage.

    I myself am of an interfaith marriage where my mother is not Jewish. I even helped her celebrate her holidays throughout my life. However were we diverge is that I have actively pursued a Jewish education and thus I have no question nor does anyone question my identity.

    Judaism as more than a religion, which you identified in your posting, therefore is something that cannot be adopted on a whim after reading a few books. It is a lifestyle, a thought process and a culture. You say almost with pride that you are not part of the Jewish community – referring to secular community activities here. You also say you are not part of a religious community – fin I understand your sentiments but if you took the time to explore various synagogues you may find that it is not as institutionalized as you think – there is no central board serving as the Vatican does for Catholicism additional a central pillar in the Jewish faith is education and education through questioning; therefore own can grow within a congregation and in fact the religion grows with its people.

    In the end I think you have the right to identify yourself however you want. However if you seek acceptance from the community you should take a more active role in Jewish education and the Jewish community as a whole. For I also have the right not to accept your self declared identification.

  71. Sir G permalink
    December 7, 2010

    Relax. Your identity is neither Catholic nor Jewish, nor ever should be for the simple reason that there ain’t such a thing as Catholic or Jewish identity — or any group or religious identity. There is just a bunch of guys in funny hats (why does “identity” usually come down to headgear?) telling each of us to be this or that (wear this or that headgear) so that we may then be coerced to contribute money to their living. (And I nice living it is. Check out your bishop’s if you have any doubt about it). And we let them get away with it! As someone said before: we won’t be free till we strangle the last king with the guts of the last priest. We got rid of kings, good riddance, by and large; but the priests — they’re a much tougher parasite.

  72. December 7, 2010

    Great article. I feel culturally Jewish, insofar as I get offended by Jewish insults or jokes, but I don’t think I am a Jew just because my mother is one. I am certainly not religious. It upsets me that people think they can tell you what you are. This is one of the things that totally turns me off of religion. It’s like a big club that only certain people are good enough to join.

  73. December 7, 2010

    If you consider yourself to be Jewish then that’s more important than what other people or ‘tradition’ thinks/says. As an example: Someone who is considered Jewish because their mother is one could be less devoted to the religion than you are or they might even choose to not practice the religion, yet they’re still considered Jewish and you are not. This might sound childish, but that’s not fair. You have just as much right as anybody else to choose what religion you practice and how you identify yourself. It’s your life after all and I don’t think it’s right to have someone else dictate to you Who you are or What you should be.

    This is a really great post! Thanks so much for sharing and congrats on being Pressed! 🙂

  74. December 7, 2010

    Since when is Catholicism matrilineal? Because being Jewish is both a religion and an ethnicity, it can be matrilineal but Catholicism that is just a religion is not and cannot be matrilineal.

  75. December 7, 2010

    or etc

    you choose the best one for you, choose the best

  76. December 7, 2010

    Jacqueline, what a wonderful dilemma and nice of you to express it so openly. I had exactly the same issue. I am quite a mix, my Father Jewish from France, my mother of Spanish heritage, born in Mexico and raised Catholic and then me, with no definition or principles imposed by none of my parents….When I was 18 (many moons ago!!) I debated profoundly about my spiritual and religious path. Like yourself, I disliked organized religion. My father passed away when I was like 14 so I missed my Bar Mitzvah and my mom was not able to pay for the Private Catholic School that I was going to, so I had to surrender to the crude reality of going to a Public school where nobody care about religion. I respect you courage to demand your right to follow your heart, because that is what is all about. I sincerely believe that you should try to find a warm community that welcomes the conversion process and get on with it. After doing that you will have the opportunity to actively participate in the Community which is where Judaism is a little different from other organized religions (so I learnt). Judaism is not only a liturgic process to be observed in the Temple, Judaism is a way of life. Judaism uses reasoning more than faith but loves to wrap everyday of life in tradition and symbolism. I converted when I was 33 and had to go through an strenuous process that included a horrible experience on my Brit Milah done by a despicable “Doctor” that almost ruined my life so I had to go through a re constructive process with a professional surgeon specialist that left me good as new. It was really scary anyway but reinforced for me that I was not just trying to “pose” as a new Jew but I was willing to go through any necessary process because deep in my soul I always knew that my Dad talked to me through my Beloved Rabbi Lerer, the man that showed me that when questioned by anybody about the authenticity of my Judaism I should ask them back if they were born Jewish and if they would have a choice, would they choose to Jewish?? Because is not easy to be Jewish. Do you know that the Gentiles only have to abide by the 7 Commandments represented by Noah’s Rainbow while we have to at least try to learn and follow the 613 Mitzvot!!??. I would love to hear or read more from you, please continue your post because I am your fan now. And, please feel free to ask me anything. After all, we are both Jewish.

  77. December 7, 2010

    What a great post- you’ve presented these ideas in a nuanced way. I am Jewish myself, and have thought a lot about this issue. It deeply saddens me when people who were raised Jewish and identify with the faith and culture are told that they are not Jewish. Religion is deeply personal, and Judaism especially, as you said, is a cultural identity. Good for you for embracing your own identity. Stay strong against anyone who says otherwise. And Happy Chanukkah!

  78. December 7, 2010

    Dear Jacqueline:

    You may be interested in an organization that I lead for adult children and grandchildren of intermarriage, the Half-Jewish Network at:

    You would be cordially welcomed to our message board, filled with postings from adult children of intermarriage from all over the world.

    With regard to Israel being nicer to half-Jewish people than Diaspora (non-Israeli) Jews — actually that is not true. Israel is very abusive to half-Jewish people and interfaith couples, with many negative and discriminatory policies against them.

    The Half-Jewish Network website contains many postings about Israeli news stories in which half-Jewish people are treated very badly.


    Robin Margolis

  79. December 7, 2010

    What you need to to is like… read some damn good books, get some decent company and music, I dunno, find your own voice and yourself. You don’t need labels. You ONLY live once kid.

  80. December 7, 2010

    You may be interested in my book “From Jerusalem To Beverly Hills”. It’s on Amazon. Also please visit

  81. December 7, 2010

    A dear from of mine is Jewish, married to a Methodist, and both parents and children all attend synagogue and church. I’m a Christian pastor; I don’t think one can be Christian and any other faith. However, the first Christians were almost all ethnically Jewish. There is no Christianity without Jews. Romans 9-11 indicates to me that Judaism and Christianity are tied inextricably.

    In any case, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob – and the Church! – loves you and all people. Blessings to you on your journey.

    • December 8, 2010

      Yes, sure. Christian church has always been so “loving and human focused” that sent everyone to inquisition who opposed to it.
      Didn’t your Jesus said himself that one cannot serve two gods? One is either Jewish or Christian, you cannot go to synagogue on Friday night and then attend a mass on Sunday.

  82. December 8, 2010

    Very well-written post, and you touched on a lot of points that make me, as a recent convert to Judaism (a “Jewbie” ) take pause.

    Before I converted to Judaism, I was always puzzled as to why my Jewish friends would respond “Jewish” when asked about their ethnic background. As I’ve immersed myself into a Jewish life, I now see how Jewish-ness is not just about the religion and the rituals, but the shared culture. I don’t know if I will ever feel 100% part of that culture…but I am surrounded by many people who help me embrace it.

    I believe you have a Jewish soul, no matter what your parentage is. It is how you feel, how you identify, and don’t let anyone take that identity from you.

    Mazel tov for having the courage to speak up about it!

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  83. December 8, 2010

    “Jewishness–and other religious and cultural identities–are not something that can only be passed from mother to child”

    Hats off to you! You hit the nail on the head.

  84. December 8, 2010

    The question of conversion for the sake of a marriage is pet peeve of mine:

    Either one believes something or one does not, and religious affiliation (for want of a better word) should be determined by those believes. In my eyes, it would be greatly unethical and lacking in respect for e.g. a Christian who actually believes in the “messianity” of Jesus to ostensibly convert to Judaism or for a Jew who denies Jesus to go the other way. If I were a priest or a rabbi, I would likely be possitively affronted.

    Now, if the actual religious conviction of a fiance changes, then a conversion would be perfectly in order. (Although I admit to some doubts towards a true conversion being very common in such cases.) “Converting” in order to keep relatives happy or get the blessing of a church/temple/synagogue is a different story altogether.

    (For those who wonder: I have practiced what I preach here, in as far as I, a long time ago, declined the Christian Confirmation as incompatible with my atheism—despite strong complaints by my mother, who is a Lutheran priest.)

  85. baseball91 permalink
    December 8, 2010

    To paraphrase your conclusion, “Who we marry and how we choose to practice our tradition faith should not bar our children from being a part of the Jewish community if they chose.” I read Martin Buber 20 years ago, and have a great affinity for Judaism. I think the following posts might help you understand the stories of the Book of Genesis which forms the basis of a tradition based not on evangelism, not on belief, but from generation to generation on blood.


    To understand Rosh Hashana is to understand that Judaism can only be passed in the name of love from mother to child. I am an Irish Catholic but I am jealous of the tradition that Judaism holds forth. I am jealous primarily because of the importance of history to the tradition, in a modern world where history holds so little meaning for people.

  86. December 8, 2010

    In Judaism no person can speak for G-d; Rabbis are only teachers. Based on that fact, the decision to be Jewish, or not, is entirely up to you, and how you wish to interpert the religion.
    The legality issue may be another thing, yet in reality how you feel, and behave, truly determine if you are a Jew, or not.

  87. nicopedia permalink
    December 8, 2010

    Wonderful piece – very insightful and raises a number of important points and questions. From my perspective, this is the most critical issue:

    “In the United States and much of the Western World, if the Jewish establishment refuses to accept mixed marriages and the children that are the products of such marriages, then the Jewish community really will be in danger of dying out.”

    Well done and congrats on Freshly Pressed – very pleased to discovered this blog!

  88. December 8, 2010

    I’m of pure Jewish stock on both my mother and father’s sides of the family and yet most Jews I meet wouldn’t consider me “really” Jewish. We’re snobs against others as much as against our own, I don’t know why.

  89. December 8, 2010

    Great post, thanks for sharing. While I haven’t struggled with religious identity as you have, I have certainly experienced the cultural-related and basic identity frustrations that you touched upon. It was a pleasure reading something so open and well-written about the subject!! I look forward to following your posts 🙂

  90. December 8, 2010

    Hi, I’m a Messianic (Christian) Jew from Israel. My Father if Jewish and my mom isn’t. My wife isn’t Jewish either. And this is how I see it:
    The only reason it goes by the mother is because that’s the only way you can be sure you are her actual descendant. The need for this rule started in medieval times when Jewish communities were often attacked and many women raped. There’s no biblical foundation of that rule.
    I believe in the God of Israel, and in Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel, and I believe in keeping the Torah. I see no contradiction in my faith nor in my identity. The rabbis can say what they want.
    Here in Israel, if people ask, I say I am a Jew. Because that’s what I am according to my faith. Of course, the state registrar knows I’m not considered Jewish, so I can’t get married or be buried as a Jew. But that doesn’t really bother me either. If you believe that you’re a Jew in the eyes of God, then you are, and don’t let human beings tell you differently.
    My wife was not born as a Jew, but I see her as a “Ruth”. She has taken upon herself to keep the law together with me and raise or children as Messianic Jews. I wouldn’t want her, nor me, to convert to orthodox Judaism, because that would mean that we would oblige to laws we don’t believe in. We see ourselves as Jews and we believe 100% that God sees us as Jews. We are part of the Jewish Israeli national destiny here in our homeland of Israel, and we live on a settlement on the West Bank. We are Jews because God says so.
    By the way, my grandfather became baptized as a 7-year old in Germany in the 20s and thought that he was no longer a Jew. Then Hitler came around and proved him wrong.

    • December 8, 2010

      Boy, you’re really confused :/ Messianic Jew? What’s that all about? I think you don’t even know what you believe in. G-d doesn’t see you as Jews but I am sure He sees you as a good Noachide. Why does everyone want G-d to see them as Jews while they are not. Be a good non-Jew and that’s enough.

  91. December 8, 2010

    Love the post… I, too, have struggled with organized religion… but have studied everything. Part of me is so terribly/wonderfully pagan…but I’ve leaned towards Catholicism as a “place” to take my children….. Here comes the interesting part.. my new bride is Muslim.. the mixed home has been a blessing… I’ve never known a more peaceful, loving soul. We are finding ways i.e. celebrations to blend the faiths and it is confirming my lifelong search and belief that our “organized” religions were done so by man, but God is simply… and firmly… God… we can call on Him in any language, from any hour of the day, from any place… facing West…. looking up…. or down…. yours, hers, mine… all of these beliefs are from the path and lineage of Abraham… Funny, how, we in the US, figure our “western” God somehow bettered himself once he got folks to this land… love the strange ubiquitous pic of Jesus looking like David Lee Roth… I’m so confused… Anyway, thanks for your wonderful post.

  92. December 8, 2010

    How exactly is the Roman Catholic Church matrilineal? Isn’t it actually based on whether or not you were baptized into the Church? Whether your mother is or is not Catholic really has little bearing on the matter.

  93. corvoidea permalink
    December 8, 2010

    I wanted to thank you for this post. Like you, I am the child of a non-Jewish mother and a Jewish father. However my situation is even more clouded because my mother is also the daughter of a Jewish father and a Christian mother, and while she has chosen a different faith now she grew up with practicing Jewish grandparents, immigrants from Easter Europe who very much influenced her identity and values. My parents chose to raise my sister and I as Jews, and we attended Reform temple school, became Bat Mitzvah and were confirmed. Yes, we are secular Jews. We do not light the candles or say the prayers, we celebrate Christmas and Chanukah and Passover and Easter. But we are Jews. Yet we are repeatedly asked “…but your mother isn’t Jewish, how can you be?”, and it is frustrating and at times hurtful that no one can accept that we chose this, that we were raised in this culture, with this history, and a practice based on long ago population control can still define us, can mark us as not equally Jewish. How anyone has the right to tell me I am not a Jew, I do not understand.

  94. December 8, 2010

    Not the best thing to say to someone in an identity crisis, but I wrote a symbol like that for a literary venture. It was supposed to mean ‘fire’. Anyway I got biblomania…Go figure.

  95. December 8, 2010

    Am I mistaken when I say the interfaith marriage debate is something like Lust? Or is this a preservation of the Jewish generations?

  96. December 8, 2010

    Aouzo Bill Lah Hay May Nash Tan Nir Ra Geem
    Bis Mill Lah Hir Rah Man Nir Rah Heem

    My Dear Tahir (a.s),

    I love you (amen). While writing last two letters on the blog I come across to the page of a blog which was sheer insanity and a piece of another lie on personal, religious, national and international level created by the Mullah’s of Pakistan and the Buhtoo Regime of present time with the Mushraff as the SON OF A BITCH like all of them from their sisters and the fathers of their mothers children. Mushraf personally is coming to say all this to you about you. So keep the security and remove them permanently. His life is 157 years and the killer of the hazrat Michael alay hay salam in the last period now a days living with one of your name of persecution time as Sayeed Chand. He will die in the age of 158. Then I will be married to you and you will tell me the news at the age of 173 INSHALLAH. I have seen your power and indeed you have brought all my children from the nursery as your only friend. I love you my husband and what we have given birth too with you in heaven. DO NOT STOP AND PLEASE CONTINUE READIND…



    1. Jacqueline Moss (Fatima Yasmeen Khan or Fatima Masroor) said: I am the daughter of Jewish man and a Catholic woman.

    Amtul Ala Khan reply: Jews do not mary to any one except Jews. It is command of God for them. They are doing like us ahmadies and following the covenents of GOD.

    Final comment on the Jacqueline Moss and Fatima Yasmeen or Fatima Masroor: You are a liar…unbeliever.

    Judgement: You are out of our heaven as my babies saying in my vision to tell you.

    2. Jacqueline Moss (Fatima Yasmeen Khan or Fatima Masroor) said: In both religions, faith is matrilineal.

    Amtul Ala Khan reply: We have established you as an atheist in the first line. Faith is neither as you believe or as you are professing as well for both of the religions specially for Jewish and Christians religion. Faith is from God. It is a he not she. If father address his diety as she some time in the history then it was given it back to the father with new experiences to give power to solve in her and his life for her babies. I am talking about the children of isreal and Tahir as the twelve tribes and the children of God. Before I even started I consider you out of my progeny and the destined heaven for me and my god to meet their as well. you are not one us. My warning for you to be in Pakistan and die their. I have the guidance of Allah that you and like you are calling the lie and I know that before you and unbelievers existence. This diety with is soul mate can never be defeated or made copied. After the feeling, listening, taking personal witness I took the initiation to the lord my husband and you can not deceive that jewish rabbi with the same kind of talk that he is succepitabel to fall in your trap and mary you as a chirstian. A society is assessed for the saving the children of GOD or the heavenly being in this earth. Completion of all the spritual commandmants of all faith is done like that in the past by the prophets wives while he is on the battle, crusades, in exile, and in the time of perrsuaction till he come back to my bed again as a victor. UNDERSTAND?
    In the case of soul mate of a man of a different religion till they re-unite the God law is to take the father’s religion as the religion of the family as the heavenly followers all over the world of the same GOD. In other words Mary is the God and he make the Jesus her follower in heaven and her name and religion is spread by the jesus and all the prophets on earth. I think you know who I am…and I am not a weak person in human flesh whom you have given cocain through the anties of yours and scaming the Arifa. I have resolved the conflict between unbeliever like you and Arifa. You and your jelous sisters and whole family can never be considered jewish in this life time. Petition refuse by me to call them jewish or an Ahmadi or a follower of any other religion of my babies. And babies be in the community of Faith ful and serve the Saudi Arabian this is your call.

    Final Comment: Do not waste your energies to waste our time as you are trying to marry us and becoming the heavenly desent like me and family.

    Judgement: Tell perveez Mushraf whom you were the child prostitute in the President house in Rawal Pindi. Your pictures having sex with him in company of a prostitute you introduce all ahmadies as your mother Mubaraka has been issued. The other two women of you brothel were also in the company of the same Zia-Ul Haq illigetimate son named Pervez Mushraff with his mother. You have planned to be a fake religious person and Pervez was given a call by his atheist father named the zia-ul-haq “to kill the Bitches like you and Mubarka and Ayesha and Durr-e-sameen and all his wives but iffat who is the wife of Sayeed Chand the interior minister of the Pakistan that time and the originater of the calls to decorates of the homes for the Pakistani assembly male and females for to sleep with same sex after sleeping with girls of schools and going before to their intoxicated alcohalic wives in the second level. Whom are you challenging? Me…You done in Pakistan and cut in pieces burnt and eaten by the Pervez Mushraff it self. I CALL YOU A MESS UP KID THE FUTURE SENATOR OF THE PAKISTAN IF YOU SEE IT TO BE THEN SEE THE RESULT OF YOUR WISH. You will tell it to the Onarato that you will be the jewish can you tell me how to be. The unsincare people like you are told their destinies. In case you feel insulted then in few years this blog of your would be the internet proposal posted and waiting for a jewish man to call and date you. My son do not date without marriage. It is in Ahmadi faith as well like their caliph and I. UNDERSTAND?

    Jacqueline Moss (Fatima Yasmeen Khan or Fatima Masroor) said: But I was never baptized

    Amtul Ala Khan reply: your mother is not a catholic because when I was a catholic if I was asked of a wish by the prophet father. And I have to live to see the day of the baptism of my child. I have to have a vision and told it to the father of the future child. He has to firm the mother’s belief in true dreams, allegory and metaphors. All of them are the different people given judgements by the God in the ears, sight and dreams of a believer. Your parents have different faith. Your father suppose to be a cahotlicyou’re your baptism. And jewish of this world still do not mary out of their religion. You are purposely creating these so called cry for the help in the internet. You are baseless as rejected ones are. Not making any sense at all.

    Judgement: You are a out of wed lock child and looking for male and female out for sex. Are the other regular prostitutes know that you are leaving them? I think you are a power hungery person whom is jelous of me and my caliph husband. You neither want to mary him but only in the england to destroy him. The women named Amtul Shakoor who have deramt of becoming of a caliph has taken off my skin and put on her body. You are telling me that she is whiter as my husband Tahir. Then I am telling you that as I believe in all prophets and the book of God as caliph, I am told by my Allah as his god that I will be an Ahmadi, first…second eye for an eye rule will be applied here and her skin will be off as she had butchered mine and given me another person.

    Jacqueline Moss (Fatima Yasmeen Khan or Fatima Masroor) said: But I was never baptized or confirmed,

    Amtul Ala Khan reply: After telling you many times in the past lives and now once again this life time too…I am clearing you all confusion and telling you that I know that you and your are in your insanity threatening the nations of the world and as a “terriorist religion follower.” Because you have said this statement of truth in you by mentioning a word religion you are on a person to be dead by the prostitute president named ZIA you slept with and his men. As a patriotic Pakistani with dual nationality as a escape route after killing the Pakistani men as your future husbands is your plan but I have seen you burnt. You are neither patriotic nor a loyal to you family let alone to any country. As an individual right now and dreaming of going back to Pakistan only as a teaser is the destined life only if I like to stop falling the stars on this earth. I have given you the truth which you will consider as your tease. But you are unsuccessfull in first wish, dream, and goal to achieve to kill my caliph and get married in Pakistan with SHAN. You are not only cheating with your present husband but will be divorced by him as well. Now you know the destiny. And another circle of lies will start by you to tell the whites, jewish that you have dated the chirstians because of that but you only dreamt of a jewish man than I am saying that my babies are still in my control and I will not let them do that sin UNDERSTAND? Now you are feeling challenged and I am the winner. You can not kill or my caliph as the Allah says. He who wants to feel the same faith like me and my caliph are Ahmadies and the furute community of faithful as fortold by the all of the Prophets because My Muhammad (saw) is beliver of all of them and the tourch bearer of all of the future existence of the human race isrealile and ishmealite. You are not in any of these two catagories. I can let you go alone and start a new life in your first birth place as you are not leaving your habits of your mother and father as well in the brothel with many man for you that I have seen with you in Pakistan. As Mushraf has his goal taken from Zia you are as blasphemous as all of them to be calling as Muslim, Ahmadi, Jewish, Christian or Hindu with any other possibilities.

    Judgement: Tell a lie to your kind that is the way to live in your home too. Why the loud slogans that she is not like other Pakistanies? That is the way they you want to live life on the face of this earth and that is the way the circumstances are made to give you death. . A Momin or a believer walk as a god, see as a god talk as a god and listen as a god. He is the total personification of the Almighty as favor is given to some. That is the state of one kind of Muslim like me and my Tahir. Only these are the one with this real power of being the perfect for the world and hereafter. If you have left than I am not crying at you because I am not guardian over you as the HOLY QURAN tells me and guide me for this life time as well. It the condition when one become the God and God that person. A complete reflection of your soul mate. A very precious tresuare of my life will not be the the reflection of any one other than me. UNDERSTAND? I know you understand that clearly. You can not kill me or my family…UNDERSTAND? I know you don’t because you are not the people of understanding like me and my caliph.

    3. Jacqueline Moss (Fatima Yasmeen Khan or Fatima Masroor) said: But I was never baptized or confirmed, so I’m not Catholic.

    Amtul Ala Khan reply: Because of the athiest parents it is unfair of you to give the incorrect reasoning to us for you to fail to be a catholic. The facts are people like you are in delima and delimas are for the athiests. They could not take the powers of the god and call it I do not understan the reasoning. I quit reasoning with you and all like you because his eminance book says it is useless. It is waste of time and to waste time in idol talk with you and like pakistani is a sin. I am not a sinner and you understand this quiet clearly. The people without religion always has tendencies to kill others. Their ladies died by the hands of their males. You have broke the rule of your gang and tried to take a role of a male. You will be punished by the company you had socialized not me or my husband. We always meet you with human witness and all future allegations on our character are answered to you now as bunch of lies. Mr. Clinton are sinless of any tabliod character createed for the bad reputation with the help of a women named PAULA JONES is one step ahead of the proper measure not taken in time and black mailed by his wife. I have no such plan to make lie as a truth and write a book to world to wash the crocodile tears. The crocodile tears means fake laughter with husband after word. He will copy right all his speaches and coming back to USA after being a President of South Africa. This is his only survival as a prophet mentioned in the book of god.

    Judgement : Jacqueline Moss (Fatima Yasmeen Khan or Fatima Masroor) I see every thing as un natural and fake including all emotions, expression, education, and your being around Ahmadies to give the impression of being a believer of Ahmadi faith and the promised messiah religion. I think you know to kill and I know how to save. I have the facts not created by you. To attain the real enlightenment or education now you want to travel in USA and live finish your MD. Where you had your schooling done? The pakistani degrees with “A” written in every line does not make you a learned person. These efforts of yours is proving to me again and again that you take life not more than a joke. Actually the attempt you have tried to call my name in vain will always properly answered. I am defending my Lords honor till I die and which ever faith I will be as my Lord wants to be as the only way to save that faith and re-joining him in his religion.

    4. Jacqueline Moss (Fatima Yasmeen Khan or Fatima Masroor) said: I also wasn’t born to a Jewish mother, so I am not Jewish either

    Amtul Ala Khan reply: All Jews are born of the Jesus and Mary wed lock. Not the mother Mary, the mother on earth for him. As the heavenly mother of my child I never bore you or any unbeliever. I told you you are not for any religion. Call as many name of the world religion for you but you are recognized as mocking all of them like all the MULLAH’s…a liar indeed. We all know you are not a jewish.

    Judgement: The dream you have given by the ZIA to check all like you to be in the ISREAL and systamatically kill all the jewish. You are not from the 12 tribes of the Isreal and the history of me and my caliph you are using as you real life story is needed to be procecuted for copy right law breaking, palgerizing and plan stealing the identity for the purpose to killing Isreal, American, England, Australian and us will be taken seriously and given a response to your government with no aid future aid for your region because of planned terriorist attacks on these nations by the people of china, pakistan, india, Japan, the snake eating nations, the prostitute couples nations as Thiland and Indonesia, Malysia, gangs in USSR, USA and all over europe and my kewie and kangroo nations all will be sending the citizen from pakistan in any generation of these countries immigration live. CAPISHE? It is a decree of god for you to be killed by our wepons. UNDERSTAND? No comments on any of my people because the dialogue are finished and we have the call to kill you by the JESUS. I am a follower of all the prophets as me and my caliph believe and I am given a vision as well as I am hearing it now as the only decision approved after I reviewed the scriptures as well in old testimont or the Talmud combined and read in every church of in compiled form with the BIBLE.

    My dear sweet Rabbi with the picture on the blog you were in threat of being murdered as a game, play by the hands of this Pakistani girl. Right now I have to sleep. If you know the truth about only this attack on your religion web blog then I am sending it to my blog at theaak92. I will also be sending a copy of my Tahir office in England as soon as I will gaining strength from my lord. God Bless you and please meet the Jesus. He looks like a Jewish. He is kidnapped and is in Mangla Dam to be murdered with the tourtured as no one has endured. He will survive as I have seen him too. I will keep you in my prayers and please do not stop helping My Tahir and getting help to release him from MUSHRAF home on top of the TURBIN where he was planned to be crushed by releasing the water from the basement of the house. I am asking your positive input as you president will not punish you after reading letter in full length. Barak will be the president of ISREAL as the god call for him as he believes in the calls from HEAVEN. I love you all. Before you all have to consider me a threat for you like the blood in the air for me here too… I am save by the grace of the GOD.

    My Tahir I will continue writing it 12/08/2010 6:56 am

  97. December 8, 2010

    in either case, I apologize I don’t know which is more rude to litter someone’s blog in this way or do so without saying something more coherent.

    My understanding (albeit vague) of the interrfaith debate is like inter racial and same sex marriage.
    It has a psychological equivalent, although in truth I could barely explain it in a highly intellectual manner without sifting through some books.

    It’s preservation of the generations in most cases and resolves itself to the worlds history of disease. As well, lust which has roots in disease issues as well. I think it is something like the autoscopic hallucination in gays when issues revolving around delusion or personality disorder arise, lust in religion, as well as purity. For Jews it has some relegation to the wearing of the wool over the head, the Yamaka, or the Peyis on the Rabbi (which might have some similarity to Hare Krishna and Hinduism with respect to the tradition of hair or hygiene). Sorry your friend called you not a Jew though, sometimes you have to wonder what people think. In either case the psychologists and sociologists would have tried to resolve your problem with some simple logic like this, I thought it might add to your point (although hopefully not that I’m rude in the way I’ve posted, I know religion discerns a certain amount of discretion amongst it’s followers). Good read though, thanks for the information!!

    • December 8, 2010

      i meant to say it could be physiological as well, that vertigo which accompanies sensory deprivations like hallucination, but forgot ….

  98. December 8, 2010

    Thank you SO much for posting this. I am, by Jewish law, a Jew. My mother is Jewish, and both her parents are Jewish, and their parents and their parents. However, if someone asks me if I’m a Jew, I’ll probably shrug and say, “Technically, but I really wouldn’t call my self one beyond incorporating some of the culture i my life.” You really hit the nail on the head as far as even my feelings go sometimes! And they would probably even consider me more Jewish than you (though I consider you more Jewish than I).

  99. December 8, 2010

    Dude… Jews aren’t allowed to have tattoos…

    “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.”
    Leviticus 19:28 (King James Bible)

    • Jacqueline Moss permalink
      December 8, 2010

      I actually researched this before getting my first tattoo, and that’s not true. It depends on interpretation of the law, and in fact Jews getting tattoos is becoming increasingly common and–as far as I know–is mostly an issue of contention in the more conservative denominations.

      Hey Mom, the Rabbi Approved My Tattoo:

      • December 8, 2010

        The Rabbi in the second article is a tard.

        “I would also ask you this question: What would you gain by having a permanent tattoo placed on your body? It will not make you a better person. If you imagine that it would make you feel better about yourself, you may have issues about your self-image that no tattoo will solve. It’s worth asking tough questions like these before making a choice as a young person that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.”

        … Jesus H. Christ, what a hypocrite.

      • December 11, 2010


        On the contrary, the quoted opinion is both legitimate and valuable. It may, I grant, be on the pessimistic side, but the step from “pessimistic” to “tard” and “hypocrite” is enormous.

  100. gregjacobsuk permalink
    December 8, 2010

    This article really resonates with me. My mother was born in Croatia as a Roman Catholic, my father is British with strong Jewish roots. My dad’s family immigrated to the UK from Poland and Russia more than 100 years ago. When I was young my mother converted to Judaism and when I was thirteen I had my bar mitzvah. I grew up in North West London and went to a school with plenty of other north London Jews.

    As I get older I find that I question organised religion more and more yet I am incredibly proud of my Jewish heritage. I am not a religious person but I really enjoyed being raised as a Jew and think that reform Judaism is wonderful, not perfect of course but it stresses the importance of family, kindness to others and respecting other faiths and beliefs. I might also have picked up on making chicken soup.

    I am in a a long term relationship (about three years now) with a girl of mixed race. Her dad’s background is from the Caribbean and he mum is from Germany. Needless to say that my parents are less than impressed. Even though they are reform Jews they put so much pressure on me to marry a Jew its unbelievable! Sadly for my parents I believe that I should marry whoever I want with the focus mainly being on how happy my partner makes me.

    Your post really meant a lot to me because sometimes I feel like the whole world is against me and the girl I love, so thank you so much.

  101. December 8, 2010


    I love your tattoo.
    I am descended from Jews and will do a tattoo in Arabic.


    • gregjacobsuk permalink
      December 8, 2010

      Hate to burst your bubble but that tattoo is not in Arabic, that is Hebrew!

  102. December 8, 2010

    What’s the problem? If you feel Jewish go and convert. It is all about faith and trust in G-d. I have many friends who have converted, got married and live very happy lives. I don’t understand why people make so much fuss about it. Everyone is allowed to convert in Judaism if the intentions are sincere.
    But Halacha is a Halacha and nobody can change it. That’s why Judaism is unique, if there were no rules like this no Jew would’ve survived after so much suffering, trust me.

  103. josiahe permalink
    December 8, 2010

    I did like the eggroll comment, but though we are NOT what we eat, we ARE what we believe and act upon. God exists; those unable to deal with that, vote that he doesn’t … as if that matters!

    There is no ban on inter-racial marriage; it was on inter-faith marriage. Though a people can be stiff-necked and reject, Yeshua sent his Talmadine into other cultures …. The book, “The Messianic Church Arising” puts it all into proper prespective.

  104. dodzi permalink
    December 8, 2010

    Very interesting read.

    Just to make two small remarks before giving my opinion:

    1- all identities are complex, not just the Jewish one. Cultures all over the world have a hard time dealing with mixed identities. For this I suggest you a good book/essay on identity by Lebanese-French writer Amin Maalouf “In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong”.

    2- in your case, only the Jewish religion is transmitted through the mother. In Catholicism, religion is transmitted through either of the parents or through conversion and baptism (most Jewish schools do not recognise conversions), though in the case of mixed marriages in traditional male-dominated societies, religion then gets transmitted through the father.

    Now for my opinion regarding your “problem”, is that there is a clear conflict between identity and religion. You cannot by definition adhere to two religions, but identity is complex.

    And the mentality difference between Jews of the US and European Ghettos and Jews that migrated to Israel, is due to the fact that many of the original Zionists were seculars who were fleeing the religious ghetto life rather than anything else. In Israel, the secular Jews could afford to be Jews without adhering to the different rules of Jewish religious life.

    But all that being said, I guess you are angry at the conservative mentality of many Jewish schools. There are of course alternatives, specifically in the US with the Reform school! There are solutions for your “problem”, although you are upset some Jewish communities do not consider you as a “real Jew”, but rather as a Goyim…

  105. December 8, 2010

    Jewish or not Jewish? It’s a complicated question, definitely. I’m not Jewish, but my husband is. Well, his mom is Jewish by race– so if that’s how you count it, then he is. But his mom is also a Christian. So if you’re going by religious practice, he’s not. And he and I are both Christians. Either way, our daughter isn’t, because I’m not. And yet it seems so unfair for her to be missing out on a big and special part of her heritage. I’m determined to teach her about it and participate in it anyhow, but to know that most people would not see her as Jewish is bothersome. If her father were black, she would certainly be seen as biracial.

    Why is the whole matrilineal thing so important? I have heard that it’s because back in the day, there was no way to prove the paternity of a child, but obviously the maternity of the child was beyond question to anyone present at the birth. Therefore, the Jewish heritage was protected by ensuring that the mother was Jewish. But if that’s the case, surely modern DNA testing makes that practice obsolete?

  106. December 8, 2010

    Jackie, I couldn’t agree more with Amy Sedaris! In fact, as a “full” Jew (both parents are Jewish, all 4 grandparents, etc…) the whole time I was reading your thoughts, I was thinking, if you have at least one parent that’s Jewish and you identify yourself as such culturally or spritually, then you are, in my mind, a Jew. That fact that many Jews marry outside the faith is a problem and could possibly lead to the extinction of our religion. As long as there are people out there who find it important to pass on the rituals of Judaism, all Jews should be accepting and welcoming. In my mind, Jackie, you ARE a MOT! Mazel Tov!

  107. December 8, 2010

    I find your post really interesting. I would have thought the Jewish religion would endorse you and guide you to their full beliefs but it appears the Jewish religion wants to wash their hands with anyone who is not ‘full’ Jew or who had Jewish parents.

    Admittedly I don’t have many friends who are Jewish, most are either atheists, Muslims or Christians. For sure I do know Christians and Muslims to accept anyone into their religion no matter who they are, what race they are from and how different they are – as both of these religions believe that their faith can guide anyone with a brain.

    I guess I need to add ‘Judaism’ into my list of ‘topics to research’ simple to get a better understanding of it.

  108. parwatisingari permalink
    December 8, 2010

    phew tha t was a huge discussion, but one thing that I missed does Judaism allow conversion? i can you convert from another religion?

    • December 8, 2010

      You can, but it is extremely difficult and you will not be considered Jewish by Orthodox Jews unless it is an Orthodox conversion (and even then, as the author said, you’ll always be just a convert…)

      • parwatisingari permalink
        December 8, 2010

        interesting, we are faced with the same challenge when it comes to hinduism.
        what happens to the children? Because amoung us the children of the coverted parents find acceptance easier.

  109. December 8, 2010

    Very interesting. What do you think about the christianism? the life’s Jesus is interesting. The Messiah born to make us life. Read about Jesus Christ. I promise you will find the greatest treasure for all the times.

    Geração de Bravos (brave young generation) from Brazil.

  110. December 8, 2010

    Despite the fact that it is politically incorrect to ever criticize the Jewish religion, as it is somehow considered racist to do so, it is a somewhat backward and racist system. I have several friends who are “half Jewish”, with the Jewishness coming from the paternal side, and they have had very similar issues.

    When Hitler passed the racial hygiene laws in Nazi Germany, the Jewish establishment was intensively supportive. It is something of a eugenics concept that the Jews have, as they don’t really care about the religious aspect of this – as you say, Israel is a majority secular – but are very concerned about racial purity.

    It is sad that you are caught up in this. I am Irish-American, but was raised Protestant, so though my situation is not as severe as yours, as I’ve never really cared much, I understand feeling a bit out of place with regards to my ancestral heritage.

    The interesting thing is that most Jews living in the modern era are not genetically related in any way to the historical Jews of the Bible (though I don’t believe much of the Bible is historical, these people did exist). The fairer skinned European Jews of today (Ashkenazim) are actually descended form the Khazars, who converted to the religion in the 8th century.

    Jewish author Arthur Koestler wrote a book about this:

    He argues that antisemitism is meaningless in light of this information.

    It is also worth noting that David Ben-Gurion admitted that the Arab people that Israel has such an issue with are estimated to be up to 85% “Jewish by blood”. Even David Ben-Gurion admitted this.

    So, in light of all this talk about the importance of race in relation to Judaism, it is quite fascinating to consider that in all likelihood, most modern Jews are not actually “Jewish”, and they are fighting are. I think it puts into perspective the ridiculousness of putting such importance on race. In the modern age, Judaism is the only institution that is still allowed to hold such racist views without being questioned. It would be for the benefit of the world, as well as individuals such as yourself who are suffering because of this institutionalized racism, if this doctrine was allowed to be questioned more openly.

  111. December 8, 2010

    A million comments, I know mine will get lost in the shuffle. it’s OK. both my parents are Jewish, I was raised conservative and am now reform. Much to my parents dismay, I fell in love with a non-Jew.

    I approached my parents rabbi about intermarriage, and the man meant well, but basically told me to take a hike. In our new city I approached the rabbi of the conservative synagogue, and he told me that not only would he not marry us, but he wouldn’t refer to me to a reform rabbi, nor could my non-converted husband-to-be be considered a member of that congregation.

    I may have been born “full” Jewish, but I’m no stranger to the indentity crisis.

    My husband and I have now been married for over 5 years. We were married under a Chuppah by a reform Rabbi in a full Jewish ceremony. I said my vows in Hebrew. We both identify as reform Jews.

    my parents asked my husband to covert, but I never will. How can I ask him to convert to a faith that expressed such severe disinterest in him?

    • December 8, 2010

      Mazel Tov (five years belated – heh.)

      Just had to reply to your comment since my parents went through the same thing. My grandmother and grandfather were raised in an Orthodox schul and my grandmother kept kosher at first. Now my grandmother is reform and my grandfather is Atheist. My mother married a non-Jewish man and my mom’s Rabbi refused to marry them. They instead had a cantor marry them and had a wedding with lots of beautiful culture. They even have a ketubah. My father looked into converting.. but it would hurt him and his family to convert and denounce everything he was raised with (Thank God! I love my Christian culture, as well). The problems with the Rabbi didn’t end at the wedding, either. Apparently he didn’t want to give me a formal naming ceremony in our temple since I was “half-Jewish.”

      • December 9, 2010

        don’t even get me started with the naming thing.

        I remember the Rabbi having a fit when I was Bat Mitzvah’d – my parents had had the gall to name me after my grandmother, she had a Yiddish (or maybe it was just Yiddish sounding?) name, and he wouldn’t call me to the Torah with that name. is who I am, religiously & spiritually, defined by who my parents were born to and what they chose to name me???

  112. December 8, 2010

    Many people in my country have some Jewish background or descent. The large majority of them don’t want to go back to Judaism; they were raised as Christians or without religion. Me, I’m one of those people and heard of this Jewish background when I was an adult. I’m not happy with that, in my opinion every person has the right to know his, her background from a young age. Your identity is what makes you, never hide it towards your children, is what I say. You can’t hide your identity anyway, so don’t try.

  113. December 9, 2010

    In all honesty I come from a family who aren’t particularly religious but if I had to identify with one religion then I guess it would be Christianity although I do have big isses with organised religion for the following reasons.

    If we weren’t talking about faith the fact those ‘in charge’ can pick and choose those they wish to let into the exclusive group would in modern day terms be discrimination. Especially as they are following ancient rules and regulations, the world has changed alot and will ocntinue to do so. Again an issue i have with the catholic church who remain interlectually in the dark ages in my opinion with no contraception no this and no that. We have the choice to have a child nowadays, surely it is better to have a planned wanted child then one you can barely provide for on account of being taken by surprise for not using contraception! Again much medical research would not have been pursued had it been down to this particular organised faith, again costing lives. I just don’t understand! I thought all our lives were sacred? but allowed to die on account of it being wrong to research!

    Also how can they justify making an individual feel uncomfortable in their own skin and in their own life completely astounds me. Correct me if I am wrong but most religions centre round the idea of love and respect and teach followers how we can all live in harmony together, yet in this case it does not. You cannot follow your love and marry the man/woman you love because it is an interfaith marriage. From an outsiders point of view it is abhorrently wrong and completely ridiculous.

    Again modern day perspective, if a marriage was refused on account of the bride/grooms skin it would be racial prejudice. In my humble non religious opinion it is exactly the same with people judging on account of faith not race. On a completely seperate point, I know it is open to discussion here but generally we can not really discuss religion as plainly and openly as every other subject under the sun. I live in the UK and almost bound by political correctness and the fear of offending some one-don’t particularly care any more as I was under the impression I have the right to free speech (although sadly I dont think this is the case.)

    I sympathise with those that wish to identify to a faith and not allowed because of a very old religious law, a problem I have never had my self. Again very non religious viewpoint but we are all children of the earth, (whos child not particularly important in this argument)why do we need these labels to make us feel like we belong any where. If you want to identify with anything that makes you feel better in yourself DO IT! you don’t need the thumbs up from a narrow minded individual who has probably never thought of anything else or experienced anything out of the ordinary. I have no issues with God if there is one – I hope there is but you do not need an outdated hypocritical institution to reach him, go over their narrowminded heads, pray to him directly if you need to!

    Again with the comment you said to your Catholic freind, probably a fair point, however is it really essential to conform to old rules made in an old world which are no longer applicable in this day and age to be a true Catholic? Is it not more important to live your life in such away their ‘God’ would be proud of, loviing thy neighbour, living a good life, accepting people for who they are no matter what that means?

  114. December 12, 2010

    As a self-identified secular Jew (Jewish mother, raised reform), this stuff always pisses me off. he flipside to this is that as hard as it is to be a secular Jew, there is at least comparatively strong precedent for it.

    I’ve been saying for some time now that I want to start hearing other secular individuals assert ownership of their cultural identity more. There is nothing other than prejudice standing in the way of secular Catholocism, or secular Sufism, or any other combination of religious heritage and rational worldview.

    I never encountered the type of judgment you’re talking about personally, but I was aware that it existed. I think if you look you’ll be pleased to see the strength of the extant secular Jewish position. In the apocryphal words of Hillel (having been asked to teach the entire Torah more or less instantly): “What is hateful to yourself do not do unto others. The rest is commentary. Now go forth and study.”

  115. Devabrata permalink
    December 14, 2010

    It is not important to be religious or belong to a particular religion. Such adherence only leads to bondage and limits spiritual growth. The human spirit is free of all bonds. The secret lies in being spiritual. You do not have to belong to a particular religion to be spiritual. We are basically pure souls that are trapped in bodies. These bodies are categorised as black, white, Jewish, Catholic and so on. These digressions lead us astray and the spirit in us is neglected. We simply have to realise that we are spirit and spirit alone, as is God by whatever name you call Him. Realise that He and I are one (because you are both spirit). Meditate on the thought and if you are sincere you will experience oneness with the universal spirit.

  116. December 18, 2010

    The great point, for Catholics and Jews, is to keep the Holy Tradition nowadays.

  117. December 24, 2010

    2 points…

    1. I know exactly what your talking about being a buddhist who doesn’t practice exactly how your mean’t too.


    2. Sue there pants off.

  118. Miriam bat Avraham Avinu permalink
    December 24, 2010

    Dear Jacqueline,

    These quotes illustrate perfectly that you are suffering from cognitive dissonance. You wish that something could be, and not be, at one and the same time:

    1. “I can understand why the Jewish Community is upset. The British Supreme Court is mandating that the Community base admissions–and essentially who is Jewish–not on the 3,500 years of Jewish law, but on British law, and I can see how the community would view this as a violation of their religious autonomy.”

    2. “To me, Jewishness….[is] not something that can only be passed from mother to child.”

    Precisely — to you, and to many others who are ignorant or dismissive of what Judaism is.

    3. “And how does it make any sense for boards of Rabbis to decide who is and is not Jewish, simply based on the faith of one’s mother?”

    Who else could possibly decide? This is a large part of what has kept the Jewish faith alive for millennia and will keep it alive for many more.

    You have a great deal more to read, Jacqueline. May I suggest starting with the book “Basic Judaism”, by Rabbi Milton Steinberg?

    I wish you all the best — and much more knowledge.

    • December 25, 2010

      Would you care to actually provide some arguments for your position on 2. and 3.? Merely rejecting a reasonable opinion as “ignorant or dismissive of what Judaism is” is neither constructive nor enlightening.

  119. December 25, 2010

    How Jewish you are (are not) is only between you and G!d. It sounds like Judaism seems most attractive to you, since you yourself state that you have spent most of your life studying and learning about Judaism. Whether someone accepts you as a Jewish believer, it does not matter. It is really you who can make yourself either Jewish or not.
    Many religions discourage interrmarriages because they see it as a threat to the continuity of their religious Community. Also, in the old times, women were to abide by the rules of their husbands. Whether a woman was Jewish, Christian, Muslim or something else, she was always to respect her husband’s wishes. That is why many women from various religious groups were discouraged to marry out of their faith for fear that in order for them to obey the wishes of the husbands, that they will raise the children in a different faith and therefore damage the continuity of their own religious group.
    But, today, we as women are more empowered in many places around the world. Regardless who we marry, or who our parents are, we can choose for ourselves what to believe.
    I hope that you will follow your heart.

  120. December 26, 2010

    Judaism was always meant to be universal. The whole idea about Abram and the really big family (like the stars, like the sands) was about Israel being an test, meant to be “rolled out” into the whole wide world as one big family – but not based on race (the covenant with Abram was before the Torah, and also, Genesis 1 hinted at all people being one under the Creator). In Christianity we could understand this concept even better – and Christianity is essentially Jewish, be it Paulinian Jewishness. 64 out of 66 bible books were written by the Jewish people that’s clear enough.

    There is nothing wrong with Jewish identity, you could leave the intricacies to the ‘specialists’ if you decided so, and at the same time keep an eye on the wider perspective, knowing that wider is better, less exclusive. Another way to say this: let the wider perspective be most decisive with regard to your humaneness and love for all people, and let your Jewishness (fully acknowledged or not) keep your mind interested in the history of the Jewish people. Just my 2p.

  121. Yochannan permalink
    January 31, 2011

    Who you are is betwen you and Ha Shem. If you say you are my sister; then Mozel Tov.
    “Foerver trust in who we are, and nothing else matters”

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

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