Fourth Half-Jewish Network Blog/Email Newsletter

February 1, 2012

Dear Friends:

Greetings to everyone who is celebrating Candlemass (Feb. 2 — the presentation of Christ as a baby at the Second Temple), the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (Feb. 5 — birthday of the founder of Islam),  Tu B’Shevat (Feb. 8 — begins at sundown on Feb. 7 — the Jewish New Year of Trees), Ash Wednesday (Feb. 22 — first day of Lent, Christian season of repentance), and Purim (Mar. 9, begins at sunset on March 8 — celebrates Jewish deliverance from a plot).

Here is the latest news on half-Jewish people that we have collected:

1., which hosts our blog, has sent a 2011 summary of our new website’s statistics. Our new website was only in existence five months when the statistics were collected.

I was greatly surprised to read the following announcement:

“The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.”

MEBO (My Eyes Bulge Out)  — even setting aside possibly 2,000 views as probably being from me while I built the site last summer — and let us exclude 5,859 spammers —  that still leaves about 4,000 views over a five month period, an astonishing statistic for a website that caters to a very specialized niche.

2. Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser (Jewish father, Christian mother), Canon Chancellor of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, has given up his lucrative, perk-filled job to protest the Cathedral’s decision to evict the Occupy protesters:

If you are into prayer, please pray that he will find a new job soon, as he has a wife and several children to support.  Whether you agree with his politics or not, he is a very principled man.

3. Jennie Goldstein (Jewish father, Christian mother), is the only Jewish employee of the Arab-American Association of New York:

The Arab-American Association is a support group, helping new immigrants in America. If you look at the “Comments” section following the article, you’ll see that Jennie was harshly attacked — by other Jews — for:  (1) having a Jewish father instead of a Jewish mother and being brought up as “both” — you know that as a young child her parents made those decisions, not her;  (2) identifying as a Jew; and (3) daring to suggest that Arab-Americans should be treated courteously.

I posted a comment defending her, and would suggest that you also do the same. There were some comments in her favor besides mine, but not very many. I believe that it is important that we “push back.”

3. Reya El-Salahi, (Jewish mother, Muslim father), is a BBC radio broadcaster and television writer:

She recently toured Israel and the Palestinian territories and incurred the unhappiness of a politically conservative Anglican Christian group, the Anglican Friends of Israel,  for expressing some sympathy with the Palestinians.

Matters were not improved when they discovered that her brother had supported the second Palestinian intifada (uprising).

The website claims that she was turned away from the Al-Aqsa Mosque as “not Muslim enough.” Since I didn’t see the broadcast, not sure what the commenter was referring to.

(Note: many people think all Episcopalians and Anglicans are politically and theologically liberal, however,  that is not true. In some countries the majority of Episcopalians and Anglicans are liberals; in other countries, quite the reverse.)

4. William Hensley (Jewish father, Native American mother) is a famous activist on behalf of the Inuit of Alaska. He had a very tough childhood.

His well-off Jewish father abandoned Hensley and his very troubled Inuit mother — as he had apparently previously abandoned another Inuit woman and Hensley’s half-sister by that relationship —  and Hensley had a very bad childhood until he was rescued by his mother’s cousin.

Hensley grew up to be a remarkable and talented advocate for the Inuit. Here is a picture of Hensley’s father:

Here is a picture of Hensley’s mother:

Here is a link to Hensley’s book about his life:

which has pictures of him as an adult inside.

4. The Israeli Orthodox Chief Rabbinate now requires proof of matrilineal descent going back to a maternal great-great-grandmother for any Jew marrying in Israel.

This is a problem since no half-Jewish person can marry a Jew in Israel without having an Orthodox Jewish rabbi perform the ceremony, and the rabbi will insist on this proof first.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who the rabbis are trying to screen out.  Half-Jewish people, of course.

People who can’t produce this proof have to live together or fly to another country to be legally married, usually Cyprus.

So, how many of us have our maternal great-great-grandmother’s wedding license? Everyone who has your maternal great-great-grandmother’s wedding license, please raise your hand.

Remember, it must be your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s wedding license. No substitutes will be accepted. <internet grin>





Filed under Biracial, Christian Half-Jewish People, Ethiopian Jews, Half-Jewish Celebrities, Half-Jewish Network, Intermarriage, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Multiracial, Who Is A Jew

7 responses to “Fourth Half-Jewish Network Blog/Email Newsletter

  1. howard uk

    like i was told a few days ago there is no such person half jew unless you mother is jewish then you are not a jew

  2. howard uk

    yes i can suppy my great great gran parents wedding certificate

  3. Dear Howie: Sorry that some Jews are still stuck on the matrilineal descent rule. It is very tiresome!

    You are one up on me regarding ancestors’ wedding licenses. I only have proof that my two sets of Jewish great-grandparents were married.

    Not sure that I have any proof about the marriages of my Jewish great-great-grandparents — I don’t even know their names.


  4. howard uk

    hi robin, a cousin did a history of our family name ,it is quite easy to trace your ancestors here in the uk, from the start of the census, started in the 18 th centry , then it starts to get difficult , my cousin went to holland portugal and spain , to granada, and thats where we came from we also discoverd a book , about our family its called the cross and the pear tree and it is avalable on amazon our family name is first mentioned , in about 1325 when a ancestor purchased a olive grove , , sadly my cousin passed away 5 yrs ago the family name is ABEN DANA regards howard

  5. Chana (Annette)

    Although I would be considered a Jew Halachically (and was raised in a religious–Orthodox—home), I reject all of it at this point in my life. In my experience Judaism is a very racist religion, always obsessing about which parent is this, or which parent is that….acting very clannish, cliqueish, insular…I’m tired of it all. One thing that drew me to Christianity (the traditional Roman Catholic side of my family) is the fact that Christianity does not obsess about birthlines and lineages the way Judaism does. I’m almost at the point where I am so disgusted by all this that I don’t even want to identify with any Jewishness I have.

  6. Although I know this from my Melton course, I’m using Beliefnet’s words to express it clearly. We can argue all we want, but a historical look is also helpful. :

    ” …matrilineal descent is the rabbinic norm. It’s not 5,000 years old, however. The ruling really dates back to the time of the restoration of the Second Temple, to the Book of Ezra–which is more like 2,500 years ago. At that time, with the Jewish people facing the difficult task of rebuilding the Temple, Ezra annulled marriages between Israelites and “foreign wives.” Subsequent rabbinic thought builds on this foundation, and that leads us to today.

    But if we are talking about tradition, patrilineal descent in Judaism is actually much older than matrilineal descent. Consider for instance that on Friday night in Jewish homes, female children are blessed to be like the matriarchs, while the male children are blessed to be like “Manasseh and Ephraim.” This recalls the extraordinary blessing (with crossed hands) that Jacob gives to Joseph’s sons.

    Read more:

  7. Dear Howie, Chana (Annette), Pamela:

    Howie: Thank you for sharing your family history. Always enjoy these bits of the great Jewish historical tapestry!

    Chana (Annette): Believe me, I totally understand what you’re saying!There are days I have to avoid reading my Jewish newsletters I get so ticked off at some of the “parentage” statements.

    Pamela: Thank you for sharing the Beliefnet essay! It is very informative.


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