Half-Jewish Books

If you know of more books that we should list on this page, please contact us. If you are looking for books that are specifically about multiracial and biracial half-Jewish people, please go to our “Multiracial/Biracial” page on this website.

1. The Mistress’s Daughter, by A.M. Homes (Penguin Books paperback, 2007)

This will be of especial interest to adoptees who are members of interfaith families, and biological adult children and grandchildren of intermarriage). Homes, a brilliantly-talented and award-winning author, is an adoptee, raised by secular Jewish parents, and who identifies as a Jew.

The book is a memoir of the very sad (though sometimes comic) consequences of being “found” by her unstable biological parents, both of whom were themselves patrilineal adult children of Jewish-Christian intermarriages. Both of her half-Jewish birth parents were hopelessly confused about their ethnitic(ies) and religion(s), one identifying as Jewish most of the time and one identifying as Christian most of the time.

http://www.amazon.com/Mistresss-Daughter-M-Homes/dp/B0042P57XO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1310059306&sr=1-1

2. Jewish, Christian, Chewish, or Eschewish?: Interfaith Marriage Pathways for the New Millennium, by Rabbi Reeve Robert Brenner

Rabbi Dr. Robert Seltzer recommends Reeve Brenner’s “valuable new book on Jewish and interfaith marriage” in the following words: “This posting is to call your attention to his newest published work, a wide-ranging, broadminded, comprehensive, and knowledgeable guide to Judaism for non-conventional (and some conventional) young married and to-be-married couples:  Jewish, Christian, Chewish, or Eschewish?: Interfaith Marriage Pathways for the New Millennium.” The book can be downloaded for free via his website:

http://www.reevebrenner.com/

3. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” by Judy Blue, came out originally in 1970 and was re-released in 2006.

Margaret is an 11 year-old with a Christian mother and a Jewish father whose family has just moved fromNew York CitytoNew Jersey.  She is very conflicted about religion and her identity, and this is one of the main themes of the novel. Her maternal grandparents want her to be Christian.

Her paternal grandmother sees her as Jewish and introduces her to synagogue services.  Her parents largely raised her without a religion.  When she moves to New Jersey, she discovers that this makes her an outcast, and so she starts attending both church and synagogue services in an attempt to figure out where she belongs.

The book is better-known for its frank treatment of the issues surrounding female puberty, but many half-Jewish people would relate to Margaret’s struggles with her identity, and it might particularly appeal to young half-Jewish girls. (Thanks to Jessie for this item!)

http://www.amazon.com/Are-You-There-God-Margaret/dp/0440904196

4. “Girl Meets God,” by Lauren Winner, published by Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2003.

Professor Winner, a patrilineal half-Jewish person, describes her long journey from Reform Judaism to Orthodox Judaism to the Episcopal Church and evangelical Christian views. Winner describes a painful psychological and spiritual struggle that will be familiar to many half-Jewish people who have left Judaism for Christianity.

Raised by divorced parents, a Jewish father and a Christian mother, Winner’s mother faithfully followed the divorce agreement and raised Winner as a Reform Jew. As an adult, Winner went to college and became interested in Orthodox Judaism.  She studied Orthodox Judaism intensively and converted to Orthodox Judaism, since the Orthodox Jews would not accept her as a Jew otherwise.

Winner fell in love with several Orthodox Jewish men who were interested in marrying her, and was bitterly disillusioned when their families broke up the relationships, on the grounds that their families wanted the men to marry women who were “real Jews.”

Winner became interested in Christianity and converted via the Church of England during a long stay in the UK. She has since become a prominent Christian writer on many spiritual topics, including an examination of the Episcopal Church in Virginia during the colonial era.

As of 2015, Winner is studying for ordination as an Episcopal priest.

http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Meets-God-Lauren-Winner/dp/0812970802/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310059625&sr=1-1

5. SEED COVENANT: Abraham’s SEED, DNA and Patrilineal Descent

Jewish fathers determine Jewish children,  not their mothers, according to research done by author Mika’el ben David.

Patrilineal descent was the only known lineage of ancient Israel. God’s covenant to circumcise Abraham and his seed established YHWH as the God of the Jews and passed Jewishness to children through their male parents. Sinai law established circumcision as written law. Children in the patriarchal society of ancient Israel were identified through the lineage of their fathers.

Today, Rabbinic Judaism practices matrilineal descent, whereby Jewishness is determined by the child’s mother.  The author suggests that this created an artificial separation between the circumcised Jewish male and his God, YHWH, so he could no longer pass on his own Jewishness to his children.

Using the Hebrew Bible, molecular genetics and historical documents, proof on several levels is offered on how and why Jewish fathers produce Jewish children, and that matrilineal descent never existed in any form in ancient Israel. The fathers always determined their children’s lineage and their God, YHWH. Children born to circumcised Jewish males, both male and female children, are Jewish.

726 pages; $59.00  http://www.wix.com/mikaelll/seed-covenant

6. The Path and Wisdom for Living at Peace with Others: A Modern Commentary on Talmud Bavli Tractates Derek Eretz Zuta and Rabbah, Vol. 1, by Rabbi Arthur Segal with Sara Davies (Amazon Kindle, 2012)

In a fast-paced culture in which we define a friend as someone we “poke” on Facebook, many feel bewildered by the lack of civility in the workplace, the political arena, our houses of worship, and even in our homes. How can we create more peaceful and cooperative interpersonal relationships? How can we find an oasis of calm while juggling the demands of family, school, career, and friendship?

Derek Eretz (literally “the way of the land”) is about how we are to treat one another and what traits of character, middot, we should try to develop. Although compiled 1500-2000 years ago, its wisdom is timeless. Part history lesson, part mussar, The Path and Wisdom for Living at Peace with Others demystifies and brings to life this ancient text in contemporary terms anyone can practice.

Two of many important maxims in these Tractates include:

“If others speak evil of you let the greatest thing seem unimportant in your eyes; but if you have spoken evil of others, let the least word seem important.”

“If you have done much good let it seem little in your eyes, and say: ‘Not of my own have I done this, but of that good which has come to me through others.”

The Midrash teaches that all Jews are ma’aminim b’nei ma’aminim, believers who are descendants of believers, but more important than faith itself are the actions which point to one’s faith. Rebbe Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev said, “Whether a man really loves the Divine can be determined by the love he bears toward his fellow men.” When we are spiritually connected, we know that we are all made from Divine sparks.

http://www.amazon.com/Wisdom-Living-Commentary-Tractates-ebook/dp/B00757JMIM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1331229272&sr=8-1

7. Half-Jewish Novella, “The Jewolic,” by Ritch Gaiti

The Jewolic: Conundrums of a Half-Jew – a humorous romp through religious ambivalence

Description: Polish/Jewish mom; Italian/Catholic dad. I was a religious mutt — a matzo brie pizza; a blintz marinara; a bagel and lox trapped inside a spaghetti and meatballs body. I needed an identity. I could have become:

a)         A Jew, invoking the very popular, and all-inclusive, ‘if your mother is a Jew’ rule;

b)         A Catholic, ignoring the above-mentioned rule; or,

c)         A half Jew/half Cath, Jewolic, straddling both religions, favoring the one that was most advantageous at the time.

That was my conundrum. This is my story.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Jewolic-Ritch-Gaiti-ebook/dp/B00FP236HC

8. Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family by Susan Katz Miller

The book describes the grassroots movement of interfaith families (mainly Jewish and Christian), educating children in both religions. While this choice is controversial, a new Pew Research study just found that 25% of intermarried Jewish parents are raising children “partly Jewish and partly something else.”

Miller, who is herself the child of a Jewish father and a Protestant mother but was raised as a Reform Jew, surveyed hundreds of parents about why they made this choice, and also surveyed and interviewed the teens and young adults raised in a grassroots network of interfaith family communities providing interfaith education to interfaith children.

Joanna Brooks, an interfaith parent and author of “The Book of Mormon Girl,” says “Every interfaith family and every religious leader who works with interfaith families should read ‘Being Both’.”

For more about the book, and to see the schedule of Miller’s upcoming talks, go to:

susankatzmiller.com

You can read Miller’s many essays on life in a dual-faith family at onbeingboth.com and on Huffington Post, or follow her on twitter @beingboth or On Facebook.

9. Invisible City by Julia Dahl

This is a gripping, fast-paced murder mystery novel by Julia Dahl. The heroine is a journalist who was raised by her Christian father and stepmother after her Hasidic Jewish mother abandoned her and returned to her Orthodox Jewish community. The 20-something heroine is sent by her newspaper to investigate a crime in New York City’s Hasidic community, where her search for a murderer leads to a number of other secrets and raises questions about her own identity.

http://www.amazon.com/Invisible-City-Rebekah-Roberts-Novels/dp/1250043417/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1445419022&sr=1-1&keywords=invisible+city+julia+dahl

Please visit our “Holocaust” and “Mulitiracial/Biracial” pages for information about other books.

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