Category Archives: Half-Jewish in Holocaust

October 2015 Half-Jewish Network Blog Post

Dear Friends:

I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard directly from me, except for my postings on the Message Board.

I’ve also been much slower in responding to individual inquiries than in the past.

I’ve been reluctant to mention this, but I had some emergency abdominal surgery last year, and while I was recovering from that, I fell and broke one of my legs rather badly early this year, requiring more surgery. Needless to say, all of my volunteer activities had to be postponed.

At the present time, I appear to be slowly recovering from both medical conditions, but I’d appreciate your prayers for a complete recovery. If you are an atheist or agnostic, I’ll settle for some good thoughts directed towards my healing. Everyone else, please put in some prayer!

I also ask your patience with some delays in responding to your inquiries.

Half-Jewish Network Growth

I’m pleased to see that the Half-Jewish Network website now has 279 subscribers to its blog.You have joined us from countries all over the world.

As soon as we reach 500 subscribers, I hope to talk with you about having our first conference. I am waiting patiently for the day that I see “500 members” on our website counter.

I am also waiting for the website counter to register “500 members,” so I can continue working on the half-Jewish book I have had in progress. I want to survey all of you, and be able to back up what I say in the book with substantial feedback from you. Too many ‘studies’ of half-Jewish people involve no more than 17 to 30 people, which is not reliable statistically.

No Help From Jewish Community In Sight

I had hoped that the American Jewish community would finally initiate some formal outreach for adult children and grandchildren of intermarriage, so we wouldn’t have to do everything ourselves, but a recent statement by some powerful Jewish policymakers, “Strategic Directions for Jewish Life: A Call to Action,” gives the impression that prejudices against intermarriage are still so strong among major Jewish leaders that we will not see any real initiatives towards adult descendants of intermarriage for another decade at least:

http://ejewishphilanthropy.com/strategic-directions-for-jewish-life-a-call-to-action/comment-page-1/#comment-185916

The tone of the statement suggests that “inmarriage” (marriages between two born Jews) is still the primary value of some segments of the Jewish leadership, and their only real suggestion for interfaith families is that more Jewish conversion institutions should be set up to coerce the non-Jewish parent in an intermarriage into converting to Judaism.

One private email exchange I had with one of the signers of the statement suggested to me that at least some of the signers did not have time to carefully read the statement before they were pressured into signing it.

The statement calls for born Jewish children to be sent in greater numbers to “day schools, supplementary schools, overnight Jewish camps, Israel trips and youth groups” — apparently so they will meet other born Jews and stop intermarrying.

I wish to stress that large numbers of American Jewish leaders were not informed of the statement and were not asked to sign it. A number of them posted comments on the website where the statement is posted, vehemently objecting to it.

The only American Jewish communal outreach effort towards half-Jewish people that I have heard about in the last year involved an organization trying to send 20something half-Jewish people on study rips to Israel, with the apparent goal of making them feel like dual citizens of America and Israel.

I was asked to promote the project among the Half-Jewish Network members. I wrote the project leader that before I did so, I’d need to ask him what he was going to tell his study participants about Israel’s discrimination against interfaith couples and adult children of intermarriage.  I noted that his study participants, spending intensive time in Israel, would surely learn about Israel’s poor treatment of interfaith families.

I stressed that his organization’s views did not have to agree with those of the Half-Jewish Network. I just needed to know what explanation his study participants would receive before I posted a link to his group on our website. I never heard from him again, so I am guessing his organization will not tell half-Jewish study participants the truth.

Even more disconcerting, I checked into the backgrounds of the project leader and his staff, and it looked to me like many of them were half-Jewish themselves — which is appropriate for an organization seeking to work with half-Jewish people — but this fact was not mentioned anywhere on their website in any of their detailed bios. How can ‘closeted’ (concealed) half-Jewish people — I can think of no other word to describe this behavior — possibly do a good job on outreaching other half-Jewish people?

Interesting Half-Jewish Books

Some half-Jewish books I’d like to recommend to you — I’ve read them and found them compelling:

Rev. Heidi B. Neumark has written a fascinating memoir of family secrets “Hidden Inheritance.” Rev. Neumark, a Lutheran pastor in New York City, had always assumed that both of her parents were of German Lutheran descent. She was astonished to discover, as an adult, that her father had been a German Jewish refugee who escaped Germany just before the Holocaust.

Apparently her father never told her American German Lutheran mother that he was Jewish. This discovery led Rev. Neumark on a complex journey of discovery, including connecting with living relatives she had never known, and making some startling discoveries about her Jewish grandfather’s death during the Holocaust and the complicity of the Nazi-era German Lutheran Church in some aspects of the Holocaust.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1630881244?keywords=Heidi%20Neumark&qid=1445424757&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

Another book I’d like to recommend is “Invisible City,” a 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 the 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

A third book I thought you might like, “The Unbelonger: The Autobiography of a Half-Jewish Girl in Hitler’s Berlin” by Ellen Ubelaker, describes her childhood experiences during the Holocaust, and her eventual (much happier) adult life in another country. It has an immediacy — “you are there” — in its recounting of her experiences.

Ms. Ubelaker was assisted by Brian Wynn, a professional writer. Here is a quote from the book that he sent me:

“Ellen now felt she did not belong in the Christian community. The German Jews were in no position to help, either. In any case, they had made it clear that there was no such thing as a “half-Jew”. If your mother was not Jewish, you could not be a Jew. Once again, Ellen just did not belong.”

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KANXJW8

I wish all of you a good autumn, and Americans a Happy Halloween on October 31st.

Cordially,

Robin Margolis

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Filed under Half-Jewish in Holocaust, Intermarriage, Israel and Half-Jewish People

Second Half-Jewish Network/Blog Email Newsletter

November 16, 2011

Dear Friends:

You see that the Half-Jewish Network keeps its promises — we are contacting you only once a month! <internet smile>

Here are some news items that I thought might interest you.  (I wish to thank Al and Joel — you know who you are — for sending me some of these news articles!)

1.  In a 9/1/11 article in the American Jewish newspaper, the “Forward,” titled “Last Ethiopian Jews Finally Make Exodus to Israel,” you will see at the bottom of the article some very disturbing news.

Not all of the remaining Ethiopian Jews are apparently being allowed to make aliyah to Israel. Those who have a Jewish father and a mother who is not Jewish — the patrilineal Jews — are being excluded.

You will notice that I have left a comment expressing my disapproval in the “Comments” section. You may wish to leave a comment of your own.

http://forward.com/articles/142154/#ixzz1dsSM0Ri9

2. “Who Isn’t a Jew?” a 10/23/11 article in “The Jerusalem Post” describes how a well-known Israeli writer with two Jewish parents has had himself legally declared a non-Jew.

He is protesting the fact that because he married an American Christian, his daughter and grandson are officially “not Jewish” in Israel.

http://m.jpost.com/Headlines/Article.aspx?id=84242441&cat=2

3. “Outside the Box” — new film being made by Lacey Schwartz on growing up half-African-American and half-Jewish. The author of the film seeks donations to help her complete the film.

http://www.outsidetheboxfilm.com/

4. “Conservative Synagogues Crack Open Door to Intermarried Families,” published in the “Forward” on 8/31/11, discusses how some Conservative synagogues are allowing interfaith couples full membership in their shuls.

http://www.forward.com/articles/142112/#ixzz1dsb38a89

5. There are very few studies of the Holocaust that mention half-Jewish people, so I thought some of you might be interested in “Jews and Intermarriage in Nazi Austria”:

http://books.google.com/books?id=9-TJWTvksGcC&pg=PA10&lpg=PA10&dq=%22steven+beller%22+%22evan+burr+bukey%22&source=bl&ots=bVCxKggNfA&sig=kbwhUlkC2gp7o_jB6lV7Vk7i19o&hl=en&ei=OZWMToSOAoWyhAfS4tGGCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false

6. Some of you have expressed an interest in occasionally hearing about half-Jewish people who lived as Christians. I recommend an excellent essay about the poet Denise Levertov, who was raised in the Church of England.

Her father came from a Hasidic Jewish family and is said to have been a descendant of the founder of the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty. He became an Anglican minister. Her mother grew up in Wales and was raised as a Congregationalist Christian.

Levertov was interested in both of her “halves” and wrote much spiritual poetry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denise_Levertov

7.  If you are interested in receiving a free weekly email newsletter with information about Israel and interfaith families, plus other topics relating to Israel’s current problems in this area, I recommend that you subscribe to:

http://religionandstateinisrael.blogspot.com/

8. Holiday Reminders: I wish all of our American readers a Happy Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 24.

Erev (the beginning) of Hanukkah falls after sunset on Tuesday, December 20 this year and lasts for eight days. Christmas will take place (except for the Eastern Orthodox Christians) on Sunday, December 25. The Eastern Orthodox Christmas will fall on January 7.

9. I am continuing to notify the over 1,000 members of the Half-Jewish Network who contacted us over the last six years that we have a new website and that they can now subscribe to this email blog/newsletter.

Some of them have changed email addresses, so I may not be able to reach them all. I am slowly reconnecting with as many of them as I can reach, one by one.

10. Don’t forget to check the “About/Message Board” on our website and help me respond to the questions from half-Jewish people from all over the world:

http://half-jewish.net/message-board/

Cordially,

Robin Margolis, Coordinator

7 Comments

Filed under Biracial, Conservative Judaism, Ethiopian Jews, Half-Jewish Celebrities, Half-Jewish in Holocaust, Half-Jewish Network, Multiracial, Russian Half-Jewish People, Who Is A Jew