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February 25, 2003

HalfJew.com

Well MacDiva in comments (#12) pointed out this site as exploring and creating a community of those with only one Jewish parent.

I found this statement in the FAQ telling:

Iím Half-Jewish and I am happy to see your site, but I donít understand why so many people keep posting on the site saying that if someone doesnít have a Jewish mother, they arenít Jewish? I thought this was a half-Jewish site, not a Jewish site.
It baffles us as well. We don't know why they are so angry, or what they are afraid of. Rest assured: they have come to the wrong site, so let them be, or argue with them if you like. They tend to say the same thing over and over again. HalfJew.com is a place where many things are allowed to be true at the same time. This makes fundamentalists of all stripes angry.
If you check their message boards, you'll note they've been shut down because the abuse levels were too high.

It's interesting that in a multi-cultural world, halfbreeds, previously marginalized as lacking any identity (and I definitely fall into that existential camp) are developing alternative assertions of positive community (see here as a conservative version) based on their shared "halfness", something that does cause controversy in all sorts of places, from the multiracial category on the census to splits within existing communities.

I actually have some sympathy for those who see such "halfness" communities as a threat to affirming their own community, especially in the black community where much of the original history of "halfness" came via rape of female slaves, so the lunge by the establishment white community to promote "multiracialism" to undermine the struggled for assertions of black identity and power is obviously suspicious.

And I actually don't have that much trouble with conservative Jews wanting to define who is a Jew within their community and who is not, but if they choose to define it religiously and on a pure ethnic basis, they should completely drop the "self-hating Jew" trope (where this discussion started) from the debate over Israel and other subjects. If those who want a pure community assert the right to exclude, then those excluded have a similar right to speak without having a non-identity used against them.

I'm actually pretty comfortable with my lack of identity on these terms, and just resent people trying to categorize it or restrict my speech based on imposed identities of "jewishness" or "gentileness", since I identify with neither.

On the other hand, if Israel defenders exclude enough people from their definition of Jewry, given the rising intermarriage of American Jews, they shouldn't be surprised if Israel's base of support shrinks as well.

Posted by Nathan at February 25, 2003 09:51 AM

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Comments

As for all other animals, so for human beings. Mutts are smarter.

Posted by: Seth Edenbaum at February 25, 2003 12:07 PM

The friend who introduced me to halfjew.com is a Jew of African and Semitic descent. She sees the issue as similar to that involving my people, the Lumbee Indians of North Carolina, who are a "triracial isolate' according to anthropologists.

Posted by: Mac Diva at February 26, 2003 10:22 AM

Here I would like to use my all-white two cents to plug "The Time of our Singing" by Richard Powers. It is about a German Jew and an African-American woman, their children, and America. It is really great.

Posted by: Biz at February 28, 2003 03:23 PM

I'm quarter Jewish and live outside the states where such notions as "halfes" and "quarters" simply don't exist. The whole Jews often mistaken me for their kind 'cos of my looks, but it's only the first impression. When the truth of the wrong side parentage emerges they are quick to turn their backs on me. The usual story(. I've browsed the internet in search of forums where people share the same problem, like being a stranger to the Jewish community and sort of alien to others. Your site is unique:) and frankly speaking the only one I've found.

Thanks and regards,
Victoria

Posted by: Victoria at December 18, 2005 10:26 AM

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