Half/Life: Jewish Tales from Interfaith Homes


Editor: Laurel Snyder
Publisher: Soft Skull Press
$15.95 paper (280p) ISBN 1-933368-24-1

 width= This anthology of 18 essays takes for granted that Jews will intermarry, and that the children of intermarriages will be "halfs," or half-Jews. Being a half, says Snyder, is not second best; it is not a pale imitation of being really Jewish. Rather, "half" is an interesting, incorrigible, perplexing and profound moniker in its own right, a label that somehow captures the existential angst that all people experience.

Read cover to cover, the anthology begins to feel suffocating in its predictability—smart folks reflecting smartly about their struggles with identity. But many of the individual essays are engaging, funny and provocative. Dena Katzen Seidel describes, in a strikingly detached tone, the emotional abuses doled out by her flaky mother, a Christian Scientist. Novelist, Thisbe Nissen explains that every New Yorker is a little bit Jewish, while Renée Kaplan observes that the only deal her mismatched parents ever made and kept was the agreement to raise the kids Jewish. "My half-Jewishness is a memento of that short-lived moment of concord between the two," she muses with a touch of melancholy. Half-Jews will see themselves and their families in this book, and they will laugh, and maybe even cry, while reading.

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