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"Who Is a Jew?": Conversations, Not Conclusions
Published in Hardcover by Jewish Lights Pub (1998)
Author: Meryl Hyman
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Marvelous Discussion of an Important Jewish Topic
Ms. Hyman's book is an excellent discussion of the debate surrounding the "Who is a Jew?" issue. As a Reform Jew of patrilineal descent, she is able to add a unique perspective to this debate and shows us some of the outright hypocrisy that surrounds such Jews.

The one question I would ask Ms. Hyman is why she is satisfied to let Orthodox and Conservative rabbis control her ethnic and religious identity. I would like to comfort Ms. Hyman and all others with the words Andrew Jackson once uttered when faced with a Supreme Court ruling he didn't like: "The Court has made its decision; now let them enforce it." This is the way I feel about the "Who is a Jew?" issue: Orthodox and (most) Conservative rabbis can say as loudly as they like that only the child of a Jewish mother is a Jew, but it matters not when (at least in America) they have no real power to enforce it.

Ms. Hyman's book is particularly interesting in that it presents the one voice we haven't heard in this vociferous debate: the voice of the patrilineal Jew. It seems that everyone has been consulted in this debate except the people actually affected by this issue. I suggest that Ms. Hyman and other patrilineal Jews simply take matters into their own hands; if the Orthodox and Conservative movements will not give them legitimacy, they should simply take it. Ultimately, only an individual person can know whether he or she has legitimacy as a Jew.

Read this. You'll feel better. You'll feel worse. But read.
Who is a Jew? It seems everyone has an opinion on this one. The issue is close to Meryl Hyman, as she is a Reform Jew of patrilineal descent. This gives the book an immediacy that will be welcome to those, such as myself, who embrace Judaism as a religion but await ~full~ acceptance as members of the people Israel. Although personally involved with her subject, the author uses her skills as a journalist to maintain perspective. This book will be of great interest to anyone troubled by vague status due to the history of their parentage or conversion. It is remarkably up to date and includes discussion of the proposed Israeli conversion law.

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