Thursday, July 12, 2007

Patrilineal triumphalism

This is from a Los Angeles Jewish Journal article entitled "'Half-Jews' fight for acceptance":
[...] In 2006, outreach activist Robin Margolis launched the Half-Jewish Network (, an online community where those with some family connection to Judaism can express themselves openly whether they identify as Jewish, half-Jewish, Christian or nothing.

"A lot of these people have been greeted by organizations where the first demand is 'make a choice,' and if they don't, they're not welcome," says Margolis, who attends a Jewish Renewal congregation.

The Reform movement, which accepts Jewish patrilineal descent, does not allow children in its religious schools to receive education in a second religion.

Some half-Jewish activists believe demography will prove a stronger force than tradition.

Nearly half of American Jews are intermarrying, according to the 2000-2001 National Jewish Population Survey. As more of these interfaith families assert their place in the Jewish community, they likely will gain a more influential role in determining how the community views their distinct identity.

"We'll be the majority of Jews in this country by 2030," Margolis says. "Then the playing field changes. If we're the majority, we'll decide who's a Jew."
"Majority"? Of what? People with some Jewish ancestry? Why would that particular majority "decide who's a Jew" (or anything else)? Isn't the prospect of all products of intermarriage marching together in semiexistence-asserting solidarity a little unlikely?

Update: The more you look into this half-Jew business, the odder it gets. It turns out that Robin Margolis, this half-activist, this divider of the world into halves and half-nots, this would-be raiser of semi-consciousness, is fully Jewish! I looked at her website. Her mother was Jewish.

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