Am I a Jew?
Lost Tribes, Lapsed Jews, and One Man's Search for Himself
ISBN 9781101590164 | 288 pages | 30 Aug 2012 | Hudson Street Press | 18 - AND UP
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“I was nine years old when my mother forced me to convert to Christianity….”
When Theodore Ross moved from New York City to small-town Mississippi, his mother insisted that the family pretend to not be Jewish. He was sent to an Episcopal school, where he studied the Bible, sang in the choir, and even took communion. As an adult, he abandoned the religious charade, but wondered: Am I a Jew? In search of an answer, Ross immersed himself within communities on the fringes of Jewish identity—“Crypto-Jews,” “Lost Tribes,” the ultra-Orthodox, and more. Filled with humor, curiosity, and sincerity, Am I a Jew? explores America’s riotous religious diversity, and one man’s quest to stake a claim within it.
Am I a Jew? It is an obvious question, but one that even the most sophisticated minds struggle to answer. It's a silly question, except millions have lost their lives, depending on their response. It's a religious question, except when an atheist asks it. There is, admittedly, a certain Hebraic quality in even asking it.
“Theodore Ross, who may or may not be Jewish, is excellent company on the page. Whether he’s discovering secret Jews in New Mexico, attempting to discern the brighter side of Orthodox Judaism, or interrogating his family members about their own religious foibles and dodges, Am I a Jew? is always moving, heartfelt, funny, and alive. This is a terrific—and terrifically odd—memoir.”
—TOM BISSELL, author of Extra Lives and Magic Hours
"Am I a Jew is a brilliant American odyssey, one that is both inside and outside of traditions both national and religious; it's also often very funny, and always very empathic; Ross has written a genuinely great book."
—RIVKA GALCHEN, author of Atmospheric Disturbances
"[This] intelligent and altogether entertaining account of searching out the roots of identity will be of interest not only to those who've asked, 'Am I a Jew?' but also to anyone who's ever wondered, 'What am I, anyway?' One finishes this book thankful for a fuller understanding of the diverse strains within the Jewish tradition and not a little awed by the writer's compelling mix of skepticism, candor, and love."
—GARRET KEIZER, author of Privacy and The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want
"An elegant guide for the perplexed inhabitants of our increasingly disorienting world, Am I a Jew? is a profound meditation on the nature of modern identity."
—ROGER HODGE, author of The Mendacity of Hope: Barack Obama and the Betrayal of American Liberalism
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