Suddenly Jewish: Jews Raised as Gentiles Discover Their Jewish Roots by Barbara Kessel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Madeline Albright brought this issue into focus when she announced and figured out that she was not really the Cheistian she was raised to be but rather someone with Jewish roots. Many a so called Gentiles have grown up in the non Jewish world have an unexplainable pull towards things that are Jewish. Thes people ,aye drawn to Judaism, have Jewish friend or just plain be drawn to Jewish environments. The discovery that they have Jewish blood coursing through their vein can say me times come as a major shock or as an aha kind of moment that explains things. These hidden Jews are present in Converso or Anusim communities, hidden children, holocaust survivors and adoptees.
In 1492 Spain issued an edict commanding all Jews to flee, die or convert to Catholicism. Even after the Jews converted them were still persecuted. Many perished rather than convert, while others fled. Many who on the heels of Columbus to America were conversos or Anusim. Outwardly they were Catholic but secretly they were Jews. I vent with their Catholic ruse the inquisition was hot on their heels. To maintain their ruse they would become member of the clergy, publicly eat pork. Inside their house they would Light Shabbat candles, sweep the floor a certain way, even maintain underground synagogues. They tried to maintain the practice of marrying among themselves.
The next group is the hidden Jews. Abraham Foxman , director of the ADL, was one such child that fully illustrates this concept. To ensure his survival during the holocaust his parent gave him to a nanny. For the first five years of his life he was raised catholic l. After the Holocaust was over the parent tried to retrieve him but by that point the nanny had become attached to him and would not let him go. The parents got him back but it was several years before he shed all his Catholic practices. There are many like him who grew up unaware of the year their Jewish heritage.
Others are children of Holocaust survivors, who upon arriving from the blood stained sands of Europe drooped all ties to their former religion. Why suffer persecution again? Why subject your children to such stigma? Many nominally converted to other religions, some actively became even atheists. The children are often times upset becaus they may have swallowed some antisemitic beliefs. Other kind of always knew it sometimes there is resentment for having their Judaism kept hidden away from them and many times it will provoke a quest into the realm of Jewish thought and life.
The adoptees are the final category. There is the story of someone who grew up with a staunch Mormon background. This individual knew they were different because of their dark complexion. This discovery would later fuel a quest to explore the Judaic world. Another young woman was adopted into a conservative Jewish family. Her real parents were a Palestinians father and an Irish mother. Reuniting caused friction to be sure and it propelled her to immerse herself more deeply into the Palestinian world.
The book is short yet it covers lots of ground. Mostly comprised of interviews and so subjects relating their story. Very enjoyable and very informative. Wish there were more like it.
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