Prior to the Jewish Justice blog opening in 2015, the web site had a message board where some very moving, powerful and sometimes comical messages were left. I felt they were worth preserving and they are displayed below.Moderator responses are in blue.
From Laura Bee, New York
Comments: Thanks for putting into words the pain and anger I have felt my entire life as a patrilineal jew. I just returned from israel and fell in love with it…that is until my israeli family asked me if/when I would become a jew!!! I was not raised Christian and don’t get the stubborness. The Jewsih people are declining in numbers and they don’t want enthusiastic members? I’d like to point out that many “matrilineal” jews I know don’t even consider themselves Jewish and aren’t raising their children Jewish. My sad conclusion is that I should lie about my mother. She shops at the kosher supermarket. Is Obama not black because he is patrilineal? Final thought: I guess there need not be any Jewish male children at all since all Jewish women can marry non Jews and their kids count!
I hope you don’t lie about anything. What your mother does or doesn’t do regarding Judaism or Jewish culture is her own decision, but it has nothing to do with you or your own identity. Judaism or Jewishness is not her heritage but it is yours and will always be by no choice of your own. Your feelings about your identity are the same that all people of mixed heritage feel, whatever those heritages may be. It’s your own business and whatever resolution this conflict comes to inside yourself is not the domain of any other human being. Relationships between family members are inviolable civil and human rights. Those who state you are not Jewish are stating, as per Rabbinic “law,” that you have no legal relationship with your father. If you allow them to have any control over you, you accept that principle. The way to cease any human rights violation, as has been shown throughout history, is through the resolute solidarity of the group being victimized. Rather than lie to gain the approval of others, join with us to financially force the cessation of this gross human rights violation. It worked for the blacks in the American South, against South African Apartheid and Ghandi and it will work for us.
From David Marshall, from somewhere
Comments: There is already a traditional Jewish movement which in fact is purely patrilineal. It’s called Karaite Judaism. You should google it. Believe it or not, even some Israeli Orthodox rabbis accept Karaite Judaism as a form of Judaism, not that that matters to you. However I have read many of the Karaite Judaism websites, and although they are a very vibrant Jewish community. If I were a patrilineal Jew I would definitely join the Karaites. This way you can exercise pressure on Israel and on Conservative Judaism to change their stance, since Karaite Judaism is very traditional in the sense that they believe in Torah from Sinai, although they reject the Talmud.
Thanks for the advice (please note sarcasm here). I’m not a Karaite and my family tradition isn’t Karaitism, so not helpful !
From Fred, Argentina
Comments: I think that there is a case for whatever form of judaism you would like to have and for all the recognitions of judaism or jew. But judaism is about values and if you fight for a just cause you must use that values at all their extent. That is why I think the the jokes or fun or all those means that you are using to show the world your view are not adecuate and are as low as the ones the other visions are using agaisnt you.
No, there is not a case for whatever form of Judaism. A form of Judaism or any “ism” has no case when it denigrates children, violates family bonds and violates civil rights. Mel Brooks was once asked why he wrote comedies about Nazis. He responded that as soon as you make fun of someone, you take away their power.
From Samantha Gold, Quebec, Canada
“What being Jewish meant to me and how it impacted my Life”
In addressing the aforementioned question, I must first deal with the
question of what ‘being Jewish’ means to the questionnaire. Is the
Jewish identity in the heart and head, or defined by which parent is
Jewish? These questions must be addressed because I am the product of
a union said to be the cause of Judaism’s extinction.
I am the product of intermarriage.
I grew up believing that I was Jewish. My parents brought me to Reform
services; where I sat in the non segregated seats listening to the
female Chazzan spout beautiful music. I never understood the words
spoken, but they had a deeper meaning to me than any Catholic mass. My
mother, a Filipino Catholic, never said a word to me about our ‘exile
status’ in the Jewish Community because we were caught in the middle
of a community that cannot make up its mind about where my siblings
and I belong. Of this I was completely unaware. My brothers were Bar
Mitzvahed, learning Hebrew and reading from the Torah, and we
celebrated the major holidays i.e. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur,
Chanukah, and Passover in the traditional way, eating like pigs while
my Zaide, an aging physician, held court. To Montreal’s Reform
Community, we were just like any other kids, except that our skin was
darker and our eyes more slanted. I never heard any murmurs, and no
one ever said a word about my mother, a proud Southeast Asian woman
who attended Synagogue in an immaculate designer suit and heels.
My first awareness of my ‘questionable status’ in the Jewish Community
came when I was fourteen years old. I was having trouble, and my
parents had decided to switch me to an all girls’ Catholic school. My
best friend at the time was a swarthy Jewish girl who, fearing that
she’d never see me again, hurled insults at me with aplomb.
“Do what you want,” she said “but no matter what you do; they’re not
going to accept a half-breed!”
It was the first time I’d ever heard that term outside of history
class, and afterward I took a good long look at myself in the mirror.
I saw features that weren’t quite Ashkenazi, but weren’t exactly Asian
either. In my heart and in my head, I am Jewish, whether it is because
my immortal soul is Jewish, or if it is due to how I was raised, I
When I was eighteen, my questionable status was highlighted even
further by one the biggest hypocrites I have ever known. She stood
before me, clad in denim hot pants and a tank top, a blond Lubavitch
nymphomaniac moonlighting as the modern woman, telling me over and
over again that I wasn’t Jewish, despite any attempt of mine to refute
it. Feeling humiliated and alone, I did my homework, and discovered
the truth. My mother isn’t Jewish, and therefore, I am not Jewish, and
no amount of belief will change that.
I’ve been angry and confused ever since, finding myself in a
masochistic rut where I ended up dating a couple of Jewish guys. I
suppose I’m a kind of fetish for them; a woman Asian enough to satisfy
their ‘yellow fever’, and Jewish enough to understand the bulk of
their neuroses. Both men were of Orthodox Origin and have presented me
to parents who eye me with a combination of open hostility and frosty
acceptance. Even my friends, people who would allegedly stick by me
through thick and thin, constantly remind me that I have to convert to
Judaism if I want to marry my current boyfriend. A couple of friends;
deeply religious people who never so much as held hands before their
marriage, push the number of the man running the Orthodox conversion
at me constantly. With their efforts comes the blatantly underlying
threat that if I marry my beau before a process that I feel I don’t
need, then I lose their friendship. With one fell swoop, I become just
like every other Shiksa, an evil temptress luring one of the faithful
from their path, tainting their society with more goy children.
I am Jewish in my heart and in my mind, but to the people around me,
I’m just a half-breed; a mistake; a bi product of a union religious
Jews blame for their impending demise. People constantly take for
granted that they have one clear identity; whereas I am torn between
the identity in my heart and the community that seeks to weaken it by
shaming me into conversion, or pushing me out completely. Instead of
sympathy for my plight, people’s faces change when they learn of my
parentage; they become meaner, crueler. I am automatically dismissed.
They become colder, less open, and I can all but see them running to
hide their sons from me, the evil temptress.
Being Jewish has been a blessing and a curse. It has filled me with
happy memories of celebrating the holidays with a family as loony as
the Adams, and taught me to strive for excellence in the face of
impending doom. It has been a burden that becomes so heavy I cannot
breathe. It has exposed me to more discrimination than I think I would
have faced if my father had converted to Christianity and turned his
back on the tribes of Abraham forever.
I am a hybrid, a half-breed, a Filipino Jew punished by Judaism
because my father was the Jewish parent and not my mother. I stand
between the Reform, Orthodox, and Reconstructionist communities,
sitting through religious services, silently screaming to God.
Where do I belong?
From David Simon, Ontario
Comments: Why not start your own ‘branch’ of Judaism for patilineals? It would take less time than waiting for the Orthodox to change.
I’m not trying to get the Orthodox to change their mind. I’m trying to get the rest of the community to excommunicate the Orthodox and remove them from any control over religious life in Israel. It could be done tomorrow if we all got together. They’re a minority.
From Apurv Gulati, Georgia
Comments: I certainly applaud your sincerity and your passion.
I disagree with a major part of your proposed actions, however. I am not entirely sure why you have such antipathy towards the Jewish state or the organized Jewish community in general. In particular, you have many good points regarding intermarriage, but you don’t address a rather important one. The concept of the Jews as a distinct people (or ethnicity) comes under serious strain with prolonged and significant intermarriage. Perhaps a Jewish identity can be maintained with only one Jewish parent (and an approving gentile parent). That is still a difficult task, but it is possible. Nonetheless, how do you maintain a comprehensive and strong Jewish identity with one Jewish grandparent? How about one Jewish great-grandparent. What I am saying is that while some may be able to do so, the greater likelihood is that the masses will completely acculturate and assimilate in their surrounding culture. Jewish culture and Jewish identity is a complex feature of life, and w!
hen you take away a familial bond, I think you lose the richness of the culture.
I realize that you are essentially correct. I have thought often of Philo, being thought of as a Jewish philosopher despite his non-Jewish mother, and others.
In my personal experience, I have known many people with one Jewish parent. Their matrilineal or patrilineal heritage did not always matter. One girl, with a Jewish mother, had virtually no Jewish identity. One boy, with a Jewish father, was as Jewish as anyone else I know. Despite this, these Jews are also more likely to intermarry than the general Jewish population (those with two Jewish parents). When you start having multiple issues of heritage (Irish, Swedish, African-American), you can start looking at Judaism as a religion, but you START to lose Jews as a distinct people.
Maybe that’s what you want. Maybe you’d prefer that Judaism become something akin to Christianity or Islam, with multiple sects or denominations, seeing themselves as separate from each other. And, in part, they already are.
But, they are united by culture, tradition, and family. They are united by the sense that there is a Jewish history of a people in a single ethnicity, despite their dispersal throughout the nations.
Your site seems angry. I believe you. Patrilineal descent has more textual validity. The Reform movement believes you, too. The Orthodox movement will never change. Your argument is with the Conservative movement. If you direct more of your energy toward Conservative Judaism, you may have more success.
I understand why you don’t want to convert. It is, in a sense, an insult. But, I do not understand why you are essentially so supportive of intermarriage in general. As a strategy for the preservation of the Jewish people, it fails completely, over time. It would ensure that Judaism (in some rather amended form) could survive, but it would not allow for the Jewish people to survive in its current form. And a long history of solidarity with a people thousands of years old would die with it. A little intermarriage is fine — every culture has that. A lot of intermarriage (i.e. completely removing the stigma) and you will be left with a religion alone.
Maybe that’s what you want, but it’s not what I want. And I am someone who agrees with you on your main point — the textual analysis supporting patrilineal descent.
I do not believe that I have said anywhere that I support intermarriage. Having experienced it myself, I am against it. Putting religious arguments aside, on a personal level it is very confusing and stressful on the children. It is well documented that the divorce rate among intermarried Jews is 50% higher than among inmarried. That’s not good for children. My own parents divorced and I perceive a lot of that due to cultural differences. However, the children should not be used as pawns in these situations. I have read a lot of literature written by Conservative Rabbis saying that allowing for patrilineal descent would take pressure off of Jewish men to marry Jewish women or for their wives to convert. That may or may not be true, but the only loser is the child, who has no control over what their parents do. I don’t know where you got the impression that I am promoting intermarriage. Children of intermarriage may be less likely to be Jewish adults, but some of them may be biologically half-Jewish but only know one of their parents due to death or divorce. They don’t deserve to be punished for that by the Jewish community.
You make a good point about how someone can maintain a Jewish identity if they only have one Jewish grandparent or great-grandparent. You should pose that question to the Orthodox, because they think someone like that is Jewish, as long as it’s the maternal grandmother or the mother’s maternal grandmother.
I really have no idea how you have interpreted my site as wanting Jews to become a religious group rather than an ethnicity. Patrilineal descent supports the exact opposite. The whole concept of converting is what makes it a religion rather than an ethnicity. So recognizing patrilineal descent would promote the idea of Jewish identity as an ethnicity, because it would be solely based on descent rather than religious practice. I think the conversion process should be done away with all together and Israel should not allow converts to emigrate there. Immigration should be family based. That is, it should be based on keeping families together, not religious beliefs. Even if someone is less than half Jewish, if they have family reasons to be there, they should belong.
I don’t expect the Orthodox to change their mind, nor do I care if they do. But Israel needs to remove them from the authority they have over religious life in Israel, so that patrilineals have the right to marry and practice their religion. I am against conversion by patrilineals for many reasons, but primarily because the “halacha” states that the Jewish man is NOT the father of the child. If the child converts, it cannot use it’s father’s name in religious ceremonies. I will never do that.
From Antony Falon, Manchester, U.K.
Comments: My son is not Halachically Jewish & he is also mixed race. He attends an Orthodox Jewish primary school. It was easy to secure him a place there. In the U.K., Faith schools are not allowed to carry empty places in each year.If there are not enough Halachic Jews to take up places then the school has to offer places to Non Halachic Jews & after that to gentile children. As the population of Halachic Jews in the U.K. is going down faster than a lead balloon (from 450,000 to 250,000 in the last 50 years, getting my son in to an Orthodox school was easy. The story so far is that my son loves the school & the school loves him being there. Also, because he is mixed race, he represents a very useful statistic for the school especially when it comes to School Inspectors & the Local Education Authority, whose policy has always been to attract this type of integration…Also, don’t you find it totally HYPOCRITICAL that some narrow minded members of our community who don’t acc!
ept non Halachic Jews are totally comfortable when it comes to including these people in the 6 million Holocaust deaths. The Nazis, under there own racial laws considered anyone with one Jewish grandparent to be Jewish & these people met their gruesome death in exactly the same way as the most religious Jew from Poland & elsewhere. Out of a total of 6 milion, there must have been hundreds of thousands of Non-Halachic Jews, given the fact that the level of assimilation in countries like Germany & Austria was so high in the 1930’s & 1940’s. Whenever i have written articles about this particular Hypocracy, Orthodox Jews have not tried to challenge me, they have always kept SHTUM because they know i am right !!!
Yes, when they need us, we’re Jewish.
From Anonymous Gal, New York
Comments: You are way to extreme in your views. People cannot take you seriously if you sound so threatening.
People seem to take Chabad seriously and they think everyone has to believe and do exactly as they say or they aren´t Jewish. Their primary job is to dress up like leprechauns and they have a 24 hour web cam on Schneerson´s grave to watch for when he rises from the dead and they control everything! You´re calling me extreme?
From Julia, Australia
Comments: I have just come across your site and am so thankful! You have set out exactly what I have been trying to tell people for years. However, I have been banging my head against a wall. I feel that people are totally irrational and extremely emotional about this issue. It is as though otherwise very clever people have been totally brainwashed and can not think clearly. My father is Jewish and my mother is ‘three quarters’ Jewish. However, because my maternal great grandmother was not Jewish I have been told I have to convert if I want to go out with a Jewish man. Other Jews treat me as though I am not Jewish at all, but somebody with a Jewish mother would not have to go through all of this!
From David, Illinois
Comments: You mention that you are going to send letters to the Israeli Embassy. Doesn’t Isreal already recognize you as a Jew? Even if only one grandparent is you could immigrate there and I’m sure they’d love it.
No, Israel does not recognize me as Jewish. It allows me to immigrate there under the law of return but once I’m there, I’m not Jewish, except where it benefits them to consider me so, such as to perform military service. Once there, my identity card won’t say I’m Jewish, I cannot get married, I cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery and if I were to die in combat, I could not be buried in a military cemetery. Why would I go to Israel if not to live as a a Jew? To see the fashion shows? This web site isn’t just about Israel, anyway. It is about the whole Jewish community.
From Ariel, New York
Comments: You want to be accepted? Just convert and stop being such a cry baby. If you don’t want to be a Jew, don’t be a Jew. No one is forcing you. Just don’t pretend what you want is Judaism. Also, stop calling everyone LIARS! — to you, all the Jews are liars. Why should we support your dumb cause if that’s what you think of us. It’s not the fault of the Jewish community that your father decided to marry a non-Jew. Blame your father, not the Jewish community. Your father sucks– just face up to it. Lastly, whether you like it or not, Orthodox Jews are the ones who have passed down the religion. Without them, there would be no Judaism. Conservative and Reform Judaism are modern inventions.
Oh, thanks! You’re right! I’ll just disown my family, remove my father’s name from my birth certificate, find Mr. Spock and submit to his memory erase machine and go to a geneologist to have my DNA changed. You are really smart. I never thought of that. We do often make our lives more difficult than they have to be, don’t we? We need more people like you on the Earth to help make our lives simpler. Unfortunately, your intelligence doesn’t extend to knowledge of Jewish history. “The religion” has been nothing but a transmutation over time of various customs. What we call Orthodox Judaism was not developed until the 19th century, along with what we call today Reform Judaism. Orthodox Jews have many customs which they have managed to convince the community are “laws” such as wearing a yarmulke at all times, which is not a Rabbinic “law” at all, that is, it is not stated as a requirement anywhere in the Talmud. It’s true that what we call today Reform Judaism changed many of the old supersticious elements of Judaism, but what we call Orthodox changed many things as well. For example, did you know that in the Babyloninan Talmud, tractate Megillah 23A, it is stated that a woman is allowed under Jewish “law” to read from the Torah in public, in front of men, on Shabbat? Orthodox Rabbis have done a good job of obfuscating Jewish “traditions,” but the truth will win out in the end. It always does! (I don’t blame the Orthodox lay because they are just jello-brained losers who want someone else to tell them what to do and can’t think or study for themselves) Even before the 19th century we know that Judaism was always changing. Did you know that there are medievil haggadot that have only 2 questions to be read at the Passover table, not the 4 we read today? No, I didn’t think so. What about polygamy and slavery? You’re not that bright.
From Matt Wachtel, Pennsylvania
Comments: In your Josephus section of your website in the second paragraph “bible” is spelled incorrectly as “bibie.” Is your mother not Jewish? Just curious. I completely agree with many of your patrilineal ideas however women who married Jewish men were typically very submissive and subsequently took on all the values of the male. From a mystical point of view, such an evident level of submission would allow the women to literally absorb all of her husband’s psychic energy, which included his Value in Torah. However, today women no longer possess the same level of value in their husbands as a result of their new found independence and thus, they no longer completely submit themselves to their husbands as occurred in history. This consequently causes them not receive the psychic energy of their husband and thus the women does not attain any value in Torah into her DNA. Hence, her children would not be Ben Yisraels.