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From Ghetto to Ghetto: An African American Journey to Judaism Paperback – February 20, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse (February 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1440120854
  • ISBN-13: 978-1440120855
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,730,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Aliza M. Beer VINE VOICE on April 23, 2009
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Just what was I expecting "From Ghetto to Ghetto"? As a writer and fellow convert myself to Judaism, I have read many, many books about the journeys others have traveled to conversion. I have loved none so much as Julius Lester's "Lovesong: Becoming a Jew." I devoured, gobbled it down, page by page. And yet, "From Ghetto to Ghetto" is not without its own merit. No other memoir, really almost an autobiography in this case, has illuminated so much about the African American experience and also, the African American Jewish experience in quite the same way.

At times, the author Ernest H. Adams can be quite shocking. He will skirt the edge of what some conservative audiences will be able to handles in some areas. Still, other times, the reader will wonder whether Adams he has gone too far and this is mostly because he is honest with us, painfully and incredibly honest, about what he has lived as a black man and what he has lived as a Jewish black man.

"Ghetto to Ghetto" devotes equal time to Adams' life before Judaism in one ghetto (Harlem) and later to his life as a Jew. It is a very balanced portrayal. And yet, Adams does not have the deft writing skill that fellow African-American convert Julius Lester. The writing is at times inconsistent, flying from clinical to astoundingly, richly poetic. The story structure is at times enigmatic and unexpected but it never loses steam. The reader never stops feeling impressed by the weight of meaning behind Adams' powerful experiences.

Adams goes to great lengths in order to openly discuss racism in the broader community as well as the Jewish community itself. This is where his writing will resonate and shock the reader most.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 16, 2012
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"You can run but you can't hide", or so said the infamous Joe Louis. Bob Marley echoed this theme in the lyrics, "Ya running and ya running And ya running away. ... But ya can't run away from yourself." And what does this have to do with "From Ghetto to Gheto?"

Drawing from "The Last Poets" (without using the N word) I fear, in reading this book, that "You can take Ernest out of the ghetto but, you can't take the ghetto out of Ernest." That's the song his book, "From Ghetto to Ghetto", sings to me.

I respect Ernest's dogged drive and achievement in rising above his "ghetto" upbringings to a pinnacle of academic and professional achievement; and I personally salute his "conversion" from the "religion" of Atheism to his own choice of a spiritual path - in this case, Judaism. But what his book, "From Ghetto to Ghetto", brings up for me is the ghetto-ization of religion and culture.

For me, "Ghettos" are not just racial, religious or cultural enclaves, like those which have historically confined Jews and Blacks. They are also the self-imposed mental, emotional ghettos of fundamentalist, chauvinistic or religious-cultural mindsets. These often serve as illusions which blind people to the underlying universal identities they share as spirit-souls, in spite of their external differences.

OK, Ernie Adams converted to Judaism. He is now clearly a Jew. But is he a Black man who happens to be Jewish? A Jew who happens to be Black? A Black Jew? Or a Jewish Black man? And who is the spirit/soul that dwells within Ernie Adams? Is it a Jewish spirit or a Black spirit, both or neither? The book doesn't begin to address these questions for me.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Unreal Jew on October 8, 2009
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Dr Adams writes the following in his book:

"Being unable to participate fully in Orthodox synagogue life, disqualified from reading Torah, Haftorah and giving a dvar Torah - essentially not recognized as a Jew - felt discriminatory because I was qualified to read Torah, Haftorah, and give a dvar Torah; this felt similar to being denied the right to drink water at a public fountain, as in the Jim Crow days of my youth."(p. 242)

His solution to this problem? If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! Isn't it great he could go before a Beit Din and 'pass' as a real Jew? Wow! Such a deal. Too bad for women that there is no such ceremony and that even though some of them can also do all the things Adams mentioned, they will still be kept behind a mechitza in his Orthodox world. Who cares? They're only women anyway and thank God I was not created one of them! Why can't they all just be happy with their 'separate but equal' lot in life? God gave them their own water fountain, why do they dare think they should be able to drink from mine? So what if the most unlearned, immoral Jewish man is welcomed with open arms at minyan while the most pious of women is brushed aside as unnecessary, unneeded, a hindrance to men's davening? Be quiet women. God ordained it this way!

It seems Adams isn't so much bothered by discrimination, but merely by discrimination against HIM. Too bad. Otherwise it was a pretty good story. Actually it still is, but now the story is about how one can escape oppression only to perpetuate oppression in another setting. Quite sad.
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From Ghetto to Ghetto: An African American Journey to Judaism
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