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Am I a Jew? Lost Tribes, Lapsed Jews, and One Man's Search for Himself Hardcover – August 30, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hudson Street Press; 1 edition (August 30, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159463095X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594630958
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,185,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

 “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

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

THEODORE ROSS is the articles editor of Men's Journal. Cofounder of the parenting blog DadWagon, Ross's essays, features, and fiction have appeared in the New York Times, Atlantic, Saveur, Tin House, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his family.

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Customer Reviews

This book is a waste of ink, paper and time.
rlrkc
This author's intention seems to have skirted the issue of finding his Jewish past.
Judith M. Konikoff
Author seems to have an axe to grind with everyone he writes about.
Phillip J. Pisciotta

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Fred Miller on December 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
My parents were first generation Jewish Americans. That is, all of my grandparents came to this country from Russia in the mass migration of the early 20th century. By the time I came along, most of my grandparents had passed away and so too much of the connection to Judaism. I never doubted being Jewish but the lack of observance of rituals, knowledge of the religion or information about my ancestry left me with a sense of alienation. So, I thought I would feel Ross' pain. I also thought I would feel the conflict he might have about wanting back into the club. Ross' approach to the question of what it means to be Jewish is an interesting one. He meets with Jews of vastly different hues. There are the Crypto-Jews of New Mexico, competitive Sukkah builders of New York, Orthodox families from New York, Classical Reform of Kansas City and the Ethiopian Jews of Israel. One might think that at least a half serious form of "the question" would entail some analysis of what do these people have in common. However, there is no such serious vein in Ross' book. His observations of these groups seems less fueled by a longing to know if he was a Jew as much from a lingering disdain for the people who seem to have found their own answer to the question. There's a voyeuristic, pain free quality to Ross' journey of self discovery. It was an interesting and mostly fun read. It could have been so much more.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Judith M. Konikoff on October 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
This author's intention seems to have skirted the issue of finding his Jewish past. It is an embarassing diatribe and not worthy of a even a one star rating. He seems to derive a sinister and creepy pleasure of making fun of people.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Stephenmark33 on July 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I originally thought that this book would be about his growing up in the South as a Jew who had to hide his Jewish identity and his mother's manic obsession of being seen as a Jew. While there is some of this the majority of the book is how Jews who seek any spirituality are frauds or dirty or primitive or exploited or exploiters or vulgar. This is not a pleasant book. In fact as I read his observations when he interviewed various people, I kept thinking how the Nazi editor Julius Streicher would be nodding in agreement with Ross's "observations" of Jews. Particularly ugly was his description of the Reform rabbi in Kansas City. To summarize if you want to read about how terrible Jews are this is the book for you.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By liz on November 11, 2013
Format: Paperback
By the middle of the book, when he got to Kansas City, I was confused about his point (Ross just writes a series of often cruel vignettes, with no attempt at contextualising them) & embarrassed, both for the author and his subjects. And then we got to KC. Things which were surely said in confidence, things which could be hurtful in print, are all spelled out. It was ... unpleasant and not illuminating reading. The author might find some learning on lashon hara helpful.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By yvonne Cordeiro on November 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am glad this book was a Kindle purchase as it is easy to rid myself of it. (I don't burn Jewish books.) But, back to Ross and his search for himself. How he felt what he wrote would help him is beyond me. Trashing several people was disrespectful. Why? There appears to be a hidden agenda?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Author seems to have an axe to grind with everyone he writes about. As for the Rabbi in KC - I know the man. Why this author took time to reflect upon what some might consider negative personality and the incessant fixation with the Rabbi's diet - simply is uncalled for. Even after being invited to spend a night at the Rabbi's home, the author lashes out with an evil that is in him, certainly not in the Rabbi. Theodore Ross may be a Jew, but he is an embarrassment to the rest of us. This book was not worth the effort to write. It is certainly not worth the effort to read.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Roslyn J. pollack on November 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a personal journey which is painfully confused and confusing. The author attempts to explore and explain his own identity issues while projecting his confusion onto others in a mean spirited distracting manner. His lack of regard for the subjects he interviews as well as the many inaccuracies about religious practices makes this a book which is not worth buying.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Carole F. Goldstein on November 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The way in which Ross approached the writing of this book was based on mocking people; not on truth-seeking. I agreed to interview him, and he twisted everything I said, and everything in which he participated he created non-existent facts, or purposely distorted the facts to be negative. He was a guest at my home, and did nothing but cast aspersions on everyone he met. He was so anxious to have an interview with us, yet he did not report ANYTHING I told him; rather he used the opportunity to create a smear campaign on everyone to whom I introduced him. I can't see this book going anywhere; it is such a rag; both in content and binding. It contains much falsified reporting, and is not representative a person who is seeking truth. It is not surprising that he wrote this to regain a position in journalism to recoup the losses he had after he was fired from his job in Harper's. Look up his blog; he was indeed fired from his job at Harper's.

Furthermore, he informed me that he would show me a draft of the book for my approval, and would not use our names. He did nothing of the sort, and while my friend received an e mail notifying her of the book's publishing, I did not; despite my writing to him. He did not respond to my e mail, which at first told him of my anticipation of reading it, nor did he respond when I demanded an apology for his inappropriateness. He obviously was hiding from those from whom he benefited.
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