The Half-Jewish Book
is Daniel Klein and Freke Vuijst's amalgamation of humorous essays, interviews, illustrations, holiday menus, and song lyrics--all gathered in service of the idea that a half-Jew is Jew enough. This, even though "[half-Jews] are lamented as the first generational step toward the extinction of all Jews in America" and denied various sorts of recognition as Jews by various factions within Judaism. "[A]s if all that were not enough, they can never figure out how to decorate their living rooms come mid-December." Klein and Vuijst make no effort to discipline the argument of their book. Instead, they present an exuberant, entertaining, rambling paean to half-Judaism's beautiful (Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Newman) and brilliant (J.D. Salinger, Marcel Proust); they rattle off the half-Jew's distinctive traits (as regard sports, intellect, and drinking, for instance); and they consider the wide range of other-halves that a half-Jew may contain (Lenny Kravitz is described as a "Jewlatto"). --Michael Joseph Gross
From Publishers Weekly
Half-Jews, suggest the intermarried couple of Klein and Vuijst, may be the wave of the American Jewish future: there are more half-Jews (those with one Jewish parent) under age 11 than full Jews. But these authors encourage readers not to lament or worry about that statistic, which doesn't herald the end of American Jewry. Rather, they say, it is time for celebration, and they offer this humorous book as a tool to that end. The authors laud half-Jewish beauty, pointing to (and including pictures of) stunning Hollywood half-Jews such as Joan Collins, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lisa Bonet, Paul Newman, Goldie Hawn, Harrison Ford and David Duchovny. There's even half-Jewish humor, embodied by half-American Jewish/half-Mexican Protestant comedienne Tanya "Cha Cha" Sandoval's song "The Jewcanna's Refrain" ("I'm a hot-blooded lover, Yeah/ But I'm usually not in the mood"). Then there's half-Jewish cuisine, enjoyed by the half-Jews/half-Italians who grew up eating gefilte fish Parmesan. A slightly more serious chapter on half-Jews and anti-Semitism asks how half-Jewish children with non-Jewish surnames should respond to anti-Semitic remarks they might overhear. This book may spark controversy among readers who want to affirm the rabbinic position that people are either fully Jewish or not Jewish at all. But for the thousands of Americans with one Jewish parent, who fry up latkes even as they hang Christmas stockings, this book will provide welcome doses of affirmation and laughter. (Sept.)
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