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The Half-Jewish Book: A Celebration Hardcover – September 19, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Villard; First Edition edition (September 19, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375503854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375503856
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,450,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

Humorous and poignant, it really made me think about the mixed attitudes toward them.
Mark Kelman
There is too a total focus on what the individual can get from having a Jewish identity , and not how they are to relate to the Jewish community or world as a whole.
Shalom Freedman
It also makes a great gift if you have a friend or family member that is a "Half-Jew."
CLTGUY

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Larry Mark MyJewishBooksDotCom on September 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I didn't want to like this book, since I don't believe you can be half-Jewish in religious terms, since religions have differing beliefs, and one may not believe simultaneously in philosophies with opposing world and cosmic views. But this book is discussing Jewishness as a pop culture, and I have to admit, that it is very entertaining and well designed. I will even overlook that it puts a stereotypical half-bagel on the cover, just as Asian American books use red or a bowl of rice, and African American books use bold colored cover art. According to the authors. in the United States, there are more half-Jews than "full Jews" under the age of eleven. Daniel Klein and Freke Vuijst live in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where they are raising their half-American-Jewish, half-Dutch-Christian daughter. Half Jewish is a new and rapidly growing identity (if we disregard the Biblical children of Joseph and Moses (Hebrews)). The Half-Jewish Book celebrates this unique identity that until now has been dissed and avoided. The authors fill this book with profiles, interviews, and quotes from half Jewish literary characters (Margaret Simon from Judy Blume's 1970 book, "Are You There God?Read more ›
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Julie Lovisa VINE VOICE on December 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is a wonderful affirmation of those of us who are half-Jewish. As an adult child of intermarriage (Jewish dad and Catholic mom) who grew up in a secular home, I have struggled with spiritual and ethnic identity issues for awhile and have felt very alone in my mixed heritage. While the Christian religions are very welcoming toward us, Judaism is not accepting of intermarriage in general and is somehow threatened by our existence. Unfortunately many interfaith children, myself included, find that Judaism is their intrinsic "faith of residence." After all the muddling I have done and have yet to do to work out these issues I am so happy to see a book that validates us with humor and seriousness and pop culture references :) Another wonderful book on the subject is "Between Two Worlds: Choices for Grown Children of Jewish-Christian Parents" by Leslie Goodman-Malamuth and Robin Margolis.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"Half-Jewish" is an affirmation and celebration of children who are "Half-Jewish". This book celebrates, rather than denies, who they are, their heritage and unique contributions to the world. A mix of pop culture, humorous anecdotes and an intelligent argument for embracing the idea of a "Half-Jewish" cultural identity, this is a must read for "Half-Jewish" children AND their parents. As a non-Jewish parent of Half-Jewish children, this book has helped me think about ways in which to help my children embrace their "Jewish half." Besides, the book also celebrates Adam Sandler's "Channukah Song". :-)
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Certainly a timely book considering the growing number of individuals - myself included - who in recent years have been made aware of the "dirty little family secret" kept hidden for ages: the heretofore unknown Jewish identity (both half and full) of parents and grandparents. A surprising discovery (to say the least) - particularly so in my case - since I had been raised to believe I was a full-blooded, Grosse Pointe WASP, with all the requisite Mayflower Society ancestry any aspiring Auchincloss, Cabot, Lodge, Saltonstall, or Four Hundred Family member could ever want.
Particularly enjoyable was the section on the dichotomy of the Gentile/Jewish mind: intuitive vs. critical, sensual v. cerebral, unconditional v. conditional, et al. It certainly illuminated for me many of my own amusing, often contradictory, thought processces and helped to answer the albeit banal, yes, but necessary age-old question: why do I think like that?
While the book perhaps focuses a tad too much on celebrity half-Jews (yeah, it's cool Gwyneth Paltrow is sorta M.O.T.), not all of us wind up in Hollywood or win Nobel Prizes for AIDS/Cancer research. And there are far more of us out there than perhaps anyone - myself included - ever realized before. Something for me to think about next Thanksgiving as I carve the family turkey - in deference to my Pilgrim forefathers' courageous sojourn from England nearly four hundred years ago - all the whilst nibbling on matzo balls and sipping some Maniscewitz wine.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sara Jane Berman on November 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. My brothers and I fit the bill, and we now treasure our dual heritage. The authors explore many fields where half Jewish people shine. I enjoyed the literary references, and will try to read the fiction books which address this situation. If you are confused about the political and religious status of being half-anything, read this book. It will make you proud of yourself and your parents.
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More About the Author

Daniel Martin Klein (born 1939 in Wilmington, Delaware) is an American writer of fiction, non-fiction, and humor. His most notable work is Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar co-written with Thomas Cathcart. It was a New York Times bestseller and is translated into 26 languages.

Klein went to school at Harvard College where he received a B.A. in philosophy. After a brief career in television comedy, he began writing books, ranging from thrillers and mysteries to humorous books about philosophy. He lives in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and is married to Freke Vuijst, American correspondent for the Dutch newsweekly, 'Vrij Nederland'.