True Jew: Challenging the Stereotype

True Jew: Challenging the Stereotype

True Jew: Challenging the Stereotype

True Jew: Challenging the Stereotype


This book offers information to everyone who is thinking about the position of Jews in today's world and in history. Throughout most of the Common Era there were two groups of Jews in the world: those who were visible and counted within the community, and those who traveled under the radar and were not counted until the latter part of the 18th century when they suddenly reappeared and took their place as the new Jewish artists, musicians and authors. the book is about where they were, why they suddenly reappeared, and what lessons can be learned from their hidden identity and their reappearance. the author also examines contemporary Jews' own varying views of Jewishness and discusses what it means to be a Jew today.


Our grand-daughter Isabel mentioned at dinner one night that she was the only “True Jew” in her class. She lives with her parents in a relatively Jewish suburban community that boasts three synagogues. She explained that by “True Jew” she meant that she was the only Jewish child in her Public School class who has two born-Jewish parents. “Surely, that must be different in Hebrew school,” I asked. “Yes,” she replied, “A few others in Hebrew School are ‘True Jews’, but most are not.”

This got me to thinking. I asked a number of friends what, in their opinion, is a True Jew. Here, in no particular order, are some of their responses:

I think the concept of a chosen and special people is
central. Another is the historical truth of a beleaguered
minority with a shared history of persecution and survival.
Both of these have produced the Jewish world view expressed
by the leading comedians of the 20th century.

I think it’s a fascinating question, in part because it’s no
longer religious observance that unites us as Jews yet we all
“feel” very Jewish. Maybe the concept is actually contained
in the word itself. We are Jew-ish, not quite a True Jew but
a Jew-lite, I think you and I and Judy all think of ourselves
as “good Jews” but my Hassidim think I am a gentile. When
I talk to them, I think that just studying the Torah, the
Mishnah etc all day does not make for a good person or a
True Jew.

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