Who The Jew Are You?

When Alan Goldman’s son was born, he was not only faced with the decision of whether to circumcise him but also with the realization that Sacha was not actually Jewish. So begins a journey that asks, ‘What does it mean to be Jewish?’ Alan’s peregrinations take him from Vancouver to Orthodox communities in Crown Heights, New York, where the faithful debate points of scripture. From Jewish rappers to a lesbian couple who wants their adopted Chinese daughter to have a traditional Bat Mitzvah, Judaism means different things to different people. While some people maintain that ‘God-optional Judaism’ does not exist, others see this as a benefit: ‘That’s the point of being a Jew, you don’t have to believe in God.’

A charming guide, Alan endures everything from dressing up as Santa Claus for his son’s Christmas party, to being harangued by his family, even his grandfather, who declares himself an atheist after reading Sam Harris’s book The End of Faith. ‘I no longer believe in God,’ he says, ‘Poppycock.’

If Alan can figure out Judaism’s relevance in his own life, he can pass on this knowledge to help his son find his place in the Jewish world. Eventually, he uncovers a progressive, re-invigorated Judaism that embraces a multiplicity of people. With humor, warmth, and a generous spirit, Who The Jew Are You? travels full circle back to the love a father has for his son.

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