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May 22, 2015 / 4 Sivan, 5775
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Are You Really a Jew?


These days, it’s pretty hard to know who really is Jewish. Let’s take the example of the singles-bar scene in New York. A lot of times a Jewish guy will start talking to girl (call her Debbie) and during the conversation, he’ll ask if she’s Jewish, and she says, “Sure,” when she isn’t Jewish at all. How so?  Let’s say Debbie’s Jewish grandfather married a non-Jew and they had a daughter together. The grandfather told his daughter that she was Jewish, so she grew up thinking she was a Jew. When it came time for her to marry, she married a Jew, to please her father, and so her poor husband married her, innocently thinking she was Jewish because that’s what she believed. When they raised their child, Debbie, they told her she was Jewish, even though she isn’t Jewish at all. Tragically, this scenario has occurred in hundreds of thousands of cases, throughout the Diaspora. It’s another reason why it’s so very dangerous to live there.

So I have devised an almost foolproof test to determine if a person is really a Jew. If you can read Chapter 8 of my novel, “Tevye in the Promised Land,” without getting goose bumps, it may be because you aren’t Jewish. Like I said, the test isn’t 100% foolproof. It could be that you are merely emotionally retarded. Or maybe your concentration span has been so crippled by the Internet that you don’t have the patience to read to the end.

And the opposite is also true. Lots of non-Jews who read the chapter get goose bumps and that doesn’t prove that their Jews. It shows they are lovers of Israel, that’s all. Or that they recognize outstanding literature.

Fortunately for you, this wonderful Jewish novel is currently being serialized in The Jewish Press, www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/tevye-in-the-promised-land-books/tevye-in-the-promised-land-chapter-eight-the-holy-land/2012/08/07/

so you can take the test right now. Get ready to shiver!

About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press

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14 Responses to “Are You Really a Jew?”

  1. Eva Coombes says:

    oy bistu a shmattekop!

  2. Eva Coombes says:

    oy bistu a shmattekop!

  3. Gitta Zarum says:

    I'm sure your novel is worth reading – but please don't use untruths for persuasion. If someone isn't Jewish, they could not have had a Jewish wedding. Surely even Reform /Conservative rabbis would tell a bride if she wasn't recognised as Jewish? The tragedy is that so many people do only find out they are not Jewish when they come to register for marriage. It can be traumatic for a child brought up to believe he/she is Jewish – only to find out when registereing for a Jewish marriage that he/she is not Jewish.

  4. Alex Perez says:

    One thing is to have a Jewish name and another to be a Torah Keeper , and follow the commandments of G-d the second is what makes you Jewish, don't care what Rabbi says what, Ruth was not born a Jew , yet her descendants were the Kings of Yisrael , so Rabbinical laws mean nothing , at least to me.

  5. After readin that thar artikal me nees wer kockin.
    th best drink in Dixie is blueberry shivers, garentee to give yo th shivers.
    Oh, I waz in th land of cotton, old times ther not forgotten, in Dixieland where I waz born early on one frosty morn, but I wished I waz in Israel, in Israel I’ll take my life, to live in die in Israel. Look away, look away frm Dixie, go to be Israeli. Yea!

  6. Liad Bar-el says:

    Gitta Zarum: "…but please don't use untruths for persuasion."
    Shalom, Gitta. Could you please tell us what those "untruths" are that you are referring to?

  7. I disagree with Alex..The 2 ways someone is jewish through G-ds eyes (not just rabbis eyes) are you are born to a jewish mother or you covert the Orthodox way according to halacha…My parents are both born jewish (father born Kohen and mother born a levite) and although I practice judaism in the Conservative fashion, I am as much a jew as a hassidic is in G-ds eyes.In America there are too many jewish men having children with non jewish women who did not convert so this makes it confusing. My sister married a gentile but her son is still jewish no matter what he does.it is written in the Bible..not by a rabbi.

  8. Liad Bar-el says:

    Rather than wait for your response, Gitta, I will attempt to respond to your post.
    “If someone isn't Jewish, they could not have had a Jewish wedding.”
    Gitta, Natalie Portman had a Jewish wedding with a non-Jew.
    Usually, the Reform Rabbis have the highest percentage of participation in mixed marriages and Orthodox have something like zero percent for they want positive proof of the couple’s Jewishness. What I am saying is that no, it is not true that “Surely even Reform /Conservative rabbis would tell a bride if she wasn't recognized as Jewish?” That same Reform/Conservative rabbi who may have converted the bride-to-be will not then tell her then that she is not Jewish before the wedding. Also, Reform/Conservative Rabbis may have an understanding in recognizing each other’s conversions.
    As Tzvi has pointed out, “Tragically, this scenario has occurred in hundreds of thousands of cases” and I’m saying that there are also hundreds of thousands of scenarios as well.

    Ruth set the standard criteria for conversions of which through the ages have been taken advantage of by untrue potential converts; thus, making the Rabbis to enact various regulations so as to make sure we have a true sincere convert. Even today, people are trying to bypass the present day requirements and the Rabbis have not fully come to grips on how to handle them universally. There are a lot of politics and power plays of which I don’t want to get into. It all boils down to the fact that if one sincerely loves Hashem and desires with fear to keep His commandments, any requirements, Rabbinic or otherwise, will not stand in his/her way to become Jewish. And don’t forget, we were all converted at Har Sinai.

    Gitta, it is a proven fact that Tzvi tells the absolute truth and nobody has been able to prove him wrong for what he says is Torah based. Also, what he has written in novel form can be referenced in the Torah. If he were to put foot notes on every Torah truth he mentioned in his books, they would be used as study material in all English speaking Yeshivot … likewise his books in other languages in their respective Yeshivot.

    Lastly, you said: “I'm sure your novel is worth reading” I can say that what you have said is true. I’ve finished reading “Tevye In The Promised Land” and seven of his other books so far…and I’m still reading his other books. I don’t know of any novel that I have read in my life wherein I can finish and feel that I have given food to my soul other than what Tzvi Fishman has published. Reading his books is one of the most enjoyable ways to learn Torah and enrich my life. I’m confident that Tzvi’s books will enrich your life as well.

  9. Liad Bar-el says:

    Tzvi's book, "Torat Eretz Yisrael" is in the library of and being studied in the Hech Synagogue of the Hebrew University, Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem. BTW, Tzvi, the book has been used so much that the binding is broken and needs to be fixed or to be replaced.

  10. Yehuda Cohen says:

    Should we start a petition to allow Moses Brown of Dimona to post on the Jewish Press? For one, I miss his clear straight forward insights.
    We want Moses Brown!
    Anybody else with me on this request?

  11. Yo got m'vote Yehuda.

  12. Yehuda Cohen says:

    I had thought that the Sadducees disappeared around 70 A.D. but it looks like the history books are wrong. In truth, Amelek is alive and well.

  13. Liad Bar-el says:

    Yehuda, count me in. We miss Moses Breown!

  14. Smokeysmom Schaefer says:

    I am a jewish women but I do not practice at all but that doesn't make me any less of a jewish women. I think that the hassidic have big heads and are destroying the jewish community with their who is a jew and not B.S. I agree with you Susan that the Bible not the rabbi is the deciding factor.

Comments are closed.

Tzvi Fishman, author of the Jewish Press blog Felafel on Rye and author of more than a dozen books.
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