Synopses & Reviews
Written by authors born into the so-called dilemma of intermarriage, the stories in Half/Life
explore the experience of being raised in a half-Jewish home. Though each essay is distinct, and the experiences are vastly different, each describes growing up without a streamlined identity, unsure of community or religious direction. From Jenny Traig, whose experiences led her to extreme devotion in the form of religious-obsessive compulsion (scrupulosity) to Thisbe Nissen, who finally felt Jewish after discovering a rosary in her boyfriend's sock drawer, these authors examine the complicated relationships they felt with the Jewish community and the world at large.
By turns tragic and funny, religious and heartbreaking, angry and surprisingly familiar, Half/Life represents the altogether diverse memories and reflections of a handful of men and women who have spent a lifetime grappling with how to define themselves, or not. Resulting from that struggle is a complex exploration, and some truly brilliant prose.
"This anthology of 18 essays takes for granted that Jews will intermarry, and that the children of intermarriages will be 'halfs,' or half-Jews. Being a half, says Snyder, is not second best; it is not a pale imitation of being really Jewish. Rather, 'half' is an interesting, incorrigible, perplexing and profound moniker in its own right, a label that somehow captures the existential angst that all people experience. Read cover to cover, the anthology begins to feel suffocating in its predictability smart folks reflecting smartly about their struggles with identity. But many of the individual essays are engaging, funny and provocative. Dena Katzen Seidel describes, in a strikingly detached tone, the emotional abuses doled out by her flaky mother, a Christian Scientist. Novelist Thisbe Nissen explains that every New Yorker is a little bit Jewish, while Rene Kaplan observes that the only deal her mismatched parents ever made and kept was the agreement to raise the kids Jewish. 'My half-Jewishness is a memento of that short-lived moment of concord between the two,' she muses with a touch of melancholy. Half-Jews will see themselves and their families in this book, and they will laugh, and maybe even cry, while reading. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"What's it like to celebrate both Easter and Passover at the same time? This smart, funny anthology of essays narrates the experiences of growing up with one Jewish parent or being half-Jewish, emphasis on ish
. While these engaging essays deal explicitly with negotiating between Ashkenazi Jewish and Christian parents, they will surely resonate with other Jews, as well as anyone who has pondered the importance of her family history in relation to her identity, or felt like an outsider in a community to which she is supposed to belong." Wendy Somerson, Bitch magazine
(read the entire Bitch magazine review