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by Theodore Ross
What makes someone Jewish? Theodore Ross was nine years old when he moved with his mother from New York City to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Once there, his mother decided, for both personal and spiritual reasons, to have her family pretend not to be Jewish. He went to an Episcopal school where he studied the New Testament, sang in the choir and even took communion. Later, as an adult, he wondered: Am I still Jewish? Seeking an answer, Ross traveled around the country and to Israel, visiting a wide variety of Jewish communities.
From 'Crypto-Jews' in New Mexico and secluded ultra-devout Orthodox towns in upstate New York, to a rare classical Reform congregation in Kansas City, Ross tries to understand himself by experiencing the diversity of Judaism. Quirky and self-aware, introspective and impassioned, Am I a Jew? is a story about the universal struggle to define a relationship (or lack thereof) with religion.
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Erev Rosh Hashanah is Sept. 24