Member of the Tribe
Theodore Ross grew up pretending he wasn’t Jewish. His book Am I a Jew? traces his re-engagement with Judaism.
When Theodore Ross moved with his newly divorced mother and brother to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi at age 9, the family pretended not to be Jewish. This deceit was his mother’s idea, and years later it led Ted to question whether he should consider himself a Jew at all, having been discouraged from embracing any religious identification as a young person. In recent years, the desire to answer that question led him to seek out other Jews who are outliers in some way, from crypto-Jews in the Southwest, to the “lost tribe” Ethiopian Jews now resettled in Israel, to ultra-Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn who welcome him into their homes for Shabbat.
Ross writes about these journeys in Am I a Jew? Lost Tribes, Lapsed Jews, and One Man’s Search for Himself. He joins Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry to talk about why his mother demanded that he hide his religious identity, what it was like pretending not to be entirely himself, and why he chose to spend time with non-mainstream Jews as a way to re-engage with what being Jewish might mean for him. [Running time: 18:50.]
I learned to embrace the prayers we recited at Al-Anon meetings, until I started to feel left out as a Jew
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at email@example.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.