>Date: 02 Feb 96 14:48:21 EST

>From: Larry.Polansky@Dartmouth.EDU (Larry Polansky)

>Subject: CCAdoption: Who is a Jew

>To: ccadoption@umich.edu


As Steven Adelman points out so well, it's not exactly clear what Jewish

"law" is -- it depends almost entirely on who interprets it and to whom is

granted the ability to bestow imprimature. It is somewhat circular, and this

circularity is perhaps relevant to some of our situations.


Most often, Jewish-legal interpretations would suggest that "jewishness" be

passed on biologically, but possible to acquire via some sort of conversion

process. This was, for example, the "answer" to our situation from the local

Rabbi (notice, I didn't say "our" local rabbi). My own response to this has

been that I will be what my daughter is: if other jews wish to consider her

non-jewish, then I will assume that identity as well, presenting, I guess, a

number of (interesting problems), because in that sense, I meet all criteria

except the one that counts, what I call myself. I can not, and will not, as my

daughter's father, accept a biological determinant for what is essentially a

spiritual and familial identity. We will not "convert" her for a number of

reasons, but an important one is that as an adoptive parent, I find myself

interested in not supporting mechanisms of identity which seem to me to have a

strong (and regressive) biological prejudice.


To be candid, I find those mechanisms to be anachronistic at best, somewhat

barbaric at worst. My interests, for our family's sake and for philosophical

reasons are in evolving those traditions.


Thanks to Steve for a provocative posting.