You Shall Pursue

November 10, 2013

Why I am Still a Patrilineal Jew

Filed under: Uncategorized — marleyweiner @ 1:26 pm

So I have been doing some reading in the past few days. I read these few articles, and I feel the need to speak.

I have been asked hundreds of times by dozens of people why I haven’t done mikveh yet. In fact, my parents asked me last night why I haven’t done it, and if I am afraid that my current halakhic status is going to hurt my career. And there are many reasons why, as of right now (although that could change) that I won’t do mikveh. Not least is a case of intractable stubbornness. But for me, the most important thing is my fellow Jews. I want to serve people who are like me. And I think the best way to do that is as a Jew with a questionable status.

I talk about my status a lot in my rabbinate. And some of that means talking about the times that I have been excluded or shut out. I try to explain to my students and other Jews that I serve what it means practically to walk through life as a patrilineal Jew. I agree with the authors of the above articles that it is very important for patrilineal Jews to understand what different movements have to say about their status, and what that will mean for them as they navigate the Jewish landscape. Because everyone has the right to a fully informed decision

But I also tell them about the sense of solidarity and pride I feel with the Jewish people, and how wonderful it has been learning more about my faith, and how my (Presbyterian) grandparents and my non-Jewish mother have been such an important part of that journey. About how my life has been indelibly shaped by both halves of my family. And about how they should feel nothing but pride in coming from their origins. There is nothing shameful or less than about who they are because of where they come from. That the path is hard, and that there are many ways of walking it (including Beit Din!) but that they should make that choice out of the courage of their convictions, and not because of outside pressure.

The Jewish community is in a period of rapid change, and change is scary. And I am not sure what we will look like in twenty years. But I do know that there will be more and more Jews from interfaith families, many more patrilineal Jews, serving as rabbis, and synagogue presidents, and Jewish educators. I am doing my utmost to approach the future with a sense of possibility, firm in my convictions. And if that means that I ruffle some feathers, I am at peace with that, because I am advocating for my vision of a Jewish future. And that Jewish future has a place at the table for me, and for others like me.

1 Comment »

  1. […] you think otherwise, explain why we should question the bona fides of someone like this. Explain how insisting on a strict halakhic definition is for the good of the single body […]

    Pingback by Bloodline B.S. and Halakhic Hysterics | A secular Jew in Indianapolis — February 18, 2014 @ 11:06 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: