11 December 2006

Asian and Jewish: the future face of Jewish genealogy?

"Deconstructing the Asian Jewish experience" is an interesting article from J, the Jewish News Weekly of Northern California that has relevance for the future look of Jewish genealogy.

And this isn't just happening in San Francisco: Asian faces are becoming more prevalent and less unusual in synagogues in New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere as Jewish parents have adopted children from Asian countries, although the article deals with adult Asian Jewish identities.

A recent forum on Asian Jewish identities emphasized commonalties while shattering stereotypes. But before debunking the prevailing paradigm of the Ashkenazi Jew, the panel had to come to grips with an equally important question: What constitutes “Asian?”

For example, the panel’s moderator, Dafna Wu, was born in Brazil to an Ashkenazi Jewish mother and a Shanghainese father. Panelist Lori Rosenstein was born in Korea and raised in Vermont by her adopted parents - a Vermont-born Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother from Texas.

A native San Franciscan Larry Wong, born to Chinese parents, is in the process of converting to Judaism.

When he was asked about his family's reaction, he said, “Both communities are very concerned with money, education and family,” and mentioned cultural similarities making the process easier.

And in line with the upcoming Hanukah holiday, Wong added, "I love latkes, but I don’t know about adding applesauce and sour cream. I think what latkes really need is some good shrimp sauce.”

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