This book turns the dilemma of intermarriage on its head, and argues for the growing demographic that is the 'half-jewish world'. What do Marcel Proust, Dorothy Parker, J. D. Salinger and Frida Kahlo have in common? Not much - except that each was wildly creative, and each was born into an almost-Jewish family. The same is true of each contributor to "Half/Life". By turns tragic and funny, religious and heartbreaking, angry and surprisingly familiar, "Half/Life" represents the altogether diverse memories and reflections of a handful of half-Jews, among them Thisbe Nissen, Tobias Wolff, Katharine Weber, Jeff Sharlet, Jennifer Traig, Joyce Maynard and Rebecca Walker. Each of these writers was born into the so-called "dilemma of intermarriage." And each, sprung from that split identity, has spent a lifetime grappling with how to define themselves, or not. What results from that struggle is a complex exploration, and some truly brilliant prose. "Half/Life" is an anthology of personal stories, written by authors who've all shared the experience of being raised in a half-Jewish home.
Though each essay is distinct, and the experiences are vastly different, the half-Jewish narrative in each describes the experience of growing up without a streamlined identity, unsure of community or religious direction. For 20 years, the Jewish community has discussed the problem of "Jewish Continuity", by which it means, "Jews marrying Jews." Two years ago, for the first time, more Jews intermarried than inmarried, and the Jewish community realised it could not stem the tide. Now, the Jewish community is turning over on itself, scrambling for ways to include and address the needs of an ever-growing half-Jewish population, after 20 years of alienating language and exclusion. Conferences are being called. Religious law is being re-examined. "Half/Life" seeks to be the book that will show the Jewish world, and the world at large, what it feels like on the inside of a Half/Life.