The American (and Jewish?) Future

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In today’s New York Times magazine, Peggy Orenstein looks at the significance of Barack Obama as the first biracial — not just African-American — candidate.

Orenstein is married to a Japanese-American man, and she reflects upon her own daughter’s future:

For the moment, she attends a Jewish preschool (where, as it happens, a quarter of her class, not to mention an assistant rabbi, is Hapa [biracial]) and identifies so strongly with my heritage that my husband has begun to feel uneasy. He recently suggested that, for balance, we enroll her in Dharma school at the Japanese Buddhist church. Let me be clear: he is an atheist who grew up Methodist; I hew to a kind of social-relativist concept of “oneness.� And our daughter is going to spend her days shuttling between two temples?

I sometimes wonder what will happen in another 50 years. Will my grandchildren “feel� Jewish? Japanese? Latino? African-American? Will they be pluralists? “Pass� as Anglo? Refuse categorization?

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Posted on March 23, 2008

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