Books for Adults who grew up in Interfaith Families

There are very few books about the experience of people who grew up with parents of different faiths. These individuals typically get portrayed in one of two extremes -tragically mixed-up or messiahs of religious peace. They are neither. The current books that have anything reasonable to say are these two.

Between Two Worlds
Written by two women who have one Jewish parent, the book does a remarkably decent job of portraying the challenges that can face a person growing up in this setting. They don’t white wash the challenges, chapter 4 is titled, Spirituality and Ethnicity – How We Pledge Allegiance. The book was published in 1992 and a lot has changed. But a lot has not. It’s a good read.

Half/Life: Jew-ish Tales from Interfaith Homes was published in 2006 and as you can tell by the cover art is intended to be somewhat entertaining. Publisher’s Weekly said of it, “engaging, funny and provocative.” The book is a collection of stories by people who grew up interfaith. They are for the most part children of Jewish men so their status according to Jewish law is tenuous and much of what they write is angry or hurt. Unfortunately much of the power of the stories comes from having dysfunctional families. Drug use, alcoholism and divorce are hard on any family and not the result of their religious differences. On the up side, all the authors are good writers. Read at your own risk; it might upset you.