You can't have two identities, they say. But what about Ms. Cohen and the many like her?
Georgiana Cohen, a 27-year-old Web content specialist in Somerville, Mass., was raised by a non-Jewish mother but spent five years at the Donna Klein Jewish Academy in Boca Raton, Fla. That experience, she says, "legitimized a last name I carried around like a fake ID."The broader question -- Who is a Jew? -- is one of the most vexing for world Jewry and me personally. Both my grandmothers were Jewish and so was one grandfather; I look like a Jew, walk like a Jew and quack like a Jew -- must be a duck -- but I believe in Christianity, which is anathema to Judaism. So am I a Jew?
The split between life at home and at school was stark, she recalls.
"My childhood was all Christmas trees and Easter candy," Cohen says. "Meanwhile, back in Boca, I sang folk songs like 'Jerusalem of Gold,' led weekly minyan services with my best friend and captured Hebrew spelling bee trophies."
She refers to herself now, somewhat flippantly, as "half-Jewish and half 'fill-in-the-blank.' "