The Jew(ish) T-Shirt: For People Like Me, Who Are Only Partially Jewish

How Jewish do you need to be in order to still be considered Jewish? Or maybe more importantly, how Jewish do you need to be in order to wear the new t-shirt I finally bought for myself:

Jew(ish).

It is a complex and complicated topic. After all, you can have 100% Jewish heritage going all the way back to Israel, yet not actually be a practicing Jew- observing the culture and faith.

On the flip side, you can be like Connie Chung, a Chinese-American, who adopted an identity of Judaism when she married her husband Maury Povich. She is kosher and attends synagogue.

And then there are plenty people in-between, like me.

My mother and I had always specifically felt connected to Jewish people. As a kid, I assumed we were in deed Jewish. I didn’t question it.

Then, a few years ago, my mother’s DNA test confirmed what most self-identifying Jewish people are telling me: Because my mother’s test shows she is 15.2% Sephardic Jewish (via Italy), that means that I am, as well.

Coincidentally (?), I have faithfully remained kosher for over 11 years now; well before DNA tests were easily accessible.

Therefore, I feel confident in qualifying to be worth of the Jew(ish) t-shirt.

If you feel that you qualify, as well, just click this link to find the best deal on Amazon, like I did.

Shalom… I guess.

 

MyHeritage DNA Test: Photos of My Great-Grandparents’ Jewish-Middle Eastern Wedding from 1919- Giuseppe Metallo and Maria “Mary” Vite

Last week at work, my wife was explaining to a coworker how our family is vegetarian and that it all started a few months after we were married in 2008, when I went kosher; meaning I stopped eating pork and shellfish.

The natural follow-up question from her coworker was logical: “Is your husband Jewish or something?”

My wife replied, “Actually, he is. He just took a DNA test and found that out!”

(This is funny because my going kosher had nothing to do with my ethnic background; I simply had to in order to cure my eczema dyshidrosis, severe sinus infections, and allergies. In the end, it worked, by the time I eventually became a vegan in 2013.)

Despite my mom thinking her whole life that she was half Mexican and half Italian, her own DNA test through MyHeritage told a much different story:

True, her mother truly was Mexican; but on her father’s side, her Italian grandfather was mostly Middle Eastern and her Italian grandmother was Sephardic Jewish.

My mom’s mother’s side:

32.9% Central American (Mayan/Aztec)

22% Iberian (Spanish/Portuguese)

My mom’s father’s side:

15.2% Sephardic Jewish

14% Middle East/West Asia (Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Palestine and Georgia)

7.8% Greek

4.5% Italian

2.6% Baltic (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia)

2.0% West African (Benin, Burkina Faso, the island nation of Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, the island of Saint Helena, Senegal, Sierra Leone, São Tomé and Príncipe and Togo)

These wedding photos are from my mom’s paternal grandparents’ wedding in 1919. This is Giuseppe Metallo (age 28 and a half) with his bride Maria “Mary” Vite (age 19). I speculate this was an arranged marriage, but I have no proof; only speculation, based on their age difference and the fact they were recent immigrants to America from Italy.

They both moved here from Italy, spoke only Italian, and had Italian names… yet ethnically, they were barely Italian at all. My theory is that their own ancestors had settled in Italy a few generations prior but had culturally become Italian by the time they got to America.

I’m guessing their families had both converted to Catholicism by the time they had left Italy.

This stuff is purely fascinating to me!

But what do you think? Are we truly looking at a mainly Middle Eastern groom and a Sephardic Jewish bride, who were known to me up until this year as my Italian great-grandparents?

I would love for you to leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

And if you’re interested in taking a DNA test like I did, here’s the link to MyHeritage.