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Is Gabby Giffords Jewish enough?

URL: http://www.jewishjournal.com/opinion/article/is_gabby_giffords_jewish_enough_20110118

As a Conservative rabbi and a member of the movement's Rabbinical Assembly, I cannot officially consider Jewish descent to be determined patrilineally -- from the father. In fact, in its Code of Professional Conduct, the section detailing the responsibilities for membership in the Rabbinical Assembly currently lists four standards of religious practice. The first: "Matrilineality determines Jewish status." Yet like many Jews who regard Jewish status to require a Jewish mother or proper conversion, I admit to feeling pride when a Jewish athlete or celebrity is successful, even if their "Jewishness" isn't technically defined by halachic standards. After all, when Major League Baseball player Ryan Braun won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2007, should the Jewish community have refused to claim the "Hebrew Hammer" as one of our own since only his father is a member of the Tribe? Braun considers himself to be Jewish, and his Israeli-born father lost most of his family in the Holocaust.

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