Work in Progress David Friedell

Location: BUCH E274

Becoming non-Jewish

This largely autobiographical paper is on the metaphysics and normativity of Jewish identity. I start with a metaphysical question: “Can a Jewish person become non-Jewish?” This question and the related question “What is Jewishness?” are both ambiguous, because the word “Jewish” is ambiguous. I outline five concepts of Jewishness. In some of these senses of “Jewish” a Jewish person is always Jewish. In other senses a Jewish person can become non-Jewish. I close with a normative question: Should a person who is Jewish become non-Jewish? This question is, of course, deeply personal. I don’t wish to tell others how they should identify. I explain, however, what I think are some pro tanto reasons for people who are Jewish to become non-Jewish (in one of the senses in which this is possible).