Skip to comments.Parenting’s Asian-Jewish Connection
Posted on 04/30/2011 10:38:48 PM PDT by TheDingoAteMyBaby
The hubbub over the Tiger Mom model presented in a recent best-seller left some recalling the stereotype of the Jewish mother. But what happens when couples are Asian and Jewish?
Asian-Jewish couples share remarkably similar values but theyre not rearing their children like Tiger Mother Amy Chua, a new study reports.
Noah Leavitt and Helen Kim a married couple and both sociologists at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash. interviewed 37 Asian-Jewish couples over two years. The families lived in Northern and Southern California, Philadelphia and New York City. They included Asian-American men married to Jewish women and Jewish men married to Asian-American women, as well as straight and gay couples. Their ages ranged from 20s to 70s; some were parents and others childless. While most of the Jews were Ashkenazi (of Eastern European origin), the Asians origins were Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Southeast and South Asian.
Despite their ethnic diversity, all the couples shared a set of core values including respect for hard work, community-mindedness, and an incredible commitment to the upbringing of their kids, especially their education, said Leavitt. The participants also emphasized their common feelings for family.
The Jewish culture and the Chinese culture are very family-oriented, a Chinese-American man married to a Jewish woman told the researchers. When I came into [my wife's] family, it was kind of, I want to say, comforting.
Leavitt and Kim heard no stories about mothers driving their children ruthlessly toward worldly accomplishment. None of the parenting sounded to us anything like whats depicted in Amy Chuas book, says Leavitt.
Nearly every couple described their aligned values as a congruence of Jewish and Asian traditions. Some referred to specific tenets of Judaism, Buddhism or Confucianism.
Most of the couples appreciated each others humor, adds Kim. They were quite funny with each other and with us, especially about stereotypes about their identities, she says. The Jewish half of one couple joked that a traditional Jewish blessing meant, People try to kill us, we survived but celebrate lets EAT! The husband cited the Chinese saying, Thank goodness were alive. But celebrate, lets eat!
It always ends up, Lets eat! he laughed
To be sure, the couples were not randomly selected. Leavitt and Kim chose them from approx 300 people who responded to an online survey distributed through a national database of Jewish organizations, through multiracial and interfaith networks and through newspapers. So while the overwhelming majority of the couples were happy, the study didnt prove that Asian-Jewish households are uniformly harmonious. Its easy to imagine, for example, that couples struggling with conflicts would not respond to such a survey. And all those interviewed were highly educated professionals or in grad school.
Surprisingly, while some in the Jewish community fear that intermarriage is weakening Jewish identity in United States, this study found an opposite effect. Overwhelmingly, couples with children were raising them Jewish. When we asked Do your kids express Jewishness? we got a laundry list, says Leavitt. Over and over again we saw Jewish- Asian couples putting incredible thought and energy into helping children become Jewish.
Leavitt, who is Jewish, and Kim, a Korean-American, have a 2 1/2-year-old son. The couples they studied shared so much closeness, love, trust and family support that after finishing the interviews, says Leavitt, Helen and I felt more loving toward each other.
I’ve known a handful of Jewish husbands married to Asian wives.
What do you get when a Jewish man marries an Asian woman? Kosher egg-rolls, and damned good, too.
Wontons are known as Kreplach.
Chop suey is known as “leftovers”.
Maybe it's that lovable “mutt” quality about my family that makes us take happiness and fun over strict routine and pressure anyday!
If youd like to be on or off, please FR mail me.
A natural by-product of Jewish people celebrating Christmas by going out and eating Chinese food, I say.
There are a sizable number of kosher Asian restaurants in North Miami.
I have a friend who lived in China for a year, teaching English. While there, and afterwards, she studied and noticed a distinct similarity between Hebrew culture and Chinese culture, particularly when one looks at ethics and ancient history of each.
I think Jewish/Hebrew/Biblical culture is a lot more “eastern” than we in the West give it credit. She believed it was evidence for a common ancestry in the not so distant past coming through a guy named Noah...
If you mean the ethics of learning and emphasis on education, that is only really emphasised by the elites in China, the upper castes in India and the Ashkenazi/Sephardic Jews. I don't see the same emphasis (or to be more precise the same LEVEL of emphasis -- these latter communities do emphasise) among most Chinese, merchant caste Indians and among Yemeni/Ethiopian/Indian Jewry (ok, among these jews, they are still more "learned" than the average person in the west, but still not as emphatic as Eastern European origin Jewry)
In the sense that it is an Eastern culture, it is....
Also, I think she was speaking more about the ancient culture in honor for ancestors, value for family, and traditional (Confucian) ethics--and business sense. I know we in the West are most familiar with Ashkenazi Jews, and Sephardic Jews--with a different history--don't have quite the same emphasis on education (but they actually make up a large majority in Israel, interestingly, according to my Hebrew teacher).
She was working with University students too--so only really had contact with upper class Chinese.
I have heard some modern Chinese use the term "Jews of the East" when referring to themselves as well, interestingly enough--so there is even a current-day aspiration there.
Incidently the Indians also call themselves the "new Jews" in the US and in Africa