“To renew myself, to relive, to be someone else, was always the great temptation of my existence”.
Today is the birthday of Romain Gary, born Romain Kacew – the renowned French writer and war hero who had published around fifty novels under four different names. All his life he was trying new identities for himself. His chameleon-like ability explains why he is the only author who was awarded the Prix Goncourt twice – the second time as Émile Ajar.
Dealing with issues of Jewish identity, Gary claimed that “Judaism isn’t about blood.” He didn’t just accept what was handed down to him by his parents – the Lithuanian Jews Mina Owczyńska and Arieh-Leib Kacew, but consciously and creatively elected his Jewish identity.
So are we Jews by choice or blood?
Do we prefer a Jewish identity that is assigned or one that is freely chosen?