Writing a Jewish Life chronicles novelist Lev Raphael's struggle to claim both his religious and sexual identities, and the happiness he subsequently found. Until he reached his mid-20s, the author felt alienated from other Jews, ambivalent about his homosexuality; or as he puts it, "twice strange ... in each [community], different, lesser, ashamed." A son of Holocaust survivors, Raphael grew up in an unmistakably Jewish but nonreligious home. However, as an adult he initiated his own affiliations with Judaism: He had a bar mitzvah at age 30, went to Israel twice, and fell in love with a Jewish man. It was "coming out as a Jew,' he writes, that "ultimately made it possible for me to come out as a gay man and then work at uniting the two identities." Attesting to his journey is the contrast between his confused childhood and the joyful domestic life he now shares with his lover, Gersh, and their two sons.
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