Two cultures, one life, many masks; conflict and comedy in an actress/playwright's Anglo-Jewish identity quest.
Actress and playwright Vanessa Rosenthal has been searching for her identity her whole life. Is she Jewish or not? English or not? This character, or that, on and off stage? As she explores these conflicting positions, her frank and funny findings form the basis of this fascinating memoir, bringing her to no fixed conclusion.
Vanessa’s story covers her early life and family – and how her mother’s conversion to Judaism sowed the seed of being on the outside looking in. It takes the reader through her years of marriage and family, and the comic trials and successes of life as an actor, mother, wife and ‘establishment’ partner as well as her travels in Europe and Israel. Along the way she examines many taboos on Jewishness, including the deeply sensitive subject of how Judaism deals with conversion.
The questions persist despite a happy and creative life, bursting at the seams but this multifaceted and moving memoir moves her closer to one answer: as an apparently insufficiently Jewish Jew, what or who should she be?