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Female Korean rabbi to lead one of America’s largest synagogues

Hey, if you can’t beat the Wall of Jews ™, join ‘em.

Anyway, the WSJ reports that Angela Warnick Buchdahl—born in Seoul to a Korean Buddhist mother and an American Ashkenazi Reform Jew father—has become the rabbi at New York’s Central Synagogue.

This is remarkable as she’s a) young, b) female and c) Asian. Descended from King Taejo on her mother’s side, she was raised Jewish, although as the WSJ points out, it wasn’t always easy being the Asian Jew:

For Rabbi Buchdahl, who studied religion at Yale University before enrolling in rabbinical school, her commitment to Judaism had a long evolution. By 14, she was the music teacher at her synagogue; in high school, she argued to postpone student-government votes when they fell on Yom Kippur.

But a trip to Israel at 16 drove home some challenges.

There were no other Asians on the streets. “I was kind of an oddity all the time,” she said.

Her biggest surprise came when fellow students questioned whether she was actually Jewish, since her mother wasn’t. “It was extremely painful and destabilizing for me,” she said.

Israeli daily Haaretz ran a profile of Rabbi Buchdahl yesterday—give it a read.

The WSJ also notes that she’s one of only a handful of people in North America ordained as both a rabbi and cantor. She is renowned for her musical skill, in fact:

Rabbi Buchdahl often contributes original music mash-ups that blend pop culture and prayer. Once, she supported Rabbi Rubinstein’s sermon on his love for the community by reworking Steve Winwood’s hit song “Higher Love” into Hebrew hymn.

Now that I just had to hear, being a fan of the song. And thankfully, there is a Youtube video of it—fast forward toward the end of this sermon:

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • pawikirogii

    can one of the white folks on this board explain something to me? if a child is half white and half asian, how come the child is asian? how come the child isn’t white? why isn’t the child referred to as eurasian since that is what the child is? many of you chide koreans for not accepting half koreans as korean but fail to mention that you yourselves don’t see half whites as whites.

    what are you going to tell your mixed race children when they ask what their race is? one day, they WILL ask such a question.

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    “many of you chide koreans for not accepting half koreans as korean but
    fail to mention that you yourselves don’t see half whites as whites.”

    The difference is that we DO see half-Asian people as American or Canadian (or Australian, British, etc., though there have been some issues there). The difference is that our nationality has nothing to do with race.

    But you’re right that in terms of race, we tend to identify people in terms of what features stand out the most. Tiger Woods is half-Thai and Jimi Hendrix had Cherokee and Irish ancestry, but both of these guys are usually identified as black.

    Though calling a half-Asian person Eurasian could get confusing, because this term is usually used for people from northern/central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

  • ashley

    this is by far the most hilarious posting.

  • pawikirogii

    ‘Though calling a half-Asian person Eurasian could get confusing, because
    this term is usually used for people from northern/central Asian
    countries such as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.’

    thank you for your response. i find the above quite interesting. why? because i have been looking into the people of central asia. when i first started looking at pictures of them, i found myself thinking that so many of them look like amerasians. perhaps eurasian really is the best term for them.

    as for your comment about america and canada, it’s true what you are saying but korea doesn’t have such an experience. even so, they’ll be dealing with the issue of mixed race people sooner rather than later. either they make room for them or suffer a criminal class they themselves created.

    ps when you mix white and asian, the results are often pleasant to the eye. koreans need more white genes.

  • George_Smiley

    I went to get my watch fixed in Apgujeong.

    I saw a store with watches on display in the window, So go in, and I ask him to fix my watch.

    The guy says he can’t and I ask him, “Why not?”

    “Because I’m a Mohel,” he says.

    “A Mohel? –Then why do you do you have watches in your window?” I asked him.

    He responded, “If YOU were a Mohel, what would YOU put in your window?”

  • catmando1980

    This “burning topic” has been a non-issue all my son’s life. Children usually take the nationality and cultural background of their father. I think you worry about this question far more than most of them do.

  • seouldout

    I recall Tiger Woods identified himself as a “Cablinasian”. Many African-Americans criticised this neologism. Personally I feel Mr Woods may call himself anything he wishes, but when looking at his appearance I see little if any Caucasian and Indian and only a hint of Asian. His African ancestry is most dominant in his appearance.

    The Filipinos have a few words to cover minority groups, for instance Chinito, Chinoy, Mestizo, and Negrito.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    Obama self-identified as African-American, although he was raised by his white mother and white grandparents. When some commentators noted that Obama was biracial or half-white and half-black, the African-American community objected, citing the one-drop rule once used against them.

    As Mike noted, most Americans and even the majority of those Americans missing teeth view American as a nationality and independent of race.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    Asiana crash victims sue Boeing

    (CNN) — A group of passengers who were aboard an Asiana Airlines flight that crash-landed last summer has sued aircraft manufacturer Boeing, according to a lawsuit filed in an Illinois court.

    “We are asking for damages to be paid to the passengers and asking the court to hold Boeing partially liable,” Monica Kelly, an attorney for Chicago-based Ribbeck Law Chartered, told CNN on Saturday.

    …The lawsuit alleges that some equipment on the plane was improperly installed or defective, resulting in inadequate warnings for the pilots about low airspeed.

    “Boeing was aware that its low airspeed warning system was inadequate,” the suit states.

  • wangkon936

    Half Asia people aren’t treated much better many times in Asia ether.

  • pawikirogii

    i don’t think i’ve brought up ameraisans very often on this blog. as for my ‘worry’, i don’t worry at all; i know what my race is. as for your son, good on him but you should look into the literature before you use your son as a basis for all.

  • cactusmcharris

    It”s not unusual to sue the aircraft manufacturer (sang a la Tom Jones) or anyone else conceivably involved.

  • cactusmcharris

    From the Web:


    Ruth’s baby boy is born with only one eyelid. “Oy veh! What am I going to do?” she says to her doctor.
    “Don’t worry,” he replies, “after the bris, we will take the little bit of skin from down there and make him a nice new eyelid.”
    “But if you do that,” says Ruth, “won’t it will make him cockeyed?”
    “On the contrary,” says the doctor, “it will give him good foresight.”


  • SeoulGoodman

    I’m multiracial and so is my kid. Neither of us are suffering from the existential crisis that you apparently want to believe that we do.

  • SeoulGoodman

    He has some Asian features. Either way, good for him for having the confidence to recognize and express that his multiracial background is part of what makes him an individual.

  • SeoulGoodman

    Yes, that’s pretty typical in the US. Sue everyone involved and hope to get something in return. It’s why I would probably be reticent to put my first aid training to use if I find myself in the US and witness an accident.

  • pawikirogii

    i never said you or son are suffering from anything, sir. again look at the literature instead of writing about things you think i said. lastly your experience or your sons doesn’t prove anything, sir. ever take a science class?

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Boeing is a corporate whore. Who cares?

  • seouldout

    Don’t some, many, or all states have a Good Samaritan law?
    Of course given how laws differ throughout the land it’s probably prudent to stand aside if you’re in unknown parts.

  • Arghaeri

    Fcuk you don’t say, the best term for Eurasians is Eurasians!!!

  • Arghaeri

    If that so why do americans always seem to identify as korean-American Japanese-American, Afro-American, etc…

  • Arghaeri

    Leather goods…