ChaeRan Freeze, a non-Jewish South Korean woman who grew up in Ethiopia becomes interested in Judaism in Addis Ababa (even though she has no knowledge of Operation Moses or Ethiopia's Jews). She goes on to get a doctorate in Russian Jewish History and then to teach at Brandeis. Colleagues describe her as a scholar's scholar. Perhaps because she did not grow up believing certain myths, she tends to bust them. Like what? Like this:
In her first book, “Jewish Marriage and Divorce in Imperial Russia” (2001), she argued that shtetl life was hardly the stuff of myth. Jewish divorce rates in 19th-century Russia, she showed, far outpaced those of the population as a whole.
The Forward notes her next book, due out in two years, is tentatively titled "Sex in the Shtetl":
In her second book, which she hopes to complete in two years, Freeze is looking to further explore Jewish sexual norms, bringing to bear information culled from medical pamphlets, advice books, court records — “Jewish neighbors were quite a surveillance tool; they had no qualms about reporting to the courts about all sorts of imagined or real illicit affairs,” Freeze said with a laugh — and the relevant responsa literature from rabbis.
She's not Jewish. Her husband is not Jewish. Her children are not Jewish. But her home is:
Though neither she nor her husband is Jewish, she is raising her two children, ages 8 and 6, to be what she calls “domestically Jewish.” They observe the Sabbath and study some Torah each week.
She is thinking of converting:
“I teach a whole class on conversion to and from Judaism,” she said. “I’ve taught it three times now. Every year, I get into the halachic debates and the history of conversion. The more I study it, the more daunting it is for me. I’m on a journey. I’d hope that at the end of this journey, I’d be worthy of conversion.”
Of course, "we" wouldn't want her. She told us Santa Claus isn't real.
[Hat Tip: The Architect.]