When Yossie Klein was a child growing up in a Jewish neighborhood of Brooklyn, he didn’t hear much about Jewishness or his heritage.
“I didn’t really think of myself as Jewish,” Klein said.
“It was a kind of a joke to me.
When I grew up, I just assumed that everybody was Jewish.”
That may have changed after he was diagnosed with cancer and received chemotherapy, but it wasn’t until a year ago that Klein’s Jewish identity began to change, and he found himself speaking at Jewish conferences.
“That’s when I found myself on the front lines of a national debate about the definition of who is Jewish,” said Klein, who is the executive director of the Jewish Voices for Justice, an organization of Jewish organizations that are actively working to advance Jewish identity in the United States.
Klein’s story illustrates the challenges of making the transition from being a non-Jewish boy to being Jewish in America.
Growing up in Brooklyn, Klein was never brought up Jewish by his family.
“My parents were not Jewish,” he said.
When he was young, Klein spent most of his time with his grandparents in Israel, where he spent summers working in a shoe factory and summers attending a local school.
He grew up reading and playing with his cousins, playing soccer with them and playing basketball with them.
Klein was an avid sports fan and liked to hang out with his friends in the neighborhood, even attending some games with them in the bleachers.
“We all just grew up in that neighborhood,” Klein recalled.
“Growing up, we were not brought up to feel Jewish.”
Klein was baptized at the age of five and attended a Jewish day school.
When the day of his baptism, Klein took his baptismal veil off and wore it around his neck.
After his baptism ceremony, he received the traditional Jewish mikvah and was required to wear the garment throughout his entire life.
After graduating from high school, Klein worked in the shoe industry, and after graduating he took a job as a sales rep for a company that supplies tires to car manufacturers.
He eventually joined the company’s marketing team and was eventually promoted to sales rep, earning him a promotion to senior vice president of sales.
“Being a Jew in America is a really big deal,” Klein explained.
At first, Klein did not feel any pressure to become Jewish. “
And you have to be Jewish in order to get that promotion.”
At first, Klein did not feel any pressure to become Jewish.
But then, when he was promoted to senior sales rep in his role, Klein felt a sense of pressure.
“For me, that was like, ‘Wow, this is really going to be a challenge,'” Klein said, adding that his colleagues told him that the only way to overcome his Jewishness was to be more observant.
But it wasn.
“At that point, the first question I was asked was, ‘What’s going on in the world?’
I felt like I had to make a conscious decision about how I was going to respond to that question, and I didn’t know,” Klein continued.
“But I was very fortunate to find that, because I was a very observant Jew, I was able to make that decision, and it was something that was quite important for me to have the experience that I did have to go through, which was really, I think, really important.”
When Klein came out as Jewish, he felt that he was able, at least for the time being, to feel comfortable as a Jew.
But for the next several years, Klein continued to feel pressure to assimilate into the American Jewish community.
Klein is not alone.
There are over 1 million Jewish Americans who identify as non-religious, and about 6 million are non-practicing Jews.
Some of those Jews are more observatory, meaning they are Jewish, but others are more religious.
According to a 2016 study, of the 1.3 million Americans who are nonreligious, about 70 percent are nonconforming.
While Klein believes that many Jews choose to be non-conforming, there is no doubt that the majority of them do not feel comfortable being Jewish.
In fact, a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that only 17 percent of Americans identify as a nonreligious Jew, while another 21 percent identify as religious.
The Pew study also found that over half of Jews who are not religious have been called anti-Semites, a term that can include people who do not consider Judaism to be part of their religion.
Some non-Jews, however, are not as comfortable with being labeled as anti-Semitic.
While Jews are often labeled as “secular,” a term which has been used to describe Jews who don’t adhere to certain religious traditions