Ace of Spades

The book Ace of Spades is a memoir by David Matthews that chronicles the life of a man whose father was African-American and whose mother was white and Jewish. It seems that David was always forced to make tough choices, to determine with which group he was to identify. In an essay for the New York Times, he writes of how he was constantly faced with decisions throughout his life, which complicated the smallest of matters - for instance, figuring out which group to sit with during lunch on his first day at a new school. Most of us can relate to that predicament. Lunch time stress was a regular part of my life growing up in a southern town in the 60s and 70s that was slow to embrace minorities (whether black or Jewish or Asian), however few we were at the time.

I want to make sure that if a child is forced to make a choice of identity, it is his or her choice equally to make. But we can only do so if we claim such a child as our own and welcome him into our midst. By doing so perhaps we can teach our children—those who populate the lunchroom during the school day—how to act as well.


  1. I would be curious to learn what the Jewish families of mixed race children feel now looking back on that era of idealism and faith in the human family and dreams of all being accepted that produced those mixed race children–what do they think of the failed hope for our society?

    Comment by sharon m — February 24, 2007 @ 9:05 am

  2. While this is more of an American question you are asking rather than a Jewish one, I would note that one of the lead Democratic candidates for president came from such a background. I think that makes quite a statement in and of iteself.

    Comment by Rabbi Kerry Olitzky — February 24, 2007 @ 6:45 pm

  3. I am somewhat disheartened with his story…and then I continue to wonder if he was constantly questioned about his ‘whiteness’ and ‘Jewishness’ by Jews and he could pass for white, how are the Beta Israel being treated in Israel? Its a very sad and disturbing conclusion one can come to based on his story.

    Comment by Pepper Jones — December 28, 2007 @ 1:44 am

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