Angela Buchdahl, First Asian-American Rabbi, Vies for Role at Central Synagogue

Rabbi and Cantor Reflects Growing Diversity of Jewry

Pulpit Pioneer: Angela Buchdahl, who is of Korean and Ashkenazi descent symbolizes a new, more diverse Reform Movement.
courtesy of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Pulpit Pioneer: Angela Buchdahl, who is of Korean and Ashkenazi descent symbolizes a new, more diverse Reform Movement.

By Seth Berkman

Published August 12, 2013, issue of August 16, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 5)

In an email to the Forward, Warnick recalled that his daughter taught elementary school students Jewish songs and music throughout her high school years. Eventually, during her summers off from Yale University, Buchdahl became the head song leader at Camp Swig, a Reform camp in Saratoga, Calif.

In his email, Warnick stressed the many similarities he found between the culture he encountered in Korea and the hometown and Jewish community to which he returned. In both, he wrote, “I saw a similar strength, belief and hope, coupled with a deep appreciation for tradition.” In Asia, he added, “I married a Korean woman, who shared in these strengths.”

Seen from a wide-angle view today, it appears that Buchdahl’s parents were far from atypical. A recent two-year study by sociologists Noah Leavitt and Helen Kim suggests that, overwhelmingly, Asian-Jewish couples today are raising their children as Jews. That compares with the finding of the 2001 National Jewish Population Survey that about “one-third of the children in households where only one of the two spouses is Jewish are being raised Jewish and/or with a Jewish identity.”

Still, Buchdahl has written movingly of her struggle with her identity during her youth notwithstanding the support she received in Tacoma.

“Internal questions of authenticity loomed over my Jewish identity throughout my adolescence into early adulthood, as I sought to integrate my Jewish, Korean, and secular American identities,” Buchdahl wrote in the publication Sh’ma Journal in 2003. Buchdahl said there were times she believed she could never be “fully Jewish.”

She told the Seattle Jewish Transcript that her first transformative Jewish experience came during a Bronfman Youth Fellowship trip to Israel in 1989.

On her trip, she encountered “Jews who didn’t think I was a Jew.” On the streets of Israel, children would yell at her or question her about the meaning of the Star of David necklace she wore.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.