The Color of Water

why did ruths family declare her dead

ruth is considered the mother in the color of water

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Ruth begins telling her story by insisting that she is "dead": her Orthodox Jewish family "sat shiva" and "said kaddish" after she married a black man, thereby effectively disowning her. Ruth, however, states that "the Jew" in her only died completely upon her mother's death. Please see the GradeSaver source-link for even more info. on this!