The Chungs: The Lost Tribe of Long Island

Institute History


Five Towns, Long Island, 1982. When the Chungs move out of the Korean enclave of Flushing, Queens and into the nouveau-riche town of Hewlett, Long Island, 12-year-old Mary Chung suddenly finds herself lost in the foreign world of Jewish suburbia.

Socially awkward and hopelessly gentile, Mary feels alienated and misunderstood. But when a classmate invites her to Rosh Hashana dinner, Mary's life is turned upside-down. The warm, inviting world of her new Jewish friend is in sharp contrast to her austere Korean household, and the allure is overwhelming. Desperate for acceptance, Mary realizes that the only way she can be happy is to obliterate all that is Korean and Catholic, and become as Jewish as possible. Mary decides she must be bat-mitzvahed like everyone else and secretly plans the bat mitzvah bash of the season.

Unlike Mary's father, who is too preoccupied with his own social-climbing ambitions to notice his daughter's transformation, Mary's mother is horrified with the new Mary. Convinced that she is on drugs, Mary's mother goes on the warpath.
As the eve of Mary's bat mitzvah approaches, her confidence begins to falter. No longer the girl from Flushing yet not a part of the Jewish community either, Mary must ultimately discover the identity that is uniquely her own.


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