PopJudaica.com is celebrating summer with a Summer Reading Giveaway - a prize packaged valued at over $100.00 which includes the following books and a Schlep tote bag to schlep them around in!
To enter to win, tell us your favorite Jewish author or Jewish themed book. Leave your answer in the comments section below by Midnight PT Thursday, June 25th. Be sure to also leave your email or twitter handle so we can contact you if you are the winner! Note: This contest is only open to residents of the US and Canada. Be sure to follow us on twitter - we'll be tweeting out the winner!
Cool Jew by Lisa Alcalay Klug. Cool Jew is a must read for every member of the Tribe! The book covers everything Hebraic from womb to tomb, finally putting an end to Christmas tree envy. Short essays, lists, instructional guides, photographs, and original illustrations celebrate Jewish cultural pride with love, enthusiasm, and irreverence.
Bar Mitzvah Disco Remember the year when you turned Lucky 13? The authors of Bar Mitzvah Disco take you on a journey to a parallel universe, where tall girls slow-danced with short boys at arm’s length, suburban break-dance pioneers vied with Lionel Richie fanatics for dance-floor space, and Aunt Edna came ready to mount an assault on the dessert buffet.
Modern Jewish Mom's Guide to Shabbat by Meredith Jacobs.
Written in conversational style from one modern Jewish mom to another, the MJM's Guide is funny and warm, brightly colored and easy to read book, filled with delicious, easy recipes and family art projects, suggested family discussion topics. No matter your level of religious observance, this book appeals to all.
Yom Kippur A Go-Go by Matthue Roth. Yom Kippur A Go-Go is a mind-blowing meeting of pop culture, Orthodox faith, and hipster poetics. With humor and insight, Roth describes the tension between contemporary life and the demands of his Orthodox faith.
My Jesus Year by Benyamin Cohen. Raised as an Orthodox Jew and the son of a rabbi, Benyamin Cohen grew up fascinated by the church across the street from his childhood home. Struck by a crisis of faith, and not long after marrying the converted daughter of a Baptist minister, he decided to see if Jesus could lead him back to Judaism by embarking on an Oz-like journey on which he visited a myriad of denominational churches. In the end, Cohen found that his yarmulke had similar powers as Dorothy's red shoes.
For some other great summer reading ideas, visit us here at Pop Judaica!
The following post is by guest blogger Benyamin Cohen, author of the new book, “My Jesus Year: A Rabbi's Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith”. We asked Benyamin to give The Chosen Blog readers a little taste of what we can expect from his book. Here's what he had to say...
I’m a rabbi’s son. Not just any rabbi’s son, but the rabbi’s son. Forgive me, father, for I have sinned. I took everything you taught me, flushed it down the toilet, and married a minister’s daughter. Wait, it gets better.
I’ve spent the past year going to a different church every Sunday. As if that wasn’t heresy enough, I threw in some monks, a Christian rock concert, missionizing with Mormons and, oh yeah, celebrating Christmas with my new in-laws. One year ago this month, on the day before Yom Kippur, I took my wife’s evangelical grandmother to a Christian archaeology exhibit. Repentance, atonement, the furthest things from my mind.
But a funny thing happened on my way to exploring Christianity. It made me a better Jew.
I obviously don't want to give away the whole story. And, of course, you can buy the book (subliminal message) right here at PopJudaica.com.
But to whet your appetite, I've compiled the following list: Five places you wouldn’t expect a rabbi’s son to go:
1. To a Christian wrestling match: To be fair, this was Ultimate Christian Wrestling where “good” wrestlers did battle against “evil” wrestlers. Fallen wrestlers, I kid you not, are actually resurrected at these matches. And you thought Rowdy Roddy Piper was weird.
2. In the mosh pit at a Christian rock concert: I’m not a concert kind of a guy. I don’t enjoy loud music, smoky joints, or – to be perfectly honest – any activity involving long periods of standing. But jamming with Jesus proved to be a pretty inspirational experience. Even if it did convince me to change all my car radio buttons to Christian rock stations. It gives Judas Priest a whole new meaning.
3. On Jesus’ JumboTron: While attending a Baptist megachurch in suburban Georgia, the camera operators thought it was a good idea to focus in on the one Jew in the house among the 15,000 dancing faithful – thereby ensuring my fate as the proverbial Wicked Son in the eyes of my rabbinic father.
4. At a monastery hanging out with 48 monks: Trying to clear my head from this holy headache spending 12-months church-hopping from denomination to denomination, I figured I should relax on 2,000 serene acres with a fraternity of men who have devoted themselves to peace, God, and loving kindness. If only I could pull myself away from my BlackBerry.
5. In a Confession booth: After a year of going to churches every Sunday, I did what any good Jewish boy would do – go to Confession. Riddled with guilt and curiosity, I told a Catholic priest my deepest, darkest secrets. Well, except for the small part about me being Jewish. I guess I’ll have to go back and confess for that sin another time. Maybe that’s the sequel...
For those of you who buy the book at PopJudaica.com, I would love to get some feedback and hear your thoughts. So please feel free to add your opinion to the comments section of this post!
Benyamin Cohen is the author of the new book “My Jesus Year” (HarperCollins, 2008). It was released the day before Yom Kippur. You can visit Benyamin's personal website at MyJesusYear.com and buy the book at PopJudaica.com.
Award-winning author Lisa Alcalay Klug's "Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe" was released to the eager masses this week and we thought, what better forum for a book on being a cool Jew than The Chosen Blog! So Sheebsters and Heebsters, if you're down with lox, know your Jewish geography, and can't start your day without a little Manischewitz, read on for a sneak peek at the book!
The Chosen Blog: Oy! This really is the whole megillah on being a Cool Jew! This must have been a progressive work over years and years! What, or maybe who, inspired you to write this book?
Lisa Alcalay Klug: First the what: a few articles I wrote in late 2005. One was for the San Francisco Chronicle on how cool it is to be Jew in the Bay Area. Another was for the Forward about eight nights of kitsch of Chanukah gifts. What these two articles shared was pride in Jewish culture, shmaltz and a reverent irreverence. Once I formulated that into the idea of a Heebster Handbook--Cool Jew's Hebrew name--I knew I had the makings of a book.
And here's the who: my parents. My dad is an Ashkenazi Holocaust survivor and my mom, who is from Panama and the daughter of Israelis, is a descendant of the Sephardic chief rabbi of Sarajevo. My parents' rich Jewish experiences took root in other countries and cultures. And Cool Jew grew out of all the ways I've sought to create meaningful Jewish experiences of my own. My father's legacy during my childhood, "never, ever be ashamed that you're a Jew," is infused into my book. It's a 250-page antidote for Jewish self-hatred.
CB: How did you go about researching the book?
LAK: You could say that some of it, I've always been researching because I love where Jewish and pop culture intersect. And there are tons of examples of things I've been noticing and collecting over the years. Once I started the book, I went to a lot of festivals, concerts, launch parties and other events. A barrage of new ideas, albums, kitsch and more hit me almost daily.
CB: Did you write "Cool Jew" with anyone in mind? Or is it for Jews of all streams and those of the honorary persuasion?
LAK: You could say I'm an Ashkefardic Neo-Chasidish Shomeret Shabbat Carlebachian Post-Labelficationist Sheebster. And my family includes many other types of Yidden. Just as we are so many different kinds of Jew, so is my book. In other words, it's for everyone, including Honorary Heebs, like Christine, my non-Jewish editor, who was the book's first buyer, and my sister-in-law, who is happy there is finally a fun and entertaining way to understand the mishegas.
CB: You cover a lot of classics like "Jewish Geography," but some of this stuff is completely off the wall! Where did you find it or how did you come up with the more unique stuff, like deciphering which vegetables and animals are of the Jewish variety?
LAK: Certain things in the universe just feel Jewish to me. Because it always expresses two opinions, I think of the Push-Me Pull-You from "Dr. Doolittle," for instance, as the "Tevye of the Jungle." All those National Geographic penguins suggest "The March of the Hasidim." And zebras are like living, breathing tallit stripes grazing on the African savannah. Maybe this is what happens to your mind when you grow up with a mom who speaks like Ricky Ricardo and a dad who speaks like Dr. Ruth.
CB: Will there be a Cool Jews II?
LAK: There will G-DASH-D willing, be something. For me, writing a book is like a Pringle, or as my father would say, a kosher pickle. Who can stop at just one?
CB: What was your favorite morsel in "Cool Jew"?
LAK: I have a bunch… One of my favorites is the "Certificut of Circumcision" at the end of the book. You literally give the book a bris by cutting out a specific page to represent the removal of all self-hatred from your Yiddishe neshama. (See p. 219.)
CB: Is this hipster Jew revolution merely a cultural fad or do you see this J-evolution sticking around?
LAK: Our world is blessed with so many amazing Jewish artists, activists, educators and entrepreneurs. They literally fill up the extensive "Heebster Jewke Box" guide to Jewish music and "Da Tribe Online" directory of community resources in the back of Cool Jew. I'd say it looks like this Adam & Eve-olution is going to be here for a while.
CB: With more than 200 pages to the guide, can you provide the lazy with a short sentence or two on what it really means to you to be a Cool Jew?
LAK: Being a cool Jew means being comfortable in your own skin, knowing where you come from and expressing pride in who you are. When you're a Heebster you don't have to work hard to be cool. You just have to be Jew!
CB: Any final words for our readers?
LAK: I'd love to hear what your readers think is cool, Jew. I'm also collecting images of the Cool Jew book found around the world. The best ones get posted on my blog! Please get in touch and send photos on to lisa (at) cooljewbook (dot) com ... Until then, a l'chaim in your punim!
Purchase Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe and all the kitsch featured in the book here at PopJudaica.com.
~Lisa Alcalay Klug was interviewed by Chavi Edwards (AKA The Chosen Blog's Kvetching-Editor-at-Large)
We're excited about the upcoming book "The Year of Living Biblically" by Esquire editor-at-large A.J. Jacobs. Jacobs set out to follow the bible as literally as possible for one whole year and write about his experience. We'll all have to wait until the Fall to find out how he faired. The book comes out this October!