TEAM JEW! discussion

Suggestion: Books with stories about being a Jew

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message 1: by Frumwannabe (new)

Frumwannabe | 2 comments Has anyone read interesting books about what it means to be a Jew? Or autobiographical experiences? I like shorter stories, partly because I think it's a lean way of telling the plot and because I read so slowly.

One of my favorites is an older book, "Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust" by Yaffa Eliach. These are true anecdotes told to the author by people who are religiously observant. So it has a viewpoint of faith. When I first read the book there were many details that were unfamiliar to me; but I think the message is a universal one.

message 2: by Sally (new)

Sally (sallyjaygatsby) My Sunday School class is reading a book calle "Tough Questions Jews Ask" by Rabbi Edward Feinstein. It is a really great book and has answered many of my questions!

message 3: by Frumwannabe (new)

Frumwannabe | 2 comments Hi, Sally! Which question do you think was the most interesting?

message 4: by David (new)

David | 1 comments I remember reading a long time ago a book by Charlotte Herman called "What Happened to Heather Hopkowitz?" It's about a girl who grows up Reform, spends a week with an Orthodox friend, and decides that she wants to become more observant. The book raises questions about what does it mean to be a Jew and is a good read.

message 5: by Debra (new)

Debra (sociosight) | 2 comments Dear Friends,

In an attempt to offer a brief respite in these troubled times, starting this Saturday night, at midnight, until Monday night, at midnight, I will be giving away free download copies of my book, "There's Jews in Texas?" on

I am asking each person who reads this email to please publicize this event widely to everyone they know, and to send it to their Jewish friends, family and people they know would appreciate receiving a copy of the book. You do not need to have a Kindle reader to read the e-book, there is an easy download on the Amazon website you can use.

I am thankful for the amazing response this book has received, and it is my pre-Chanukah gift to you and your friends and family. You can find the book to download here:

message 6: by Mirta (new)

Mirta Trupp Sharing a "snippet"-Pages 53-57:

A few weeks passed by and it was time for Chanukah. The families were going to gather in our apartment for a little celebration. Dani and I, along with the Bernstein boys, begged our parents to let us decorate the house. Our parents had no objections as they had little experience with this particular holiday. Growing up in a Catholic nation, Mami and Papi had grown accustomed to their friends and neighbors celebrating a fairly solemn and religious Christmas. Chanukah was considered a minor holiday, even among the most devout in the Argentine Jewish community and because it came in the summer when everyone was on vacation, it was easy to overlook the event. The holiday, if acknowledged at all, was celebrated quietly by lighting the menorah and passing out chocolate gelt (coins) to the kinder (children). There were no extravagant gifts or festive decorations. Papi said that all that “hoopla” was an American custom, but the adults went along with our request because they wanted to add a little fun and sparkle to our festivities.

Papi made a large Star of David out of “a nice piece of wood” and he grimaced as I promptly covered it with white paint and glitter. Mami bought some Chanukah decorations at our local Thrifty’s drugstore, a colorful cardboard “Happy Chanukah” sign and dreidels made out of honeycomb tissue paper. Tía Feli brought a bag full of plastic dreidels and chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil. Tía Sima made her famous sugar cookies in the shape of Jewish stars. Tía Raquel, always wanting to make things fun and creative, supplied the latest fad in American Judaism: the Chanukah Bush.

The adults were not exactly convinced that the Chanukah Bush was acceptable, but since no one in the group could explain to their children what the holiday was actually about, they allowed the small, snow-white “non-Christmas” tree. To make it a little “more kosher,” the accessories were all blue and white. These, of course, were deemed appropriate Jewish colors.

On the first night, under the shimmering Star of David, the family gathered around the kitchen table. Mami knew that the lead candle was called a Shamash; somehow the word sprung from deep within her memories. She lit the Shamash candle and then lit another solitary candle while we all watched. No one knew the three verses of the candle blessings, but we children had learned a Chanukah song in school, so we sang, “Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made you out of clay…” Then with guilty pleasure, Dani and I and the Bernstein boys, opened the box of blue ornaments and tried to figure out how to hang them on the frosted bush. We wrapped a string of blue and white lights around the branches and tossed bunches of tinsel on for good measure. No one knew how to control the lights, which were frantically blinking on and off. It was not the quite the same effect of the Jefferson’s majestic tree, but then again, what did we know about decorating a tree? When we were all done, we looked at each other and asked, “Now what?” Shrugging our shoulders, we turned to the adults for suggestions. Our mothers responded with the obvious, “Let’s eat!”

With the typical amount of boisterous commotion and fan-fare, we all sat down to eat our fill. Mami and the aunts knew that it was important to eat fried or oily foods for the holiday, so we were presented with a mountain of milanesas (breaded veal cutlets), a huge platter of latkes (potato pancakes), a variety of salads and a lovely mayonesa (Argentine style potato salad), which Mami decorated with green olives in the shape of a Magen David (Star of David). For dessert, Mami made buñuelos from a recipe she had copied from her Doña Petrona cookbook. Even if the Betty Crocker of Argentina wasn’t Jewish, she offered a wide variety of recipes which Mami managed to modify and apply to the holiday at hand. The deep-fried donuts with chunks of apples fit in nicely with the oily tradition. After dessert, we were each given a bag of gelt and a handful of colorful dreidels.

Our parents sat and watched us play and munch on our chocolates. I overheard several adults asking for a few drops of Hepatalgina. I don’t think it was the oil-laden latkes or the mayonesa that caused the digestive upset. The adults didn’t know the deeper meaning of Chanukah; their understanding of the menorah or the Maccabees was on a childish, fairy tale level at best. There was no comprehension of the cost to our Chanukah heroes who refused to assimilate and yet, I came to believe, that it was the garish Chanukah Bush, glowing in the background like a neon light that made our parents feel uncomfortable. Changing holiday traditions was a risky business; the plug was pulled on this Chanukah experiment-never to see the light again.

With Love, The Argentina Family: Memories of Tango and Kugel; Mate with Knishes

message 7: by Mirta (new)

Mirta Trupp Please read the author's interview

Mirta Trupp

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