For the Love of Being Jew­ish: An A‑to‑Z Primer for Bub­bies, Men­sches, Meshugas, Tzad­diks, and Yentas

Steven Stark Lowen­stein; Mark Ander­son, illus, and designer
  • Review
By – September 1, 2011
This rhyming alpha­bet book attempts to present philo­soph­i­cal ideas, key quotes, famous peo­ple, trans­la­tions, and hol­i­days in a jum­ble of Eng­lish, Yid­dish, and Hebrew to express what being Jew­ish means to the author. The car­toon like illus­tra­tions add a bril­liant humor­ous lay­er to the many ideas pre­sent­ed here. Although nom­i­nal­ly an alpha­bet pic­ture book, this is def­i­nite­ly not writ­ten for young chil­dren. Some­times using first names to go with a let­ter, some­times using last names, mix­ing in Yid­dish and Hebrew, the author real­ly stretch­es to fit his text into a rhyming alpha­bet for­mat. (Exam­ple: “‘K’” is for Kol Nidre, The fast that goes slow. But for Koufax on Yom Kip­pur it was to syn­a­gogue he did go.”) Adults will enjoy the quirky draw­ings rem­i­nis­cent of board­walk car­i­ca­tures, and may find it fun to place on the cof­fee table (it is larg­er than a reg­u­lar pic­ture book), but the jum­ble of fac­toids, quotes, and def­i­n­i­tions do not add up to a book which cov­ers at all what it means to be Jew­ish. Ages 8 – adult.
Susan Dubin was the first librar­i­an hon­ored with a Milken Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion Jew­ish Edu­ca­tor Award. She is the owner/​director of Off-the-Shelf Library Ser­vices and library instruc­tion­al con­sul­tant at Val­ley Beth Shalom Day School in Enci­no, CA.

Discussion Questions