Lisa Alcalay Klugs most recent book, Hot Mamalah: The Ulti­mate Guide for Every Woman of the Tribe, is now avail­able. She is also the author of Cool Jew: The Ulti­mate Guide for Every Mem­ber of the Tribe, a Nation­al Jew­ish Book Awards Final­ist. She will be blog­ging here all week for Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and MyJew­ish­Learn­ing.

It’s clear from the names of my two pop cul­ture humor books, Cool Jew and Hot Mamalah, that my Jew­ish back­ground is a pri­ma­ry force in my writ­ing. What these titles don’t reveal is how much my work is informed by my father’s expe­ri­ences dur­ing the Holo­caust.

They say every child of a Holo­caust sur­vivor is born with a tear in her eye. This is far from an obvi­ous start­ing point for cul­ti­vat­ing humor. But like many oth­er cre­atives, my weighty inher­i­tance” sig­nif­i­cant­ly con­tributes to the over­all tenor of my writ­ing about con­tem­po­rary Jew­ish life — in both revealed and unre­vealed ways.

My first book, Cool Jew: The Ulti­mate Guide for Every Mem­ber of the Tribe (cool​jew​book​.com), was a 2008 Nation­al Jew­ish Book Awards Final­ist and the first humor book hon­ored in the awards’ 50-year-his­to­ry. My new book, Hot Mamalah: The Ulti­mate Guide for Every Woman of the Tribe (hot​ma​malah​.com), debuted this month. Both books are filled with humor­ous depic­tions of Jew­ish life and prac­tice. They pro­mote learn­ing about your iden­ti­ty and cel­e­brat­ing it with a rev­er­ent irreverence…an irrev­er­ence based on a real love of being Jewish. 

My father, who will b’ezrat Hashem, soon turn 90, is a sur­vivor of Buchen­wald. As a child, my father told me his par­ents died in the war.” It was only when I turned the age of bat mitz­vah that I learned their pre­cise fate. On Yom Kip­pur 1942, the Nazis deport­ed them and their daugh­ter Rosa to Tre­blin­ka. They were nev­er heard from again. That same year, the Nazis mur­dered my uncle Lip­man in the Czesto­howa ghet­to. Some­how, despite years as a slave labor­er in war-time Poland, my father sur­vived. He was near death when Gen­er­al Patton’s Third Army final­ly lib­er­at­ed Buchen­wald. He was furi­ous to miss the oranges and choco­late U.S. lib­er­a­tors fed his fel­low cap­tives. As many of them died from com­pli­ca­tions, my father real­ized this was one more bless­ing that saved his life. 

One of my father’s mot­tos is nev­er give up. One day in April 1945 he was a slave. And the next day, sud­den­ly, the skies part­ed. And he was a free. 

Anoth­er of my father’s favorite max­ims is nev­er, ever be ashamed to be a Jew. My books, Cool Jew and Hot Mamalah, turn this injunc­tion into a pos­i­tive: to know who you are and own it. Lit­tle did I know that my own embrac­ing of this teach­ing would lead me to new rev­e­la­tions about my her­itage, includ­ing the Sefar­di his­to­ry of my mother’s fam­i­ly. Check back soon for more about them in an upcom­ing post in this series. 

Read Part 2 of this series: Seek­ing Con­nec­tion

Read Part 3 of this series: For the Sake of Unification

Lisa Alcalay Klug (lisak​lug​.com) is an award-win­ning jour­nal­ist, author, speak­er and media coach. She is cur­rent­ly at work on a mem­oir. This post is one in series in a blog tour cel­e­brat­ing the release of her new book, Hot Mamalah: The Ulti­mate Guide for Every Woman of the Tribe. Learn more about the blog tour at https://​www​.face​book​.com/​e​v​e​n​t​s​/​505196389498488/. Join her Smokin’ Hot Mamalah Book Launch Give­away val­ued at $300 at www​.Mod​ern​Tribe​.com/​m​a​malah.

Award-win­ning jour­nal­ist Lisa Alcalay Klug has report­ed for the New York Times, For­ward, Jerusalem Post, Asso­ci­at­ed Press, JTA, Los Ange­les Times and Israel Broad­cast Author­i­ty TV — among many oth­er out­lets. Her best­selling book, Cool Jew: The Ulti­mate Guide for Every Mem­ber of the Tribe, was a Nation­al Jew­ish Book Awards Final­ist. A humorist, slam poet and pop­u­lar pub­lic speak­er, Lisa has pre­sent­ed at more than 100 venues through­out North Amer­i­ca, Europe and Israel.