Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Book Review: Cool Jew by Lisa Alcalay Klug

BIG THANKS to Shelly and Andrew McMeel Publishing for sending me this book to review!

“Cool Jew” by Lisa Alcalay Klug
Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC

Rating: 4 stars

From the book’s website:

Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $12.99) by award-winning journalist Lisa Alcalay Klug is a field manual for the 21st century Jew and the people who love them. This book decodes contemporary Judaism and its hippest forms of cultural and creative expression. Spanning 250 pages and nearly 400 images, it covers everything from identity, rituals, clothing and cuisine, to holidays, spirituality, diversity, and language. Cool Jew combines original illustrations by artist Amos Goldbaum with historical pieces, album covers, Kabbalistic paintings, pop Judaica and more. Jew got questions? Jew got answers! Imagine an updated combination of the beloved Jewish Catalog meets the Joys of Yiddish with a hip-hop spin that captures the spirit of the times. A hallmark of the current Pan-Jewish cultural revival, Cool Jew does for matzah balls and gefilte fish what The Official Preppy Handbook did for plaid and polo, only with much more chutzpah!

Upon first glance, “Cool Jew” may seem to you like a humorous parody for entertainment purposes. And, you’d be right. However, amongst the cheeky writing and amusing games, there happens to also be a lot of handy and educational information. For example, there are sections outlining each major Judaica item, such as the Kiddush cup and the Chanukah menorah. Also, you can find a detailed description of traditional foods associated with each Jewish holiday (because food is after all, very important in Judaism!) and explanations of the various head coverings worn for men and women. Look out for interesting historical information and tidbits on famous Jews, as well.

The humor ranges from the witty to the outrageous. There are definitely sections of the book that have the potential to offend the more devout among us but that is exactly why some of the content shouldn’t be taken too seriously. It is all in good fun and Klug, being a proud member of the Jewish faith herself, would not intentionally insult anyone. Some ideas however, may not be for the faint of heart, such as the idea to take yarmulkes/kippas (Jewish head covering) and “sew leather shoelaces on a matching leather pair to create a sexy string bikini top”. Talk about risqué religious humor!

Funny highlights include:
- Letterman-like Top Ten lists
- ‘Recycle, Reuse, Reschmooze’ sections that offer other uses for common Jewish objects
- ‘FYI for the Yiddish impaired’

Other great features are the hilarious and sometimes wacky drawings, photographs and comics located throughout the book.

On the cover of the book is says that the book is not just for Jews, which is absolutely true. Non-Jews may not understand all of the humor, but it would probably a very enjoyable way to learn more about another religion and pick up the ‘Jewish slang’!

“Cool Jew” is a fun read and especially recommended as great entertainment when read with friends and family (which I did, and it really is!)

For more info visit the COOL JEW website
Check out if the Cool Jew book tour is coming to a town near you!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks like a fun read.