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Typically Jewish

Nancy Kalikow Maxwell

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: The Jewish Publication Society
Published: 03/2019
Pages: 352
Subject: Social Science
eBook ISBN: 9780827617926


Is laughter essential to Jewish identity? Do Jews possess special radar for recognizing members of the tribe? Since Jews live longer and make love more often, why don't more people join the tribe? "More deli than deity" writer Nancy Kalikow Maxwell poses many such questions in eight chapters—"Worrying," "Kvelling," "Dying," "Noshing," "Laughing," "Detecting," "Dwelling," and "Joining"—exploring what it means to be "typically Jewish." While unearthing answers from rabbis, researchers, and her assembled Jury on Jewishness (Jewish friends she roped into conversation), she—and we—make a variety of discoveries. For example:  •Jews worry about continuity, even though Rabbi Mordechai of Lechovitz prohibited even that: "All worrying is forbidden, except to worry that one is worried."  •Kvell-worthy fact: About 75 percent of American Jews give to charity versus 63 percent of Americans as a whole.  •Since reciting Kaddish brought secular Jews to synagogue, the rabbis, aware of their captive audience, moved the prayer to the end of the service.  •Who's Jewish? About a quarter of Nobel Prize winners, an estimated 80 percent of comedians at one point, and the winner of Nazi Germany's Most Perfect Aryan Child Contest.  Readers will enjoy learning about how Jews feel, think, act, love, and live. They'll also schmooze as they use the book's "Typically Jewish, Atypically Fun" discussion guide.  


Nancy Kalikow Maxwell is a librarian, an award-winning writer, and a frequent contributor to Jewish media. She is the author of six books and the creator of funny cards for Hallmark's Tree of Life Jewish card line.    


"A spirited examination of the essence of Jewishness."—Kirkus

"Typically Jewish is a wise and witty cornucopia of Jewish likes and dislikes, customs, humor, and tribal tastes and treasures. Over the centuries and across the globe, Jews have built a vast library of books devoted to every imaginable topic of concern and interest to the Jewish people. Typically Jewish is a charming addition to that large and inclusive library."—World Religion News

"As Maxwell takes readers on a humorous safari to observe Jews in their natural habitat, even Jews who have never set foot in a synagogue or JCC will recognize themselves with wondrous insight. And Jews who love learning—in other words, all of us—will delight in learning a lot from Typically Jewish. I definitely did."—Maggie Anton, author of Rashi's Daughters and Fifty Shades of Talmud