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.