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review 2019-06-02 02:55
Not really as good as I'd thought it'd be
The Unorthodox Haggadah: A Dogma-Free Passover for Jews and Other Chosen People - Nathan Phillips

This looked like a funky way to celebrate Pesach for secular Jews: fun, and funky, the illustrations all too pop culture for me not to be charmed.   This was also inexpensive and I've started collecting Haggadahs, which is kinda perfect since the graphic novel Haggadah just came out earlier this year, too, I believe.   I also own the Elie Wiesel version, and my mom has an old version and said I'd inherit all of hers so it was a shame I bought it.  I disagree; I enjoy having my own copy.   (Also if she lives forever, I would, for the record rather have her than the haggadahs, her jewelry or anything else she owns so I'm still praying she lives forever.)


That being said, and going back to this, I wasn't as impressed by what they left off their online ads/images.   It felt just a bit to joke-y for me, and I'd have rather seen a balance between humor and seriousness. Even without the religious aspect, this is a serious holiday: it's about liberation from slavery.   And no, I'm not so stuck-in-the-mud that I don't think that you can't joke about it.   Hey, Jews joke about it, too; the writer of this was Jewish as were the writers of For This We Left Egypt? another humorous Haggadah.   But this is one of big yearly events; it's not a High Holy Day, but it's taken quite seriously.   To be truly Peseach kosher, bakeries have to sweet out all the leavened things, and have a serious clean out.  I've seen Jews posting about Pesach cleaning.   Our family is very, very reform, to the point of 'eh, throw all the bread in the basement', but they are serious about cooking and not eating the bread.   Although my mom doesn't police me anymore and told me I could do what I wanted, I did, in fact, comply this year.   It's a big, big thing.   We don't celebrate, say, the ten plagues like we celebrate the first dude who tried to wipe us all out - Hammentaschen.   He has his own cookie, mostly to celebrate him being, y'know, wiped out for trying to genocide the Jews.  But we don't mope.   We remember our bitterness about being slaves in metaphorical foodie ways, we talk a lot about being slaves, but we also celebrate our continuing liberation.  And we pine for Jerusalem.   Next year in Jerusalem we've all been saying for all too long. 


So I guess what I'm trying to say is humor and Pesach has to balance the humor and the seriousness underlying this holiday.   Especially, I think, for something so secular.   Thanking G-d for saving us is huge.   We have a very, very long repetitive song pretty much saying if G-d had done this thing, it would have been enough until we cover every single thing he did for us.   (And Dayinu is one of my favorite religious songs.   Here's why: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8p1pabOX3fc   It's quite catchy.)


This didn't do it for me.   It was a quick read, and entertaining but I think tried to hard to be funny, to fit in, to be everything and fell a bit flat for me.

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review 2017-12-05 00:15
The Search For The Meaning Of Life
Stalking God: My Unorthodox Search for Something to Believe In - Anjali Kumar

The author, a successful business person and mother, came to the decision that she had to find the answer to THE BIG QUESTIONS in order to explain them rationally to her young daughter. The four big questions of life. Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? What happens when we die? And is there a God? Shouldn't be hard for a rational, driven, very intelligent person to answer, right? One should be able to do it in less that a year. I really like her reasoning on why she had to search. "Religiously and spiritually speaking, nothing I had experienced thus far was a perfect fit. I was walking barefoot, so to speak. Not because I wanted to, but because I had a closet full of uncomfortable shoes."
Kumar gives it her all. She examines SO many different religions and beliefs, traveling all over the world in her search. And it takes longer than she initially thought, years longer.
She tries faith healers, Wiccans, sweat lodges, crazy hallucinogenic drugs, yoga, even the Burning Man festival. And, rather than finding the "right" answer, she finds a little bit of knowledge in each one. To quote her again, "I started thinking about how one of the big product attributes of religion is that it gives us hope. That hope is firmly embedded in the thought that if there is more, then we actually matter." Combining all her findings, she comes to a sense of peace.
In the end, she comes back to one of her original religions, Jainism. Which states that no single person can have ownership or knowledge of absolute truth. You have no choice but to respect differences. And respect for differences leads to greater harmony.
I like that. And until the time we come to the end of our lives and find out what, if anything, is next, that is a good principle to live by.
I received this book from NetGalley, in return for a fair and honest review. This one was easy. Out of a hundred or so books that I have read and reviewed this year, it is absolutely in my top five. And it will be sticking with me for a long, long time!

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text 2017-11-24 19:59
Unorthodox - Deborah Feldman,Christian Ruzicska

Nachtzug, aloha. Presse & Buch betreten mit dem inneren Auftrag eine Schmonzette für die lange Zugfahrt zu kaufen und stattdessen dieses Buch mitgenommen, das schon länger auf meiner Bibliotheksliste stand. Das mit den Schmonzetten (woraus der Computer übrigens "Schonzeiten" macht :D So kann man es auch nennen!) muss ich wohl noch etwas üben...


Nun gut. Ich habe ein Interview mit Deborah Feldman in Deutschland Radio Kultur (seinerzeits) gehört, deshalb wusste ich schon was mich erwartet. Tatsächlich muss ich sagen, dass ich die Geschichten an sich gar nicht so schlimm finde, schlimm im Sinne von unerträglich zu lesen. Am Ende des Buches standen mir trotzdem nahezu durchgehend Tränen in den Augen. Der Wandel von Kind zu Frau ohne dass die Frau (bzw. das Kind) lernt, was Frau sein mit allen Aspekten bedeutet oder sein kann ist für mich ein ziemlicher Schlag in die Magengrube. Die Vorstellung, dass einem der eigene Körper fremd ist, beziehungsweise verheimlicht wird, empfinde ich als unglaublichen Missbrauch (Wo es in den Medien gerade rumort. Wo runter fällt das eigentlich?!). Das war für mich der eindrücklichste Teil des ganzen Buchs.


Ich habe gelesen, dass es einige gibt die den Wahrheitsgehalt dieses Buches anzweifeln. Nennt mich naiv, oder ich nenne diese einige naiv, doch selbst wenn die Autorin nicht bei der Wahrheit geblieben ist (aber warum sollte sie? Nur Wahrnehmung ist eine subjektive Sache, darüber lässt sich natürlich streiten), so fände ich es überhaupt nicht abwegig, dass eine solche "Parallelgesellschaft" existieren sollte. Traurigerweise.


Es ist wieder Zeit für Sir Huddleston Fuddleston und Osborn, dieses Schwein. Vorher höre ich mir jedoch vielleicht noch mal das Interview an.

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text 2016-04-12 17:00
TTT: Top Ten Herstory books every new feminist should read
The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace - Lynn Povich
At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance--A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power - Danielle L. McGuire
The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution - Jonathan Eig
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban - Christina Lamb,Malala Yousafzai
Narrative of Sojourner Truth (Dover Thrift Editions) - Sojourner Truth,Olive Gilbert
Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots - Deborah Feldman
Fragments Of Gender - Lisa Lees
Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War - Leymah Gbowee
Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World - Rachel Swaby
Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women - Catherine Thimmesh,Melissa Sweet

This is my first Top Ten Tuesday! 

I've always been a bit of a history nerd, but as I became comfortable with calling myself a feminist, I realized I didn't know nearly enough about women in history. Or women's accomplishments in general. Or about people who don't identify as women or men. Or that people even existed that didn't identify as women or men. Or how bad the struggle still is all around the world. 

As I delved into feminist ideology, I also found the herstory genre. Here are my top ten herstory books for new (or any) feminists!


  1. The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace - Lynn Povich  This was a great one for me becaue I have always thought of myself as a good girl too. I don't want anything special, just not to be held back by someone else's antiquated ideas about what I'm capable of. These girls loved their jobs and where they were working, they just wanted to be treated fairly and they were willing to go after that together. Loved it!
  2. At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance--A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power - Danielle L. McGuire  I had learned a lot of the things covered in this book in Black History Month specials in middle and elementary school, but history just wasn't real to me back then. Of course, all these stories also get sanitized for children in schools so it's never as poignant as it should be. By the time we get to high school, we can recite the key points but it almost feels too late to actually digest and understand it. Then I read this book and it was like I heard it for the first time. More than the key points, this is a peak behind the curtain. It all finally made sense in a way that I never thought it could. 
  3. The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution - Jonathan Eig I'd had no idea how bad it was before the mighty pill. I took it for granted. That'll never happen again. There are just too many things that we don't have to deal with or worry about or can take a stand against now that I can't even begin to explain the impact that little pill has made. Reading about it coming to fruition was fascinating. 
  4. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban - Christina Lamb,Malala Yousafzai I have been in awe of Malala since I first heard her story. She is an amazing young woman who has already done more with her life than most. What do you do after being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize? I can't wait to find out.
  5. Narrative of Sojourner Truth (Dover Thrift Editions) - Sojourner Truth,Olive Gilbert  I had heard the name of Sojourner Truth countless times. I knew it from those same February showcases mentioned above. I just never knew much about her. It wasn't until I listened to one of the many famous actresses recite her "Ain't I a Woman?" speech that I realized I had to read her narrative. I love that speech. You can find it here, read by my favorite of the actresses who has done so. 
  6. Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots - Deborah Feldman I never knew much about Hasidic Jews but this had sounded interesting when I first saw it and it was. I know it isn't the picture of modern Jewish life and probably doesn't paint the kindest of pictures about being a Hasidic Jew, but it was still interesting to read about a world that was so foreign and yet not so far from where I am. 
  7. Fragments Of Gender - Lisa Lees This is a collection of essays that explore life along the gender spectrum, rather than stuck on one side of it or the other. I knew relatively little about transgender and non-binary gendered people, so this was a revelation at just the right time. Don't get me wrong, I still don't have all the answers and make faux pas around people about this sort of thing, but I know more than the average cisgendered person, I think. I hope. I'm still learning, but as I said at the beginning, this was a great place to start. It gave me that first idea about what people went through and that was invaluable. 
  8. Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War - Leymah Gbowee  Another Nobel Laureate, Gbowee has accomplished great feats by what seems like sheer will. She is amazing beyond belief and hearing her story was remarkable. She just understands so much about everything, especially healing. If you have ever doubted what women could be capable of if we just stuck together, pick up this book! 
  9. Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World - Rachel Swaby I LOVE a good anthology! I've even talked about it a few Femme Fridays ago. The thing about these anthologies is that they prove that while we may not have been prevalent, we have always been present in STEM and war and other places some say we don't belong. This book has one woman for every week to learn about that did great things in science. I tore through it much faster than that, though. It's one of my favorites. 


Ok, I only had nine of my herstory books that I could honestly put on this list. The others that are on my shelf are good, but I don't feel like they exemplify parts of the experience quite the same way these do. While I strive for diversity in my reading, I also realized that I don't reach all groups. 

I had hoped to read Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by the time of this post, but it wasn't meant to be. I connected it anyway because what I saw in the table of contents led me to believe that I'll wish I had when I do get to read it. 


For more Top Ten Tuesday posts, check out the originator The Broke and the Bookish!

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review 2015-07-27 03:01
Review: Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots - Deborah Feldman

I’ve been a bad bad reviewer. I haven’t managed to read more than a single book this entire year. Okay, one and a half if I’m being honest…I am halfway through another. But, in my defense I did give birth and now have a 5 month old daughter. So I’ve been a teensy bit busy. But I found time to read! While I’m at work pumping milk for my baby, that’s a whole half hour that could be spent reading instead of browsing Facebook or playing Candy Crush.


This was a quick read but a good one. Feldman paints a vivid picture with her words and transports you directly to her world. I was engrossed in the story. One would like to think that things like this don’t happen in a free country, but alas it does. I lived through a similar religious experience (with a different religion of course) and was interested to see how much these experiences overlap. Not surprisingly, the answer is quite a lot. Religious abuse is a real thing.


While I am aware of the accusations of exaggeration and lying by the author, I personally choose to give the benefit of the doubt. People do behave this way. People in such strict religions do these kinds of things. And when someone dares to leave the flock, their former community throws mud all day long to try and discredit them. I can’t say for sure that is what is happening in this case, but it seems logical.


As a woman and a mother, I found the book infuriating. I can sympathize with how utterly out of the place the author felt in the world that she had been born into. Her yearnings for more were palpable. I found myself rooting for her to succeed and break free from what felt like such a confining life. I can’t say much more about this book except that I found it very compelling.


And now I hear someone yelling at daddy for a nursing, so I will wrap up. Hopefully I can make at least one more review this year…we’ll see lol.

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