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Helpful Votes: 18




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Holy Unexpected: My New Life As a Jew
Holy Unexpected: My New Life As a Jew
by Robin Chotzinoff
Edition: Hardcover
6 used & new from $2.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Informal, inviting and informative, April 16, 2009
I picked up this book because I was attracted by the cover. I don't read a lot of "narratives" but Robin was able to combine a juicy story and lots of factual information about Judaism, Denver, and her life so it kept all the areas of my brain highly entertained. She skips around a lot and goes on tangents in the chapters - but in a way that's highly enjoyable and keeps you focused on her thought process. I liked that she didn't continuously focus on herself, she would jump out of her own story and go on a tangent about another interesting individual.

I'm a slow reader, but I couldn't put this down. I knocked it off much quicker than other books I've read lately.

I loved that I had no idea where the book was going and what was going to happen. I wish I had have read this before my trip to Denver two weeks ago, otherwise I would have tried to find the places (Judaica stores) she talks about.

Oh, and I found a few editorial mistakes. Sometimes she would explain things twice, like how Rabbi Jamie was highed at the new Rabbi for her shul, it was sort of like having a conversation with an Alzheimer's patient, I just smiled and kept reading. But other than that, it was very well written.


Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams
Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams
by Alfred Lubrano
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.11
62 used & new from $5.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My 2nd Favorite Book of All Time, July 27, 2008
I first discovered this book in Summer 2007 at a university library. I checked it out for nearly 2 months and read from it constantly.

This summer (2008), I bought the softcover adition from Amazon. I have all my favorite quotes highlighted and dog earred. It's essentially a holy scripture for Straddlers.

I could attempt to explain why I like the book so much, but I'm not articulate enough. Lubrano says everything with such ease and in such an understandable way. As you're reading you come across things that you identify with so deeply, and you never thought someone else felt things the same way. The book allowed me to pinpoint things about myself that I never could, but I now understand myself and the world(s) I'm trying to live in much better.

It's thoroughly satisfying and completely essential if you are from a working class background and attending university. I'm considering giving it as a Christmas gift to several friends this year.


Interfaith Families: Personal Stories of Jewish-Christian Intermarriage
Interfaith Families: Personal Stories of Jewish-Christian Intermarriage
by Jane Kaplan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.80
23 used & new from $0.01

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Informative, July 27, 2008
A very insightful book. I'm currently in an interfaith relationship which has the possibility of someday becoming serious. I read this to learn what I was getting into and for some insight on the choices I may have to make someday.

The book confirmed what me and my boyfriend felt all along and warned us of some obstacles we may have to overcome in the future.

Basically, its made up of first person stories and reflections. These stories are broken into sections based on the approach the family took.

First was families who kept Jewish homes and raised their children to identify as Jews. Most of these families had a positive experience. Some obstacles were that the Jewish partner wasn't that observant and actually left it up to the Christian partner to teach the children about Judaism, and to keep a kosher home and do all the holiday work. My reaction to this section was that it convinced me this was a positive and practicial way to go.

Second was families who have Christian homes and raised their children as Christians. This typically only happened if the Jewish partner themselves was from a mixed family (had a Christian parent). The Jewish partners in this section were not only non-observant, but also semi observant of Christian holidays. These families seemed happy, but my reaction was that unless the Jewish partner came from a mixed home, this is a very unlikely approach.

Third was families which attempted to raise their children both Jewish and Christian. In most cases this was a disaster. Identity confusion, hostility between partners and regret was common. After reading this section, its not an approach I would consider.

Fourth was families who "tried something else." This was diverse, including nothing, or being secular or apathetic. I felt this was a disaster, and most families said they regretted this. Another family raise their 2 sons as Jews and 1 daughter as a Christian. This family clearly expressed that this was an experiment gone bad, and not to do this. I agree. In this whole section, the families seemed like they regretted their choice and were not that happy. The only exception is the family which decided to join a Unitarian Universalist congregation, they were very happy and it seemed positive. This chapter definitely convinced me that children need some religious training, anything is better than nothing.

The Fifth and final section was on families in which one partner converted. Some of these families were happy, some of these families were strained after waiting years and years for the conversion to happen, some were estranged from their parents, and some of these families are broken and now divorced. Over all, this chapter was very negative and cast a negative light on conversion.

I think the writing and presentational style in this book is great. I agree with most of the points it makes and I think its well researched with the exception of the conversion chapter.

I am giving this book 4/5 instead of 5/5 because I feel there was a strong selection bias on the families in the conversion chapter. The only families considered for this chapter were ones in which the partner did not convert for spiritual reasons, but instead converted because their spouse or in laws pressured them to. And all the conversions were conducted after the couple was wed. This likely explains the high divorce rate among these couples - one partner is doing something they spiritually are in conflict with just to please the other. I think that if this chapter had included examples of people who converted for practicial and spiritaul reasons pre-marriage, then the outcome would be different.

My boyfriend never read the book, but he likes it because it essentially convinced me that keeping Jewish home and having Jewish children is the right thing for us to do.


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