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Kelev's Journey: A Jewish Dog Wanders Home Paperback – March 20, 2016
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About the Author
After a 37-year career as an investment advisor to endowments, foundations and pension funds, David Hammerstein began writing about spiritual challenges facing contemporary Jewish families. His parents fled Nazi Germany in 1939 and settled in Washington, D.C., where he was born and raised. Their experiences as refugees shaped his belief in the importance of tolerance. Hammerstein lives in Pittsburgh with his two children and three grandchildren.
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Top Customer Reviews
In my considered opinion, this book is brilliantly written in every respect. Where to start? I have no idea what Hammerstein's purpose was in writing this book. Perhaps it began on a whim, strictly for fun. If so. Hammerstein developed his whim with mastery. I laughed so much that my husband asked what I reading. A Jew with deeper insight into the culture might find even more humor, but I did not have the sense the book was written primarily for Jews. In fact, as Kelev explained Judaism to neighborhood pets, I learned as much about these ancient traditions and Jewish worldview as his friends did. What better way to build understanding and appreciation than through humor?
Despite the small size of the book, Kelev becomes involved in multiple facets of life, from his initial awakening to the fact he was Jewish and wrapping his enthusiastic heart around the obligations that imposed to making Aliyah. Along the way, Kelev dove headfirst into Yiddishkeit as he discovered the power of prayer, served as a mediator, confronted prejudice and discrimination, declared himself as candidate for President, feasted on brisket, transformed a tyrant and far more. True to his doggie nature, he ends each adventure with a nap.
Illustrations are almost unheard of in fiction today, but Ed Shem's art ads the perfect touch, amplifying humor and adding extra heart to Kelev. They also make this an ideal book for initiating discussions of values in families of any faith or background.
I don't recall another title that packed so much insight and fun into so few words. I’m glad I met Kelev and hope you'll soon love him too.
I loved the author’s wry sense of humor and the way he gently pokes fun at Judaism and the Jewish heritage.
The book would make a wonderful tool for introducing young adults to the teachings of Judaism.
As preposterous as a talking, thinking, dreaming canine espousing the rules of a good Jewish life may seem at first blush, Hammerstein manages to pull off the task by means of Kelev's disarming innocence and selfless life-purpose of being the best dog he can be..
For instance, early on, when the neighbors' beagle informs Kelev that he (Kelev) is Jewish, a guileless Kelev asks what that means. "It's a behavioral disorder that makes you feel guilty," answers the beagle. Thus, by page 3, Hammerstein has overcome all obstacles to the reader's willing suspension of disbelief with comedic aplomb.
Although Hammerstein keeps readers reading and chuckling by weaving such bits of schtick throughout the book, Kelev becomes increasingly contemplative as his journey proceeds. He asks himself during a nap-time meditation "Why did humans have the propensity to hate when dogs could live and let live?"
Excellent question. Excellent book.
I gave Kelev’s Journey four stars instead of five, for two reasons: One: I am not a young adult, and; Two I am not a Jew. So while I can see the spiritual value of the book for just about anybody, the many allusions to conservative Jewish terms and customs escaped me. At the same time, the rudimentary explications of Jewish culture Kelev makes while interacting with his two and four-legged counterparts kept me (and presumably, Jewish teens) sufficiently inside the proverbial loop to appreciate the dog’s grand message of making the most of one’s life by making the world a better place for everybody, which, in the end, Kelev does with uncommon grace… But I won’t spoil it for you. Read the book to find out how.
Kelev’s Journey deserves a very high rating on the Yidometer – see Chapter 12.
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