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Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish Hardcover – October 25, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Consistently engaging, these 60 interviews conducted by journalist Pogrebin explore the thoughts of well-known artists, politicians and others in the public eye on the complexities of Jewish identity;and the emotions they engender. The issues touched on range from the legacy of the Holocaust to the Middle East, Jewish traditions, intermarriage and much more. The conflicts are typified by Sarah Jessica Parker, who says her supportive feelings about Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians make her feel more Jewish, but she is uncertain about the religious education she will give her child. Others, like Dustin Hoffman and William Kristol, have been firmly committed to passing on Jewish rituals and history to their children. Gloria Steinem, who joyfully attends feminist seders, still remains alienated by the sexist bias of most religions. In two arresting pieces, politician Barney Frank and playwright Tony Kushner address what it's like to be both gay and Jewish. Pogrebin says this book grew out of her efforts to clarify her own Jewish identity. But you don't need to be on such a quest to enjoy the wide range of experiences and feelings recorded here. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

From Publishers Weekly
Consistently engaging, these 60 interviews conducted by journalist Pogrebin explore the thoughts of well-known artists, politicians and others in the public eye on the complexities of Jewish identity;and the emotions they engender. The issues touched on range from the legacy of the Holocaust to the Middle East, Jewish traditions, intermarriage and much more. The conflicts are typified by Sarah Jessica Parker, who says her supportive feelings about Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians make her feel more Jewish, but she is uncertain about the religious education she will give her child. Others, like Dustin Hoffman and William Kristol, have been firmly committed to passing on Jewish rituals and history to their children. Gloria Steinem, who joyfully attends feminist seders, still remains alienated by the sexist bias of most religions. In two arresting pieces, politician Barney Frank and playwright Tony Kushner address what it's like to be both gay and Jewish. Pogrebin says this book grew out of her efforts to clarify her own Jewish identity. But you don't need to be on such a quest to enjoy the wide range of experiences and feelings recorded here. Photos.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

“This work…simply can't be put down after you start browsing…"Stars of David" is the talk of the town.” —LIZ SMITH

“engaging, intimate…frequently surprising and insightful…this is a provocative and enjoyable book for Jews and gentiles alike.” —Library Journal
 
“encompasses the joys and anxieties, the comfort and self-consciousness, the tension between assimilation and self-identification that Jews feel in American society.” —St. Louis Post Dispatch

“…A wide and interesting variety of stories about faith and the lack thereof, family, memory, ritual, continuity and choices they have made.” —The Jewish Week

“A fascinating new book.“ -The Charlotte Observer

“I open the book, and find an actually interesting interview with Dustin Hoffman, who casually advises the author over breakfast that she is not so smart ordering an omelet, when she could be having a couple egg whites, scrambled loosely, with a yolk thrown in, some salsa, onion, garlic and a little olive oil.” -The Philadelphia Inquirer, Blinq blogs site
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; First Edition edition (October 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767916123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767916127
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,069,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bundt Lust VINE VOICE on November 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Written by a prominent journalist (Abigail Pogrebin), Stars of David interviews some of America's most visible successful Jews: actors (Dustin Hoffman, Gene Wilder, Richard Dreyfuss, Sarah Jessica Parker, William Shatner and Leonard Nemoy of "Star Trek" fame, Natalie Portman, Jason Alexander, Fran Drescher), directors (Steven Spielberg, Mike Nichols, Aaron Sorkin, Barry Levinson), CEOs, broadcasters (Mike Wallace, Morley Safer, Larry King, Aaron Brown), musicians, politicians (Ed Koch, Barney Frank), lawyers (Ruth Bader Ginsburg), doctors (Dr. Jerome Groopman), designers (Diane Von Furstenberg), and athletes to divine to what degree Judaism is "resonant, crucial, or incidental" for their lives and careers.

A common thread running through the sixty-two narratives is the clear and distinct separation between being Jewish culturally and Jewish in a religious sense. With few exceptions, nearly everyone mentioned letting Jewish ritual (davening, Shabbat, synagogue, keeping kosher) go by the wayside after bar/bat mitzvah (if they did indeed make it that far). All mentioned the inherent pride in being Jewish, the attraction to other Jewish friends and spouses, and embracing the Jewish fundamental ideals of tikkun olam (healing the world) and tzedakah (charity). Some mentioned the Jewish drive as an extra push for success, many mentioned disturbing incidents of anti-Semitism from their childhoods, and many, although they aren't particularly observant themselves or married non-Jewish spouses, want to make sure that their children grow up with the rituals, language, and culture of Judaism.
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By Shlomo on November 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book in an incredible read. When it first came out, I hungrily read the book from cover to cover in just a matter of days. I wanted to know how these famous Jews felt about being Jewish. I wanted to know how Jewish they were. I wanted to know how they were raising their children if they had any.

I was surprised at how many prominent Jews felt disconnected from their Jewishness. Many had married non-Jews and even though many were raised religiously, they had abandoned the rituals. While reading this book, I saw that many of these people were merely a reflection of myself. I, too, was raised quite conservatively, attended Hebrew school from third grade until my Bat Mitzvah three days a week including Saturday school, learned to read and write in Hebrew, and observed all Holy Days. The minute I had my Bat Mitzvah, I left Judaism altogether for many years. I married a non-Jew. I did have a Jewish wedding, and had a baby girl, whom is identified as a Jew. However, after reading Leon Wieseltier, his mention of "slacker Jews" really shook me back into reality. He helped me noticed that I must be a slacker Jew because, although I do want my daughter to be accustomed to the Jewish laws and religion, it's my mother who takes her to services while I stay at home. It's my mother who invites us over for Shabbos dinner and says the prayers over bread and wine. I'm doing nothing.

This book has made me question my own Jewish identity; it made me think about how Jewish I want to be; it made me realized how alienated I have become within my own religion. I have decided to take a stance and be a part of my daughter's Jewish upbringing.
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Format: Hardcover
This book really is sacred. As opposed to preaching at readers it makes us think about the critical distinction between Judaism: the religion and Judaism: the culture.

The approach enabled a substantial book which is accessible to a wide swath of readers. Even without being particularly religious myself, I was unable to put the book down because it is very well-written. It becomes immediately obvious to readers that time was put into crafting all the very personal essays.

Editor Abigail Pogrebin has written for New York magazine. Her mother Letty Cottin Pogrebin was a founding editor of Ms. Magazine. Pogrebin clearly undertook this book project with the intent to produce something substantial.

A 'fluff piece' approach theoretically could have been undertaken considering her general thesis of exploring the dimensions of a religion-culture. Therefore, I am roundly impressed that Pogrebin instead selected contributors ranging from Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Laura Schlessinger and Leonard Nimoy. It undoubtedly produced more work, but also produced the awesome book I have read.

The best anthologies have essays reflecting the book theme---rather than echo the editor's own particular perspective of approaching a theme. This gives anthologies the critical depth needed to avoid being a personal indulgence and instead impact society. While it is easier for the editor to publish their 'friends', readers get bored by an anthology whose essays are clones.

I highly recommend this book for all audiences.
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