Sunday, October 5, 2008

New Ranking First!

This just in from Amazon. In a snapshot of this moment in time, Cool Jew is ranked

#4 in Books > Entertainment > Humor > Religion


#5 in Books > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism

It's another first, hitting both of this lists simultaneously with such awesome rankings.

And in another first, Cool Jew is also now making in roads on the top 100 of the Satire list, at #48.

The timing of this ranking dovetails with the ongoing discussion of the growing "Heebster Movement," as recently described in the New York Daily News and The Jerusalem Post (see below). And to that we say, a wholehearted Baruch HaShem and a l'chaim in your punim!

And AAAAALLLL of this is taking place during the Days of Awe, the 10 days between Rosh HaShana, the new year, and Yom Kippur, the day of At-One-Ment and sometimes, the Pennant (see Cool Jew Chapter 4).

In other words, it's a time of closeness to the Source and to our essence. It's the time to speak from your heart to the Heart of your heart. It's a time for blueprinting how you'd like your year to be and how you'd like yourself to be.

It's been a time for me of deep meditation and reflection and, at the same time, joy about the book making it's own way in the world. if you've been reading this blog, you already know that so much has happened since its Sept. 1 official debut. And if you're new to this blog, read back for the history of media coverage, parties, launch events and my ongoing book tour. It's all here. And for all these amazing experiences and Heebster outpouring, I'm thrilled and grateful.

Thank you so so much for your support of Cool Jew!

It's cool to be a Jew

Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe By Lisa Alcalay Klug
Andrews McMeel Publishing
192 pages; $12.99

When Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson created their hit irreverent play Jewtopia in 2003, they extended their 15 minutes of fame by launching the book Jewtopia, The Chosen Book for the Chosen People in 2006.

That book was an eclectic mix of humor and irreverence, and while it included some brilliant witty takes on what it is to be a Jew, it had a great deal of off-color humor and a lowest-common-denominator air, ensuring that it would probably only appeal to a Generation X demographic.

So, whether by design or by default, journalist Lisa Alcalay Klug has now jumped on the bandwagon a mere two years later with her book - very similar in both theme and title to Jewtopia - with Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe.
It seems the 21st century is the time to proclaim loudly and proudly that you are a Jew. With everything from Jewish tees, Jewish rappers and Jewish tchachkes being "in" these days, now appears to be the time to cultivate your inner Jew (or Heebster), as Klug points out. "Being a Heebster is really the carrot on your gefilte fish... someone who loves being Jewish, who is not afraid to be a total dork, but who also has that certain savoir faire that makes him or her hipper than hip," says Klug in the introduction to her book.

Like Fogel and Wolfson's, Klug's book is full of cutesy little chapters including "A minyan ways you know you are a Heebster," "Who are Jew," "Recycle, reuse, reshmooze" and "Top seven reasons Jews and rappers are related." In fact, Klug picks up on the whole gangsta theme in the cover of her book, with a heavy-duty gold, glistening piece of bling with the words "Cool Jew" emblazoned on it. (Fogel and Wolfson's cover depicted the two of them lighting their cigarettes off the Hanukkiya).

However, where Klug truly departs from the Fogel/Wolfson blueprint is in her extraordinary knowledge of all things Jewish. Klug is a serious heavyweight in the Heebster fold, drawing on her Panamanian, Israeli, German and Polish roots and strong Jewish educational background. Stating that her book is for "anyone who wants to understand, relish or question something about being Jewish because as our ancient sages taught, knowledge is power," Klug pulls out all the stops, showing just how powerful her own Jewish knowledge is - enough to create her own institute of Jewish Heebster Learning. Even the highest educated Heeb on her totem pole can learn a thing or two.

While you may not care for the list of Hollywood celebs that either are Jewish, claim to be Jewish or merely appear to be Jewish, Klug's "headwear decoder" (or "What the lid says about the yid"), delineating the different forms of headdress worn by different members of the tribe and what they truly mean is a delightful revelation, as is her "match the rabbi star search" where you pick which celebrity has found his inner Heeb by latching on to a well-known rabbi.

Klug can fall into kitsch at the drop of a hat (streimel or crocheted kippa - take your pick), such as the largely superfluous "self-help for the Christmas Carol intolerant" and "reindeer games," but she balances it out with craft projects in her recycle, reuse, reshmooze sections, in-depth knowledge of Jewish laws and customs with a humorous, modern take (include insights into Kaba la la la), and her nifty translations and explanations for those not in the know - under the banner "For the Yiddish impaired."

With its cute blue-and-white pages, Hebrew style font and opening owner's page asking you to fill in your family tree under "who begat, who begat...," there's definitely something for everyone here. Unlike Jewtopia, Cool Jew steers clear of cheap shtick, can be safely bought as a gift for all Jews (and non-Jews) across the board and doesn't really offend anyone - although Klug does have a disclaimer from the "shtender of the Klugerebbie" who states: "The author is, quite frankly, a mensch, and if she offends you or your Jewish sensibilities in any way, please don't let it get you all farklempt."

In fact, if there's anything to get farklempt about here, it's the sheer amount of information stuffed into this book - more than anyone could ever hope to read or digest from cover to cover. Klug could have done with a tougher editor, but then again, talking too much is a true Heebster trait, no?

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