Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Parts North


I've filled out my absentee ballot, packed for snow and I'm off.

Thursday brings the Montreal Book Launch Party. Sponsored by Montreal Hillel, the Federation's Young Adult Division and the Ghetto Shul in the heart of the student ghetto east McGill University. The Ghetto Shul, 3458 Avenue du Parc (just south of Milton). No host bar, music, book signing and more, 8:30 p.m. For more info, write ghettoshul@gmail.com.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle

As a journalist, I've been used to being on the other side of the media equation for years. Now that the book is making its way into the world, it's been so exciting to see all the press Cool Jew has been getting. It's also super fun to learn what your editor was thinking when she bought your book. That's what happened last night when I discovered this article online...

KC company publishes ‘Cool Jew’ guidebook
By Beth Lipoff, Staff Writer

"Cool Jew," published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, hit bookshelves at the beginning of September.

Do you use the dreidel stamp on letters year-round or dance to the tunes of Matisyahu? If so, you may be a Heebster, says author Lisa Alcalay Klug.

Klug’s new book, “Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe,” proclaims itself to be a “bible of all that is cool and Jewish” on the first page.

“I wrote the book because I love being Jewish, and I feel passionate about the way we connect with ourselves, each other and our tradition,” she said.

The book, available for $12.99 in paperback, tells of Jewish culture, from famous Jews to the art of shnorring, with an irreverent twist of humor. Klug sprinkles lists of animals, foods and behaviors that she deems Jewish or goyish throughout the book.

“A Heebster is interchangeable with the term ‘cool Jew,’ and you know you’re a cool Jew if you speak with great emotion, conviction, irreverence and gesticulation. If you do all that, you’re already well on your way,” Klug said.

The book functions as a guide to many aspects of Jewish life and culture. In that way, it’s a sort of post-modern “Jewish Catalog.”

“There really is a lot of basic information in the book, not only about religious practice but about lifestyle, history and heritage that a lot of people are not necessarily aware of,” said Christine Schillig, vice president and editorial director at Andrews McMeel Publishing in Kansas City, Mo.
“(The tone is) what makes any book different from its peers on the bookshelf. The writer, Lisa, has a really unique and accessible style. Her work is really readable; at the same time, it’s intelligent.

“It’s not that you’re reading about how to be a cool Jew or what a cool Jew is, but you’re reading Lisa Klug, and she has a real voice as a contemporary Jewish writer.” (more)


What more can I say? Cool Jew is now available at Judaism.com.

They even give a good plug to my fabulous illustrator, Amos Goldbaum. Dude rocked it.

New Title
Cool Jew by Lisa Alcalay Klug
Illustrated by Amos Goldbaum

Cool Jew does for gefilte fish and matzah balls what the Preppy Handbook did for plaid and polo—only with much more chutzpah.Cool Jew covers everything Hebraic from womb to tomb, finally putting an end to Christmas tree envy. Short essays, lists, instructional guides, photographs, and original illustrations celebrate Jewish cultural pride with love, enthusiasm, and irreverence.Entries ranging from "Heebonics for the Yiddish Impaired" to "Self-Help for the Christmas Carol Intolerant" provide the long-awaited Jewish response to that WASP manual of the '80s, The Preppy Handbook.In addition to cultural hilarity, Cool Jew features resourceful back-of-the-book material, including "People of Da Book" (authoritative texts on Jewish concepts and culture), the "Heebster Jewke Box" (tunes that rock the Heebster vibe), and the "Tribe Online" (an extensive listing of Jewish Web resources). (250 Pages) 7"x9"

Publisher: Andrews McMeel, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Holy Daze

If you're following the annual Jewish New Year spiritual blitz, you know we're nearing the end of the month of fall holy daze. It's been amazing, meaningful, transformative, fun and indeed a whirlwind. And with Simchat Torah approaching on Wednesday, it's almost over... which means a whirlwind of a different kind is about to begin.

The Cool Jew Book Tour began a few weeks before Rosh Hashana and kicks back in gear next Sunday, when I head to the Bay Area for the Contra Costa Jewish Book Festival.

Check out recent media coverage about that event in the J Weekly and a new feature story here.
A few days later, it's north for the Canada Tour and a blitz of events in Montreal and Toronto. The fun begins on October 30th, the Ghetto Shul and Hillel at McGill University in Montreal will be hosting the Canada launch party, with a Shabbat program to follow. On Nov. 2, I'll be moving on to Toronto and Indigo Books in Yorkdale Mall, with a reading and signing, 6 - 8 pm, co-presented by The Jewish Magazine and JUMP. On Nov. 3, the Koffler Centre of the Arts and I are hosting a Cool Jew Cabaret & Reception showcasing local Cool Jew talent as part of the largest Jewish book fair in North America. The evening begins with a 6 pm reception at the Koffler Gallery together with the 7th annual Bookmark Project--featuring artist-designed bookmarks selected from an open call, on display and inserted clandestinely into books at the 32nd annual Jewish Book Fair of the Koffler Centre of the Arts. Leah Posluns Theatre, 4588 Bathurst Street, Toronto, 6 - 8 pm, $10. Co-presented by Hillel of Greater Toronto, The Jewish Magazine and Pages Books and Magazine.
With November being Jewish Book Month, the entire month is packed with events back in the U.S. of A. I'll cross the border to swoop down into Arizona, then loop back to LA for the Nov. 6th event at UCLA Hillel and the Nov. 9th Celebration of Jewish Books at American Jewish University. I'm up at 10 a.m. and will also be signing in the Borders Oasis of Books tent as the day continues... TO REGISTER: Call (310) 440-1246 or register online.
At CJ Inc., we're already planning for Chanukah and more events are being added all the time so please ch, ch, check out the CJ events guide for the most updated info and join us to celebrate you, Jew! And you, too, Honorary Heebs and Friends of the Tribe!
FYI: Today's conference up in SF was canceled so I'm sticking around LA for all the fun and tonight's all-night learning with David Sacks at Happy Minyan. Come by for blow-your-mind mystical teachings about the Hebrew letters, the holiday cycle and cap it off with a musical davening at B'nai David Monday morn'.
Meanwhile, props to the Jewlicious Festival for the shout out and mazal tov on the site's new doo. If you're a filmmaker, check out the contest. And don't forget to submit your ideas online for student led sessions at the Festival. See ya there!
Until then... Shana tova u'metukah and a gutten kvittel... may you be blessed with a wonderful new year!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Minyan

I've been in LA for the holidays, immersing myself in the sounds of Yehuda Solomon, of Moshav Band fame, leading services at the Happy Minyan.

Yehuda's davening is so what-else-can-you-say-but-gevalt! The rebbe in residence, Emmy-award winning screen writer, David Sacks, shares the sweetest Torahs and the dancing and the singing are so high, you can mamash feel the holiday in your body AND your soul. The joy is palpable. If you get a chance to get Happy next time you're in LA, check out HappyMinyan.org.

Meanwhile, Cool Jew marches on... I'm invited to speak at the huge book event at American Jewish University on Nov. 9th. Check back for details. And this fun review just got posted at Bookopolis! Hey thanks so much, Sheri!

Upon first glance, “Cool Jew” may seem to you like a humorous parody for entertainment purposes. And, you’d be right. However, amongst the cheeky writing and amusing games, there happens to also be a lot of handy and educational information. For example, there are sections outlining each major Judaica item, such as the Kiddush cup and the Chanukah menorah. Also, you can find a detailed description of traditional foods associated with each Jewish holiday (because food is after all, very important in Judaism!) and explanations of the various head coverings worn for men and women. Look out for interesting historical information and tidbits on famous Jews, as well.

The humor ranges from the witty to the outrageous. There are definitely sections of the book that have the potential to offend the more devout among us but that is exactly why some of the content shouldn’t be taken too seriously. It is all in good fun and Klug, being a proud member of the Jewish faith herself, would not intentionally insult anyone. Some ideas however, may not be for the faint of heart, such as the idea to take yarmulkes/kippas (Jewish head covering) and “sew leather shoelaces on a matching leather pair to create a sexy string bikini top”. Talk about risqué religious humor!

Funny highlights include:- Letterman-like Top Ten lists- ‘Recycle, Reuse, Reschmooze’ sections that offer other uses for common Jewish objects- ‘FYI for the Yiddish impaired’Other great features are the hilarious and sometimes wacky drawings, photographs and comics located throughout the book.

On the cover of the book is says that the book is not just for Jews, which is absolutely true. Non-Jews may not understand all of the humor, but it would probably a very enjoyable way to learn more about another religion and pick up the ‘Jewish slang’!“Cool Jew” is a fun read and especially recommended as great entertainment when read with friends and family (which I did, and it really is!)

For more info visit the COOL JEW website.

Check out if the Cool Jew book tour is coming to a town near you!

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?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Last day!

I'm feeling the shana in my rosh today!

Yep, shana doesn't only mean year, it means change. So this is it, people, change headquarters. The time of year to shake things up.

What are you looking to change? How about your relationship to da holy land.

If you're between the ages of 18 and 26, and you've never been on a group trip to the land of our forefathers and four mothers, consider this. Today is the last day to register for a free Winter 2008-2009 trip to Israel. Sign up for your birthright here.