Can you name two past Jewish Supreme Court justices with last names beginning with the letter “F”?
Did you know the comic strip X-Men was created by Jews? And for the most random Jewish fact you’ll read today and probably this decade...Bet you didn’t know the Q-Tip was invented by a Jewish guy who thought the cotton apparatus would aid his wife cleaning hard to reach places?
You’ll learn these facts and others in the new coffee table book For the Love of Being Jewish: An A-to-Z Primer for Bubbies, Mensches, Meshugas, Tzaddiks, and Yentas (Triumph Books), a fitting book for the holiday season, which lists from A to Z the many reasons to love being Jewish.
The book, written by local Rabbi Steven Stark Lowenstein, spiritual leader of Congregation Am Shalom in Glencoe, and colorfully illustrated by Mark Anderson, explores key concepts of the Jewish religion and heritage through the lens of culture, history, ethics, and values—like Exodos, ner tamid (eternal flame), and tzedakah (charity, justice), and notes Jewish celebrities like Mel Brooks, Bob Dylan, Albert Einstein, Sandy Koufax, Golda Meir, and Moses. The book is one in a series of For the Love of ______ books that have been published by Triumph Books, including For the Love of the Cubs and For the Love of Golf.
Each page, corresponding with the letters of the alphabet, is the basis for a short rhyme, accompanied by a colorful cartoon as well as terminology, quotes, and factoids starting with that letter.
While the book is whimsical and humorous, it also examines the weightier topics that come with 5,770 years of Jewish history. “The challenge was to make sure it wasn’t all fluff,” Lowenstein said. “The Holocaust had to be in the book, Zionism had to be in there. I wanted to make sure that these types of concepts—the seriousness of Judaism—were not [treated] in a light matter.”
The book opens with a Mark Twain passage from an 1898 issue of Harpers magazine. He writes: “If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race…[The Jew’s] contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also way out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers…All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”
Lowenstein replies to Twain’s inquiry. “What is the secret of the Jews’ immortality?” he said. “How come this small people continues to survive and thrive year after year? The secret is perseverance, determination, and the chutzpah of the Jewish people.”
Rabbi Steven Stark Lowenstein
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