Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Jujitsu Rabbi and the Godless Blonde -- a review

Jujitsu Rabbi and the Godless Blonde, by Rebecca Dana.
3 out of 5 stars
Published: 2013, G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Summary: Rebecca suffers from a crappy break-up and moves away from her beloved Manhattan, where she writes about $1400.00 shoes, into a shared apartment in Brooklyn’s Lubavitch community with a not-so-rabbi rabbi.

Review:  Giving Dana’s book only three stars because I thought it was going to include more rabbi comedy smacks of injustice, I know. But, I can’t give it four stars because it didn’t wow me.

She’s a great writer. Her years of journalism allow her to effortlessly sock you with sensory details that the average reader (or writer) wouldn’t even know was missing, until you read her work.

Her humor is self-deprecating, just the way I like it. And the pervading sense throughout her memoir is one of hope, despite – or maybe because of – her seeking and questioning. And she does it with such honesty.

“Everything I knew felt half true. I hated Crown Heights, except the parts I loved. I adored Fashion Week, except that I also loathed it. I lived for my colleagues, worshipped Tina and Edward, was happy writing silly stories about Tiger Woods and stripper heels, but also felt a kind of hollowness in the abstract, that nagging pointlessness pulling at my clothes.”

Who couldn’t relate to that?

I mean, I don’t know Tina, Edward, or Tiger Woods, but I have often felt that conundrum-y pulling of hating and loving something at the same time – and not knowing what to do about it.

Jujitsu Rabbi and the Godless Blonde shares fascinating snippets of Lubavitcher lifestyle (an ultra-Orthodox branch of Judaism), New York City’s Fashion Week, and how to walk the night streets of a dangerous neighborhood in Brooklyn. (Hint: it involves rapping.)

As a lover of memoir (and an author of one), I really liked that she ended her book with how she’d grown as a character in her own life story. I wasn’t left wondering, “Now what was that book about?”  I connected with her, felt myself resonate with her personal trials (even though my life is vastly different than hers), and ended up wanting to have a cheeseburger with Jujitsu Rabbi and his rubber band smile.

Worth reading.

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