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Author Karlen, Neal.

Title Shanda : the making and breaking of a self-loathing Jew / Neal Karlen.

Published New York ; London : Simon & Schuster, [2004]


Location Call No. Status
 UniM Store QA  5612    AVAILABLE
Physical description xiv, 208 pages ; 24 cm
Notes "A Touchstone book."
Contents 1. Uncle Tom Jew 1 -- 2. Shanda 9 -- 3. A Stranger on a Plane 19 -- 4. Fifth Son at the Seder Table (Who No Longer Shows Up) 26 -- 5. Home, Alone 36 -- 6. Mensch or the Golem 46 -- 7. Tugs 55 -- 8. Hasid Everyone Likes 70 -- 9. Worst Guest 77 -- 10. Revelations, and Rabbis Who Say, "I Don't Know" 87 -- 11. Fathers and Sons 93 -- 12. Spiritual Airports 105 -- 13. Tefillin and the Art of Sandy Koufax 114 -- 14. Rabbi Caro Explains It All for You 128 -- 15. Something to Believe in 140 -- 16. Connecting 150 -- 17. Welcoming the Queen: The Miracle of the Sabbath 156 -- 18. Bootlegging the Shtetl Wine 168 -- 19. Missing Jigsaw Piece 174 -- 20. One Page Ahead of the Studient 185 -- 21. Bat Mitzvah, Charlie Parker, and Amen 204.
Summary Early in his memoir, Neal Karlen tells a rabbi, "I love Judaism. It's Jews I can't stand."
What he means is that he hates the parochialism and material trappings of the young Jews he knows: Their new temples are gilded and the parking lots spill over with luxury cars. Religion for them is a quest for a Jewish wife from "the right" family and a big house and splendid clothes. Gone is the soulful practice of tradition that his grandparents brought over from Russia. Karlen sees communities from New York to Los Angeles of Jewish status seekers and he can't stand the thought of being identified as one of them. Frustrated and embarrassed, Karlen stops looking for the Jewish enclave that fits him and, for the next ten years, simply rejects Judaism. He antagonizes rabbis. He becomes the token Jew among his Midwestern friends and the buffoon at cocktail parties with a shtick of Jewish jokes and imitations that cross the line. And then one day, Karlen goes too far: he marries a blue-eyed Protestant from a family with an anti-Semitic bent. The marriage is doomed. At midlife Karlen discovers that he belongs nowhere and that the Jew he really hates is himself. He is a shanda -- a shame.
Written with irreverent zest and poignancy, Shanda is Karlen's story of finding his way back to Judaism -- and the Jewish community. His guide is an unlikely one: Rabbi Manis Friedman, the renowned Hasidic scholar with a beard to his chest and a fedora that makes him look like "Sam Spade about to go out in the rain." The Rabbi invites Karlen to study with him. In their weekly meetings devoted to scholarship and Jewish ritual, Karlen asks the questions that assimilated Jews grapple with, such as "How do we bring meaning to the practice of Judaism?" "Where is the line between Jewish and too Jewish?" and "What does it mean to be Jewish-American and ashamed by Judaism?" Rabbi Friedman leads Karlen up the mountain to find these answers -- and shows both author and reader the stunning view from the top. Ultimately, this odd couple discovers what it means to be a good person -- not just a good Jew. At its heart, Shanda is about their surprising friendship and the ways that people change -- and change each other. At once hilarious and heartbreaking, it is a parable for anyone who has ever questioned his faith or has lost his way.
Subject Karlen, Neal -- Religion.
Friedman, Manis.
Jews -- Minnesota -- Biography.
Journalists -- Minnesota -- Biography.
Jewish journalists -- Minnesota -- Biography.
Self-hate (Psychology)
Self-acceptance -- Religious aspects -- Judaism.
Jews -- Return to Orthodox Judaism.
ISBN 0743213823 (alkaline paper)