The December Project Book Review

The debate these days between ancient religious practice and modern skeptical thought seems to be an uneasy one.  There are always two sides to every story, this debate is no different.

New York Times best selling author Sara Davidson, while raised in the Jewish faith, defines herself a skeptic. Her recent book, The December Project: An Extraordinary Rabbi and a Skeptical Seeker Confront Life’s Greatest Mysteries, is about this very debate.

For several years, Sara met weekly with Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi, who himself is whirl of contradictions. Escaping from Nazi controlled Europe as a young man with his family, he became an ordained Orthodox Rabbi in 1947.  Breaking from the traditional Orthodox way of life, he founded the Jewish renewal movement. Before his death earlier this year, he was married 4 times. He has 11 children. One of his children was conceived with a sperm donation and born to a lesbian Rabbi.

I liked this book.  Religion can often be so dry and steeped in tradition that we cannot see the joy and faith that comes with religion. Despite his religious background, the Rabbi did what many struggle to do, but cannot. He finds the joy and passion within religion while adapting it to the modern world. I suspect that even a skeptic like Ms. Davidson was on her way to becoming a believer by the time she finished this book.

I recommend this book.



Obama And Immigration

Saturday Night Live, as they usually do, hit the nail on the head when it comes to politics and news.

Last night, they spoofed the classic children’s program Schoolhouse Rock to illustrate how the President was able to use an executive order (and bypass the Republicans) to get his new immigration law passed. You can see the skit here. It was one of the funniest opening skits they’ve had in a while.

That got me thinking.

As I have stated in previous posts, I am descended from immigrants.  I can appreciate why these people have come here. To my ancestors that arrived on these shores, America was the goldene medina (g0lden land). It represented opportunity, hope, the ability to start over. I’m sure that despite the time difference, the sentiments are the same.

The question is, what about our resources. Our public schools are packed to the gills, millions are still unemployed. The last thing we need is a further stretch of our already stretched resources.

I’m going to end this post with a scene from Clueless, because I honestly believe that America is the land of opportunity. If it wasn’t, my ancestors would have stayed in Europe and you would not be reading this post.

Conspiracy Review

The Holocaust was not randomly planned. The Nazis knew exactly what they were doing.

The 2001 movie, Conspiracy, takes place on January 20th, 1942. On that date, the Wannsee conference was held. In attendance were those who occupied the highest ranks of the Nazi Party. When the conference ended, the plan to kill what was left of Europe’s Jews was firmly in place.

Starring Kenneth Branagh as Reinhard Heydrich and Stanley Tucci as Adolph Eichmann, this movie is chillingly scary.  What makes it scary is not the traditional blood and guts, but that these educated men, without fanfare and with a calm demeanor, forever determined and altered the fate of European Jewry.

I recommend this movie not just because of the cast, but because it teaches what hate can do when institutionalized.



The Roommates Book Review


Most of us have had at least one roommate in our lives. We may have shared a bedroom with a sibling when we were young, shared a bunk bed during summer camp, lived with roommate in a 20 x 20 dorm in college or even shared an apartment in our post undergrad, early adult years.

If we are lucky, we can at least get along with our roommates in adult, civilized manner. If not, well then, that is one more roommate horror story to the list.

Author Stephanie Wu’s new book, The Roommates: True Tales Of Friendship, Rivalry, Romance And Disturbingly Close Quarters is about this subject.

While the names have been changed or removed, the stories range from sweet and romantic, to sad and finally just plain gross.

I found myself laughing out loud. They are authentic, funny and sometimes puke inducing. Anyone who has a had roommate will be able to relate to the stories.

I recommend this book.

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