The Modern Jewish Girl’s Guide to Guilt Book Review

There is joke within the Jewish community. While sitting around the family table and sharing a meal, a good-sized helping of guilt is often part of the meal.

The 2005 book, The Modern Jewish Girl’s Guide to Guilt, by Ruth Andrew Ellenson, is all about guilt, especially from the perspective of a Jewish woman. Each essayist presents Jewish guilt from her own perspective. Whether it is motherhood (or lack thereof), marriage (or lack thereof), lifestyle choices, issues with her family, there is always something to be guilty about.

What I really liked about this book was that not only was it funny, but the writers came from across the religious and cultural perspective that is Judaism. I found myself chuckling and nodding in agreement with several of the essays. It was not hard to find an experience that was similar to my own. While some readers may initially turn the book down because the writers are Jews and their experiences are through a Jewish lens, I would recommend that non-Jewish readers give this book a chance. Jews are not the only ones who serve a healthy dose of guilt to their children.

I recommend it.


Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Success, especially in the performing arts, is often more a matter of hard work and perseverance rather than pure talent.

In the new movie, Florence Foster Jenkins, Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) is an aging socialite in New York City during World War II. Her dream, like many others, is to sing on the stage. What makes her different from others with the same dream is that while she lacks the ability to sing, she makes up for the lack of talent in hard work, optimism and sheer perseverance.

Florence’s long time companion/de-facto manager St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) hires Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg) to accompany Florence on the piano. Cosme is horrified about Florence’s lack of talent and is unsure if he wants to continue in the job. When a recording is made of Florence and she happily signs up to sing at Carnegie Hall, both Cosme and St Clair are horrified. Despite his initial concerns, Cosme has learned to see that he shares a love of music with Florence. St Clair, who has shielded Florence from the negative reviews for many years, is afraid of the public ridicule she may face. But Florence presses on, despite the challenges and the concerns of Cosme and St Clair.

Based on the true story of the real Florence Foster Jenkins, this movie is a lesson in courage and optimism. As she always does, Meryl Streep gives her all to the character and the narrative. Despite having the dubious distinction of being “the world’s worst opera singer”, there is a heart and a belief that she can succeed, despite the obstacles.

And that is where this movie succeeds.

I recommend it.

Florence Foster Jenkins is presently in theaters.

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