Books for Hanukkah and beyond
The "you" in Barbara Rushkoff's Jewish Holiday Fun for You! targets a specific demographic: the hip, 30- or 40-something "who wants to crack the mystery of Jewish holidays." Rushkoff, creator of the webzine Plotz, offers this crash course to instruct and entertain. She leads readers through the holidays using diverse conceits: a test booklet (multiple choice) for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; zaftig (Yiddish for "well-endowed") paper dolls of Ruth, the Biblical character, for Shavuot; and a catalog of wacky prefabricated Sukkah kits for Sukkot (including inflatable, hypoallergenic and mother-in-law versions). Each holiday is introduced by a quirky, one-sentence definition: Passover is "the one with the big crackers," Purim is "the one they call the Jewish Halloween" and Shabbat is "the one where you can't do anything because it's Saturday." For years, I've heard similar descriptions when mildly curious non-Jewish buddies identify a current holiday with, "Is this the one where you build a hut in the backyard?" (Sukkot.)As the book's title says, the accent is on "fun," so don't look for practical how-tos here. This is more an excuse to indulge in nostalgia with hip hindsight, sassy wit and retro-flavored graphics galore. Rushkoff fans: prepare to plotz (Yiddish for "burst with excitement"). Joanna Brichetto is a graduate student in Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University who longs for sassy wit and hip hindsight.