Arts & Entertainmen
ON THE BOOKSHELF
Book's thoughtful essays unveil crises
of guilt that plague Jewish women.
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F R I DAY'S:
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Di MATT A
Home of Michigan Opera Theatre
David DiChiera, General Director
et me say right off the bat
that I'm already feeling
guilty about this review,
because I'm going to mention
only a few of the 28 essays in The
Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to
Guilt (Dutton Adult; $24.95).
Trust me: They are all funny
and thoughtful and frequently
moving. (The authors' mothers
should be very proud!) I will say
that they should be read in mod-
eration, so as to avoid a syn-
drome that I have come to think
of as Sympathetic Guiltosis. Then
again, I am an unmarried, atheis-
tic Jewish man with a passion for
pork ribs that borders on the
obscene, so I probably deserve
whatever anguish comes my way.
The notion of a volume dedi-
ONLY MIDWEST ENGAGEMENT
cated to a single emotion (as
experienced by a single demo-
graphic) seems awfully limiting
— not to mention exhausting.
But the editor, Ruth Andrew
Ellenson, has done a fine job of
articulating the crises of identity
that beset modern Jewish
"According to family legend,"
she writes, "my bubbie used to
come dangerously close to falling
out of the women's balcony at
shul in her longing to be part of
the men's service below. I, on the
other hand, am free to lead an
entire Torah service if I choose
to, but shamefully I'd probably
rather fall off a balcony"
Ellenson has also selected
essays that vary wildly in subject
Lauren Grodstein's "The
Monica Metaphor" is a fascinat-
A Self-induced Guilt Trip
Girl's Guide editor shares rabbis'
daughter's guilt trip.
Ruth Andrew Ellenson
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
've spent this past year edit-
ing a book titled The Modern
Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt, so
it may not be such a surprise that
I spend an awful lot of time feel-
ing guilty, thinking about why I
feel so darn guilty, and wonder-
ing why I'm so thoroughly guilty
that I'm willing to devote a year
of my life to the topic.
The High Holidays offer an
especially rich opportunity to
dwell on why I am so consumed
by this particular obsession.
The conclusion I've come to is
this: I will never, ever, be as good
a Jew as my parents are.
There are two possible reasons
why: I like bacon cheeseburgers
too much, and they are both rab-
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Maybe this predicament is
shared by all children of rabbis.
When your parent lives a life
devoted to Torah, good deeds
and Am Yisrael, how do you top
When Eema and Abba are both
rabbis, it can be difficult, if not
impossible, to live up to their
Unless by some miracle I am
elected to the rabbinical court of
Israel — and I'm fairly certain
that's not in the cards — I'll
never top their achievements. I
will always be the child who
failed to make aliyah, who neg-
lected to provide grandchildren
before I was 30 and who only
eats "kosher style."
I've also chosen to be a jour-
nalist in Hollywood. Occasionally
I'll call up my father to announce
with great excitement that I'm
profiling Ben Affleck or Brad Pitt.
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