How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck)
Sure to resonate with Jewish and Gentile readers alike, How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck) is a wise and witty self-help manual for pursuing happiness while still acting with integrity, honor, and compassion. Michael Wex, New York Times bestselling author of Born to Kvetch and Just Say Nu, draws on sources that range from the Talmud and Yiddish proverbs to contemporary music and movies in this insightful guide that explores not only human nature and psychology but our duties to ourselves and one another.
Starred Review. Yes, the Yiddish words "schmuck" and (to a lesser extent) "mentsh" have entered the popular English lexicon, but few people in the general population have a more than cursory understanding of their meanings. Novelist, professor and performer Wex (Born to Kvetch) has an intimate knowledge of the Yiddish language and Jewish culture, and here explains both terms in the context of Jewish and non-Jewish life. Though its title might suggest a satirical self-help, Wex is a committed Yiddish revivalist, and this lesson in language and culture is rooted in a shocking degree of scholarship; happily, it's also blessed with humor, grace and a well-developed sense of contemporary pop culture (references range from Genesis to Groundhog Day). The end result is a consistent pleasure: entertaining, educational and only minimally pedantic, with more than a few thought-provoking suggestions for achieving mentsh-hood (or at least avoiding shmuck-itude). --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. “Funny...astute and relevant.” (San Francisco Chronicle)“…blessed with humor, grace and a well-developed sense of contemporary pop culture (references range from Genesis to Groundhog Day) ... a consistent pleasure: entertaining, educational…with more than a few thought-provoking suggestions for achieving mentsh-hood (or at least avoiding shmuck-itude).” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))“The Sneaky Chef of contemporary Jewish culture…Wex writes books that look and read like snacks, but he hides scholarly vegetables between the covers…Wex has achieved on the bookshelf what Hillel advised that we all do in life: In a place where there are no mentshn, try to be a mentsh.” (Forward)“Just superb….The book is funny, too, and is certainly the finest explanation of the religious significance of The Apartment and Groundhog Day. Talmud, Torah, Jack Lemmon, Bill Murray--need I say more?” (Mark Oppenheimer, author of Thirteen and a Day: The Bar and Bat Mitzvah Across America)“[A]n often humorous and frequently provocative guide to being a good person, a mentsh....This book reflects extensive learning, serious thought, a sense of the absurd and the unfair, as well as an impish willingness to play the mazik (scamp).” (Jewish Book World)“[S]uperb...brilliant...[O]ne of the leading lights in the Yiddish revival, Michael Wex distills the age-old principles that have been the nucleus of Jewish survival...into some relevant lessons, delightful anecdotes, and real-world applications for not just Judaism but all faiths.” (Sacramento Book Review)
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