Typically Jewish


Typically Jewish

Nancy Kalikow Maxwell

352 pages


March 2019


$22.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

March 2019


$22.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

March 2019


$22.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Is laughter essential to Jewish identity? Do Jews possess special radar for recognizing members of the tribe? Since Jews live longer and make love more often, why don’t more people join the tribe? “More deli than deity” writer Nancy Kalikow Maxwell poses many such questions in eight chapters—“Worrying,” “Kvelling,” “Dying,” “Noshing,” “Laughing,” “Detecting,” “Dwelling,” and “Joining”—exploring what it means to be “typically Jewish.” While unearthing answers from rabbis, researchers, and her assembled Jury on Jewishness (Jewish friends she roped into conversation), she—and we—make a variety of discoveries. For example:
  • Jews worry about continuity, even though Rabbi Mordechai of Lechovitz prohibited even that: “All worrying is forbidden, except to worry that one is worried.”
  • Kvell-worthy fact: About 75 percent of American Jews give to charity versus 63 percent of Americans as a whole.
  • Since reciting Kaddish brought secular Jews to synagogue, the rabbis, aware of their captive audience, moved the prayer to the end of the service.
  • Who’s Jewish? About a quarter of Nobel Prize winners, an estimated 80 percent of comedians at one point, and the winner of Nazi Germany’s Most Perfect Aryan Child Contest.
Readers will enjoy learning about how Jews feel, think, act, love, and live. They’ll also schmooze as they use the book’s “Typically Jewish, Atypically Fun” discussion guide.

Author Bio

Nancy Kalikow Maxwell is a librarian, an award-winning writer, and a frequent contributor to Jewish media. She is the author of six books and the creator of funny cards for Hallmark’s Tree of Life Jewish card line.  


"A spirited examination of the essence of Jewishness."—Kirkus Reviews

"Typically Jewish is a wise and witty cornucopia of Jewish likes and dislikes, customs, humor, and tribal tastes and treasures. Over the centuries and across the globe, Jews have built a vast library of books devoted to every imaginable topic of concern and interest to the Jewish people. Typically Jewish is a charming addition to that large and inclusive library."—World Religion News

"I can't imagine a more accessible or fun book for a Jewish book club to discuss than this one."—Jordana Horn, Lilith

"Nancy Kalikow Maxwell's Typically Jewish (Jewish Publication Society) provides an original, down-to-earth, earnest look at pressing questions about identity and culture faced by the Jewish community, looking at the way Jews live their lives."—Jewish News

"Readers will enjoy learning about how Jews feel, think, act, love, and live. They'll also schmooze as they use the book’s 'Typically Jewish, Atypically Fun Discussion Guide.'"—Jewish Book World

“As Maxwell takes readers on a humorous safari to observe Jews in their natural habitat, even Jews who have never set foot in a synagogue or JCC will recognize themselves with wondrous insight. And Jews who love learning—in other words, all of us—will delight in learning a lot from Typically Jewish. I definitely did.”—Maggie Anton, author of Rashi’s Daughters and Fifty Shades of Talmud

“I’m often asked, What does it mean to be Jewish? Is it a religion? A race? A nationality? A faith? A way of life? Typically Jewish answers these questions—and, like any other great Jewish book, raises many others. Complete with a superb, extremely user-friendly discussion guide, it’s a fantastic source for adult education study sessions. I plan to make it required reading for my Introduction to Judaism students.”—Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn, Temple Israel of Greater Kansas City


“I loved this book and look forward to sharing it with my book groups.”—Sharon Curtis, coordinator of Lunch ‘N’ Lit and Ladies of the Night Hadassah book groups

“Maxwell took me on a fascinating whirlwind discovery tour of the top historical and modern insights into my Jewish identity, concluding with the “Typically Jewish, Atypical Fun Discussion Guide.” I highly recommend this book for Jewish book clubs, JCCs, organizations, federations, and home conversations where you too may laugh, nosh, and kvell together over your Jewish identities.”—Gail K. Harris, coauthor of Journey from Invisibility to Visibility: A Guide for Women Sixty and Beyond

“When you are about to enter Jewish life, wouldn’t it be great to have a friendly, knowledgeable, and down-to-earth tour guide? Typically Jewish is just that: a witty, unpretentious, and comprehensive explanation of the complexities and conundrums in the twenty-first century mostly Ashkenazic American Jewish experience.”—Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan, chief program officer and senior educator, Lehrhaus Judaica


Table of Contents

Introduction: Why Is This Book Different from All Other Books?    
1. Worrying    
2. Kvelling    
3. Dying    
4. Noshing    
5. Laughing    
6. Detecting    
7. Dwelling    
8. Joining    
Conclusion: What It Means to Be Typically Jewish    
Appendix: Typically Jewish, Atypically Fun Discussion Guide    

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