About the Book
JEWels is the first of its kind: the living tradition of Jewish stories and jokes transformed into poems, recording and reflecting Jewish experience from ancient times through the present day. In this novel hybrid—jokes and stories boiled down to their essence in short poems—Jewish witticism is preserved side by side with evocative storytelling and deepened with running commentary and questions for discussion.
Illuminated here are jewels from journeys, from the Old Country, from Torah, shaped by the Holocaust, in glimpses of Jewish American lives, in Jewish foods, in conversations with God, and on the meaning of life. Jewish comedians (Lenny Bruce, Jackie Mason) appear alongside writers and musicians (Elie Wiesel, Sholem Aleichem, Itzhak Perlman) and Hasidic rabbis (the Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov), yet most of the tellers are ordinary Jews. In this cacophony of ongoing dialogue, storytellers, rabbis, poets, and scholars chime in with interpretations, quips, and related stories and life experiences.
In JEWels each of us can see our own reflection.
“From wry quotes by Golda Meier to bawdy ‘Abe and Becky’ jokes told by seniors and life-reinforcing philosophical humor in the midst of pain, JEWels delights with surprise. There will be something new here for everyone.”—Jewish Book Council
“These poems made me laugh, cry or nod with acknowledgment to the wisdom offered. . . . Zeitlin notes that he hopes to give readers a chance to experience a wide range of Jewish perspectives on the world. In that, he has definitely succeeded.”—Reporter