Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul

(NOTE FROM LORI: At the time this was written, there were no "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books geared for Jewish readers. In 2001, the group finally wrote Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul.)

Browsing the self-help section of my local bookstore this past week, I couldn't help noticing an entire wall devoted to the inspirational juggernaut that is "Chicken Soup For the Soul." To the heartwarming original, the series' editor, Jack Canfield, has since added "A Second Helping," "A Third Serving," "A Fourth Course," "A Fifth Portion" and "A Sixth Bowl of Chicken Soup for the Soul," not to mention "Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul," the "Couple's Soul," the "Teenager's Soul," the "Mother's Soul," the "Woman's Soul," the "Country Soul," and the "Pet Lover's Soul." In all, the Chicken Soup franchise now comprises more than 100 different volumes, and the number grows weekly.

Conspicuously absent from this list is "Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul." It's an odd omission given the well-known affinity of the Jewish people for self-improvement and chicken soup. Throughout history, Jews have been at the vanguard of self-help, beginning with the publication of our first and most influential work of self-help, "The Ten Commandments of Highly Effective Israelites" (Moses [Ed.], et. al.). Other significant self-help books of Jewish provenance include the Talmud, the "Ethica Ordine Geometrico Demonstrata" of Spinoza and the collected works of Ruth Westheimer. (Many scholars believe that the Talmud would have done more business had it been published under its original title, "The Rules.")

So "Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul" would seem to be a sure bet, financially speaking, and one can only assume that Mr. Canfield's got one bubbling away on the stove, to be followed, no doubt, by "A Matzo Ball for the Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul," "Some Rye Bread for Washing Down the Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul" and "A Gigantic Plastic Container of Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul to Take Home for Later." Until it reaches bookstores, though, I'd like to suggest a few other current works of Jewish self-help, which, although perhaps not as well known as the Chicken Soup books, still merit consideration:

"All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Hebrew School": This frankly erotic work elaborates the author's premise that the skills he's valued most highly in life were first imparted to him on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in a temple supply closet by a slightly zaftig Brandeis undergraduate named Faye Berkowitz.

"The Grandma of the Gifted Child": A guide to being so proud you could just burst. Includes techniques for effective kvelling and explains what to do when you're trumped by the grandson of another lady in your retirement community.

"The Oy of Sex": A Jewish companion volume to the well-known sex manual, this book offers lush illustrations of the probable expressions on your mother's face if she ever caught you doing any of the things depicted in those disgusting illustrations from "The Joy of Sex." (Particularly the ones on pages 94-95!)

"14,000 Things for Jews to be Happy About": In a quixotic attempt to improve the mood of his constitutionally worry-prone people, author Arnie Plotkin compiled this list of things for Jews to be happy about. The book, marketed through temple bookstores, was a commercial failure, but later achieved success under a new title: "14,000 Things That Could Go Wrong."

"The Seven Habits of Highly Sephardic People": This provocative book explores the benefits to general well-being that can be gained from eating legumes on Passover and speaking Ladino.

"Women Who Run with the Wolfs": Sylvia Wolf and her daughter, Lisa, discuss their trials and tribulations in convincing the ladies of the local Hadassah chapter to sign up for a 5K charity run.

"Life's Little Reconstructionist Book": 613 suggestions, observations, and commandments for Jews who have a different belief in G-d.

"The Stella Stein Prophecy": In the most recent book by the self-proclaimed "Nostradamus of Nostrand Ave.," Mrs. Stein uses her psychic powers to foretell the future of people who don't chew their food well, sit far enough away from the TV or check for ticks after playing in tall grass by the same author: "I'm Okay, You Look a Bit Pale").

Of course, it's also possible that we'll never see a "Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul." Why? Because, as a Jewish mother knows, the only real "Chicken Soup for the Soul" is, in fact, a nice, hot bowl of chicken soup.

Back to "Books for Jewish Children"

Back to Lori's Mishmash Jewish Humor Page

Back to Lori's Mishmash Humor Page

[an error occurred while processing this directive]