Monday, July 10, 2006

I'm currently reading a book entitled "Never Mind the Goldbergs" by a Matthue Roth.It is about a girl who grew up in a modern orthododx community in NY, and gets chosen to star in a new tv sitcom about a modern orthodox Jewish family, something a la The Cosby Show, only modern orthodox instead of black. My feelings on this book are mixed up at the moment, I'm still trying to figure out what the point is. In the beginning I hated it. I liked it more as it went on, although it still disturbs me in bits and pieces. I somehow feel that the author didn't grow up in an MO community; also, even if he did, he's a guy. Now I know that in most Orthodox communities, there are always those guys and girls that hang out, and in doing so, talk to each other. That doesn't mean that they share the same religous experience at all, though. The world of orthodox Jewish females and the world of the orthodox Jewish males are vastly different, which makes me a bit skeptical of this man's ability to write a convincing or entirely truthful account of a teenage girl's experience. Despite that, he does succeed in portraying a not uncommon personality within the Jewish community. "Hava" becomes more and more believable as the book goes on. She becomes more beleivable in the "Jewess among goyim" role than she ever was as "loner punk rock girl among Jews." I think it's the loner part that gets me; this isn't an uncommon personality type within the orthodox community. The fact that she can find no one else like herself in all of NY is what I find the most unrealistic. It could happen in one of the smaller communities, like Seattle or somwhere in Texas, although even there similar people find each other. In New York it just isn't that likely.
I think the main fault of the book (besides it's innacuracies, which aren't as many as you might expect, but still glaring, when they occur)is that I'm not really sure what the author is trying to say. Is this a commentary on the Modern Orthodox Jewish community? On Hollywood? Is it merely the story of one girl's own journey towards self-discovery? I think if the message were a little more clear, it might not bug me so much.
Anyway, somebody else please go read it and let me know what you think of it. I need another perspective.


Blogger Tobie said...

I always find it disconcerting to read books from the perspective of an Orthodox Jew, written for a non-Jewish audience- they tend to oversimplify things, mistranslate beliefs and practices, and generally not give a very three dimensional view of community. I just read a very odd murder mystery/courtroom drama book where the protagonist was an Orthodox Jewish woman. It didn't have any really glaring flaws- although her father's encyclopedic Talmud knowledge was pretty unimpressive- but it still made the Orthodox characters seem either like nuts or like regular people with an entertaining hobby.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

right so there's the thing is, I thought the premis was supposed to be something more, somehting about depicting the Jewish community in a more three-dimensional light; and at times it succeeded, but at other times it seemed to contradict it's own message, if that was indeed its message. anyway, read the book and then let me know what you think; I'm trying to decide how this compares to other books written by Orthodox Jews about Orthodox Jews.

10:35 PM  

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