Stars of David
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Stars of David

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Sixty-two of the most accomplished Jews in America speak intimately most for the first time about how they feel about being Jewish. In unusually candid interviews conducted by former "60 Minutes" producer Abigail Pogrebin, celebrities ranging from Sarah Jessica Parker to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, from Larry King to Mike Nichols, reveal how resonant, crucial or incidental being Jewish is in their lives. The connections they have to their Jewish heritage range from hours in synagogue to bagels and lox; but every person speaks to the weight and pride of their Jewish history, the burdens and pleasures of observance, the moments they ve felt most Jewish (or not). This book of vivid, personal conversations uncovers how being Jewish fits into a public life, and also how the author s evolving religious identity was changed by what she heard. . Dustin Hoffman, Steven Spielberg, Gene Wilder, Joan Rivers, and Leonard Nimoy talk about their startling encounters with anti-Semitism. . Kenneth Cole, Eliot Spitzer, and Ronald Perelman explore the challenges of intermarriage. . Mike Wallace, Richard Dreyfuss, and Ruth Reichl express attitudes toward Israel that vary from unquestioning loyalty to complicated ambivalence. . William Kristol scoffs at the notion that Jewish values are incompatible with Conservative politics. . Alan Dershowitz, raised Orthodox, talks about why he gave up morning prayer. . Shawn Green describes the pressure that comes with being baseball s Jewish star. . Natalie Portman questions the ostentatious bat mitzvahs of her hometown. .Tony Kushner explains how being Jewish prepared him for being gay. . Leon Wieseltier throws down the gauntlet to Jews who haven t taken the trouble to study Judaism. These are just a few key moments from many poignant, often surprising, conversations with public figures whom most of us thought we already knew. When my mother got her nose job, she wanted me to get one, too. She said I would be happier. Dustin Hoffman It s a heritage to be proud of. And then, too, it s something that you can t escape because the world won t let you; so it s a good thing you can be proud of it. Ruth Bader Ginsburg My wife [Kate Capshaw] chose to do a full conversion "before" we were married in 1991, and she married me as a Jew. I think "that," more than anything else, brought me back to Judaism. Steven Spielberg As someone who was born in Israel, you re put in a position of defending Israel because you know how much is at stake. Natalie Portman Jewish introspection and Jewish humor is a way of surviving . . . if you re not handsome and you re not athletic and you re not rich, there s still one last hope with girls, which is being funny. Mike Nichols I felt not only this enormous pride at being a Jew; I felt this enormous void at not being a "better" Jew. Ronald O. Perelman American Jews, like Americans, have a very consumerist attitude toward their identity: they pick and choose the bits of this and that they like. Leon Wieseltier I thought if I had straight hair and a perfect nose, my whole career would be different. Sarah Jessica Parker I ve always rebelled a little when people say, My Jewish values lead me to really care about the poor. I know some Christians who care about the poor, too. William Kristol There were many times when I kept silent about being Jewish as I got older, when Jewish jokes were told. William Shatner Jew bastard was something I heard a lot. Leonard Nimoy. I always liked shiksas. Larry King It specifically says in the Torah that you can eat shrimp and bacon in a Chinese restaurant. Jason Alexander Yom Kippur is something I do "alone," with nobody else, because I believe that my relationship with God is mine and mine only. Diane von Furstenberg"show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 385 pages
  • 139.7 x 203.2 x 22.86mm | 408.23g
  • Broadway Books (A Division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc)
  • Broadway Books (A Division of Bantam Doubleday Del
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0767916131
  • 9780767916134
  • 608,175

Review quote

From "Publishers Weekly" Consistently engaging, these 60 interviews conducted by journalist Pogrebin explore the thoughts of well-known artists, politicians and others in the public eye on the complexities of Jewish identity; and the emotions they engender. The issues touched on range from the legacy of the Holocaust to the Middle East, Jewish traditions, intermarriage and much more. The conflicts are typified by Sarah Jessica Parker, who says her supportive feelings about Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians make her feel more Jewish, but she is uncertain about the religious education she will give her child. Others, like Dustin Hoffman and William Kristol, have been firmly committed to passing on Jewish rituals and history to their children. Gloria Steinem, who joyfully attends feminist seders, still remains alienated by the sexist bias of most religions. In two arresting pieces, politician Barney Frank and playwright Tony Kushner address what it's like to be both gay and Jewish. Pogrebin says this book grew out of her efforts to clarify her own Jewish identity. But you don't need to be on such a quest to enjoy the wide range of experiences and feelings recorded here. Photos. Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. "This work...simply can't be put down after you start browsing..."Stars of David" is the talk of the town." --LIZ SMITH "engaging, intimate...frequently surprising and insightful...this is a provocative and enjoyable book for Jews and gentiles alike." --"Library Journal" "encompasses the joys and anxieties, the comfort and self-consciousness, the tension between assimilation andself-identification that Jews feel in American society." --"St. Louis Post Dispatch" ..."A wide and interesting variety of stories about faith and the lack thereof, family, memory, ritual, continuity and choices they have made." --"The Jewish Week" "A fascinating new book." "-The Charlotte Observer" "I open the book, and find an actually interesting interview with Dustin Hoffman, who casually advises the author over breakfast that she is not so smart ordering an omelet, when she could be having a couple egg whites, scrambled loosely, with a yolk thrown in, some salsa, onion, garlic and a little olive oil." -"The Philadelphia Inquirer," Blinq blogs site "From the Hardcover edition."show more

About Abigail Pogrebin

ABIGAIL POGREBIN has been a producer for Charlie Rose, Bill Moyers, and"60 Minutes" for Mike Wallace and Ed Bradley. She was a senior correspondent for "Brill s Content," a contributing writer for "Talk" magazine, andis now afree-lance journalist whose work has appeared in many magazines and newspapers. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children."show more

Flap copy

Sixty-one of the most accomplished Jews in America speak intimately--most for the first time--about how they feel about being Jewish, the influence of their heritage, the weight and pride of their history, the burdens and pleasures of observance, the moments they've felt most Jewish (or not). In unusually candid interviews conducted by former "60 Minutes producer Abigail Pogrebin over the course of eighteen months, celebrities ranging from Sarah Jessica Parker to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, from Larry King to Mike Nichols, reveal how being Jewish fits into their public and most private lives. This book of vivid, personal portraits reveals how the experience of being Jewish is amplified by fame and also how the author's evolving Jewish identity was changed by what she heard. - Dustin Hoffman, Gene Wilder, Joan Rivers, and Leonard Nimoy talk about their most startling encounters with anti-Semitism. - The challenges of intermarriage are explored by Kenneth Cole, Steven Spielberg, Eliot Spitzer, and Ronald Perelman. - Attitudes toward Israel range from unquestioned loyalty to complicated ambivalence in the musings of Mike Wallace, Richard Dreyfuss, Natalie Portman, and Ruth Reichl. - William Kristol scoffs at the notion that Jewish values are incompatible with Conservative politics. - Alan Dershowitz talks about why, despite his Orthodox upbringing, he gave up morning prayer. - Shawn Green, baseball's Jewish star, describes the burden of that label. - Tony Kushner finds parallels in being Jewish and being gay. - Leon Wieseltier throws down the gauntlet to Jews who haven't taken the trouble to study Judaism. These are just a few snapshots frommany poignant, often hilarious conversations -- with public figures whom many of us felt we already knew.show more
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