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.







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