March 4, 1999
He Said, She Said, We Said
"Two Jews, Three Opinions" (Berkeley, $24.95) is the kind of book you assume has been around for centuries, if only because the concept has. But it's new, and well worth picking up. The brainchild of Sandee Brawarsky and Deborah Mark, it is a thick and juicy compilation of 20th-century American Jewish quotations, on everything from civil rights to sex, from the mouths of Jews from Isaac Stern to Howard Stern. Not a shy or retiring lot, those 20th-century American Jews.
You will crack open this book when you have to -- before giving a toast or speech or writing that pithy Op-Ed piece -- but, more likely, you'll skim the book for pleasure, for the thoughts, laughter, rage, and insight it provokes.
What makes a compendium like this important is its focus on the issues that engage contemporary Jewry, such as identity, intermarriage, the intifada -- and that's just the "I's." There's also the breathtaking variety of Jewish voices: Billy Wilder, Ayn Rand, Nora Ephron, Ted Koppel, Steven Spielberg, Beverly Sills, Dennis Prager, Abbie Hoffman...what a century it's been.
OK, our favorite quote? Out of 2,000, you might think that's a tough call, but it's not. When a friend asked the deadly mob boss Abner "Longy" Zwillman why he refused to go into the funeral chapel to pay his respects to his friend Hymie Kugel, Zwillman said, "I can't Jerry, I'm a Kohen."-- By Rob Eshman, Managing Editor