Levey's experiences are so amusing, the uninitiated might think he made them up. As anyone who has spent considerable time in Israel knows, though, he didn't need to. Levey's cast of characters merely exemplifies the saying, "Jews are just like other people -- only more so."
For the past 10 years, Dinah Lenney, author of the memoir, "Bigger Than Life," has lived with the memory of the murder of her father, a prominent New Jersey businessman and onetime senatorial candidate who was knifed to death by three teens in Manhattan.
Dressed in black, Shalom Auslander wears three tiny silver blocks on a chain that falls close to his neck, with Hebrew letters spelling out the word "Acher," or other. This was a gift from his wife when he completed his memoir, "Foreskin's Lament." Acher was the name given to Elisha ben Abuya, a learned second-century rabbi, after he adopted heretical opinions.
So while the book, which is categorized as "humor," may explain religion in a palatable way to the many secular rationalists in the Blue States who would never understand it from a religious person's point of view, "The Year of Living Biblically" can remind even the faithful, even those who "pick and choose" their levels of observance, why they do what they do. And that's not annoying.
Consider, then, Shalom Auslander. In his corrosively funny memoir, "Foreskin's Lament," he claims he is a foreskin: singled out, cut off and cast forth. In reality, he is something much more Jewish, almost essentially so. He's an apikores, a heretic.
Somehow, this most blatant form of self-promotion, this venue that, until a couple of hours ago, had looked to me like a literary meat market, has suddenly reminded me of the reason I started writing in the first place: to tell a good story; a story about Jews; a story that in its own small way continues the tale of this people who have had to struggle, in every generation, to ensure that their story doesn't end.