A well-intentioned, heartfelt plea for fairness, but one unlikely to change minds.

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A lawyer and retired soldier argues that Orthodox Jewish women should be fully included as rabbis, cantors and minyan members.

In this short work, attorney Krivcher, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and a member of a Reform Jewish congregation, pleads for fairness for Orthodox Jewish women, who face religious participation restrictions that Orthodox Jewish men do not. He describes a catalyzing episode after his father’s funeral, when mourners decided to form a minyan, or a quorum of members for communal worship. “Soft whispers circulated as heads were counted in a search for the magic formula of ten men….Despite my pleas for flexibility, I was dismissively advised that none of the women present would be counted.” He and his wife left rather than support such marginalization. Today, the author attends a Reform temple with a female cantor and assistant rabbi. Krivcher comes by his commitment to fairness via his background in civil rights. To many readers, fairness may seem like a self-evident good, but an Orthodox Jew might ask: What does fairness, or a woman’s natural ability, have to do with following God’s laws? The body of laws, or halakhah, governing Jewish life might be up for argument, but Krivcher refuses to engage in “biblical or liturgical analysis, as I hope to avoid becoming mired in…several centuries of interpretation.” But to Torah-observant Jews, that’s an important discussion, and as a result, Krivcher’s plea may fall on deaf ears. Interestingly, the author hardly mentions feminists within Orthodoxy, assuming that most Orthodox women suffer from low self-esteem; instead, he calls on Orthodox men to lead change. He does note that some women are trying to bring about change in the context of halakhah, but again, he has little patience with the subject—to the detriment of achieving his aim. This short work is lengthened some with extras, including the text of a Martin Luther King speech.

A well-intentioned, heartfelt plea for fairness, but one unlikely to change minds.

Pub Date: May 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1484811580

Page Count: 160

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2013

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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