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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Book Review: Getting Laughs From Being a BT

I haven't written any of my humorous "Baile Rochel" articles for a very long time.  I had first written them for the Counterpoint newspaper, which had been edited by Rachel Katzman and my husband. That was decades ago.  I was known as the "Erma Bombeck of Judea/Samaria."  I wrote about many topics, such as laundry, teaching, women's Purim Parties, Passover cleaning and more. 

But one topic I shied away from.  Maybe it was just too close to heart and not something it had ever occurred to me to joke about.  That's the fact that I'm a "BT," Ba'alat Teshuva, a Jew who has mastered "repentance," someone who although not raised in a Torah observant home made my way on the rocky road to frumkeit, full Torah Observance aka Orthodox Judaism.

Even now, almost fifty years, half a century since I was first introduced to Torah observance by the OU's NCSY National Conference of Synagogue Youth, and over forty-five years since I enthusiastically took on G-d's commandments, I still feel insecure.  Maybe I'm not doing it right.  I never got up the guts to publically laugh at myself the way Nicole Nathan, the author of Let My RV Go! does in her wonderfully entertaining book.

Let My RV Go! can be purchased in both eformat and as a "real book."  It was sent to me for review.  I had no idea what to expect.  It opened up a whole new world for me.  I thought that I was the only one who felt "different" even though outsiders don't see it.  As readers of my blog know, I study Bible and even give classes and lead tours of Tel Shiloh.  But the real me will always be a bit different.  In recent years I've requested that those giving our local women's Shabbat shiur never ever use the phrase:
כמו שכולנו למדנו בגן....
Kimo sheculanu lamadnu bagan... 
Like we all learned in pre-school...
I and others who are either converts or BT's never learned in such pre-schools and it makes me feel very left out and rejected to hear such a phrase.

Let My RV Go! is about the bonding of two BT families and their adventures and misadventures on the way to spending a rather unconventional Passover.  Adding to their Passover challenge and time limitations, they had been given an important package to deliver before the Holiday to a "mystery person."  Neither full name nor address, just a vague description of who he is and where he lives. 

You need not know much about Judaism and Pesach to enjoy reading the book.  I have no doubt that anyone who has attempted a family vacation in an RV, whether Jewish or not, will identify with some of the problems the families encounter.  This is more than just a Jewish book.

By adding humor to all situations, whether between husband and wife, parents and children or navigating new roads, this is a book people will enjoy reading.  Yes, I do recommend the book!

The message is that "it all works out in the end."  Yes, it's an upbeat book with a happy ending, just the sort of book I needed to read.  And maybe I'll try my hand at the BT topic for Baile Rochel....

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