Ruth Lehrer's memoir in thirty-six essays is a compelling contemplation about her life as a secular American Jewish woman. With humor and passion, she tells of her family's arrival in America in 1920, her Yiddishe Mama, Catskill vacations, Bar Mitzvahs, Christmas trees, war and peace, religion, God, and politics. She delights in books, theatre, and film with Jewish content, and laughs loudest at jokes told in Yiddish. When she hears of a crime, she prays that the perpetrator is not Jewish. A Judaica gift shop is her favorite place to browse.
Religion-lite may be hypocritical, Ruth writes, but what we need to be worried about is religion-heavy. She still wears her 1960s pendant trumpeting War is not healthy for children and other living things. Jewish Mother jokes, a sure-fire winner in a comedians arsenal, are stereotypical and exaggerated. But for her, they contain more than a nugget of truth. Her big regret is not speaking Yiddish with her sons.