Jewish Noir 2 is unique collection of twenty-three all-new stories (and one reprint) by Jewish and non-Jewish literary and genre writers, including numerous award-winning authors such as Gabriela Alemán, Doug Allyn, Rita Lakin, Rabbi Ilene Schneider, E.J. Wagner, and Kenneth Wishnia, with a foreword by MWA Grand Master Lawrence Block. The stories explore such issues as the perpetual challenge of confronting resurgent anti-Semitism in the US, the enduring legacy of regional warfare in the land of Israel since biblical times, how the “entitled” behavior of certain ultra-Orthodox communities can fuel anti-Semitic attitudes, Jewish support of the civil rights movement, greedy Jewish businessmen who reinforce negative ethnic stereotypes, the excesses of “golden ghetto” American Jews, the appeal of “tough” Israeli-Jewish soldiers and mercenaries, how real estate fortunes are made, and the consequences of political corruption that feed into an exploitive system, how obsession can lead “good” people to do “bad” things.
Being Jewish is a very difficult task, and no it’s not just the laws and commandments that more religious will obey. For many it’s the weight of history, of living in a place where we constantly have to announce our presence and become a needle that pierces a Gentiles bubble, it’s also where constant vigilance is a must and where parents through history have to impart daily trauma either through Holocaust or pogrom or other events. This is also a world where Jewish kids feel exclusion around winter time because teacher has no idea she has Jewish kids and therefore chooses not to read Chanukkah tales, and parents worry if they mention who they are, will their child get in trouble or be treated badly? And yes, religious rulings don’t make it any easier. That has been my experience, and it seems as if little has changed. The stories of Jewish Noir II have really spoken to me this way, reminding me of the good and the troubling parts of being Jewish, some from pre medidating a murder others to thievery and variety of peoples. There is also definitely a vulnerability to people and stories, showing us that we are not infallible but only human. Most of the stories focus on Jewish-American experiences rather than Israeli or European or Jewish people of color, but they are excellent tales and I am sure that they will appeal to all types of readers trying to explore Judaism and what it means to them and to the world.
This was given for review
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)