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Feminist icon Letty Cottin Pogrebin's second novel follows Zach Levy, the left-leaning son of Holocaust survivors who promises his mother that he'll marry within the tribe. But when Zach falls for Cleo, an African American activist grappling with her own inherited trauma, he must reconcile the family he loves with the woman who might be his soul mate. A New York love story Feminist icon Letty Cottin Pogrebin's second novel follows Zach Levy, the left-leaning son of Holocaust survivors who promises his mother that he'll marry within the tribe.
A New York love story complicated by the legacies and modern tension of Jewish American and African American history, SJM Seeking explores what happens when the heart runs into the reality of politics, history, and the weight of family promises. Letty Cottin Pogrebin is a leading figure in Jewish and feminist activism. She is a founding editor and writer for Ms. She is also the editor for the anthology Stories for Free Children , and a co-creator of Free to Be. You and Me and Free to Be.
Her articles, op-eds, and columns have been published frequently in a wide variety of magazines and publications, including the New York Times , Harper's Bazaar , and the Ladies Home Journal. Paperback , pages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia.
Aug 19, Chris Witkowski rated it liked it. This novel is a provocative and thoughtful take on the dilemma faced by Zach,a young Jewish man who, having promised his mother on her death bed that he would never marry a non-Jew, finds himself in love with Cleo, a Christian, African-American woman.
Cleo is the daughter of a southern preacher and she has equally strong views about preserving her heritage and her faith. Things get really tricky when Cleo becomes pregnant. I heard the author, a co-founder of MS magazine, speak recently and the di This novel is a provocative and thoughtful take on the dilemma faced by Zach,a young Jewish man who, having promised his mother on her death bed that he would never marry a non-Jew, finds himself in love with Cleo, a Christian, African-American woman.
I heard the author, a co-founder of MS magazine, speak recently and the discussions were thought provoking, to say the least. The audience was mostly Jewish and many could identify with Zach, while others professed the need for openness and inclusion. Pogrebin has constructed a well paced plot and the end is full of suspense, as we wonder just what Zach is going to do about the child he has fathered.
Now, if I were going to rate the novel on the editing, it would get maybe just one star. The book is so full of anachronisms that I almost gave up reading at one point, it was so annoying. It's very unlikely that Clem, Cleo's older sister, both children of a poor, widowed mother, had in-vitro fertilization in the late 70s. How likely is it there was a Baby Gap on 5th Ave. And in the 80s people did not say the dismissive "whatever", they didn't clean their eyeglases with micro-fiber cloths, on and on.
This definitely marred an otherwise well-written novel. Jan 25, Jaime rated it it was ok. This is a book about a man obsessed with being Jewish, what it means and how to do it right. The women in his life are really colorful wallpaper. They hurt him, and he hurts them. The second woman in this story is obviously really good for and with the main character, and when he makes a really, really stupid decision, then compounds it with some even stupider choices, you might come to hate him a little.
Also, I still don't get how you'd need to have zero contact with your child if you didn't marry his mother. That the woman gives him a second chance could be seen as an opening for redemption, but I saw it as her opening herself and her child up to a man who was bound to hurt them.
I don't know about you, but I was the child of a Jew who married out of the faith, and who suffered for it. I've got no patience for people who put their misunderstood or half-assed faith on a pedestal, and this "single Jewish male" is one of those. Jan 08, Kalen rated it it was ok Shelves: I only found out about Cottin Pogrebin's novels by accident--maybe a tweet from the Jewish Book Council?
There are loads of different sub-genres of romance novels: I think I read a new type--the overly-earnest Jewish progressive romance novel. It was a fun read but felt too earnest, too didactic. Having said that, it really captured the internal and external contradictions of so many modern Jews and also the struggles the children of Holocaust survivors go through. The over-earnest aspect was more of a political nature than a religious one though both did weigh the book down.
I will read Cottin Pogrebin's other novel at some point but I'm not running out to do so. And, seriously, there should be a whole sub-genre of romance novels geared towards this demographic. Jun 18, Mom2nine rated it it was amazing. This five star took me by surprise, but I can't see a way around the rating. I think that the blurb and the publishing house would enlarge the audience without labeling the author.
Story line belies stereo-types. It is a story about families and family expectations, relationships of all types. Pogrebin is able to discuss weighty This five star took me by surprise, but I can't see a way around the rating. Pogrebin is able to discuss weighty issues without a bully club.
I could feel Zach's dilemma throughout the book and I knew these people and the weight that many immigrants brought to our country, from my childhood This woman can write! Thank you goodreads and Pogrebin for a free book and chance for an unbiased review.
Mar 20, Sara rated it it was amazing. First of all, the title of this book is a misnomer. It is not chick lit. Instead the story serves as a vehicle for a discussion of some important Jewish and life issues.
It's the kind of book where you first get caught up in the story, and then gradually realize that you're going to have to go back and read it more slowly to catch some really good stuff. The beginning of the book seems almost like a rushed explanation of how we get to the issues. But as you read it, you don't even realize that t First of all, the title of this book is a misnomer. The characters are solid, though confusing. The protagonist is not a bit likable on some fronts. Sometimes you just want to kick him in the nuts!
But there are some wonderful and beautiful thoughts here. Nu, a Jew should read it Aug 15, Anne Wolfe rated it really liked it. This may not be a book for everyone, but as a Holocaust survivor myself and as a Jew familiar with the background material, I wholly related to the subject. How we maintain our promises to our parents while developing into our own people may also resonate with those who grow up in different cultures from my own.
But for this book, it certainly helps to be Jewish Is that like "-ish" as opposed to Christian, as one child is quoted? Yes, Pogrebin's writing is somewhat of a polemic. Being the feminist she is, and the educated Jew, that's to be expected. Yet this novel is so much more. Zach Levy's story follows from his childhood as the son of two survivors, through his Jewish education and Bar Mitzvah and life as an ACLU attorney, father, husband, lover and searcher for meaning and clarity.
Surprisingly, there is laugh out loud dialogue and several jokes to be shared as you read. The story is engaging and real, as are the characters, even minor ones, particularly Rabbi Goldfarb and Professor Irina Cantor.
Highly thought provoking and very readable. Jul 02, Rachel rated it really liked it. As the child of a Holocaust survivor, I found a lot of parallels between his childhood home and mine. I think this book is important, and I hope people younger than I am read this. My children don't fully understand my obsession with Jewish continuity as it relates to the Holocaust, and it's hard to put into words without sounding a little fanatical.
I finished this boo As the child of a Holocaust survivor, I found a lot of parallels between his childhood home and mine. I finished this book on the day that Elie Wiesel died, and I'm feeling the effects of having one less person on the world who witnessed these horrors.
Each generation understands a little less. I just wish the main character had been less of a jerk. Regardiess of your upbringing and emotional baggage, some behaviors are just inexcusable. As a feminist, i'm surprised the author presented him so sympathetically. All in all, great book. Not bad but not that good either Single Man Looking for a Soulmate was written by an author well versed in the Torah and Jewish cultural life.
This book wasn't that original since many authors have written about all sorts of religious and ethnic relationships which are problematic. I found the first part of the book intriguing while Zack describes his parents background and their lives in the Bronx.
The way she links the words together to form paragraphs and then sentences kept me enthralled, not because the book was a page-turner but because she pulled you in to the story by making the plot relatable, by making the characters human. The old and the young need to read this. A good read; different but a good read. Sep 20, Pamela added it. This book does a good job of exploring the strained relationship between the Jewish American Community and the African American Community. It takes a complicated subject and delves into it in a way that educates the reader but also allows for a narrative through-line.
It could create robust conversations among book club members with discussion topics like: It looks at feminism, sexism, racism, and beyond. Dec 08, Alice Heiserman rated it really liked it. This was a fun read but brought up several serious issues such as inter-racial dating and black-Jewish relationships.
The male protagonist is the son of Holocaust survivors and promises his dying mother that he will marry a Jewish woman and raise any children he has as Jewish turning him into a neurotic Jewish male. The female protagonist is a strong-willed smart black woman--perhaps a bit too good to be believable.
This is a fun, quick read despite the heavy topic and would make a great stage p This was a fun read but brought up several serious issues such as inter-racial dating and black-Jewish relationships. This is a fun, quick read despite the heavy topic and would make a great stage play. Mar 31, Karen rated it it was amazing. Zach Levy is the only child of two survivors.
He carries the legacy of the Holocaust in many ways. His mother's dying act was to make him promise to marry a Jewish woman and have Jewish children. His first wife leaves him for an Australian woman and takes there daughter with him.
When he meets and falls in love with Cleo Scott, he is left with a dilemma which he doesn't begin to deal with until Cleo gets pregnant.
This book gives the reader lots of food for thought about what it means to be Jewi Zach Levy is the only child of two survivors.
This book gives the reader lots of food for thought about what it means to be Jewish today. Sep 17, Angela rated it really liked it.
I have to agree with the majority and say that the dominant adjective for this read is "thought-provoking. This lent itself to some disconnections, naturally, but overall I'm very glad I read this book. The inclusion of footnotes or endnotes may have allowed me to learn more about Jewish references and words.
Feb 04, Rebecca Mazur rated it liked it. Three and a half. Extremely poor choice of title; it sets you up for a beach read but the author has important facts and ideas she discusses through the novel.
Sometimes the book is too "educational" in its explanations of Judaism and Jewishness. It held my interest but the climax was predictable. The main character's obsession with Jewish continuity above all else got me fed up with him. However, the story had brisk forward motion and I enjoyed exploring the author's themes with her. Feb 07, Andrea rated it liked it. Our protagonist is the child of survivors and his fear and guilt is ever present.
I cried more during this book than I expected. I don't buy that Zach made the initial choice that he did But it purports to take place decades ago, and I think is different. At first I thought it was going to be chick lit from its title, but it was recommended from someone I highly respect so I started it. I loved every word!
The ,ain't character's dilemma was thought out and expressed so intelligently. I highly recommend this book!!! Aug 01, Cheri rated it really liked it. I had been told this book was hysterical. While it had some pretty funny parts, I wouldn't call it hysterical.
I really enjoyed it though. I found it to be very thought provoking. I learned a lot. I understood Zach's struggle, but I also found myself a bit angry and frustrated with him at times. I really enjoyed this one. Jul 24, Lise rated it liked it. The book explored the big issues of intermarriage; what to do when the past collides with the future. I thought the issues worth exploring, but the plot contrived. The best parts were the beginning, when the author is setting the scene and introducing us to the characters, and the end, when Zach finally realizes that he needs to confront the issues and act.
Jun 29, Lisa rated it liked it. An interesting albeit contrived and thought provoking book about love, promises, and identity - particularly with respect to Judaism. Feb 05, Ermek rated it really liked it. Aug 20, Jenn rated it it was ok. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is a quick read. It tended to be my "fall asleep" book which meant that it took me months of reading 10 pages at a time. Then I dug in and finished it quickly. I also think that it was by my bedside because it was limited and rather one-dimensional and I found myself questioning what I might tell someone about this book. It has a basic plot, which is that a Jewish man who has sworn to his mother to pursue Jewish preservation navigates through his personal struggle. This struggle becomes rea This is a quick read.
This struggle becomes real, first after a divorce from a Jewish woman who marries a gentile, then after a relationship with a Black woman, Cleo -- in the core of the book -- that results in a child.
The book covers many years in pages. Then speeds through the contemplation of whether the main character should "claim his child" if he is only half-Jewish and on the father's side.
Through it, you get immersed in Jewish traditions and practices, Hebrew sayings, and rabbinical law. I did like several chapters about meeting with a professor of historic Judiasm and his visit to his old rabbi.
I took this book as wanting to tell the story of why Jewish preservation is both important and complex through one family's journey, and one Jewish son's agony in a promise to his mother. Yet, it feel well short of offering the texture that one needs to understand why this caused such an identity struggle and rather made you hate the main character.
I also felt like the Black-Jewish connection was touched upon in multiple ways throughout the book, but fell short in a way that actually diminishes the very real connections of these communities within the U. I was turned off by the scenes of main character revisiting his neighborhood. In one passage the author describes a high school where all the basketball players are Black the "of course" is implied and she describes one as wearing a nylon cap as intimidating.
It's a tinge of racism that - again - added nothing to the actual nature of the book. I'm only glad that the book was a gift and not something I invested money in. Jul 29, Aimee rated it really liked it Shelves: The protagonist grapples with and tries to reconcile the legacy his parents hopes he perpetuates with his happiness.
The novel covers so many pertinent and thought-provoking themes, including Jewish identity, definition and survival, Jewish-black relations and familial obligations, specifically balancing needs of parents and children. This novel will be with me for days. My only criticism is the many anachronisms, but those had little Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate was an outstanding read. Mar 25, Kszr rated it really liked it. Much more thought provoking than I anticipated.
While this topic can lead to fluff stories with easy "hollywood" answers, this does not shy from the complicated questions that all Jews face in this modern world in so form or fashion. Who is a Jew? What is it to be a Jew? How do we sustain our religion? Entertaining, engaging main character that starts to grate on you as the typical "Nice Jewish Boy" can do, you connect to Zach, the main character, as he forms his identity, while taking on the ni Much more thought provoking than I anticipated.
Entertaining, engaging main character that starts to grate on you as the typical "Nice Jewish Boy" can do, you connect to Zach, the main character, as he forms his identity, while taking on the nightmares of his holocaust survivor parents. Jun 16, Gregory rated it liked it. I was reading this book and thought that Zach Levy would come to his senses and be with Cleo. He has both a son and daughter and in one way or another keep the vow that he had made to his parents.
I got so frustrated with Zach and if he was a real person tell him that Cleo loves him and should be thankful for it. It was good at the beginning and suck towards the end. Jun 16, Karen rated it really liked it. I couldn't put the book down, not that it was amazing, but that it dawned on me that it was a parable for all of us. I was constantly annoyed by Zach's inability to see the truth in front of him, but maybe we all cannot see the truth that we are seeking personally, or culturally.
Nov 04, Karen Wood rated it it was amazing. This is a Karen's 5 star, not just Goodreads. Loved it, now I have to buy it. Jun 17, Alison rated it really liked it. I enjoyed this book about Zach, a child of Holocaust survivors, who makes a promise to his mother on her deathbed that he will marry a Jewish girl and raise Jewish children. As an adult ACLU lawyer working in New York, he is desperate to find his "bashert" - the woman he is destined to marry. But after many dates and relationships with Jewish women, he meets a woman at a meeting of Black and Jewish leaders to discuss relations between these two groups, who seems to be his bashert - perfectly sui I enjoyed this book about Zach, a child of Holocaust survivors, who makes a promise to his mother on her deathbed that he will marry a Jewish girl and raise Jewish children.
But after many dates and relationships with Jewish women, he meets a woman at a meeting of Black and Jewish leaders to discuss relations between these two groups, who seems to be his bashert - perfectly suited to him in every way, except she is the black daughter of a preacher.
How does he reconcile the best relationship he has ever been in with his promise to his mother and the responsibility to bring Jewish children into the world to help replace the many that the Reich killed? She is one of the founding editors of Ms. Magazine and I have several of her books and used to read her articles in the magazine years ago.
The two books of hers that I love and keep on my bookshelves are: Deborah, Golda, and Me. The struggle to integrate a feminist head with a Jewish heart can lead to a greater appreciation of both identities and the rewards of a passionate, well-examined life.
Growing Up Free Growing Up Free provides a new blueprint for raising children in today's world of challenge and change. Growing up Free gave me so many ideas on how to confront sexism and gender roles for both my daughter and my son as I was raising them.
As a young woman in the 70s and 80s, I also looked to Ms. Pogrebin as a feminist model - a Jewish woman who was married and had children. She is who I wanted to be - I didn't always see the leaders of the movement embracing a husband and children - as that was what I wanted He makes several promises to his dying mother on her deathbed, all of which concern continuing the Jewish bloodline and perpetuating cultural traditions. As their relationship grows and they fall deeper into one another, they must reconcile who they are and their different cultural heritages with who they love and what they want.
Written with sensitivity and humor, Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate confronts questions of Jewish survival, feminism, black-Jewish relations, identity, loyalty, guilt, and love, and educates the reader about the politics, history, and social events of the time.
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. About Letty Cottin Pogrebin. Books by Letty Cottin Pogrebin. Trivia About Single Jewish Mal No trivia or quizzes yet. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Wellington electrician, Dan McLaughlan, 30, who we think looks a little like former royal butler Paul Burrell , has entered the show hoping to find his best friend.
He loves to travel — has visited 30 different countries at last count — and wants to see more with his new wife. Beware if you travel with him as he says he talks a lot. However, if Pulp Fiction is available on the playlist, that will keep him busy. Japanese-born, Yuki Sato, 31, is a Christchurch hairdresser and business owner who is a romantic through and through.
If her husband turned up at the altar with a bad haircut, tattoos or was rude, she would not be happy. Yuki is a strong woman and watch out anyone who thinks of her as a stereotypical, submissive little Japanese girl. Tayler Morgan, 29, is an industrial electrician apprentice in Christchurch, who has learned not to open up so quickly and easily. He likes snowboarding, wakeskating and most things that go fast.
Tayler is a romantic guy looking for his soul mate. Ottie wants a bit of a dare-devil with street smarts and likes a guy with tatts. The promotions manager likes to be the centre of attention and calls herself crazy beautiful. South African-born Gareth Noble, 26, is an apprentice barber from Cromwell. Gareth is very close to his family and wants kids of his own.
He would like his partner to rival his playful personality and accompany him on adventures. Monique can break the tension in a room by showing off her hidden talent of tap dancing. Wayne McIntosh, 32, is a helicopter engineer from Taranaki, whose friends have all walked up the aisle leaving him in their wake. We guess he had no choice but to join MAFS.
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