Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 26 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

Joshua Hammerman - Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi - Mensch-Marks - Reviewed 7/24/19
Joshua Hammerman documents the life lessons that he has learned during his life as a Rabbi.  Spanning over his lifetime he brings his life to us in lessons so that many of the Jewish ways and little life lessons can be understood in a different way.  From his understanding of his brother's mental problems to the death of his father then on to his life as a Rabbi.  Mistakes and failures to his shining star he shows us the roadmap to understanding. 

What did I like?  This was an interesting book in that many of the things that I had ever heard about the Jewish was clarified for me.  Of course, I am not Jewish, but I do have several friends and I have never really understood their ways before.  This also gave me the motivation to do some subtle changes to my own life.  Maybe we all need a little wake call as to the way to live our life.  I have always felt that how I lived mine was full filling and along the right path to the end but now I see that if I change a couple of things, I might feel even better.

What will you like? Well written and shows lots of thought in the manner of writing.  I do think the book does need some editing as there were many typos and some of it was disjointed.  Other than that, it will be very interesting to read.  Lots of life moments that show how life can throw curveballs into the mix of things.  Humorous, emotional, sensitive, very expressive and certainly passionate plus some very touching moments.  I received this from the Net Galley in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion. All opinions expressed are my own and not edited by anyone but me.
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I loved this book, well, actually I love any book that has anything remotely to do with Judaism. However, this was a collection of essays and part memoir as well. It guides us to being better people and definitly makes us think. I would recommend this book to pretty much everyone. I loved it. 

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
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the Torah of Pooh

First, I love books written by Rabbi's. I've never read a bad one. Their style of writing incorporates humor (sometimes very dry—without an olive), with lots of insight and wisdom. Mensch*Marks is no exception. Rabbi Joshua Hammerman had me laughing, concerned, prodded to think, and often surprised at his transparent analysis of Judaism: Mensch*Mark 40—Should Jews Turn The Other Cheek? This four page essay of "Looking Evil in the Eye," was an "eye opener" into the Jewish approach to "turning the other cheek" when disaster disrupts a community. The essay gave me pause to consider the Jewish ethos v. Christian ethos. I cannot find fault with either, but lean more toward Rabbi Hammerman's POV based on the precept of teshuvah. He explains why "turning the cheek" denies human contact: "face-to-face where true reconciliation can only occur when two human beings can truly see what is human in the other." There are other thought provoking essays you may or may not agree with, but will certainly expand your mind and possibly your heart. 

His sweetest essay, "Hugging, Blessing, Letting Go" about his son Dan's Bar Mitzvah and as his son's officiating rabbi and father standing with his son on the bimah, he recollects Dan from the  crawling baby to his recent "cherubic voice becoming a subtle rasp" and realizes "with every embrace there must be a release." In the end, the Rabbi father realizes, "Only parents can love children enough to let them go."

Mensch*Marks is a collection of essays spanning the thirty plus years Rabbi Hammerman has spent comforting the sick, coupling the lovers, burying the dead and between his rabbinic duties being a good husband, loving father and simply a human being. His authentic approach has opened my eyes to the rabbi's I study under and perhaps have never seen as simply another human being. He's given me greater respect for their person, for the demands of their rabbinate life and for that, I am grateful. 

Mensch*Marks is an amazing book. Each chapter preceded with an explanation of the essay and each part preceded with a quote from A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh, each one right-on for the content. 

The underlying theme of Mensch*Marks is becoming a good mensch (a person of character)...something Hammerman's father instilled in his son. This collection of essay's is Rabbi Hammerman's journey on the menschlichkeit path. He writes, "Today, I have started the process toward becoming a mensch." I'd say he's made his mark. 

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Lessons in faith and humility well told from the perspective of a Rabbi and through it all you get a sense of what it means to be human to care and express gratitude and kindness.
Thanks Netgalley for the eARC.
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