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Literary Classics with a Jewish Twist

September 15, 2019 | by Stephanie D. Lewis

To Kvell a Mockingbird.

Have you heard? Classic literature lives on indefinitely, but sometimes there are secret sequels to these old favorites that can mysteriously show up in the Jewish community. And if you pay close attention, you’ll actually find some gems. Therefore I’m happy to have done my research thoroughly (despite skeptical librarians who tried to thwart me) and here are the “Newish Jewish” titles that might make the New York Times bestseller list for both adults and children in the coming Jewish New Year:

  1. Kvetcher and the Rye (Catcher in the Rye) Tale of a grumpy man sending back his corned beef sandwich in a deli.

  2. Withering Bites (Wuthering Heights) The portions in the above deli are shrinking, much to the diner’s dismay.

  3. Les Mashugunables (Les Miserables) In the deli mentioned above, Patrons drive the hostess crazy over their table being situated under the air-conditioning vent where they incessantly complain, “It’s too drafty in here!”

  4. The Legend of Sleepy Swallow (Legend of Sleepy Hollow) A rumored but unrealistic fable about a Jew who was once too tired to eat. Surprisingly the setting is not the famous deli above.

  5. The Nudges of Madison County (The Bridges of Madison County) A small town where children never stop begging parents to buy them the latest model of iPhone.

  6. Bread Badge of Encourage (Red Badge of Courage) A list of awards for housewives who finally learn to bake their own challah.

  7. All Of Her Lists! (Oliver Twist) Will Irving ever finish his wife’s lengthy Honey-Do’s?

  8. Calm Lawyer (Tom Sawyer) A well-mannered attorney sues a famous bicycle manufacturer for faulty handlebars.

  9. Schlock Schwinn (Huck Finn) The defendant for the 10-speed bike company triumphs in court.

  10. The Sephardic Letter (The Scarlet Letter) It’s actually not about a letter plastered on anyone’s chest this time. It’s not even the type of letter a postman delivers. It should really be titled, “The Sephardic Email” because it’s a CC’d chain message finally explaining why it’s permissible for certain Jews to eat rice and corn on Passover.

  11. To Kvell a Mockingbird (To Kill a Mockingbird) The Mockingbird’s parents are so proud of their youngest son’s ability to mimic that they won’t allow him to fly the coop and attend Yale. A great symbolic commentary on the Jewish Empty Nest syndrome.

  12. The Great Katzby (The Great Gatsby) Self-explanatory story of a big macher.

  13. Hannah’s Ketubbah (Anna Karenina) Hannah’s beautiful marriage simcha overshadows anything Anna ever did in the first book.

  14. A Tale of Two Seders (Tale of Two Cities) A competition to see whose family gets to eat a food group first aside from parsley and the hardboiled egg.

  15. 613 (1984) Could Big Brother be counting your mitzvot in the future?

  16. Of Mice and Mensches (Of Mice and Men) Nothing changes in this sequel. Only read if you want a bonus happy ending with these extra wonderful male characters.

  17. The Invisible Manischewitz (The Invisible Man) Who keeps hiding the sale items on the Kosher aisle right before the High Holidays?

  18. Moby Shtick (Moby Dick) And you always wondered why he wanted to be called Ishmael.

  19. The Grapes of Sabbath (Grapes of Wrath) There’s no more hostility in this classic tale because Steinbeck has put Shabbos into his writing.

  20. It’s Too Drafty in Here! (Fahrenheit 451) Put on a sweater before reading.

  21. Great Eliminations (Great Expectations) Jewish mothers brag and compare notes about their children’s digestion.

  22. Pride and PreJewDice (Pride and Prejudice) This one will never make the bestseller list because Jews don’t leave things up to a roll of the dice – thus we rely on the spin of the dreidel.

  23. Green Eggs & Brisket (Green Eggs & Ham) Dr. Seuss finally gets it right.

  24. Fox in Lox (Fox in Sox) And he’s still on a (Kaiser?) roll!

  25. Horton Hears a Sermon (Horton Hears a Who) The Who is finally identified as a charismatic Rabbi.

  26. Yertle the Turtle Meets Yentl (Yertle the Turtle) A natural Dr. Seuss sequel for the slowest of readers.

  27. The Cat in the Kippah (The Cat in the Hat) Here’s the first sentence. “Your kids won’t fall asleepa if you read them the Cat in the Kippah.” Feh – forget rhyming!

  28. One Fish, Two Gefilte Fish (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish) Counting? What Jewish child can’t count already?

  29. The Poky Little Bubbe (The Poky Little Puppy) Grandma lingers in the bathroom.

  30. Goodnight Prune… Danish! (Goodnight Moon!) Zayde starts another cholesterol-free diet, but after breakfast.

  31. The Runaway Money (The Runaway Bunny) After his Bar Mitzvah, Brandon never sees a nickel of his gift gelt because it’s all put away for college.

  32. Are You My Smother? (Are You My Mother?) Jewish children search for a parental figure that’s not a helicopter mom.

  33. If a Mensch Gives You a Hamantaschen (If You Give a Mouse a Cookie) Is he going to want a tax deduction?

  34. Tallis In Clutterland (Alice In Wonderland) No wonder this family is constantly late for Shul.

  35. Rebecca The Klutz (Ramona the Pest) Henry Huggins is clearly not going to marry a ballerina.

  36. Willy Chanukah & the Chocolate (Gelt) Factory (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory) A great holiday adventure, but must all the Oompa Loompas get circumcised?

If you’re not much for reading, you can catch these new films playing in a theatre (or synagogue) near you: The Hand that Rocks the Dreidel, Mensches in Black, Jurrasic Parve, Lilo & Shtick, There’s Something About Moses, The Zion King, Cohen The Barbarian, Shpilkes in Seattle, Schmutzie (Tootzie), Beauty & the Brisket, and Honey I Shrunk The Knishes!

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