Babushkin's Catalogue of Jewish Inventions

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Editorial Reviews

Steven M. Bergson
Larry Bush, editor of Jewish Currents magazine, and cartoonist Richard Codor have collaborated on Babushkin's Catalogue of Jewish Inventions, which spoofs contemporary Jewish mishegas with a series of almost credible devices and services, including Blood Libel Insurance, Self-Igniting Sabbath Cigarettes for the observant, and artificial "Frummy Fingers" for Orthodox men who otherwise wouldn't shake a woman's hand.There's a thin line between reality and satire these days, and it can be hard to tell the authors' ideas from real life products and services. The following list includes both — can you tell which ones are real and which aren't?
a. Burglar Alarm Mezuzah, including an "electronic eye" and "shofar alarm"
b. Electric Davening Board, an orthopedic device which assists the user in his or her "shuckling"
c. Passover Seder Reclining Apparatus, attaches to your chair and swivels when it is time to recline during the seder
d. Western Wall Message Board, with cracks between the "stones" to insert messages for friend and family members
e. iHagadah, a full version of the Haggadah for mobile devices
f. Tefillin Mirror, to check that your head straps are worn properly
g. Dial-a-Mom, a phone service for people too busy to call their mothers
h. JMom.com, dating service that lets mothers hand-pick their children's next date

(Actual products: c, e, f, and h) written by Andrew Silow-Carroll, Editor-in-Chief of the New Jersey Jewish News.

In today's techno-savvy world, it seems there is a device or "app" for anything and everything. Since technology can be applied to Jewish living, we have seen a variety of popular and not-so-popular gadgets enter the market - from programmable ovens with a 72-hour "sabbath" setting to idaven.com's iphone siddur. Playing upon this gadget trend, the authors offer us a plethora of funny examples of fictional products for the modern Jewish consumer. The humor ranges from the ridiculous (live gefilte fish) to the stereotypical (Yenta, the Jewish GPS), from Tanakh-based (Vashti's Secret) to clever puns (Judyism, Yiddishkite) to the slightly offensive (Jihad Ejection Suit, Loving Chaim Yankl). Codor's whimsical cartoonish illustrations are a welcome accompaniment to the sparse descriptions, providing the visual punch lines and demonstrating how these would work with an economy of line that keeps the entries from being too dense. There's a faux glossary at the end of the book.

As a librarian, I'm compelled to point out that the "Transliteration Specs" are actually "Translation Specs." However, I'm just as compelled to point out that the book covers of the non-existent "Babushkin's Goldene Book Series" are cute. I would buy a copy of Curious George Goes to Shul if it was ever printed.

Recommended for the adult or teen humor section of public, synagogue, and school libraries.
MLIS, Jewish Comics Blog
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780979921827
  • Publisher: Loose Line Productions Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/20/2011
  • Pages: 80
  • Age range: 9 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Codor makes a living drawing humorously. He is the co-creator and illustrator of the cartoon Joyous Haggadah, All You Want to Know about Sabbath Services: A Guide for the Perplexed, and the children's book, Too Many Latkes! Codor does storyboards for children's animated movies, TV shows and advertising. He is a recipient of the Jewish Press Association/Rockower Award for Cartooning and the Charles Shulz Prize. He makes his home in Brooklyn. You can see his work at www.joyoushaggadah.com and http://littleblogofjewishhumor.com/.

Lawrence Bush is the editor of Jewish Currents magazine and the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution; American Torah Toons: 54 Illustrated Commentaries; and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His essays and fiction have appeared in the New York Times, Tikkun, the Village Voice, and MAD. Bush writes short daily blog about the date in progressive Jewish history (http://jewishcurrents.org). The first year's entries have been compiled into a new book, JEWDAYO.

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