Powerful life lessons in a funny and moving portrait of family, community and spiritual discovery in America.
Hilarious and heartfelt, Ron Wolfson's inspiring memoir is filled with stories of growing up in a warm family, encountering colorful characters like the merchants of Omaha and the famous Warren Buffett, navigating adolescence and learning never to underestimate his mother.
With easygoing Midwestern humor and profound poignancy, Ron's "true stories" of family and community in the United States of America will resonate with anyone seeking to shape stronger families, create compelling communities and live their best life, a life of joy and laughter, meaning and purpose, and, yes, blessings and kisses.
"I am the best boy in the United States of America. That’s what my grandfathermy 'Zaydie’called me from the time I was a little child in Omaha, Nebraska. I know it’s true because this is a true story. All my stories are true....
“Zaydie loved three things: his family, his business, and his adopted countrythe United States of America. I never, ever heard Zaydie say 'the United States.’ It was always ‘da United States of America,’ in his thick Russian accent.... For Louie Paperny, each one of his nine grandchildren was the best boy or the best girl in the United States of America. We believed him. I believed him. And in a certain way, I’ve lived the rest of my life trying to be that best boy."
Dr. Ron Wolfson, visionary educator and inspirational speaker, is Fingerhut Professor of Education at American Jewish University in Los Angeles and a cofounder of Synagogue 3000. He is author of Relational Judaism: Using the Power of Relationships to Transform the Jewish Community; The Seven Questions You're Asked in Heaven: Reviewing and Renewing Your Life on Earth; Be Like God: God's To-Do List for Kids; God's To-Do List: 103 Ways to Be an Angel and Do God's Work on Earth; Hanukkah, Passover and Shabbat, all Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs Art of Jewish Living family guides to spiritual celebrations; The Spirituality of Welcoming: How to Transform Your Congregation into a Sacred Community; A Time to Mourn, a Time to Comfort: A Guide to Jewish Bereavement and Comfort and, with Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, What You Will See Inside a Synagogue (all Jewish Lights), a book for children ages 6 and up. He contributed to May God Remember: Memory and Memorializing in JudaismYizkor, Who by Fire, Who by WaterUn'taneh Tokef, All These VowsKol Nidre and We Have Sinned: Sin and Confession in JudaismAshamnu and Al Chet (all Jewish Lights).
1 The Best Boy in the United States of America2 The Best Boy in the United States of America ... Except in Religious School3 Bubbie's Candles4 Why Do I Do What I Do?5 Eat! Eat!6 Zaydie's Seder Surprise7 A Tale of Two Bar Mitzvahs8 Missing Shabbes9 Never Underestimate Your Mother10 Tevye11 Mom12 Dad13 The Merchants of Omaha14 Louis Market15 Mrs. B, the Furniture Queen16 My Hour with Warren Buffet17 S. K.18 Der Rosenkavalier19 A Rabbi, Maybe?20 An Educator, Maybe?21 Wrestling with God22 L. A.23 A Dress for Shabbat24 Learning Laboratory25 Recipes for Memories26 Fiddler Redux27 Why Doesn't Everyone Love Synagogues?28 A Vision for Transforming Synagogues29 Mrs. Maizie30 Life Lesson at AAA31 What Do I Do Till the Kids Say "I Do"?32 The Hope of God33 Keep Moving34 Saying Good-bye35 Mom's Legacy36 Facing MortalityTogether
The Best Boy in the United States Of America: A Memoir of Blessings and Kisses 5 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It was a heartwarming book telling of the love of family and community. It made you laugh and cry. it also made me so proud to be a Jewish American. It reminded me of my European grandparents and the overwhelming love grandparents can have for grandchildren. It is a wonderful filled with love of family. I applaud Ron Worlfson for sharing his life with all of us. Great book!!!!
More than 1 year ago
I love this book.
I love it for several reasons. The first is: when did you last read a Jewish book that was absolutely hilarious from the first page on? Ron Wolfson’s description of his growing up in Omaha, Nebraska is so funny that I found myself buttonholing anyone that went by and making them listen to some of the lines that tickled me the most.
The second reason is: When was the last time that you read a book about Jewish life that was upbeat and optimistic? Most books about Jewish life in America are books that ‘shrei gevalt’. They are full of gloom and doom. They tell you how many young Jews we are losing, and how boring our services are and that we are the last of the Mohicans and that there will be very few caring and committed Jews after us. This book does not waste space telling us how bad things are. Instead it is jam packed with success stories and with practical suggestions of what we can do to transmit the heritage to those that will come after us. And for that alone, it is a joy to read.
The third reason I love this book is that it makes you cry as often as it makes you laugh. The key to this book, the key to Ron Wolfson’s educational philosophy, is that Judaism is the story begun by the prophets and the sages, continued by the saints and scholars of all the generations, treasured by our parents and grandparents, and now turned over to us to safeguard, to treasure and to transmit. And that it will only be transmitted if we teach our children the joy of being Jewish, and not just the woes that sometime go with it, and that the key to Jewish education is in the home and the family more than in the school or the library. The key to the Jewish future lies in creating precious memories that our children will be able to live off of, even after we are gone.
This book is a very unusual kind of an autobiography. There is some mention, but not much, of his day job as an administrator and a fund raiser and an educator. The focus of this autobiography is on more important dimensions of his life: on what it meant to have an adoring grandfather, what it meant to have devoted parents and a very good wife, what it meant to see the recipes and the stories that he inherited take hold in the lives of his children, and what an incredible privilege it is to be a grandfather, and to try to spoil and love and teach and model for his grandchildren the way his grandfather did for him.