Read Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate by Letty Cottin Pogrebin Online


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 storyFeminist 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 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. magazine, and the author of eleven books, including the memoir Getting Over Getting Older (1996), the novel Three Daughters (2003), and the groundbreaking How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who's Sick (2013). She is also the editor for the anthology Stories for Free Children (1982), and a co-creator of Free to Be . . . You and Me and Free to Be . . . A Family. 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....

Title : Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781558618879
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 296 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate Reviews

  • Chris Witkowski
    2019-11-15 22:08

    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 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. for Zach to shop at in the late 70s? 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.

  • Jaime
    2019-11-29 15:20

    In order of importance to the plot/themes of this book, the words of the title should go:JewishSeekingMaleSoulSingleMateBut that wouldn't make any sense now, would it? 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. Spoilers: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. Ugh.

  • Kalen
    2019-11-26 23:02

    ** 1/2Letty Cottin Pogrebin, one of my feminist and Jewish icons, must have had a lot of fun writing this book. 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: vampires, aliens, western, Amish, and even NASCAR. 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.

  • Mom2nine
    2019-11-05 18:11

    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. Yes, the book explores both the Jewish experience and lifestyles, also black history/experiences in the U.S., but to stop there does not give the novel its full credit. Story line belies stereo-types. It is a story about families and family expectations, relationships of all types. 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...wonderful characterization. This woman can write! Thank you goodreads and Pogrebin for a free book and chance for an unbiased review.

  • Sara
    2019-12-02 15:12

    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 there are *going to be* issues. 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....

  • Anne Wolfe
    2019-12-05 15:02

    (Very close to 5 Stars)Letty Cottin Pogrebin had me gripped from the first page of Single Jewish Male...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.

  • Rachel
    2019-11-08 16:06

    As the child of a Holocaust survivor, I found a lot of parallels between his childhood home and mine. I also enjoyed reading all of the conversations about Jewish identity that I was having throughout my childhood/young adulthood.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 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. Worth reading.

  • Katz Nancy from NJ
    2019-11-23 22:09

    Not bad but not that good eitherSingle 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. But the second half somewhat lost me when the main character must decide whether or not to raise his child as both Jewish and black. I found much of this part of the book repeating itself several times. And the worst problem of all was that the main character was no too like able.Previously I read Three Daughters by the same author. And find her first fiction book and her second attempt pretty much the same. Unlikeable characters and a weak premise.

  •  Kath
    2019-11-19 17:21

    Interesting book addressing issue of a Jewish man who promised his mother on her dying bed that he would marry a Jewish girl. He does but she leaves him a yr after his daughter is born and moves to Australia with her lesbian love taking child with her. He searches for nice Jewish girl tho he himself gas difficult time keeping Jewish tradition. Ge meets Cleo, a beautiful intelligent African-American and they start dating. His intention is it will be a passing affair but 2 yrs later she accidentally gets pregnant and he walks away. 3 yrs later she contacts him to say his son needs to know his father. He drives himself crazy trying to figure out what he should do. After weeks of looking inside himself and talking to Rabbis etc he realizes that loving his son is most important.

  • Cindy
    2019-11-15 17:11

    I know I am in the minority but I just didn't enjoy this book. I kept wanting to like it and there were parts were I was more absorbed than others, in general I found it trite and predictable.

  • QueenSASH
    2019-11-21 16:04

    Great for Today's WorldThis story had way too many historical references, too much witty-banter, and more than enough political information. Besides the fact that it seemed like one long socio-economic-political-history lesson with a small number of art innuendos, the story is pretty good. Pogrebin does a good job of providing detailed, and I do mean detailed, information about the protagonist Zach Levy. She gives a lot of depth to this character and shows the complexity of a person in a way that I've never seen done before, ever. With Zach, she goes deep, from his background and upbringing, to his basic likes when it comes to food, to his love of sports and the contours of his face. She does well with letting readers learn the characters. Each and everyone, the color of Cleo's eyes, her collar bone, her confidence in speaking. It amazes me how descriptive and to the core of the human spirit Pogrebin can get. 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.

  • Pamela
    2019-11-21 14:57

    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: Loyalty to one’s family, to one’s religion, religious tolerance, gender battles, race differences, mending deep historical breaches, dealing with current biases and prejudices, honoring horrific tragedies and traumas v. letting them define you and determine your decisions,familial Love, Romantic Love. v. Heritage/Race/Religion. It looks at feminism, sexism, racism, and beyond.

  • AliceHeiserman
    2019-11-11 17:07

    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 play.

  • Karen
    2019-11-09 16:08

    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 Jewish today.

  • Angela
    2019-11-29 21:03

    I have to agree with the majority and say that the dominant adjective for this read is "thought-provoking." As someone of non-Jewish background, I found it very stimulating to see the world transformed through such a well-developed lense. 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.

  • Rebecca Mazur
    2019-12-03 16:18

    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.

  • Andrea
    2019-11-08 15:07

    Oy! Ugh. 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...seems so obviously wrong now. But it purports to take place decades ago, and I think 2017 is different.

  • Debbie
    2019-12-01 20:06

    Loved this book!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!!!

  • Cheri
    2019-11-10 23:00

    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.

  • Lise
    2019-12-04 21:03

    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.

  • Lisa
    2019-11-25 22:54

    An interesting albeit contrived and thought provoking book about love, promises, and identity - particularly with respect to Judaism.

  • Ermek
    2019-11-15 21:54


  • Jenn
    2019-11-16 22:56

    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 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 200 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.S. 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.

  • Kszr
    2019-11-08 15:01

    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 nightmares of his holocaust survivor parents.

  • Karen Wood
    2019-11-18 15:10

    This is a Karen's 5 star, not just Goodreads. Loved it, now I have to buy it.

  • Alison
    2019-11-22 22:08

    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 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? I have to admit here - that I LOVE this author - Letty Cottin Pogrebin. 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 FreeGrowing 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. I love it! 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....and I did grow up to keep my name, have a career, marry my husband and raise two great kids. ;-)

  • Sara
    2019-11-15 16:54

    Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate, Letty Cottin Pogrebin’s most recent novel, begins in the 1950s and follows Zach Levy, the son of Holocaust survivors whose lives have drastically changed since coming to New York City. On the day after his Bar Mitzvah, he learns of his parents’ harrowing past and the details of his brother’s death in the Holocaust. He begins to understand the reasons his mother is so lifeless and inattentive, and why his father tries to compensate for his mother’s emotional absence. Fascinated by his family’s backstory, Zach becomes obsessed with his Jewishness and it quickly becomes the key part of his identity and lens through which he sees his life. He makes several promises to his dying mother on her deathbed, all of which concern continuing the Jewish bloodline and perpetuating cultural traditions. But her last wishes for him turn out to be a dead end and don’t provide a real future, a realization he has after his failed marriage with the Jewish Bonnie Bertelsman, and later on when he meets the alluring Cleo Scott, an African-American radio host and activist who's healing from her own inherited traumatic past. She’s opinionated, intelligent, and strong, and deeply tied to her Christian background. 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.

  • Natalie
    2019-11-07 14:57

    I picked up this book to learn more about Jewish culture. At first, the main character, Zach Levy, is so likable because of his curious and loving nature. He learns about his parents' experience with the Holocaust and how they had to start their lives over again. He then makes a terrible choice to marry a self centered, activist Jewish woman. He has a child with her, then she leaves him. Next he meets a charismatic and strong black woman Cleo. Most of the rest of the major choices in the book cause me to feel frustrated with his obtuseness and hesitance to make major life decisions. He meets Cleo then falls deeply in love with her but can't decide what to do about their future together. Then he makes a series of bad decisions, such as moving in with another Jewish woman who grates on him and hesitating to move forward when he has plenty of red flags.He takes so long to decide whether it is more important to stick to his Jewish heritage or be a father to his half black child from Cleo, the woman he loves. While the book focuses on the difficulties of being Jewish and following the religion, it is disappointing from a moral stand point. Zach knows his religion but doesn't live it, then when pressed choose a sort of religious devotion over the feelings of his heart. He needs to clear up his thinking much sooner in the book in order for this book to feel satisfying.

  • Sue
    2019-12-02 16:16

    I identified with a great deal in this book even though I'm not a guy and not living in USA. The whole 2nd generation Holocaust Survivors thing is exactly what I saw in my family - the attitude to religion and the sorrow that my parents carried within them as a result of their experiences and losses. As a result I was always a "good girl" trying not to add to their sorrow. And I did feel I betrayed them a bit when I married out but I rationalised much more than Zach - he carried his guilt much more than I did. But I do remember therapy session where I was able to call out to my dead parents that I couldn't carry their burden - that I had to live my own life. So I understand Zach's feelings entirely.I felt much happier in the book once I stopped reading bit by bit - I read many hours yesterday and completed it in one go. Much better for me as I really feel like I'm in the story. Harder when I only read a bit at a time. I'm not sure in non-Jewish people would "get" a lot of the book. The rabbi at the end reminded me of an old version of Rabbi Kammins - never excluding people but rather deciding to be totally inclusive and accepting -non-judgmental. It certainly worked with my family.

  • Julia
    2019-11-26 22:55

    There are a few different ways to characterize this book:1) It's chick lit (or would be if the main character were female): The main character agonizes about finding his soul mate, goes through bad dates and break ups, and can't decide what he's really looking for in a relationship2) It's about Jewish identity: What is a Jew? Is it important to be observant (go to services, keep kosher, learn Hebrew,...) or is Jewish ethnicity and descent from Holocaust survivors the most important part? (Jews are known for asking questions. So this fits right in.)3) It shines a spotlight on black/white and black/Jewish relations. Although it is set in the 1980's a lot of the political and cultural issues are still valid today. 4) Parts of it are like an historical novel as Zach discovers his parents' history before moving to the United States and has flashbacks to his childhood in BrooklynAll of these facets are interwoven through the story, making it alternatively a political novel and an examination of relationships.