Almost a Minyan: Jewish Children’s Book Review (A Coming-of-Age Story of a 13 Year-old Hebrew Girl, Dealing with Her Grandfather’s Death)

Almost a Minyan: Jewish Children’s Book Review (A Coming-of-Age Story of a 13 Year-old Hebrew Girl, Dealing with Her Grandfather’s Death)

My son Jack was excited to see we received a new book in the mail: Almost a Minyan, by Lori S. Kline. Granted, when I first read him the title, his eyes lit up as he looked for a picture on the cover of a “minion” from the Despicable Me movie series…

But as I read the book to him for bedtime, he was still very intrigued despite realizing that “minyan” is also a Hebrew word. As I read him the story, he learned about a tween girl from a close Jewish family.

After regularly seeing her father and grandfather regularly attend their town’s minyan (a public worship group of ten adults), she and her father experience a character arc after her grandfather passes away.

Almost a Minyan: Jewish Children’s Book Review (A Coming-of-Age Story of a 13 Year-old Hebrew Girl, Dealing with Her Grandfather’s Death)

On the verge of her 14th birthday, she realizes she can be the one to qualify as the 10th adult necessary to keep the minyan going.

For Jewish families, this book will surely reinforce and further illustrate the traditions of the Hebrew faith.

For families outside the Jewish fold, this book will surely still engage the reader, as it introduces a new (yet ancient) culture.

Thanks for reading my book review today. I will close with basic marketing information of Almost a Minyan:

Almost a Minyan: Jewish Children’s Book Review (A Coming-of-Age Story of a 13 Year-old Hebrew Girl, Dealing with Her Grandfather’s Death)

Release date: April 4, 2017

Publisher: Sociosights Press

Price: $17.99

Kindle Price: $7.99

Pages: 40

Distribution: Itasca Books, Amazon/Ingram

eBook Distribution: Kindle, Nook

Website: http://www.sociosights.com

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden!

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden!

In the new book The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden! by Kevin DeYoung, and illustrated by Don Clark, the historic story of Christianity is brought to live in an overview “storytelling” format, beginning with Adam and Eve, and ultimately ending with the role of the modern day church.

I can honestly say I’ve never read a children’s Bible storybook anything like this before. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like a children’s minister explains how the stories of the Old Testament characters of the Bible are related to Jesus coming to Earth for the salvation of His people.

But the whole time, there’s this festive, Hebrew-ish artistic backdrop. The illustrations are simply amazing and unique.

Being exposed to this book actually reminded me of just how Jewish the Christian faith is; considering that 2/3’s, not half, of the Holy Bible is the Old Testament; the other half obviously being the New Testament.

This book explains how the Christian faith was ultimately born from the Jewish faith. It helps bridge the Old and New Testaments in a way children can begin to understand.

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden! is intended for children ages 5 to 11.

I recognize that with my son being 4 years, 9 months old, the content of the book is a little above his comprehension level; though he is definitely intrigued by the mystery of it.

However, I definitely look forward to my son growing into this book.

*Congrats to Matt Wright, the winner of my giveaway of Family Friendly Daddy Blog, who will have a hard cover copy of The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden! sent to hishouse.

He was the first person to go the Facebook wall of Family Friendly Daddy Blog and ask this question:

Did I just win The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden!?

OFFICIAL HASHTAGS:  #BIGGESTSTORY and #FLYBY

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Dear Jack: Listening to Radio Hanukkah (SiriusXM Channel 68)

4 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: Listening to (Hanukkah Station)

Dear Jack,

Right before backing out of the parking space of your school for our journey home a few night ago, I decided to find a station on SiriusXM that we both might enjoy, while our family is reviewing the all new 2015 Hyundai Sonata this week.

I looked up and saw what was arguably one of the most random stations I’ve ever seen on Sirius XM: Radio Hanukkah, channel 68.

To see three different Christian music stations on SiriusXM is no surprise, but I’ve never seen a “Jewish music station” before; even if it is just a temporary, seasonal station.

The first song that was playing when I turned to that station was “The 613 Commandments” by Debbie Friedman. It sounded like the kind of song you would learn in Sunday School at our church.

After only two seconds of hearing the song, you blurted out, “Daddy, I like that song.”

So I kept it on Radio Hanukkah, channel 68.

Another song, “Bagel” by David Weinstone Music for Kids, was about a man pretending to be a bagel; though at first you thought the singer was saying “baby” instead of “bagel.”

You liked that song so much that you asked me to play it again after it ended. I had to explain to you that unlike a CD, I couldn’t instantly replay the song.

Unsurprisingly, we listened to that station the whole way home.

Since college, when I wrote my final paper of college on Jewish history, I have been fascination by Jewish culture.

Two thirds of the Christian Bible is the Old Testament; or as I call it, the Jewish Bible.

Technically, the majority of what we believe overlaps into what Jewish people believe.

So the way I feel is that by us being exposed to some Jewish songs, we’re catching up on some lost culture of our own religion.

If nothing else, we had fun hearing a song about bagels!

Dear Jack: Listening to (Hanukkah Station)

Catch up on the entire series of the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Weekend. A lot of exiciting things happened!

2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T: Family Friendly Review

Dear Jack: Our New House Now Has Electricity & Tile (2015 Hyundai Sonata Weekend)

Dear Jack: Primrose Vs. Rainbow- Finding A Preschool Near Our New House

Dear Jack: Listening to Radio Hanukkah (SiriusXM Channel 68)

Mario Eugene Shell (The Person I Almost Was): If I’m Both Hispanic and White, Which Box Do I Check in Those Surveys?

If only I looked more ethnic.


It’s hard to fathom now, but the entire time my mom knew she was pregnant with me (from October 1980 to April 1981) her “boy name” for me was Mario Eugene Shell.  But of course, my name is instead Nicholas Shane Shell.  Why?  I “didn’t look like a Mario”.  In other words, I was too white.

In essence, I am a mixed race- technically only half white.  One of the main ways I determine whether or not a person is “white” (other than their skin color) is by looking at their last name- if it ends in a vowel, they are probably not white.  My mom’s maiden name was Metallo (Italian) and her mother’s maiden name was Mendez (it doesn’t end in a vowel but it’s common knowledge that Mexicans are not “white”- especially not the ones in my family- they have darker skin).

My dad (a Southern boy of English, German, Cherokee Indian, and distant Greek traces) had married this exotic black haired woman from the North (Buffalo, NY).  It was assumed that their child would take after the more ethnic features, like mocha skin and black curly hair.  But on April 20, 1981 at 8:37 PM, both my parents were amazed to hold a seemingly All-American baby.

They looked at each other, then my mom said to my dad, “He’s not a Mario.  We need a new name.”  A few hours later, before midnight, still on the day I was born, I was named Nicholas (a Greek name that is a popular Italian male name).  My middle name is Shane, which is a form of Sean, which is a form of the Hebrew (Jewish) name, John.  (Shane was considered for my first name but “Shane Shell” really doesn’t work.)

And that’s how I got my name- a quickly formed “plan B”.  To imagine, if I looked more Mexican (like my sister, though she’s often mistaken for Hawaiian) or even a dark-skinned Italian, I would have been Mario Eugene.  (My dad’s middle name is Eugene.)  That’s means that growing up, everyone at school would have called me Super Mario and constantly made references to video game series.  But I don’t think it would have been all that different from my actual childhood, where everyone sang “Nick-nick-nick-nick-nick-nick-nick-nick, Nickelodeon!” to me.  And some people still do… Aunt Rosa!

dad from day one: The Gender of the Baby

“Sadie, Chloe, Sammy, or Max, chillin’ in a baby sack.  Tristan, Evan, Lily, Zoey, or Jack…” -Candy Butchers, “Let’s Have a Baby”

Nineteen weeks.

After my grandmother’s dream and my wife’s co-worker’s psychic’s prediction of it being a girl, it was pretty obvious to us what the gender of our baby would be.  I drove down to the appointment yesterday full of excitement, knowing that I could finally tell everyone that our intuition was correct once I would get the official confirmation.

Several anxious moments passed as the nurse showed us pictures our  our baby, then finally she asked us, “Do you want to know what it is?”

Laughing, full of confidence, we told her that we were quite sure already, but yes, tell us for sure.

“You’re having a boy.”

I wish I had a YouTube clip of our reaction.  “WHAT?!  NO WAY!  ARE YOU SERIOUS?!”  Etc., etc.  All exclaimed while hysterically laughing.

Not that it mattered either way to us.  I just don’t think I’ve ever been more surprised in my life.  I wish there was a way to type in a “laughing font” to better show my tone here.  I’m so happy!  We’re having a boy!

This is an "under the scrotum" shot.

Of course now it’s time to answer the other question: What are you naming him?

First name: Jack

Middle name: William

Last name: Shell

Here’s how we came up with the name:

He will go by “Jack”, which is my dad’s name.

Which is an alternate version of John, which is Hebrew (Jewish) for “God’s grace”.  Which just sounds like a cool name.  It’s simple, not too popular, and easy to spell and say.  And Jack also happens to be the name of the lead character of the best show ever made, LOST (played by Matthew Fox, who is also part Italian.)

Jack is the size of a mango.

Plus, my wife’s name is Jill… so it’ll be “Jack and Jill”.

His middle name, William, (my wife’s dad’s name) is German and loosely translates as “protector”.

His last name, Shell, (originally spelled “Schel” at some point in American history) is German and loosely translates to “loud and noisy”.

That being said, Jack William Shell is a Jewish-German-German name which fully translates as “God’s gracious gift of loud and noisy protection.”  I’m already picturing a little boy wearing a pot on top of his head, running around the house, banging a pan with a wooden spoon, being “loud and noisy”.

Most importantly, Baby Jack is healthy, thank God!

Jack, the boy.  Who knew?

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

The Ethnic Backgrounds of the Cast of LOST

Italians?  Check.  French?  Check.  Koreans?  Check.  Jews?  Oddly, not so much.

When the creators of LOST were in the casting process, they knew they wanted an “international cast”.  Well done.  Who wants to see another show with a bunch of white people and one African-American thrown in for good measure?

The ethnic diversity on the show adds so much to the characterization and even their storylines.  I have gone through the painstaking process (for most, but for me was a lot of fun!) of searching and studying the ethnicity of the entire cast of LOST.  While I won’t bombard my fellow Losties with every single cast member ever, I will feature most of them.  The phrase in (parenthesis) tells where the actor was raised.

Matthew Fox as “Jack Shephard”: Italian-English (America)

Evangeline Lilly as “Kate Austen”: English (Canada)

Josh Holloway as “James ‘Sawyer’ Ford”: Scottish (America); rare in that he is one of the few Southerners on the show- from Georgia in real life, on the show he was born in Jasper, Alabama

Jorge Garcia as “Hugo ‘Hurley” Reyes”: Chilean-Cuban (America)

Naveen Andrews as “Sayid Jarrah”: Indian (England)

Daniel Dae Kim as “Jin-Soo Kwon”: Korean (America)

Yunjin Kim as “Sun-Hwa Kwon”: Korean (America)

Terry O’Quinn as “John Locke”: Irish (America)

Dominic Monaghan as “Charlie Pace”: English-Irish (Germany); he speaks both  English and German

Michael Emerson as “Benjamin Linus”: English (America)

Emilie de Ravin as “Claire Litteton”: French (Australia)

Henry Ian Cusick as “Desmond Hume”: Scottish-Peruvian (both Scotland and Peru)

Sonya Walger as “Penny Widmore”: Argentinean-English (England)

*oddly, married couple “Desmond and Penny” are both in real life half British, half South American

Alan Dale as “Charles Widmore”: New Zealander (New Zealand)

Ken Leung as “Miles Straume”: Chinese (America)

Francois Chau as “Dr. Pierre Chang”: Cambodian-American-Chinese-Vietnamese (America); random fact- he played “Shredder” in the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze

Andewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as “Mr. Eko”: Nigerian (England)

Nestor Carbonell as “Richard Alpert”: Cuban-Spanish (America)

Elizabeth Mitchell as “Dr. Juliet Burke”: English (America); another rare Southerner (from Dallas, TX)

Jeff Fahey as “Frank Lapidus”: Irish (America); though his character his Greek-American

Cynthia Watros as “Libby Smith”: Greek or Czech (America)

Michelle Rodriguez as “Ana Lucia Cortez”: Puerto Rican-Dominican Republican (America)

Tania Raymonde (Katz) as “Alex”: Jewish (America)

Mira Fulan as “Danielle Rousseau”: Jewish (Croatia)

Katy Sagal as “Helen Norwood”: Jewish (America); played Locke’s love interest, also known as “Peg” on Married with Children

Titus Welliver as “Man in Black (Esau): Irish  (America);  though he looks like Billy Joel, who is Jewish

Mark Pellegrino as “Jacob”: Italian (America)

Since Jews only make up 1.7% of the American population, the three confirmed Jewish actors on LOST accurately and proportionately represent themselves in the large number of actors on the show.  And that’s rare.

Of course, as usual, in the strange case there are no Jews or hardly any Jews on a show or movie (like Family Matters or Family Ties), the producers and/or writers are Jewish.  So it goes without saying, that in fact, LOST creators J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof are both Jewish.  Along with Jeffrey Lieber (who most likely is based on his name and physical appearance).  Same thing with LOST writer Adam Horowitz.

It’s safe to say that LOST truly has the most international, most diverse cast of any show in American history.  We as Losties have invested years of our lives in these characters.  They’ve become like real people to us.  I’m so glad this show is made up of such a randomly planned cast of characters and actors.

Read more about the astonishing number of Jewish actors in American film: The Funny Thing about Jews

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on this, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one

 

Readers’ Expectations 2: Jewish Sesame Street, & Uncle Jesse’s Doll

It’s that time again to see what off-the-wall phrases that people typed in Google to find my website.  My apologies to the random strangers who were disappointed to find that I did not provide exactly what they were looking for.  However, I will take the time to address their inquiries, which ironically means that if anyone else searches for these same terms, my website will be one the first ones to show up on a Google search:

“did Asians make up the Rubik’s cube?”- Good try.  But the Rubik’s Cube was invented in 1974 by a Hungarian named Erno Rubik, a sculptor and professor or architecture, though the puzzle toy was not licensed and sold to the American public until 1980.

אריק ובנץ תמונות”- I recognized this as Hebrew, the Jewish manuscript.  As I’ve said before in The Code, I purposely find ways to incorporate ways to include Jewish and marijuana references in most of what I write, to keep things edgy, but not controversial.  But in this case, I reeled in someone who really knows a thing or two about Judaism.  Too bad I have no idea what “אריק ובנץ תמונות” translates to in English.  When I typed it back into Google, it took me to this weird website for an Israeli TV network, featuring a humanized Bert and Ernie:

http://cc.bingj.com/cache.aspx?q=%d7%90%d7%a8%d7%99%d7%a7+%d7%95%d7%91%d7%a0%d7%a5+%d7%aa%d7%9e%d7%95%d7%a0%d7%95%d7%aa&d=4789146318864423&mkt=en-US&setlang=en-US&w=c22fccc6,f5f2d72b

“angry cigarettes and alcohol”- Yes, they are so angry these days, aren’t they?  You must be referring to a picture I posted… healthnutshell: 1.2 Billion People Can’t

“bowling balls”- I am indeed quite the expert.  Glad I could help… It Was All Just a Dream: Tiny Niece at V

“john handcocks signicher”- That’s one awkward way to misspell it.  Here ya go… John Hancock

“Uncle Jesse doll”- If every word I said could make you laugh, I’d talk forever.  Cue Uncle Jesse in a black leather vest with no shirt underneath in a tub with candles all around.  Uncle Jesse will always have a place in our hearts.

“grandmother’s house reunion”- Look, buddy.  I can’t help you with that.  I don’t know when your next family reunion at your grandmother’s house is going to be.  You’ll have to ask your Aunt Murt about that one… Pickles Make for Good Reading Material- 4