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Mixed - Book Review

 By Tamar Hodes

Sisters Ruth and Miriam have different attitudes toward Judaism, as has their Uncle Gerald. In this accessible book, the language is straightforward and chapters are short. Readers may approach the book in one rapid swoop, or pause between chapters to carry out other activities.

Mixed is about marriage between two people of the same or of different religions. This is a topic to be taken seriously, and it is, throughout the book, and particularly in Chapter 31.

But be warned: the book is funny. I grinned a lot of the way through it, and found myself frequently laughing out loud. Many of the recipes are hilarious. Enjoy.

A chapter I paid attention to, and reread in case I had missed something, was Chapter 5.

It deals with the difficulty of teaching The Merchant of Venice. I myself have taught this play often, to Grades 10, 11 and 12. Surprisingly, the point is not made that the play is about forced conversion. This is the central theme of the play. Yes, voluntary conversion also occurs. Think of Portia, Jessica and Antonio. Think of Belmont, where Portia lives – then a well-known Jewish center in Portugal, nowadays acknowledged as such.

Chapter 2, about Aunt Ida, is a moving account of how life can go wrong. It also effectively illustrates how to annoy friends and relatives. One starts off appreciating Ida for her easy-going nature, and ends the chapter by understanding how she changes so drastically.

Hodes points out, page 192, that "Judaism is about values, how we live, how we treat others, what we believe, not just about what we can and cannot eat". Many non-Jews concentrate on Jewish food habits, assuming this is what Judaism is about.

I like the way Lucas, whom we meet in page 51, wanders through the book, taking everyone as they wish to be taken.

I noticed four typographical errors. Considering how many can be found in newly-released books nowadays, four is not worth making a fuss about. 

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