Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jewish Carnival: Promise Me by Nancy Brinker

For November's, Jewish Book Carnival I picked Promise Me. I am not sure what you classify this book.
There is very little Jewish rituals in Promise Me. But it Nancy does speak about charity very briefly.
 The book is written by a Jewish author, Nancy Brinker.

Many Askenazi Jews, which I am one are predispossed to breast cancer.  There has been debate what constitiutes a Jewish book.    For the first time I am posting the same thing on both my blogs.

November, Jewishboston.com is hosting the Jewish Book Carnival. Each month there is a new host. The bloggers pick a book with Jewish content. What a great idea,  Marie from Boston Bibliophile.

Promise Me
By Nancy G. Brinker

Nancy Brinker is the late sister of Susan G. Koman

Susan Goodman known as Suzy. She was born in Peoria, Ill 1943 after came Nancy three years later.
They were raised by Jewish parents. Their parents, taught them the importance of Tzedakah", acts of kindness.

Suzy and Nancy's mother was a founding member of the Red Cross. She also was helping people in need.

She would make a meatloaf for their ill neighbor. She would bring a gift basket of diapers of a single woman without family. She would weed someone's garden if they were not able to. She had a strong sense of community. This led the way for the girls sense of community and what was yet to come for Nancy.

Nancy was the tomboy,trailblazer, outspoken and book smart. Nancy was like their mother. Where Susy was homecoming queen and interested in becoming a wife and mother. Suzy was like their father. They were as close as sisters could be. They shared everything together. They were a very close family. With good solid family values.

Once they both came into their 20's. Suzy became a wife and mother of two. Nancy moved on.

She moved to Texas to work for Neiman and Marcus. She moved up in the ranks to counter girl to marketing. She eventually met and married Norman Brinker, president of one of the bigger restaurant chain.

Suzy, at the age of 33 was diagnosed with Breast cancer. She shares with us the diagnosis and evasive treatments that she had to watch while her sister was dying. In the last days of her life Suzy asked Nancy to make a promise that would affect her life. Suzy asked Nancy to make a promise that she would never let a woman die without dignity and help find the cure.

From that time on Nancy had not stopped. Nancy started with $200 in a shoebox and invited 20 ladies to a tea. From that time on it blossomed. But there has been lots of bumps and bangs along the way.

Unfortunately back in Suzy and Nancy's early years society did not talk about breasts. It was a hush-hush under the table. Sex, was not a word you talked about. Cancer was thought of as a contagious disease. If you saw someone walking on the street with cancer, you avoided them and crossed the street to avoid that person. There was not any support groups. There was not a 800 number you could call.  Not a computer. You were left alone with your own devices.

Norman Brinker her husband gave her lots of support and encouragement. He helped her understand how to make a non-profit organization. How to get solicitatotors and start the funding for the research. Nancy did a enourmous research before she jumped right in

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure® mission was to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality care for all and energizing science to find the cures.

In researching the need she found a statistics. During the Viet Nam War over 58,000 service men lost their lives .During that same 10 year period of time 339,000 women in the U.S. died from breast cancer. Yet no one was talking about this silent killer.

During the 80's came a change in politics and talking about breast cancer. The first lady, Nancy Ford was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was a spit fire and was very open about Breast Cancer. She became a advocate for breast cancer. This opened up the way for funding and grants. This changed society's view on breast cancer. Society became more opening talking about the disease.

Nancy discusses her marriage, her family and children and her divorce. After three years after her sister, Suzy died. She was given the dreaded news that she had the same tumor. But, this time Nancy beat it because of the knowledge she had about the disease. Networking with doctors and the people she already knew working with them.

While working in Texas, she became aquainted with Pres. Bush's, and the sons. She worked with Laura. Laura was the first lady as governer in Texas. She was later asked to become ambassador to Hungary. To become protocol in the White House. She has been awarded many honors in the last few years including by President Barack Obama with the Presidential Honor of Freedom. She is responsible for countries around the world becoming aware of breast cancer, and women's health. She is spreading her wings to help spread the word about breast cancer and world health

Through out the book you will read about brave remarkable women that survived breast cancer. Or some that did not make it. The families braveries that make them continue to tell their stories.

After SGK was founded after a few years affiliates started popping up in different towns across the nation raising millions of dollars a year.

My Review: I became educated while reading this book. Nancy believed in advocacy for breast cancer. Especially for the lay person. I think she has done that. This book is awe inspiring as well.

The book taught me alot about the history and helped me reflect how science and medicine has changed. I remember how bad the treatments were.

talking about health issues. I also believe that because of SGK there are more things that being talked about now a days. Less things are pushed under the rug. There is much more advocacy for women's health than before.

There is funding for research for breast cancer by the United States. But SKG is also responsible for the funding and grants for breast cancer. There use to only be 75% cure rate after 5 years. Now, it is 95%. That is totally amazing. Cure does not mean it is gone, just means there is a remission.

I do believe SGK has opened up doors to allow for women's health issues to be heard. To allow for allowing other issues to be heard by women.

One thing that does amaze me. I just can't believe it was denied. Nancy went to the lingerie manufacturers to ask them to put on their bras tags to show women how to do a monthly breast exam. They were denied. Because, Nancy was told women come into the shop to be giddy, not unhappy thoughts. I am not sure, to this day I have not seen any tags on lingerie and bras to instruct women to do a monthly breast exam. Tsk!! Tsk!!.
I was not very interested in the business end of SGK. But I found myself drawn to it. Nancy Brinker deserves our praises all across this nation, and across the world division. She writes that she believes, that g-d put her in this mission in life. There is always a reason for things to happen. I believe that too.

SGK, is in Israel this year. Hadassah is a women's Jewish organization is helping to support and host this event. Hadassah has been a women's organization that has advocacy for women's health for years. In Israel, Hadassah Hospital is the leading hospital for research in breast cancer.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Jewish Author Takes Home the Prize

The Booker Prize was announced yesterday for a author, that lives in England and the British Isles.  The Booker Prize website, has information about the winners of the short list and the long list and their books.

I am happy to post about the winner. The author is Jewish, yes you heard right a Jewish author won the prize.

  He has also written, previously, in 2003 "Kalooki Nights".  
The new novel,  Finkler Question was just published on Tuesday in the U.S.

  Since winning, the Booker Prize there is a lot of buzz out there. I can't recommend it as yet. I have not read it. But one of my blogging pals,  Marie, from Boston Bibliophile is reading it. I can't wait for her
 post . The Boston Globe has a article here.

I am going to, not walk but run to get this book. It is nice to hear a Jewish author to get recognition occasionally.   And, yes this book is about the Jewish experience in England.  I also heard that it is funny too.

Below is the synopsis of the book I found on the Booker Prize website:

Julian Treslove, a professionally unspectacular former BBC radio producer, and
Sam Finkler, a popular Jewish philosopher, writer and television personality, are
old school friends. Despite a prickly relationship and very different lives, they’ve
never quite lost touch with each other - or with their former teacher, Libor Sevick, a
Czech always more concerned with the wider world than with exam results.

Now, both Libor and Sam are recently widowed, and with Treslove, his chequered
and unsuccessful record with women rendering him an honorary third widower,
they dine at Libor’s grand, central London apartment.
It’s a sweetly painful evening of reminiscence in which all three remove
themselves to a time before they had loved and lost; a time before they had
fathered children, before the devastation of separations, before they had prized
anything greatly enough to fear the loss of it. Better, perhaps, to go through life
without knowing happiness at all because that way you have less to mourn?
Treslove finds he has tears enough for the unbearable sadness of both his friends’

And it’s that very evening, at exactly 11:30, as Treslove, walking home, hesitates
a moment outside the window of the oldest violin dealer in the country, that he
is attacked. And after this, his whole sense of who and what he is will slowly and
ineluctably change.

On another note, on this side of the Atlantic. American Jewish author, Nicole Krauss has been selected to be one of the finalists for the National Book Award for her novel The Great House.

Congratulations to both of these Jewish authors on both sides of the Atlantic.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Have A Little Faith: Pefect for High Holidays

Have a little Faith by Mitch Albom I reviewed for The Jewish Book Carnival for October. It is being hosted by  the Jewish Book Council.  Our book club, The 38th Ave. Diva Readers selected this novel for October also.

I have read Mitch Alboms, small little books, with a large message before.  This was a great choice.

The book was a easy read.  I was waiting for the book to intersect with the two characters. They never did meet up with each other. But there was a reason for it. The book did have a message to tell.  I am not going to let on with that.   I did like the message of the book.  The book was a perfect book for the high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The book, which is non fiction is about Mitch Albom's family rabbi. Mitch Albom when he was young studied judiasm. But as he got older he had neither the need or want or time for Judiasm.  His work, his family and his life has not given him a chance to think about it until now. Mitch goes home to NJ one year and that is where the story starts. 

The Rabbi, he is up in age wants Mitch to write his eulogy. Mitch wonders why, the Rabbi asks him to do it.
The Rabbi and Mitch make a journey together.   There is a 8 year journey of faith.  The Rabbi is ill and keeps his faith even as he's health waivers and his life is about to go on a new journey.

Back in Detroit, Mitch meets a minister in a run down church.  Mitch develops a friendship with the minister. He starts caring about all the congregants that make up the church by listening to their stories.
The minister was in a life of crime when he was growing up.    He was living in the streets.  Finally the last straw, the police come to his house looking for drugs.  He prays if I get out of this one I will never do it again.

 He is saved, and from that time on he becomes a preacher. He goes into the ministry. He starts he's church. He finds a building that is run down. He helps the penniless, the homeless, the abused and every one that has a story to tell.

 It is so bad in the winter with not any heat. They huddle in a tent in the church to keep warm most of the winter. At the same time the imminent death of the Rabbi is coming.  And financial collapse in our country is taking place. People are asking, Where is Hashem??

But Mitch finally understands the journey.   He tries to understand the message that the Rabbi and the Minister are sending.

The book was about three journey's. The Rabbi, The Minister and Mitch Albom's. Everyone needs something to believe in. It is not too late.  You never know what can be right around the corner that will change you.  Even Mitch, he never thought he never cared about his faith or religion. But look at him now.
It is never too late. 

This a interesting concept. Our Rabbi wrote this message in the bulletin.  He was talking about Kirk Douglas. He was saying that he had something missing. Later on in his life he found what he was missing.  His faith.  That is interesting that our Rabbi, wrote the same message that our book club was reading.

I don't want to spoil the rest of the story. You will have to read it yourself.   I did like the message of the book. You will understand the title of the book once you read the book and get to the end of Mitch Albom's book.  But  basically the message is, Everyone can do something to change your life and make a difference.

I may not exactly loved the book but I did like the message. No matter when, it is never too late to fix something as long " AS YOU HAVE A LITTLE FAITH!!!
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