Foreskin’s Lamentby Zoe Henry / 12.05.2009
Shalom was raised an orthodox Jew. He kept kosher, observed Shabbas, and went to the synagogue on Saturdays. His uncles are Rabbis and his parents are both God- fearing Jews and active members of their synagogue, and they certainly did a number on him. Now Shalom is an adult. He has a wife and a son, and he’s written a memoir on what a curse his faith is. God-fearing against his will, he is trying desperately to divorce himself from the culture he now hates so.
Despite being shrouded in religious frustration, Foreskin’s Lament is a delightful tale. Shalom shares with us little anecdotes from his life as a bad Jew, from gorging on MacDonald’s (the only food less kosher than MacDonald’s is Red Lobster) to escaping the house on Shabbas to go and see what happens at the mall on a Saturday. It’s fantastically humorous, even during the more serious areas of the story, such as his father beating up Shalom’s older brother.
Nothing amazing ever happens in Shalom’s life. He doesn’t join the Jewish mafia or discover a cure for cancer. His life is entirely unremarkable. But the quirky charm of the writing makes you really care about him, and you want to carry on reading to find out how his life turns out. And even though he’s a Jew telling a heavily referenced and uniquely Jewish story, it manages somehow to remain universal. Anyone who wants to be something other than what their parents want them to be has something in common with Shalom. And for any non-Jewish readers, it’s very educational.