Monday, September 23, 2019

All the Rosh Hashanah Simanim That's Fit to Print

I made a thing. Please laminate, disseminate, and celebrate. Shana Tovah everybody!:


Monday, September 09, 2019

Dvar Torah on Occasion of Benjy Israel's Marriage to the Lovely Laura, with permission from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II


(ad libs in parentheses)

We’ve all heard the expression, “A mentsch tracht in Gut lacht.”

This is more familiarly known as?

[crowd says, "Man plans, and God laughs."]

(Yes, but also:) “Man proposes and God disposes.”

Also known as “Man schmoozes, but God chooses.”

Or: “Man wheels, but God deals.”

And it is famously known in Latin as, "Homo proponit, sed Deus disponit." They rhymed it too.

Most famously, this was interpreted by the gadol hador, John Lennon (of course), as “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.”

This all comes from Tehillim 19: “rabbois machshavois b’lev ish v’atzas hashem he sakum.” Or: "Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."

So, some time ago, there Benjy was, and there, presumably, Laura was (timeout! I finally got the full exact story yesterday from the couple, but it's too late to change what I've written here, so what I'm about to say is “based on true events”), swiping left while both were vacationing in Tel Aviv, but something told them to swipe RIGHT, and they met RIGHT around the corner, and everything was so RIGHT, that they met RIGHT away, and then when they returned to the UK, and suddenly we’re all here today. Isn't that RIGHT?

(See Naava, it wasn't so punny after all!)

So let's back up a bit: many months later, my wife and I were finalizing our summer vacation plans with the kids, an RV trip - I believe Brits call them motorhomes or mobile homes or caravans - to Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, because I’m collecting all 50 states, and I like to bring my family along with me.

Suddenly we got the news that Benjy got engaged, and the kids made us completely change our plans: we’re going to the UK. Well, we were just here in the winter, so we decided to go to the Holy Land this time and come through London on the way back.

So there we were on the way to the airport for our flight to Israel, chatting about the adventures we’ll have, while the Uber driver kept falling asleep (no, seriously), when the call comes in asking for me to speak today. Well, I left the rest of the chatting to my family, while I daydreamed, for a long while, about what I would say.

While on our trip, we learned at the Ayalon Institute, about pre-medina kibbutzniks, with ambitions to build a neighborhood in the future state of Israel, when the Haganah pulled aside 40 teenagers, and told them no, you’re making bullets (under threat of discovery, under pain of death).

What on earth does all of this (pichifkes) have in common?

Plenty! Allow me to explain:

This week’s parsha is Parshas Re'eh. It is about making the right decisions, but it’s not just about that, it’s also about seizing opportunity when it’s presented to you.

It starts, right at the beginning of the parsha (which you've now heard at least 7 times this Shabbos, and now it's my turn), with God presenting a choice:
רְאֵ֗ה אָנֹכִ֛י נֹתֵ֥ן לִפְנֵיכֶ֖ם הַיֹּ֑ום בְּרָכָ֖ה וּקְלָלָֽה׃ see I have set before you today a blessing and a curse. Twice afterwards in the parsha, God shows the Jewish people how to choose the right path. Finally, to wrap things up a few parshios later, in Netzavim, G-d advises which one to choose. Choose life. וּבָֽחַרְתָּ בַּֽחַיִּים.

So God presents a choice, tells you how to choose, and then is extremely specific, just in case you're having trouble putting it all together.

And then the current parsha ends with an invitation to come to Eretz Yisroel three times a year for the shalosh regalim.
So it seems that if you start right, you end right, if you choose blessing, because you've been invited to do so, you end up being blessed.

We see that choosing right, and choosing correctly, when a choice is given to you, leads you down good paths.

When you recognize that the etzba elokim has swiped right, and you end up following the derech elokim - the path of God - yourself in response, wonderful things happen.

Benjy and Laura swiped right - and here we are all together, blessed with the promise of a bayis ne’eman, and us blessing them that they should indeed build one.

The Bodeks swiped right, from the UK to Israel, and Oy did we have a blessed and enriched time, which may not have happened if the couple hadn’t swiped right.

Auntie Hazel asked me to swipe right, and I certainly did. I carved time out from our busy schedule and perpetual exhaustion because it’s the ultimate compliment to ask me to speak, with my Brooklyn brogue, amongst speakers so refined and esteemed.

And the bullet-making heroes are just one of the many stories that we learned among our trips to places like Chevron, Elazar, Ir David, and more. Israel is a collection of people heeding the call, understanding they’ve been given a mission, following that right-swiping etzbah elokim and wound up with blessing upon blessing.

We should all be blessed with the message of this week’s parsha: choose life, choose right, swipe right, choose life (I don't know why I wrote that twice - perhaps to emphasize the point). May this continue, and may we continue to cross ponds to share in each other’s simchas. A few years ago, we were in Israel for Jordy’s bar mitzvah. This year we made it here for Benjy’s wedding. l’shana haba b’Passaic for Freddy’s bar mitzvah, b'Eretz Yisroel for Dovi's Bar Mitzvah, b'New Rochelle for Ayden's bat mitzvah, and b’New York for Doron and Michelle’s wedding.

Mazel tov chosson and kallah, chassanim and kallos, the House of Israel, the House of Storfer, the House of Lassman, the House of Busse - did I get everyone? The House of Gryffindor? - have a wonderful Shabbos, and may the etzbah elokim swipe right for all of us in matters of health, faith, parnassah, nachas, and family connections.

Thank you very much.


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

An Emoji Month in Summary

An incredible month caps off with the The New York Times declining me.

This was the only interview I had for The Emoji 
Haggadah that didn't make it to print. I was told: "...they did indeed decide to cancel it. The decision comes from above."

But I have no complaints. The coverage I got was astounding. It was an amazing month.

I've warehoused everything - interviews, reviews, essays, and name-drops - here for your perusal: 
http://www.theknish.com/

351 Shopping Days left to Pesach!: 
https://www.amazon.com/Emoji-Haggadah-Martin-Bodek/dp/1602803463

-Martin(
i) Bodek

Monday, April 22, 2019

These Reviews Come with Stories


Moed Tov!

Majorly:
1) A fellow co-worker, so enamored with The Emoji Haggadah, reached out to her previous place of employment, asked if she could review my book as one last hurrah of sorts, and was granted her request! The result is the best nuts-and-bolts under-the-hood look at what I was thinking throughout my creation process. If you really want access to my brain, this piece teases out the machinery better than any other:
2) Talk about full circle: over 20 years ago, I published a series of dating columns in The Jewish Press' "Im Yirtzeh HaShem by You" column. The Jüdische Allgemeine, Germany's last weekly Jewish newspaper, reached out to me, asking for permission to translate and publish. Of course! I still have the copies in my archives.
Two decades later, I publish The Emoji Haggadah, and The Jüdische Allgemeine - still kicking around, still the last of its kind standing - reaches out because they'd like to review my book. Of course!
Speak German?: enjoy.; Speak Yiddish?: you'll get about 2/5th of it.; Speak English?: Click the translate button, and have fun reading the awkwardly formal result, and my gender all wrong, but the article remains quite good:

Miscellany:
5) Now in six libraries and spreading fast.
6) I hear that, during his Shabbos Hagadol speech, Rabbi Moshe Shmiel Rottenberg of Bais Moshe Shmiel in Brooklyn, mentioned my book as a way to keep kids involved. That's 2!

Finally:
7) Excuse me while I go find out what's going on with that New York Times article.
8) If you enjoyed my book over chag, I would be pleased with a kind word on Amazon. Thank you very much!: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1602803463

-Martin(i) Bodek



Friday, April 19, 2019

My Pesach Vinch (Passover Wishes)


My favorite author, AJ Jacobs, published his 6th book recently. It was called Thanks A Thousand. He goes on an adventure thanking everyone up the chain who is responsible for his daily coffee. It's a book entirely about gratitude. I think he got more press for this than he did for any of his previous works.

I, too, published my 6th book this year. You may have heard. It's called The Emoji Haggadah. It's published by KTAV Publishing House. I'm thankful to a lot of people who have helped me throughout the process. All I feel is gratitude. I know I got more press for this than any of my previous works.

With this book, I have finally gotten access to a world previously closed to me. The door opened. I went supernova. I got zany coverage from all corners of the globe. Newspapers in Australia and New Zealand covered me; I was tweeted at from all over Asia. A German paper reached out for an interview; Israelis were some of the first to order; Indian and British work colleagues were thrilled for me. 5 libraries, in 5 different states, already have it in their collections. Stores all over the U.S. and Canada welcomed me in, and the globe follows after chag. I've sold thousands of copies; I was in the top 0.14% of Amazon sellers; I'm noticed in the streets; I now walk around with a Sharpie in my pocket; everyone thinks I'm handsome.

But what elevates my heart is not just this feeling of self-actualization, not just this enervating kerpow of personal accomplishment after years of rejection.

No, what pervades my entire body, heart, and soul is an overwhelming feeling of gratitude, to all those who took a chance on me, who offered me advice and encouragement, who gave me solid leads, who interviewed me, who reviewed me, who connected me with some heavy hitters, who walked into stores to pitch for me, who pounded pavement for me.

It is good to feel gratitude. It's good to feel that people have your back. More than all the emotions I've experienced, this one sits at the top of the pyramid.

I'm thankful to all of you, and I wish sincerely that this feeling of gratitude should sit in your hearts as well. It's the best feeling in the world. You deserve it.

Have a wonderful chag, and I hope that my humble work helps add meaning to your seders, and helps engage with those at your table.

-Mordechi (Martin[i]) Bodek

P.S. And today, erev Pesach, is my birthday. How fitting is that? My wife got me an emoji cake, because that’s perfect, and she’s awesome. And vice versa.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Emoji Digest 2, or Only Two Shopping Days Left to Pesach!

As if I'm the only one in your inbox reminding you there are two days left:


Let's see now, what do I have to report?. Ah yes:

6) My wife dreamed up some more clever ads (attached) which we spread around social media.
7) TheKnish.com is back, and will be revived in full shortly. For now, I'm warehousing the compendium of the coverage The Emoji Haggadah is getting. It's become quite astonishing: http://www.theknish.com/
8) My book is now in 5 US libraries, in 4 states and DC. Having a book in a library is a feeling of permanence that has great meaning for me.

Upcoming:

1) The Jüdische Allgemeine - Germany's last Jewish newspaper - will be featuring the book. Link will be available next week.
2) The Jewish Book council. They're quite high-brow, and are obsessing over grammatical details before release.
3) The New York Times. That's the big one. Bated breath!

If this is my last e-mail before chag, then have a great one, everybody! Thank you for the love and support! There are chunks of possibilities that wouldn't be available to me without your impassioned input, and assistance, and invaluable advice. I'm truly thankful and grateful. I also hope you enjoy your seders and that I have a hand in making it more enjoyable for you and your children, and your children's children, and your parents and grandparents, and heck, just everybody.

-Martin(i) Bodek

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Easier-to-Digest Emoji Haggadah Digest

Hi!

My apologies for crowding your mailbox with all things Emoji Haggadah. Truth is, the pace at which I'm bombarding you is restrained in comparison with the absolute whirlwind I'm experiencing at the moment, which I'm simply delighted to share with you, my friends and family.

5 of you have asked me to take you off my e-mail list. I totally get that. Granted.

As for the rest of you who still love me, I'll digest as much as I can into single e-mails, and create space in between. You have to understand that every time I head to the post office to mail another book somewhere, my phone blows up with yet another interview request, or google alert, or friend offering congrats. It's been amazing.

So this has happened lately:

1) The Jewish Vues, splattering me all over Brooklyn: https://view.flipdocs.com/?PID=1000741#20
4) The book is now in 20 stores (the latest: Eichler's on Coney, and Judaica Gallery in Highland Park) and online outlets and continues to roll.
5) I'm #2 in Jewish Prayerbooks on Amazon, having vaulted over Elie Wiesel, OBM, and stuck behind the Kveller product: https://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/12569/ref=pd_zg_hrsr_books
6) I have 5 reviews, but I always will welcome more, and thank you in advance: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1602803463

Okay, that's more than enough for today. I'll practice restraint again, but still pending are my interviews with The Bergen Record, Jewish Book Council, The New York Times (gosh, that's just too nuts too comprehend), and whatever happens between now and Pesach, which is 8 days away - and which will happen to be my birthday. Nice harmony there.

-Martin(i) Bodek

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Onward and upward, I’m in the ⏩

Enjoy:

https://forward.com/schmooze/422071/a-new-haggadah-tells-passover-story-in-emojis-entirely/

Still pending publication are my interviews with:

The Jewish Vues.
The Jewish Book Council.

And.

Drumroll.

The New York Times.

Yeah, that's a big one.

10 days left to Pesach. Get your copies now: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1602803463

Also, enjoy the cute ads attached, courtesy of my wife's clever noggin, and splattered all over social media. She's awesome.

-Martin(i) Bodek