Reviews

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"This is a most fascinating story, literate, fast-paced and carefully plotted. A wonderful bildungsroman."

Bryan Govett, former Senior Lecturer in English Literature, Ealing College of Higher Education (now Thames Valley University), UK

"Finally got to read your book. A shocker. A treat. A privilege - to be invited to share in the most sensitive and vulnerable recesses of a body's soul. It's also extremely informative to those of us who haven't been there, and as such, an important document to publish. As you must be super-aware, there is so much uninformed talk. Almost feel you have somewhat of a responsibility to inform. I feel honored, humbled, and grateful for the opportunity."

Dr. Mordy Shizgal, founding member of an Orthodox congregation in Montreal

"David Brody has carved a story with grace and sensitivity about a subject that some of us, still to this day, cannot even whisper: homosexuality. This deeply affecting story about a man trying to find his place in a world that has no place for him is a triumph. By writing this book, the author has made this story human and personal, making it impossible for us to ignore or shun gays and lesbians. From a perspective of a hundred years ago, we see just how far we have come to accept sexual orientation within society and religious constructs, but sadly, it reveals how far we need to go. More importantly, this novel transcends the barriers of religious denominations because the book is doing just that, breaking down barriers. It is not only a book for the Jewish faith but for all religions. David Brody has written this story with honesty and love, and I was very touched by it."

Cary Lawrence, actress, Montreal, Canada

"Well written with sensitivity. An enjoyable albeit heart-rending account of the ignorance shown in the past that has given way to the acceptance and liberal views of the present day. Although I have finished the book, Yankl's torment continues to live on in my mind."

Irene Chipchase, homemaker and booklover, Cambridge, UK

"I have just read your book. I couldn't leave my computer - and I cried again! Thank you for sharing this with me and indeed the world. God bless you, dear friend."

Carole Rocklin, fund-raising professional, Montreal, Canada

"David Brody in his new novel, Mourning and Celebration, vividly recreates the world of Eastern European Jewry in the nineteenth century before it was decimated by the Holocaust. With an authenticity that reminds us of Isaac Bashevis Singer, he draws readers into his narrative. Brody holds their interest by asking the following questions:

"What if a problem that we think of as new and modern has actually existed for a very long time? How did people who could not fit into the traditional societies of old find a place for themselves in the world?

"Today we are used to seeing gay people in all walks of life and we assume it is something new and characteristic of our own time. But what if gay people were finding a place for themselves in society for centuries? How might they have done this?

"These are the questions that Brody has answered with a story that is beautifully conceived and gracefully written."

Rabbi Howard Handler, Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, New York

"An elderly holocaust survivor once shared with me that when he was a boy his father took him to shul on Yom Kippur, and in the last row of the pews he saw a number of strangers, men without talesim weeping. He asked his father who those men were, and his father said, "they are the reshoim", wicked men. His portrayal of what it was like for Jewish gay men in 1930s Poland has made me hungry for stories like David Brody's. We are in need of a history that cannot be recovered. He has broken that silence with the first of stories that can only be imagined."

Rabbi Steven Greenberg, Director of the Diversity Project and Senior Teaching Fellow at CLAL (National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership), Scholar-in-Residence for Hazon, a Jewish Environmental organization, and for Keshet, an organization dedicated to GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) inclusion in the larger Jewish community

"I am sure Mourning and Celebration will be a great success. The story is amazing and brilliantly devised. It has both meaning and a message relevant today."

Lily Frank, former National Executive Vice-President, Canadian Hadassah/WIZO

"This story is an intelligent and soulful insight into a conflicted world that most neglect to imagine even existed. It is a story of pain and exploration, and it is a story in which the deeply human struggles are, tragically, timeless. I am grateful to consider the author a friend and my teacher in the implications of what transpires when deep emotional longing meets moral blindness."

Rabbi Adam Scheier, Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, Westmount, Quebec, Canada, the author's congregational rabbi

"This book is truly a gift bestowed upon its readers. One can only be grateful to the author for his generosity of spirit in sharing a journey so rarely revealed. Love propels us through time and tradition, all the while exacting a terrible price on wonderfully endearing characters. I read this book very slowly. I didn't want it to end."

Pauline de Waele, Administrator, Health Services, Montreal, Canada

"Danny (Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber, Chana's husband) and I are truly impressed by your writing. The story is so powerful and touching and sensitively told in exquisite English. I hope to see Yankl on screen soon. It would be amazing and a real mitzvah as a movie."

Chana Sperber, counselor to the parents of gay men and lesbians, Tel Aviv, Israel

"I read this book with extreme pleasure and great interest. I admire the warmth and dignity of the writer expressed so well on a theme with which he is so familiar."

Muguette Myers, Translator and published poet, Montreal, Canada

"David Brody has, in 'Mourning and Celebration,' attempted to fill in one of the many silences of gay and lesbian history, and in so doing has written a stirring tale that can open hearts. Brody imagines a counterpoint to himself: a young man in the shtetl whose love is denied him by the conventions and strictures of his time, and in this way calls us to ponder the thousands - perhaps millions - of people who are similarly bound today. Like the movie "Trembling Before G-d," this book gives human form to their struggle."

Jay Michaelson, Executive Director, Nehirim (USA): GLBT Jewish Culture & Spirituality, and author of "Everything is God: The Radical Path of Nondual Judaism"

"David Brody has written a powerful and sensitive story about human love as it was and is experienced by gay men with a vibrant spirituality, shaped by the traditions of the Jewish faith. In a most imaginative way, David imagines an encounter between himself today and a Chassidic Jew named Yankl, who lived more than a century earlier. Yankl's story of his wrestling with the conventions of his day, with his family's expectations, and with the demands of his orthodox faith, while refusing to deny his own sexual leanings, is fictional but totally believable and emotionally moving. And David Brody's own contemporary musings as a gay man and practicing Jew show that, in many ways, the struggle goes on. Though written from a Jewish perspective Mourning and Celebration has insights of great worth for anyone, gay or straight, who is struggling to remain faithful to themselves and to the spiritual tradition to which they may belong."

The Rev. Dr. Donald F. Bell, Minister, The United Church of Canada, Toronto, Canada

"When I first heard that there was a new novel about a gay orthodox Jew, I knew that I had to read it. I approached it with trepidation, however, fearing it could be a polemical diatribe flimsily ensconced in a weak plot with one dimensional characters. What a treat I found, instead. Mr. Brody has crafted an interesting story that unfolds carefully and logically and yet presents enough surprises to keep it continuously interesting. I became so absorbed in reading "Mourning and Celebration" that I found it difficult to put the book down, and whenever I did, I was quick to find the first opportunity to pick it up again, in order to find out what would happen next. The topic of homosexuality in the orthodox Jewish community is only recently coming under the microscope, as changes in modern society's acceptance of Gays and Lesbians has made it difficult to avoid. For those of us who have wondered what it must have been like to be Gay and Jewish in the shtetl's of Eastern Europe, David Brody has now presented us with a vivid example. As an added treat he has also created an intriguing device in this book, which enables himself as the author to converse directly with its main character. Mr. Brody took a big risk with this device. It might easily have come off as gimmicky and distracting, but in fact the strategy pays off, big time. These inter-chapter insertions give added credibility to the main story, by supporting the suggestion that the lead character has been channeled by Mr. Brody, rather than merely being created by him. These sections also give the author an opportunity to share some of his own coming out history. Comparing the two stories adds poignancy to each."

Shlomo Ashkinazy LCSW, Montreal, Canada

"One of the best books that I have read in the last decade. Fascinating story, hard to put down, wishing for the story not to end.

"I am warning you, David, if you don't write a second book soon I will have to read it over and over until it gets "dog eared"."

Frieda Kotler, Tel-Aviv, Israel

"Mourning and Celebration is an extremely provocative tale. It is the book that should be distributed throughout the Jewish Orthodox literary world.

"This book forces us to look deep within ourselves and deep within the Orthodox Jewish communities we live in without whitewashing anything.

"Some would cry out that Mourning and Celebration should be banned and that there should be a public book burning in the square!

"Others would at once band together to march in protest!

"Controversy is healthy for us if we only could unite and discuss things. But the book should be read by all and everyone should know about it!"

Diana Boksenboim, Tsfat, Israel

"I've just finished reading Mourning and Celebration. It is wonderful. I was very moved. The author should be very proud of such an achievement!"

Bill Gekoski, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario

"I received the book by mail on Friday and have read most of it. I must say I am taking many breaks in the reading of it as I don't want it to end. I am afraid by tonight it will be over.

"What a beautifully written story. I laughed and cried and am certainly learning a thing or two about Judaism that I never knew. I will be sad to see the story end. A sign of a good book I think."

Howard Mativetsky, Montreal, Canada

"Much enjoyed 'Mourning and Celebration'. Such a gripping and absorbing story. Clear and vivid writing too! It stays with me and I am sure must speak to many, and many there must have been who faced those dilemmas. But I suppose that most must have compromised, suffered and been unhappy husbands. And I do like the conversations at the end of the chapters - coming up for air from the deeper layers of genetic archaeology. I'm not sure about the ending though and would, I think, have preferred to have missed the postscript. Nothing wrong with it though. Thank you for writing all of it! It certainly makes me aware of just how things have changed and hopefully will continue to change.

"It fits in with my present thinking about identity - who we are and what makes us what we are, etc. - sparked off by an exhibition at the Wellcome Institute in London."

Dr. Roger Sanders, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

"Mourning and Celebration is a surprising page-turner. The time and place is credibly imagined, and the characters are realistic and not caricatured. I was eager to know what would happen next to Yankl/Jonathan. The subject is, of course, original and provocative, but handled with fairness. Whether the protagonist is a hero or victim is debatable, but the fact that a reader can say that by the end of the book is a tribute to the writing."

Janice Arnold, Canadian Jewish News

"Some intriguing premises underlie "Mourning and Celebration." Author K. David Brody creates an alter ego who appears to him in his own life, discussing with him the vagaries of 19th-century life for an Orthodox Jewish Gay man. Although this is an unusual approach, Mr. Brody makes it work very well, as Yankl reveals the details - sometimes mournful indeed - of his life in a Polish Jewish village.

"Alternating Yankl's 19th-century recollections with his own 21st-century input, the author easily draws in the reader to the twin stories he interweaves. Yet in both centuries, human nature is similar, as are love, desire, companionship, and family. "Mourning and Celebration" is a thought-provoking book that might almost be termed a memoir; and is certainly well worth reading."

Excerpted from a review by PermaFrost at RainbowReviews

"Just to tell you that I'm addicted to reading your book every day and look forward to finding out about the end, which I hope, will be a beginning.

"I have cried sometimes, and your writing, your excellent descriptions in the plot, the characters, the landscape, the feelings... the fact that we are sometimes powerless and sometimes feel secure about our actions... the love still not understood today by many traditional Jews... Overall, your whole book is one of the best I have read so far.

"It touches something deep inside many of us."

Aviel Perez

"I have just had the privilege of reading your book. THANK YOU

"In my youth I faced discrimination, gay bashing and the loss of employment. The marriage issue ( I am the son of French-Canadian Catholic parents ) finally made me come out resulting in the loss of family support. My brother never spoke to me again, so I can relate to this book and its characters.

"This book is a history of the steps we were forced to take towards being accepted, and in the end, it was worth every step.

"I wish that all gay youth would read this book to try and understand what past generations had to endure so that today they can have the freedoms we never had as young gay men. So many of the situations in the book hit a cord in my heart and brought tears to my eyes."

John Morin, Ottawa

"I read your book over Tisha B'Av - thinking I would just skim the prologue - and was so incredibly impressed by your style & content & finesse. (Is it really so wrong to enjoy your writing so much on a day of mourning?)

"MAZEL TOV! Please write more!"

MaryBeth MacDonald

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