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The Best Boy in the United States of America

A Memoir of Blessings and Kisses

Dr. Ron Wolfson

6 x 9, 192 pp, Hardcover, 978-1-58023-838-0

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Powerful life lessons in a funny and moving portrait of family, community and spiritual discovery in America.

“I am the best boy in the United States of America. That’s what my grandfather—my ‘Zaydie’—called me from the time I was a little child in Omaha, Nebraska. I know it’s true because this is a true story. All my stories
are true....
    “Zaydie loved three things: his family, his business, and his adopted country—the United States of America. I never, ever heard Zaydie say ‘the United States.’ It was always ‘da United States of America,’ in his thick Russian accent.... For Louie Paperny, each one of his nine grandchildren was the best boy or the best girl in the United States of America. We believed him. I believed him. And in a certain way, I’ve lived the rest of my life trying to be that best boy.”

—from Chapter 1

Hilarious and heartfelt, Ron Wolfson’s inspiring memoir is filled with stories of growing up in a warm family, encountering colorful characters like the merchants of Omaha and the famous Warren Buffett, navigating adolescence and learning never to underestimate his mother.

With easygoing Midwestern humor and profound poignancy, Ron’s “true stories” of family and community in the United States of America will resonate with anyone seeking to shape stronger families, create compelling communities and live their best life, a life of joy and laughter, meaning and purpose, and, yes, blessings and kisses.

“A deeply affecting memoir that will leave you laughing and crying and learning all the while.... Will bless you and inspire you. As you read this beautifully written work, you will already be thinking of all the people you’re going to give this book to.”

Rabbi Naomi Levy, author, To Begin Again and Hope Will Find You

“A warm, loving and wise collection of true stories from one of the most inspiring Jewish educators of our time. With each story, Ron distills life lessons to enrich our days and insights to help revitalize our Jewish community.”

 —Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president, Union for Reform Judaism

“For anyone searching for ways to reinvent ritual and find meaning where they haven’t, these stories will make you think and make you laugh. [Makes] spiritual discovery feel possible.”

Abigail Pogrebin, author, Stars of David; columnist, Forward

“With the same charm, wit and insight that makes Ron Wolfson one of our greatest teachers, he recounts the story of his life: awakenings, disappointments and triumphs. A beautiful book.”

Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple, Los Angeles; author, Why Faith Matters

“With humor and honesty, Wolfson reminds us that mensches are not born—they are made by an incredible village of loving people. A must-read for everyone trying to raise a mensch!”

Rabbi Sherre Hirsch, spiritual life consultant at Canyon Ranch; spiritual commentator, The Today Show

“Funny in tone, snappy in style—a leisurely read that makes important points about growing up Jewish and the task of preserving Jewish identity.”

Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, editor, My People’s Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries series

“This warm, hilarious and deeply moving story of relationships will resonate powerfully with all those ‘best boys’ (and best girls) who grew up in post-war America ... and leave the rest of us wishing we had grown up alongside the author in the American heartland.”

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president, the Rabbinical Assembly

“An engaging and heartfelt love story—love of home, love of family, love of community and love of the Jewish people.”

Abraham H. Foxman, national director, Anti-Defamation League

“A charming reminder from a master storyteller of the power of our family stories to teach, inspire and remind us of what really matters in life.”

Lee M. Hendler, author, The Year Mom Got Religion: One Woman’s Midlife Journey into Judaism

“An homage to fabulous storytelling, a homespun combination of family, love, hilarity and poignancy only a Jew from Omaha could summon up.”

Robin Kramer, executive director, Reboot, an incubator of Jewish arts and culture

“A touching celebration of the power of family to raise up souls and heal the world. With wisdom and heart, Ron Wolfson offers the perfect antidote to the sour pessimism that afflicts contemporary Jewish life.”

Rabbi Edward Feinstein, Valley Beth Shalom, Encino, California; author, The Chutzpah Imperative and Tough Questions Jews Ask

“A magic story, one filled with values and love.... Charmingly captures the story of [Ron Wolfson’s] life from his childhood in Omaha to his current roles of educator, husband, parent and grandparent.... This book is a delight!”

Rabbi David Ellenson, chancellor emeritus, Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion; acting director, Schusterman Center for Israel Studies; visiting professor, Brandeis University

“Want to know the secret of becoming a legendary teacher, sought-after public speaker and Jewish educator extraordinaire? You can find the answer between the covers of this book!”

Harlene Appelman, executive director, the Covenant Foundation

“This heartwarming memoir is about family—the ups and downs, the laughter and tears, and the pivotal moments that shape our lives. It’s a great reminder of why families are so important, and it’s a fun book to read!”

Rick Warren, pastor, Saddleback Church; author, The Purpose-Driven Life

“A vivid and heartwarming memoir ... filled with the love and warmth of an incredible family for whom Judaism is an essential part of who they are.”

Rabbi Mike Uram, executive director and campus rabbi, Penn Hillel, University of Pennsylvania

“Ron Wolfson is the Mark Twain of the Jewish community.”

Scott Seigel, president, Temple Bat Yahm, Newport Beach

“Ever the storyteller, Ron invites us into his Jewish journey, a journey filled with laughter, tears and insights.”

Allan Finkelstein, president emeritus, JCC Association of North America

 

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