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Entries Filed Under “Misc.”

moses.jpgI spent time with a lot of interesting people while researching my book about going to churches for a year. One of my favorites was an Israeli musician named Moses Staimez who played guitar for a Baptist church band. “It makes me feel more spiritual,” he told me at the time of the gospel music he played so well. Occasionally, I like to check in with some of the subjects of my book, so here’s an update: Turns out, Moses has now started his own music school called Atlanta School of Musical Arts that offers in-home music lessons. So if you want to learn from the best, and from one of the most unique musicians I’ve ever met, check him out.

March 12, 2014 10:25 AM Filed under Misc.
In my book, I have a chapter called “The Prince and I” which describes the bizarre Thanksgiving I spent with Price Asiel of the Black Hebrews. Well, Prince Asiel was in the news this week, appearing in court over allegations that he lobbied U.S. officials for Zimbabwe. The local NPR affiliate in Chicago, WBEZ, interviewed this morning about my experiences with the group. The audio is below:

August 8, 2013 3:47 PM Filed under Misc. Tags: Black Hebrews Prince Asiel radio
So I decided to cross an item off my bucket list: Perform standup comedy in front of an audience. I found a local comedy club that holds open mic nights. Below is a small audio snippet from the performance. Hope you enjoy...
Click the ‘Play’ button to listen...

September 15, 2011 9:45 AM Filed under Misc.

PBS has a new special called “God in America” which they are premiering on Monday night. Below is a sneak peek....

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

October 7, 2010 12:10 PM Filed under Misc.
So a Sabbath-observant Jewish contestant on the new season of America’s Got Talent told Tyra Banks on the premiere that she would leave orthodoxy to win the show. Not surprisingly, this caused a stir in the religious blogosphere.

She’s not the first Modern Orthodox contestant to bring drama onto a reality TV show. Read my latest essay for the Huffington Post about the trend.

September 21, 2010 3:31 PM Filed under Misc. Tags: huffington post

My close friend Joseph Skibell (who was one of the first authors to offer me much-needed advice when I started writing “My Jesus Year”) has a new book out called “A Curable Romantic”. In the video below, he explores the book’s themes and talks about the writing process. Enjoy...

September 20, 2010 4:41 PM Filed under Misc.
I just wrote a story for the Daily Beast about history’s craziest religions. Enjoy.

July 26, 2010 1:48 PM Filed under Misc.

Maybe the “my year doing such and such” fad has jumped the shark. On this morning’s “Today” show, author Hephzibah Anderson talked about her new book about going a year without sex. Video below:


July 9, 2010 10:57 AM Filed under Misc.
Jason Jones meets a pastor who teaches mixed martial arts and an evangelist who breaks inanimate objects in the name of Jesus.


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
God Smacked
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

May 12, 2010 4:13 PM Filed under Misc.
I just wrote an essay for Slate called “Passover Profiteering” about why Passover food is so darn expensive. Here’s the link to the article.

March 27, 2010 9:05 PM Filed under Misc. Tags: Passover Slate
For my latest story for the Huffington Post, I interviewed Penina Taylor about her new book, Coming Full Circle.

You can read the article here...

March 26, 2010 5:41 PM Filed under Misc. Tags: Huffington Post
For my latest essay at the Huffington Post, I wrote about what I learned on my 20-city book tour. Read it here.

March 17, 2010 3:18 PM Filed under Book Tour, Misc., Press Tags: Huffington Post
Here’s my latest article for the Huffington Post: An interview with Gina Welch, the author of In the Land of Believers: An Outsider’s Extraordinary Journey into the Heart of the Evangelical Church.

6 questions for an atheist undercover in an Evangelical church

March 8, 2010 2:58 PM Filed under Misc. Tags: Huffington Post interfaith


March 4, 2010 8:46 AM Filed under Misc.

In the new issue of Esquire magazine, disgraced former governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich calls himself “blacker than Barack Obama”. Not surprisingly, that caused quite a stir and a quick apology from Blago. What the media hasn’t written much about is the other person Blago compares himself to in that very same article: Mordechai.

blago.jpgIn the course of a conversation, he is not only Galileo; he is Teddy Roosevelt and Robin Hood and Bobby Kennedy and Rocky Balboa. And Mordecai of the legend of Purim.

Purim?

“The Book of Esther.”

Purim?

“Yeah. And I’m Mordecai. Falsely accused. I didn’t do those things. This whole story is epic. What helps me get up every morning is, I’m fighting the fight for something much larger than me. I’m fighting for what is at the basis of what our country is supposed to be, a place where you’re presumed innocent, where if in fact you did something wrong, the system plays out in such a way where the truth comes out, not people being forced to lie and being squeezed to lie. If you love your country as I do, this is a fight worth fighting.”

You can read the entire Esquire interview here.

January 25, 2010 6:49 PM Filed under Misc.

I recently wrote two essays which I wanted to share here, both of which are bizarre in their own way. Here are the links:

Slate: The little-know Jewish holiday of Christmas Eve. Seriously.

The Daily Beast: The Jewish condom magnate and the Nazis who stole his company.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks!

December 30, 2009 11:30 AM Filed under Misc., Press
meandal.jpgCrazy story: I had the opportunity yesterday to interview Al Gore (as part of my day job). The interview, which actually took place at a synagogue, went great. At the end, Gore said to me, “I’ve been hearing a lot about your book. Lots of people are talking about it. You were in a mosh pit at a church. Sounds fascinating.”

Of course I had a copy of My Jesus Year with me and autographed a copy for him. Now, if I could only get him to blurb my next book....

November 24, 2009 12:33 PM Filed under Book Tour, Misc.
gosselin.jpgJust when you think you’ve heard it all comes this gem of a story. Jon Gosselin (of Jon and Kate tabloid fame) is now dating a Jewish woman and is considering converting to Judaism. The father of eight told an interviewer that he’s already consulted Rabbi Shmuley (aka America’s rabbi, Michael Jackson’s rabbi, Oprah’s rabbi, yada, yada, yada). After all, they can relate: Shmuley has nine kids.

ParentDish.com published this quote from Jon:

I just went through Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur and learned about the new year and every Friday is the Shabbat dinner. I love challah bread. I’m learning about Jewish food, going to Zabar’s. I love that place. I’m learning about kosher and when not to order a bacon, egg and cheese and make an ass of myself. Hailey makes fun of me. My mom came to the city on Yom Kippur and asked where all the traffic was. I got from the West Side to Midtown in five minutes. She wants to come to the city every year on Yom Kippur.

If you like these bizarre stories at the intersection of pop culture and religion, follow me on Twitter. I post links to articles like this on a daily basis.

[Hat tip to Alana Newhouse at Tablet for the heads-up on this story.]

October 13, 2009 8:12 AM Filed under Misc. Tags: celebs
jerry.jpgI had the opportunity to hang out with Jerry Springer last week. Believe it or not, it was actually the second time I met the over-the-top talk show host. I got to interview him a year ago for a profile I was writing about Jerry’s involvement with his Jewish faith. (For those wondering, many of relatives were killed in the Holocaust and he spends a lot of his off-time being very active in the Jewish community.) He’s actually a real sweet guy in person, nothing like you’d expect if you’ve ever seen his scandal-ridden shows. Anyway, I gave him a copy of “My Jesus Year”. He appreciated it and, with all the traveling he does, hopefully he’ll have a plane ride to read it on soon.

September 15, 2009 4:38 PM Filed under Misc.

“My Jesus Year” comes out in paperback this week and, to celebrate, I created a book trailer to help promote the new edition. Hope you enjoy it...

August 30, 2009 2:04 PM Filed under Book Tour, Misc., Press Tags: book trailer

A friend forwarded this to me. It’s “Hava Nagila” sung by a Texas church. Not sure whether to wince or clap along. Decide for yourself ...

August 19, 2009 3:36 PM Filed under Misc.
My-Jesus-Year-pb.jpgDo you remember the second-to-last last scene in the first Back to the Future movie? The dad, who’s now a published author, gets a box of his books delivered. I’ve always loved watching him open the box and see his work in book form for the first time. I got to experience that last October when the book first came out and again today, as I just received advance copies of the paperback edition, whose cover is shown here at the right. The back cover has some nice new endorsements and we’ve made a tweak or two to the text inside. It’s due in stores in a few weeks on 9/1, but you can already pre-order them from Amazon here. And, I’ll be out promoting the paperback edition in a city near you. Check the list of tour dates here.

August 12, 2009 7:40 PM Filed under Book Tour, Misc.
In response to my article in Slate about Jews and organ donations, I was asked to be on The Brian Lehrer Show this morning on WNYC. Below is the audio:
Click the ‘play’ button to listen...

July 27, 2009 5:07 PM Filed under Misc., Press Tags: radio
090724_FB_RabbiTN.jpgLast Thursday, we were all shocked to see five rabbis rounded up with more than 30 other high profile people for corruption charges in New Jersey, including a bizarre charge of organ trafficking. I had the opportunity to write an article for Slate about it called “Organ Failure”:

With the right ingredients of salaciousness and scandal, the news appeared to be straight out of a Hollywood screenplay: corrupt politicians, money laundering, people being arrested by the busload, raids on synagogues, an Apple Jacks cereal box stuffed with $97,000 in cash, and rabbis trafficking organs. Allegedly, one paid $10,000 to an impoverished Israeli for his or her kidney and tried to sell it for upward of $150,000 in the United States. The criminal complaint quotes the rabbi as saying he was in the organ business for a decade. (And in a you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up twist, it wasn’t even the day’s only story on Israelis trafficking human body parts.)

Read the entire story on Slate here...

Follow My Jesus Year on Twitter.


July 27, 2009 3:28 PM Filed under Misc., Press
stephen-and-ben22.jpgI just found out that my buddy Stephen Baldwin, who tried to convert me a few months back, has filed for bankruptcy in New York. I feel bad for the guy. He’s spent the past several years reinventing himself, dedicating himself to a spiritual life (give or take a reality show appearance) and doing religious outreach to the unaffiliated, uninformed, and rabbi’s kids (that would be me). He deserves better. Let’s all try to help him out and buy his latest Christian novel. It’s what Jesus would do.

Update: I just sent this blog post to Stephen. So he’s checking in throughout the day. Post your well-wishes in the comments section below.

Follow My Jesus Year on Twitter.

July 21, 2009 8:56 PM Filed under Misc.
jwitness_web.jpgWhen you hear there’s a Jehovah’s Witness Apocalypse Convention in town, you don’t sit on the sidelines and miss out. You get up and go. So I dusted off my church-hopping shoes and headed out there. Any by out there, I mean out there. 30,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses packed into a local arena for three days of seminars, symposiums, and services. It was certainly an eye-opening experience -- I had no clue Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t vote or celebrate holidays. Once I digest it all, I’m going to write up a longer essay about the convention which I’ll eventually post here. For now, just wanted to share the photo above of the crowd.

Follow My Jesus Year on Twitter.

July 13, 2009 9:57 AM Filed under Misc.

A Jesus-loving trucker uses big-rigs to attack Hollywood. NBC News reports:


July 9, 2009 10:12 AM Filed under Misc. Tags: Video
Stephen-and-Ben.jpg

At a recent book signing for “My Jesus Year” (you can buy a copy here), I met some people who asked about my infamous Stephen Baldwin encounter so, for them and anyone else who’s interested, here’s the essay I wrote for the Daily Beast about it. And, as an added bonus, I’ve include the video from my FOX segment where I met Baldwin. (If you’re interested in more updates like this, feel free to follow me on Twitter.) So, without further ado...

Stephen Baldwin is hugging me. Yes, that Stephen Baldwin. And I feel a tad uncomfortable. I should add that I had only met him about an hour ago, here in the green room of a local FOX affiliate. And, yet, here we are--hugging.

Allow me to explain.

Baldwin is the self-proclaimed Jesus Freak of Hollywood. Keep in mind we’re talking about a guy who has starred in movies with less-than-holy names like The Sex Monster and Threesome. But the New York native ditched his ungodly ways and became a born-again Christian about a month after 9/11. Apparently, a terrorist attack on his hometown screamed Armageddon. The Rapture. Resident Evil.

But you’ve got to give this guy some credit. Becoming a born-again has completely changed Baldwin’s life. He started his own skate punk ministry (although I’m not really sure what that means), became a cultural advisor to President Bush (um, ditto), and wrote a 2006 memoir about his spiritual sojourn, The Unusual Suspect, a play on the name of the one movie he’s actually famous for. This is a guy who, while appearing on The Celebrity Apprentice, told Donald Trump to take his Sodom and Gomorrah business acumen and shove it. But his book actually made it onto bestseller lists. That’s a testament if I’ve ever heard one.

Call him the PT Barnum of evangelical Christianity. As Esquire’s Sean Gibson once described, “Baldwin’s nurtured a unique kind of religious conviction, one that’s equal parts scripture and Mountain Dew Code Red.” His hard-core fundamentalism--peppered with hyperbolic overuse of the term “dude”--really boils down to this: Accept Jesus or you won’t get into heaven.

As for me, I’m Jewish, from a family of rabbis no less. You can see where Baldwin and I might disagree. And yet here we are, two men of faith, hugging it out in a FOX green room. Rupert Murdoch would be so proud.

Stephen Baldwin’s predilection for all things Christ was actually not news to me. I spent a year immersed in Christian pop culture and let’s just say his name came up a time or two. But I never imagined I would actually meet him. I guess it’s divine intervention that we are both here

promoting books we wrote--mine, a memoir of my year living like a Christian and his a Moral Majority message masked in detective fiction.

As we were chatting about faith, the fact came up that I had visited 52 different Bible Belt churches and not once had someone tried to convert me. Stephen’s pupils went from their default half-mast glazed-over look to the wide-eyed look of a Baldwin on the prowl. Apparently, I had woken the beast.

“How much time do I have before my segment?” he asked his publicist.

“About an hour,” she called back from across the room.

“An hour,” Baldwin said, “should be enough time to convert you, Ben.”


He was taking this challenge as a badge of honor--that somehow he would be thefirst Christian to try and convert me--and actually succeed. My first thought? I’ve been an observant Jew for more than three decades and here was a guy who played Barney Rubble in the Flintstones sequel trying to undo it all in under an hour, like a twisted LensCrafters for the soul. Now that’s chutzpah.

Rolling up his sleeves, Alec’s little brother began spouting verse after Biblical verse. I tried cutting him off, explaining to him that I’ve been an Orthodox Jew my entire life. He could quote either Testament until the Messiah came home, and it wouldn’t make a difference to me. Being a guilt-ridden Jew is part of my DNA and, for better or worse, will always be a part of me. Like Crohn’s disease. Unfortunately for him, these theological acrobatics were simply bouncing off of me, as if I was sporting some sort of military-grade Baldwin-proof vest.

The hour went by. I was still Jewish. He was still the non-Pauly Shore lead in Bio-Dome.

We agreed to disagree. And that’s when I experienced the aforementioned Great Big Baldwin Hug. For some reason, standing there with my Jewy face pressed against his cross necklace, I actually felt bad for the guy. That I had somehow let him down. Sure, I wasn’t going to convert, but I think we both got something out of this back and forth interfaith dialogue. So I told him I would try to catch up with him later that day at his book signing. What can I say, he grows on you.

stephen-and-ben2.jpg

When I arrived at the bookstore that night, Baldwin was already in front taking questions from the audience. Just as I was sneaking in quietly, he spotted me.

“My Jewish friend Ben just walked in,” he felt compelled to say into the microphone. The crowd whipped around to lay their eyes on the lucky Semite. “Let’s see if we can convert him.”

This time Baldwin opted for a different approach. Instead of pelting me with liturgy, he dialed it back a bit. He talked about his personal journey, how his life was transformed when he stopped being Stephen Freaking Baldwin for just one moment and let a Higher Power in. It was his own spiritual narrative and it was surprisingly, serenely, humbling. Call it the Gospel According to Stephen.

We chatted some more after he finished signing books. I told him I respect him for being a man of faith, and admire his efforts to convert me--twice. After all, his faith obligates him to seek out new converts. He’s just doing his job. Just as I do mine by keeping kosher. He’s looking for fresh meat; I’m trying to avoid the shellfish. I guess at the end of the day, it’s not so hard to take spiritual cues from a guy who appeared on Celebrity Mole--twice.

Benyamin Cohen is the author of My Jesus Year: A Rabbi’s Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith (HarperOne). He can be found at www.myjesusyear.com.


What now?

July 9, 2009 9:30 AM Filed under Misc. Tags: stephen baldwin video

My friend Rabbi Shmuley was on MSNBC the other day and mentioned that he was working on a book called “In the Soul of Michael Jackson”. Watch the interview here:



July 1, 2009 10:04 AM Filed under Misc. Tags: video
Follow the latest behind-the-scenes’ scoop on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/myjesusyear

June 30, 2009 8:44 PM Filed under Book Tour, Misc. Tags: social media

Larry David was on Jon Stewart’s show last night. Enjoy...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Larry David
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJason Jones in Iran

June 24, 2009 9:10 AM Filed under Misc. Tags: video
Pretty cool news. I just found out that I received the Georgia Writer of the Year Award for the memoir category. Not sure who I was up against, but I’ll take what I can get. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote an article about the awards which you can read here.

June 16, 2009 9:27 AM Filed under Misc., Press
4332_88100158621_823193621_1802114_4146541_n.jpgIt’s been a hectic 24 hours. Flew up to New York yesterday for a photo shoot (that picture you see here is one of the many taken by the great photographer Sam Norval) and then headed to the Jewish Book Council auditions where I got two minutes to pitch to about 100 Jewish community representatives why they should invite me to their Jewish book festivals in the fall. Left the auditions early and hopped on a plane back to Atlanta and spoke today at lunch to a group of 100 interfaith clergy -- Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and even a few Buddhists. And then I spoke with a theater director who wants to turn my book into a play. I think it’s time for a nap.

June 3, 2009 6:11 PM Filed under Book Tour, Misc.
Ever since I went to Confession, I’ve felt guilty. I know ... Confession is supposed to relieve you of guilt. But for me it was the opposite. You see, I went in under false pretenses. I pretended to be a Catholic ... and I’ve felt bad ever since. That is until about a week ago when I found out that the priest I confessed to has been recommending my book to his parishioners. The lord works in mysterious ways.

May 31, 2009 3:37 PM Filed under Book Tour, Misc. Tags: Confession

My buddy Stephen Baldwin is back on the television circuit, this time promoting his new show:

May 27, 2009 12:18 PM Filed under Misc. Tags: video

May 13, 2009 11:55 AM Filed under Misc. Tags: video
My week of absurdly random media mentions continues. Yesterday, I was mentioned in a Vanity Fair article -- oddly -- next to Woody Allen and Philip Roth. Today, I was mentioned in an article on the Daily Beast about the apparently growing trend of Christians naming their kids “Cohen.”

My quote appears on the third page of the article:

“I don’t find it offensive at all,” says Benyamin Cohen, the son and brother of Orthodox rabbis and the author of My Jesus Year, which recounts the tale of his tour through the world of Christianity. “If you’re not Jewish, I have no reason to expect you to follow my laws. I’d rather if people name their kid Cohen than if they name it Britney. At least Cohen means something.”

Read the full article here.

May 7, 2009 11:37 AM Filed under Misc., Press
Something is wrong with the world when Vanity Fair magazine mentions my name in the same sentence as Mark Twain, Woody Allen, Philip Roth, and AJ Jacobs. But in an interview with Jonathan Goldstein -- author of Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bible! -- that’s exactly what they did. Here’s a clip from the Q&A:

Why do you think the majority of contemporary religious satire and parody is written by Jewish writers? Do Christians just not have a sense of humor?

Well, he’s not contemporary anymore, but Mark Twain did a retelling of the Adam and Eve story, of which I was completely unaware. Somebody told me about it recently and I picked it up and started reading it and had to stop because it was so great and so funny, it just made me feel terrible about myself.

But Twain is the exception. When you think of religious literary humor, one tends to think of Philip Roth and Woody Allen, or more recently A.J. Jacobs and Benyamin Cohen.

I don’t know why that is. It may have something to do with the fact that a Jew’s relationship with God is supposed to be one of wrestling. You’re constantly wrestling with God’s truths. And when you start to humanize the characters in the bible, they become more than just objects used to unravel moral lessons. That’s where the comedy starts to seep in.

You can read the full article here.


May 6, 2009 3:22 PM Filed under Misc., Press
schuller.jpgI saw a funny religion-meets-technology story in the news today. Apparently, someone was posing as famous televangelist Robert H. Schuller on Twitter. The situation has since been rectified and the real Schuller is now tweeting. You can follow his Twitter posts here. In the meantime, the article reports: “... more than 72,000 people are following a fake Stephen Colbert. And a spokeswoman for Tina Fey has confirmed that the 89,000 people follow a faux Fey on the micro-blogging site.”

March 26, 2009 10:30 AM Filed under Misc.

March 11, 2009 10:12 AM Filed under Misc. Tags: Jesus YouTube
In my book, I talk about the actor-turned Parkinson’s activist Michael J. Fox -- specifically how he considers himself the luckiest man alive for being stricken with his disease. (Hence the title of his 2002 memoir.) Today I just found that Fox is taking his glass-is-half-full outlook to the next level: He’s doing a television special about optimism for the ABC network. “Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist” airs on May 7.

March 10, 2009 11:12 AM Filed under Misc.
Thanks to a congregant at the New Beginnings Grace Brethren Church in Myerstown, Pennsylvania, I found out that a pastor there mentioned “My Jesus Year” in a recent sermon. The entire sermon was more than an hour long (not even synagogues on the High Holidays have sermons that long). He talked about how churches in America are becoming less spiritual and too interested in the mass marketing commercialization of the church. This is the part of the speech where the pastor referenced me, saying I went looking for spirituality at churches and didn’t find Jesus ... because of this trend away from spirituality at churches. That’s not exactly true (I did find spirituality), so I kind of feel he was using my own religious sojourn for his own purposes. If they invite me, I’d be glad to speak at their church (as I’ve done at other churches) and explain what I really learned from hanging out at their houses of worship.

Below is a two-minute audio clip from the part of his sermon which mentions my book and my journey:
Click the ‘play’ button to listen

March 9, 2009 10:47 AM Filed under Misc.
When I was surfing the web this morning, I came across an interesting news story. According to a new study just released, more Americans say they have no religion. While the national average of people who don’t have a religion hovers around 15%, Vermont claims the highest at 34%. I wonder what America’s religious community thinks about this. What does it say about how we are reaching out to the unaffiliated?

March 9, 2009 8:32 AM Filed under Misc.
A friend sent me this link the other day. Apparently, Lindsay Lohan is converting to Judaism. This comes after rumors from a few years back of Lindsay hanging out with Madonna. Well, you know what they say ... Kabbalah is a gateway drug.

March 4, 2009 11:22 AM Filed under Misc.


David Plotz, an editor at Slate, has a new book out about the Bible. Watch the video above and let me know what you think in the comments section.

March 4, 2009 9:35 AM Filed under Misc.
Funny story in the news today: Actor James Franco was given a spoof bar mitzvah which included Rabbi Spider Man.

February 16, 2009 9:47 AM Filed under Misc.
I wrote another essay for Tina Brown’s Daily Beast website. This one is called “Stephen Baldwin tried to convert me -- twice.” Hope you enjoy it.

And, here’s a link to the previous article I wrote for the Beast.

February 15, 2009 5:10 PM Filed under Misc., Press

Only Quentin Tarantino could direct something like this ... actually looks pretty good:

February 12, 2009 12:52 PM Filed under Misc. Tags: video

If only I had consulted with ‘The Daily Show’ before I visited 52 churches...

February 4, 2009 9:00 PM Filed under Misc.
The Pope launched a YouTube channel today. Nice.

January 23, 2009 3:31 PM Filed under Misc.
Strange. Very strange.

December 22, 2008 10:26 AM Filed under Misc.
I’m going to try out a new feature here on the blog -- a roundup of off-beat and quirky religious news stories from around the web. Here’s the first installment. Let me know what you think.

  • Latke Latte: Is there a Starbucks Chanukah blend or is it just a sad, sad, hoax?

  • Book him: James Frey, the disgraced author that duped Oprah and the literary world, is taking a stab at channeling God. His next book, as reported by London’s Guardian newspaper, will be a third book of the Bible in which Jesus performs gay marriages and lives with a prostitute. “[It’s] my idea of what the Messiah would be like if he were walking the streets of New York today,” says Frey. “What would he believe? What would he preach? How would he live? With who?”

  • Turn right at the reindeer: Afraid someone may nab that precious baby Jesus nestled in the snow on your front yard? No worries ... protect baby Jesus with GPS and webcams.

  • Nazi nuggets: A New Jersey father was denied a birthday cake with his 3-year-old child’s full name on it by a local supermarket. The kid’s name? Adolf Hitler Campbell. And his little sister’s name is JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell. Seriously.

December 18, 2008 7:36 PM Filed under Misc. Tags: Random Religious Roundup

In honor of the upcoming holiday of Chanukah, here’s a new song that just came out. It’s sung by the brother of Sacha Baron Cohen (aka Borat) and my friend Y-Love, a black Jewish rapper. They’re supposed to be on Conan O’Brien tonight. Yes, I know tonight is the Sabbath. They pre-taped it last night. In the meantime, below is the music video. Enjoy.

December 12, 2008 8:09 AM Filed under Misc. Tags: Music
IMG_0317.JPGJust got back from a big event. I was one of the featured authors at the annual Atlanta Press Club Holiday Party at the Georgia Aquarium tonight. The walls in the ballroom where the event took place are made up mostly of glass and you can actually watch whales swim pass. (The space is actually available for kosher catering by renowned chef Wolfgang Puck, in case you’re interested.) It was a pretty cool event to get to shmooze with my fellow journalists. This photo is of me and two of my mentors. On the right is Ed Bean, my editor at the Fulton County Daily Report. And to the left is Vince Coppola who, readers of My Jesus Year know, is the guy who took me to Confession. In case you’re wondering, I’m the one without any facial hair.

December 9, 2008 11:42 PM Filed under Book Tour, Misc., Press
My week-long guest-blogging stint over at Jewcy.com ends today. The final post is about what synagogues can learn from churches. Enjoy.

December 5, 2008 8:10 AM Filed under Misc. Tags: Jewcy
Here’s my post for today. It’s a list of the five places you wouldn’t expect a rabbi’s son to go.

December 3, 2008 8:08 PM Filed under Misc. Tags: Jewcy
Her’s my post on Jewcy.com for today. It’s about Stephen Baldwin trying to convert me ... twice. Enjoy.

December 2, 2008 8:36 AM Filed under Misc. Tags: Jewcy Stephen Baldwin
As I mentioned, I’ll be guest blogging at Jewcy.com all this week. My first post just went live on their site and you can read it here. Enjoy.

December 1, 2008 1:44 PM Filed under Misc. Tags: Jewcy
The fine folks at Jewcy.com have asked me to blog there this week. So keep your eyes peeled...

November 30, 2008 8:44 PM Filed under Misc., Press Tags: Jewcy
41BB-uOK02L._SL500_AA242_PIkin-dp-500,BottomRight,-21,38_AA280_SH20_OU01_.jpgMany of our older readers may think Kindle sounds like kinderlach, which is Yiddish for “kids.” But, um, it’s not. The Kindle is the high-tech digital reader created by Amazon which allows people to further drive the nail in the coffin of printed matter by allowing users to wireless download books directly to their Kindle device. Oh, and this just in: My Jesus Year is now available for downloading to your Kindle. Glory be to God. All for the low low price of $9.99 -- which is like $15 cheaper than the hardback. So go out and spend that stimulus check like there’s no tomorrow. Hey Amazon, do I see any money from this Kindle stuff? What ... do I get paid in Amazon store credit? Oh well, either way -- hope you enjoy the book.

November 24, 2008 7:49 PM Filed under Misc. Tags: Amazon
pwlogo.jpgPublisher’s Weekly, the book industry magazine, has just released its list of the best books of the year and ... drumroll, please ... they decided to put ‘My Jesus Year’ on the list. This is the book’s first big award. Hopefully, it’ll be the first of many.

November 3, 2008 6:38 PM Filed under Misc., Press Tags: award best of Publisher’s Weekly

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For those of you still debating whether or not to buy a copy of ‘My Jesus Year’, have no fear. Amazon is here. They just added the “Look Inside” feature on my page so hesitant buyers can take the book for a test drive before they purchase. Now, there’s no more excuses...

October 23, 2008 9:32 AM Filed under Misc. Tags: Amazon
benyamin_monroe_borders.jpgClassic first-time author maneuver. I’m driving around town to a variety of bookstores just to see what my book looks like on their shelf. So I was passing by a random Borders the other day and decided to poke my head in and see where they had decided to place ‘My Jesus Year”. It was on the new release table and, as I’ve been doing at other stores, I started snapping some pictures with my cell phone. I guess this looked a little weird, because the store manager approached with one of those, “Can I help you?” moments.

I explained (first-time author, excited to see book in stores, etc.) and, to my surprise, he offered me a pen and asked me to autograph all the copies of ‘My Jesus Year” that were in his store. I did and then he slapped an “Autographed Copy” sticker on it and gave it better placement (see accompanying pic). Maybe I should do that more often.

We’re still looking for pictures of the book in a store near you. Snap a pic and send it to theauthor@myjesusyear.com. We’ll post it soon and give you a shout-out.

Thanks!

October 13, 2008 7:08 AM Filed under Misc. Tags: Borders pictures sales

Rabbi Benjamin Blech, the author of more than a dozen of books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Judaism, is quoted a bunch of times in My Jesus Year. So when I saw on YouTube that he posted his review of Bill Maher’s controversial new film Religulous, I figured I’d share it here. Feel free to discuss in the comments section of this post.

October 10, 2008 8:31 AM Filed under Misc. Tags: movie Rabbi Benjamin Blech YouTube
Despite my grandiose notions that there would be masses of people lining up at midnight tonight to purchase my book, the local bookstores here in Atlanta apparently had other plans. I happen to stop into two stores tonight and found that the book was put on shelves today -- a day before it’s supposed to go on sale. And a friend in New York told me she saw it in a Barnes & Noble there as well. It was a pleasant surprise. Oh well, I guess my book is no Harry Potter.

I’ve got to admit, it’s pretty “gosh-darn” (as Sarah Palin would say) cool to see My Jesus Year actually at bookstores. I snapped the two photos below and am trying to collect pictures from as many places as possible. So if you see the book on the shelf at your local store, send in your picture to theauthor@myjesusyear.com and we’ll post it right here on the blog and mention your name as well.

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Barnes and Noble, Atlanta, 10.6.08

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Borders, Atlanta, 10.6.08

October 6, 2008 11:00 PM Filed under Misc. Tags: Barnes and Noble Borders pictures sales
For a brief moment tonight, My Jesus Year was ahead of The Diary of Anne Frank on Amazon’s ranking of Jewish books. First the economy, now this. What is wrong with the world?

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October 6, 2008 10:39 PM Filed under Misc. Tags: Amazon sales
... one week from tomorrow.

September 29, 2008 5:54 PM Filed under Misc.
... two weeks from today.

September 23, 2008 8:58 AM Filed under Misc. Tags: book release
In the heart of the South’s peanut region, the tiny hamlet of Dothan, Alabama may become the next big epicenter of Jewish life ... well, at least, of southern Alabama. The town is attempting to lure new Jewish residents by offering up to $50,000 to families who make the move. (This is somewhat similar, although a tad more generous, than what New Orleans did after Hurricane Katrina caused most of the city’s Jews to flee.) Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to Dothan on my tour of the Bible Belt. Maybe for the book’s sequel...

September 15, 2008 6:13 PM Filed under Misc. Tags: alabama jews katrina south
A special thanks to UPS for delivering the very first copy of the book to me this weekend. The finished product looks fantastic (if I do say so myself) and, even more importantly, I haven’t noticed any glaring errors yet. (Whew.) So, if anyone from the UPS marketing team (headquartered right here in Atlanta) is looking for someone to put in their next commercial to extol the virtues of the century-old delivery service, look no further than this pleased customer.

Oh, and as for the rest of you ... Amazon will be shipping the book out in less than a month. So, assuming you’ve already pre-ordered your copy, you’ll be able to thank UPS as well in due time.

September 8, 2008 9:47 PM Filed under Misc.




September 2, 2008 5:30 PM Filed under Misc.

August 21, 2008 6:12 PM Filed under Misc.

Behold, the teaser trailer for My Jesus Year:


And here’s the Amazon version:


Please feel free to embed either video on your blog or webpage so we can continue to spread the gospel of (My) Jesus (Year).

August 18, 2008 10:46 PM Filed under Misc.
In an otherwise slow news day (after all, Saturday is the Jewish day of rest) Amazon -- finally! -- posted the cover to My Jesus Year on their site today. Check it out. Only 51 more days until you can actually buy it...

August 16, 2008 9:23 PM Filed under Misc.
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For those of you who just can’t wait until October 7th, this site is for you. October 7th may be known for many things -- the day of the first transaction on the Helsinki Stock Exchange (1912), the day Pope Mark died (336), the birthday of Australian cricketer Graham Yallop (1952), and the day Hollywood adopted the movie ratings system (1968) -- but this year October 7th brings with it new import. It is the day -- drumroll, please -- of the release of the long-anticipated (by me), much hyped (by me) memoir My Jesus Year: A Rabbi’s Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Faith (um, also by me).

October 7th is only 1536 hours away. That is when you can finally buy the book your nightstand has been waiting for. In the meantime -- between eating and basic human tasks of functionality -- read this blog, surf this site. It is for you, dear reader. It is for you. (Ok, it’s for me, too.)

August 3, 2008 9:30 PM Filed under Misc.

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