Trivia Time: When was this song, “The World Turned Upside Down,” first sung in the United States?
Response: After the defeat of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781. It was composed in Great Britain in the 1640s to protest Parliament’s ban of festive Christmas celebrations and transformation of the holiday into a solemn occasion.
And what does this have to do with Jewish Luck? Lately, I’ve been pondering how amazing it is that two Soviet-educated women could think about free market economics in contradiction to their formal education/indoctrination into Marxist-Leninist thought. They literally turned their ideological economics instruction upside down. Alisa and Vera are now two quintessential capitalists who thrive on their individual achievements and have made their success through keen analysis of the free market system and their willingness to leap into a new venture trusting their talent to read the signs of the market well. So far, so good for two former students of the Leningrad Institute of Finance and Economics.
For me, writing, publishing, and promoting the book have also turned my world upside down—in a good way. My sister and I have developed a new respect for each other’s talents and strengths. Although I prefer to lurk in the background, self-publishing has forced me into marketing and trumpeting our achievement. Lately, I’ve been reexamining some of the vocabulary that I use and the associations that words spark.
Collaboration is one of those words that once made me wrinkle my nose with disdain. This reaction harkens back to my history teaching and research. Collaboration evokes images of the shaved heads of French women accused of helping the Nazis during the Occupation. The word brings to mind the perfidy of individuals and nations during World War II and the impossible math of trying to calculate how many lives were lost due to information passed to the Nazis or “help” given to the Third Reich.
Collaboration now connotes friendship, connections, and joint projects. Leslie and I think of ourselves as collaborators and marvel that anyone can write a book without a co-author. With two of us working together there was no author’s block or dearth of ideas. Now that the book is published, we’ve found other partners as well in our most challenging venture: marketing. What fun for us to collaborate with our cousin in Israel on our web page. She is a web designer, mind reader and cheerleader. I am teaming with Shirley Pearl (The Occasional Man) and we’ll co-teach a class for Osher Lifelong Learning about how to begin the next chapter of life if you’ve always wanted to write, but haven’t had the time until retirement. What a joy to sit with Shirley in her sunroom with a cup of tea and plot our strategy. And now our new marketing collaborator is Sabra Waldfogel (Slave and Sister). We meet to share marketing strategies and to sing the marketing blues. She has published previously so she is the voice of experience who is ready to share.
What most enlivens both Leslie and me now is the collaboration with our readers. At book groups or book talks we hear what aspects of Jewish Luck resonate with readers who are often moved to offer their own stories. We are the privileged listeners. I did not imagine when writing the book that Vera and Alla’s stories would have a chain effect. And now, the pitch to you as fellow collaborators—if you read Jewish Luck, let us know what you think. If you enjoyed it, please tell others. Feel free to invite us in person or via skype to your book group. If you haven’t read Jewish Luck, order a copy or check one out of the library. If your library doesn’t have a copy, suggest they get one.
And most of all, remember sometimes it’s good to shake up the definition of a term, as we did with “Jewish luck”, and, sometimes, it’s good to shake up one’s life. Long live collaboration!