By Allen Salkin, NYTimes.com
The authors of the new book “Jewish Wisdom for Business Success” (Amacom, 2008), have had a hard time attracting attention from any media outlets, despite their provocative title. The big exception: Christian radio.
The book, by Rabbi Levi Brackman and Sam Jaffe, dispenses advice straight from the Torah and other holy texts. For example Chapter 4, Patriarchal Business Models, contains a description of how Abraham began successfully building the brand of monotheism by using a bold marketing technique, namely smashing all the idols in his father’s shop.
“Abraham’s public relations stunt with his father’s idols succeeded even better than he could have imagined, earning him credibility and a reputation throughout Mesopotamia as an iconoclast and a holy man,” the book instructs. Just imagine what he could have done with New Coke.
It is perhaps not surprising that many Christian-oriented radio stations have expressed interest in a book that translates that passage into advice for modern living, said Stephanie Fraschetti, host of “John and Stephanie,” an afternoon drive time Christian talk show on WORD-FM (101.5) in Pittsburgh. Rabbi Brackman was a guest on the show Sept. 10, and has also appeared on the Paradise Radio Network, which reaches North Carolina and southern Virginia.
“He had a lot of insight, and as Christians we definitely take the Old Testament for all it’s worth,” Ms. Fraschetti said. “These are tried and true principles, inspired by the highest authority, in my opinion.”
Mr. Jaffe worked at The Wall Street Journal and has many former colleagues who work at major financial publications. Despite his pleas for coverage to The Journal, Fortune, Fast Money and Business Week, none have expressed interest, he said.
“Nobody gave a specific reason,” he said.
He said he fears that because of old anti-Semitic stereotypes portraying Jews as excessively obsessed with money, editors might be shying away from the book. But Sara Nelson, the editor of Publishers Weekly, disagreed with the authors’ assessment, saying she was surprised the potentially controversial subject matter was not attracting attention.
“A provocative title is often enough to have someone pay attention to a book,” she said. “It’s hard to believe people are avoiding it because it seems anti-Semitic.”
The book has not been completely ignored by the non-Christian world. The rabbi was interviewed on a business station in Texas and an oldies station in Colorado. It has not been covered by the prominent Jewish newspaper, The Forward, nor by JTA, an international wire service devoted to Jewish news. But a Jewish Web site, Jewcy.com, has agreed to allow the authors to be guest bloggers for a week in October.
More of a challenge to the book’s prospects for publicity may be that the last few weeks have not been a slow time for business news. “Everybody is very preoccupied,” Ms. Nelson said.
View parts of the book – here