Aptly titled OFF MY CHEST: Letters to the Editor… +, the book comprises more than 120 letters and articles penned by Levik from 1989-2012 to a wide variety of periodicals and organizations. Among them are the Jewish Journal, the Jerusalem Report, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the World Jewish Congress. Also included is a letter that Levik wrote to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2007 regarding a flag Levik designed for Israel as a gift to the country.
As Levik explains in his introduction, OFF MY CHEST “has been a labor of love …, as well as hate, anger and calm, fear and faith. There are a range of emotions and themes in this book. One overriding theme is freedom of expression.”
OFF MY CHEST, in Levik's description, “is filled mostly with letters and some articles that can be seen as my traversing my escape from being Jewish and all that Jewish has meant and come to mean, including Christianity which, of course, began with one Jew and a dozen other Jews or Judeans.”
A striking example of Levik's no-holds-barred approach can be seen in an excerpt from the first paragraph of a letter he wrote in 2009 to the Jewish Journal in answer to an article the Journal had published: “Michael Berenbaum's article, ‘Who Owns the 'N' Word?’ was rather sickening. The theme, and God knows I recognize this Jewish theme: ‘Don't, Don't, Don't, Don’t …' Especially, ‘Don't say …' Further on, Berenbaum stated, ‘… we have near universal agreement – except for the lunatic fringe – that Nazism was the embodiment of evil.' Oh yeah, that 'ol lunatic fringe, which is no doubt how smug Jews like Berenbaum dismissed Hitler and his original wing nuts. Yet, this man ran the U.S. Holocaust Museum – totally sickening.”
Born in Flushing, New York in 1959, Levik was raised in the Jewish faith but converted to Christianity for a few years starting when he was 20 years old. His writing in OFF MY CHEST is passionate and uncompromising, reflecting his responses to profound issues affecting Judaism and other beliefs worldwide, his fierce defense of the First Amendment, and his equally fierce rejection of intolerance in any form.
“There are so many themes and messages in my book that I hope my readers will take with them,” Levik says. “I would like for readers to feel empowered to express their words and their emotions, including allegedly negative ones… This is very challenging for many; however, I have found this to bevital in finding balance.”
About the Author
Richard Levik holds a B.A. in mathematics with a minor in Jewish Social Studies from Hunter College, New York. He moved to Los Angeles in 1989 and has taught mathematics and history in Los Angeles public schools for more than 20 years. He received an M.A. in history from California State University Los Angeles, in 2003.
About the Book
Publication date: April 5, 2013
Published by Author House
Available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and online booksellers worldwide.