• Jodi Samuels

Book Review: Chutzpah, Wisdom, and Wine

Updated: Oct 14

As seen on "Life in Israel"

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.



Book Review: Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine: The Journey of an Unstoppable Woman, by Jodi Samuels


Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine is the story of Jodi Samuels, and her family. Their story is really multiple stories with the book focusing mostly on 3 aspects of their lives; living in New York while building their organizations and businesses and their personalities, their daughter Caila and becoming advocates for special needs children, living in Israel and the challenges they, she, had to overcome.


Each of those 3 portions of the book could probably have been turned into a separate book. The stories are wild and entertaining and I am confident that their memoirs could be written so much more fully, with each aspect being expanded on much more. 


After giving some background of her life growing up in South Africa and moving around the world, Jodi Samuels hits the ground running in New York. She created an organization to help Jewish expats from other countries find a home away from home and get comfortable in their new foreign environment. Samuels is a powerhouse putting together massive events through her organization while founding and running businesses and starting her family. The only question that has me perplexed throughout the book is how she insists she is really a shy person who hates the stage and all those stories belie the truth of the struggles of being in front and the face of all those events. 

Caila is born with Downs Syndrome and Jodi and Gavin become advocates for special needs children. Immediately with her birth they recognize and embrace their new roles as advocates. They describe the struggles of integration and inclusion they had to deal with in Jewish schools. They describe the lack of awareness and understanding and their work to make people more aware of the issues and needs of special needs people. I think I learned more about this by reading Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine and am now aware of a firsthand perspective of people who dealt with this and realize there is so much I didn't know about it and just had no idea about.

Israel is another experience. After fulfilling a lifelong dream of moving to Israel, Jodi struggles in her new environment while the rest of her family excels and loves it. Jodi writes about her struggles in Israel and in a way I can appreciate the honesty in her writing. Not everyone hits the ground running and it seems it is somewhat of a taboo to write about how difficult life in Israel can be for new immigrants. I can appreciate how she struggled but pushed on and persevered because it was so good for her family, and eventually she embraced it as well and the situation improved, even if she still likes to have a foot in New York. In a way, her story is "more" real than all the aliya stories that we normally hear about with it being so easy and so great, while ignoring, or not publicizing, the difficult parts of aliyah.   


Chitzpah, Wisdom and Wine is an entertaining book full of stories of their experiences, while at the same time being important for the insight it gives into people with special needs and the perspectives and ideas to consider regarding Jewish outreach, immigrants and expats and aliya to Israel. I really enjoyed it.


Buy Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine on Amazon.com

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.

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