The Sisterhood at Central Synagogue Beth Emeth in Rockville Centre will host its famous bagel brunch event on Sunday, May 7, featuring the authors of the new book, “Jokes to Offend Men.”
The event will feature a discussion with Rockville Centre native, Kate Herzlin, and her co-authors, Allison Kelley, Danielle Kraese, and Ysabel Yates, for a discussion about their modern feminist take on the classic joke book, which was developed to amuse and empower readers that are tired of being the punch line.
Herzlin and her colleagues first came together back in early 2020, to write a piece for the nonprofit publishing company and daily humor website, McSweeney’s, entitled, “Jokes I’ve told that my male colleagues didn’t like,” which went viral.
It seemed to hit a nerve with readers, several of who had been told time and again to “lighten up. It’s just a joke,” when misogynistic quips had been directed at them in the workplace.
“With how deeply this piece seemed to resonate, we decided to write a book that explored classic joke formats in ways that empowered readers beyond the workplace,” Herzlin said. “We’ve heard from readers how different jokes reference the same circumstances they’ve found themselves in, and how meaningful it is to have jokes at the ready to turn to in these times. These kinds of patriarchal dynamics exist not just at one’s job, but also at home, at the doctor’s office, in school, and more. Our aim was to write jokes for readers in these situations and let them know that we were there with them, hoping to make them laugh.”
Herzlin said the book’s inspiration comes from situations that, unfortunately, really do occur every day. Despite what the title may suggest, the intent of the story is not actually to offend men. She said that the intent is that readers take away a sense of feeling that they are not alone, and provide a few new jokes that they can turn to or share with others when they’re having a difficult time.
“It’s really rewarding to see that the book can help people find a deeper sense of empathy for what others go through, and give them a chance to learn more,” she said. “The book is dedicated to anyone who could use a little laughter and catharsis at the end of a long day.”
Herzlin learned Jewish humor and Yiddish jokes from her grandparents and her pediatric oncologist, who she said is one of the funniest people she has ever met.
“The way he used humor in difficult times,” she said. “It helped me maintain a sense of normalcy and a sense of childhood. This left a lasting impression on me, and ever since I’ve found myself turning to comedy and writing to process the world, both as a way to find some relief and to find the strength and hope to keep going and fighting for what matters.”
Her father shared information about the book with the synagogue community and reached out to Meryl Sussman, who is also a member of the synagogue’s library. Sussman took an interest and wanted to help plan an event around the book.
“I am so glad I decided to help host the event because I really connected with Kate and the purpose of ‘Jokes to Offend Men,’” Sussman said.
Sussman said the event is free and open to the community. Men are encouraged to attend too, but the conversation might not be of interest to kids younger than 13. To RSVP, email CSBESisterhood@gmail.com or contact Sussman at (815)-901-4405.
Herzlin said she is excited to visit and share the book with readers in her hometown of Rockville Centre.
“It’s wonderful to get to share the book at an event in the town and the synagogue where I spent so much time growing up,” Herzlin said. “I anticipate that my co-authors and I will get to share a bit more about what it was like to write this book, how we collaborated, discuss some of the different joke formats we explore in the book and more. I’ll be re-reading the book to think about which jokes I’d like to share and discuss.”
To find out more about the book visit JokesToOffendMen.com. If you can’t make the event on May 7 but still want a copy of the book, Herzlin encourages visiting one of the many independent booksellers on Long Island to order a copy.