FEATURES 4 Jewish Book NETWORK Authors
Vol. 28, Number 3
43 CONTEMPORARY JEWISH LIFE & PRACTICE 43 Jewcentricity: Why the Jews Are Praised, Blamed, and Used to Explain Just About Everything
42 Joseph Telushkin’s new book, Hillel: If Not Now, When?, plus excerpt 48 A Conversation with Jennifer Gilmore
44 Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices: Sex and Intimacy Elliot N. Dorff and Danya Ruttenberg, eds. Reviewed by Judd Kruger Levingston
Michal Hoschander Malen
50 Made in Israel: Two Autobiographical Novels Penny Metsch, Arielle Listokin
52 Encyclopedias of Evil
Jane Ziegelman Reviewed by Maron L. Waxman
34 America’s Great Delis: Recipes & Traditions from Coast to Coast Sheryll Bellman Reviewed by David Sax
38 AUTOBIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR 38 Backing into Forward: A Memoir Jules Feiffer Reviewed by Bill Brennan
40 Wisenheimer: A Childhood Subject to Debate Mark Oppenheimer Reviewed by Paula Lubin
40 BIOGRAPHY 41 Moses Montefiore: Jewish Liberator, Imperial Hero Abigail Green Reviewed by Renita Last
Open Secret: Postmessianic Messianism and the Mystical Revision of Menahem Mendel Schneerson Elliot R. Wolfson Reviewed by William Liss-Levinson
Benjamin Balint Reviewed by Philip K. Jason
45 The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time
55 MODERN JEWISH THOUGHT & EXPERIENCE 55 The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life David Hazony Reviewed by Maron L. Waxman
56 SCHOLARSHIP 57 Jewish Dimensions in Modern Visual Culture: Antisemitism, Assimilation, Affirmation Rose-Carol Washton Long, Matthew Baigell and Milly Heyd, eds. Reviewed by Esther Nussbaum
Judith Shulevitz Reviewed by Amitai Adler
46 FICTION 46 Almost Dead
56 A Literary Bible: An Original Translation David Rosenberg Reviewed by Amitai Adler
Assaf Gavron Reviewed by Phil Sandick
57 46 Blooms of Darkness Aharon Appelfeld; Jeffrey M. Green, trans. Reviewed by Maron L. Waxman
The Frozen Rabbi Steve Stern Reviewed by Sydelle Shamah
49 Great House Nicole Krauss Reviewed by Hara E. Person
51 The Prophet’s Wife Milton Steinberg Reviewed by Miriam Bradman Abrahams
51 Something Red Jennifer Gilmore Reviewed by Michal Hoschander Malen
53 HISTORY 53 Byzantine Jewry in the Mediterranean Economy Joshua Holo Reviewed by Mark D. Nanos
Donna Robinson Divine Reviewed by Jane Wallerstein
45 Running Commentary: The Contentious Magazine That Transformed the Jewish Left Into the Neoconservative Right
No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller Harry Markopolos, with Frank Casey, Neil Chelo, Gaytri Kachroo, and Michael Ocrant Reviewed by Linda F. Burghart
54 ISRAEL STUDIES 54 Exiled in the Homeland: Zionism and the Return to Mandate Palestine
Jewish Intermarriage Around the World Shulamit Reinharz and Sergio DellaPergola, eds. Reviewed by Carol Poll
Carl J. Rheins
34 AMERICAN JEWISH STUDIES 34 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families In One New York Tenement
Götz Aly and Michael Sontheimer; Shelley Frisch, trans. Reviewed by Philip K. Jason
Adam Garfinkle Reviewed by Susan M. Chambré
AUTHOR/BOOK PROFILES Daniel Gordis
53 HOLOCAUST STUDIES 53 Fromms: How Julius Fromm’s Condom Empire Fell to the Nazis
Wisdom of The Heart: The Teachings of Rabbi Ya’akov of Izbica-Radzyn Ora Wiskind-Elper Reviewed by Wallace Greene
58 WOMEN’S STUDIES 58 Jewish Feminists: Complex Identities and Activist Lives Dina Pinsky Reviewed by Rachel Sara Rosenthal
DEPARTMENTS 2 Editor’s Note 32 JBW Book Club Recommendations 33 Emerging Voices: Allison Amend Erika Dreifus
59 Children’s 60 Barbara Bietz Chats with Debbie Levy 66 Books of Note 68 Contributors 71 Index
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EDITOR’S NOTE “Tell [Israel] to get the hell out of Palestine.... Remember, these people are occupied, and it’s their land, not Germany’s, not Poland’s. They should go home to...Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else.”—Helen Thomas - Former Washington Bureau Chief for United Press International—Doyenne of the White House press corps. I would like to take a moment to absorb this statement, not only as the editor of Jewish Book World but also as a Jew. To where in Poland are we to return? The Warsaw Ghetto? Auschwitz? Treblinka? To what in Germany will we return? Kristalnacht redux? Yellow Stars of David? On the face of it, Helen Thomas’s May 27, 2010 dialogue with Rabbi David Nesenoff outside the White House after a Jewish Heritage Day event was a hateful rant which rightly led to her summary retirement. But if we look further, we can discern something else going on—something not venal but political and philosophical—but nevertheless something that may pose even more of an existential threat to Israel than “mere” anti-Semitism. Helen Thomas is a proud American-born daughter of Lebanese immigrant parents. Consider this quote that Hugh Downs chose to include in My America: What My Country Means To Me By 150 Americans from All Walks of Life: “I was very lucky to be born in America.... [My family was] never hyphenated as Arab-Americans. We were American, and I have always rejected the hyphen and I believe all assimilated immigrants should not be designated ethnically…These are the trends that ever try to divide us as a people. I love the fact that we are a melting pot.” These are not sentiments of controversy; rather they reflect a deep, and what many would call admirable, patriotism. Yet, when we couple this published quote of Ms. Thomas with her unguarded statement on the White House steps, we can rightly ask the question: Is there room in Helen Thomas’s world view for an American who is an ardent Zionist or an Israeli seeking to build a nation that celebrates its uniqueness? I recently heard Daniel Gordis, senior vice president and senior fellow of the Shalem Center, the Israel-based think tank, discuss this question. In his talk (and in a recently published essay, “The Tower of Babel and the Birth of Nationhood”) Gordis notes that a
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renewed universalism is shaping geo-political realities in the 21st century. It finds its expression in the blurring of the borders in Europe, the spread of interdependent global economies, and the homogenization of language and culture. It is a movement not without appeal. As Gordis points out, it is the fruition of John Lennon’s imaginings: “Imagine there’s no country—no religion too.” But it is a movement that demands an untenable sacrifice. In it there is no room for the singularity of the Jewish people, no place for our cultural and religious uniqueness to survive. And this, argues Gordis, is why the Torah rejected the universalism of the Tower of Babel and dispersed the people, each to their own land and their own language. Not because it posed a threat to Heaven but because the growth of mankind depends upon recognizing and preserving our diversity. And, concludes Gordis, this is the existential argument for Israel. We could not, and cannot, fully preserve our Judaism in Germany or Poland. We are even failing in an America that welcomes us but asks, in the words of Helen Thomas, that we drop our hyphen. It has only been in the establishment of the State of Israel that we have been able to reclaim what is rightfully ours. One value of Helen Thomas’ remarks is that they remind us again that one cannot be complacent in the face of evil, prejudice, and hatred. Jews have a way of saying “Never forget” and yet like all humans we start to feel comfort and complacency and the Helen Thomas’ of the world therefore have a very valuable role for us, just as our books and our communities have a valuable role. That is, Helen Thomas did in a loud and dramatic way what we attempt to do, all the time, and at a more reduced volume, at Jewish Book Council and in Jewish Book World. We help present ideas, we stimulate dialogue, and we search for works of literature, history, and thought that help us understand ourselves. And we stand for a proposition that I think Daniel Gordis would applaud but of which Helen Thomas would be very wary. We stand for the proposition that Judaism has much to offer the world—and if we were thwarted and slaughtered in Poland and Germany and homogenized in America, then these are places to which we cannot return—and Israel is a place we cannot abandon.
Jewish Book Council is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1943 to promote the publishing, writing, and reading of quality books of Jewish interest. In sponsoring Jewish Book World the Council aims to meet the need for a journal devoted to providing thoughtful reviews of new Jewish books and features on the author and literary scene. It is our hope that Jewish Book World will be a valued resource in navigating today’s exciting Jewish literary scene. The Council is also the sponsor of Jewish Book Month, the National Jewish Book Awards, the Jewish Book NETWORK, the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, and other programs and activities.
Staff Carol E. Kaufman Naomi Firestone-Teeter Lisa Silverman Barbara Goelman Sean Kennedy
Editor Managing Editor Children’s Book Editor Editorial Assistant, Children's Books Art Director
Jewish Book Council Lawrence J. Krule Harry I. Freund Judith Lieberman Mimi S. Frank Henry Everett (z”l) Carolyn Starman Hessel Miri R. Pomerantz Dauber Joyce Lit Dani Crickman
President Vice-President Vice-President Secretary Honorary Chairman of the Board Director Program Director Program Associate Program Associate
Board of Directors Steven D. Burton Edith Everett Paul A. Flexner Ellen Frankel Samuel G. Freedman Sharon Friedman Ari L. Goldman Shelley Goldseker Matthew F. Golub Blu Greenberg Stephan Gross Rae Gurewitsch Miriam Holmes Altie Karper Francine Klagsbrun Warren Kozak
Myra Kraft Carmel R. Krauss Ruth Legow Dan Levine William Liss-Levinson Stuart Matlins Deborah Miller Marcia W. Posner Julie Potiker Steven Siegel A.A. Steinberger Livia S. Straus Joseph Telushkin Alan J. Wiener Bernard Weinflash Jane Weitzman
Editorial Board Altie Karper Michael Monheit Marcia W. Posner
Nessa Rapaport Arlene Soifer Ted Solotaroff (z”l), ex officio
Jewish Book World (ISSN: 1083-8341) is published quarterly by the Jewish Book Council, 520 8th Avenue, 4th floor, New York, NY 10018, (212)201-2920; www.jewishbookcouncil.org; email: email@example.com. The subscription rate is $36.00 a year or $12.50 for an individual issue. Copyright © 2010, by Jewish Book Council. Postmaster: Please send address changes to Jewish Book Council, 520 8th Avenue, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10018. The articles and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the view of the Editorial Board, Board of Directors, or any member thereof or any particular editor or Staff member. Advertising in Jewish Book World does not necessarily imply editorial endorsement. To advertise in Jewish Book World, please call (212) 201-2921 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Claims on orders that have not been received must be made within two months of the date of publication.
WISDOM OF THE HEART
THE TEACHINGS OF RABBI YA'AKOV OF IZBICA-RADZYN Ora Wiskind-Elper Ph.D. $35.00 cloth 240 pages ISBN: 978-0-8276-0894-8 A new way of understanding traditional Jewish texts
“The strength of this book lies in Wiskind-Elper's detailed presentation ...” — Tikkun Ora Wiskind-Elper introduces us to the Hasidic c leader Rabbi Y Ya‘akov a‘akov Leiner of Izbica-Radzyn. Her translations and interpretation of his writings and her insights will touch readers intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically.
BEST JEWISH BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND TEENS A JPS GUIDE
Linda R. Silverr,, MLS $20.00 paper 350 pages
A guide to what’s really worth reading for young people by the editor of the -HZLVK9DOXHVÀQGHU
So many books, so little time! Here are top librarian Linda Silver’s picks of the best in writing, illustration, reader appeal, and authentically Jewish content in books for early childhood through high school readers. Invaluable indexes sort books by title, subject, ubject, authorr,, illustratorr,, and a reading level.
TIMELESS WISDOM FOR MODERN LIFE William Berkson, Ph.D. Translation with Menachem Fisch $28.00 paper 240 pages ISBN: 978-0-8276-0917-4 The great Jewish ethical tradition through a contemporary lens
In this new edition of a Jewish classic, Berkson helps us see that Pirke Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) is both a fundamental religious text and a compelling, contemporary ethical guide. The full text of Pirke Avot in English and Hebrew appears on facing pages in the back of the book.
CROWN OF ALEPPO
THE MYSTERY OF THE OLDEST HEBREW BIBLE CODEX
Hayim Tawil and Bernard Schneider Over 50 black and white and color photographs and maps $40.00 cloth 220 pages ISBN: 978-0-8276-0895-5 The acclaimed book on the history of the oldest Hebrew Bible in book form, recently featured in 7KH)RUZDUG, 3XEOLVKHUV:HHNO\ and ,PDJH0DJD]LQH
“[This] fascinating and comprehensive investigation into the Aleppo Codex … YLYLGO\UHFUHDWHV WKHKLVWRUU\ \RIWKLVUDUHDQGHPLQHQWO\VLJQLÀFDQWWH[W«7KLV highly readable and intriguing account will captivate readers both familiar and unfamiliar with the history of the Crown.” — Publishers Weekly THE JEWISH PUBLICATION SOCIE T Y 210 0 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103 8 0 0 -23 4 - 3151 or 8 0 0 - 355 -1165 fax 215 - 568 -2017 w w w.jewishpub.org
Jewish Book NETWORK Authors 2010–2011 Jewish Book Council created Jewish Book NETWORK to heighten awareness and promote the reading of quality Jewish interest books. In the past few years, Jewish book fairs and year-round book programs have become a major force in the Jewish community. Below is a preview of some of the “hottest” new authors to hit the Jewish literary scene for the 2010–2011 season.
© Ira Lapidus
© Sigrid Estrada
(The book summaries have been compiled from material provided by the respective publishers.)
JEWISH U: A CONTEMPORARY GUIDE FOR THE JEWISH COLLEGE STUDENT
EIGHT WHITE NIGHTS
THE WISDOM BOOKS: JOB, PROVERBS AND ECCLESIASTES: A TRANSLATION WITH COMMENTARY
URJ Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-8074-0790-5 Aaron helps college students navigate their first year on campus—from observing their first High Holy Days away from home, to finding the right place to eat during Passover, to finding common ground with other Jewish students.
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Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-374-22842-2 A man meets a woman at a party who introduces herself with three words: “I am Clara.” Over the following seven days, they meet every evening at the same cinema, and the tension between them builds.
W. W. Norton & Company, 2010 ISBN: 978-03930-6812-2 Each of these books conveys and undermines the universal wisdom that the righteous thrive and the wicked suffer in a rational moral order.
IN THIS HOUSE
THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE
Turtle Point Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-933527-33-8 Large ideas bloom from the elemental, ephemeral, and sublime, reminding us of the power of poetry: to show us how to live in a world in which we are strangers.
Vintage Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-307-45541-3 In this dark yet hilarious memoir about the resilience of love, Bachrach’s father’s sudden death sparks a wacky family reunion.
Comfort Publishing, 2009 ISBN: 978-1935-3613-74 Determined to father a child before he dies, Joel Berger appeals to the women in his macrobiotic dinner group for help. But will Joel’s mother, Sylvia, a Holocaust survivor with a fierce stance toward raising Jewish offspring, approve of the diverse progeny her son has spawned?
© Cindi de Channes March 2008
Elizabeth Bard Allison Amend
STATIONS WEST Louisiana State University Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0807-13617-1 In Stations West, four generations of Jewish pioneers struggle against the Oklahoma Territory’s “insatiable appetite.” Steeped in the history and lore of the founding of the West, Amend tells a story of Jewish pioneers, their adopted family, and the challenges they face.
LUNCH IN PARIS: A LOVE STORY WITH RECIPES Little, Brown & Company, 2010 ISBN: 978-0316042789 From a romantic bistro lunch to a Passover Seder in Paris, Elizabeth Bard tells the story of two passionate love affairs—one with her French husband, the other with French cuisine.
Stacey K. Battat
THIN THREADS: REAL STORIES OF LIFE-CHANGING MOMENTS Kiwi Publishing, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-9800564-5-7 Battat began compiling Thin Threads by collecting stories from her own Jewish community, which evolved into a book series—showing us how connected we are with one another.
Emilie M. Barnett
THE HIDDEN SCROLL Xlibris, 2009 ISBN: 978-1-4415-7038-3 An archaeology professor searches for ancient parchments that recount a legend of a secret scroll written by Judah the Maccabee. As the thriller unfolds, he encounters obstacles created by radical Islamic operatives dedicated to undermining the Jewish claim to the land of Israel.
Windjammer Adventure Publishing, 2009 ISBN: 9780615337906 This historical novel portrays the life of Beatrice Nasi Mendes (Doña Gracia 1510–1569), who was born in Portugal to Jewish parents driven from Spain and forced to convert. After she learns of her true heritage, she works to secretly help those fleeing from the Inquisition to move to safety.
© Andrea M. Lee
DARING DAUGHTER OF THE COVENANT Yoram Bauman
THE CARTOON INTRODUCTION TO ECONOMICS: VOLUME 1: MICROECONOMICS Hill and Wang, 2010 ISBN: 9780809094813 The world’s only standup economist, Yoram Bauman, has teamed up with the acclaimed graphic novel artist Grady Klein to make microeconomics digestible and humorous.
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© David Beyda Studios
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
Barbara J. Berg
Irene Levin Berman
THE POETRY OF PRAYER: TEHILLIM IN TEFILLAH
SEXISM IN AMERICA: ALIVE, WELL AND RUINING OUR FUTURE
Gefen Publishing, 2009 ISBN: 978-965-229-452-4 This guide to the daily liturgy as well as special prayers for specific occasions aims to unlock the mystery of the various psalms which comprise tefillah.
Chicago Review Press, 2009 ISBN: 978-1-55652-776-0 Berg debunks the many myths about how far women have come and the pervasive belief that ours is a post-feminist society.
“WE ARE GOING TO PICK POTATOES”: NORWAY AND THE HOLOCAUST, THE UNTOLD STORY
© Nilgun Tolek
Hamilton Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-7618-5011-3 Irene Levin was one of 1,200 Norwegian Jews who escaped to Sweden during World War II. This book chronicles her memories of life in Norway during and after the war.
Marilyn Berger Gal Beckerman
WHEN THEY COME FOR US, WE’LL BE GONE: THE EPIC STRUGGLE TO SAVE SOVIET JEWRY
William Morrow, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-06-175954-3 This is the story of a selfless man who went to Ethiopia twenty years ago to help in the evacuation of Jews to Israel and is still there ministering to the sickest of the sick of all religions in one of the poorest countries on earth.
CROSSING MANDELBAUM GATE: COMING OF AGE BETWEEN THE ARABS AND ISRAELIS, 1956-1978 Scribner, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-4165-4440-1 Growing up in Jerusalem, Beirut, Cairo, and Saudi Arabia, Kai Bird has used his Zeliglike witnessing of the region’s major wars to write a uniquely intimate account of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
© Jessica Dimmock
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-618-57309-7 The story of the rescue of the nearly three million Jews who were trapped inside the Soviet Union at the end of World War II, how the movement led to a mass exodus in 1989, and also how this struggle shaped the American Jewish community.
THIS IS A SOUL: THE MISSION OF RICK HODES
HERDING DONKEYS: THE FIGHT TO REBUILD THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY AND RESHAPE AMERICAN POLITICS
AMERICA’S GREAT DELIS: RECIPES & TRADITIONS FROM COAST TO COAST Sellers Publishing, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-4162-0565-4 Bellman celebrates the rich tradition, cuisine, and culture of well-loved delis from coast to coast, featuring fascinating family and deli histories, deli ephemera, historical and contemporary photos—even many sought-after recipes.
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Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-374-16970-1 The improbable tale of the grassroots resurgence that transformed the Democratic Party from lonely minority to sizable majority.
THE BRASS COMPASS Blue Tail Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-615-32900-0 While in a Nazi death camp, six-year-old David is secretly tutored by an aeronautical engineering professor. Days before the entire population of the camp is murdered, a farmer, Karpo Secretes, rescues David and his family and brings them to his farm. After four years, Karpo presents the family with a brass compass to find their way home.
© Susie Flax
© Jacques Perold
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
WHAT WE HAVE: ONE FAMILY’S INSPIRING STORY ABOUT LOVE, LOSS, AND SURVIVAL
CONFRONTING SCANDAL: HOW JEWS CAN RESPOND WHEN JEWS DO BAD THINGS
THE 188TH CRYBABY BRIGADE: A SKINNY JEWISH KID FROM CHICAGO FIGHTS HEZBOLLAH
Gotham, 2010 ISBN: 978-592-40551-0 Boesky and her sisters grew up in the shadow of familial cancer. This memoir traces a deeply transformative year in the lives of a Jewish family facing the dawning recognition that “what we have” is something at once profoundly difficult and deeply important.
Jewish Lights Publishing, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-58023-440-5 Brown looks back in Jewish history and forward in time to think about how we manage shame by association, and how we return to a higher purpose using Jewish texts, contemporary psychology, and philosophy, and old-fashioned common sense.
Free Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-4165-4932-1 In a hilarious coming-of-age tale, Joel Chasnoff makes good on his dream of giving back to Israel and voluntarily enlists in the Israeli Army.
Lisa Fineberg Cook
JAPAN TOOK THE J.A.P. OUT OF ME Joshua Braff
A LUCKY CHILD: A MEMOIR OF SURVIVING AUSCHWITZ AS A YOUNG BOY
Algonquin Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-56512-508-7 It’s the summer of 1975, and David Arbus’ divorced parents offer two options: embrace his mother’s Hassidic sect or go into his father’s line of work, running a porn theater in the heart of New York’s Times Square.
Back Bay Books, 2010 ISBN: 9780316043397 From Auschwitz to America, Burgenthal shares his miraculous story of survival.
Downtown Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-43911-0034 Six days after her wedding, Cook leaves with her husband for Japan where she longs for regular mani/pedis, valet parking, and gimlets with her girlfriends, but learns to cook, clean, commute, and shop like the Japanese, all the while adjusting to another foreign concept—marriage.
Thanassis Cambanis Ellen Brazer
CLOUDS ACROSS THE SUN TCJ Publishing, 2009 ISBN: 978-0-615-31140-1 Before the end of WWII, Hitler charged a group of his most trusted and brilliant comrades with a mission—educate your progeny and then elevate them to positions of power throughout the world. This is the story of one of these children.
A PRIVILEGE TO DIE: INSIDE HEZBOLLAH’S LEGIONS AND THEIR ENDLESS WAR AGAINST ISRAEL Free Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-439-14360-5 Cambanis offers the first detailed look at the surprising cross section of people who are willing to die for Hezbollah: not just unemployed young men, but middle-class engineers, merchants, even nurses.
BRUTE: THE LIFE OF VICTOR KRULAK, U.S. MARINE Little, Brown & Company, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-316-75846-8 Coram presents a rounded and intimate portrait of the legendary marine who receives much of the credit for America’s victory in the Pacific, the successful D-Day landing, and ultimately America’s triumph in World War II.
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2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
SEEKING HAPPILY EVER AFTER: NAVIGATING THE UPS AND DOWNS OF BEING SINGLE WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND (AND FINDING LASTING LOVE ALONG THE WAY)
MAKE ME A WOMAN
A JEW GROWS IN BROOKLYN: THE CURIOUS REFLECTIONS OF A FIRST-GENERATION AMERICAN
Eric Jay Dolin
FUR, FORTUNE, AND EMPIRE: THE EPIC HISTORY OF THE FUR TRADE IN AMERICA W. W. Norton & Company, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-393067-101 Dolin traces the dramatic rise and fall of the American fur industry, from the first Dutch encounters with the Indians to the rise of the conservation movement in the late 19th century.
HCI BOOKS, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-7573-1466-7 Ehrenreich expands on the uproarious and poignant family stories featured in his hit Off-Broadway (and now nationally touring) stage show of the same name.
© star black
Tarcher, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-58542-831-1 There are more single women today than ever, and the group that’s waiting the longest to marry: the Jews. In this self-help book, Cove strives to answer many of the complicated questions that arose during her research about single women around the U.S.
Drawn & Quarterly, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-77046-021-8 This autobiography comic features witty vignettes about being young, Jewish, and single, illustrated in watercolors.
THE LAST JEWISH VIRGIN Dennis Danziger
A SHORT HISTORY OF A TALL JEW Michael D. Doochin
THE TZADDIK Westview, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-935271-41-3 A contemporary novel which grapples with the concept of Jewish souls and their purpose in entering this world. The tale centers around a tzaddik—a rare mystical and righteous soul—and his actions and the world’s reactions, first as he flees his calling, and later as he assumes extraordinary power in business and government.
© Tracy Birdsell
Deal St. Press, 2010 ISBN: 9780615318462 Philip Lachman, a Jewish bachelor who comes with a litigious ex-wife, a New Age rabbi who insists he marry one of his congregants, and a meager income as a public school teacher, is searching for a second wife. Problem is, Philip’s son announces that if another woman so much as comes over for dinner, he’ll return to his mom’s house and the custody war will be reignited. Undaunted, he sets off on his quest.
Red Hen Press, 2010 ISBN: 1-59709-393-9 The Last Jewish Virgin explores Jewish faith vs. Jewish secularism, the complicated love between mothers and daughters, and the lure of “Mr. Wrong” to women of all ages.
THE WET NURSE’S TALE Putnam, 2010 ISBN: 9780399155765 Set in mid-1800’s Britain, The Wet Nurse’s Tale tells the story of a woman whose life is changed by a tip to the Hebrew section of town and an affair with a Jewish dentist.
LIFE, LOVE, LOX: REAL-WORLD ADVICE FOR THE MODERN JEWISH GIRL Running Press, 2010 ISBN: 9780762437870 A sassy guide for good Jewish girls, detailing—among other things—kosher kissing, cooking kugel, and finding a mensch in a haystack.
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Mordechai D. Dzikansky
TERRORIST COP: THE NYPD JEWISH COP WHO TRAVELED THE WORLD TO STOP TERRORISM Barricade Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-56980-445-2 Working for the NYPD, Dzikansky went undercover as a rabbi to chase Torah thieves and then, while on assignment in Israel became the world’s leading authority on suicide bombings.
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
Lucy Rose Fischer
EVE: A NOVEL
SCORPIONS: THE BATTLES AND TRIUMPHS OF FDR’S GREAT SUPREME COURT JUSTICES
I’M NEW AT BEING OLD
Twelve, 2010 ISBN: 9780446580571 Feldman shows how Robert Jackson, Hugo Black, William O. Douglas, and Felix Frankfurter helped to change America in the wake of the Great Depression.
© nina berman
Harper Perennial, 2010 ISBN: 978-0061782213 Expert insight on how to harness the potent force of eye contact for success in work and personal relationships.
© Joel R. Smolen
THE POWER OF EYE CONTACT: YOUR SECRET FOR SUCCESS IN BUSINESS, LOVE AND LIFE
Temuna Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-615-33519-3 Fischer’s picture book for women captures the essence of what it feels like to be “new at being old,” offering both laughter and original insights for Jewish women in the Baby Boom generation to share with their mothers and daughters.
George Washington University
Bantam Dell, 2010 ISBN: 9780385341455 This work of fiction blends biblical tradition with recorded history and dazzling storytelling to reimagine Eve’s journey.
POISONING THE PRESS: RICHARD NIXON, JACK ANDERSON, AND THE RISE OF WASHINGTON’S SCANDAL CULTURE
KOSHER NATION: WHY MORE AND MORE OF AMERICA’S FOOD ANSWERS TO A HIGHER AUTHORITY
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-374-23530-7 Feldstein documents the bitter face-off between President Nixon and columnist Jack Anderson, exemplifying a larger conflict between the government and the press.
Schocken Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-8052-4265-2 Fishkoff travels throughout America and to Shanghai, China, to find out who eats kosher food, who produces it, who is responsible for its certification, and how this fascinating world continues to evolve.
Randi Hutter Epstein
W. W. Norton & Company, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-393-06458-2 Epstein journeys through history, fads, and fables, and to the fringe of science, where audacious researchers have gone to extreme measures to get healthy babies out of mothers.
© Mark Thomas
GET ME OUT: A HISTORY OF CHILDBIRTH FROM THE GARDEN OF EDEN TO THE SPERM Pamela Ferdinand, Carey Goldberg, and Beth Jones
THREE WISHES: A TRUE STORY OF GOOD FRIENDS, CRUSHING HEARTBREAK, AND ASTONISHING LUCK ON OUR WAY TO LOVE AND MOTHERHOOD Little, Brown & Company, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-316079-068 Three Jewish best friends and journalists transform their lives by taking motherhood into their own hands.
WALKING ISRAEL: A PERSONAL SEARCH FOR THE SOUL OF A NATION St. Martin’s Dunne, 2010 ISBN: 978-0312534813 Longtime chief of NBC’s Tel Aviv news bureau strolls the coast of Israel, observing facets of the country often ignored in the news reports.
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© Chuck Mosberger
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
Nancy Garfinkel and Andrea Israel
EMISSARY OF THE DOOMED
STRIPPING GYPSY: THE LIFE OF GYPSY ROSE LEE
THE RECIPE CLUB: A TALE OF FOOD AND FRIENDSHIP
Oxford University Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-199754-335 Gypsy Rose Lee was a stripper, writer, movie star, actress, talk show host, arts patron, trade unionist, and political activist, whose friendships and romances illuminate American Jewish history in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
HarperCollins, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-06-199219-3 In childhood, two girls form an exclusive club, writing intimate letters in which they share hopes, fears, deepest secrets—and recipes. The Recipe Club sustains Lilly and Val’s bond for decades...until the fateful day when an act of kindness becomes an unforgivable betrayal.
Viking Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-670-02072-0 This historical narrative relates Joel Brand’s efforts to save Hungary’s Jews from the Holocaust.
© Curtis Martin
Abraham H. Foxman
JEWS, MONEY, AND ANTI-SEMITISM: THE STORY OF A STEREOTYPE Palgrave Macmillan, 2010 ISBN: 978-0230623859 Foxman takes a cultural and political look at the many variations throughout history of the assumptions made about Jews and money.
AFTER THE AUCTION Self-Published, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-9844939-0-6 When Lily Kovner goes to an auction and sees an antique Seder plate that was stolen from her family by the Nazis, she begins a quest to reclaim it—an odyssey that takes her to London and Israel.
A THOUSAND DARKNESSES: LIES AND TRUTH IN HOLOCAUST FICTION Oxford University Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-19-531396-3 Franklin investigates questions such as “What is the difference between writing a novel about the Holocaust and fabricating a memoir?” and “Do narratives about the Holocaust have a special obligation to be ‘truthful’ to the facts of history?”as they arise in the most significant works of Holocaust literature, from Tadeusz Borowski’s Auschwitz stories to Jonathan Safran Foer’s postmodernist family history.
JUDAISM: A WAY OF BEING Yale University Press, 2009 ISBN: 978-0-300-15192-3 Gelernter presents Judaism in the form of four “deep images,” and offers a new approach to the substance of Judaism based on vibrant imagery instead of theological doctrine.
SOMETHING RED Richard Freund
DIGGING THROUGH THE BIBLE: UNDERSTANDING BIBLICAL PEOPLE, PLACES AND CONTROVERSIES THROUGH ARCHEOLOGY
Scribner, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-4165-7170-4 It’s 1979 in Washington, D.C. The age of protest has come and gone and yet each one of the Goldsteins is forced to manage the changes the new decade will bring and explore what it really means to be a radical.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2009 ISBN: 978-0742546455 Archaeology provides the opportunity to find evidence about what really happened in the distant past—evidence that can have a dramatic impact on what and how we believe.
Jewish Book World
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
I CAME OUT FOR THIS?
THE BRIDE WILL KEEP HER NAME
HOLD LOVE STRONG
Bywater Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-932859-73-7 Joanna Kane, a Jewish woman who has come out in her forties, has fallen madly in love with Terri Rubin. She follows her from Cleveland to D.C., becoming immersed in D.C.’s gay scene, while desperately trying to win Terri’s heart.
Shaye Areheart, 2010 ISBN: 978-0307345929 “Be careful what you wish for.” This familiar warning comes back to haunt Jewish bride Maddie Mandelbaum in a story involving murder, sex, scandal, and intrigue.
Touchstone/Fireside, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-4165-6204-7 Born and raised in the Ever Park Housing Projects in Queens, NY, Abraham’s own path and the path of those he loves begin to diverge and he must choose to pursue his own promising future or stay and drown in a crumbling world of poverty and drugs.
© Steven Pinker
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein Todd Gitlin and Liel Leibovitz
THE CHOSEN PEOPLES: AMERICA, ISRAEL, AND THE ORDEALS OF DIVINE ELECTION Simon & Schuster, 2010 ISBN: 9781439132357 In The Chosen Peoples, the authors conclude that only by wrestling with the meaning of “chosenness” and taking on its responsibilities—learning to see it not as a mandate for conquest but as a call for justice—can both America and Israel overcome their anxieties and thrive.
36 ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD: A WORK OF FICTION Pantheon Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-307-37818-7 After Cass Seltzer’s book becomes a surprise bestseller, he’s dubbed “the atheist with a soul” and becomes a celebrity. Yet he is haunted by reminders of the two people who ignited his passion to understand religion: his mentor—a renowned scholar with a suspicious obsession with messianism—and an angelic six-year-old mathematical genius who is heir to the leadership of a Hasidic sect.
Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson
A PRAYER TO OUR FATHER: HEBREW ORIGINS OF THE LORD’S PRAYER Hilkiah Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0976263746 A Jerusalem-based Jewish Bible scholar and an African-American pastor explore the “Lord’s Prayer” and discover that this quintessential Christian prayer contains a powerful message of reconciliation when understood in its original Jewish context.
Barbara Graham Dovid Goldwasser Sarah Glidden
HOW TO UNDERSTAND ISRAEL IN 60 DAYS OR LESS
STARVING SOULS: A SPIRITUAL GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING EATING DISORDERS
Vertigo/DC Comics, 2010 ISBN: 978-1401222338 When Sarah Glidden took a Birthright Israel trip she thought she knew what she was getting herself into. But when she got to Israel, she found that things weren’t quite so simple.
KTAV Publishing House, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-60280-1424 A comprehensive guide to the detection and treatment of anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders from an extraordinarily unique standpoint: the spiritual one.
EYE OF MY HEART: 27 WRITERS REVEAL THE HIDDEN PLEASURES AND PERILS OF BEING A GRANDMOTHER Harper, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-06147416-3 The first literary collection for a new generation of grandmothers. The 27 contributors—one-third of them Jewish, including editor Barbara Graham—lead lives radically different from their own bubbes.
Jewish Book World
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn
THE COMPLETE PSALMS: THE BOOK OF PRAYER SONGS IN A NEW TRANSLATION
YOU SAY TOMATO, I SAY SHUT UP: A LOVE STORY
St. Martin’s Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0312601904 In 1932, during the final weeks of the Weimar Republic, a young woman washes up in the Havel River, her legs bizarrely deformed. Willi Kraus—a decorated soldier and Germany’s most celebrated Jewish detective—is sent to investigate.
Crown Publishers, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-307-46377-7 Comedians and real life married couple Annabelle Gurwitch and Jef Kahn prove that in marriage, all you need is love—and a healthy dose of complaining, co-dependence, and Pinot Noir.
ONE STEP AHEAD OF HITLER: A JEWISH CHILD’S JOURNEY THROUGH FRANCE
Mercer University Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-88146-225-8 Fred Gross knew much about the history of the Holocaust, but he didn’t know his own, being a young Jewish child during those terrible years. This story is not simply an account of the years spent one step ahead of Hitler. It is about a little boy, then grown man, coming to know his own story and realizing the tenuousness of memory.
YIDDISH YOGA: RUTHIE’S ADVENTURES IN LOVE, LOSS, AND THE LOTUS POSITION
THE JEWISH ODYSSEY: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY
Newmarket Press, 2009 ISBN: 978-1-557048-356 In this tale, Ruthie, a recently widowed New York City Jewish Bubby, accepts her granddaughter’s gift of a year of yoga lessons with surprising results.
Bloomsbury USA, 2010 ISBN: 9781608191208 This is a translation of the Book of Psalms in a fresh, new, and lyrical approach.
Flammarion, 2010 ISBN: 978-2-080301-550 Halter charts the course of Judaism from its origins in Mesopotamia to its place in the world today.
Oren Harman Mihai Grunfeld
LEAVING: MEMORIES OF ROMANIA
TO THE END OF THE LAND Alfred A. Knopf, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-307-59297-2 Ora is about to celebrate her son Ofer’s release from Israeli army service when he voluntarily rejoins. Her story places the most hideous trials of war alongside the daily joys and anguish of raising children: never have we seen so clearly the reality and surreality of daily life in Israel, the currents of ambivalence about war within one household, the burdens that fall on each generation anew.
Jewish Book World
Millrock Writers Collective ISBN: 978-0-9792293-1-2 Grunfeld recounts his childhood and adolescence as the son of impoverished Holocaust survivors.
THE PRICE OF ALTRUISM: GEORGE PRICE AND THE SEARCH FOR THE ORIGINS OF KINDNESS W. W. Norton & Company, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-393-06778-1 Harman tells the story of the eccentric American genius George Price (1922–1975), as he strives to understand the role altruism plays in evolution. From the heights of the Manhattan Project to the depths of homelessness and despair, his life embodies the paradoxes of Darwin’s enigma.
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
THE REBBE: THE LIFE AND AFTERLIFE OF MENACHEM MENDEL SCHNEERSON
OLD JEWS TELLING JOKES: 5000 YEARS OF FUNNY BITS AND NOT-SO-KOSHER LAUGHS
MURIEL’S WAR: AN AMERICAN HEIRESS IN THE NAZI RESISTANCE
Princeton University Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0691-13888-6 The Rebbe tracks the life of Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s from his birth in Russia, to his rise to global renown in New York, where he built the Lubavitcher movement from a relatively small sect within Hasidic Judaism into the powerful force in Jewish life that it is today.
Villard Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-345-52235-1 An intelligent yet hysterically funny celebration of Jewish language and culture based on the very popular (more than 6 million hits!) website Old Jews Telling Jokes.
Palgrave Macmillan, 2010 ISBN: 978-0230615656 Muriel Gardiner was the heiress to a Midwestern fortune who left her native soil for Europe in the 20’s and 30’s, working in the resistance against fascism, saving people from the Nazis, and fleeing at the outbreak of World War II, only to continue her exciting life in America.
George R. Honig
THE ALEXANDRIA LETTER Michael Hirsh
Bantam, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-533-80756-1 The Liberators traces the progress of the Allied forces from camp to camp, revealing what those Americans experienced, and how confronting the Holocaust firsthand affected their lives.
Synergy Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-9823140-8-1 When a scholar discovers and translates a 1st century Aramaic letter, he comes up against a sinister plot intended to discredit him and to destroy the letter. The novel’s central story line, presented as the ancient letter’s text, relates a thoroughly Jewish perspective on the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth and his contemporaries.
AND GOD SAID: HOW TRANSLATIONS CONCEAL THE BIBLE’S ORIGINAL MEANING
MOM STILL LIKES YOU BEST: THE UNFINISHED BUSINESS BETWEEN SIBLINGS
St. Martin’s Dunne, 2010 ISBN: 978-0312565589 Hoffman uncovers the often inaccurate or misleading English translations of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament that quotes from it.
Doubleday, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-385-52455-1 Based on scores of interviews with brothers and sisters young and old, Mom Still Likes You Best features stories that show how differences caused by family feuds, marriages, distance, or ancient history can be overcome.
THE LIBERATORS: AMERICA’S WITNESSES TO THE HOLOCAUST
SHAKING THE FAMILY TREE: BLUE BLOODS, BLACK SHEEP, AND OTHER OBSESSIONS OF AN AMATEUR GENEALOGIST Touchstone/Fireside, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-4391-1299-1 A tour through the subculture of genealogy buffs. Jackson investigates her maternal Jewish ancestry, interviewing experts in Jewish and Eastern European archives and dispelling many of the myths about Jewish genealogy.
Meredith and Sofie Jacobs
JUST BETWEEN US: A NO-STRESS, NO-RULES JOURNAL FOR GIRLS AND THEIR MOMS Chronicle Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-8118-6895-2 A fun, fresh journal to help other moms and daughters get to know each other in a new way.
Jewish Book World
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
Roberta Kalechofsky and Roberta Schiff
CHOOSE TO BE HAPPILY MARRIED: HOW EVERYDAY DECISIONS CAN LEAD TO LASTING LOVE
A HIDDEN AFFAIR
THE VEGETARIAN SHABBAT COOKBOOK
© Nancy Cardozo
Micah Publications, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-916288-56-3 Designed for the Jewish family to celebrate a joyous occasion with hearty, delicious dishes that contain no animal products, with meals that can be made in advance and often have leftovers for Saturday.
Adams Media, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-6055062-58 Jacobson groups 25 turning points in a marriage into three categories—personal power, communication and flexibility—helping the reader determine which area is weakest.
Atria Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-416590-712 When Jordan Weiss learns that her college boyfriend Jared is still alive she sets out to find him. Her search takes her all over Europe and embroils her in a wine heist that began during WWII, leading her to team up with an Israeli operative.
Gloria Kamen, Lisa Wexler, and Jill Zarin
LAMPSHADE: A HOLOCAUST DETECTIVE STORY FROM BUCHENWALD TO NEW ORLEANS
SWEET DATES IN BASRA
SECRETS OF A JEWISH MOTHER: REAL ADVICE, REAL STORIES, REAL LOVE Gotham Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-525-95179-7 Jill Zarin, from “The Real Housewives of New York City,” her sister Lisa Wexler, and her mother Gloria Kamen reveal their recipes for being engaged, involved, and encouraging, as only a Jewish mother could.
© Jayd Gardina
Simon & Schuster, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-416566-274 Upon discovering through a DNA analysis that a lampshade in New Orleans was made with the skins from Holocaust victims, Jacobson sets off to uncover the story of “the skin lamp,” which takes him to Weimer, Buchenwald, Yad Vashem, DNA labs, and leading scholars of the Holocaust.
HarperCollins, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-06-168930-7 When two Iraqi families—one Jewish and one Muslim—break through a wall in their adjoining courtyard, Shafiq and Omar begin passing notes through the hole, connecting to one another as best friends. Sweet Dates in Basra pays tribute to the 2,600 years of Jewish culture that thrived in Babylon while presaging its inevitable demise.
© Shure Lifton
Anya Kamenetz Miryam Kabakov
ANNE FRANK: THE ANNE FRANK HOUSE AUTHORIZED GRAPHIC BIOGRAPHY Hill and Wang, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-8090-2685-2 Drawing on the unique historical archives and experts at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Jacobson and Colón have created the first authorized and exhaustive graphic biography of Anne Frank.
Jewish Book World
KEEP YOUR WIVES AWAY FROM THEM: ORTHODOX WOMEN, UNORTHODOX DESIRES North Atlantic Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-55643-879-0 Kabakov gives voice to LBTQ Jewish women who were once silenced—and effectively rendered invisible—by their faith. While a number of films and books have given voice to Orthodox GLBT Jews, no others have shown what happens to women after the struggle.
DIY U: EDUPUNKS, EDUPRENEURS, AND THE COMING TRANSFORMATION OF HIGHER EDUCATION Chelsea Green Publishing, 2010 ISBN: 9781603582346 Kamenetz illustrates how to radically change the way higher education is delivered and emphasizes that the future lies in personal learning networks and paths, learning that blends experiential and digital approaches, and free and open-source educational models.
© Owen Murphy
© Todd R. Lockwood
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
BURNT BOOKS: RABBI NACHMAN OF BRATZLAV AND FRANZ KAFKA
THE ENEMY I KNEW: GERMAN JEWS IN THE ALLIED MILITARY IN WORLD WAR TWO
AUTHENTIC PATRIOTISM: RESTORING AMERICA’S FOUNDING IDEALS THROUGH SELFLESS ACTION
Zenith, 2009 ISBN: 978-0-7603-3586-4 These twenty-seven interviews take readers into the unique experience of German and Austrian Jews who served as Allied soldiers in North Africa and Europe.
St. Martin’s Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0312379117 Surveying a fractious America that seems “adrift” from its founding principles, Kiernan portrays people from all walks of life who are accomplishing significant societal goals that government cannot achieve.
Schocken Books/Nextbook Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-8052-4257-7 A dual biography of the venerated Hasidic storyteller Rabbi Nachman and the iconic modern master Franz Kafka that uncovers surprising parallels between two lives spent in search of spiritual meaning.
COUNTING THE OMER: A KABBALISTIC MEDITATION GUIDE
THE LEGEND OF COSMO AND THE ARCHANGEL
Gaon Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-935604-00-6 Counting the Omer is an innovative Kabbalistic meditation guide to experiencing and understanding the in-depth meanings of each of the 49 days between Pesach and the Shavuot celebration of the revealing of the Torah.
French Creek Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-9655440003 The story of a high school pact between Cosmo and Nick (Archangel) that extends over decades. Nick’s path leads him to the PLO and then to a rabbi, who helps him on his path to redemption, while Cosmo finds a different kind of spiritual enlightenment.
YOU HAD ME AT WOOF: HOW DOGS TAUGHT ME THE SECRETS OF HAPPINESS Riverhead Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-59448-776-7 The story of Klam’s relationships with dogs, and how each brought her new insights and a fuller understanding of how to find happiness in her adult life.
© Renee Rosensteel
© Deborah Copaken Kogan
Mitchell James Kaplan
BY FIRE, BY WATER
Other Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-590513-521 In this historical novel, Kaplan brings to life three simultaneous, cataclysmic historical events: the Spanish Inquisition, the reconquest of Granada by Ferdinand and Isabella, and Columbus’s voyage to America.
THE IRON WILL OF SHOESHINE CATS
SURVIVING YOUR DOCTORS
Dzanc Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-9767177-8-2 In 1963, a bookish Brooklyn kid becomes the unwilling protégé of a fearsome Jewish gangster who is a hero to a population still traumatized by the Holocaust.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2009 ISBN: 978-1442201392 The basic training manual patients need to work their way through the health care maze, told from the perspective of a doctor yet designed to reveal the faults in the system.
Jewish Book World
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
BARGAIN JUNKIE: LIVING THE GOOD LIFE ON THE CHEAP
UNFINISHED BUSINESS: ONE MAN’S EXTRAORDINARY YEAR OF TRYING TO DO THE RIGHT THINGS
Andrews McMeel, 2009 ISBN: 978-0-7407-8533-7 Frugalista extraordinaire Annie Korzen (Seinfeld’s Doris Klompus) shows that living on a budget doesn’t mean abandoning expensive tastes or a love of culture.
Bryna W. Kranzler
THE ACCIDENTAL ANARCHIST Crosswalk Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-9845563-0-4 Having already escaped five death sentences in Russian-occupied Poland, Jacob Marateck finds himself sentenced to hard labor in Siberia, where he teams up with Warsaw’s “King of Thieves” to plan an escape and find a way home.
Bloomsbury, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-59691-6753 In the spirit of his Jewish heritage, Kravitz goes on ten journeys of self- and family-healing.
Tor Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0765323-170 A supernatural history of the fateful summer of 1939 which puts two sisters to the task of ensuring that the fabled Sefer Raziel HaMalakh’s secrets don’t fall into Nazi hands.
KVETCH AS KVETCH CAN: CARTOONS ABOUT JEWS
THE YEAR THAT FOLLOWS
Clarkson Potter, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-307-58888-3 A twisted but loving look at the trials and tribulations of the therapeutically inclined, smoked-fish loving, baseball-statistic obsessed subset of humanity.
Vintage Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-307-45638-0 The story of a woman’s search for her brother’s infant son, orphaned in the wake of the brother’s sudden death.
Claire LaZebnik Joyce Ravid
GREAT HOUSE W. W. Norton & Company, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-393-07998-2 Krauss’ novel tells the story of how an American novelist, an antique dealer in Jerusalem, and a husband in London are all affected by one unlikely object, the desk that once belonged to a poet who disappeared at the hands of Pinochet’s secret police.
Jewish Book World
LEVITTOWN: TWO FAMILIES, ONE TYCOON, AND THE FIGHT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS IN AMERICA’S LEGENDARY SUBURB Walker & Company, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-802717-955 A town founded after World War II that became synonymous with the American dream explodes when an African-American family buys a home there.
IF YOU LIVED HERE, YOU’D BE HOME NOW Grand Central Publishing, 2010 ISBN: 978-0446555012 When Rickie moves back home to LA at age 25 with her son, she realizes how much she stands out from the blond Stepford moms at his private school and goes into mothertigress mode to protect her son.
© Jonathan Torgovnik
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
Laurie Ann Levin
WHEREVER YOU GO
IT COULD BE WORSE, YOU COULD BE ME
GOD THE UNIVERSE AND WHERE I FIT IN
Harper Perennial, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-061864-599 Leve’s genuine pessimism translates to thoughtful humor in tales from the frontlines of woe: endearing, self-deprecating stories about her anxiety over men, friends, sunny days, the parents of crying babies, and Facebook.
HCI Books, 2009 ISBN: 9780757314407 Levin’s memoir chronicles her journey from 20 years in show business to realizing her true mission at age 40: becoming a doctor of clinical psychology, founding a holistic mental health institute, and finally assuming her role as writer and lecturer.
© Ryu Voelkel
W. W. Norton & Company, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-393-05476-7 Leegant weaves together three American lives: Yona Stern, who has traveled to Jerusalem to make amends with her estranged sister; Mark Greenglass, former drug dealer saved by religion but now questioning his faith; and Aaron Binder, whose famous father mines the Holocaust for his best-selling novels.
Gregory Levey Alice Lehrer
IF WE COULD HEAR THEM NOW: ENCOUNTERS WITH LEGENDARY JEWISH HEROINES
Free Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-1439154151 Levey attempts to solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict himself, within six months, trying to find out why the Middle East problem refuses to be resolved, and why everyone thinks they know the answer.
© C. Englander
© Ben Lemelman
Urim Publications, 2009 ISBN: 978-965-524-031-3 As fictionalized history, 13 Jewish heroines from different eras come alive to tell their stories, interview style, in modern voice.
HOW TO MAKE PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST IN 6 MONTHS OR LESS WITHOUT LEAVING YOUR APARTMENT
TWO CENTS PLAIN: MY BROOKLYN BOYHOOD Bloomsbury, 2010 ISBN: 9781608190041 Lemelman’s graphic memoir collects the memories and artifacts of the author’s childhood in Brooklyn as the son of Holocaust survivors.
THE LAST EMBER Riverhead Trade, 2010 ISBN: 978-1594484605 A young American lawyer and former doctoral student in classics is summoned to Rome to examine a client’s fragment of an ancient stone map, and stumbles across a hidden message carved inside the stone itself. The discovery propels him on a journey from the labyrinth beneath the Colosseum to the biblicalera tunnels of Jerusalem.
GATED GRIEF: THE DAUGHTER OF A WORLD WAR II GI LIBERATOR DISCOVERS A LEGACY OF TRAUMA Cable Publishing, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-934980-54-5 After her father died, Levinson sought out other veterans who also witnessed the camps to learn more about the nightmare her father, and so many others, experienced.
HOPE WILL FIND YOU: MY SEARCH FOR THE WISDOM TO STOP WAITING AND START LIVING Doubleday Religion, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-385-53170-2 Rabbi Levy shares the wisdom she has gleaned from seeing many people through the happiness, changes, and tragedies of their lives.
Jewish Book World
© Jaime Columbus
© Ceridwen Morris
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD: THE SEARCH FOR COMMUNITY ON AN AMERICAN STREET, ONE SLEEPOVER AT A TIME
MISS MANNERS’ GUIDE TO A SURPRISINGLY DIGNIFIED WEDDING
Perigee, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-399-53571-0 After a murder-suicide rocks Lovenheim’s community, he goes on a search to get to know his neighbors, and asks a thought-provoking question: Do neighborhoods matter—and is something lost when we live as strangers next door?
W. W. Norton & Company, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-3930-69143 Judith Martin and her newlywed daughter, Jacobina, explain how to have a dignified ceremony and delightful celebration without succumbing to the now-prevalent pattern of the vulgar, money-draining wedding that exhausts families and exploits friends.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010 ISBN: 9780374298913 All Milo Burke wants to be is a good father, a good husband, an okay employee, and an okay guy. He thought that at least being an okay guy was within his power, but now he’s finding that “okay” is the new American dream.
PULANI Author House, 2010 Pulani is the autobiography of an “English school girl” raised by a dynamic, indomitable mother in a liberal, affluent household in the heartland of South Africa during apartheid’s last turbulent days.
BONHOEFFER: PASTOR, MARTYR, PROPHET, SPY: A RIGHTEOUS GENTILE VS. THE THIRD REICH
Other Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-59051-370-5 After David Starkman’s father’s controversial play “The Debba” caused a riot in Haifa, Starkman renounced his Isralei citizenship and withdrew from the family, but his father’s murder prompts him to return to Israel and reimmerse himself.
Thomas Nelson, 2010 ISBN: 978-1595551382 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young pastor in his 20’s, was executed in 1945 for his part in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Metaxas takes both strands of Bonhoeffer’s life—the theologian and the spy—and draws them together to tell a story of moral courage in the face of evil.
Avinoam Lourie and Cissy Shapiro
Creative Brilliance Associates, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-945139-01-0 The uplifting experiences and escapades of Israeli zoologist, Avinoam Lourie, as Haifa Zoo director, then wildlife protector, and reintroducer of endangered species back into nature for Israel’s Nature Reserves Authority.
Jewish Book World
© Sigrid Estrada
A BEAR IN MY BED & A JACKAL IN MY OVEN Gil Marks
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF JEWISH FOOD John Wiley & Sons, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-470-39130-3 The ultimate reference for Jewish foods and food traditions around the world, this encyclopedia covers everything from Afikomen and Almond to Yom Kippur and Za’atar.
PERFECTION: A MEMOIR OF BETRAYAL AND RENEWAL Voice, 2010 ISBN: 9781401341350 This memoir tells the story of the stranger-than-fiction events that followed the sudden death of Metz’s husband in 2003.
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
MY BEFORE AND AFTER LIFE
MUST • GIRLS • LOVE
LIFE AS A VISITOR
St. Martin’s Press, 2009 ISBN: 978-0-312360-139 When Honey and Susan’s father moves to Jerusalem and becomes an Orthodox Jew, Susan channels her emotion into yet another renovation of the seafood restaurant she runs, and Honey, a lawyer, finds that her most recent case against an Orthodox day school expansion tests her questions about Truth.
Self-published, 2009 ISBN: 978-1-61623-934-3 A memoir about a young woman’s journey to understand, cope with, and grieve the death of her eldest sister, Miya.
Assouline, 2009 ISBN: 9782759404070 Forced to flee to the U.S. after the violent Iranian Revolution of 1979, Nazarian takes readers on a physical and emotional journey from past to present, from the exotic to the familiar, and from a country’s political struggle to her own inner struggle in search of home, family, and sense of belonging.
© Marianne Bernstein
Rachel Kauder Nalebuff
Princeton University Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-691144-788 The relationship of Jews to money is a frequent topic of speculation and vituperation, and so often associated with bigotry that exploration of the topic is often treated as taboo. Capitalism and the Jews is an attempt to recover this history.
QUICHE, KUGELS AND COUSCOUS: MY SEARCH FOR JEWISH COOKING IN FRANCE Monni and Sabrina Must
LIVING WITNESSES: FACES OF THE HOLOCAUST Self-published, 2009 ISBN: 978-0-615-30813-5 This book of portraits and experiences of Detroit-area Holocaust survivors captures the survivors’ personalities and honors who they were before the war.
Alfred A. Knopf, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-307-26759-7 What is Jewish cooking in France? Joan Nathan traveled the country to discover the answer and, along the way, unearthed a treasure trove of recipes and the stories behind them.
JACOB’S CANE: A JEWISH FAMILY’S JOURNEY FROM THE FOUR LANDS OF LITHUANIA TO THE PORTS OF LONDON AND BALTIMORE, A MEMOIR IN FIVE GENERATIONS Basic Books, 2009 ISBN: 978-0465-01525-2 New follows the legacy of five generations of relatives, traveling from Baltimore to the Baltic, from the tobacco fields of Maryland and the Carolinas to the bloodied fields of 20th century Europe.
© Whitney Lawson
CAPITALISM AND THE JEWS
© linda spillers
Jerry Z. Muller
Twelve, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-446775-045 An anthology of accessible, informative, and deeply honest stories about first periods written by women of all ages from around the world.
MY LITTLE RED BOOK
WISENHEIMER: A CHILDHOOD SUBJECT TO DEBATE Free Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-1439128640 Wisenheimer chronicles the travails of a hyperarticulate child who finds salvation in the heady world of competitive oratory.
Jewish Book World
© Yossi Zamir, Flash 90
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
A SHIP IN THE HARBOR: MOTHER AND ME, PART II
THE HOUSE OF SECRETS: THE HIDDEN WORLD OF THE MIKVEH
IG Publishing, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-935439134 The story of a young Orthodox Jewish woman who undertakes a solo kayaking journey across the Arctic Ocean after her parents are killed and she is disfigured by a terrorist bomb in a Jerusalem café, to find the meaning of faith.
Beacon Press, 2009 ISBN: 978-0807077429 The first inside look at women’s experiences in traditional mikvehs, the cornerstone of Orthodox Jewish family life.
© Myra Klarman
Academy Chicago Publishers, 2009 ISBN: 978-0-89733-598-0 The sequel to Mother and Me: Escape from Warsaw 1939, in which seven-year-old Yulian, a Jew who was brought up by a Catholic nanny, and his mother escape the bombing of Warsaw, survive Soviet occupation, and escape dramatically into Hungary over the Carpathian Mountains.
RICH BOY Steven L. Pease Jonathan Papernick
THERE IS NO OTHER
Deucalion, 2009 ISBN: 978-0-9825168-0-5 Pease’s book details the astonishingly high rates of Jewish achievement from a people that constitute just two-tenths of one percent of the world’s population.
Twelve, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-446-56318-5 After leaving his working-class home in Philadelphia, Robert Vishniak crafts a new identity and befriends the son of one of the country’s wealthiest families, until a chance encounter with a girl from his old neighborhood threatens to unravel everything.
© Michael Lionstar
Exile, 2010 ISBN: 978-1550961386 Ten darkly humorous stories take readers from the streets of modern Israel to the barrooms of Brooklyn, to a suburban New England synagogue, where they encounter characters who search for love and acceptance in a world scarred by loss and loneliness.
THE GOLDEN AGE OF JEWISH ACHIEVEMENT: THE COMPENDIUM OF A CULTURE, A PEOPLE, AND THEIR STUNNING PERFORMANCE
Sasha Polakow-Suransky Ethan Paritzky
THE WEIZMANN PROTOCOL Trafford, 2009 ISBN: 978-1-4269-1751-6 When Jake Meyer returns to Zurich, Switzerland, he begins a search for a secret land purchase between the Saudi Arabians and the Israelis, with help from Britain and the United States that could further enflame chaos in the Middle East and complicate the War on Terror.
Jewish Book World
THE UNSPOKEN ALLIANCE: ISRAEL’S SECRET RELATIONSHIP WITH APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA Pantheon Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-375-42546-2 The Unspoken Alliance tells a troubling story of the arms exchange between Israel and South Africa, as both faced growing ostracism from world power after 1967.
THE BOY: A HOLOCAUST STORY Hill and Wang, 2010 ISBN: 978-0809030712 A gravel road. A sunny day. A soldier. A gun. A child, arms high in the air. A moment captured on film. But what is the history behind this famous Holocaust photograph?
© Flash 90
© Larry Port
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
Dina Roth Port
Mira and Tony Rocca
PREVIVORS: FACING THE BREAST CANCER GENE AND MAKING LIFE-CHANGING DECISIONS
THE TENTH SONG
MEMORIES OF EDEN: A JOURNEY THROUGH JEWISH BAGHDAD Northwestern University Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-810126343 Memories of Eden reconstructs the final years of one of the oldest and most vibrant communities in the Jewish Diaspora, using the letters and other writings that Violette Shamash sent to her daughter, and son-inlaw, over a period of 20 years.
© John Goodman
Avery Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-1583334058 This is the first comprehensive book to guide women through the difficult process of determining their risk, weighing the options, and coping with the emotions of deciding to undergo surgery.
St. Martin’s Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0312570170 Abigail Samuels is the epitome of the successful American woman, but when her heartbroken daughter runs away to a commune, Abigail rushes to save her and discovers that there is nothing more whole than a broken heart.
Frederick Reiken Monroe E. Price
DAY FOR NIGHT
Daniel Asa Rose
OBJECTS OF REMEMBRANCE: A MEMOIR OF AMERICAN OPPORTUNITIES AND VIENNESE DREAMS
Reagan Arthur Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-316-07756-9 After Beverly Rabinowitz senses that her father, believed to have been killing during Word War II a half a century earlier, is close by, she’s led toward a startling discovery that involves not only her, but also the life of a comatose teenage boy in Utah, an elusive 60’s-era fugitive, a veterinarian who falls in love on a kibbutz in Israel, and a host of other characters.
LARRY’S KIDNEY: BEING THE TRUE STORY OF HOW I FOUND MYSELF IN CHINA WITH MY BLACK-SHEEP COUSIN AND HIS MAIL-ORDER BRIDE, SKIRTING THE LAW TO GET HIM A TRANSPLANT...AND SAVE HIS LIFE
Central European University Press, 2009 ISBN: 978-9639776524 In a series of reflections, Price creates a social history of Jewish resettlements in the U.S. not only in New York, but the South, Midwest, and Los Angeles.
Harper, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-06-170871-8 A hilarious and heartwarming story of how the author embarked on a tumultuous and illegal journey to save his long-lost cousin’s life.
© Eric Boman
AND THE SHOW WENT ON: CULTURAL LIFE IN NAZI-OCCUPIED PARIS
DOG HOUSE: A LOVE STORY Gotham, 2010 ISBN: 978-1592-40566-4 Prisant’s memoir about the love of a mother for her son, a wife for her husband, a husband for some dogs, and the love it takes to make a haunted house a home.
Alfred A. Knopf, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-307-26897-6 Riding introduces a pageant of 20th century artists who lived and worked under the Nazis and explores the decisions each made about whether to stay or flee, collaborate, or resist.
FOR ALL THE TEA IN CHINA: HOW ENGLAND STOLE THE WORLD’S FAVORITE DRINK AND CHANGED HISTORY Viking, 2010 ISBN: 978-0670021529 The remarkable account of Robert Fortune’s 1848 clandestine journey into the interior of China—territory forbidden to foreigners—to steal the closely guarded secrets of tea horticulture and manufacturing.
Jewish Book World
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
BOOM TOWN: HOW WAL*MART TRANSFORMED AN ALL-AMERICAN TOWN INTO AN INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
IF YOU KNEW SUZY: A MOTHER, A DAUGHTER, A REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK
DOUBTING THE DEVOUT: THE ULTRAORTHODOX IN THE JEWISH AMERICAN IMAGINATION
Harper, 2010 ISBN: 978-0061735233 After the death of her mother, Suzy, of cancer at age 60, Rosman opened her notebook and started investigating, hoping to find answers to the questions that we all wrestle with after losing someone we love.
Columbia University Press, 2009 ISBN: 9780231141871 Unpacking the work of well-known novels, as well as television shows and films, Rubel investigates the choices non-haredi Jews have made as they represent the character and characters of ultra-Orthodox Jews.
© Art Busse
Chicago Review Press, 2009 ISBN: 978-1-55652-948-1 Boom Town documents how 30-odd Jewish families moved to the Bible belt hometown of Wal-Mart to work in middle management and subsequently came together in 2004 to form Etz Chaim, the area’s first shul.
THE CHAMELEON IN THE CLOSET: A CONSERVATIVE JEWISH MOTHER REACHES OUT TO HER ORTHODOX SONS
Gallery Books, 2010 ISBN: 9781439173084 When Merav, the Israeli-born granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, becomes a once-prominent painter’s muse, both realize they must face the wounds of history that each of them carries.
THE POWER OF HALF: ONE FAMILY’S DECISION TO STOP TAKING AND START GIVING BACK
Troy Book Makers, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-935534-42-6 When both of Rosenfeld’s sons plunged into Orthodoxy Rosenfeld became a chameleon, changing her clothing and demeanor to suit the situation, creating a comfortable relationship for her sons and supporting them in their life-altering decision.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-547248-066 The Salwens hoped that by selling their home and giving half the proceeds to a worthy charity they would be able to make things better in a small corner of the world. Little did they expect how much they would gain themselves.
IF A TREE FALLS: A FAMILY’S QUEST TO HEAR AND BE HEARD Andi Rosenthal
THE BOOKSELLER’S SONNETS O-Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-84694-342-3 When curator Jill Levin receives a secret diary written by the eldest daughter of Henry VII’s legal advisor, she and her colleagues attempt to authenticate the rare find, while representatives from the Archdiocese arrive to stake claim to the document before its explosive content becomes public.
Jewish Book World
The Feminist Press, 2009 ISBN: 978-0-9825168-0-5 When Rosner’s daughters are born deaf, she is stunned. Then, she discovers a hidden history of deafness in her family, going back generations to the Jewish enclaves of Eastern Europe.
SAVE THE DELI: IN SEARCH OF PERFECT PASTRAMI, CRUSTY RYE, AND THE HEART OF JEWISH DELICATESSEN Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-547-58644-7 Join Sax as he investigates everything about the Jewish deli—a cuisine that once sat at the very center of Jewish life but has now become endangered by assimilation, homogenization, and health food trends.
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
WHEN SKATEBOARDS WILL BE FREE
THE BALFOUR DECLARATION: THE ORIGINS OF THE ARABISRAELI CONFLICT
WHERE’S MY MIRACLE?: EXPLORING JEWISH TRADITIONS FOR DEALING WITH TRAGEDY
Random House, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-4000-6532-5 A revelatory history of a document that laid the foundation stone of the State of Israel, the reverberations of which continue to be felt to this day.
Gefen Publishing House, 2010 ISBN: 978-9652294845 A thought-provoking approach to the eternal mystery of the miracle, based on the multiple texts found in Jewish tradition as well as lessons learned from experience.
THE THREE WEISSMANNS OF WESTPORT
COLLEGE KNOWLEDGE FOR THE JEWISH STUDENT: 101 TIPS
Sarah Crichton Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-3742-9904-0 Jane Austen’s beloved Sense and Sensibility has moved to Westport, Connecticut, in this enchanting modern-day homage to the classic novel.
University of Michigan Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-472-03430-7 College Knowledge provides research-based information and student vignettes about academic and classroom success, Jewish identity, campus life and activities, and tikkun olam at college.
© James Hamilton
Dial Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-385-34069-4 When Saïd’s Iranian born father returns to Iran during the 1979 revolution to run for president, Saïd is suddenly forced to confront the combustible mix of his identity as a Jew, an Iranian, a “comrade,” and a middle school kid who loves football and video games.
William Morrow, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-0618819-09 The tale of four Polish Jews, following three distinct periods in their lives: from their first meeting in the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp, to their early attempts at family normalcy in the United States, to their later-in-life project of memorializing their own histories.
Academy Chicago, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-89733-605-5 When a Jewish teenager falls in love with the daughter of an African domestic servant in apartheid South Africa, his parents must choose between their liberal values and their concern for his future.
THE MAN WHO KNEW GOD: DECODING JEREMIAH
Lexington Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-7391-4346-9 This book argues that Jeremiah was the first Jew, Abraham was the first Hebrew. Jeremiah is the one who transformed the Hebrew tribes who were on the verge of extinction during the fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile into an enduring Jewish people.
SIMON WIESENTHAL: THE LIFE AND LEGENDS Doubleday, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-385-51946-5 Simon Wiesenthal was the legendary “Nazi hunter,” a Holocaust survivor who dedicated his life to the punishment of Nazi criminals. Segev has obtained access to Wiesenthal’s hundreds of thousands of private papers and to 16 archives, and reveals the intriguing secrets of Wiesenthal’s life.
Jewish Book World
© Michael Bennet Kress
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
POISONED FOR PROFIT: HOW TOXINS ARE MAKING OUR CHILDREN CHRONICALLY ILL - WITH NEW INFORMATION ON WHAT WE CAN DO
THE KOSHER BAKER: 160 DAIRY-FREE RECIPES FROM TRADITIONAL TO TRENDY
EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE GREAT: AN UNDERFUNDED, OVEREXPOSED EUROPEAN GRAND TOUR
Brandeis University Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-58465-835-1 Pastry chef and teacher Paula Shoyer provides the inspiration and innovation to turn the age-old challenges of parve baking into delectable delights in her one-of-a-kind kosher cookbook.
Harper Perennial, 2010 ISBN: 978-0061782350 After she scores a role in a play with a European tour, Shukert is ready to “find herself” in Vienna, Zurich, and finally Amsterdam, encountering the growing pains that every twentysomething faces when sent off to negotiate “the real world.”
© Elena Seibert
© Cory Pavitt
Chelsea Green Publishing, 2010 ISBN: 9781603582568 Two veteran journalists definitively show how, why, and where industrial toxins are causing rates of birth defects, asthma, cancer, and other serious illnesses to soar in children.
THE GOOD PSYCHOLOGIST
LUCID FOOD: COOKING FOR AN ECO-CONSCIOUS LIFE
Henry Holt, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-805092592 A psychologist’s client’s struggles and secrets begin to intrude into his own life, upsetting the precarious balance in his unresolved relationship with Nina, a former colleague with whom he has a child.
THE SABBATH WORLD: GLIMPSES OF A DIFFERENT ORDER OF TIME
Ten Speed Press, 2009 ISBN: 978-1-58008-964-7 Drawing on perfumed Persian ingredients, classic Jewish dishes, and her own passion for environmental conservation, Shafia has created an exquisite collection of recipes, interspersed with eco-friendly advice on cooking.
Random House, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-4000-6200-3 Shulevitz explores both our embattled relationship to time and the Jewish and Christian custom meant to make us live in time more comfortably.
Maxim D. Shrayer
DEVOTION: A MEMOIR Harper, 2010 ISBN: 9781603582568 Shapiro, raised in an Orthodox home, left the rules and rituals of her childhood, but when her young son began to question her about what she believed, she realized she no longer knew, setting her on a spiritual detective adventure.
Jewish Book World
YOM KIPPUR IN AMSTERDAM
Syracuse University Press, 2009 ISBN: 978-0815609186 Tracing the lives of Jewish-Russian immigrants, these stories create an expansive portrait of individuals struggling to come to terms with ghosts of their European pasts while simultaneously seeking to build new lives in their American present.
OUR EXODUS: LEON URIS AND THE AMERICANIZATION OF ISRAEL’S FOUNDING NARRATIVE Wayne State University Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-81433-4430 Silver shows how the representation of historical events in Leon Uris’ Exodus reflected needs, expectations, and aspirations of Jewish identity and culture in the post-Holocaust world, arguing that while the novel simplified some facts and distorted others, it provided ample information about Jewish history.
© Jordan Schnee
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
Deborah Steiner-Van Rooyen
A WHITE HOUSE GARDEN COOKBOOK: HEALTHY IDEAS FROM THE FIRST FAMILY TO YOUR FAMILY
A CURABLE ROMANTIC
DOVE ON A BARBED WIRE
Algonquin Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-56512-929-0 “Skibell’s comic hero, part schlemiel, part visionary, takes us on a romantic journey from the shtetl to Vienna, Paris and Warsaw, and from earth to heaven.”–Rodger Kamenetz
Urim Publications, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-934440-79-7 The tale of Yonah, a child-hero seized by the Nazis in 1939 on his walk home from school, and an eighteen-year-old girl, who in 1969 goes in search of Yonah carrying an old envelope with instructions from her grandfather to “find my brother’s son.”
Red Rock Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-933176-352 Filled with recipes from White House past and present and ideas to get children excited about eating and cooking locally grown vegetables, this cookbook also makes it fun to plan healthy Kosher meals.
GETTING IN Jake Silverstein
NOTHING HAPPENED AND THEN IT DID
THE FROZEN RABBI Algonquin Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-56512-619-0 The story of Bernie Karp, his family, and the 19th century rabbi he found frozen in the freezer of his Memphis, Tennessee home.
© Debbi Cooper
W. W. Norton & Company, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-3930764-62 Silverstein narrates a journey he undertook through the American Southwest and Mexico looking to become a journalist.
Hyperion, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-4013-2246-5 A comic novel about five Los Angeles high-school seniors trying to get into the college of their, or their parents’, dreams.
RUNNING THE BOOKS: THE ADVENTURES OF AN ACCIDENTAL PRISON LIBRARIAN Nancy S. Sims
VERBAL SNACKS: A TASTE OF SHORT STORIES Kravis Center, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-615-35759-1 The characters in these short stories find that inanimate objects often influence their lives: a thumbs up sign, a leaf put in a holiday table, or a romantic crossword.
Nan A. Talese, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-385-52909-9 In order to take a new direction from his Orthodox background and Ivy League education, Steinberg takes a job as a librarian of a tough Boston prison where he forms a unique community of outcasts.
BASED UPON AVAILABILITY HarperCollins, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-061845-260 Strauss dives into the lives of eight women, each of whom pass through Manhattan’s swanky Four Seasons Hotel, answering the question: ‘what happens behind closed doors’ while examining the walls we put up as we attempt closeness, and inspecting the ruins when they’re knocked down.
Jewish Book World
© Stephen Z. Friedgood
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
Donald B. Susswein
DAVE TARRAS: THE KING OF KLEZMER
HAGGADAH FOR THE FIFTH CHILD: A FESTIVE DISCUSSION ON THE EXODUS AND HISTORY
HILLEL: IF NOT NOW, WHEN?
Mill City Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-936107-63-6 A Haggadah that provides a new look at the Exodus, for the adult or teen eager to discuss questions not asked at the traditional seder.
Schocken Books/Nextbook Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-8052-4281-2 A provocative biography of one of the greatest rabbis of the Talmudic era and a figure of prophetic importance to today’s world.
© Lisan Jutras
© Norman Jean Roy
Or-Tav, 2010 ISBN: 978-965-505-055-4 A chronicle of the life and work of the man who was hailed as “The Benny Goodman of klezmer.”
SAVING HENRY: A MOTHER’S JOURNEY
THE SUBTLE BODY: THE STORY OF YOGA IN AMERICA Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-374-23676-2 Syman tells the surprising story of yoga’s transformation from a centuries-old spiritual discipline to a multi-billion-dollar American industry.
GROWING UP JUNG: COMING OF AGE AS THE SON OF TWO SHRINKS W.W. Norton & Company, 2010 ISBN: 9780393067552 Enriched with excerpts from Jung’s own memoir, and informed by readings and conversations with Jungian gurus and unbelievers alike, Growing Up Jung examines the pros and cons of Jungian philosophy. © Virginia Commonwealth University
Hyperion, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-401323-561 Saving Henry is the moving story of a family’s fight to save its eldest son, who was diagnosed with the rare genetic disorder Fanconi anemia, most common in Ashkenazi Jewish populations.
LOUIS D. BRANDEIS: A LIFE
Drawn & Quarterly, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-897299-975 Market Day is a graphic novel that explores a day in the life of an expectant father who undergoes an upheaval when he discovers he can no longer earn a living doing the work that defines him.
EVERYTHING HERE IS THE BEST THING EVER
Pantheon Books, 2009 ISBN: 978-0-375-42366-6 A full-scale biography of one of the most important and distinguished justices to sit on the Supreme Court—a book that reveals Louis D. Brandeis the reformer, lawyer, and jurist, and Brandeis the man, in all of his complexity, passion, and wit.
Jewish Book World
Harper Perennial, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-06-188181-7 Taylor’s characters’ misapprehensions bring them to hilarious but often tragic impasses with reality: a prodigal son discovers that his family’s relocation from Florida to Tennessee changes the way they relate to their (mostly neglected) Jewish identity; a lover’s death sends a Long Island woman to temple for the first time in years; a high school boy’s desire to win over a crush leads him to experiment with black magic.
© milton viorst
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
EXCEEDINGLY EIGHTY: AND OTHER ADAPTATIONS
SELLING THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: HOW THE ANTI-AGING INDUSTRY MADE A DISEASE OUT OF GETTING OLD—AND MADE BILLIONS
SIX MILLION CRUCIFIXIONS: HOW CHRISTIAN TEACHINGS ABOUT JEWS PAVED THE ROAD TO THE HOLOCAUST
© Marion Ettlinger
Free Press, 2010 ISBN: 9781439190296 In this latest of her wise, witty, and bestselling “decades” series, Viorst extols the virtues, victories, frustrations, and joys of being eighty.
Basic Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-465-01721-8 Weintraub uncovers the colorful history and questionable science of anti-aging medicine, a specialty that was pioneered by physicians in the 1990’s. Could anti-aging medicine actually shorten life rather than extending it?
QWERTY Publishers, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-9843346-4-3 Wilesnky examines the root causes of antiSemitism in Christianity and how they prepared the soil for the secular anti-Semitism that culminated in the Holocaust.
TRUE CONFECTIONS Shaye Arehart, 2010 ISBN: 9780307395863 Alice Tatnall Ziplinsky looks back on this family-owned-and-operated chocolate candy business that is now four generations old and in crisis due to the intergenerational struggle over succession.
THE MARRIAGE ARTIST Stuart E. Weisberg
BARNEY FRANK: THE STORY OF AMERICA’S ONLY LEFT-HANDED, GAY, JEWISH CONGRESSMAN University of Massachusetts Press, 2009 ISBN: 978-1-55849-721-4 This authorized biography reconstructs the complex life and career of Barney Frank, a colorful legislator known for his intellect and wit.
Henry Holt, 2010 ISBN: 9780805091786 When art critic Daniel Lichtmann’s wife plunges to her death, with the body of her suspected lover next to her, Daniel discovers a web of mysteries leading back to pre-World War II Vienna, to a forgotten artist who may have been the 20th century’s greatest painter of love.
LONG FOR THIS WORLD: THE STRANGE SCIENCE OF IMMORTALITY Ecco, 2010 ISBN: 9780060765361 A fast-paced, sure-to-astonish scientific adventure told by the Pulitzer-winning popular science writer: has the long-sought secret of eternal youth at last been found?
Kenneth Wishnia Marc Weisman
THE FIFTH SERVANT: A NOVEL
THE RE-UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: THE COMMON SENSE GUIDE FOR DEFENDING AMERICA IN THE AGE OF TERROR
William Morrow, 2010 ISBN: 9780061725371 When the body of a young Christian girl is found in a Jewish shop on the eve of Passover 1592 a blood libel charge is brought against the shopkeeper, imperiling the relative tolerance enjoyed by the entire Jewish community.
Cambridge House Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-9821391-0-3 This book examines the threat Islamic extremism poses to America and offers thoughtful solutions on how to reunite the country and defend it against a common enemy.
Jewish Book World
© Gary R. Miller
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
THE GIRLS FROM AMES: A STORY OF WOMEN AND A FORTY-YEAR FRIENDSHIP
AN ADVENTURE IN LATKALAND, A HANUKKAH STORY
Gotham Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-592-40445-2 The book focuses on eleven childhood friends from Ames, Iowa, who’ve maintained an enduring friendship that carried them through marriage and motherhood, a child’s illness, and the mysterious death of a member of their group.
CHILDREN’S AND YOUNG ADULT AUTHORS
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s, 2010 978-0-547-50195-6 Dogar imagines the Anne Frank story from the point of view of the 17-year-old boy also locked in the attic with Anne Frank.
RAY, REFLECTED Ghost Road Press, 2009 ISBN: 978-0-9825043-4-5 Ray, Reflected is a funny, poignant story about a Jewish kid who doesn’t realize just how cool he is.
Rona Arato © Megan Adams
MRS. KAPUTNIK’S POOL HALL AND MATZO BALL EMPORIUM Tundra Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-88776-967-2 Through a series of adventures and misadventures, Shoshi and Moshe use their wits to navigate through New York City’s Lower East Side in 1898, making new friends and a few foes.
Jora Books, 2009 ISBN: 978-09812650-0-1 Sarah takes Jacob on an extraordinary adventure to Latkaland, where the two children must draw on their wits, bravery, and the lessons of history to overcome the fearsome obstacles they encounter in this marvelous tale, inspired by the story of the Maccabees.
Kate Feiffer and Diane Goode
MODEH ANI: A GOOD MORNING BOOK EKS Publishing, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-939144-63-1 The book is based on prayers, poems, and psalms from Birkot HaShahar, the beginning section of Shaharit, the daily morning prayer service.
BUT I WANTED A BABY BROTHER! Paula Wiseman Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-141693-941-2 Feiffer and Goode go right to the heart of the ups and downs and ups of adjusting to a new baby in the house in this charming picture book that is brimming with love.
Heidi Smith Hyde
FEIVEL’S FLYING HORSES
HOT PURSUIT: MURDER IN MISSISSIPPI Kar-Ben Publishing, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-7613-3955-7 It was Freedom Summer 1964. Jewish civil rights workers were driving through rural Mississippi when a police cruiser flashed its lights behind them. Were these law-abiding officers or members of the Ku Klux Klan? The decision of these courageous young men is reimagined in this gripping story.
Jewish Book World
Norman H. Finkelstein
JEWISH COMEDY STARS: CLASSIC TO CUTTING EDGE
Kar-Ben Publishing, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-7613-3957-1 Feivel the woodcarver leaves his family in the Old Country and comes to America to make a new life and crafts a set of carousel horses in the spirit of his wife and children, dreaming of the day when they will be reunited in America.
Kar-Ben Publishing, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-8225-9942-5 Laugh with Norman Finkelstein as he looks at the impact of Jewish comedians on the American scene.
© Hannah Meyer-Winkler
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
Susan Lynn Meyer
GIRL IN THE KNOW: YOUR INSIDEAND-OUT GUIDE TO GROWING UP
MAYBE I’LL SLEEP IN THE BATHTUB TONIGHT: AND OTHER FUNNY BEDTIME POEMS
KidsCan Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-55453-303-9 A straight-talking little manual packed with everything a girl should know about the many changes she can expect in puberty and how to make her way through it all as smoothly as possible.
Sterling Publishing, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-4027-4944-5 From a “bunkbed king” who rules from up high to monsters who are not (I repeat, NOT) in the closet, Maybe I’ll Sleep in the Bathtub Tonight truly captures the childhood experience of going to sleep.
Delacorte Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-385-73881-1 Black Radishes is the suspenseful tale of one boy in 1940 who learns what it means to be both Jewish and French at a time when everything is changing.
Haya Leah Molnar
UNDER A RED SKY: MEMOIR OF A CHILDHOOD IN COMMUNIST ROMANIA
THE LITTLE RED HEN AND THE PASSOVER MATZAH Holiday House, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-8234-1952-4 In this rollicking version of a favorite folktale, a harried, hardworking hen finds the true meaning of Passover.
THE YEAR OF GOODBYES: A TRUE STORY OF FRIENDSHIP, FAMILY, AND FAREWELLS Disney-Hyperion, 2010 ISBN: 9781423129011 Throughout 1938, Jutta had her friends and relatives fill her poesiealbum—her autograph book—with inscriptions. Her daughter, Debbie Levy, used these entries as a springboard for telling the story of the Salzberg family’s last year in Germany.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-374-31840-6 Molnar captures with heartbreaking precocity the very adult realities of living behind the Iron Curtain in this unique memoir of her childhood.
© Chelsea Hadley
SAY HELLO, LILY
THE THINGS A BROTHER KNOWS
Kar-Ben Publishing, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-7613-4511-4 On Lily’s first visit to Shalom House, a Jewish senior housing complex, she clings closely to her mom, overwhelmed by all the new faces. But slowly Lily joins the activities, makes new friends, and celebrates a birthday to remember.
Wendy Lamb Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-375-84455-3 When Levi’s older brother Boaz returns from a tour in the Middle East as a Marine, Levi senses that something is different. When Boaz says he’s leaving to hike the Appalachian Trail, Levi knows he’s lying and sets out to follow his brother on his mysterious journey to discover just what Boaz is dealing with in the aftermath of his experiences at war.
© Hank Eskin
Sarah Darer Littman
LIFE, AFTER Scholastic Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-545-15144-3 After Daniela’s aunt is killed in a bombing in Buenos Aires her family moves to America. In her new life, the one “After,” Dani learns how to heal and forgive. She finds the courage to say goodbye and allows herself to love and be loved again.
Jewish Book World
2010–2011 NETWORK AUTHORS
GRANDMA LORNA’S HUGS, HINTS AND HAPPINESS FOR YOU AND YOUR GRANDCHILDREN
BAXTER, THE PIG WHO WANTED TO BE KOSHER
BENNO AND THE NIGHT OF BROKEN GLASS
Tricycle Press, 2010 ISBN: 9781582463605 Baxter the pig despairs of ever becoming kosher enough to be “part of Shabbat dinner.” Until a friendly rabbi with a big book happens along to clear things up!
Kar-Ben Publishing, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-8225-9929-6 Benno, the neighborhood cat, observes the changes in German and Jewish families in Berlin during the period leading up to Kristallnacht in this thoughtful picture book.
Self-published/distributed by Urim Publications, 2010 ISBN: 978-965-07-1784-1 The book guides you and your children through games, artwork, cooking, and all sorts of creative tasks, all beautifully illustrated, with advice on materials easily available, tools easy to use, and simple techniques for every level of ability.
Ann Redisch Stampler
THE ROOSTER PRINCE OF BRESLOV Clarion Books, 2010 ISBN: 9780618989744 This picture book, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin, brings a light touch and engaging silliness to the story of a prince who rejects the lavish luxury of his upbringing in favor of a life as...a rooster.
Check your local synagogues and JCCs for information about who is touring to your community 30
Jewish Book World
Ed. by Dr. Lawrence Fine,
Rabbi Mark Glickman
HC, 6 x 9, 192 pp
HC w/color & b/w photos, 6 x 9, 300 pp (est)
$24.99 ISBN 978-1-58023-431-3
HC, 6 x 9, 200 pp (est)
HC, 6 x 9, 224 pp (est)
New from Jewish Lights Publishing
Dr. Erica Brown
Quality PB Original, 51⁄2 x 81⁄2, 192 pp (est)
$16.99 ISBN 978-1-59473-287-4
NEW IN PB
Quality PB, 6 x 9, 176 pp
$16.99 HC, 6 x 9, 224 pp (est)
Rabbi James Rudin
$24.99 ISBN 978-1-58023-432-0
HC, 6 x 9, 200 pp (est)
Dr. Eitan Fishbane and Rabbi Or N. Rose
Rabbi Reuven Firestone, PhD
Trans. and Ann. by
(A SkyLight Paths Book)
Rabbi Rami Shapiro
Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz
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THE CHOSEN PEOPLES: AMERICA, ISRAEL, AND THE ORDEALS OF DIVINE ELECTION
Nicole Krauss W. W. Norton & Company, 2010
Todd Gitlin and Liel Leibovitz Simon & Schuster, 2010
1. The enormous desk with the multiple drawers is the central symbol of this story. What does the desk represent to the people who inherit it? How does it affect their lives once it is taken away?
“God makes a deeply vague promise to the Israelites,” Gitlin and Leibovitz write on p. 19, “telling them they were selected to be a holy nation and a kingdom of priests. He fails to explain why they were chosen, nor does He remind them, at that solemn moment on the mountain, of His long-lasting relationship with their ancestors.” What is the purpose of this vagueness? What are its consequences?
2. Discuss Weisz’s motivation behind reassembling his father’s study. How does it affect his life? The lives of his children? 3. Discuss the role of memory throughout the novel. 4. How is Dov’s story of the shark that collects people’s dreams representative of the work as a whole?
More than a mere national movement, the authors argue that Zionism channeled the same messianic hopes that had sustained Jews in exile for millennia. How does this interpretation challenge some of the existing notions of Zionism? On page 63, the authors suggest a future course for Israel that calls on the Jewish state to see chosenness “not as a mandate but as a burden to be gladly shouldered—a divine commandment to build a society that treats its sons, daughters, neighbors, and strangers with compassion and grace and at the same time renounces any claim of superiority.” What do you think of this statement? How does it challenge secular and observant Jews? Speaking shortly before taking office, Abraham Lincoln referred to Americans as God’s “almost chosen people” (p. 103). What did he mean by that? And how did this view inform his policies as president? Writing of the special relationship between America and Israel, the authors suggest that more than shared beliefs or mutual interests bind both nations together. What are some of these deeper commonalities?
Jewish Book World
EMERGING VOICES A Conversation with Allison Amend By Erika Dreifus
llison Amend’s remarkable novel, Stations West, traces a story of Jewish-American pioneers and the many challenges they face. The book begins in 1859 when family patriarch Boggy Haurowitz arrives in the Oklahoma Territory, and it ends several generations and decades later. Amend was born in Chicago, graduated from Stanford University, and holds an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her IPPY Award-winning debut short story collection, Things That Pass for Love, was published in October 2008, and Stations West was published last March. Amend lives in New York. Visit her on the web at www.allisonamend.com.
How would you describe your novel, Stations West? Stations West has been known—somewhat tongue-in-cheekily—as “The Jewish Cowboy Novel.” More seriously, it is an epic historical western about Jewish immigrants in Oklahoma in the 19th century. On a larger scale, it is a story about assimilation and alienation, and the formation of America. I’m also hoping to reclaim the myth of the Wild West and paint a truer portrait of what life was like on the frontier.
You are also an accomplished short story writer. Readers may not know that Stations West began its own published life as a short story, in the prestigious journal One Story, in 2002. How did you know that this story was destined to become a novel? I’m not sure I knew Stations West was destined to become a novel until I finally finished it, and even then I wasn’t sure it would be a published novel until I held the printed copy in my hands many years later. I still worry that I’ll wake up and it will all have been a dream. I received a lot of response from my One Story appearance, and everyone encouraged me to further explore the (mis)adventures of the Haurowitz family. I decided to continue the story when I realized that the scope of what I wanted to accomplish with this book would not be completely exhausted in a short story. But Stations West’s road to publication was rocky; the book had many incarnations. Originally, the story shared its setting with a modern woman in Tulsa, Okla., who traces her family’s roots. Then I realized I didn’t need or want this frame. Other versions included a hundred pages of one character’s life in Chicago. I love those pages, but they don’t fit the rest of the book. Stations West and I survived an agent’s attempt and failure to sell it to a
mainstream press, the death from cancer of its champion at Oklahoma University Press, and finally its acceptance by Michael Griffith, curator of Louisiana State University Press Yellow Shoe Fiction Series.
What do you imagine your novel’s characters would think about Jewish life in the United States today? There are so many kinds of Jewish life today. I wonder which kind my characters would be asked to comment on. If they were asked about my life, I’d like to imagine that they’d be happy at how assimilated I am. I’ve lived nearly free of anti-Semitism and have had no opportunities denied me because of my religion/ethnicity. I hope the Haurowitzes would be excited that their efforts at assimilation had paid off. They lived fairly secular lives; they would probably not be too shocked at the secularity of mine.
At the end of the book, you thank your grandparents, Ethel and Edward Cohen, “whose experience as Jewish Oklahomans and collection of Oklahoma Judaica inspired this story.” Please tell us a little more about your grandparents as Jewish Oklahomans. My maternal grandmother was born in 1916, and she grew up in Tulsa. My grandfather came down to Oklahoma from Duluth, Minn., in 1939. They were extremely active in Jewish life, perhaps because Tulsa’s community was so small. My grandfather was involved in their synagogue; he got re-barmitzvahed at the age of 70. My grandmother did a lot of charity work. They were ardent Zionists, and made aliyah with my paternal grandparents. They also traveled throughout
Europe, seeking out Yiddish/Jewish communities so they could speak to the locals. My grandmother singlehandedly supported the local fish store, which sent over an entire salmon when she passed away.
What does it mean to you to be part of the Jewish Book NETWORK? I was just visiting an interfaith book club, and talking about the Jewish Book NETWORK. The depth of its commitment to literature and reading and the extent of the network’s influence are incredible. Anyone who believes that the death of publishing and of serious literature is imminent needs to look at the JBN to see that’s not true. The NETWORK also emphasizes the very Jewish tradition of scholarship, and I am thrilled and honored to be among the successful writers that the JBN has championed.
Who are some of the authors who have inspired you? For Stations West, I was looking at books by Wallace Stegner and Saul Bellow. Stegner for his amazing descriptions of the American West and his ability to make location a character in his fiction, and Bellow for his portrayals of the dance between assimilation and alienation that we, as Jews, perform daily. I am also inspired by my peers, emerging fiction writers such as Thisbe Nissen, Margo Rabb, Josh Weil, Sheri Joseph, Laura Van Den Berg, Adam Haslett, Hannah Tinti, and others.
What can we look forward to reading from you next? So glad you asked! I’m working on another novel, this one set in the near future. It’s currently wearing the title “The Cunning Hand” and explores art forgery and human cloning. I like to work in different styles and voices, though it might make me a less marketable author. I’m also working on a couple of screenplays and some children’s titles for the PJ Library, a wonderful organization that provides books free of charge each month to Jewish children around the country, with the support of a local Jewish organization and local donor. Additionally, I’m starting a memoir that chronicles my family’s experience as the possible victims of a hate crime. Erika Dreifus contributes frequently to Jewish Book World. Her short story collection, Quiet Americans, will be published in early 2011.
Jewish Book World
REVIEWS AMERICAN JEWISH STUDIES COSMOPOLITANS: A SOCIAL & CULTURAL HISTORY OF THE JEWS OF THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA 97 ORCHARD: AN EDIBLE HISTORY OF FIVE IMMIGRANT FAMILIES IN ONE NEW YORK TENEMENT Jane Ziegelman Smithsonian, 2010. 272 pp. $25.99 ISBN: 978-0-06-128850-0
aking one New York City tenement as her base, Jane Ziegelman follows the food traditions that five immigrant families brought to their new home. Ziegelman, a food historian and director of the Tenement Museum’s planned culinary center, takes readers on a lively tour of the Lower East Side, with its German beer gardens, Jewish pushcarts, Irish boarding houses, and Italian street vendors. Using census data, government documents, letters, and newspaper reports, as well as recipes, Ziegelman recreates the immigrant experience of the late 19th and early 20th centuries from the misery of the potato famine in Ireland to the stifling steerage quarters on immigrant vessels to the teeming halls of Ellis Island. More than a food history, 97 Orchard Street takes readers inside the homes—which often doubled as workplaces—and settlement houses, along the sidewalks and into the schools of the Lower East Side, opening the doors on the institutions that strove to Americanize these newcomers and the groups that immigrants formed to hold onto their ways. Despite the efforts of high-minded citizens and social workers, sanitation police, and health officials to tame the suspect foreign tastes of immigrant families, the families that lived at 97 Orchard Street and their neighbors brought a whole new range of foods to the American table, enriching American cuisine in ways that have continued with every new group of immigrants. In this book, Ziegelman conveys the extraordinary riches that came to the American shores in the first great wave of immigration. Bibliography, illustrations, index, notes, recipes. MLW
AMERICA’S GREAT DELIS: RECIPES & TRADITIONS FROM COAST TO COAST Sheryll Bellman Sellers, 2010. 175 pp. $18.95 ISBN: 978-1-4162-0565-4
he perfume of steaming garlicky meats and chicken soup. The shine on a freshly wiped Formica countertop. A tower of corned beef between slices of rye bread. Close your eyes and you’re there, in your favorite Jewish delicatessen. To their fans, America’s Jewish delis are as holy as temples, and Mrs. Bellman is clearly a devout attendee. Her passion for the history, culture, and flavors of the Jewish delicatessen, as well as her respect for its owners, waiters,
Jewish Book World
Fred Rosenbaum University of California Press, 2009. 480 pp. $39.95 ISBN: 978-0-520-25913-3
and innumerable characters shape and inform this visual feast. Presented as a hybrid coffee table book and cookbook, Bellman has unearthed stories, factoids, and images that bring these hallowed institutions to schmaltzy life. She captures the essence of great delicatessens like Katz’s, Canter’s, and Attman’s, while preserving the legacy of long-gone stalwarts, such as Detroit’s Darby’s, or New York’s famed Ratner’s. The book is worth it for the imagery alone: an unsurpassed collection of delicatessen ephemera. But it’s the recipes that really make it a must-have for any deli lover. The author has coaxed some closely guarded secrets out of these owners, including the 2nd Ave Deli’s chopped liver recipes, and specific advice from Norm Langer on how to properly trim, steam, and slice pastrami. The recipes not only give readers the chance to experiment at home, they allow these foods to live on past the all too brief life of their creators. Food and Yiddish glossary, index. DS
red Rosenbaum’s Cosmopolitans is a wonderful, extremely well researched resource, covering the cultural, economic, and political history of the Bay Area’s Jews from the first settlers during Gold Rush through World War II, with an epilogue that quickly describes recent events. But it reads like an adventure. Everyone is here; Levi Strauss, Gertrude Stein, Yehudi Menuhin, artists, musicians, politicians, religious figures. Will the good guys win against the crooked office holders? Will the different segments of the Jewish community be able to work together in the face of each local and international crisis? Even in the beginning, there were at least two synagogues. Follow through the years, as the philosophy changes, splinters, and proliferates. Charming antique photographs put faces to the names and buildings. The Jews of the Bay Area, almost from their earliest days, were high profile leaders and innovators, active in local and national politics; patrons of the arts, champions of civil rights, workers, and women. Not surprisingly, in 1992, the California electorate sent to the United States Senate two Jewish women, Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, who have proved their worth many times over. Index, notes. SS
DOUBTING THE DEVOUT: THE ULTRAORTHODOX IN THE JEWISH AMERICAN IMAGINATION Nora L. Rubel Columbia University Press, 2010. 151 pp. $79.50; $24.50 (pbk.) ISBN: 978-0-231-14186-4 ISBN: 978-0-231-14187-1 (pbk.)
ora Rubel starts with the proposition that mainstream Jews in America feel threat-
American Jewish Studies
ened by an “invasion” of the ultra-Orthodox, and she looks to literature and film as a way of understanding those fears. She finds that the writing and films on the topic over the past 25 years often fit into archetypal narratives. In her chapter “Rebbes’ Daughters,” Rubel cites books by Erich Segal, Pearl Abraham, and Anne Roiphe that see gender equality as a necessary release from a stultifying, egregiously unfair tradition. A second group of stories, including the 1999 Israeli film Kadosh, follows the classic form of the gothic captivity tale, about women trapped in threatening situations by suspect minorities like Indians or Catholics. In the Jewish context the imprisonment and oppression are perpetrated by menacing haredi men. A third archetype reflects anxiety about the growth of ultra-Orthodoxy expressed through the “kidnapping” or defection of young Jews. In books by Tova Reich and Anne Roiphe, parents feel that their children have been ensnared by a cult and brainwashed into giving up the free choices of American life. As Rubel observes, the real fear is that “the haredim have kidnapped Judaism in general.” By tracing that fear through recent works of fiction, her smart and perceptive book illuminates the phenomenon in a way that mere facts cannot. Bibliography, index, notes. BG
IS DISS A SYSTEM?: A MILT GROSS COMIC READER Milt Gross; Ari Y. Kelman, ed. New York University Press, 2010. 293 pp. $35.00 ISBN: 978-0-814-74823-7
ews had an enormous impact on American pop culture in the 20th century, and often the influence of Yiddish lurks just beneath the surface of their work. Ziggy Elman’s hit song “And the Angels Sing” was originally a freilich, and many popular comedians got their start as tummlers in the Catskills. Similarly, Milt Gross—a celebrated cartoonist in the 1930’s who is still revered by collectors of the genre—became famous partly for comic strips whose characters spoke a Yiddishinflected English of his own invention. Ari Y. Kelman has lovingly assembled a generous sample of that part of Gross’ work. It progresses from the sketches of Nize Baby (1926) to the longer-form stories of Dunt Esk
Jewish Book World
(1927) to parody/adaptations of Longfellow’s Hiawatha and Clement Clark Moore’s ’Twas the Night Before Christmas. Hiawatha, in Gross’ dialect spelling, improbably transfers the story to suburbia, with a Yiddish accent, while somehow keeping Longfellow’s trochaic tetrameter. These extended pieces display Gross’ virtuosity at its finest. Kelman’s 50-page introduction is an indispensable guide to the personal, cultural, and sociological context that produced these hybrid works that are still entertaining today. BG
POSTVILLE U.S.A.: SURVIVING DIVERSITY IN SMALL-TOWN AMERICA Mark Grey, Michele Devlin, and Aaron Goldsmith GemmaMedia, 2009. 184 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 9781934848647
ostville, Iowa is in the heartland of America. Not far from the Mississippi River, it describes itself as “Hometown to the World.” The authors—two academics and a Lubavitch businessman who ran for public office in the town—provide a straightforward and balanced account that focuses on two main themes: the challenges of transcending ethnic, religious, and class differences in a small town; and the dimensions and consequences of a raid on the town’s largest employer by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency on May 12, 2008. The two elements of the narrative are intertwined. Postville became a magnet for immigrants, many of them undocumented, because of employment opportunities in the town’s meatpacking plant. Unlike other towns where similar raids have taken place, this one had a distinctive quality that further added to the town’s diversity: its meatpacking plant produced glatt kosher meat which necessitated the presence of low paid workers who did menial, dirty, and unpleasant work, but also the Lubavitch Jews who did the slaughtering and other aspects of the operation. The coexistence of the long-term locals— farmers, small businessmen, and those in other sundry occupations and professions—with the immigrants from many nations and the Lubavitch was the subject of an earlier bestselling book called Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland
America written by Stephen G. Bloom. According to the authors of this new book “...many Postville residents argued that it did not portray their community accurately. Many Orthodox Jews saw it as a disdainful view of their conservative group by a liberal secular Jew. Many of the local Christian Iowans in town felt they were made out to be backward country hicks.” The town’s residents tried mightily to bridge their differences, holding events like an annual Taste of Postville food festival which featured Norwegian dancers and Uncle Moishy. However, these efforts have lost momentum due to a lack of public funding and a limited base of support. According to the authors, there is a widespread belief in the town that “diversity has died in Postville...” But the signal event that transformed the town was the ICE raid, which was, in actuality, a military operation with two helicopters overhead and federal and state law officials who arrested close to 400 people, loaded them on waiting buses, and sent them to the Iowa State Cattle Congress for detention and booking. Unlike previous raids, where undocumented immigrants were “charged with administrative immigration violations and deported...in the Postville case, the majority of detainees were forced into a plea bargain agreement...they could plead guilty to one set of felony charges and receive five months in jail and deportation, or they could face the prospect of much more serious charges and a considerably longer jail term.” The raid destabilized both the business and the town. The company tried to hire replacement workers to keep the operation going. With the arrest of company officials and their later convictions, Agriprocessors filed for bankruptcy and the town’s major employer was no more. The site was purchased by SHF industries in the summer of 2009 for operation as a meat processing plant. In an era of enormous transnational migration, Postville tells yet another story: the ability of companies like Agriprocessors to recruit people to do society’s dirty work at minimum wages because of the enormous economic pull of the U.S. in much of the third world. Yet, this is not an entirely new story. Upton Sinclair told a similar story a century ago. But it has a new and tragic dimension: the federal government’s willingness to tackle a family-owned company like Agriprocessors which, according to the authors, grew so rapidly that it exceeded the owner’s managerial expertise. At the same time, the public officials have looked away from similar operations throughout the country, especially in Midwestern towns like Postville. Some attribute the Postville raid to anti-Semitism.
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Autobiography & Memoir
For the authors, the reason is traced to the company’s ownership: Agriprocessors was a family firm while other plants are part of large bureaucratic corporations and conglomerates where the lines of authority and responsibility are far more complex. The reader is encouraged to come to his or her own conclusions. SMC
YIDDISH LITERATURE IN AMERICA: 1870-2000 Emanuel S. Goldsmith; Barnett Zumoff, trans. KTAV Publishing House, 2010. 380 pp. $39.50 ISBN: 978-1-60280-133-2
his is an English-language abridgement of the original two-volume anthology of Yiddish literature published by the Congress for Jewish Culture in 1999 and 2002. It includes poetry, short stories, and essays from a variety of the best Yiddish writers of the last century, from Edelshtat and Tsunzer to Korn and Singer. Each author is introduced with a few sentences, followed by selections from their work. While the book seems designed to introduce non-Yiddish speaking readers to many of the themes of Yiddish literature—persecution, pogroms, immigration, assimilation, spirituality—the unevenness of the translations does a disservice to some writers, particularly the poets. BEB
dreaming would-be auteur of action comic books to world-renowned house cartoonist of the Village Voice, intellectual, political activist, novelist, screenwriter, playwright, and, in his later years, after discovering that he was far more adept at pleasing children than New York drama critics, author of children’s books. Told in brief anecdotal sections reminiscent of his Voice comic strip and written in a direct, biting tone, Backing into Forward is distinctly Feiffer, describing with disarming candor incidents such as how his mother gave away his pet dog Rex and his schemes, worthy of Catch-22, to avoid basic training (and, later, a posting to Korea) in the U.S. Army. The book is a particular pleasure for the intellectual voyeur, as Feiffer finds himself unexpectedly in the center of New York’s artistic and intellectual life in the 1960’s and beyond, crossing paths and trading bon mots with the likes of Mike Nichols, Marlene Dietrich, and Duke Ellington. Undergirding the whole is Feiffer’s recurrent fantasy of himself as a superhero, aspiring to alter egos so far from his own reality— a skinny, perpetually frightened Jewish youngster from the Bronx—as Superman, Cary Grant, and Fred Astaire. It is a delight to watch Feiffer gradually outgrow this youthful anxiety to become his own kind of superhero and equally delightful to see him preserve without compromise his leftist political leanings throughout his life—he was mugged by reality at an early age, and never turned back. But then, having grown up in the shadow of his much-favored cousin, Roy Cohn, how could he have done otherwise? BB
AUTOBIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE: LIFE AND BUSINESS LESSONS FROM A SELF-MADE BILLIONAIRE AND THE FOUNDER OF SLIM-FAST
BACKING INTO FORWARD: A MEMOIR Jules Feiffer Nan A. Talese, 2010. 464 pp. $30.00 ISBN: 978-0-385-53158-0
ules Feiffer’s memoir is a compelling Bronx tale, tracing his development from a day-
Jewish Book World
S. Daniel Abraham with Joseph Telushkin Newmarket Press, 2010. 240 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 978-1-55704-850-9
n his autobiography Daniel Abraham gives the reader insight into three salient aspects of his life: his family, his business, and his love for and involvement with Israel. He begins by telling the story of his origins and early family life, much as a kindly grandfather would speak to his grandchildren. It’s a warm and
fuzzy recitation of the immigrant experience. Abraham’s successes and failures in developing and marketing a variety of health aids, leading eventually to the universally known product Slim-Fast, could well have the makings of a series of business school case studies. But since Abraham did not have a formal business education his presentation is informal and devoid of academic jargon; nonetheless it is full of wisdom and sound advice. Finally, Abraham recounts his extensive involvement with the development of Israel and his encounters with the men and women who made it into the country it is today. It is an inspiring story of how one man was able to do good by doing well. Photo insert. PLR
MEMORIES OF EDEN: A JOURNEY THROUGH JEWISH BAGHDAD Violette Shamash; Mira and Tony Roca, eds. Northwestern University Press, 2010. 299 pp. $27.95 ISBN: 978-0-8101-2634-3
or thousands of years Jews flourished in Iraq, living in relative peace and harmony with their neighbors. In Memories of Eden, Violette Shamash (1912–2006) recalls the home she regarded as a paradise. The book is composed of a series of heartwarming writings dispatched to and later edited by her daughter Mira and her son-in-law, the journalist Tony Roca (who, in an afterword, provides an historical context). Shamash describes her school days, her rites of passage and the celebration of the Jewish holidays. She remembers their food, the commerce and street life of the city, and the pleasant relationships they enjoyed with the Moslems. Sadly, the conditions which Shamash considered so idyllic were not to prevail, and the latter portion of the book describes the clash between cultures that reached its zenith in the “Farhud” of 1941. At first, as tensions between Moslems and Jews mounted, Shamash felt little pressure, viewing such things as the donning of the abaaya as little more than an inconvenience. Then as heckling, curfews, and violence made life unbearable for Jews, she and her family fled—first to India, then to Palestine, and finally to England. They became one more family among
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the one million “forgotten refugees” of Arab countries. This eminently readable family history portrays how Jews and Moslems can live together and the dynamic that tears them apart. RCB
roller-coaster ride through the financial industry, stripping bare the underlying beliefs and assumptions that spawned the Madoff disaster. Appendices, index. LFB
GIDI: ONE CHASING A THOUSAND NO ONE WOULD LISTEN: A TRUE FINANCIAL THRILLER Harry Markopolos, with Frank Casey, Neil Chelo, Gaytri Kachroo, and Michael Ocrant John Wiley & Sons, 2010. 354 pp. $27.95 ISBN: 978-0-470-55373-2
en years before news of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme rocked the financial world, Harry Markopolos began peeling away the layers of the biggest financial crime in history and revealing the scheme behind it. He took his suspicions of fraud to the Securities and Exchange Commission, but no one there would listen to him. It was only when the $65 billion scheme damaged investors around the globe and nearly brought the financial world to its knees that the S.E.C. paid attention. This book tells that story—the whole story— of the papers, the reports, the testimony, and the evidence the world ignored.
Written in the style of a legal thriller, the book has all the fast pacing and intense action of a novel, yet its story is frighteningly true. Written in the style of a legal thriller, the book has all the fast pacing and intense action of a novel, yet its story is frighteningly true. Markopolos is a former securities industry executive who became an independent financial fraud investigator. His credible and detailed evidence should have prompted an investigation by the SEC, but, he maintains, too many people who invested with Madoff were making money from Madoff’s scheme to pay attention to his attempts to blow the whistle. Markopolos’ investigation began shortly after his own boss at the equity derivatives firm where he worked asked him to create a product like the one with which Madoff was so successful. He ran the numbers, but determined that the profits were impossibly high. The book takes the reader on an eye-popping
Jewish Book World
WISENHEIMER: A CHILDHOOD SUBJECT TO DEBATE Mark Oppenheimer Free Press, 2010. 237 pp. $25.00 ISBN: 978-1-23456-789-0
eeks, nerds, and other adolescent outcasts take heed. There is light at the end of the incessant teasing and wallflower status you have endured. Wisenheimer, an entertaining comingof-age story by Mark Oppenheimer, will empower all those teens and pre-teens who feel as if there is no place for them in society. For Oppenheimer, salvation arrived in the form of the debate club, the one place where his preternatural gift for oratory and intellectual prowess was appreciated and rewarded. For Oppenheimer, as for many adolescents, school was an emotional and intellectual wasteland. He did not hesitate to correct his teachers’ grammar when he deemed it appropriate, feeling and acting as if he possessed the superior intellect in the classroom. Such behavior hardly ingratiated him with the faculty. Socially, he was a misfit—not cool, nor entirely accepted by the other nerds. His luck turned when his parents enrolled him in a school that had a debate team. He won his first debate and embarked on a journey of winning against older and more seasoned debaters. Oppenheimer discovered satisfaction, fulfillment, and equally important, validation in the world of debate. He found likeminded teenagers who shared his passion for ideas and oral expression. Debate allowed him to achieve the pinnacle of any adolescent: the other kids thought he was cool, and he even won the heart of the pretty popular girl. Written in a pithy and engaging style, Wisenheimer will make readers chuckle, laugh out loud, and even tear up at times. There are few among us who have not experienced the feeling of being different or misunderstood at some point in our lives. Oppenheimer has the uncanny, seemingly effortless, ability to make such situations seem almost comically absurd. PL
Joseph Evron; Philip Simpson, trans. Gefen Publishing House, 2009. 387 pp. $35.00 ISBN: 978-965-229-441-8 1947 was a bad year for Great Britain. That was the year that India declared its independence and the year that England decided to relinquish its Palestine mandate and refer the Palestine quagmire to the United Nations. Evron chronicles the contributions of Amihai Paglin, a.k.a. Gidi, in hastening Britain’s departure from Palestine. In 1946, Menachem Begin promoted Gidi Paglin (age 24) to be the chief of operations for the Irgun Zvai Leumi (“Irgun”). The Irgun was one of the principal underground guerilla organizations attacking British installations in Israel’s pre-state era. Almost the entire book focuses on Gidi’s exploits for the Irgun prior to Israel’s War of Independence. In a sense, the book is as much a history of the Irgun as it is a biography of Gidi. While it has become fashionable to attribute Israel’s creation as a gift from the European countries consumed with guilt over the Holocaust, this book serves as a reminder that Israel’s creation had little to do with European altruism and much to do with guerilla attacks from organizations such as the Irgun. This opinion was shared by none other than Winston Churchill who is quoted as saying, “It was the Irgun Zvai Leumi that caused the British evacuation from Palestine.” Among other operations, the Irgun destroyed the British administrative center in Palestine by bombing the King David Hotel as well as Jerusalem’s main railway station in 1946; stormed Acre prison, freeing Irgun prisoners held there in 1947, and conquered Jaffa in early 1948. But these were only the more spectacular attacks. The Irgun was active everywhere in Palestine. For example, in the month of March, 1947 alone, the Irgun carried out at least nine successful attacks on British military targets. The book relies heavily on interviews with former members of the Irgun as well as the
Haganah, the earlier Jewish paramilitary organization out of which the Irgun emerged. The author paints a vivid portrait of Gidi, a man whose legend grew more from his actions than from a charismatic personality. Gidi: One Chasing a Thousand is worthwhile as a history of Israel in its pre-state era and the challenges the Irgun faced during its revolt against British rule. GE
IRVING THALBERG: BOY WONDER TO PRODUCER PRINCE Mark A. Vieira University of California Press, 2010. 398 pp. $34.95 ISBN: 978-0-5202-6048-1
rving Thalberg’s funeral in 1936 filled Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles
memoirs. There are glimpses of their loving marriage, but Thalberg’s work consumed his life, and this biography is largely the story of the films he made. Vieira describes them all—and the attendant backstage politics—in detail. This is a sympathetic, diligent, and intelligent account of a wondrous era in Hollywood that has now receded nearly beyond living memory. BG
with a thousand mourners while a crowd of some 8000 onlookers stood along the sidewalk outside. One of Hollywood’s elect, Thalberg had overseen the production of over a hundred movies and was married to one of the era’s great stars, Norma Shearer. When he died he was just 37 years old. As if in a 20th century fairy tale, Thalberg was tapped at the age of 19 to be the personal assistant to Universal Studios’ Carl Laemmle, and was running that studio at age 21. He went to work for Louis B. Mayer as vice-president in charge of production at the age of 23. Thalberg not only epitomized Hollywood of the “dream factory” era, he virtually invented the process of mass-producing motion pictures. He also intuitively understood storytelling and the making of film stars. In his relentless pursuit of a superior product he spent great sums on “prestige” films while keeping his eye on the bottom line. Mark Vieira’s 2008 book Hollywood Dreams Made Real surveyed the Thalberg era at MGM largely through photographs. Here he details the producer’s life, with the benefit of private access to Shearer’s unpublished
MOSES MONTEFIORE: JEWISH LIBERATOR, IMPERIAL HERO Abigail Green The Belknap Press at Harvard University Press, 2010. 540 pp. $35.00 ISBN: 978-0-674-04880-5
bigail Green’s new biography seeks to reclaim Moses Montefiore’s status as the
“...a page turner.”–Connie Martinson Talks Books
Hero On Three Continents The debut novel by Stephen Maitland-Lewis “A moving, complex well-crafted fictional biography...”–Kirkus Discoveries “A rich and compelling book—a must-read.” –Barbara Steele, award winning producer, War & Remembrance “...the historical details and ambience were captivating...” –Professor Danny Michaelson, Tel Aviv University In Hero On Three Continents, Stephen Maitland-Lewis has chronicled a century of a wealthy Anglo-Jewish man, who is confronted by racial intolerance and bigotry and a series of events which change his life forever. An epic tale, which will enthrall readers until the climatic ending.
www.maitland-lewis.com Available at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Xlibris.com or by phone (888) 795-4274 ext. 7876 ISBN: 978-1-4134-1428-8 (hc)
ISBN: 978-1-4134-1429-5 (pbk)
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BOOK PROFILE IF NOT NOW, WHEN? By Daniel Gordis
abbi Joseph Telushkin shows that the great Talmudic sage Hillel’s world-view is as relevant as ever.
really read a rabbinic text, and urging them to hear between the lines of these texts not dry legalistic disagreements between scholars, but raging battles between worldviews, and differing conceptions of the Jewish life well lived. Too few Jews have learned to see the tradition that is theirs in this light. By writing this book, Telushkin not only describes Hillel, but joins him, beckoning to a new generation of Jews to discover the magnificence of the tradition that Hillel helped both to shape and to bequeath to us all. Daniel Gordis is senior vice president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, and author, most recently, of Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End, winner of a 2009 National Jewish Book Award in Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice.
HILLEL: IF NOT NOW, WHEN? Joseph Telushkin Schocken Books/Nextbook Press, 2010. 272 pp. $24.00 ISBN: 978-0-8052-4281-2 A conventional biography of Hillel, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin freely admits at the outset of his new book, is impossible. We know little about Hillel—nothing about his parents, not even his wife’s name. We’re not certain of his profession, nor do we know with precision the date of his death. But the alternative, Telushkin ably demonstrates, need not be a mere quasi-random collection of rabbinic aphorisms attributed to his subject. Rather, Telushkin—an accomplished rabbinic scholar and prolific author who brings both sets of attributes to bear in this eminently readable and compelling brief book—sets out to do something different. He offers us a biography not of a person, but of a set of ideas, of a broad-ranging approach to Jewish life and the Jewish people, which he openly admits he wishes were more in evidence today. Telushkin’s examination of the world-view that was Hillel’s begins and ends with the issue of conversion. Basing himself on the famous three rabbinic narratives about Hillel, Shammai, and prospective converts, Telushkin tells us unabashedly what he believes we ought to learn from Hillel’s open-armed approach: “Unless Jews find ways to bring the non-Jewish spouse of Jews, and the children of intermarried couples, into the Jewish community, the Jewish population will decline precipitously.” That, in a nutshell, is the primary conclusion Telushkin would have us take from our encounter with one of Judaism’s greatest sages. But Rabbi Telushkin is too serious a thinker to leave matters at that. Our encounter with Hillel with Telushkin as guide introduces us to Shammai’s competing school of thought and the rabbinic notion of disagreement for the sake of heaven. Hillel is contrasted to Jesus, and in the few pages that he devotes to that comparison, Telushkin offers us a disarmingly simple— but actually beautifully nuanced—way of thinking about some of the differences between Judaism and Christianity. Telushkin is not the first scholar to attempt a biography of a great Talmudic sage. Louis Finkelstein penned what was once a classic biography of Rabbi Akiva, but he did so by taking at face value claims that contemporary scholars do not believe can be read that way. Milton Steinberg’s As a Driven Leaf is still a compelling introduction to the problem of theodicy and its potential for wreaking havoc on the faith even of religious leaders, but it is a novel, not a work of historical biography. Rabbi Benny Lau’s new series Ha-Hakhamim (in Hebrew) is a magnificent effort to make the rabbis of the Talmud three-dimensional, but it has not been translated into English, and requires a good deal of learning in order to appreciate it. That is what makes Telushkin’s book so unique, and so welcome. Though even those well versed in Jewish scholarship will find his writing crisp and will emerge with new insights from texts they’ve read hundreds of times, it is not to them that Telushkin’s book is primarily addressed. Telushkin’s book will do more than speak to those just beginning—it will virtually sing to them, siren-like, teaching them how to
Hillel’s willingness to run the risk of freezing to death is the story with which he enters Jewish consciousness. The story in which he defines Judaism’s essence to a non-Jewish questioner is the story that has kept him there ever since. It is the Talmud’s most famous story and one also known—unlike almost any other story in the Talmud—to many Christians: There was [an] incident involving a Gentile who came before Shammai and said to him: “Convert me to Judaism on condition that you will teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot.” Shammai pushed the man away with the building rod he was holding. Undeterred, the man then came before Hillel with the same request. Hillel said to him, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. This is the entire Torah! All the rest is commentary! Now, go and study.” (Shabbat 31a) Well-known as this story is, I find that it is generally related with one detail changed. The change occurs in how people usually begin the story: “A non-Jew asked Hillel to define Judaism’s essence while he [the non-Jew] was standing on one foot.” If that had been the non-Jew’s request, Hillel’s response would have been less surprising. People who present their religious teachings to outsiders often focus on their religion’s more humanistic and universalistic elements. But what the nonJew asked of Hillel was more in the nature of a legal request, one requiring a legal response. He asked to be converted to Judaism on condition that Hillel define for him Judaism’s essence. In that context, what is striking is that Hillel does not speak to the man about belief in God or about the importance of observing the Sabbath and Jewish holidays, even though belief in God is Judaism’s core belief and the observance of Judaism’s ritual laws was one of Hillel’s central concerns. He was, of course, a fully observant Jew. Nonetheless, when asked what is most basic for a non- Jew to know before he can convert, Hillel restricts himself to a description of Judaism’s ethical essence and then adds, “This is the whole Torah! All the rest is commentary! Now, go and study.” The fact that Hillel is willing to offer so brief an explanationfifteen words in the popularly spoken Aramaic indicates that there is a central focus to his understanding of Judaism, one that provides him with a standard that later enables him to modify certain Torah laws in a manner that will shock other rabbis. Only if one understands Judaism as having an ethical essence can one conclude, as Hillel did on several occasions, that sometimes practicing the Torah literally can lead one to violate the Torah’s ethical will. An excerpt from Hillel, by Joseph Telushkin. Copyright (c) 2010 by Joseph Telushkin. Reprinted courtesy of Schocken Books, a division of Random House, Inc., and Nextbook Press.
Contemporary Jewish Life & Practice
preëminent Jewish global celebrity of the 19th century. Green, a scholar as well as a distant relation, feels this once most famous Jew in the world has been “astonishingly neglected.” You too may marvel at the breadth and scope of Montefiore’s life after reading her book. In fact, whenever and wherever a Jewish crisis occurred, it seemed Montefiore was on the scene. This is a scholarly, endlessly detailed, and extensively researched work. Some may find all the information a bit laborious to wade through at times. Montefiore’s remarkable 100 years unfold in 19 in-depth chapters. His early life, business successes, loving and childless marriage, extensive world diplomacy, philanthropy, and visits to Palestine are all chronicled. The religious, political, economic, and social ideas and realities of the 19th century are the backdrop against which Sir Montefiore served his fellow Jews and humanity. Knighted by Queen Victoria, he proudly had the word Jerusalem engraved on his coat of arms. His actions and deeds served as the inspiration and groundwork for the beginnings of a worldwide Jewish consciousness, Jewish activism, Zionism, and Jewish-Christian-Moslem relationships. Though always true to his strict religious principles, Montefiore was not without his detractors, power struggles, and hinted—at infidelities. The foibles, characters, and personalities of individuals are never masked throughout the book. One hundred fifty years after Montefiore established the first Jewish settlement outside Jerusalem’s walls, Green restores Montefiore’s definitive place, pivotal role, and stature as the venerated philanthropist, leader, and diplomat he was in Jewish history. Appendices, archives consulted, illustrations, index, maps, notes. RL
OPEN SECRET: POSTMESSIANIC MESSIANISM AND THE MYSTICAL REVISION OF MENAHEM MENDEL SCHNEERSON Elliot R. Wolfson Columbia University Press, 2009. 472 pp. $35.00 ISBN: 978-0-2311-4630-2
ptly titled, this is a complex and often difficult, yet rewarding analysis of the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, his messianic
theology, and its implications and significance in the chain of Chabad tradition. Of particular interest to this reviewer was Wolfson’s discussion of the role of law and ritual and the contrast between performance and intentionality in pre- and post- messianic theology of the Rebbe. Equally fascinating was the exploration of the significance of America and American democracy to the Rebbe, the roles and relationships of Jews and non-Jews, and the seven Noahide laws as pertains to
...complex and often difficult, yet rewarding analysis of the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, his messianic theology, and its implications and significance in the chain of Chabad tradition. non-Jews. Ultimately, while the book may be best appreciated by other scholars, Wolfson has contributed greatly to the intelligent layperson’s capability of understanding some of the underlying mysticism and theology that was the driving force behind a major figure in Jewish life of the 20th century. Bibliography, index, notes. WLL
CONTEMPORARY JEWISH LIFE & PRACTICE
JEWCENTRICITY: WHY THE JEWS ARE PRAISED, BLAMED, AND USED TO EXPLAIN JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING Adam Garfinkle John Wiley & Sons, 2009. 308 pp. $25.95 ISBN: 978-0-47019856-8
ewcentricity was a finalist for the Jewish Book Council’s award for the best book on Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice. It focuses on the question of why a numerically small ethno-religious group garners so much attention both positive and negative. In the course of answering this question, Garfinkle paints a broad canvas ranging from an analysis of contemporary Jewish identity issues, to an
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Contemporary Jewish Life & Practice
historical overview of the Ben Zakkai ‘system’ that promoted Jewish continuity over centuries of diaspora, to the question of genetic self-selection resulting in high levels of intelligence, particularly among Ashkenazim. Garfinkle’s title, “Jewcentricity,” is about exaggeration. More specifically, it is about the various roles Jews are imagined to play on the world stage that they do not, in fact, actually play. Some of this imagining is done by Jews, but most of it is done by non-Jews. Some of those roles are imagined to be benign, some cosmically evil. But as unusual as the actual history of the Jews is, Jewcentricity by definition involves distortion that insists on its being even more unusual still.” The book includes three narrative threads, each described in subsequent sections. The first part of the book examines the historical roots of the centripetal forces that promote Jewish cohesion. The Biblical idea of ‘chosenness’ is central (although Garfinkle omits the critical idea that the Jews were chosen to receive the Torah, not chosen in an inchoate fashion) as is the post-second Temple system of Rabbinic Judaism that sharply distinguished between Jews as an in-group, fostering practices and beliefs that sustained us over many generations and enabled us to survive in spite of numerous instances of persecution. The middle section examines “various manifestations of Jewcentricity, from the silly to the sublime” in the U.S., including the overtly anti-Semitic pronouncements of Mark Twain, who both overestimated the numbers of Jews in America and pointed out that the “Jew is a money getter, and in getting his money he is a very serious obstruction to less capable neighbors who are on the same quest...” The third section examines “Jewcentricity in the Middle East” and considers a range of topics including the anti-Israel lobby, Jewcentricity among Muslims, and the implications of post-Zionism “as a kind of Jewish apostasy.” Indeed, throughout the book, Garfinkle points to the important role of self-hating Jews in the course of political and social events. Yet, at the same time, he points out that “paradoxically, the enemies of the Jews...end up saving the Jews” since their persecution and marginalizing promotes internal cohesiveness. He views Jewcentricity as somewhat eternal since “as long as Jews are still around, someone will exaggerate their role in whatever transpires.” Garfinkle muses that perhaps if Jews were less Jewcentric, then Jewcentricity would decrease, but he also realizes that “Jews can’t change human nature, even their own, and exaggeration is as much a part of that nature as
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the sun and the snow, as a smile and a smirk.” This is clearly a book written for a popular audience. As such, it would not be expected to include the same kind of detailed documentation as a volume written for scholars. Nonetheless, this reviewer would have appreciated greater clarity about the sources of Garfinkle’s argument, possibly through the inclusion of a short bibliographic essay. SMC
ers with the tools to see that no issue has a simple answer. The thoughtful contemporary essays by luminaries in the field reassure readers that today’s concerns and questions may be as old as the ages, and that tomorrow’s answers can be fresh, relevant, and respectful. JKL
JEWISH INTERMARRIAGE AROUND THE WORLD JEWISH CHOICES, JEWISH VOICES: SEX AND INTIMACY Elliot N. Dorff and Danya Ruttenberg, eds. Jewish Publication Society, 2010. 160 pp. $16.00 ISBN: 978-0-8276-0905-1
PS is ready to trigger lively discussions among students yet again! In its series of books on Jewish ethics entitled, “Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices,” Elliot Dorff and Danya Ruttenberg have edited the most recent addition to the series, a book on sexual decision-making. As in previous books in this series about the ethics of money, power, and the body, the authors cull classic Jewish sources from the Bible and rabbinic literature and contemporary essays, offering lively and provocative case studies about sex and sexuality that help readers to formulate a well-informed Jewish stance on these issues. By presenting the sources entirely in English, some linguistic nuance may be lost, but the generous breadth of sources more than compensates for this shortcoming: in the chapter on birth control and abortion, for example, sources come from the biblical Book of Exodus and classical rabbinic sources such as the Mishnah, the Talmud, and Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah. Contemporary sources come from Dr. Ruth Westheimer, WebMD, and from Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox writers, making this book a winner for upper level high school and college classes in practical ethics, for adult education mini-courses, and for clergy who are counseling people facing complicated decisions involving sexuality and sexual practice. By taking on such important topics as ethical practices around dating; maintaining mutual respect when considering the consequences of sexual activity; sex work and pornography; and negotiation around sexual practices, Dorff and Ruttenberg provide read-
Shulamit Reinharz and Sergio DellaPergola, eds. Transaction Publishers, 2009. 221 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 978-1-4128-1016-6
he intermarriage rate in the American Jewish community is over 50 percent and growing, according to Sergio DellaPergola, the world’s foremost authority on Jewish population trends. This statistic and its possible implications have become a major concern as questions have arisen as to whether the vibrancy of the Jewish community can be sustained with such a high proportion of intermarried couples. Jewish Intermarriage Around the World offers an ingenious approach to the topic by providing the reader with fascinating case studies of intermarriage patterns in 13 countries other than the USA and Israel. The countries include four distinctive groups: 1) Europe (specifically Great Britain, Sweden, Finland, and Norway), 2) the Former Soviet Union (FSU), 3) primarily English-speaking countries (specifically Canada, South Africa, and Australia), and, 4) South America (specifically Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, and Curacao). Each case study provides the reader with incisive analysis by an expert on out-marriage in that particular country. The framework for the book is that of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute (HBI) where the emphasis is on “fresh ideas about Jews and gender worldwide.” Both factors are especially crucial for understanding the issues. Gender plays an especially significant role in understanding the impact of intermarriage since Orthodox Jewish law (Halakah) defines the children of a Jewish mother as Jewish whether or not the father is Jewish. An international perspective is particularly important because Jews live, work, and study all over the world. Among the many important and complex issues addressed in the book is the pressing
Contemporary Jewish Life & Practice
need to standardize the measurement techniques and meaning of the terms, such as “out-marriage,” “intermarriage,” “mixed marriage,” and “exogamous marriage.” They are not equivalents. Lack of clarity of terms means the public is not getting a full and accurate picture of changing social patterns. Another issue raised in these absorbing articles is the complexity of Jewish self-identity. Out-marriage doesn’t automatically mean that Jews and their children are “lost” to the Jewish community. As Sally Frankental and Stuart Rothgieser report in their article “Intermarriage between Jews and Gentiles in South Africa,” “the assumption that endogamous Jewish couples will produce Jewish children ignores the fact that many intermarrying Jews stridently assert the validity and legitimacy of their own Jewishness and indicate a desire to transmit that identity, or label, to their children.” This was a pattern described in many of the countries. Reading these articles crystallized for me the need to address a very thorny issue—the definition of “who is a Jew.” There is a lack of consensus among Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform rabbinical groups as to how to develop a non-divisive and non-polarizing approach to conversion and defining who is a Jew. Jewish Intermarriage Around the World is a must read for Jewish Studies social scientists and everyone concerned with increasing the vibrancy of the Jewish community worldwide. Some of the articles may present the average reader with a bit of a challenge in terms of understanding the technical aspects of the intermarriage statistics, but those highly quantitative discussions can be skimmed and more attention paid to the meaty and fascinating discussions of the findings of the study. This book is much more than a study of intermarriage rates. It is an enthralling account of the global nature of the Jewish people. CP
RUNNING COMMENTARY: THE CONTENTIOUS MAGAZINE THAT TRANSFORMED THE JEWISH LEFT INTO THE NEOCONSERVATIVE RIGHT Benjamin Balint PublicAffairs, 2010. 304 pp. $26.95 ISBN: 978-1-58648-749-2
n meticulous detail, Balint traces the steps by which this influential and paradoxically
anti-intellectual monthly reconfigured itself from a post-World War II voice of liberalism to a post-Sixties voice of conservatism. Though Balint pays significant attention to the contributions of each of the three key editors of Commentary—Elliot Cohen, Norman Podhoretz, and Neal Kozodoy—he makes it clear that the transition was in good measure a reflection of the personal journey and persuasive power of Podhoretz. Balint provides a useful preamble on the Jewish experience in America, particularly its
...traces the steps by which this influential and paradoxically anti-intellectual monthly reconfigured itself from a postWorld War II voice of liberalism to a post-Sixties voice of conservatism. intellectual history. He defines Commentary as the voice, first of all, of “The Family”—a cluster of first-generation Jews with cultural roots in the motives and immigrant experiences of their parents. Almost exclusively products of New York’s City College, these young men (and the women with whom they toiled and built households) articulated an understanding of Jewish self-interest as coincident with American values and prosperity. When The Family was most cognizant of its outsider status, liberalism offered itself as the hospitable political vision. Eventually the outsiders came to see themselves as insiders, and as such adopted what was coined the “neoconservative” orientation. Balint explores the rich complexity of this transition, including its connection with changing attitudes toward Israel, offering colorful portraits of the key members of The Family and their intricate, shifting relationships. Bibliography, notes. PKJ
(1951). While Heschel writes in sublime poetry and nostalgic musing, Shulevitz writes elegant prose, and entwines her excellent discourse on the history, nature, and value of the Sabbath with her own story of struggle with Sabbath observance. While her declared intent to frame a valuation of the Sabbath independent of religious reasons seems perhaps oddly quixotic, she does display an amazing gift for translating into concise and clear language the fundamental ideas of Shabbat as community building, Shabbat as discipline to embrace peace and tranquility, and Shabbat as temporal construct to promote holy space. Her explanation of the agenda of the Rabbis of the Talmud in making our Shabbat into what it is, is a phenomenal piece of comprehension in a non-academic work. There is nobody who should not read this book. Those who do not have wide experience of keeping Shabbat or deep education in the history and nature of Shabbat will find this book infinitely educational, relatable, and thought-provoking. Those who do have such experience and education will find the book warm, thoughtful, and prone to making one pause in pleased surprise as one suddenly finds a new and fascinating way to think about our Shabbat. AA
SPIRITUAL BOREDOM: REDISCOVERING THE WONDER OF JUDAISM Dr. Erica Brown Jewish Lights Publishing, 2009. 183 pp. $21.99 ISBN: 978-1-58023-405-4
THE SABBATH WORLD: GLIMPSES OF A DIFFERENT ORDER OF TIME Judith Shulevitz Random House, 2010. 246 pp. $26.00 ISBN: 978-1-4000-6200-3
udith Shulevitz’s The Sabbath World is possibly the best popular work on the Sabbath since Heschel’s immortal The Sabbath
oredom is one of the challenges of contemporary life, including religious life. Children complain to parents, students complain to teachers, and congregants complain to rabbis and cantors that they are “bored.” Dr. Brown, who has quickly become one of the foremost leaders in Jewish adult learning and leadership, explores the history of boredom, noting that its use as a word is of relatively recent historical origin. Yet, as history has gone on, it emerges as a more common theme of complaints. The author suggests some powerful ways that Judaism helps us to combat boredom, as well as ways to make sure that our Judaism
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itself remains dynamic, deep, and interesting. ADS
with Croc to contact his wife. With biting wit and impeccable narrative control, this satisfying, funny, and poignant novel, originally published in Hebrew in 2006, excels in its portrayal of contemporary, day-to-day life in Israel. At its heart, the novel is a meditation on entanglements—both national and domestic—and also a meditation on the role of the bystander, and what it means to take sides. PS
Assaf Gavron Harper Perennial, 2010. 328 pp. $14.99 ISBN: 978-0-06-198404-4 n his fifth novel, acclaimed Israeli novelist and translator Assaf Gavron masterfully presents the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the eyes of his two narrators. The novel alternates between the perspectives of Eitan “Croc” Enoch, an Israeli business executive who has astonishingly survived three recent terror attacks, and Fahmi Sabih, a young Palestinian bomber who lies comatose in a hospital. Partly out of rage at Israeli soldiers who denied his plea to collect water for his dying mother, Fahmi had joined his domineering older brother in underground terrorist activities. Through Fahmi’s recollections, we are offered glimpses of his love for family (in particular his sister, Lulu), his deep-seated dis-
With biting wit and impeccable narrative control, this satisfying, funny, and poignant novel...excels in its portrayal of contemporary, day-to-day life in Israel. trust of the Jewish people, his naiveté, and his homesickness. Croc, meanwhile, is on his way to becoming a national hero, appearing on television after surviving his third attack. He becomes a symbol for the resiliency of Israel against terrorist acts, as the populace marvels at this seemingly miraculous turn of events. In the process, however, Croc also becomes a new target for terrorists, adding to his already long list of concerns. He has a troubled relationship with his longtime girlfriend, and is also attempting to connect the dots of an unraveling mystery: while getting off the bus, just seconds before the first attack, Croc met a man who feared an imminent incident, and left a desperate message
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Aharon Appelfeld; Jeffrey M. Green, trans. Schocken Books, 2010. 288 pp. $25.95 ISBN: 978-0-8052-4280-5
BLOOMS OF DARKNESS
THE ASK Sam Lipsyte Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010. 296 pp. $25.00 ISBN: 978-0-374-29891-3
he strength of Sam Lipsyte’s third novel, The Ask, is the narrator’s brand of cynicism that enlarges and coheres the snickering jokes intoned by New Yorkers and New Yorker subscribers all over America. Milo, the conditionally re-employed development officer, skewers the fibers of urban professional life— Whole Foods, gentrifying neighborhoods that resemble the UN, blogging. The book moves quickly, pulling the reader in with laugh out loud insights, but at times the plot is weak, even as Lipsyte incorporates themes of fate, fatherhood, and love. Recurring tropes include Jewish jokes and heterosexual male desire for all female characters. Lipsyte is clever with language; The Ask is peppered with his signature looped semantic phrases that seem to embody his world outlook—that our penchant for merrymaking, irony, and meaning-seeking is ultimately a joke on us, a trap we weave for our TV-weakened souls. “I was tired of the semantic evasions, mine included,” he writes. His way with words reaps rewards: “The box score stayed in my wallet, or the wallet of my heart, so to speak, a smeared and origamied scrap to remind me how little I resembled the man I figured for the secret chief of my several selves.” The downward spiral of Milo’s life suggests that humor and semantic evasions offer no real hope, just chuckles. The comedy cuts through the collage of unsettling and trivial experiences that comprise our shared experiences, and gives shape to it, and to us. SRW
ith the Germans rounding up Jews in the ghetto, Hugo’s mother desperately seeks a place for him to hide. In the end there is no one willing to help except her old school friend Mariana, now a prostitute. “Fate hasn’t been kind to her,” Hugo’s mother tells her eleven-year-old son, warning him not to ask any questions. A night journey through the sewers brings Hugo and his mother to the house where Mariana lives. Hugo watches his mother until she disappears from his view, then follows Mariana to the closet of her large bedroom. There he spends his days with his imagination and his memories. Sometimes at night he hears noises and quarreling from Mariana’s room; sometimes she forgets to bring him food; sometimes she lavishes him with affection. Alcoholic, self-pitying, and self-loathing, Mariana always speaks of herself in the third person, as if to separate herself from the person she has become. When she is down, Hugo tries to cheer her, recognizing her limits but nevertheless attached to her. From this beginning blossoms Hugo and Mariana’s love. At first Mariana and Hugo are mother and child, but their closeness matures into complete intimacy and a deeply felt comingof-age love. Their time together culminates in a brief idyll after they flee the brothel ahead of the Russian army. Fluidly and sparingly written, Blooms of Darkness is told almost as a dream. The story takes place somewhere in the Ukraine, some time in the mid-1940’s; Hugo and Mariana never use their surnames; the reader learns them only toward the end of the book when they are said by others. With a war raging around them, two people, ripped out of their lives by forces they cannot comprehend or control, find in each other—if only for a moment—comfort, pleasure, and love. And then their dream ends. This is a beautiful book. MLW
BLUE HAS NO SOUTH Alex Epstein; Becka Mara McKay, trans. Clockroot Books, 2010. 132 pp. $15.00 (pbk.) ISBN: 978-1-56656-806-7 (pbk.)
hort-short fiction can be hit or miss, and readers of Alex Epstein’s surreal miniatures in Blue Has No South may find many of them to be head-scratching misses. But with 116 stories spread over 132 pages, it would be difficult not to find anything to enjoy in Epstein’s latest volume of stories, his first to be translated from Hebrew to English. But what is a story? Must it have a beginning, middle, and end? Must there be conflict and resolution? “No!” says Blue Has No South, offering stories that read more like fragments (some are a sentence long) or, perhaps, colloquial prose poems. Although some rhythm and subtlety is unavoidably lost in translation, Epstein’s writing at its best features evocative imagery, such as when he writes of unraveling the “braid of January’s last rain into the threads of a dozen plots.” Many of the stories, however, read like strings of nonsequiturs held together by an enigmatic title, and given that some of the more memorable pieces in the collection concern writers or artists (“The Dedication,” “The Writer from Mars,” “Portrait of the Artist as an Artist”), Epstein’s readers might look forward to longer, more satisfying portrayals of the author’s inward and outward struggles. MEK
turned upside down by the introductory words “I am Clara,” spoken by a beautiful woman at a hip Upper West Side Christmas party. Over the next seven meetings, the lovers play out their affair against a backdrop of urban culture, New York landmarks, and wealthy friends. The two are in an intense roller-coaster courtship that has them knowing what the other is thinking before it’s said. Clara is beautiful and bizarre, while the narrator feels that his new enchantment is moving him into a place that he is not ready to go. The story moves toward a dramatic ending on New Years’ Eve, after eight intense days. Who knew that the words “I am Clara” could mean so much? GK
EIGHT WHITE NIGHTS
n his new novel Andre Aciman examines love at first sight between two skittish New Yorkers. The unnamed male narrator’s life is
come from its ensemble of sympathetic characters, seen pursuing their aspirations amid their daily lives. David Bergelson was one of the 13 Soviet Jewish intellectuals executed on August 12, 1952. He embraced socialism and later Communism for Jewish-nationalist reasons and survived the purges of the 1930’s before becoming a victim of Stalin’s postwar anti-Semitism. Translator Joseph Sherman’s superb introduction traces the author’s life in detail and brilliantly contextualizes the novel as well. BG
THE FROZEN RABBI THE END OF EVERYTHING David Bergelson; Joseph Sherman, trans. Yale University Press, 2009. 312 pp. $18.00 ISBN: 978-0-300-11067-8
he Jewish world incinerated in the Holocaust was not the one we know from Sholom Aleichem or Marc Chagall, where peasants lived in poverty in tiny towns of wooden huts. It was more like the one that David Bergelson wrote about, where bourgeois families owned distilleries and lumberyards, educated their children for the professions, employed maids and stable boys, and prided themselves on speaking Polish or Russian.
The pleasures of the story come from its ensemble of sympathetic characters, seen pursuing their aspirations amid their daily lives.
Andre Aciman Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010. 360 pp. $26.00 ISBN: 978-0-374-22842-2
The End of Everything captures that life and the landscape it inhabited in vivid detail. In the novel, Mirel Hurvits, daughter of a businessman, attracts several suitors with her beauty and intelligence. Distracted and selfabsorbed, she never feels entirely involved or satisfied with the men who court her. After rejecting a few of them she agrees to a loveless marriage that only accelerates her depression and unhappiness. The pleasures of the story
Steve Stern Algonquin Books, 2010. 362 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 978-1565126190
n 1897, as the mystic Rabbi Eliezer was in a trance by the side of a lake, a sudden storm, then drop in temperature, caused the holy man to be encased in ice. His followers happened by, and not knowing what else to do, kept the body frozen, awaiting instructions. One family assumed custody. The ‘saintsicle’ endured fleeing various pogroms in a rickety cart, a transatlantic crossing in the early 20th century, and other perilous voyages. Then, in a 1999 power outage, the sleeper awakens as a ‘stranger in a strange land.’ He quickly acclimates and decides the Golden Medina, America, may be a paradise, but it doesn’t have a soul. However, he can fix it. The care of the frozen (and thawed) rabbi is a family saga, spanning three continents and five generations, full of interesting characters and events. Each successive caretaker undergoes major transformations in response to the blessing (or curse) with which he or she has been saddled. Major events in Jewish history—those mentioned above; the American immigrant experience(s); and the struggle for the State of Israel are handled with grace and humor, but without trivialization. Most families pass down a body of tradition in some fashion. This family had a real, tangible body. Steve Stern’s innovative novel fits in with other contemporary modern Jewish fantasy writers like Cynthia Ozick, Philip Roth, and Michael Chabon. SS
Jewish Book World
AUTHOR PROFILE JBW TALKS TO JENNIFER GILMORE By Michal Hoschander Malen
ennifer Gilmore’s first novel was Golden Country (2006). Her newest novel, Something Red, was published in March, 2010. Currently she teaches fiction writing at Eugene Lang College, the New School. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, Pedro Barbeito, and their Springer Spaniel. Michal H. Malen: Both of your novels feature immigrant Jewish families. Is there a common theme between both of them? Jennifer Gilmore: There is but in a way that’s not very obvious because when I wrote the second book, I wasn’t thinking of it as a continuation of the first book. The first book takes place from the 20’s through the 50’s over several generations. The second book starts in 1979 and deals mostly with the second generation even though they are haunted by the past. I think the connection is in the way history affects families. With the first book, I was interested in how the families of immigrants made America and in this book I became interested in how the circumstances these people found themselves in affected their lives. I think the only way to do that is over the generations. Irving Howe said that when, in the 50’s and 60’s, everyone left the inner cities and went to the suburbs, the Brenda Patimkins, there wasn’t going to be any more Jewish literature; everything was going to be just American. Of course, I would never argue with Irving Howe but I started to think about that, about how going to the suburbs became so much part of the immigrant experience and the Jewish experience. It didn’t really take anything away from it. I wanted to continue the story and really had to do that with the next generation. MHM: Something Red is richly textured with symbols and themes. I don’t want to put them all out on display before the reader has a chance to encounter them in the book but I’ll pick two themes and ask what they mean to you. Let’s start with sports. JG: I haven’t been asked much about the sports. I wrote my way into the sports situation because of the Olympics and the Olympics are tied up with politics. This is a novel about politics. I wanted the love of sports to come through and not be overtly political but, of course, it’s tied to 1956 and the Soviet Union. Benjamin, my character who goes to Brandeis, starts out as a typical high school jock. I wanted him to change and find his radical self and he does that through politics. But he does it with the Olympics through the boycott of the boycott. We don’t often associate Jews with sports and I wanted to do something with that stereotype. MHM: Each character is involved in some way with issues relating to food and sustenance. Can you talk about why you made that choice? JG: I wanted to look at the way food plays out in a family. Everything in my family happened at the dinner table. I also wanted to deal with how things played out in the world in 1979. When I told my editor I wanted to write a book that dealt with the grain embargo of 1979, needless to say she wasn’t doing cartwheels. My father was an economist and he wrote books about grain embargoes, so that was a really big deal in my house. The grain embargo, for those who don’t know, happened when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and Jimmy Carter tried for the first time to cut off food from the Soviet Union. I remember thinking of the Soviet children without any meat or bread or only stale bread. I remember the feeling of American privilege. There is the young girl in the book who has an eating disorder. She’s trying to control her life, her sexuality, her rocky adolescence by what she puts into and takes out of her body. Her mother is a caterer so it also has to do with the mother-daughter relationship. There is the idea of food as identity for all sorts of immigrants. What they eat, how they eat, and how they get their food has so much to do with their lives. I wanted to investigate it in all those ways.
MHM: You’ve done an amazing job of bringing an era to life using the music, the news and the social constructs of the time. What tools did you use to make the late 70’s feel so immediate and close? JG: I thought it would be much easier than writing about the further past. It was set in 1979 and I was really young then. It was actually more difficult than writing about a time I never experienced like the 20’s and 30’s. I saw photographs of the 20’s and 30’s and that gave me confidence to write about that time. But when it came to the 70’s, I could picture the streets even though they’ve really changed. I could just say the words “Love’s Baby Soft” or “Herbal Essence” and be instantly carried back there. I did not want to name drop in a way that got in the way; the characters could really allow people to have their own experiences, like Gunne Sax shirts. You have to be careful not to be too kitschy. I took out my Pet Rock references; I didn’t want to be 70’s silly. But I did want people to have the sense of a lived-in moment. MHM: How does the family’s Jewish background inform the characters’ lives? JG: Initially I thought, I would investigate what it means to be Jewish culturally, that this book is going to investigate what it means politically. Religion does come up here, though. The mother is distraught and knows she has to do something for herself, and her friend suggests she go back to temple, Temple Sinai, that maybe that’s what she needs. But she decides that she wants something more like EST self-help empowerment. She doesn’t think religion is the right choice for her. And she is skeptical of her father who has moved out to Hollywood and recently reconnected with religion. She thinks he’s just dealing with his own mortality. I wanted to deal with the notion that much of this is choice. The choice for us is how observant we are and that has a lot to do with how we were raised. The father, Dennis, grew up Jewish but for him it was more about politics than religion, and he doesn’t give the kids anything to go on and that troubles the mother. In the end, what happens to those kids when they grow up? They’re going to have to find their own rituals. They’re going to have to create their own idea of religion even though they strongly identify as Jews. I don’t think they know what that means religiously though. MHM: Who are some of the authors you enjoy or feel have influenced your work? JG: I haven’t modeled my writing on anyone but there are authors I admire. For this book, in particular, I read The Book of Daniel. I had never read Doctorow before and that book was really formative for me. Everyone in this novel is haunted by the Rosenberg execution, so it really connects. We hadn’t processed everything about it at the time he wrote it; we couldn’t. It would have been different if it had been written now. It was interesting because it was unfiltered. In general, I’ve been influenced by anyone from Delmore Schwartz to Grace Paley. I learned a lot about dialogue from her. Leonard Michaels, I adore. I love his essays. I feel like he’s gotten second schrift to Philip Roth. I love a lot of Roth’s books, too, but I don’t really love Roth any more. I did love American Pastoral and The Plot Against America, which were amazing, wonderful books. Also, I read Mary Gateskill, who is a very brave writer in terms of the inner lives of her characters. I kind of resist the idea of historical fiction because we think of that as costumey in some way and I’m much more interested in the inner lives of characters, although I do like setting them elsewhere. I love short stories. I love Carson McCullers. MHM: Are you working on something new now? What can we look forward to? JG: I’m working on something now that gets closer to the present. Maybe in some way I am still moving my way through the generations. I hope I’m going to be able to deal with it differently but it’s still going to involve the way the past is with us all the time. The way memory works is very interesting to me. Michal Hoschander Malen is a librarian and editor of reference books.
IF WE COULD HEAR THEM NOW: ENCOUNTERS WITH LEGENDARY JEWISH HEROINES GREAT HOUSE Nicole Krauss W. W. Norton & Company, 2010. 352 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 978-0-393-07998-2
reat House, Nicole Krauss’ new novel, is a triumph. Smartly executed and beautifully crafted, this multi-layered novel moves back and forth through the chaos of modern Jewish history. Krauss touches on the Holocaust, the Yom Kippur War, Chile under Pinochet, and travels from New York to Jerusalem to London to Budapest as she weaves a story focused on a desk. This seemingly mundane physical object becomes the mysterious center of the tale. This desk, whose provenance is murky, is a witness to history. Much writing goes on at this desk, as many of the main characters are writers, but all the characters, whether writers or not, are memory keepers in different ways, though not always willingly. Memory and history, especially Jewish history, are difficult burdens, often painful but sometimes also desired responsibilities. The title itself is an allusion to Jewish history, from a Biblical reference that was used as the name of Yochanan Ben Zakkai’s school, established as a way to transform and maintain Judaism in the wake of the destruction of the
Smartly executed and beautifully crafted, this multilayered novel moves back and forth through the chaos of modern Jewish history. Temple. Krauss pays homage to the idea that it was the early rabbis like Ben Zakkai who creatively turned Jerusalem into an idea, a transportable memory. The writers in Great House are part of that centuries-old Jewish tradition of holding onto the memories and ideas of lost lives and civilizations, an endeavor that reaches back to those early rabbis. Krauss imagines a Messianic time in which every infinite fragment of Jewish memory is put back together, creating a complete, perfect memory. Until that time, however, the people in Great House strive to hold onto memories, find ways to preserve memories, and struggle to live with the weight of memories. HEP
Alice Becker Lehrer Urim Publications, 2009. 176 pp. $19.95 ISBN: 978-965-524-031-3
n If We Could Hear Them Now Alice Becker Lehrer offers a refreshing new way of exploring the lives of female Jewish biblical and secular heroines, using the art of conversation in an interview format. The author draws upon the classic texts of midrash and biblical commentary to provide the foundation and then, in true midrashic fashion, fills in the blanks with the imaginary voices of the women. We hear from well-known women such as Tamar and Tziporah and some lesser known characters such as Rachel the wife of Akiva. Each interview is preceded by a short introduction that provides historical and biblical background on the character to help the reader follow the interview. During the interview, the author, in traditional midrash fashion, fills in the gaps by asking questions and letting the character come through in a contemporary voice. Some examples are quite compelling, such as asking Tzipora what it was like to be married to Moses. In the section on Ruth, Ruth and Naomi interview each other, which provides an interesting conversation. This book is a welcome change from the recent spate of midrashic novels. It provides us with a new commentary on Jewish heroines from biblical to modern times. BA
to the bizarre lit scene. The Borges-obsessed duo specializes in postmodern and fantastic fiction, and Jeff’s celebrated pseudo-biology piece, “King Squid,” from City of Saints and Madmen would seem to make him a natural choice to pen the The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals. Ultimately, though, the chief asset of this charmingly-illustrated volume is that it leaves you wanting more: the occasionally amusing creature profiles and discussion sections are fitfully charming, if unfulfilling. In fact, the unquestioned best bit has nothing at all—or very little—to do with the book’s central conceit (think the Moosewood Cookbook for the cryptozoology set). The VanderMeers touch on fictional creatures, from the manticore to Baba Yaga’s walking house, reflecting on the kashrut case for each and engaging in instant-messageesque banter—Ann as the grounded scholar, Jeff’s Evil Monkey persona lobbing irreverent questions. The highlight here is a meandering interview with the Food Network’s Duff Goldman, who holds forth on preparing and eating Cthulhu and Chewbacca. Who would have thought a celebrity baker would know so much about kashrut? Or that an unstructured conversation with said cake star would prove the most enjoyable section of an otherwise featherweight trifle of a book? MG
THE LEGEND OF COSMO & THE ARCHANGEL Joseph Kaufman French Creek Press, 2009. 328 pp. $18.00 ISBN: 978-9-6554-4000-3
THE KOSHER GUIDE TO IMAGINARY ANIMALS: THE EVIL MONKEY DIALOGUES Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer Tachyon Publications, 2010. 96 pp. $11.95 ISBN: 978-1892391926
eff and Ann VanderMeer, a science fiction author and editor respectively, are not new
ith an expertly composed and farranging plot, this lively novel by Kaufman—a former student of Bernard Malamud—follows a group of friends over a 30-year period. Narrated with a natural mix of ease and care, humor, and ethical seriousness, Kaufman, like the legendary Malamud, writes to evince a distinct moral code in the novelistic universe he has created. We begin in 1968, where ardent idealism, youthful pranks, and profound friendship rule the day
Jewish Book World
BOOK PROFILE MADE IN ISRAEL: TWO AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVELS
tale, though, and we feel her frustration, despair, and anger on every page. We hope that Rina remembers her real strengths, connections, and support. PGM
wo autobiographical Israeli novels, one from an emerging voice and one from a master.
FROM THE FOUR WINDS Haim Sabato; Yaacob Dweck, trans. The Toby Press, 2010. 151 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 978-1-59264-240-3
EVERY HOUSE NEEDS A BALCONY Rina Frank; Ora Cummings, trans. HarperCollins, 2010. 327 pp. $24.99 ISBN: 978-0-06-171423-8 Rina Frank’s first novel reads more like a memoir than fiction, and indeed it is based on her own life. Alternating between scenes from the past and the present, Rina, the main character, tells best the tales of her quirky, Romanian immigrant family. There is real love and loyalty mixed in with tradition and antics. Their balcony is the platform from which we watch the energetic, feisty, hardworking people living in the poorest neighborhood in Haifa just after 1948. The cultural mosaic is alive with children, games, and gossip. There are no secrets. “And it’s a well-known fact that God reveals Himself on balconies.” But as Rina, the young adult, emerges, the universal consequences of journeys and decisions take over. Her “man”—he never gets a name—the rich fellow from Barcelona, full of secrets, becomes a stereotype, and Rina the victim. It is a poignant
for five teenagers from Massachusetts. The two young protagonists at the center of the group, Cosmo Spezzaferro and Nick Pines (who will soon be anointed with the nickname of “Archangel” after a particularly daring act of blind faith), have fairly opposing personalities. Cosmo is impulsive, high-spirited, and politically incorrect; while Nick— who is mourning the loss of his father at the novel’s outset—reflects on life with a doleful and brooding affect. While attending the concert at Woodstock, Cosmo, Nick, and the other three in the gang—which includes Francine “Frankie” Giftos, Nick’s future love interest—make a covenant to remain friends forever. However, soon after Cosmo gets wounded serving in Vietnam and a tragic accident involving Frankie disrupts Nick’s life at home, the loyalty pact begins to tear apart. The novel goes on to follow the vividly told adventures, setbacks, and high-wire acts of Cosmo and Nick as they approach potential reconciliation. For instance, Cosmo becomes a well-known artist in Paris though his rise-to-fame is dubious to say the least; and Nick’s travels to the Middle East are complicated by his quick friendship
Jewish Book World
English-speaking audiences can now enjoy this work of autobiographical fiction from award-winning Israeli author Haim Sabato. The story’s main character shares his name with the author and, like Sabato, he comes to Jerusalem from Egypt as a child in the 1950’s. From the time he is a boy, Haim is taken with Moshe Farkash, a learned Hungarian immigrant who seems both mysterious and larger-than-life. The book chronicles their relationship, following Haim from youth through fatherhood. Farkash’s story centers around war and the Holocaust, and his character allows Sabato to explore themes of loss, survival, forgiveness, and rebuilding. Beautifully written, and accented with poetry, the book paints a true picture of the immigrant experience and the Jewish State coming into its own. Sabato’s description of the sirens wailing during synagogue services on that fated Yom Kippur in 1973 and the ensuing activity is especially striking and will resonate with readers who lived through this era. AL
with a number of Islamic radicals. The Legend of Cosmo & the Archangel does not disappoint in its sincere rendering of the transformation of youthful idealism as we age. PS
MARKET DAY James Sturm Drawn and Quarterly, 2010. 96 pp. $21.95 ISBN: 978-1897299975
alfway through Market Day, Mendleman, a stooped rug-weaver, laments the disappearance of a reliable buyer and shopkeeper, Albert Finkler, and the longing it has bred: “His absence has only made him more present.” The same may be said of James Sturm’s latest, a shtetl meditation on spurned artistry and general gloom, which leaves much to the imagination and the reader richer for it.
The story itself is scant. Unlike Sturm’s best-known graphic novel, The Golem’s Mighty Swing, it doesn’t have the ring of pseudo-historicity. This is tone-poetry against a backdrop of hunched peddlers and heilige yidden, and appreciation of the thing itself requires a certain distance. I liked it more hours after reading it, prizing its simplicity and rough grace. In Mendleman’s frustrated creativity, it’s hard not to see parallels to that of the workaday writer/creator in an era of commercial marginalization. Visually, it jibes. A veteran illustrator and graphic novelist, Sturm’s inky strokes call to mind some cross between Georges Prosper Remi’s crisp “Tintin” lines and the works of Eastern European masters of gloom like Latvian artist Jekabs Kazaks, all beneath muddy skies, threadbare branches, and imponderable atmospheric weight. “Family Circus” it ain’t. There’s a little Chris Ware here, too: social isolation and disillusionment, though the style isn’t as spare or elegant. Scruffier, dirtier—and more suited for this tale of the shtetl. Perfect for a story where so much spoken is left unseen, and longing is as much a character as anyone with a face on the page. MG
THE PROPHET’S WIFE Milton Steinberg; Ari L. Goldman, fwd. Behrman House, 2010. 384 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 978-0874411409
his long awaited story by the author of the highly acclaimed book As a Driven Leaf is a cliffhanger. Rabbi Milton Steinberg passed away in 1950, leaving behind the unfinished manuscript for The Prophet’s Wife. This is a fictional tale about the biblical prophet Hosea, his family life and philosophical views. It describes a fascinating period of Jewish history when corrupt kings and high priests ruled the Israelites and the Northern Kingdom was in decline. We learn about Hosea’s passion for Gomer and his quest for answers and honesty in religious practice. The story is written in Hosea’s voice in biblical times, so although it takes a bit of time to get used to the pace, the effort is worthwhile. This book provides the interested reader with great insight into Jewish life in the era of the biblical prophets. There is a note from the publisher, David Behrman, a foreword by author Ari L. Goldman, and a reader’s guide which includes commentaries by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner and author Norma Rosen about how they imagine the manuscript would have been finished. Included are questions for discussion and a glossary. MBA
spiritually. Offstage, endless war is being fought—against whom, nobody knows— maybe themselves? The unreality is underscored by the figure of Olga, a ‘translator’ (censor) for a military newspaper, whose job is to recast events in a nonfrightening way— there are no casualties, Russia is winning.... Her only son returns damaged from one battle and will probably be drafted again. Juxtaposed against this vision of a cracked and broken Russia, where everything is in short supply but anything can be bought, Tanya writes in her dreambook, lyric poetry; purple prose; flights of fancy. She’s a creative artist whose job is to paste together cheap imitations for a museum. One day, wealthy donors arrive from America; perhaps they will choose this museum for their largess. Azade is keeper of the outdoor latrine, the building’s only toilet. Her husband becomes a ghost who harasses the living, and with the help of feral children, who may or may not be dogs, undoes every effort to clean up their yard and make the property presentable for the American visitors. The three women and their families must learn to live and love as the terrain becomes evermore bizarre. SS
SARAH/SARA Jacob Paul IG Publishing, 2010. 251 pp. $15.95 ISBN: 978-1935439134
THE RUSSIAN DREAMBOOK OF COLOR AND FLIGHT Gina Ochsner Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010. 370 pp. $25.00 ISBN: 978-0-618-56373-9
n a surreal, barren landscape, three families (Jewish, Christian, Moslem) struggle to survive physically, mentally, emotionally, and
n unusual Orthodox Jewish adventure story, a Jewish Into the Wild. The premise is cinematic, and powerful: an Orthodox young woman, innocent in so many ways, decides to take a trip in a kayak, on her own, across the Arctic Ocean, not long after she has endured two significant tragedies: the unexpected death of her parents, and then, a terrorist bomb in a Jerusalem café that left her encased in tubes and bandages from head to foot—so severely injured that she missed her parents’ funeral. These devastating events lead Sarah to do what she’d dreamed—to explore her emotional and spiritual self with a voyage into the cold Arctic wilderness. Perilous, frightening, and in the end surprising, this is the story of
one woman and her faith, loss, adventure, and transformation. EC
SOMETHING RED Jennifer Gilmore Scribner, 2010. 306 pp. $25.00 ISBN: 9781416571704
n interlocking puzzle of a story forming a unique, original whole, Something Red presents a fascinating picture of a complex but loving family but more importantly of a complicated and unnerving time in recent American history. The Goldsteins, a second generation Jewish family consisting of parents and two teenaged children, navigate life in suburban D.C. as the 1970’s draw to a close. It is a tricky and uncertain period for the country: the Iranian Hostage Crisis is raging, the U.S. is fumbling for a foothold in a new relationship with Moscow, youthful rebellion is taking a new and less idealistic turn. The HUAC hearings, the Vietnam protests, and the roiling 60’s are not all that deeply in the past and are still exerting a mighty pull on the present. The Goldsteins, like many others, must find a place in the newly emerging decade and must discover which emotional baggage can be jettisoned, and which follows and clings and cannot be disposed of at will. This is superbly written fiction. Not only does time and place ring with perfectly authentic pitch, but the characters feel real enough to be your family. Gilmore’s technique of frequently repeating a scene from a different point of view adds substance and depth to the narrative and adds sympathy to the characters. Each character is faceted and layered, each has integrity and flaws, each has the capacity to grow. Symbols and themes are richly and densely woven into the fabric of the story and seamlessly appear and reappear throughout—heavy symbols on occasion but always presented with a light and deft touch. The careful reader will want to ferret out and examine these symbols as they appear so I will touch here on only two of the most major, that of sports, which means something different and personal to each of the characters, and that of food. Food is more than mere sus-
Jewish Book World
BOOK PROFILE ENCYCLOPEDIAS OF EVIL By Carl J. Rheins
earing witness to the Holocaust comprehensively, one camp and one ghetto at a time.
THE UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CAMPS AND GHETTOS, 1933–1945, VOLUME I Geoffrey P. Megargee, ed. Indiana University Press in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2009. 1653 pp. $295.00, 2 vols. ISBN: 978-0-253-35328-3
THE YAD VASHEM ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE GHETTOS DURING THE HOLOCAUST Guy Miren, ed. Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, 2009. 1166 pp. $199.00, 2 vols. ISBN: 978-965-308-345-5
THE WARSAW GHETTO OYNEG SHABES-RINGELBLUM ARCHIVE CATALOGUE AND GUIDE Robert Moses Shapiro and Tadeusz Epstein, eds. Indiana University Press in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and The Jewish Historical Society, Warsaw, 2010. 537 pp. $89.95 ISBN: 978-0-253-35327-6 Perhaps it was inevitable that with the Holocaust now being acknowledged as the central historical event of the 20th century, the two major Holocaust research institutes in the world, Yad Vashem and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, would publish in the same year comprehensive encyclopedias devoted to the system of Nazi concentration camps and ghettos. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of the Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945, Volume I is the first of seven volumes devoted to the 20,000 camps and ghettos that the Nazis and their allies operated from “Norway to North Africa and from France to Russia.” Two hundred contributors, mostly German and Austrian scholars, were recruited by the senior editors to cover three groups of camps: the “early camps that the Nazis established in the first year of Hitler’s rule,”
the major SS concentration camps with their constellation of sub-camps (e.g., Auschwitz, Bergen Belsen, Mauthausen), and special camps created for Polish and German children and adolescents, many of whom were active opponents of the regime. This work will be of particular use to specialists in the fields of German and Austrian history, European labor history, and the history of World War II. While Jewish prisoners were assigned to each of the three special groups of camps, Jewish suffering and resistance are not the focus of this volume. Rather, this work seeks to address a number of fundamental questions that have long remained unanswered: “How many camps and ghettos existed? Who ran them? Who were their victims? How long were various camps in operation and for what specific purposes?” What will be of particular interest to scholars are the comprehensive bibliographies and footnotes that accompany each of the 1,000 camps included in this work. Unlike the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s encyclopedia, Yad Vashem’s Encyclopedia of the Ghettos During the Holocaust is an attempt to map out the 1,100 ghettos in which Jews were incarcerated “ mostly in Eastern Europe.” This work tells us about life in the Ghetto and the “various survival strategies employed by the Jewish inhabitants.” As Professors Yehuda Bauer and Israel Gutman point out in their introduction, this work seeks to provide not only a detailed account of the Nazi terror machine but also, perhaps even more importantly, a monument to the strength of the Jewish reaction. Arranged alphabetically, the 1,140 ghettos described in this work draw upon Yad Vashem’s vast resources, including a distinguished multi-lingual staff, extensive memoirs and testimonies, rare photos from Yad Vashem’s art collection, and Yizkor bucher. While individual entries lack a specific bibliography, the editors have included a DVD containing footage recorded in the locations where ghettos existed. U nlike Volume 1 of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s new series, the Yad Vashem work is clearly designed to assist scholars working in the fields of Holocaust Studies and Jewish history. The contributors rely heavily on Yiddish and Hebrew language sources. What sets off the Yad Vashem Encyclopedia from other similar works is its comprehensiveness. In addition to the basic facts about each ghetto, e ach ghetto entry includes ghetto structure, institutional life, Jewish leadership, killing operations, underground resistance, and the number of survivors at liberation. The last work under review is not an encyclopedia but rather an invaluable guide to the archives of the Warsaw Ghetto. Antony Polonsky, Brandeis professor and editor-in-chief of the distinguished journal Polin, has described the “Oyneg Shabes Archives [as] perhaps the most important collection of material compiled by Jews during the Holocaust.” Organized and led by Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum, the prewar head of YIVO’s historical division in Poland, the Oyneg Shabes resistance group met for the first time inside the Warsaw Ghetto in November 1940. For three years, the zamlers (collectors)—rabbis, Marxists, prominent leaders, and obscure volunteers—systematically documented the entire social history of the Warsaw Ghetto. Facing likely deportation, a tiny group of zamlers at Ringelblum’s direction buried the first cache of documents on August 2-3, 1942 in ten large metal milk cans. A second cache was buried in February, 1943. A third cache, perhaps the most important, has never been recovered in spite of repeated searches since the end of the war. This new catalogue and guide to the Ringelblum Archives is devoted to the 35,000 pages of documents that were recovered in September, 1946 and December, 1950, which were originally catalogued by the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. Professor Robert Moses Shapiro, associate professor at Brooklyn College (CUNY), spearheaded the translation of the earlier Polish catalogue, developed from 1955 to 1990, into English. Simply stated, this is an important work that should be of great assistance to scholars. Carl J. Rheins is executive director emeritus of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. He received his Ph.D. in Modern European History from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and has taught courses on the Holocaust at several major universities.
tenance here; it is politics, it is livelihood, it is decadence, it is disorder, it is betrayal, it is comfort, it is love. Carefully constructed and intricately imagined, this book satisfies as narrative and deepens our understanding of an era not too long-gone and difficult to forget. MHM
THE THREE WEISSMANNS OF WESTPORT Cathleen Schine Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010. 294 pp. $25.00 ISBN: 978-0-374-29904-0
moreover, few primary sources remain from these Jewish communities. Nevertheless, Holo brings much light to the Jewish community’s internal economic dynamics as well as the community’s role in shaping the larger society’s economic history. He does this by paying special attention to the material that is available—for example, from the relationships involved in their niche markets such as textiles and tanning. Jews may have been confined to special quarters and limited legally, forced to convert, and otherwise victimized by injustice and violence, but Holo also explains how much cooperation and coexistence with Christians remained characteristic of day-to-day urban life, how their role in the integrated economy was a function of their segregated economy, and vice versa. Bibliography, index. MDN
upon his liberation, along with his camp cohorts. The words are shocking to read, although in truth, no more so than the gritty details of camp life or Yonah’s constant brushes with death throughout the war. Though he says he has lost the ability to cry and feel as acutely as those who did not go through the war, Yonah is an inspirational figure, and his story is a testament to the enduring survival and spirit of the Jewish people. TR
FROMMS: HOW JULIUS FROMM’S CONDOM EMPIRE FELL TO THE NAZIS
his light, funny novel is about people searching for love and falling in and out of it. Joe abruptly breaks up his 50-year marriage, causing financial and emotional upheaval for his 75-year-old wife and two adult daughters as they are forced to move in together. The book is replete with observations of how well and badly people behave in different types of relationships. It is a modern day version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, set in Manhattan, Palm Springs and Westport, Connecticut. Although there are no surprises, Schine is adept at detailing the settings and emotions of her colorful characters. MBA
BYZANTINE JEWRY IN THE MEDITERRANEAN ECONOMY Joshua Holo Cambridge University Press, 2009. 285 pp. $99.00 ISBN: 9780521856331
his learned volume investigates Jewish economic life in a period in which the Jews did not play an obvious pivotal role in the Middle Byzantine Empire (610–1204);
Götz Aly and Michael Sontheimer; Shelley Frisch, trans. Other Press, 2009. 240 pp. $23.95 ISBN: 978-1-59051-296-8
DOVE ON A BARBED WIRE Deborah Steiner-Van Rooyen Devora Publishing, 2010. 145 pp. $21.95 ISBN: 978-193-4440-79-7
n 1969, Deborah Steiner-Van Rooyen was instructed by her grandfather to find his brother’s son, Yonah Steiner. All she knew was the name of the Israeli kibbutz he had lived on nearly two decades ago. Miraculously, not only does she find her grandfather’s nephew, but she persuades him to tell her about his experience during the Holocaust, something he had not spoken about to his own children for years. Yonah’s recounting of his life from age thirteen, when he was first captured by the Nazis in Poland on his way home from school and forced into brutal slave labor for seven years, is heart-wrenching. No matter how many accounts one reads on the Holocaust, each individual’s testimony is an education in what the Jews went through and lived to tell future generations. Yonah is wholly honest to Steiner-Van Rooyen, who faithfully narrates his story, including his description of maiming and murdering the Nazi soldiers with bayonets
his is the remarkable story of a prosperous Jewish-German immigrant family whose leader founded and shrewdly developed a successful industrial business in preWorld War II Germany only to see it stolen away during the Nazi regime. Julius Fromm’s contribution was to take advantage of the
...the remarkable story of a prosperous Jewish-German immigrant family whose leader founded and shrewdly developed a successful industrial business in preWorld War II Germany only to see it stolen away during the Nazi regime. rubber vulcanization process in new ways, producing a prophylactic product far superior to any made before. “Fromms Act” condoms were extremely popular, and Fromm’s production facilities were trendsetting. The authors reveal, through the meticulously kept records of the Third Reich, the economic side of anti-Semitism, tracing the stepby-step “Aryanization” of Fromm’s wealth, property rights, and business. The story of the strained legalisms by which an entrepreneur’s vision and industry were confiscated is less horrifying than extermination camp narratives, but it is consistent with such stories. Aly and Sontheimer adroitly present the social changes behind Fromm’s success: increased awareness about sexual health, lib-
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eralized sexual mores, and the desire for family planning. They also note that Fromm’s self-image as a thoroughly German citizeninnovator did little to save him from Hitler’s grand plan. From exile in England, he watched the theft of his life’s work. Many of his relatives died in the camps. This readable book presents its findings economically and with a fine narrative flair. Bibliography, genealogy, index, notes, photographs. PKJ
Katz, and Uriel Tal, and the non-Zionist Raul Hilberg to reach his conclusions. Engel’s discussion of Yad Vashem’s refusal to publish Hilberg’s “The Destruction of the Jews” (1961) throws new light on that affair. Engel also discusses with great insight and erudition the inability of non-Zionist writers such as Hannah Arendt and Bruno Bettelheim to influence their Israeli and American and British Zionist counterparts as well as the larger Jewish public following the Eichmann trial. It will prove to be important to both senior scholars and beginning doctoral students in modern Jewish history. CJR
EXILED IN THE HOMELAND: ZIONISM AND THE RETURN TO MANDATE PALESTINE Donna Robinson Divine University of Texas Press, 2009. 256 pp. $55.00 ISBN: 978-0-292-719828
HISTORIANS OF THE JEWS AND THE HOLOCAUST David Engel Stanford University Press, 2009. 314 pp. $65.00 ISBN: 978-0-8047-5951-9
riginally published in Hebrew as Mul har haGa’ash, David Engel, a professor of Holocaust Studies and European History at NYU, provides us in Historians of the Jews and the Holocaust with a brilliant “historiographic study of the tendency of historians of the Holocaust...and historians of the Jews...to construct their fields as two separate realms, each with its own rules and practices, whose border is not readily crossed.” Trained as a historian of Modern Europe with emphasis on Poland, Engel explains in this work his growing interest in “Holocaust Studies” and his realization that the divisions
It will prove to be important to both senior scholars and beginning doctoral students in modern Jewish history. that separated the two camps were not passing ones “born of momentary circumstance, but [rather] the product of principled position[s] deeply rooted in the professional discourse of Holocaust scholars and historians of the Jews alike.” Engel shows that “reasons for this counterintuitive situation lie in the evolution of the Jewish historical profession since the l920’s.” Here he draws on the writings and professional activities of such scholars as Salo Baron and his students at Columbia University, the Israelis Ben Zion Dinur, Shaul Esh, Jacob
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LETTERS FROM THE LOST: A MEMOIR OF DISCOVERY Helen Waldstein Wilkes Athabasca University Press, 2010. 280 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 978-1-897425-53-4
t the age of sixty, Helen Waldstein Wilkes opened a box that contained letters her parents had received when she was a child. Written by members of her extended family who remained in Europe after Waldstein Wilkes and her parents left Strobnitz, and later Prague, to join her aunt and uncle in Canada in 1939, this deeply personal collection of letters describes the effects of Nazism on everyday life, the constraints of censorship, and the attempts at emigration that were undertaken by those who stayed behind. Strikingly, the post-war correspondence in the collection, a series of five letters written by one of Waldstein Wilkes’ only surviving relatives, describes life in Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, the fates of the individuals whose voices are preserved in the previous correspondence, and his attempts to rebuild his life. Letters from the Lost includes transcriptions of the letters in the box, which range from April 1939 to September 1945, as well as family photographs, imagined accounts of the thoughts and actions of the author’s deceased family members, and accounts of her journeys to the places where the letters were written. In this way, Waldstein Wilkes examines not only what can be learned from the voices that have been passed down to us, but also the immense scope of what was lost. SJ
he painful birth of Israel during the first decade of the British Mandate (19191929) is beautifully described by Donna Robinson Divine in her aptly titled Exiled In the Homeland. Empathetic but unsparing, she offers a broadly researched view of the harsh formative years of the Jewish State. The author, a Mideast specialist and Smith College professor, sees the nationalist movement of the mid-19th century as the impetus to Israel’s creation. Alienated from their ghetto-linked religion, many young Jews were drawn to a nationalist creed of their own, Zionism. Divine tells how the first of these young people entered the new country, with no money and no agricultural or construction skills. They came dedicated to bringing a utopian society into the world through hard labor. Sadly, they found exhaustion, hunger, and a grim communal existence. The Zionist code required everyone to be gloriously happy in the homeland. Penetrating that pretense by reading diaries, Divine found many immigrants deeply depressed by the impersonal treatment of the Zionist community and their longing for family life and the Jewish holidays. With refugees pouring in from Europe’s turmoil, the ironic twist took place that turned an agrarian, egalitarian society into today’s capitalist success. Divine describes early efforts to employ the city dwellers. Factories recreated scenes that recalled the worst work conditions and housing squalor of the Industrial Revolution in the West. Was it really that bad? A former kibbutz volunteer told this reviewer that he put that question to a German woman who had entered during the early Mandate. “It was,” she agreed, “but suppose they hadn’t let us in.” The last chapter should be of special interest to students of labor history and govern-
ment theory. In it the author presents material about apparent mistakes the Zionists made in populating Palestine during the early Mandate. Errors included poorly chosen land purchases, an overbearing bureaucratic style, clumsy intrusions into the economy, rigidity, and applying a one-size-fits-all technique to people. The worst blunder—they picked the wrong settlers, waving aside eager farmers in favor of intellectual dreamers. Finally, when the Zionists needed financial support, they turned to the Diaspora, which responded. At first, the author found, the recipients felt wounded pride in implied dependence. But, she says, since “consensus and compromise were necessary,” they solved the problem, as follows (quote somewhat shortened): “Zionism’s ambition was to proclaim homeland and exile into bipolar opposites. This proving impossible, devaluation of the Diaspora experience and unquestioned presumption of exile are typically invoked.” Readers seriously interested in Israel would do well to dip into this valuable work. Photographs would have been a welcome addition. Acknowledgement, bibliography, glossary, index. JW
THE WAR OF ATONEMENT: THE INSIDE STORY OF THE YOM KIPPUR WAR Chaim Herzog Casemate Publishers, 2009. 300 pp. $32.95 ISBN: 978-1-935149-13-2
asemate Publishers has reissued The War of Atonement: The Inside Story of the Yom Kippur War by Chaim Herzog. When this book was first published in 1975 it was widely acknowledged as one of the best accounts of the Yom Kippur War, and it still is. Herzog, who was Director of Israeli Military Intelligence, knew all the major decision-makers on the Israeli side. These relationships enabled him to provide useful background information and analysis. There are many books recounting the battles between Egypt and Israel and Syria and Israel during the Yom Kippur War, but The War of Atonement also includes chapters concerning the abortive diplomatic efforts of the Arab states and Israel between the Six-Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. These chapters are
particularly useful in explaining the causes of the Yom Kippur War by providing the relevant diplomatic and historical context. The Yom Kippur War was the last major war fought between multiple Arab states and Israel. Most people recall that Egypt and Syria launched a surprise simultaneous attack against Israel on Yom Kippur. But by the war’s end, Israel was also fighting troops from Iraq, Morocco, and Jordan. During the war, Egypt and Israel engaged in the largest tank battle since the Battle of Kursk in World War II. In addition, this was the first war where the combatants engaged in naval battles using ship-to-ship guided missiles rather than naval guns or torpedoes. In addition to providing a detailed account of each of the major battles as well as useful information on the political leaders and generals of both sides, the author recounts in detail the heroism of individual Israeli army units that were greatly outnumbered during the first few days of the war. In reading his account of the war, one is reminded that he was writing at a time when the Israeli army was at its peak and had not yet declined into an army characterized by tactical mediocrity. The author was also prescient in many respects. In noting the Soviet Union’s shipment of FROG ballistic missiles to Syria and SCUD missiles to Egypt prior to the war, he wrote, “Civilian populations will be exposed to no less a degree than the military forces in any future war.” This prediction was borne out during the 1991 Gulf War when Iraq launched 39 SCUD missiles at Israeli cities as well as the 2006 Second Lebanon War when more than 1,000 rockets and missiles were launched against Israeli cities and towns. GE
gious debate today, more a symbol than a living document, David Hazony argues that the Commandments still have profound significance. Hazony, former editor of the Israeli journal Azure and a frequent contributor to such publications as The New Republic and the blog of Commentary, analyzes each commandment using both traditional sources and personal experience to show how the Commandments can renew the spirit of redemption in an increasingly hectic and multitasking world. The original intent of the Commandments was to create an orderly and just society. Interpreting the Commandments in this light, Hazony reveals the meanings that lie beneath these ten seemingly simple statements and their recognition of both human weakness and potential for redemption. Unfolding layer upon layer of meanings, Hazony draws us into ourselves, our sense of life’s purpose, and our ability to moderate our drive for personal and professional achievement in order to reach out to others and create the healthy, vibrant individual and communal world envisioned by the Commandments. In his Introduction, Hazony states that his interpretation of the Commandments is based on his own thoughts about the Bible. As some may suggest that the rabbis of Talmud interpreted the Commandments in the light of their experience and society, readers may come away from Hazony’s Ten Commandments with a similar sense. But few readers will argue with Hazony’s deeply felt desire for greater understanding of ourselves and life’s joys and difficulties and for the need to recognize our ability and expand our efforts to better the world. MLW
MODERN JEWISH THOUGHT & EXPERIENCE
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS: HOW OUR MOST ANCIENT MORAL TEXT CAN RENEW MODERN LIFE
JEWISH DIMENSIONS IN MODERN VISUAL CULTURE: ANTISEMITISM, ASSIMILATION, AFFIRMATION
David Hazony Scribner, 2010. 304 pp. $26.00 ISBN: 978-1-4165-6235-1
Rose-Carol Washton Long, Matthew Baigell and Milly Heyd, eds. Brandeis University Press, 2009. 338 pp. $55.00 ISBN: 978-1-58465-795-8
lthough the Ten Commandments are frequently a subject of political and reli-
his collection of previously published scholarly essays analyzes the art world of
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the late 19th and 20th century regarding its Jewish dimensions. The subtitle is alliterative but arch. The authors concern themselves with revealing the anti-Semitic aspects of the art, the artists, and the critics of the period. Since the book is part of the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry Series, it is focused exclusively on the European landscape, and, not surprisingly, concerned with the stereotypical depiction of Jews by artists (some of whom were supported by Jewish patrons and dealers) and the prejudices of the so-called cultural elite. Some of the topics are interesting because they deal with familiar artists such as Toulouse Lautrec, George Grosz, and Otto Dix or topics such as Dadaism or the Jewish Museum in Prague. (The Dada Manifesto was written by Tristan Tzara, a pseudonym for Shmuel Rosenstock, who along with Man Ray, rejected his Jewish roots.) What is most disturbing is the tracking of the negative attitude toward modern art as being a by-product of the xenophobia developing in Europe and its resulting antiforeign (read, anti-Semitic) attacks. It is wellknown that Edgar Degas joined the virulently anti-Semitic anti-Dreyfusards. The Jews were perceived as non-producers, living off the products of others, depicted as financial wizards and demons, and even blamed for Germany’s defeat in World War I. The discussion of the art of the Ecole de Paris, noted for the large number of Jewish, as well as other foreign-born artists working in Paris between the wars who were identified negatively by the French, is well-known in the history of that period. The essay by Romy Golan is a well-documented reiteration. The collection is divided into three sections, presumably relating to the subtitle: Critical Responses to Modernism and Judaism; Coded Representations; and Affirmation. Included are essays on such disparate topics as Georges Sorel, Julius Meier-Graefe, or Michael Sgan-Cohen’s Hinneni and the Yiddish Group from Lodz in the immediate post-World War I years. The intersection of art and Jewish history in the essay on the Jewish Central Museum in Prague by Dirk Rupnow will be of interest to researchers of the Nazi’s diabolical plans for preserving Jewish culture, especially since it includes new information on the plan and its aftermath. Similarly, those interested in the impact of the Communist era on Jewish artists, whose embrace of their Jewish identity was ironic since they knew almost nothing about Judaism, will find a lucid analysis in the essay by Matthew Baigell on “Soviet Artists, Jewish
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Images.” Well-known artists, including Vitaly Komar, Mikhail Grobman, and Ilya Kabakov were permitted in limited fashion to explore folklore, the stories of Sholom Aleichem being a primary source of subject matter. Post-World War II architects are discussed in terms of their relationship to the Holocaust. Each essay concludes with footnotes (more than 50 for most of them) attesting to the extensive research supporting the topics under discussion. In selecting these essays for inclusion in Jewish Dimensions in Modern Visual Culture the editors have provided a nuanced examination of factors in visual art of the modern era that have been influenced consciously or not by historic attitudes toward Jews. EN
studies and memoirs. It is an important contribution to the study of Middle Eastern and North African Jews as well as to minorities studies, Israeli politics, and Jewish organizations. Bibliography, index, notes. RS
A LITERARY BIBLE: AN ORIGINAL TRANSLATION David Rosenberg Counterpoint, 2009. 680 pp. $35.00 ISBN: 978-1582435145
JEWISH PROPERTY CLAIMS AGAINST ARAB COUNTRIES Michael R. Fischbach Columbia University Press, 2008. 355 pp. $45.00 ISBN: 978-0-231-13538-2
his book examines in detail Jewish personal and communal property loss in Arab countries and the history of claims since the late 1940’s. After reviewing Jewish population centers in the Arab world and the impact of the Arab-Israeli conflict on Jewish life, Fischbach details Jewish property loss in each country resulting from the mass emigration of Jews, mostly in the 1950’s and 1960’s, mainly to Israel, Europe, and North America. These Jews often lost most of their financial and real estate holdings. Fischbach studies how these property claims were handled by Israel in comparison to the way Holocaust reparations were treated: for a long time Israel tried to link these claims to future claims by Palestinian refugees, a policy to which many individuals and Jews who did not settle in Israel objected. The last part of the book deals with the current status of these claims. Despite the signing of peace agreements between Israel and several Arab countries, property claims were not brought forth formally by Israel, though some individuals tried to reach private settlements. This is the most comprehensive study of the subject, based on extensive archival resources and published
ny readable translation is ultimately not a translation verbatim but something of a paraphrase. That said, the subtitle of David Rosenberg’s A Literary Bible: An Original Translation is rather deceptive. While it is, unquestionably, original, the book is not a translation but a loose paraphrase of selections of the Tanakh. It is, in the best sense possible, West Side Story to the Tanakh’s Romeo and Juliet: often beautiful, based on the original, but not the same thing. In the abstract, unproblematic; yet if this were, indeed, Tanakh, there would be no room for midrash. While the author has done a remarkable job emphasizing different styles and voices, of transforming poetry into prose, or into a very different style of poetry, in his attempt to make the language of Tanakh reflect our modern idioms, he has also edited out large sections of the text—even entire books—and seems to have done so primarily when the text becomes theologically challenging. This is unfortunate, both because it would be greatly interesting to see how the author would actually deal with such material, and because it is specifically the challenging parts of the text that motivate the evolution of Jewish thought in midrash, in halakhah, in philosophy. One wishes that the author had permitted himself to be a bit more influenced by Robert Alter, whose translation—if less idiomatic—is, if nothing else, comprehensive and lyrical; or Everett Fox’s translation of the Five Books of Moses, which is gloriously wild and passionate and deeply Hebrew in its English. That said, as a supplementary tool for teachers offering a spectrum of differing interpretations to their students alongside the text, this book could be a very valuable resource. AA
THE QUEST FOR POWER: RELIGION AND POLITICS Samuel Slipp Pitchstone Publishing, 2010. 199 pp. $24.95 (pbk.) ISBN: 978-0972887595 (pbk.)
amuel Slipp brings his expertise as a psychoanalyst and distinguished professor of psychiatry to this scholarly historical study of the inter-relationship between religion, politics, and power. Slipp’s central thesis is that religion, at its core, is of great benefit to mankind and that the critiques of religion put forth by Marx or Freud are incorrect due to a confusion of the essence of religion with the corruption and misuse of religion by those in power. In what makes for compelling reading, Slipp strives to make the case for the healing aspects of faith both as a source of solace and hope for the believer as well as a powerful motivator of humanitarian and altruistic behavior.
and catastrophic potential of religion. When the interviewed mother of a suicide bomber says: “thank God my son is dead,” one cannot maintain that this is a political statement or a distortion of religious belief. This is the mother’s belief and one empathized with by thousands of like-minded worshippers. Moreover, religious leaders, with millions of followers worldwide, condemn homosexuality, oppose birth control and abortion, and reject the autonomy and sexual freedom of women. Likewise, as physicist and Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg recently said in tragiocomedic fashion, flying planes into tall buildings in anticipation of eternal bliss in paradise would represent a “bad career move” if it wasn’t truly and deeply believed. None of this should detract from the important service that Slipp has done by highlighting the vital role of spirituality, and elements of organized religion, in the endless struggle between the forces of light and darkness. Appendix, bibliography, index. SAL
QUMRAN AND JERUSALEM: STUDIES IN THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS AND THE HISTORY OF JUDAISM
...strives to make the case for the healing aspects of faith both as a source of solace and hope for the believer... Slipp focuses on the early mother-child attachment as the neurobiological foundation for the warmth and security recreated by placing oneself under the protection of a loving God. The capacity for empathy and care that stems from such secure and loving early bonds is observed later in the dedication to service of many who are religiously inspired. For readers seeking a thoughtful counterpoint to the atheism of Hitchens and Dawkins, this work will provide much to ponder. But, it is reasonable to conclude that only those already predisposed to a liberal, humanistic theology will be convinced by Slipp’s arguments. Slipp harkens back to the early Civil Rights movement and reflects upon Martin Luther King, Jr. working together with Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel as the gold standard of what it means to be authentically religious. Slipp’s psychoanalytic vision of the human condition underestimates the role of a destructive drive within each of us. An overemphasis on the corrupting role of politics on the way in which religion is practiced leads Slipp to minimize the intrinsic dangers
Lawrence H. Schiffman Eerdmans, 2010. 483 pp. $35.00 (pbk.) ISBN: 9780802849762 (pbk.)
his collection of essays by Schiffman offers the reader an up-to-date guide to research on the Dead Sea Scrolls. A must for the informed reader, the essays, many published in various journals and other venues, have been updated for the volume, making it a useful resource for the latest developments in this fascinating and important area of research for origins of Judaism and Christianity. While technical details are an essential part of these discussions, the volume is very readable. The title reflects one of the chapter titles, but the book is much broader than the topic of Qumran and Jerusalem. The 25 chapters fall within sections covering the Scholarly Controversy of the scrolls; the History, Politics, and Formation of the Sect; Jewish Law at Qumran; the Religious Outlook of the Qumran sectarians; Qumran Sectarians and Others; and Language and Literature. Bibliography, indexes. MDN
TRANSLATION AND SURVIVAL: THE GREEK BIBLE OF THE ANCIENT JEWISH DIASPORA Tessa Rajak Oxford University Press, 2009. 380 pp. $140.00 ISBN: 9780199558674
his sophisticated discussion of the origins and influence of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Tanakh, develops this esteemed professor’s Grinfield lectures at Oxford. The author focuses the discussion not simply on the texts and their history, but on the Jews of the Greek-speaking world who developed and used these texts in the ever-changing world from the 3rd century BCE to the mid-2nd century CE. They would naturally be thus expected to change what they found in these texts to guide and enrich their lives. Similarly, Rajak shows her reader many new ways to understand these texts and the people who read them. Perhaps the interested reader can best grasp the scope of this volume from this list of a few of the chapter titles: The Letter of Aristeas between History and Myth; Going Greek: Culture and Power in Ptolemaic Alexandria; The Jewish Diaspora in Graeco-Roman Antiquity; Staying Jewish: Language and Identity in the Greek Bible; Representing the Subverting Power; The Uses of Scripture in Hellenistic Judaism; Parallels and Models; The Bible among Greeks and Romans; The Septuagint between Jews and Christians. Bibliography, index. MDN
WISDOM OF THE HEART: THE TEACHINGS OF RABBI YA’AKOV OF IZBICA-RADZYN Ora Wiskind-Elper Jewish Publication Society, 2010. 256 pp. $35.00 ISBN: 978-0-8276-0894-8
lassical Hasidism existed on several planes. For the masses it provided a vehicle for religious expression, often without the trappings of scholarship. For many it offered a quasi-mys-
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tical theology which combined various strands of Jewish thought and often produced original insights, hermeneutics, and exegesis. For the elite few, it provided the opportunity to explore new realms of Jewish thought and share them with those initiates who had the capacity to grasp esoteric concepts. Hasidism produced saints, pietists, exegetes, great leaders, storytellers, teachers, scholars, and a few masters who combined several of these traits and founded dynasties, some of which exist today. Rabbi Ya’akov of Izbica-Radzyn was a master, a scholar, and a deep thinker. His theology and philosophical outlook is contained in his massive four volume work, Beit Ya’akov, compiled by his sons and grandson. His writings are not generally known because they are difficult to fully comprehend without a deep grounding in Lurianic mysticism, Kabbalah in general, and rabbinic texts. His style is often elliptical and his allusions are sometimes difficult to follow. This study attempts to pierce Rabbi Ya’akov’s hermetic world to let out some of the radiance rather than be a systematic study of his writings. Most of the teachings are formulated as commentaries on the weekly Torah reading and may have actually been originally delivered as d’rashot. The Izbica-Radzyn tradition emphasized traditional modes of study with a new emphasis on a reconsideration of many accepted values, e.g. a shift from the responsibility of the rebbe or zaddik to the individual in search of spiritual growth. There are strong currents focusing on selfhood, individuation, truth, sin, identity, failure, despair, and transcendence. Rabbi Ya’akov stressed personal
responsibility in attaining true spiritual growth and self knowledge. There is much in common here with the Mussar movement but it is expressed in a more arcane fashion. Choice, doubt, and compulsion are other themes that are explored through the Torah narratives. The author presents these teachings from the perspective of contemporary literary and philosophical criticism, while maintaining the respect, integrity, and depth of the text. Ora WiskindElper takes these texts seriously, presents intelligent and sensitive readings of difficult themes, and rigorously plumbs concepts and formulations that formed the basis of this approach within Hasidic thought. It is a well disciplined introduction to the original thinking of one of the great minds in the Hasidic pantheon. WG
JEWISH FEMINISTS: COMPLEX IDENTITIES AND ACTIVIST LIVES Dina Pinsky University of Illinois Press, 2010. 137 pp. $20.00 (pbk.) ISBN: 978-0-252-07677-0 (pbk.)
n Jewish Feminists, Dina Pinsky recounts and analyzes the Jewish identities of select-
ed second-wave feminists, whose stories she gathered through recently conducted interviews with the activists about their experiences during the feminist and civil rights movements of 1960’s and 1970’s. Pinsky’s interviews reveal the different ways in which beliefs concerning Judaism and Jewishness interacted, and continue to interact, with the feminist ideologies to which the interviewees were exposed in practice.
...recounts and analyzes the Jewish identities of selected second-wave feminists... Indeed, the strongest feature of the book is Pinsky’s inclusion of a wide range of interviewees, including men as well as people from different types of Jewish backgrounds, in her study. The author also makes certain to investigate and address how the interviewees’ Jewish identities may have changed over time. At bottom, this book is about particular people and how those peoples’ experiences may be universalized for a larger conversation about Judaism and feminism in the women’s studies community. Jewish Feminists offers a well-researched analysis of the complimentary yet sometimes tension-inducing interactions between Judaism, Jewishness, and feminism. Despite its somewhat narrow reach, this book will fascinate anyone interested in the experiences of people from Jewish backgrounds or of Jewish faith during the shifts of society that took place during second-wave feminism. Appendix, index, notes. RSR
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CHILDREN’S REVIEWS Aleph-Bet Israel
Galia Armeland EKS Publishing, 2009. 32 pp. $9.00 ISBN: 978-0-939144-61-7
n Aleph-Bet Israel, the youngest reader will enjoy learning about Israel through the Hebrew alphabet. On each page of this slim paperback, a letter of the Hebrew alphabet is used to identify an illustration of a place or symbol of Israel. The illustrations are explained in Hebrew, with English underneath. Cheerful multicultural children are shown riding a camel in the Negev Desert, visiting Jerusalem, going to synagogue, eating falafel, floating in the Sea of Galilee, visiting the market, holding an Israeli flag or Star of David, reading about Chaim Weitzman, Israel’s first president, and so on. The book design is visually appealing, with the Hebrew letter in a different color and position on each page of lively full color illustrations. The Israeli author-artist has creatively used the last two pages as a summary of the book, pairing each letter in large bold font with its English name and a small section “cut-out” of its corresponding full size illustration underneath it. For example, we see a shin and its name in English, then a small section of the larger illustration of the shuk, the market. Recommended for ages 4–7. ALD
Before We Eat: A Thank you Prayer
Jacqueline Jules; Melissa Iwai, illus. Kar-Ben Publishing, 2010. 10 pp. $5.95 ISBN: 978-0-7613-3954-0
he ten words of the blessing on bread, HaMotzi, convey profound meaning and gratitude. With fifty-one words and adorable color illustrations, the youngest readers are introduced to these concepts. Although we are hungry, we thank God before we eat. We appreciate that “good food, a home, a family, are gifts that God has given me.” A beautiful double spread of a wheat field shows the source of grain for the bread, and a transliteration will help with the Hebrew pronunciation. While the Hebrew blessing translates to “Who takes bread out of the earth,” a more accessible “Thank you God, for the blessing of bread, and for the meal which we will now enjoy” accompanies the transliteration. Simple rhymes and clear pictures are appropriate for the board book format. The verse can be easily memorized and used at home as well as in school. This book is highly recommended for pre-readers up to age three, and one hopes for a companion After We Eat about grace after meals (Birkat HaMazon). KSP
The Boy Behind the Door: How Solomon Kool Escaped the Nazis
Sanford L. Batkin with David Tabatsky KTAV Publishing House, 2009. 216 pp. $16.95 ISBN: 978-1-60280-134-9
he Boy Behind the Door is historical fiction inspired by a true story. It recounts events that transpired in the Nazi occupied Netherlands from May 1940 to the end of World War II. It involves the reader in the life of an orphaned 15-year-old Jewish teenager named Solomon, who is dealing with the normal emotional angst of maturing in an abnormal world. Solomon’s family had been captured during a Nazi roundup. He escaped and is alone. Holland had a large population of Nazi party members and collaborators making Solomon’s need to avoid capture, as well as find food and safe shelter, especially dangerous. He does not know whom he can trust or who might recognize and betray him for a reward. Yet, in order to survive he must trust someone. Even when Solomon does find a safe haven, it is only temporary, in
order to protect the harboring family. Solomon had to mature in the absence of a role model or mentor. He had to learn to control his turbulent emotions and come to terms with his ever-changing and hazardous situation. His decisions were a matter of life or death. The narrative portrays Solomon with sensitivity and realism, and details his struggle to survive. It is often difficult to find young adult Holocaust literature that will interest teenage boys, but this book is up to the task. Further, it is appealing to a good reader and accessible to a below-grade reader. For ages 11 and up. NK
Charlotte Herman; Kathryn Mitter, illus. Albert Whitman, 2010. 32 pp. $16.99 ISBN: 978-0-8075-2453-4
bby and her family have made aliyah by moving from America to Israel. Abby loves her new life, but she and her grandmother miss each other very much. Using phone calls, e-mail, and letters, Abby keeps Grandma updated on her experiences at her new school, the Hebrew words she is learning, the delicious Israeli foods, and her travels. She describes her visits to Jerusalem and the shuk (marketplace), the Western Wall, her adventures hiking and riding camels, and her trip to the Dead Sea. Waiting for the dry summer in Israel to give way to fall rains, Abby sends Grandma some of the famous Dead Sea mud for her skin, and Grandma sends Abby an assortment of colorful autumn leaves. Author Charlotte Herman gets the warm bond between Abby and her Grandma
The information imparted about present-day Israel combines with the lively, upbeat acrylic illustrations to make this positive portrayal of everyday Israeli life a valuable addition to all collections. just right, and we share Abby’s happiness when Grandma comes to visit, just as the first fall rain begins. The information imparted about present-day Israel combines with the lively, upbeat acrylic illustrations to make this positive portrayal of everyday Israeli life a valuable addition to all collections. For ages 5–8. ALD
Jewish Book World
CHILDREN’S REVIEWS A CHAT WITH DEBBIE LEVY By Barbara Bietz
Debbie Levy is the author of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry books for young people. Her most recent title is The Year of Goodbyes: A True Story of Friendship, Family, and Farewells (Disney-Hyperion, 2010). The book is based on her mother’s personal poetry album and is a deeply moving account of teens growing up under the dark shadow of the Nazi era. Debbie spoke with me at length about the process of writing The Year of Goodbyes.
The Year of Goodbyes is based on your mother’s “poesiealbum,” which is described as an autograph album with personal messages from friends. When did you discover that your mother had kept her poesiealbum for so many years? Since writing the book have you discovered others who saved their poesiealbums? I can’t say with certainty when my mother first shared her poesiealbum with me. When I was growing up (in Silver Spring, Maryland), there wasn’t much talk in our family about my mother’s childhood in Nazi Germany. My sister and I knew about the Holocaust, of course; we knew parents and grandparents of other kids who had survived concentration camps. But my mother, her sister, and my grandmother really didn’t talk much about their own experiences. I think my mother felt it didn’t warrant discussion—not when others had suffered in the camps. It wasn’t until after the death of my grandmother—my mother’s mother—in the mid 1980’s that my mother shared her diary, which along with the poesiealbum is also excerpted in The Year of Goodbyes. And it was around that same time that she began talking a little bit more about her childhood. I think this came about in connection with the grassroots efforts that led to the establishment of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Like many others, she and my late father participated in the fundraising for the museum; that caused her to open up more about her experience living in Germany in the 1930’s during the rise of Nazism. Sometime after that, I became aware of the existence of the poesiealbum—but I didn’t examine it closely until years later. Here’s what happened: I wrote an article, which covered a small corner of the larger story covered in the book. The article was published in The Washington Post in November 1998. Among its readers were a couple of women who had been classmates with my mother in Hamburg, Germany in the 1930’s. Remember, they’re all in their seventies by this time. Many phone calls later, in 2000 my mother and six of her girlfriends from the Jewish School for Girls in Hamburg, Germany reunited for the first time in more than 60 years in Silver Spring, Maryland. My mother brought out her poesiealbum to share with the “girls”—two of them had written in it. This was when I got my first good look at the poesiealbum. Without even knowing what the entries in it said—they’re in German and Polish and French—I was moved by this beat-up little book full of handwriting and drawings. I studied it, got it translated, and it became clear to me that it needed to be a central element in a book about my mother’s story. So, as you know, nearly every chapter in The Year of Goodbyes begins with one of the handwritten entries from the poesiealbum. As for other survivors’ poesiealbums, one of my mother’s former Hamburg classmates, who now lives in New York, has shared her own poesiealbum with me. In it, she has an entry written by my mother as a girl!
I’m sure it is striking for today’s tweens to discover that twelve year olds in Nazi Germany had the same feelings and emotions that kids experience today. What has the response been from young readers? The book is so new that I haven’t heard from many young readers yet, so I only have a couple of anecdotes. I’m told by a friend that her daughter said to her mother after reading it: “Mom, we’re very lucky.” Also, this same girl said that Jutta and her friends reminded her of her own friends. Someone else sent me a book report a girl wrote right after reading The Year of Goodbyes, in which she said that one reason she found the book so interesting was because she hadn’t previously read anything with such details about the lives of people during this time.
The book is peppered with some unique artwork which appears to be vintage valentines or paper dolls. Can you tell me a bit about the inclusion of these pieces? Those are reproductions of oblaten—colorful, die-cut, and often embossed stickers that European girls collected and traded in the 1930’s (and before). I’m calling them “stickers,” but that’s something of a misnomer because they didn’t actually have adhesive on their reverse sides—you would apply glue and affix them to the pages. Girls used the oblaten to decorate poesiealbum pages. The images that are scattered throughout The Year of Goodbyes come from my mother’s cache of oblaten—which she brought with her to the U.S. from Hamburg when she and her family fled in November 1938. A few years ago, she and I found them tucked in an old envelope. Collectors today call these tiny works of art “scraps.” The bakers among your readers may also know oblaten as a type of thin, wafer-like cookie. No, the girls were not putting cookies in their poesiealbums!
The follow-up of Jutta’s friends brings her story full circle. How difficult was the research required to complete your manuscript? The research was difficult in two ways—it was, as you can understand, often extremely sad, and it was also challenging. Of the 30 people who make an appearance in my book, half were killed by the Nazis or their collaborators in the Holocaust. As for the challenging aspect of the research: there is no one-stop resource that a researcher can go to for definitive information on people who were killed in, or survived, the Holocaust. Databases maintained by Yad Vashem (the Holocaust research center and museum in Jerusalem) and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (in Washington, D.C.) are extremely useful, and I used them both. They have their limitations, however, and sometime include incorrect information—after all, they are based on reports and testimony filed by individuals, and human error can creep in. I also consulted various books and documents that the Holocaust Museum makes available to the public, such as memorial books published by various German entities. I used an array of directories and sources to track down survivors, or the survivors of survivors. Internet research was invaluable in this respect. Even today, 65 years after the liberation of Europe from Nazi conquest, information is still dribbling out about Holocaust victims. For example, for years our family believed that my mother’s cousin Manja died in Auschwitz concentration camp, based on reports by other family members who survived that camp. But my research led me to a Page of Testimony in Yad Vashem’s database—a statement filed by another witness—who said Manja died in the Lodz Ghetto.
CHILDREN’S REVIEWS Then, as my book was about to go to press, I received word from a researcher at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. She had been searching for me in a huge recently opened archive which had been held in Germany since the end of the war. It’s called the International Tracing Service. She found German government records of Manja’s transfer from Auschwitz to Stutthof concentration camp in September 1944. This was late in the war. She had survived a long time! For an instant, I was hopeful there might be some good news. But the next document was a death certificate from Stutthof; stating that Manja died on January 7, 1945 from “complete body weakness.” I was already reconciled to thinking that that this young woman perished in a concentration camp. But to think of her surviving Auschwitz (where her mother died) and then being shipped hundreds of miles north to Stutthof was very difficult. And to think of Manja surviving until January 1945, with the end of the war only four months away—heartbreaking. Manja was 25 when she died in 1945—6 years older than my mother. I’m sorry, I can’t choose just one thing. I have to mention:
What was the most interesting part of writing The Year of Goodbyes? · Countless hours of interviewing and talking with my mother, and examining her keepsakes. · Listening to my mother’s six classmates from Hamburg’s Jewish School for Girls at their reunions starting in 2000. · Tracking down information about my mother’s Parisian cousin Guy Gotthelf, who wrote in her poesiealbum in November 1938. I started with a simple
Janet Piehl; Tad Butler, illus. Lerner Publications, 2009. 48 pp. $27.93 ISBN: 978-1-58013-705-8
Google search on his name, which yielded a map showing Rue Guy Gotthelf (Guy Gotthelf Street) in Yerres, France. Of course, I had to find out whether this was “our” Guy. · Finding the connections between what my mother’s friends wrote in her poesiealbum and what was going on around them in Hamburg and Germany as they wrote. Debbie, thank you for sharing so much about your research and writing process for The Year of Goodbyes. It is a special book that is sure to be meaningful to young readers. To learn more about Debbie and her books, please visit: http://www.debbielevybooks.com/ Barbara Bietz is a freelance writer and children’s book reviewer. She is currently the chairperson of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. Barbara is the author of the middle grade book, Like a Maccabee. She has a blog dedicated to Jewish books for children at www.BarbaraBBookBlog.Blogspot.com.
with Teddy Roosevelt and hundreds of other people, he had the picture retouched to give the impression that they were close friends. The result was that only the two of them remained in the photograph. At the end of the book, there is a timeline of the important milestones in his life as well as explanations of how he did some of his tricks. Sturdily bound, this book will perfect for report writing and Houdini fans. Ages 8–12. MLK
here are many books for young people about Houdini. However, in just 48 pages, this book gives a comprehensive look at the man’s life, his achievements, and the events for which he will be most remembered. It also includes colorful drawings and black and white photographs of him and his family. The book draws attention to special information about Houdini which appears in shaded boxes. This includes: how he initially learned to pick locks; the use of a cabinet to prevent others from learning how he did his tricks: names of copycat performers, and Houdini’s “attempts to shut down their acts”; and how he reshaped truth into fiction that met his needs. For example, when he appeared in a photo together
Jewish Comedy Stars: Classic to Cutting Edge
Norman H. Finkelstein Kar-Ben Publishing, 2010. 96 pp. $10.00 ISBN: 978-0-8225-9942-5
or those students choosing Jewish comedy as a school report, this book is gang busters, though not a laugh a minute. Finkelstein does an excellent job developing the pivotal impact of Jewish comedians on American culture. He explains how styles morphed to fit the times,
how the success of many funny Jewish men and few women (8 out of 46) affected entertainment and sensitized the wider society. Defining Jewish humor from the Bible (yes, the Bible) to right now, then presenting examples, Finkelstein identifies American comedy as Jewish comedy. Comedy is integral to Jewish tradition. Immigrants used comedy to explain their new world to each other; their children to explain it to the wider world. The organization is terrific; snappy, chapter headings are appropriate and accurate. Introductory background to each era provides succinct, insightful history of this Jewish art form. Each biography proving the point provides a photo, quote balloon, vitae including real names, but Wikipedia depth information. The problem is that excepting the trendy final section, examples are outdated for targeted readers. Children meet dead white males with little relevance beyond an offbeat academic assignment. Their parents, on the other hand, will enjoy the nuggets of information about childhood favorites and laugh at the joke balloons, which today’s youngsters will find too mature, stale, or both. Warts noted, this is a lively addition to a sparsely developed topic for young readers. Hooray for Jewish comedians: on stage, on air, and now on your book shelf. For ages 8–12. EGC
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Benno and the Night of Broken Glass
Meg Wiviott; Josée Bisaillon, illus. Kar-Ben Publishing, 2010. 32 pp. $7.95 ISBN: 978-0-8225-9975-3
ristallnacht was the opening act for the Nazi’s “Final Solution.” On the night of November 9-10, 1938, Nazis rampaged in a nationwide pogrom against Jews and Jewish institutions throughout Germany. Synagogues were burned, Jewish stores looted, and Jews beaten and arrested. Presenting information about this event to young readers is problematic: hatred, violence, and destruction may not be appropriate. Meg Wiviott has created a well-crafted, non-threatening solution—a personable cat named Benno. Benno lives in Berlin, in the Mitte neighborhood surrounding the majestic Neue Synagogue on Oranienburger Strasse where Jewish and non-Jewish families live together. He is a welcome guest wherever he goes but his routine is disrupted with the events of Kristallnacht. When it is over, the lives of his Jewish friends are forever altered and his little community disrupted: “Rosenstrasse was still a busy street, but the people were no longer friendly.” Wiviott provides readers with a sense of that night through Benno’s observations while Bisaillon’s vibrant and dramatic illustrations will captivate readers. An afterword provides historical background and suggestions for further reading. For ages 8–11. NHF
the woman who wrote that poem. Emma Lazarus grew up in the lap of luxury. Her visit one day to Ward’s Island, entry port for many tired, hungry, and poor immigrants, had a profound effect on her. These immigrants, mainly Jews like herself, had been terribly mistreated in their home countries. Emma felt compelled to help them. But immigrants were not well-received in Emma’s social circle, an image she vowed to help change. When asked to contribute a poem to an anthology being put together to raise money for the Statue of Liberty pedestal, Emma wrote her now-famous words to welcome all immigrants to our country, words so powerful they were eventually etched on a plaque attached to the pedestal itself. All immigrants would now read Emma’s welcoming words: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free. Glaser’s descriptive text, combined with illustrator Clair A. Nivola’s careful attention to the historical details of the late 1800’s, make Emma’s Poem a book not to be missed. Although the book is intended for ages 4–8, anyone interested in American history and/or the Statue of Liberty would definitely enjoy reading this wonderful journey back through time to Emma Lazarus’s world. MB
Linda Glaser; Claire A Nivola, illus. Houghton Mifflin Books, 2010. 32 pp. $17.00 ISBN: 978-0-547-17184-5
efore reading Linda Glaser’s simple, yet eloquent picture book, Emma’s Poem, one might think one knew most of what there was to know about the Statue of Liberty: gift from France, stands in New York harbor, has a poem on its pedestal written by Emma Lazarus. Glaser’s book tells the story behind
The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah
Leslie Kimmelman; Paul Meisel, illus. Holiday House, 2010. 32 pp. $16.95 ISBN: 978-0823419524
Feivel’s Flying Horses
Heidi Smith Hyde; Johanna van der Steere, illus. Kar-Ben Publishing, 2010. 32 pp. $18.00 ISBN: 978-0-7613-3957-1
Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty
sings Yiddish love songs at work and blessings in the synagogue. Feivel refuses to ride the finished carousel until his family rides with him. They arrive and happily mount their splendid, special horses. Feivel’s life, like his carousel, becomes a joyous, complete circle. The text gently delivers the pain of separation faced by myriad immigrants while smartly teaching about talented Jewish artisans and their rich contribution to American culture. The picture book’s art parallels the text in plot and emotion. Homey scenes in soft watercolor on two-page spreads deliver the magical milieu of Coney Island and its determined artist, well-fed, neat and (please note) blonde, whose sadness wells from separation, not the grime of a grinding ghetto. For ages 5–8. EGC
ewish woodcarvers star in this sweet tale of late 19th century immigrants. Feivel, third generation wood artist, journeys to New York for a better life with the clichéd $5.00. He must leave behind his family, a wife and four children, until he saves money for their passage. Despite working from the minute he arrives on the Lower East Side, saving takes years. Feivel misses his family terribly and sorely regrets not seeing his children grow up. Feivel toils, reduced from exalted synagogue Torah ark carvings to making furniture, until a cousin treats him to Coney Island. Astounded by the magnificent carousel and yearning for his artistic past, he spies a job opening for an experienced wood carver. Feivel designs and carves horses that capture the faraway family members he pines for. His Jewish identity is obvious when he
beloved storybook character is given a Yiddish twist in this clever and humorous retelling. Realizing that Passover will be here before she knows it, the Little Red Hen sets about preparing to make matzah from start to finish. But who will help her plant, harvest, grind, and schlep the wheat? Not her lazy friends Sheep, Horse, and Dog, who disappoint her at every step (“Friends, schmends...I’ll just do it myself”). Finally Passover arrives and it’s time to make the matzah, which the Little Red Hen accomplishes in the mandated eighteen minutes “according to Jewish law.” She sets her Seder table, prepares the traditional foods, and is just waiting for the sun to set when who should come knocking at the door? Those nogoodniks Sheep, Horse, and Dog, of course. “What chutzpah!” scolds the Little Red Hen, but remembering the edict “Let all who are hungry come and eat,” her menschy self prevails and she invites them in. At least they do the dishes! Pleasing watercolor-and-ink cartoon style illustrations add to the humor (check out the baby chick wearing a yarmulke). Includes a brief explanation of Passover and instructions for making matzah. A perfect holiday title for all Judaica collections. For ages 4–8. TM
Joha Makes a Wish: A Middle Eastern Tale
Eric A. Kimmel; Omar Rayyan, illus. Marshall Cavendish Children, 2010. 40 pp. $17.99 ISBN: 978-0-7614-5599-8
ric Kimmel is a master at reshaping and adapting folklore from different cultures to tell a good story. He has expanded the audience for Jewish tales beyond Jewish children. In his award-winning original story about the legendary Jewish trickster Hershel of Ostropol, Kimmel added the excitement of goblins for Hershel to outwit. In The Jar of Fools, he set universal fools along with Chelmites in the town of Chelm and moved all the action to occur during Hanukkah. Joha Makes a Wish is a new picture book blend. It places the character of a wise fool from Arabic and Jewish cultures in a version of the Jewish Yemenite story “The Answered Prayer.” In that folktale, all of a poor man’s prayers are answered in the opposite, until, pressed by the prince to save his wife, the man consciously prays for the reverse of what is desired. In Kimmel’s story, wishes have the opposite effect because poor Joha is holding a magic stick upside down until an old shopkeeper points this out. Characters from both stories are able to ride home on the donkey they wished for in the first place. Though the traditional Joha is mainly out there for himself, this Joha’s decision to do the right thing—to go back to fix the sultan’s nose that his wish has messed up—makes for a satisfying ending. Although there is nothing in words that says that this Joha might not be a Jew on his way to Baghdad, Rayyan’s detailed, plentiful, and broadly comical illustrations seem to clothe Joha in customary Arab dress. Here Kimmel has melded a traditional Middle Eastern character with a traditional Jewish tale to tell a humorous story for general children’s collections. For ages 5–8. SE
I Dream of an Elephant
Ami Rubinger Abbeville Kids, 2010. 28 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 978-0-7892-1058-6
hile the title may suggest the narrator’s need for Freudian interpretation, this is
a concept book that teaches colors and rhyming. For each color, the first line describes what is happening in the double fold illustration, and the second line is always “I dream of an elephant whose color is...”, allowing the reader to say the self-evident hue. The book was originally published in Israel as Elephants of Every Color (Peeleem B’Chol Tz’va’im–Keter, 2008). The adorable and vibrantly colored artwork is exactly the same, and it will hold the attention of young readers. The rhymes have been cleverly re-worked to convey the same message in English. For example, the conclusion “How fun for me and how pleasant, to dream of elephants in all [colors] (literal Hebrew translation); becomes “Together at last, this colorful team. When elephants sleep, I wonder if THEY...” The only exception is orange, which has a rhyme in Hebrew, but not English. Sure to become a favorite of preschoolers. For ages 3–5. KSP
duch for her brother is compromised by what is regarded as her peculiar disorder, and Dini constantly feels that she cannot live up to her mother’s expectations and that her mutism casts a pall over the family’s otherwise perfect life. Invisible Me is a compelling read, both for teens and adults. It brings the teenage world into sharp clarity and gives selective mutism a voice and a presence. A talented writer, Caton brings Dini, her friends, and family to life with literary flourish. For ages 12 and up. LK
Morris Gleitzman Henry Holt, 2010. 166 pp. $16.95 ISBN: 978-0-8050-9026-0
Tzipi Caton Targum Press, 2009. 271 pp. $22.99 ISBN: 978-1-56871-553-9
n Invisible Me, Tzipi Caton brings to the fore selective mutism, a severe anxiety disorder in which a person who is normally capable of speech is unable to speak in given situations or to specific people. She conveys the harrowing experience of being a selective mute through her 16-year-old Jewish Orthodox protagonist, Dini Braverman. Dini communicates by writing notes, and throughout the novel we hear her voice and her thoughts through her note-writing. A typical teenager in every other respect, we see Dini struggle with her familial relationships and her school tribulations. Her voice is clear and articulate, and her struggles feel vivid and real. As the novel progresses, Dini begins to emerge from her closeted existence, communicating with her therapist after three years of bored silence and venting the anger she feels at being treated as an invisible person by virtue of her mutism. In the context of her Orthodox surroundings, Dini’s lack of speech has ramifications for the rest of her family. A shid-
hen Felix discovers a whole carrot in his bowl of soup, he is convinced it is a sign that his parents, Jewish booksellers, are coming for him. It is 1942, and for three years and eight months Felix has lived a secret life in the Catholic orphanage where they hoped he would be safe. But when Mother Minka sadly tells Felix that the carrot is not a sign from his parents and they are not coming for him, he does not believe her. He decides he has to warn them that Nazis are burning Jewish books. Early the next morning, he slips out through the main gate and begins to follow the river home. At first, Felix makes excuses for the horrors he sees along the way. He tells himself, for example, that the soldier who fired at him didn’t mean to and that maybe the half-naked people crammed into trucks are just going for a swim. Eventually, he understands it is not just Jewish books the Nazis hate—it is Jews. On his harrowing journey, Felix rescues Zelda, an orphaned sixyear-old, and the two of them, along with other children, are sheltered briefly by a Jewish dentist who treats high-ranking Nazis. Inevitably, though, they all are locked into a boxcar and know they are on their way to a death camp. When a hole is accidentally punched through some rotted boards, they realize they have a chance to escape. Miraculously, Felix and Zelda survive their jump from the moving train. Lying in a field somewhere in Poland, Felix doesn’t know what the rest of his story will be—“It could end in a
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CHILDREN’S REVIEWS few minutes, or tomorrow, or next year...,” but however it turns out, he believes he has been lucky—more than once. For ages 12 and up. SK
Eric Elkins Ghost Road Press, 2010. 239 pp. $15.95 ISBN: 978-0-9825043-4-5
thanking God. Daisy, a ten-year-old, is looking for reasons to thank God. Each of Daisy’s thoughts is beautifully and colorfully illustrated on two facing pages. She thinks about all the things she loves and thanks God “for each day that I wake up and all the things I get to do.” Halperin’s appealing watercolor illustrations place Daisy in various environments showing the world and its diverse splendor. There is a small amount of text on each page and no specific religion is mentioned. The non-denominational text is appropriate for Jewish children. The realistic illustrations, which support and greatly enhance the text, do not contain any symbolism that would offend Jewish readers. For ages 3–7. IG
he summer before middle school, Santa Cruz surfer kid Ray has a to-do list that he believes will make him cool. In the course of accomplishing (and failing to accomplish) these items, he is told repeatedly by the people around him that he is already cool. A little maturity and experience help him to finally start believing it. This is a low-key, pleasant story of a lazy California summer, without much in the way of action. A surfer lifestyle, a friendly neighborhood ghost (who turns out to be Ray’s dead uncle), and a well-adjusted divorced family form the backdrop for Ray to struggle mildly with the issue of his own coolness. The lesson is stated explicitly by the ghost uncle, who says “Cool is what you are, not what you try to be.” This rather adult viewpoint, coupled with Ray’s unrealistically mature first person voice, make the story a bit self-consciously preachy. An attempt to use footnotes as a way to insert extra content into the story falls flat, and a few of the story’s mysteries are left unresolved, leaving an impression of unfinished editing. Ray is Jewish, but the story contains no significant Jewish content. For ages 10–12. HE
Thank You God for Everything
August Gold; Wendy Anderson Halperin, illus. Putnam Juvenile, 2009. 32 pp. $16.99 ISBN: 978-0-399-24049-2
ugust Gold, spiritual director and cofounder of the Sacred Center New York (a church), has written a generic book about
Jewish Book World
Tower of Babel
A.S. Gadot; Cecilia Rebora, illus. Kar-Ben Publishing, 2010. 32 pp. $7.95 ISBN: 978-0-8225-9952-4
n this modern version of the Biblical tale, Gadot has injected a warm and caring sense of humor into what became the dispersion of mankind. His retelling of the Genesis story of man’s pride and arrogance against God highlights man’s belief that he could reach the heavens and be equal to God, thereby able to rule earth and sky. Gadot’s current interpretation does not mention God directly but relies upon the use of a terrible bolt of lightning, powerful thunder, and rain to invoke the language change in the people of Shinar and their inability to understand one another. Setting up the story by choosing colorful, comical figures engaged in tongue-incheek banter, along with the inclusion of modern topics such as the internet, governments, and rock bands, certainly plays upon our languages skills while serving to bring the moral lesson into the present timeframe. Gadot’s text and Rebora’s illustrations work well for kindergarten through fourth grade. Used as a tool to heighten a classroom discussion on communication, pride, or the range of man’s powers, Tower of Babel offers to open deeper discussions into this Biblical tale and the relationship between man and God. For ages 5–9. CM
Whispers from the Camps
Kathy Kacer and Sharon E. McKay Penguin Group, 2009. 152 pp. $13.99 ISBN: 978-0-14-331252-9
n that moment, I realize the importance of hope, for without hope, there is no life” (John Freund, 1945). This is the underlying theme of Whispers from the Camps. Kacer and McKay have interviewed and collected the stories of child survivors from the Holocaust and collected them in a short reader. This book gives a personal face to the Holocaust. Through a collection of survivor accounts, readers are allowed a glimpse into the life in the ghetto, on transports, arriving at the camps, surviving, and being liberated. Each account is preceded by a photograph of the survivor as a child. One tells his story in poem form, and another tells his through a short script, although most accounts are short stories. Following each account is an update on the survivor, allowing for a personal connection to those who lived through the atrocities. The survivors tell of loss, hardships, and hope. There is no graphic detail; there are simply personal accounts of how these people, as children, survived the most horrible atrocities. For ages 11 and up. DA
Why Should I Care?: Lessons from the Holocaust
Jeanette Friedman and David Gold The Wordsmithy, 2009. 263 pp. $15.00 ISBN: 978-1935110033
hy Should I Care is a wonderful resource for a school library or teaching aid for an instructor teaching children ages 10 and older about the Holocaust. As its title suggests, it tackles difficult subjects like the banal-
CHILDREN’S REVIEWS ity of evil, the danger of words, the choices people make, their failure to take responsibility for those choices, and the lure of the dark side. Friedman and Gold use examples from the Holocaust throughout the book, citing individuals who made a difference and the experiences of Jews who survived. But they also discuss other genocides in recent history, drawing parallels to illustrate the fact that others have engaged in mass murder even in our lifetimes. They do this to show that evil and murder can occur even in communities that consider themselves educated and enlight-
ened. Friedman and Gold go on to suggest ways in which readers can make a difference, politically, and socially—by educating themselves on what is really going on and not accepting the versions of the mass media without questioning, by using their power to vote and by exercising choice. “We are the public,” the authors write. “By working together we can create a powerful force. We can use that power to control what our leaders do.” The book is peppered with relevant quotations from other authors, writers, and thinkers, but one by Yehuda Bauer stands out as the raison
d’etre for the creation of Why Should I Care. “Events happen because they are possible,” Bauer writes. “If they were possible once, they are possible again. In that sense, the Holocaust is not unique, but a warning for the future.” Friedman and Gold take that warning seriously, and have written Why Should I Care to inform students exactly why this subject is extremely relevant to them and how the warnings of the Holocaust can effect their lives and their perspectives even today. This is a highly recommended resource for teachers of the subject and all libraries. LK
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BOOKS OF NOTE
AMERICAN JEWISH STUDIES THE ARAB LOBBY: THE INVISIBLE ALLIANCE THAT UNDERMINES AMERICA’S INTERESTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST Mitchell Bard Harper, 2010. $27.99 ISBN: 978-0-06-172601-9 Bard refutes claims that a manipulative Israeli lobby is using its muscle to benefit Israel at the expense of American interests. For more than 70 years, he contends, U.S. policy has in fact been shaped by the desire to foster good relations with the Arab states.
THE CHOSEN FOLKS: JEWS ON THE FRONTIER OF TEXAS
serving as a caregiver, providing pastoral care, or simply wondering where God is when we get sick, the teachings and wisdom of Jewish tradition can help you cope with the difficulties of illness and infirmity.
SECRETS OF A JEWISH MOTHER: REAL ADVICE, REAL STORIES, REAL LOVE Jill Zarin, Lisa Wexler, and Gloria Kamen Dutton Books, 2010. $25.95 ISBN: 978-0-525-95179-7 Using their own real life examples, this mother/daughter trio reveals their secrets to life, love, and happiness.
FICTION Susan Shapiro Thomas Dunne Books, 2010. $24.99 ISBN: 978-0-312-64472-7 Chronicles the tale of two strong women who unwittingly wind up switching lives. Rachel looks to escape her Midwestern Jewish family. Elizabeth marries Rachel’s brother and becomes the daughter that Rachel never was to her family, leaving Rachel resentful and feeling replaced.
CONTEMPORARY JEWISH LIFE
FACING ILLNESS, FINDING GOD: HOW JUDAISM CAN HELP YOU AND CAREGIVERS COPE WHEN BODY OR SPIRIT FAILS
BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA: FRENCH JEWRY AND THE PROBLEM OF CHURCH AND STATE
Jewish Book World
CRASH COURSE IN JEWISH HISTORY: FROM ABRAHAM TO MODERN ISRAEL Ken Spiro Targum Press, 2010. $31.99 ISBN: 978-1-56871-532-2 Spiro takes the reader on a journey, highlighting the key lessons of Jewish and world history, and most importantly, the profound relevance that the past holds for the future of both the Jewish people and humanity.
JEWISH LITERATURES AND CULTURES: CONTEXT AND INTERTEXT
Bryan Edward Stone University of Texas Press, 2010. $50.00 ISBN: 978-0-292-72177-7 The Chosen Folks brings the rich aspect of the past to light, going beyond single biographies and photographic histories to explore the full evolution of the Jewish experience in Texas. Stone begins with the crypto-Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition and then discusses the unique Texas-Jewish communities that flourished far from the centers of Jewish history and culture.
Rabbi Joseph B. Meszler Jewish Lights Publishing, 2010. $16.99 ISBN: 978-1-58023-423-8 Whether you are facing illness yourself,
church and state in France from the French Revolution until the 1905 law of separation.
OVEREXPOSED: A NOVEL
Zvi Jonathan Kaplan Brown Judaic Studies, 2009. $19.95 ISBN: 978-1-930675-61-2 This novel examines the development of Jewish positions on the relationship between
Anita Norich and Yaron Z. Eliav, eds. Brown Judaic Studies, 2008. $39.95 ISBN: 978-1-930675-55-1 These essays examine the ways in which Jewish culture has existed in a mutually enriching, if sometimes problematic, relationship with surrounding non-Jewish cultures.
JEWISH PHILADELPHIA: A GUIDE TO ITS SIGHTS AND STORIES Linda Nesvisky The History Press, 2010. $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-59629-903-0 With a walking tour and a series of intriguing vignettes, Nesvisky leads readers down colonial streets to discover the surprising history of the Jewish community in Philadelphia into the 21st century.
NAHMANIDES ON GENESIS: THE ART OF BIBLICAL PORTRAITURE Michelle J. Levine Brown Judaic Studies, 2009. $69.95 ISBN: 978-1-930675-69-8 This biblical commentary of the foremost
BOOKS OF NOTE The Jewish Book Council is Blogging
13th century Spanish exegete, Rabbi Moses ben Nahman (Nahmanides), on the stories of Genesis, provides a penetrating analysis of the Bible’s diverse literary strategies of characterization.
SOCRATES AND THE FAT RABBIS Daniel Boyarin University of Chicago Press, 2009. $45.00 ISBN: 978-0-226-06916-6 Boyarin looks to an unlikely source, the dialogues of Plato, to answer what kind of literature is the Talmud. In these ancient texts, he finds similarities, both in their unique combination of various genres and topics and in their dialogic structure.
TANGLED UP IN TEXT: TEFILLIN AND THE ANCIENT WORLD Yehudah B. Cohn Brown Judaic Studies, 2008. $32.95 ISBN: 978-1-930675-56-8 This book locates the Jewish tefillin ritual within the cultural matrix that engendered its origins and development, with particular focus on the reception history of biblical passages, the archaeological evidence of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and detailed investigation of rabbinic literature to the 3rd century C.E.
VIOLENT ACTS AND URBAN SPACE IN CONTEMPORARY TEL AVIV: REVISIONING MOMENTS Tali Hatuka University of Texas Press, 2010. $55.00 ISBN: 978-0-292-72185-2 Violent acts have profoundly altered civil rituals, cultural identity, and the meaning of place in Tel Aviv. Hatuka uses an interdisciplanary framework of urban theory and sociopolitical theory to shed light on the dis-
course regarding violent events, including an analysis of the physical space where these events take place.
MODERN JEWISH THOUGHT AND EXPERIENCE COUNTING THE OMER: A KABBALISTIC MEDITATION GUIDE Rabbi Min Kantrowitz Gaon Books, 2010. $18.00 ISBN: 978-1-935604-00-6 Counting the Omer is a Kabbalistic meditation guide to understanding the in-depth meanings of each of the 49 days between Pesach and the Shavuot celebration of the revealing of the Torah.
Keep up-to-date every day with the latest Jewish literary news from the JBC and from around the web
MONOTHEISM AND TOLERANCE: RECOVERING A RELIGION OF REASON Robert Erlewine Indiana University Press, 2010. $24.95 ISBN: 978-0-253-22156-8 Why are religious tolerance and pluralism so difficult to achieve? Why is the often-violent fundamentalist backlash against them so potent? Erlewine looks to a new religion of reason for answers to these questions.
Visit the Jewish Book Council’s website for the latest blog posts.
Jewish Book World
CONTRIBUTORS MIRIAM BRADMAN ABRAHAMS (MBA) lives in Woodmere, NY. She is the mother of three, an avid reader, Hadassah Nassau Region One Book Coordinator, Hadassah Hewlett Herald editor and webmaster, and book fair chair. AMITAI ADLER (AA) is a Conservative rabbi. He teaches and writes in Los Angeles, CA and has been published in Sh’ma and Jewish Bible Quarterly. BARBARA ANDREWS (BA) holds a Masters in Jewish Studies from The University of Chicago, has been an adult Jewish education instructor, and works in the corporate world as a professional adult educator. DRORA ARUSSY (DA), EdD, is an educational consultant who specializes in integrating Jewish and secular studies, the arts into education, and creative teaching for excellence in Jewish education. She is the mother to four school-age children and has taught from preschool through adult. Currently Drora is an adjunct professor of Hebrew language at Drew University. RANDALL C. BELINFANTE (RCB) has served as librarian of the American Sephardi Federation for nearly ten years. He has conducted research on a variety of topics, including Rabbi Aqiva’s views on women, visual imagery in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Rabbi Isaac Cohen Belinfante (a preacher in 18th c. Amsterdam). He is currently preparing to carry out a survey of Sephardic archival materials in the U.S. BETTINA BERCH (BEB), author of the recent biography From Hester Street to Hollywood: The Life and Work of Anzia Yezierska, teaches part-time at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. MARCIA BERNEGER (MB) is a wife, mother of two teenage sons, second grade teacher, and in her spare time (lol) a writer. She has written stories and articles for children’s magazines and has a few picture book manuscripts making the rounds. Her goal is that one day she will have her own book reviewed by Jewish Book World. BARBARA BIETZ (BBi) is a freelance writer and children’s book reviewer. She is currently the chairperson of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. Barbara is the author of the middle grade book, Like a Maccabee. She has a blog dedicated to Jewish books for children at www.BarbaraBBookBlog.Blogspot.com.
Jewish Book World
BILL BRENNAN (BB) is an independent scholar and entertainer based in Las Vegas.
the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee for the Association of Jewish Libraries.
LINDA F. BURGHARDT (LFB) is a New York-based journalist and author who has contributed commentary, breaking news, and features to major newspapers across the U.S., in addition to having three non-fiction books published. She writes frequently on Jewish topics.
NORMAN H. FINKELSTEIN (NHF), a retired public school librarian, is a long-term instructor at Boston’s Hebrew College. He is the author of fifteen nonfiction books and the recipient of the Golden Kite Honor Award for Nonfiction and two National Jewish Book Awards. His most recent book is the JPS Guide to American Jewish History (Jewish Publication Society).
SUSAN M. CHAMBRÉ (SMC) is a professor of sociology at Baruch College, City University of New York. Her publications focus on volunteerism, philanthropy, and public policy. ESTHER COHEN (EC) is a writer of all things: poems, stories, novels, articles. She has published five books. She teaches Good Stories at Manhattanville College. ELLEN G. COLE (EGC), the librarian of the Levine Library of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, is a well known reviewer of Jewish books for children and adults. She is a past judge of the Sydney Taylor Book Awards and a past chairperson of that committee. She is a co-author of the AJL guide, Excellence in Jewish Children’s Literature. Ellen is the recipient of two major awards for contribution to Judaic Librarianship, the Fanny Goldstein Merit Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries and the Dorothy Schroeder Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern California. She is on the board of AJLSC. ANDREA LYNN DAVIDSON (ALD), M.L.S., is the librarian at The Temple-Tifeeth Israel in Beachwood, OH. A former member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, she also reviews children’s literature for the AJL Newsletter. GIL EHRENKRANZ (GE) is a lawyer in the District of Columbia specializing in telecommunications law and international transactions. He has been previously published in MIDSTREAM Magazine including an article concerning Israeli military options regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program. SHARON ELSWIT (SE) is the author of The Jewish Story Finder, head librarian at Claremont Preparatory School in New York City, and an adjunct professor with the Palmer School of Library and Information Science. HEIDI ESTRIN (HE) is librarian for the Feldman Children’s Library at Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton, FL. She is a past chair of
BOB GOLDFARB (BG) is president of the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity and vicepresident of Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture. He lives in Jerusalem. DANIEL GORDIS (DG) is senior vice president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, and author, most recently, of Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End, winner of a 2009 National Jewish Book Award in Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice. ILKA GORDON (IG) has a Masters in Education from Boston University and an MLIS from Kent State University. She is a librarian at Siegal College of Judaic Studies in Cleveland, OH. MAX GREENBERG (MG) is a writer, artist, and non-profit communications professional. He works for the National Wildlife Federation. WALLACE GREENE (WG), Ph.D., is a professor in the Touro College Graduate School of Jewish Studies. PHILIP K. JASON (PKJ) is professor emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy. A former editor of Poet Lore magazine, he is the author or editor of twenty books, including Acts and Shadows: The Vietnam War in American Literary Culture and Don’t Wave Goodbye: The Children’s Flight from Nazi Persecution to American Freedom. SARAH JEFFERIES (SJ) is pursuing a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of Alberta. Her doctoral research examines Holocaust literature. SUSAN KANTOR (SK) is a senior writer/editor for Girl Scouts of the USA. She is a published children’s book author, has worked as children’s book editor and is a past judge for the National Jewish Book Awards in Illustrated Children’s Books. MARGE KAPLAN (MLK) is a retired English as a
CONTRIBUTORS Second Language teacher. She is a consultant for the children’s literature group for the Roseville, MN school system and is a storyteller of Jewish tales. GARY KATZ (GK) received an MA in English from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He is the library administrator for the Kripke Jewish Federation Library in Omaha, NE, one of the largest Judaica libraries in the United States. MARC E. KELLER (MEK) grew up in Bucks County, PA, and attended the University of Pennsylvania, earning degrees in Anthropology and Urban Studies. He has published short fiction in Pindeldyboz, Forge, The Legendary, and The Bucks County Writer, among others. Currently he works in the development office at Penn, managing prospect research. LAUREN KRAMER (LK) is a Vancouver-based journalist, wife, and mother with a lifelong passion for literature. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, she has won awards for her writing and reported from many corners of the world. Read more of her work at www.laurenkramer.net. NAOMI KRAMER (NK) is a retired reading teacher/consultant with many years’ experience developing curriculum and using literature to educate children and adults in the history of the Holocaust. She is a docent and educator at the Nassau County Holocaust and Tolerance Center. RENITA LAST (RL) is a member of Hadassah Nassau Region’s Education Committee. She is currently involved in volunteer work at the Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center of Nassau County. A retired teacher of the Gifted and Talented, she participates in book clubs and writing projects. JUDD KRUGER LEVINGSTON (JKL), Ph.D., is a rabbi and the director of Jewish studies at Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy (formerly Akiba Hebrew Academy) in Bryn Mawr, PA. A teacher of middle and upper school students, he is the author of Sowing the Seeds of Character: The Moral Education of Adolescents in Public and Private Schools (Praeger Press, 2009), reviewed in Jewish Book World in Spring 2010. WILLIAM LISS-LEVINSON (WLL) is vice president, chief strategy & operations officer of Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., a consumer health research, information, and publishing company. He holds a Ph.D. in education and is a member of the board of directors of the Jewish Book Council.
ARIELLE LISTOKIN (AL) is a freelance writer and reviewer living in Jerusalem. PAULA LUBIN (PL) is a humanities teacher at the North Shore Hebrew Academy Middle School. She has written for a variety of publications, most recently the New York Healthcare Law Update. STEVEN A. LUEL (SAL), Ph.D., is associate professor of education and psychology at Touro College, New York. He is a developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice. He is co-editor (with Paul Marcus) of Psychoanalytic Reflections on the Holocaust: Selected Essays. CHRISTINE MAASDAM (CM) holds a Masters in Humanities, and certifications in Museum Studies and Cultural Property Protection. She is currently completing her M.L.I.S. Her interests are philosophy and the impact of art and technology on culture. MICHAL HOSCHANDER MALEN (MHM) is a librarian and editor of reference books. TERI MARKSON (TM) has been a children’s librarian for over 18 years. She is currently the acting senior librarian at the Valley Plaza Branch Library in North Hollywood, CA. PENNY METSCH (PGM), MLS, formerly a school librarian on Long Island and in New York City, now focuses on early literacy programs in Hoboken, NJ. MARK D. NANOS (MDN), Ph.D., is the author of Mystery of Romans, winner of the 1996 National Jewish Book Award, Charles H. Revson Award in Jewish-Christian Relations. ESTHER NUSSBAUM (EN), the head librarian of Ramaz Upper School for 30 years, is now education and special projects coordinator of the Halachic Organ Donor Society. A past editor of Jewish Book World, she continues to review for this and other publications. HARA E. PERSON (HEP) was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She is a writer and editor. KATHE PINCHUCK (KSP), MLIS, is the librarian of Congregation Beth Sholom in Teaneck, New Jersey. She is currently the chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee of the Association of Jewish Libraries. CAROL POLL (CP), Ph.D, is a professor of soci-
ology at the Fashion Institute of Technology of the State University of New York. Her areas of interest include the sociology of race and ethnic relations, the sociology of marriage, family and gender roles, and the sociology of American Jews. CARL J. RHEINS (CJR) is executive director emeritus of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. He received his Ph.D. in Modern European History from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and has taught courses on the Holocaust at several major universities. RACHEL SARA ROSENTHAL (RSR) is an environmental attorney in Washington, D.C. Originally from Greensboro, NC, she graduated from Duke University in 2003 and Columbia University School of Law in 2006. TOVA ROSS (TR) works in public relations and marketing. She graduated college with a degree in journalism and has been working as a freelance writer and editor for several years. She lives in New York with her husband, a professional musician, and their new baby. PETER L. ROTHHOLZ (PLR) headed his own Manhattan-based public relations agency and taught at the Business and Liberal Arts (BALA) program at Queens College. He lives in East Hampton, NY and Santa Barbara, CA and is a frequent contributor to Jewish publications. ARNOLD D. SAMLAN (ADS), MSW, is the director of Nassau/Queens Services of the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York. PHIL SANDICK (PS) is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the MFA creative writing program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has taught English and Writing at Philadelphia University and Harcum College. Originally from Fresh Meadows, New York, Phil currently lives in Irvine, CA. DAVID SAX (DS) is a freelance journalist originally from Toronto. He has contributed to Rolling Stone, GQ, American Way, and the Huffington Post. His first book, Save the Deli, was published in 2009. SYDELLE SHAMAH (SS) has been leading book club discussions for many years and is a published science fiction writer. She was president of the Ruth Hyman Jewish Community Center of Monmouth County, NJ.
Jewish Book World
CONTRIBUTORS RACHEL SIMON (RS), a librarian at Princeton University, does research on Jews in the modern Middle East and North Africa, with special reference to Libya, Ottoman Empire, women, and education. JANE WALLERSTEIN (JW) worked in public rela-
tions for many years. She is the author of Voices from the Paterson Silk Mills and coauthor of a national criminal justice study of parole for Rutgers University.
Museum of Natural History, was also an editorial director at HarperCollins and Book-ofthe-Month Club. She also leads editorial workshops.
MARON L. WAXMAN (MLW), retired editorial director, special projects, at the American
SAM RUTH WHITE (SRW) hosts Candlestick Reading Series in Brooklyn, NY.
For book club resources, please visit www.jewishbookcouncil.org. Be sure to check back often, as new resources are added monthly!
Jewish Book World
INDEX An index of all titles included in the Fall 2010 issue of Jewish Book World BR = Book Review CBR = Children’s Book Review BN = Books of Note
Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN 97 Orchard, Ziegelman, BR Aleph-Bet Israel, Armeland, CBR Almost Dead, Gavron, BR America’s Great Delis, Bellman, BR Arab Lobby, Bard, BN Ask, Lipsyte, BR Backing into Forward, Feiffer, BR Before We Eat, Jules, CBR Benno and the Night of Broken Glass, Wiviott, CBR Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea?, Kaplan, BN Blooms of Darkness, Appelfeld, BR Blue Has No South, Epstein, BR Boy Behind the Door, Batkin, CBR Byzantine Jewry in the Mediterranean Economy, Holo, BR Chosen Folks, Stone, BN Cosmopolitans, Rosenbaum, BR Counting the Omer, Kantrowitz, BN Crash Course in Jewish History, Spiro, BN Doubting The Devout, Rubel, BR Dove on a Barbed Wire, Steiner-Van Rooyen, BR Eight White Nights, Aciman, BR Emma’s Poem, Glaser, CBR
34 59 46 34 66 46 38 59 62 66 46 47 59 53 66 34 67 66 34 53 47 62
Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN
Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN
Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN
End of Everything, Bergelson, BR, Every House Needs A Balcony, Frank, BR Everything Is Possible, Abraham, BR Exiled in the Homeland, Divine, BR Facing Illness, Finding God, Meszler, BN Feivel’s Flying Horses, Hyde, CBR First Rain, Herman, CBR From the Four Winds, Sabato, BR Fromms, Aly, Sontheimer, BR Frozen Rabbi, Stern, BR Gidi, Evron, BR Great House, Krauss, BR Harry Houdini, Piehl, CBR Hillel, Telushkin, BR Historians of the Jews and the Holocaust, Engel, BR I Dream of an Elephant, Rubinger, CBR If We Could Hear Them Now, Lehrer, BR Invisible Me, Caton, CBR Irving Thalberg, Vieira, BR Is Diss A System?, Gross, BR Jewcentricity, Garfinkle, BR Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices, Dorff, Ruttenberg, BR Jewish Comedy Stars, Finkelstein, CBR Jewish Dimensions in Modern Visual Culture, Long, Baigell, Heyd, BR Jewish Feminists, Pinsky, BR Jewish Intermarriage Around the World, Reinharz, DellaPergola, BR Jewish Literatures and Cultures, Norich, Eliav, BN
Jewish Philadelphia, Nesvisky, BN 66 Jewish Property Claims Against Arab Countries, Fischbach, BR 56 Joha Makes a Wish, Kimmel, CBR 63 Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals, VanderMeer, BR 49 Legend of Cosmo & the Archangel, Kaufman, BR 49 Letters from the Lost, Wilkes, BR 54 Literary Bible, Rosenberg, BR 56 Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah, Kimmelman, CBR 62 Market Day, Sturm, BR 50 Memories of Eden, Shamash, Roca, BR 38 Monotheism and Tolerance, Erlewine, BN 67 Moses Montefiore, Green, BR 41 Nahmanides On Genesis, Levine, BN 66 No One Would Listen, Markopolos, BR 40 Once, Gleitzman, CBR 63 Open Secret, Wolfson, BR 43 Overexposed, Shapiro, BN 66 Postville U.S.A., Grey, Devlin, Goldsmith, BR 36 Prophet’s Wife, Steinberg, BR 51 Quest For Power, Slipp, BR 57 Qumran and Jerusalem, Schiffman, BR 57 Ray, Reflected, Elkins, CBR 64 Running Commentary, Balint, BR 45 Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight, Ochsner, BR 51 Sabbath World, Shulevitz, BR 45
Sarah/Sara, Paul, BR 51 Secrets of a Jewish Mother, Kamen, Wexler, Zarin, BN 66 Socrates and the Fat Rabbis, Boyarin, BN 67 Something Red, Gilmore, BR 51 Spiritual Boredom, Brown, BR 45 Tangled Up in Text, Cohn, BN 67 Ten Commandments, Hazony, BR 55 Thank You God for Everything, Gold, CBR 64 Three Weissmanns of Westport, Schine, BR 53 Tower of Babel, Gadot, CBR 64 Translation and Survival, Rajak, BR 57 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, Megargee, BR 52 Violent Acts and Urban Space in Contemporary Tel Aviv, Hatuka, BN 67 War of Atonement, Herzog, BR 55 Warsaw Ghetto Oyneg ShabesRingelblum Archive Catalogue and Guide, Shapiro, Epstein, BR 52 Whispers from the Camps, Kacer, McKay, CBR 64 Why Should I Care?, Friedman, CBR 64 Wisdom of the Heart, Wiskind-Elper, BR 57 Wisenheimer, Oppenheimer, BR 40 Yad Vashem Encyclopedia of the Ghettos During the Holocaust, Miren, BR 52 Yiddish Literature In America, Goldsmith, BR 38
47 50 38 54 66 62 59 50 53 47 40 49 61 42 54 63 49 63 41 36 43 44 61 55 58 44 66
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