Vol. 26, Number 4
6 Israel at Sixty 6 Jerusalem Chronicler: Part 2 Linda Zisquit
8 Birthright Israel 2008 11 Reviews of Current Titles 12 New Israel Guides 13 Emerging Voices: Danit Brown Michal Malen
14 I’m a Believer
Disaster Spiritual Care: Practical Clergy Responses to Community, Regional and National Tragedy
35 MODERN JEWISH THOUGHT AND PRACTICE 35 For the Love of God and People: A Philosophy of Jewish Law
Stephen B. Roberts and Willard W.C. Ashley Sr., eds. Reviewed by Arnold D. Samlan
27 Hope, Not Fear: A Path to Jewish Renaissance
Elliot N. Dorff Reviewed by Wallace Greene
36 POETRY 36 Flowers of Perhaps Ra’hel; Robert Friend with Shimon Sandbank, trans. Reviewed by Debbie Schoeneman
Edgar M. Bronfman with Beth Zasloff Reviewed by Paul Flexner
26 On Trying to Be Funny in a Room by Myself Alan Zweibel
53 In Memoriam: Ted Solotaroff Ehud Havazelet
28 COOKBOOKS 28 The Jewish Princess Cookbook Tracey Fine and Georgie Tarn Reviewed by Lauren Eisner
REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS 16 AMERICAN JEWISH STUDIES 16 In the Country of Brooklyn: Inspiration to the World Peter Golenbock Reviewed by Noel N. Kriftcher
17 BIOGRAPHY, AUTOBIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR 20 The Dream: A Memoir Harry Bernstein Reviewed by Ellika K. Frkyman
21 My Jesus Year Benyamin Cohen Reviewed by Ethan Zimman
Ronnie Fein Reviewed by Lauren Skiba
29 FICTION 30 Moscow Rules
Mietek Pemper; David Dollenmayer, trans. Reviewed by Jeffrey Kobrin
The Song of the Distant Dove: Judah HaLevi’s Pilgrimage Raymond P. Scheindlin Reviewed by Pinchas Roth
24 CONTEMPORARY JEWISH LIFE 24 Clothing Optional: And Other Ways to Read These Stories Alan Zweibel Reviewed by Margaret Teich
Benjamin Nathans and Gabriella Safran, eds. Reviewed by Joseph A. Kanofsky
The Pathseeker Imre Kertesz; Tim Wilkinson, trans. Reviewed by Penny Metsch
The Last Jews of Kerala Edna Fernandes Reviewed by Yehuda Kranzler
39 The Revolution of 1905 and Russia’s Jews 31 Tales of the Ten Lost Tribes Tamar Yellin Reviewed by Miriam Bradman Abrahams
32 HISTORY 32 The Bitter Road to Freedom: A New History of the Liberation of Europe
34 JEWISH HUMOR 34 Laugh For God’s Sake: Where Jewish Humor and Jewish Ethics Meet Stanley J. Schachter Reviewed by Jeffrey Kobrin
34 LITERARY STUDIES 34 The Literary Community: Selected Essays: 1967-2007 Ted Solotaroff; Russell Banks, intro. Reviewed by Alan Cooper
35 Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands Michael Chabon Reviewed by Henry L. Carrigan
38 WORLD JEWRY 38 Culture Front: Representing Jews in Eastern Europe
Daniel Silva Reviewed by Miriam Bradman Abrahams
Reviewed by Barbara Bibel
22 The Road To Rescue: The Untold Story of Schindler’s List
Norman L. Kleeblatt, ed. Reviewed by Esther Nussbaum
28 Hip Kosher
Yiddish In America: Essays On Yiddish Culture In The Golden Land Edward S. Shapiro, ed. Reviewed by Shimon Gewirtz
37 SCHOLARSHIP 37 VISUAL ARTS 37 Action/Abstraction: Pollack, De Kooning, And American Art, 1950-1976
Stefani Hoffman and Ezra Mendelsohn, eds. Reviewed by Jane Wallerstein
39 WORLD WAR II 39 Why We Watched: How Anti-Semitism in the Allied Nations Allowed Hitler to Exterminate European Jewry Theodore S. Hamerow Reviewed by Micah D. Halpern
DEPARTMENTS 2 Editor’s Note 4 Forgotten Files 5 Book Group Forum 5 JBW Book Club Recommendations 16 Reviews 33 New Titles from Jewish Encounters 40 Children’s 45 Column: Jewish Books for Children 47 Books of Note 51 Now in Paperback 54 Contributors 57 Index 58 2008 Index
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ed Solotaroff died on August 8 at the age of 80. Ted was a major figure in American letters, particularly the mid-century renaissance of Jewish fiction. As a renowned editor he helped shape the works of Philip Roth, Sue Miller, Max Apple, and Bobbie Ann Mason, and many others. As an essayist and diarist, he was the author of a number of books and collections, including the first two volumes of his memoirs, Truth Comes in Blows and First Loves, unsparing reminiscences of his complicated childhood in Elizabeth, New Jersey and the first of his four marriages. As a publisher, Ted founded the New American Review, an influential and widely read, although financially challenged, periodical that introduced a post war generation to Roth, Kazin, Doctorow, and Ginsberg. But Ted’s many literary accomplishments pale in my memory in comparison to his greatest strength. Ted was a friend to the literary community, to its authors, editors, and readers. And Ted was my friend. I first met Ted in 1972, and in the years that passed Ted was a part of every stage of my career. He counseled me, he made calls on my behalf, he recommended me for various positions and he listened to me. Indeed, it was Ted who suggested the shidduch with Jewish Book World when the previous editor decided to step down. As a small tribute to Ted, this issue of Jewish Book World contains a memoriam by Ehud Havazelet, a remembrance of Ted by his niece, Joanna Solotaroff, and a review by Alan Cooper of Ted’s last published work, The Literary Community: Selected Essays 1967–2007. Ehud’s thoughts reflect what many of us came to admire most about Ted—his straightforwardness, his accessibility, his concern, and his friendship. Joanna’s homage is particularly touching because she recounts how Ted influenced her through his writing. A thoroughly secular Jew born and raised in Minneapolis, Joanna happened upon Truth Comes in Blows in her parents’ library. Reconnecting to her family history of Odessa and Palestine,
of scholars and midwives, of struggle and survival, Joanna planned a life changing first trip to Israel and toward Judaism. Joanna never had the chance to share this trip with Ted; he died two days before she left. But he would have taken great pride in his ability to have so moved a reader. The Literary Community: Selected Essays 1967–2007 is a collection of Ted’s critical essays reflecting, as reviewer Alan Cooper tells us, Ted’s “own journey from anxious graduate student to trustworthy critic and guide through the literary world of the last half century.” In this collection, Ted examines the books of the most influential literary authors of the time, deconstructing their works in time and place. His essays also offer insight into the challenges of writing, the dialectic between thought and action, and the realities of surviving as a thinker and wordsmith in, as Alan says, “the hard world of publishing.” As Russell Banks, who calls Ted “the most influential editor of his time” says in his introduction to The Literary Community, “These essays provide an insight into the genius of the editor. They reflect wise judgment and tough-minded individuality, enormously approachable prose weathered by the years and wide reading into a delightfully measured tone, a warm literary intelligence, a distinct authority you can immediately trust.” Jewish Book World is indebted to Ted Solotaroff because it is men and women like Ted who helped create our readership. One can only appreciate writers if there is exposure to these writers. And then , like now, writers who write for their art and not the mass market must search for their audience. New American Review in the 1960’s and 70’s provided their venue. Ted throughout his life was their champion. In that tradition, Jewish Book World reviews those books of Jewish interest which , as Elie Wiesel once noted to me, “have no other place to be reviewed but deserve to be reviewed.” Thank you Ted. I will miss you.
Jewish Book World is published four times a year by the Jewish Book Council, 520 8th Avenue, 4th floor, New York, NY 10018, (212) 201-2920; www.jewishbookcouncil.org; email: email@example.com. JBC 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 Jewish Book 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 and other programs and activities. Subscriptions to Jewish Book World are available from the Council at $36.00 annually or $12.50 an issue. An advertising rate schedule is also available on request.
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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 Geri Gindea Miri R. Pomerantz Joyce Lit Libi Adler
President Vice-President Vice-President Secretary Honorary Chairman of the Board Director Director, Sami Rohr Prize 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 Rae Gurewitsch Miriam Holmes Altie Karper Francine Klagsbrun Warren Kozak
Myra Kraft Carmel R. Krauss Ruth Legow Dan Levine William Liss-Levinson Stuart Matlins Debby Miller Marcia W. Posner Julie Potiker Steven Siegel 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
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Jewish Fiction Writers’ Conference AT THE 92ND STREET Y IN NEW YORK CITY
If you write adult fiction for the Jewish market, this conference is for you! Meet with top professionals from the publishing world. Whether you are a new
Let’s Talk: Publicity Beyond Your Bubby’s Friends Shira Dicker (Shira Dicker Media International) and Cary Goldstein (Warner Twelve)
Publishing Your Jewish Short Stories Erika Dreifus (The Practicing Writer)
Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match
author or have already been published, this is your opportunity to network with the experts who can help you get your work
David Forrer (Inkwell Management)
Today I Am An Author: The First Steps into Literary Adulthood Jeffrey Hantover, Liel Leibovitz and Darin Strauss
Yes, It’s the Best Book I’ve Read Since the Bible, But...
Lara Heimert (Basic Books) and Altie Karper (Schocken Books/Random House)
Sunday, March 15, 2009 9 AM–5 PM
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at the 92nd Street Y
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in print. She was multiply translated, reissued in paperback (inept metaphors and sobbing clichés intact). Hurst endowed chairs at two major colleges. Hurst was an outstanding feminist. She served on New Deal boards—housing, labor, racial equality, workmen’s compensation—subsequently was active in visiting imprisoned women and aiding World War II Jewish refugees.
Foremothers of Jewish Feminism By Arlene B. Soifer
annie Hurst and Betty Friedan, two groundbreaking Jewish women writers, both icons in their day but distinctly different. Hurst’s lifelong successful literary career gave her the means and a platform for later activism. Friedan was more of an accidental writer of books, a feminist/activist first who burst on the book scene with her enormously influential best seller The Feminine Mystique.
Fannie Hurst—1889–1968 Child of 1860 immigrants to Ohio, Hurst began to write in high school, came to NYC after college, entered into a “renewable” marriage, and wrote. By age 35, she was one of the highest-paid writers in the U.S. Scorned by F. Scott Fitzgerald for writing that “would-
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n’t last,” Hurst’s best-sellers were Back Street (1930) filmed three times, and Imitation of Life (1933), filmed twice. Back Street, her prophecy for women who wandered, was a shtetl story; similarly, 30 other stories and novels—25 still
With The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan laid the groundwork for mid-century feminism. A Midwesterner, strongly academic and activist, she elided into writing and lecturing following the publication of Mystique in 1963. Using her experience as housewife/mother of three, Friedan forged a questionnaire for her Smith College alumni (then all-female) uncovering restless discontent. Her book shook and altered American discourse. Friedan founded NOW, National Organization of Women, and NARAL, National Association for Repeal of Abortion Laws. Friedan’s appearances attracted both frenetic joy and furious rancor; she became a Jewish personality. In retrospect, each had a literary predecessor—Edith Wharton and Simone de Beauvoir. Friedan targeted middle-class whites more than Hurst. Hurst may have been left of center; whispering and more of the Communist affiliated have followed Friedan. But...what opinions would each voice about the 2008 election—both its run-up and conclusion? Arlene B. Soifer earned degrees in English, and has had many years of experience as a freelance writer, editor, and public relations professional.
Editor's Note: Please let us know which Jewish-interest books have worked out particularly well for your reading group
Book Club Recommendations 179-188). Do you ever feel a similar tension? How do you navigate it? What gets lost and what gets gained during this balancing act? Non-Fiction
SURPRISED BY GOD: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE RELIGION Danya Ruttenberg Beacon Press, 2008. $24.95
1. What does it mean to be “Surprised by God”? What do you think it means for Ruttenberg, and what does it mean for you? Did the book change how you think about God at all, did it reinforce what you already believed, or something else entirely? 2. Ruttenberg is drawn to certain kinds of “alternative” subcultures, whether the punk rock scene in Chicago or the wildness of downtown San Francisco in the late 90’s. How, if at all, do you think this relates to the kind of religious journey she took? Is she drawn to Judaism for similar reasons, or entirely different ones? 3. In several places in the book, Ruttenberg talks about the tension between her Jewish life and the “rest” of her life (pp. 85-111, 141-148,
4. Ruttenberg concludes that mystical experiences are not enough, and that her spirituality and relationship to the Divine need an ongoing ritual practice to sustain them. Do you agree with her conclusions? Does the kind of discipline she’s taken on seem cumbersome? Attractive? What roles do Jewish ritual serve in your life (e.g. Spirituality? Connection to Jewish history and/or culture? Feeling of belonging to a people? Way to mark cycles of the week, of the year and/or lifecycle moments?). 5. In pp 74-76, 102-107 and 115-118, Ruttenberg talks about the way that American culture impacts the way that people today engage religious disciplines, and not always in a helpful way. Do you agree with her claims that consumerism and even individualism might be limiting factors for a spiritual aspirant?
For additional book club resources, please visit www.jewishbookcouncil.org. Be sure to check back often, as new resources are added monthly!
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Connecting to Israel Through JERUSALEM CHRONICLER: Excerpts from an interview with Israeli Poet Rivka Miriam By Linda Zisquit
t was at a party for translators my first week in Israel in 1978 that I met the poet and translator Gabriel Levin who suggested I meet Rivka Miriam, a young Israeli poet. My Hebrew at the time was virtually nonexistent. Shortly afterwards I started translating Rivka Miriam’s poems. I learned Hebrew through her poetry; we became friends as a result of it. The poems that first attracted me were those addressing or reinventing Biblical figures. In her work Rivka Miriam speaks through Rachel, Leah, and Isaac with playful familiarity. She has described her function as one of carrying the ancient and modern figures of Jewish history inside her. Rivka Miriam was born in Jerusalem in 1952 to European Holocaust survivors who had immigrated to Israel in 1950. While her parents and one aunt survived the war in hiding, all the other members of their family died in the war. Rivka Miriam’s pen name consists of her first name, Rivka, given to her in memory of her father’s mother, and her middle name, Miriam, given to her in memo-
Logo courtesy of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
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BW’s celebration of Israel ’s 60th birthday continues with Linda Zisquit’s conversation with
fellow Jerusalem poet Rivka Miriam; reviews of David Grossman’s new book on his beloved,
flawed country, and of Rachel Papo’s book of stunning photos of female Israeli soldiers.
ry of her father’s little sister, both of whom died in the Treblinka concentration camp. Her parents talked openly about their experiences in Europe and about their relatives who had perished. Their legendary Jerusalem home, constantly filled with guests, became a meeting place for many writers, intellectuals, artists, musicians, and students. Rivka describes her father, the Yiddish writer Leib Rochman, as “a charismatic man, a popular ‘rebbe’ who felt that he lived at a great time in Jewish history,” and attributes her own close connection with the figures of Jewish history to the fact that her parents talked about them as though they were still alive. Considered a yeled-peleh (child prodigy), Rivka Miriam published her first collection of poetry when she was fourteen. Her paintings were shown in a solo exhibit at the Tel Aviv Museum when she was sixteen. Since that time she has published twelve collections of poetry, several children’s books, two volumes of short stories, and won numerous literary awards. She has twice been the recipient of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Award. Immersed in Jewish tradition, Jewish lore, and mystical texts, Rivka Miriam connects two worlds—the Heavenly and the Earthly— bringing the Heavenly down to an “empty room empty room.” The unconscious out of which her poetry unfolds is saturated with the Kabbalist tradition. While extremely wellread, and coming from a literary family, she presents a naiveté, an innocent, almost childlike connection to the Jewish sources. Over the past year I’ve conducted a series of interviews with Rivka Miriam, in anticipation of my forthcoming book of translations These Mountains: Selected Poems of Rivka Miriam, to be published by Toby Press. We discussed her “mythological childhood,” her parents’ survival of the Holocaust and their
sense of wonder in coming to Israel, her study of Torah and Kabbalah, Israeli culture, Zionism, the hitnatkut [disengagement], the second Lebanon War, her enormous fears and her profound connection to the land. Following are excerpts from those conversations. Linda Zisquit September 2008
LZ: Is there a connection between your politics and your poetry? R: The poems don’t connect to that, not that I know ofLZ: Do you use poetry to try to change things? R: I never use poetry. Sometimes what I write is optimistic, sometimes not...of course I have political thoughts. I started writing articles for the paper. In Mekor Rishon I wrote several articles on disengagement. That was a time that killed me inside. Most of my friends aren’t in the same place politically that I am. I don’t think I’ve recovered from that time. I was sick. Then there was the war...Yaali [her son] was in it, David’s [Grossman] son was killed... LZ: Do you have hope for change? R: Not now, not in the near future. I hope it will pass but I’m afraid I feel fear about everything. LZ: Do these things enter your work? R: Yes in some way, but not directly. In some place it connects to my work... What does appear in my poems is that I gave birth to Avigail. The pregnancy and birth appear directly and also my mother’s loss of memory. LZ: What about the Shoah [Holocaust]? We’ve spoken about that a lot.
R: Clearly without the consciousness of the Holocaust I wouldn’t be who I am...I wouldn’t be whole...I feel that I was born inside the tohu v’vohu (chaos) of the Shoah, also that I was born before that, but I was destroyed in it. And everything in my life today I refer to the awful absurdity and the pain and the madness. As though suddenly everything you know you lose, everything that you felt was familiar you lose, everything, so that you can trust nothing to stay with you.
LZ: You once said that you love, but still don’t understand Hebrew R: Yes Hebrew, I feel...is the pattern of my existence, as though everything is found inside the language. I feel that the shape of my existence is in the language, it’s like my DNA...each Hebrew letter has its specific strength...in Kaballah, the letters in Hebrew create the world... LZ: What did you mean when you said you don’t understand Hebrew? R: It’s an endless research to enter into the Hebrew language...Studying Torah you suddenly see a word and it means not that but its opposite, you suddenly realize there are all sorts of codes, all you know you don’t know, you’re next to a word you’ve heard a thousand times and suddenly ‘oy!’ essentially in that word is a specific meaning you didn’t realize, couldn’t have imaginedLZ: The fact that you write in Hebrew, is that a privilege? R: Yes of course. LZ: What about Yiddish, were you embarrassed that you and your parents spoke it?
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R: No, I love it to this day. Today I have hardly anyone to speak Yiddish with. With my mother I can hardly speak, she’s not in good shape, but with her I speak Yiddish. LZ: Did you learn Polish? R: No. They didn’t want a connection—they spoke it only with people who came to visit. They didn’t want a connection with Poland. LZ: And the Shoah—was it clear to you from the start, not a secret that you had to discover, not something you had to wait till your father’s death to know? R: No, the opposite. From the time I was born—a friend of ours told me—he too as a boy lost his family—he’d come to us to visit, I was a year old, and my father held me in his arms and threw me up and down and I laughed and laughed and laughed. Each time he threw me up he’d yell in Yiddish “Rivkela Rivkela where’s Savta?” “Killed.” “Rivkela Rivkela where’s Miriam?” “Killed.” “Rivkela Rivkele where’s Chaim?” “Killed.” He’d say all the names and I’d laugh and laugh, I was a year old, I feel I absorbed it from the start. It wasn’t a world in which you couldn’t talk about these things, it was the world, it was my swing “where’s grandma” “where’s Chaim” like a lullaby-
LZ: You’ve received a lot of recognition, prizes for your workR: Well, some, twice the Prime Minister’s Prize which is good and others smaller but it doesn’t matter. I feel my poems have a direction that’s not conventional...that for some people there’s difficulty with my language. There are a few things, first of all something religious, let’s say, and on the other hand there’s something still harder, something national. That’s more difficult, even people looking for something religious have a hard time with the nationalistic...look for example at the “new age,” it’s a renaissance for the world of spirituality but there’s no space at all for nationalism within spirituality. LZ: Many Israeli poets today respond to Israel and the land with ironyR: Yes, the modern poets—before, there were many like me, Alterman, Shlonsky, a whole generation before Natan Zach everyone was like that. Now all the Israelis...are living more in the universal intellect. I don’t live there, my inner secret—there’s a midrash I love—in Torah it says each day of the week God created three things, first the spirit of the
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thing then the body. On the first day God said let there be light and dark and tehom [the void], I don’t remember which exactly, and so on till Friday when he was supposed to create six things, three for Friday and three for Shabbat. On Friday he made the spirit but before he finished and made the body, Shabbat came and he had to stop...so there was the abstract but not yet the body to connect with it. These are the things called mezikim, demons, things that harm, these he didn’t finish making and they remained abstract. They go around the world looking for body. The spirit was ready but not the body. It means that a thing that’s just spiritual is harmful...The demons have spirit but no body...to be a person in the Jewish way is to have a spirit and a body...and so with Israel, you have earth, place...It’s not just an abstract idea. Eretz Israel [the Land of Israel] is also Am Yisrael [the people of Israel]. The Jewish People is an idea but the idea is embodied in the land of Israel... The spirit can’t move around without its body, the land... LZ: So now we have a book that will come out in English. How does that feel? R: Like you said about A.B. Yehoshua [who said he cares only about what his readers here in Israel think of his work], I’m happy and I love you and all these years we’ve worked togetherthat does me good and something comes out of all our work like a baby, but the true place of my creativity is here in Israel. There’s also a sense I won’t be understood in English. Something in the music is lost...there’s something in the Hebrew language about the place the landscape the mountains... LZ: Do you feel this place is heavy? A burden? R: No I feel the place only gives me strength. The place...it’s like an atom that has the strength to explode something but on the other hand it also is the strength for life. The same that can destroy it all contains all the energy in the world...Judaism, Israel, Hebrew, the whole complex... LZ: Do you feel connection to any Zionists in history? R: Of course. Many. There’s A.D. Gordon, most known for what he called the “religion of work,” the idea that through work one can reach a spiritual place...but what he said is so much deeper, more complex, relating to God and texts...it’s connected to Kabbalah, the world of creation, it’s Zionist, Jewish. He was a talmid hacham [a learned Jew]. At age forty-eight he came from Europe during the Second Aliya. He
had a very religious anti-Zionist son who stayed in Europe. Here they called him the “old man,” he was like a father to everyone, including Rachel the poet and Brenner. He was revolutionary in contrast to those Jews who stayed in Europe—he succeeded to do very hard physical work here, and he influenced many...There were generations of such people...who came here where the reality and the dream and the mysticism and realism were the same thing, each in his or her own language...in this way I’m
Taglit-Birthright Israel Program
Ed. Note: Accompanying the American participants were ten Israelis, including members of the IDF-spokespersons unit and journalists at some of the top papers in Israel.
he Jewish Book Council co-sponsors, with Hillel, a Taglit-Birthright Israel program designed to enhance the field of Jewish literature for the next generation. This free ten-day Taglit-Birthright Israel trip is provided for Jewish young adults ages 18 to 26 with an interest in Jewish literature and journalism who have never been to Israel on a peer trip. This trip gives participants the opportunity to see Israel though the eyes of the most successful authors and journalists. Those on the 2008 summer trip met with a variety of journalists and authors, including NBC’s Tel Aviv Bureau Chief Martin Fletcher, Indian Israeli author Sophie Judah, and a Sami Rohr Prize Honorable Mention, Haim Watzman. Three of the 2008 Summer participants share some of their thoughts with Jewish Book World.
Brian Samuels I grew up in a New Jersey suburb as a practicing Jew who frequented services, had a bar mitzvah, and sang in the synagogue’s youth choir. My family kept kosher, lit candles, and said the blessings every Friday. We switched the dishes out with new ones during Passover and every Sukkot I helped my father build the sukkah in our backyard. It was a difficult thing for me when I realized, around the time I turned sixteen, that I didn’t really feel a connection to the religious aspects of Judaism.
not a cultural Zionist...I’m an existential Zionist...No not existential...It’s my very existence... LZ: So you’re part of that Zionist tradition, together with your father... R: Yes, once there were many people like that. For example Jews who came to Israel— a large part of them knew and studied Judaism since childhood. They had the language, even if they didn’t speak Hebrew at home they had it inside them, and like my Given my religious beliefs (or lack thereof ), I never actively pursued the opportunity of going to Israel. But my fiancé told me over and over again what a great experience it was to travel on Taglit and he wasn’t religious. So, I thought, why not? I talked to my cousin, who was interested in going as well, and we decided to apply together. I could talk about the things that everyone seems to talk about when they come back from Israel: the heights of Masada, the painful camel rides, or floating in the Dead Sea. These things are certainly remarkable and I in no way want to undermine their significance. But what I was really struck by was how wonderful and welcoming the people were. Israelis are a special breed. There is a very communal sense surrounding them. I learned this very quickly when one of the Israeli soldiers who was traveling with us came up to me on the second day and began to chug my water bottle. At the time, I was astonished. How could someone, without even asking, just drink all of my water? But I soon realized that if I did the same to them, they wouldn’t blink an eye. What’s yours is mine and
father, each place they went, they knew the landscape, they went to Safed and they knew about the mountains; they went to the Galil and recognized every village from the Gemarrah, the Zohar...Now a person is either religious or secular...and for a lot of religious people today there’s a big discussion—it’s Judaism instead of Zionism...little by little now, a religious person writes only religious songs from the sources and someone secular writes secular songs...but it’s not that rich mine is yours. I never felt guilty about asking someone a question or for a favor and I was always there to help them in return. It was a very humbling experience, especially coming from a country where people barely look at each other on their train ride to work. This is seen in all facets of Israeli culture. For example, every store clerk we met spoke English. Where in another country, you might be looked at with distain for not speaking their language, Israelis are completely happy to converse with you, even if it isn’t convenient. Now, I want to learn Hebrew, so that people will feel just as comfortable when they visit America. Most touching, however, is what I learned from our trip to Mt Herzl, the military cemetery in Jerusalem. While walking through, our tour guide pointed out something that really stuck with me: everyone who serves in the military gets the same type of burial. You don’t see huge gravestones towering over the ones surrounding them. No matter what the rank, everyone is considered an equal and is appreciated for his or her contribution. I didn’t come back from Israel with a newfound belief in God. And I didn’t come back wanting to go to services and start reading the Torah. I did, however, come back with a strong connection to the people of Israel and, for me, that’s something profound. Brian Samuels is an Associate Producer at Northern Light Productions. After graduating from Emerson College, Brian worked for Magnolia Pictures, a New York-based distribution company, and Finish Editorial in Boston. Along with his passion for film, he is also a self-proclaimed “foodie” who enjoys experimenting with vegetarian cuisine.
mixture, not what we wanted to return to in the land, it’s either/or... Linda Zisquit has published three full-length collections of poetry, most recently The Face in the Window (Sheep Meadow, 2004), as well as translations from Hebrew poetry. Born in Buffalo, NY, she has lived in Jerusalem since 1978; she is Poetry Coordinator for the Shaindy Rudoff Creative Writing Program at Bar Ilan University, and runs ARTSPACE, an art gallery in Jerusalem representing contemporary Israeli artists.
Oded Mizrachi Sho-far so good!: Some Birthright reflections Friday evening, Kabbalat Shabbat in Ein Gedi. My Israeli friends and I join our Birthright friends from the States for services before dinner. It’s my third Birthright trip, and still, this service brings me to the same question—how is it that I, a Jew living in Israel, do not know almost any of the words or tunes of this Friday night service, while all of the Americans, most of them visiting Israel for the first time, know half the prayers by heart? What does it say about me as a Jew? As an Israeli? Should I be as embarrassed as I am right now? In the following days, after many conversations with my new American friends, I think I found an answer. I noticed that whenever I leave Israel for more than a few days, a strange thing happens to me; first—I become an ambassador and defender of Israel in political discussions, and second— it’s suddenly very important to me to somehow mark Friday evening by lighting candles, or celebrating Passover with its traditional food. I realize now, that when I live my everyday life here in Israel, even though I live it as a completely secular person, my Jewishness is not a big deal to anyone, it’s as obvious as the fact that I speak Hebrew and that everyone celebrates Rosh Hashanah. In Israel—I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. But when I go abroad, all of a sudden I’m different from the people around me, my tradition is different, and so is my language. I think that this distance from my homeland and all of its characteristics is causing me to re-appreciate the atmosphere of Friday evening in Israel, or the warm feeling of Passover eve with the family and all of the other Israelis stuck in traffic on their way to the Seder. All of that led me to the thought that maybe, somewhere deep inside, every Jew living abroad carries this feeling that even if New York or Arizona is their physical home, they are still “spiritually abroad,” and there-
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fore they feel the same need to practice some of the Jewish traditions as I do whenever I’m away—that’s why they feel the need to know the Shabbat songs. Some of the Americans asked me if I think less of them because even though they are Jewish, they have no intention of making Aliya. My answer: Absolutely not. Why? Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my country and it makes me even more proud when someone is willing to leave the place where he/she grew up and come live here. But on the other hand, Israel is still a young country with many enemies; furthermore, as a PR person I know that Israel is not very good at PR. That is why we need as much help as we can get from our Jewish communities around the world. Birthright gives you a chance to connect to your Jewish tradition, but it also gives you tools and knowledge that allow you to help us from there in times of distress, and for me, that is as good as moving here. The deep connection that each of us felt although we never knew each other before is unique. And if you ask me, a secular Israeli, what makes you feel Jewish—it’s that bond. I’m looking forward to my next Birthright! Oded Mizrachi, 28, lives in Ramat Gan. He is the head of A Koltura PR, a Tel Aviv company, specializing in public relations for the arts.
Joanna Solotaroff Uncle Ted died two days before I left for Israel. I was planning on getting to New York early and visiting him while I was there, but I was too late. Our family had known he was ill. I had written him a letter about how much his work had impacted me and planned to read it to him when I saw him. It was a great letter, but he never got to hear it. If it were not for Ted I would not have gone to Israel, I would not have developed the overwhelming desire to learn
more about our family, about who we were and where we came from. I am what some might call a “bad Jew.” I went to Catholic school, celebrated a secular Christmas, and I still cringe when I think about the time when I was eight and screaming at my parents “Why aren’t I baptized like all of the other kids?” In fact, I had never even set foot in a synagogue until I went to Alexander Adams’ bar mitzvah where the rabbi compared him to Tim McVeigh, but that’s a whole other story. I do remember that it wasn’t easy being the only Jew in school. The thing that made it harder was not knowing what it meant to be Jewish, but understanding that in some way, I was different from those around me. I never really addressed it though and went through high school and college with only a vague notion of what it meant to be Jewish, much of it having to do with Woody Allen movies and a sense of what it meant to be neurotic. One day I was at my parents’ house digging through their bookshelves, looking for something to read, when I saw Truth Comes in Blows: A Memoir, written by Uncle Ted. It describes the very painful childhood that Uncle Ted, my father, and their sister, Sandy, had to endure due to a very abusive father. I had always felt trepidation about exploring that side of our family, about knowing what really happened. For some reason, this day was the day I decided to start reading it. It changed everything for me. Amidst all the bad that happens in the book, and there is a lot of it, there is also a beautiful narrative about our family history that gave me a profound sense of pride. I learned that our family is originally from a town outside of Odessa and had to flee their homeland when Jews were being persecuted during the pogroms. They escaped to Palestine where they were told that they would find refuge and prosperity working in a vineyard. Instead they found a diseaseridden settlement. Half of the settlers there died of malaria but somehow our family was able to make it to the United States where they immigrated through Ellis Island in 1906. The book
describes who these people were, my great grandfather, a Jewish scholar, my great grandmother, a midwife. I wanted to learn more. I felt an enormous desire to further connect to this family history, to my Jewish heritage. So I signed up to go to Israel. I was unsure about what to expect from the trip and I tried to go into it with an open mind. What I found was a country that overwhelmed me with its complexity and its beauty. When you walk around the historic sites you can feel a sort of rumbling of all the things that came before and I had to keep reminding myself that my family was also a part of this history. The second day we were there we were brought to Atlit, a British internment camp for Jews who had tried to immigrate to Israel. We were shown a presentation of what their voyage was like, hundreds of people crowded onto small boats, with terrible and dangerous living conditions. It made me realize that my family’s voyage, although it took place earlier in history, had probably been similar. They had risked everything to survive—a fact that moves me very deeply. We learned about Jewish faith and traditions and about Jewish narratives from all over the world. It was the first time I got a sense of being part of a Jewish community. My companions on the trip were incredible people whom I could identify and engage with. I saw the places that my family had seen and the places that millions had seen before then. It was overwhelming. On one of the last days of the trip we went to Jerusalem and visited the Western Wall. It was there that I prayed for the first time in years. I prayed for those whom I had lost recently. I had brought my letter to Ted and left in the wall where it belonged. Joanna Solotaroff was born and raised in Minneapolis and graduated from the University of Minnesota. She works as a community organizer in South Minneapolis.
1948: THE FIRST ARAB-ISRAELI WAR Benny Morris Yale University Press, 2008. 544 pp. $32.50 ISBN: 978-0300126969
ll of Benny Morris’ books have made significant contributions to our understanding of the Middle East. This book is his best yet. 1948 is brilliantly conceived, brilliantly written, brilliantly expressive. Morris writes an exciting narrative. On the one hand he explains the events of the 1948 war that created Israel. On the other hand he debunks and demystifies some of the greatest myths of the 1948 war. He explains and puts into context without diminishing the magnitude and the impact of 1948. For instance, Morris points out that in 1948, at the time immediately leading up to the War, there were only 650,000 Jews in Palestine to fight 40 million Arabs. And then he explains that while small in number other factors were on the side of these Jewish fighters. They had well led chains of command, they had the home court advantage, and they were driven by the need for victory. Losing the 1949 War was tantamount to death. The reality is that by winning the first Arab-Israeli war Israel transformed the entire Arab world. And as Morris observes, “The war was a humiliation from which that world has yet to recover.” MDH
PENS AND SWORDS: HOW THE AMERICAN MAINSTREAM MEDIA REPORT THE ISRAELIPALESTINIAN CONFLICT Marda Dunsky Columbia University Press, 2008. 444 pp. $27.50 ISBN: 978-20231-13359-4
arda Dunsky, a journalist and a scholar, deconstructs the work of more than two dozen media outlets, both print
Serial No. 3817131 by Rachel Papo, published by Powerhouse Books and broadcast, that have disseminated news about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and spread the story around the world, influencing public opinion and creating a view she considers biased. Those who have reported on the conflict, she feels, have failed to discuss the effect of U.S. policy on the conflict itself, and, in her view, policymakers in Washington set the premises and the news media simply follow along. She believes the media have an implicit obligation to challenge these assumptions, and that they routinely fail to do so. The result is a significant pro-Israel bias in American media reports about the dispute, and a perpetuation of the stereotypes that continue to shape and define the issue. Dunsky has extensive experience covering the Middle East as an Arab affairs reporter for the Jerusalem Post, and her writing is perceptive and her arguments insightful, though one could dispute the empirical evidence on which she builds her case. The work covers the period from the unsuccessful Camp David summit in 2000 through the 2004 Palestinian uprising. Index, notes. LFB
SERIAL NO. 3817131 Rachel Papo; Charles H. Traub, fwd. Powerhouse Books, 2008. 127 pp. $39.95 ISBN: 978-1-57687-431-8
mages convey a world of meaning in this photographic essay by Rachel Papo. The photographs are all of young Israeli women during their weeks of basic training after having been drafted into the IDF. Some have just left home for the first time. All are confronting issues of life, death, morality, national existence, and personal identity. Fear is shown here, but so is resolution and strength. Mainly, we see ever-present and inescapable boredom, frustration, boredom, doubt, boredom, grubbiness, and more boredom. In spite of all the boredom, these pictures are anything but boring. The faces and postures of these young soldiers as well as their surroundings speak eloquently and their conflicting emotions come through
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Papo leaves us at the end of the book with several paragraphs in which she shares her emotions and recollections about her own days as a young recruit. Reading her words, then returning to the photographs, it becomes clear that these powerful and personal images could have been taken only by one who has been there herself. Taken all together, this book is a piece of art which provokes thought, discussion, and gentle but firm searching of the soul. MHM
Serial No. 3817131 by Rachel Papo, published by Powerhouse Books
WRITING IN THE DARK: ESSAYS ON LITERATURE AND POLITICS David Grossman; Jessica Cohen, trans. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008. 144 pp. $18.00 ISBN: 978-0-374-28110-6
loud and clear. Some of the photographs are accompanied by a line or two of text written by the subjects themselves. The comments enhance the photographs and help to capture the moment. The contradictions are telling; these women are young but world-weary,
naïve but worldly, determined to get through this but exhausted by the process, together in a large group but each one alone. The camera shows us daughters, friends, lovers; they are heart-wrenchingly human and each, in her way, oh-so-beautiful.
Two of the newest guides on Israel Please note that all blurbs have been taken from information provided by the publisher.
HIKING IN ISRAEL: 36 OF ISRAEL’S BEST HIKING ROUTES Ya’akov Shkolnik, Yadin Roman, Eretz Hatzvi Magazine, eds. Toby Press, 2008. $24.95 ISBN: 978-1-59264-237-3 Written by two of Israel’s foremost experts on the Land of Israel, these thirtysix hiking routes range from challenging hikes to short, simple jaunts. Israel’s varied landscapes, ranging from lush Mediterranean vegetation to desert, offer the hiker a myriad of different hiking experiences within a short distance of each other.
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JERUSALEM: A NEIGHBORHOOD STREET GUIDE Chanoch Shudofsky Devora Publishing, 2008. $21.95 ISBN: 978-1-934440-25-4 This up-to-date guide, including some 2,500 streets, squares, roads, boulevards, and alleyways in the city, is for the Jerusalemite and the tourist alike. Shudofsky divides the book into two parts: the first part is an alphabetical listing of the streets, and the second is an alphabetical listing of all the neighborhoods, each one presented with its streets. The end of the book features a map of the city streets, a listing of sites of interests, walking tour routes, and more.
ssays on Literature and Politics—this straightforward subtitle clearly defines David Grossman’s subject but in no way reveals the humanity and challenging perceptions he shines on it. Written over several years, these essays and speeches examine Israel—the nation and its individual citizens—under a light both critical and sympathetic. “I myself have never known a life without an enemy.” With this statement Grossman, an Israeli-born journalist and novelist, illumines the situation in which Israel exists— the victim of centuries now living in its own nation circled by hostile states. He fears Israel is falling victim to itself and that the disaster zone in which it lives is warping the national character. As a writer in this situation, Grossman strives to know “the other,” to feel fully his or her uniqueness and thus recognize his or her humanity, a person constructed like ourselves. The effort that underlies Grossman’s fiction also underlies his political activism. He looks to a time when Israel, burdened by “an overdose of history,” can break the grip of the past, perceive the humanity of the enemy, and realize its full potential as a nation, guided by the highest universal and Jewish values. Courageous and unsettling, demanding yet compassionate, Grossman makes a fervent argument and plea for Israel to truly know the other and to use that knowledge to build a nation that will fulfill its historic and moral mission. MLW
I’m hoping there’s a novel in my future but it’s still very nebulous. I’m interested in the notion of people disappearing, some of them because they can’t help it if they have Alzheimer’s or something like that and others by consciously choosing to disappear. I’m intrigued by some of the stories we heard after September 11th, although we don’t know if they are true, about people who upped and left their lives and there was no way of finding out what actually happened to them.
What books have you read that you feel influenced you as a writer? Lorrie Moore’s collection of short stories Birds of America has had a profound influence. She has a wonderful sense of humor but, at the same time, there is so much moving human experience in the stories. I hope I can write half as well as she does.
Is there any possibility that Osnat, the character, or Danit, the author, might try living in Israel again? Meet the authors people are talking about. Introducing a new JBW feature inspired by the phenomenal upsurge of interesting new Jewish writers.
A Conversation with Danit Brown By Michal Malen
One of the major themes of your story collection is Israel. Tell me a bit about your personal relationship with Israel. My background is pretty similar to Osnat’s (the main character in the book) in that I was born in Israel and moved here when I was ten. We’ve always had a close connection to Israel. I was in school in Israel from first to fourth grades and I was taught that Israel was a place to go back to. I went back as a Returning Minor in my 20’s but I was never able to make the adjustment.
You have several other themes that flow throughout your narrative, including family and a sense of belonging. One of the minor yet consistent themes is that of running. How much of a metaphor is that for any underlying motifs of running toward something or runwww.jewishbookcouncil.org
ning away? Or do you just like to run? I do love to run. I’m not good at it at all. But if it’s functioning as a metaphor, it’s not something I was actually aware of.
It’s hard to imagine closing the door on living in Israel but for me, personally, I’m married to a man who isn’t Jewish so I think doing that has pretty much taken it off the table. But if I hadn’t married him, I’d still be struggling with the question. As for Osnat, I hope that this whole notion that home is where the people you love are, will be enough to allow her to live in the U.S. in the moment instead of always wondering if she should be living somewhere else. Michal Hoschander Malen is a librarian and editor of reference books.
We understand, of course, that your protagonist, Osnat, is a fictional character. You’ve already told us she shares much of your background. How much does she reflect your feelings? I would have to say that while some biographical elements are similar, I would have to give a typical writer’s answer that all of the characters reflect my feelings in some way through their positions. All the characters are caught between conflicting feelings or situations or cultures.
Have any of those conflicts been resolved? For some of the characters, they have. Harriet and Noam have found a way to resolve their contradictions and Osnat is well on her way.
What are you working on now and is there, perhaps, a novel in your future? Winter 5769/2008
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I'm A Believer
am an atheist. This may surprise you given the title of this essay but it’s true. As is the title. The last time I believed in God was when I was ten and Judy Blume’s book Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret almost convinced me He was there. I tried talking to him. I told him about my day, about the things that bothered me, about the questions I had. And it was helpful. My tenyear-old mind created a presence by the mere
fact that I addressed my comments to someone. In the end it didn’t last. By fourteen I started yeshiva and was as certain in my atheism going in as I was coming out. And yet, I am a believer. Let me explain. In recent years there’s been a surge in the public debate between those who believe in God and those who don’t, due in part to the lawsuits surrounding classroom policies
(whether or not to teach intelligent design), in part to shifting demographics (a decreasing number of Americans identify as religious), and in part because of the explosion of scientific research in areas such as biology, environmental science, and neuroscience. In response to this surge, a wide variety of books have appeared, representing virtually every religious and non-religious denomination. Among the recent books that have joined
By Ada Brunstein 14
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the debate within Judaism are David J. Wolpe’s Why Faith Matters (HarperOne, 2008) and Lawrence Bush’s Waiting for God. (Ben Yehuda Press, 2008). Through the authors’ personal journeys, these books capture the debate that is playing out in the media. David J. Wolpe is the rabbi at Sinai Temple in L.A. He grew up religious, but at an early age the horror of the Holocaust shook his faith to its core. His eventual return to religion served him well through many family traumas. His mother had a stroke at fifty-two and lost her ability to speak and write. His wife was diagnosed with cancer at thirty-one, leaving her unable to have more children. Rabbi Wolpe himself was diagnosed with lymphoma. Among the most moving passages in the book are those in which he shows how his belief in God helped him grapple with the most profound questions about life and death. At the heart of Wolpe’s argument is that faith is essential for living a life committed to doing good. He argues that a true faith in God moves us to charity, moves us to asking in times of trouble not “why me” but rather how can I grow from this situation and help others in the process? He reminds us of all the good that comes from religion and suggests that without religion there’s no incentive to do good. But Wolpe gets caught up in many of the same contradictions that other theists do. He reminds us of the limitations of the scientific search for explanations by quoting the Talmud: “Teach your tongue to say I don’t know.” But if we stay true to that sentiment we’d answer the question of how the universe was created with “I don’t know,” rather than offering as an answer, God. It is in fact the scientists who are saying “I don’t know” while offering bits of information that may help with the search. Wolpe suggests that without religion there’s no incentive to do good. Given the savagery of which human beings are capable, what will they do if there is no overarching standard and Guide? This kind of thinking ignores the savagery that has been committed in the name of religion (a fact he addresses inadequately in one chapter) and doesn’t sufficiently honor the many acts of collective kindness have been committed without offering God as an incentive. Lawrence Bush, who grew up an atheist, has entirely different sensibilities about God than Wolpe. He describes himself as a young baby boomer who was drawn to the search for spirituality that his generation yearned for
in response to World War II. At the heart of Bush’s argument is that the mind fools us into thinking that the feeling of oneness we experience with God or the universe or even with others stems from something outside of us rather than within ourselves—from supernatural rather than natural sources. But this is a mind trick, he says. In fact the source of these sensations is internal. More importantly, he argues that this reality is not devoid of faith. He writes, “There is a leap of faith implicit in this vision of mine: faith in the human capacity for change, faith in the validity and usefulness of at least some therapeutic theories and modalities, and faith in the superior value of the ‘examined life’ over the ‘unexamined life’ for individuals and
for society at large.” Bu s h refers to himself, as many do, as a spiritual atheist. For him spirituality means love, nature, science, “political activism of people, their collective risk-taking and sacrifice in the name of justice and self-transcendence.” Bush has been inspired “to try to see all human beings, even the stranger—even the wicked stranger—as having the same multi-dimensionality behind the mask of their appearance that I have behind mine.” These words are not much different from the words a believer might use, from the words David Wolpe might use. So why is God necessary? It is difficult to talk about spirituality or the sacred without evoking God. Words like
joy or humility don’t quite capture the transcendence that the religious terms evoke. Believers would argue that what they experience when they pray is different than the words used to describe emotions like connection or oneness. What we have is a linguistic problem of extraordinary proportions. We need a new language. For starters, why don’t we reformulate the questions: Where do you find your spirituality? (Rather than do you or don’t you believe)? Atheists are defined as disbelievers in a supreme being, but atheists are also believers in a great many things that are not incompatible with spirituality. To reduce the world to believers and non-believers is to cheat all of us out of the extraordinary nuance of life. What does it mean to be Jewish and atheist? It means valuing the practices that celebrate the elevation of the human spirit. Atheism doesn’t diminish the solemnity of lighting the Sabbath candles, even if the candles aren’t lit for God, and even if we acknowledge that that particular ritual is only one of many that can move our spirits. Rituals, traditions, practices are not unique to religion. Families develop their own traditions and rituals that revolve around experiences that are meaningful to them. A Jewish atheist might see the lighting of the candles as a tradition that connects us to a past whose stories we grew up with. Does the story of Job offer any less inspiration if it didn’t come from God? Do the epic tales of longing, of rage, of stupidity, of jealousy, of generations lost, of strength tested—do they offer any less of a guide if they came from people rather than God? Rabbi David Wolpe grappled with the most difficult of life’s questions by looking to God for guidance. Lawrence Bush found his faith in the human mind and spirit, in discovering that our life guides can come from within as well as from without, that it’s possible to celebrate the sacred without worshipping it. For those of us who do not believe in God, let’s create a new language, one that does not define itself by an absence of belief but by a humbling, joyous, persistent belief in the beauty and power of humanity and the natural world. Let’s call it profound optimism in the worst of times and in the best of times; for lack of a better word, let’s call it sublime. Ada Brunstein is a freelance writer and an acquisitions editor for MIT Press. She has an MA in Linguistics from NYU and an MS in Science Writing from MIT. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, New Scientist, Discover and The Vocabula Review.
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AMERICAN JEWISH STUDIES
IN THE COUNTRY OF BROOKLYN: INSPIRATION TO THE WORLD Peter Golenbock William Morrow, 2008. 704 pp. $32.95 ISBN: 978-0-06-125381-2
istory is recorded by the victors, it is said, but the most accurate history may be that conveyed by those who experienced it. Ordinary peoples’ recollections, contemporaneous letters and documents, photographs, and artifacts provide perspective and evidence for what occurred so historians can analyze and summarize the past. This is the approach which Peter Golenbock uses in his compelling book, In the Country of Brooklyn. Based on the oft-stated premise that “one in seven Americans can trace his family to having once lived in Brooklyn,” Golenbock animates his historical analysis with oral histories that inferentially answer the question, “What makes Brooklyn special?” This is a celebration of similarity, despite the religious, national, occupational, political, and social diversity of the interviewees. Many of the entries refer to Jackie Robinson’s trailblazing impact on racial justice in the United States. Robinson might have successfully integrated baseball had he been signed by another team, but Brooklyn may have been the ideal venue for this grand experiment. Note Ira Glasser’s observation: “If you grew up in Brooklyn the way I did, you were taught to believe that racial injustice was the same thing as anti-Semitism in Germany, that what led to the concentration camps was the same thing that led to slavery and Jim Crow justice, [and} if you were a Jew, racial justice was your issue.” Playing a role in exploding the myth of inherent racial superiority inspired Brooklynites, but it also ultimately set the stage for national reconciliation and de jure equality of opportunity in a nation that has selected an African-American as candidate for President of the United States. Golenbock reveals shameful episodes, such as Ted Rosenbaum’s encounter with McCarthyism, and amusing ones, such as the role played by Neil Sedaka and “Cousin Brucie” Morrow in the rock and roll revolution. He chronicles how immigrant groups influenced America, and the changing face of America over several decades. And he gives voice to personal family and community recollections that have shaped us today. Those who love the sovereign nation of Brooklyn will love this book. NNK
Ed. Note: Holocaust specialist Marcia Posner submitted this review after encountering the work of photographer Cary Herz , for whom the conversos’ escape from the Inquisition resonated with her own parents’ flight from the Nazis.
NEW MEXICO’S CRYPTO-JEWS: IMAGE AND MEMORY Cary Herz, photographs; Ori Z. Soltes and Mona Hernandes, essays. University of New Mexico Press, 2007. 240 pp. $39.95 ISBN: 978-0826342898
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t often takes a confluence of events to awaken a new sensitivity or motivate a heightened interest in an area of study—as an example, the growing interest in “hidden Jews.” These are not the hidden Jews of the Holocaust, although there is a connection, but the hidden Jews among us now. It began, for this reviewer, with Trudy Alexy’s book: The Mezuzah in the Madonna’s Foot: Marranos and Other Secret Jews (Harper, p.b.1993) which provided oral histories that explored 500 years in the paradoxical relationship of Spain and the Jews, with an emphasis during the period of the Third Reich when Europe’s Jewish refugees often found a sort of haven in Spain and Portugal. It began for Cary Herz with her visit in 1979 to a friend in Santa Fé, New Mexico, where she was so intrigued by
an area in which there were lawyers who were raising goats, so that she began to take photographs in the state. But it was not until she was taking pictures at the cemetery of Congregation Montefiore in Las Vegas, New Mexico that Herz first heard about “the other people,” the Crypto Jews—Sephardic Jews who had converted to Catholicism 500 years ago to avoid persecution, torture, and death. She photographed tombstones displaying the Jewish star, menorah, or shroud representing a tallit next to or near the Christian cross. She discovered that some of these people embraced the Christian faith, while others practiced their Jewish faith secretly. Slowly, Herz became friends with those whose traces of possible Judaism she uncovered, and as she did so, she connected their survival of the Inquisition with her own past. She writes: “As I get older (she is now in her 80s) I feel more keenly my own “memories” of many things about which I do not have all the facts. I am a child of refugees from the Holocaust. Neither my parents nor my extended family spoke much about how their lives were affected by it,... [but] my parents experienced fear, flight, secrecy, poverty in
Herz’s goal is to put a face on the “invisible ones” their late teens and early twenties...” She credits this with her always being interested in and feeling at ease with “others.” Herz has created a photographic diary of individuals who have a hidden past “that they question, embrace and treasure.” This book is about their discoveries. Herz tells some of their stories, and acts as a witness to their history. Her goal is to put a face on the “invisible ones,” the Anusim, and to open a small window into their world, to show their pride and diversity. To these crypto-Jews of Spanish and Portuguese origin, the horrendous Inquisition was a literal bane on their existence. Holding their sacred traditions secret for centuries, they had settled in New Mexico. They quietly left behind photographs of descendants of Inquisition survivors kissing the fingers and touching the invisible mezuzah on residential doorposts and other indications of being Jews. These and other small indications are powerful remnants of their faith. Many of their descendants have returned to open worship and the practice of their Jewish heritage. Then there are Christian priests who now practice a form of both religions. The
Biography, Autobiography & Memoir photographs are so artistically composed, and the stories so fascinating, that this book is not one to be missed, or as Ori Z. Soltes, of Georgetown University writes in his preface “The photographer’s eye intertwines the threads of narrative...with an exquisite artistry that is not imposing, but enriching... “The photographs and essays exhibit the strength, passion and devotion sure to move the pride of Jews throughout the world.” MWP
BIOGRAPHY, AUTOBIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
THE AARONSOHN SAGA Shmuel Katz Gefen, 2007. 370 pp. $29.95 ISBN: 978-9652294166
YIDDISH IN AMERICA: ESSAYS ON YIDDISH CULTURE IN THE GOLDEN LAND Edward S. Shapiro, ed. University of Scranton Press, 2008. 206 pp. $25.00 ISBN: 978-1-58966-137-0
he editor of this wonderful book of eight essays by different writers set them a specific task: to address not only the Yiddish culture that Jews brought with them from Europe at the turn of the 20th century, but also what happened to it (during the following fifty years) when it was transplanted in America. The colorful responses contained in this collection show how the Yiddish writers, artists, publishers, actors, newspapers, composers, and playwrights responded to the unique social, economic, cultural, and even political conditions of their new land. While all eight essays are worthy of mention, an indication of their variety and charm can be gleaned from the chapter titles, such as: “Ups and Downs of Yiddish in America,” “Yiddish Scholars Meet the Yiddish-Speaking Masses,” “The Yiddish Cinema in America: A Celebration of Jewish Life,” “The Worldly Sounds of Yiddish Radio,” and “Images with Teeth: The Political Influence of Artwork in American Yiddish Periodicals.” This reviewer’s personal favorites are the chapter dealing with Yiddish theatre in America, written by Joel Berkowitz, and the final chapter, written by Hankus Netsky, called “Breaking the Silence on American Yiddish Popular Music.” (The back of the book lists all the contributors and their backgrounds.) The editor of this interesting collection, Edward S. Shapiro, is to be commended for his choice of writers and subject matter. Abee gezint! SG
Jewish Book World
hmuel Katz’ newest book explores the contributions of this remarkable Jewish/Palestinian hero. Aaronsohn was an agronomist who had an international reputation as one of the most creative thinkers on the subject of soil and soil nutrients. He discovered a new form of wheat. He set up the Jewish Agricultural Experiment Station in Palestine, the first of its kind. But Aaronsohn’s scientific contributions pale in comparison to his heroism. Before the creation of the State of Israel the region was controlled by the Ottomans. Aaronsohn created a spy organization for the British that helped them defeat the Ottomans, oust the Turks, and eventually win World War I. His organization was called NILI, an acronym from the biblical verse in the book of the Prophet Isaiah that reads: Neztah Israel Lo Ishakar—the greatness of the future of Israel will not be a story or a fairy tale. Katz discovered a slew of new and original resources and documents that go further than ever before to demonstrate the enormous contribution that Aaronsohn and his sister Sarah made to the British war effort. Aaronsohn risked his own life because he believed not only in the greatness of science but also in the greatness of the collective spirit. MDH
of adversity. Born across the racial divide, the son of a black father and a white Jewish mother who abandoned him as a toddler, David Matthews was born with skin pale enough to pass for white. Growing up in racist Baltimore he opts for white, even going so far as to burn a cross in a neighbor’s yard after getting beaten up by three black girls. Later, in a liberal college, he opts for black. Ace of Spades is his story of coming to terms with himself in an America that claims racism doesn’t exist. Matthews’ writing style is the high-energy, drunk-on-words sort that either infuriates or delights, infusing even the most mundane details with humor and grace. He makes a number of fascinating points about current racial politics, such as “when you’re white, failure is a tragedy; when you’re black, it’s a statistic—,” but misses others—”what was it about Jews and their people that superseded their general alliance with the whole of humanity?” The question of Matthews’ race ends anti-climatically in a late ‘80’s New York, but the story and Matthews’ telling of it captivates. The obvious parallel is James McBride’s masterpiece, The Color of Water, and in that regard, Matthews’ memoir doesn’t fare too poorly, though it’s far too coarse (and funny) for Oprah’s book club. MO
AMBIVALENCE: ADVENTURES IN ISRAEL AND PALESTINE Jonathan Garfinkel W. W. Norton & Company, 2008. 358 pp. $25.95 ISBN: 978-0-393-06674-6
ACE OF SPADES David Matthews Picador, 2008. 320 pp. $14.00 ISBN: 978-0312426316
eing Jewish is hard. Being black is hard. Being both means you’re up against a lot
he Canadian poet and playwright Jonathan Garfinkel is of two minds about a lot of things. He enjoys the songs at services but not what the prayers say. He feels deeply connected to Israel but is outraged at Zionists when he hears the Palestinian side of their shared history. When he learns of a house in Jerusalem owned by an Arab and rented by a Jew, he sees a tangible symbol for the hopes and challenges of coexistence. So he flies to Israel—for the first time— to learn its emblematic story. The resulting memoir, written in a highly personal and agreeable voice, describes Garfinkel’s journeys to Ramallah and Bethlehem, and to the Jerusalem of religious friends and relatives. But he
Nextbook | Schocken Jewish Encounters writers of the first rank exploring 3,000 years of jewish life, history, and culture
the latest volumes in the acclaimed series Adam Kirsch Benjamin Disraeli
Il an Stavans Resurrecting Hebrew
“Adam Kirsch has produced a charming and absorbing aperçu into one of the most fascinating statesmen of modern history. A delightful read.” Howard M. Sachar, author of A History of Israel
“Resurrecting Hebrew is exciting and penetrating. This story will be read with deep interest by all those who are fascinated by the renaissance of an ancient language.” Elie Wiesel
A dandy, a best-selling novelist, and a man of political
Here is the stirring story of how Hebrew was rescued
and sexual intrigue, Benjamin Disraeli was one
from the fate of a dead language to become the
of the most captivating ﬁgures of the nineteenth
living tongue of a modern nation. The resurrection
century. His ﬂirtation with proto-Zionism, his ideas
of Hebrew raises urgent questions about the role
about power and empire, and his fantasies about the
language plays in Jewish survival, questions that
Middle East remain prophetically relevant today.
lead author Ilan Stavans not merely into the roots of modern Hebrew but also into the origins of Israel itself.
New in paperback Sherwin B. Nul and Maimonides
Robert Pinsky The Life of David
“Sherwin Nuland . . . reveals the wisdom and spirit of this remarkable rabbi, physician, and philosopher.” dr. jerome groopman
“Pinsky’s language and insights are gorgeous, as we have come to expect from his poetry and his prose about poetry.” San Francisco Chronicle
For more information about Jewish Encounters titles, visit nextbook.org/encounters. Want to read these books with your book group, your congregation, or parents and teachers in your children’s school? Join Nextbook’s One Book program—we offer discounts and free shipping on all titles in the Nextbook/
Schocken book series, along with free program and reader’s guides. Visit nextbook.org/onebook.
Biography, Autobiography & Memoir never quite makes up his mind. For all his sincerity and good intentions, he can’t transcend the self that is his semi-comic point of departure: the dayschool student he once was who can’t stop arguing with his Zionist teachers. He feels most at ease when he can criticize and ask questions, and is least comfortable taking responsibility and making choices. Whereas Jonathan Garfinkel’s conflicting sympathies tell us a lot about him, his travels don’t reveal much that is new about Israel. BG
THE DREAM: A MEMOIR Harry Bernstein Ballantine Books, 2008. 304 pp. $24.00 ISBN: 978-0-345-50374-9
n 1922 life in England for young Harry Bernstein was filled with dreams, embellished by his mother to brighten their passing days in poverty. Determined not to succumb to life’s difficulties and her husband’s neglectfulness toward the family, Harry’s mother fervently dreams of going to America. A dream so big it would surely die like all the others. Bernstein’s memoir chronicles his life’s journey from England to Chicago and eventually New York. Keen to keep his mother’s dreams alive, Harry finds himself caught between surviving the Depression, searching endlessly for a job while struggling to be a writer, falling in love and forever parting with family. Bernstein’s memoir captures details, understanding, and sentiment gained by the passing of time’s wiser eyes. A truly touching account of dedication to family, life, love, and above all, dreams. EKF
his scholarly discussion of two of the most preeminent Jewish physicists of the 20th century is more a collection of six essays than a cohesive book. The first chapter discusses Einstein’s views on nuclear weapons. The second brings to light Einstein’s role in the founding of Brandeis University. The third chapter gives a brief biography of Oppenheimer and the fourth focuses on philosophies he developed later in life. The last two chapters discuss both Einstein and Oppenheimer. One is devoted to the two men’s views of the future of physics and the other discusses how community influenced their lives. Unfortunately, the topic of Einstein and Oppenheimer is terribly difficult to tackle, as the two men’s scientific lives only briefly overlapped. Oppenheimer was born the year before Einstein’s miraculous year of discovery in 1905. The men only met a few times and their meetings were not particularly noteworthy. Einstein was no less than an icon of his time; Oppenheimer was much less. Schweber best discusses the two men in their differences, although the lives and impact of the two men were so different that the reader is hard pressed to actually feel that they are worthy of the contrast. The book is soberly well-written and carefully annotated and referenced. While there are significant details of interest, overall the book is more appropriate to a scholar of scientific history than a casual reader. Bibliography, index, notes. JMB
HAVE YOU NO SHAME? Rachel Shukert Villard Books, 2008. 258 pp. $14.00 ISBN: 978-0-345-49861-8
R EINSTEIN AND OPPENHEIMER: THE MEANING OF GENIUS Silvan S. Schweber Harvard University Press, 2008. 412 pp. $29.95 ISBN: 978-0-674-028258-9
Jewish Book World
achel Shukert’s first book gives readers an unusual look at growing up Jewish in a small town in Nebraska. Here is Shukert at eight years old, wandering around museums on family vacations instead of visiting Disneyland; and as a teenager convincing her Polish doctor that she merely has a stomach ache and isn’t pregnant. Shukert also recalls memorable visits to her grandparents during Hannukah, when her grandmother would
cook enough for an army and spoil her and her sister with too masny presents. From a young age, though, Rachel showed signs that she was destined for something bigger than life in Omaha. In elementary school she took it upon herself to teach English to refugee children from Eastern Europe. Her non stop imagination and creative mind helped her reach New York City, where, many obstacles later, Shukert succeeded in publishing stories and writing plays that have been performed from Massachusetts to the Netherlands. RO
JOSHUA & ISADORA: A TRUE TALE OF LOSS AND LOVE IN THE HOLOCAUST Michael Benanav The Lyons Press, 2008. 257 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 978-1-59921-240-1
ecently, “third-generation” authors have revisited the scenes of their European survivor families’ past, consulted other family members regarding the family history, done semi-scholarly research about this era, and have also included their own reactions and thoughts. Daniel Mendelsohn’s The Lost is a prime example. Here, Michael Benanav traces the lives of his grandparents, who met on the deck of the Toros and married soon after. He writes about his grandmother, the beautiful Isadora, who survived Transnistria; and his grandfather, the dashing, daring Joshua Szereny, who escaped over the Apuseni Mountains from a Jewish slave labor unit in Hungary as the inmates were being marched toward Auschwitz. In Romania, Szereny learned that a boat leaving from Constanta would try to make it to Palestine. The bearer of a notable Zionist surname, he was put in charge of the voyage. The strong Zionist met the frightened Isadora, who was determined never to go below deck, where an attempt had been made to sexually assault her. He protected her while he also struggled to land the boat in Palestine. This is a touching, historically important Zionist, as well as Shoah, history. Travel author Benanav writes descriptively and emotionally about the effect of this journey upon himself, including how he came by his surname. MWP
Two Exciting New Books from AMACOM “The harrowing story of Berg’s time in Nazi concentration camps, that led co-author Brock to urge him to publish it a half-century after it was written...A worthy supplement to the reports of Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel.” —Kirkus Review “This book is a most important, landmark addition to Holocaust literature. Besides its historical value, it is a mighty weapon in the battle against Holocaust deniers. The fact that it was written by a Gentile and not by one of the half million Jewish survivors renders it unique. The effect is bloodcurdling.” —Livia Bitton-Jackson, Holocaust survivor and author of I Have Lived a Thousand Years and Hello America ierre Berg and Brian Brock collaborated to amplify and clarify the original manuscript of this riveting memoir of Berg, a French Resistance member only 18 years old when he was arrested in Nice in late 1943. On a train full of prisoners, set for the Drancy transit camp near Paris, an illfated meeting with the Gestapo agent who had arrested Berg in Nice, resulted in the order that promptly sent him to Auschwitz. But the “shithouse luck” of the book’s title meant that Berg “kept landing on the right side of the randomness of life.” A minor clerical error caused another ill-fated prisoner to be hung in his stead. Berg lived to have the “fortune” of collecting corpses, digging trenches and earning the right to beg for the occasional extra ladle of watery soup that sometimes made the difference between life and death. Like other survivors, he graphically recalls the beatings, hunger, sickness, stench, despair, and the always omnipresent awareness of imminent death. Berg’s mechanical skill and multi-lingual proficiency in addition to his native French, contributed to his “shithouse luck”. The young prisoner was sent to the caves of Dora, where he assembled V-1 and V-2 rockets as a slave of IG Farben, the infamous German Conglomerate of chemical companies, and a major user of slave labor during the Holocaust.
When freedom finally came, he was caught between the retreating Wehrmacht and the advancing, marauding Red Army. He was searching for Stella, a pretty Jewish girl with whom he shared several fleeting moments of happiness at the Drancy transit camp near Paris, and who he had never forgotten during his 18 months in the camps. This search precipitated Berg’s “landing on the right side of the randomness of life” once again. AMACOM Books, Hardcover • ISBN: 978-0-8144-1299-2 • 2008 • 320 pp. • $24.95
“The corporate examples are relevant and timely and the proposed practices contain pearls of wisdom such as a weekly ‘audit of the soul’ where strengths and weaknesses are assessed in terms of recent actions and are examined for mistakes, correctable by a four-step process. The authors outline sound principles and provide ample strong examples in this solid business primer.” —Publishers Weekly “Hundreds of business success books go to print each year, but almost everything you need to know was written thousands of years ago. Rabbi Levi Brackman and Sam Jaffe show how the original ‘blueprint for success’ came straight from the writings that billions of Jews, Christians, and Muslims hold sacred.” —Al Lewis, Business columnist, Dow Jones Newswire “Brackman and Jaffe have done a superb job of demonstrating how the ideas found in ancient Jewish texts feed directly into successful business practices. Jewish Wisdom for Business Success will no doubt take its place amongst the great business advice books. I am delighted to recommend this book, which will greatly contribute to the success of both your business and life. —Michael Port, author of Book Yourself Solid and Beyond Booked Solid “We believe that the root cause of Jewish success in business lays in the book Jews hold most dear and sacred—the Torah.” —Rabbi Levi Brackman, Sam Jaffe or thousands of years, sacred Jewish texts such as the Torah, the Tanach, the Talmud, and the Kabbalah have provided a unique view of the world, giving readers a particular sense of right and wrong, an ordering of priorities, and a way of doing things that reaches back to Judaism’s founding fathers, Moses and Abraham. Far more than just religious artifacts, these ancient Jewish writings are amazing repositories of knowledge, containing powerful advice anyone can apply to success in business as well as to any other aspect of their life. Combined with present-day tales of big business, featuring Google, Citigroup and others, and successful business icons such as Donald Trump and Warren Buffet, the time-tested guidance found in the ancient texts equates to proven management and leadership lessons that will help you achieve incredible results in your career and your life.
AMACOM Books, ISBN: 978-0-8144-1274-9 • Hardcover • 256 pp. • $24.00
Biography, Autobiography & Memoir
MY JESUS YEAR Benyamin Cohen HarperOne, 2008. 240 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 978-0-06-124517-6
uthor Benyamin Cohen comes from a selfproclaimed “clan of rabbinic rock stars” that is comprised of a rabbi father and five siblings, all of whom are either rabbis, married to rabbis, or in Jewish education. So, the fact that Cohen decided to spend a year doing all things Christian (so long as they didn’t break any Jewish law) was slightly controversial in his Orthodox community. That is to say, he didn’t feel comfortable embarking on his Jesus Journey until he had the blessing of a respected rabbi. With a rabbi’s blessing secured, Cohen was free to gallivant through Bible Belt churches every Sunday morning, attend an Atlanta Braves’ Faith Day, witness Pastor T.D. Jakes at Megafest, go to a Christian rock festival, partake in Catholic confession, be present at Easter services in the Georgia Dome, spend a day with monks, another day with Mormon missionaries, and have his face on the JumboTron at a megachurch. With the curiosity of a toddler Benyamin Cohen sampled most everything Christianity has to offer, and came back to his home base of Judaism with a renewed zest for the religion of his ancestors. His expedition was rooted in Judaism but exudes a universal desire for understanding and spirituality. Cohen’s prose is insightful, filled with wit, warmth, and wonder. EAZ
titled “episode” selected from Grisha Bruskin’s notebooks—a living, world-renowned Russian artist—keeps its promise of an unusual reading experience, albeit in translation. Bruskin’s 1982 sculpture, Step, on the dust jacket, is prescient, revealing his awareness of the unknown world (NYC, 1984, age 39) he would be facing—the figure looks straight ahead, garbed as a man of the past. Many entries reflect his Communist-raised background; the memories include incidents and encounters with workers and peasants; the accolades by art critics; striking examples of Soviet bureaucracy; and tenderly, his mother and family. Bruskin’s impressions of the U.S. prove both heartwarming and embarrassing. Past Imperfect’s 365 pages have a light footprint, as some contain only five lines and none exceeds a full page. (Despite the identical title, it has no connection with Ilka Chase’s 1942 autobiography.) Gently told, memorable, Past Imperfect’s readership touches groups not often targeted in one volume— back to the Stalin days, current to 2008. Thoughtfully written, it is wry and incisive, expressing an artist’s vulnerability, steely resolve. There is anger in his art work. Illustrations, introduction. ABS
Grisha Bruskin; Alice Nakhimovsky, trans. Syracuse University Press. 2008. 365 pp. $34.95 ISBN: 978-0-8156-0901-8
ot many painters/sculptors write memoirs, or keep a diary. So each archly-
Jewish Book World
THE SONG OF THE DISTANT DOVE: JUDAH HALEVI’S PILGRIMAGE Raymond P. Scheindlin Oxford University Press, 2008. 310 pp. $45.00 ISBN: 978-0-19-531542-4
THE ROAD TO RESCUE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF SCHINDLER’S LIST Mietek Pemper; David Dollenmayer, trans. Other Press, 2008. 233 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 978-1-59051-286-9
PAST IMPERFECT: 318 EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF A RUSSIAN ARTIST
Goth’s secretary for nearly two years. Pemper was friendly with Oskar Schindler and was both eyewitness to his kindnesses to “his” Jews, and intimately involved in the construction of Schindler’s famous list. Through his close relationship with Goth, Pemper was also involved in keeping Plaszow from liquidation by the Nazis. Pemper writes artfully and poetically, if a little dryly, about horrific events. He not only corrects several inaccuracies in Steven Spielberg’s film, but also verifies where the movie was faithful to history. An important volume in understanding the evil and goodness that the Holocaust brought out in individuals. Appendices, bibliography. JBK
ach Holocaust memoir is a vital document. First person survivor narratives both preserve the memories of those lost as well as provide humanizing details for an overwhelming set of facts and emotions. What is unusual about Mietek Pemper’s memoir of his experiences in Krakow and Plaszow from before the war through its aftermath is the author’s remarkably detailed memory and ability to recall what occurred, with little apparent emotional coloring. With his knowledge of several languages and sharp intellect, it is easy to understand why Pemper was a key witness in the trials of former Plaszow commandant Amon Goth and other Nazi war criminals— and why he was able to survive in his role as
his beautifully written book is focused on a journey—the trip undertaken by Judah ha-Levi in 1141 from his home in Muslim Spain, or al-Andalus, to Israel. A central concern of the book is what motivated ha-Levi’s to undertake this pilgrimage—was it messianic fervor, nationalistic pride, or some private religious quest? Judah ha-Levi is most famous for writing the Kuzari, a fictional dialogue on faith and religion conducted between a rabbi and the Khazar king, who was considering converting to Judaism. But the bulk of ha-Levi’s literary output was poetry. And it is his poems to which Scheindlin devotes most of his attention. Twenty-eight poems are presented in full in their original Hebrew, with Scheindlin’s graceful translations and his careful and loving analysis forming the backbone of the book. But this is also a historical study, which has been greatly enriched by a collection of Genizah documents relating to ha-Levi (some in the poet’s own handwriting) published recently in Israel. The scholarly narrative alternates between the timebound concerns of these prosaic letters and the timeless power of the poetry. Bibliography, index, notes. PR
A History of the First Arab-Israeli War Benny Morris “An authoritative and fair-minded account of an epochal and volatile event. [Morris] has reconstructed that event with scrupulous exactitude.” —David Margolick, New York Times Book Review 25 illus. + 30 maps $32.50
Ostrich Feathers, Jews, and a Lost World of Global Commerce Sarah Abrevaya Stein “Stein’s meticulously researched Plumes is delightfully intriguing in its detail—a forgotten page of Jewish history that shows the lengths enterprising people will go to for a difficult but profitable niche market.” —Mark Kurlansky 17 illus. + 1 map $30.00
THE ARTS OF INTIMACY
Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Making of Castilian Culture Jerrilynn D. Dodds, María Rosa Menocal, and Abigail Krasner Balbale A handsome look at medieval Castilian culture through its art, architecture, poetry, and prose––and how it was deeply influenced by Arabic, Hebrew, and Christian cultures. 10 b/w + 200 color illus. $40.00
The Power of God for Christians and Jews Kevin J. Madigan and Jon D. Levenson “Profoundly illumines how two sibling traditions inherited and affirmed the response of ancient Israel to the God of life.” —Alan Mittleman $30.00
THE YIVO ENCYCLOPEDIA OF JEWS IN EASTERN EUROPE
2 Volumes Editor in Chief Gershon David Hundert “Impressive and important. . . . A landmark.” —Library Journal Published in cooperation with YIVO Institute for Jewish Research 1104 b/w illus. and maps + 57 color illus. $400.00
A Genetic View of Jewish History David B. Goldstein “Important and illuminating. . . .Make[s] science both appreciated and applauded by those outside the discipline. . . . [A] short but masterful book.” —Jerome Groopman, New Republic 5 illus. $26.00
The Surprising History of a Modest Bread Maria Balinska “A fascinating and definitive account of the origins and importance in East European Jewish society of this boiled and baked ring of dough which has, surprisingly, become a staple item in the American diet.” —Antony Polonsky 30 illus. $24.00
HISTORY OF THE YIDDISH LANGUAGE
Volumes 1 and 2 Max Weinreich
This monumental work is the definitive account of the Yiddish language from its origin to the present. $300.00
CHAGALL AND THE ARTISTS OF THE RUSSIAN JEWISH THEATER Susan Goodman
With essays by Zvi Gitelman, Vladislav Ivanov, Jeffrey Veidlinger, and Benjamin Harshav Published in association with The Jewish Museum, New York 84 b/w + 146 color illus. $60.00
The Eldridge Street Synagogue Annie Polland Foreword by Bill Moyers This book tells the rich history of New York City’s magnificent Eldridge Street Synagogue, the first synagogue in America founded by East European Jews. For more information, go to: www.EldridgeStreet.org 54 color illus. $35.00
Ten Portraits Reconsidered Richard Meyer
YA L E
LANDMARK OF THE SPIRIT
With contributions by Gabriel de Guzman Distributed for The Jewish Museum, New York, and the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco 20 b/w + 50 color illus. $15.00 paper over board
Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940–1976 Edited by Norman L. Kleeblatt Published in association with The Jewish Museum, New York 89 b/w + 166 color illus. $65.00
New in paper CHURCHILL’S PROMISED LAND
Zionism and Statecraft Michael Makovsky
“A rich picture of Churchill’s support of Zionism.” —Jewish Book World Winner of the 2007 National Jewish Book Award in the History category A New Republic Book 9 illus. + 4 maps $20.00 paperback
THE GOLEM AND THE WONDROUS DEEDS OF THE MAHARAL OF PRAGUE Yudl Rosenberg
Edited and translated by Curt Leviant
“Leviant’s translation . . . is both an academic triumph and a fun read.”—Matthue Roth, World Jewish Digest $18.00 paperback
Press • yalebooks.com
Available wherever books are sold
The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States Trita Parsi With a New Preface by the Author
“Fascinating. . . . Parsi . . . focuses largely on Israel and Iran, placing their marriage of convenience within the wider context of American interests in the Middle East.” —Sheldon Kirshner, Canadian Jewish News $17.00 paperback
Gertrude and Alice Janet Malcolm “Fascinating. . . . A page turner. . . . Malcolm’s writing . . . is brilliant, penetrating and playful. . . . Here in this slender, elegant book is much wisdom.” —Katie Roiphe, New York Times Book Review 12 illus. $13.00 paperback
Contemporary Jewish Life
UNTIL OUR LAST BREATH: A HOLOCAUST STORY OF LOVE AND PARTISAN RESISTANCE Michael Bart and Laurel Corona St. Martin’s Press, 2008. 306 pp. $25.95 ISBN: 978-0-312-37807-3 After learning at his father’s funeral that his father had been in the Freedom Fighters, a Jewish resistance movement in Vilna, Lithuania, the author spent the next ten years researching both the historical and personal stories of this time and place, particularly his parents’ roles in the Resistance. His parents, Leizer and Zenia, had been married in the Ghetto by one of the last rabbis left alive. Instead of waiting in the Vilna Ghetto to be shipped to Auschwitz, the author’s parents had escaped to the Rudnicki forest, about twenty-five miles from the ghetto, and became active members of Abba Kovner’s Jewish partisan group, “the Avengers.” Theirs was a love story that flourished despite the privations of the Ghetto and the partners’ disparate ages and social status. Within the larger tale are other dramatic and poignant stories. One deals with whether a Jew’s blood is allowed to be spilled to save the life of other Jews, if the intended victim does not wish to martyr himself. This is not primarily a book of derring do but of decisions and choices that had to be made. It is an invaluable resource for this period and place that goes far beyond other books this reviewer has read on the topic. Photos. MWP
CONTEMPORARY JEWISH LIFE
THE BROKEN AMERICAN MALE AND HOW TO FIX HIM Rabbi Shmuley Boteach St. Martin’s Press, 2008. 294 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 978-0312379247
or men who often find themselves piloting a carload of children in a minivan,
Jewish Book World
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach invites us all to sit up with pride in the driver’s seat. In the first half of the book, Rabbi Boteach makes broad (and sometimes questionable) generalizations that American men hide their emotions in the pursuit of masculinity and material success. He becomes more compelling when he draws anecdotes from his experience as a university chaplain, radio host, and parent, praising the average American male as a hero, role model, and bread-winner of courage and dedication to family. Describing the loveless and sexless marriages of people whom he has counseled, Rabbi Boteach claims that American women are broken too, busy pursuing thin bodies while feeling lonely in the company of so many emotionally distant and insecure men. Boteach’s references to Jewish sources of wisdom enrich the book as he challenges readers to replace their ambition for wealth and fame with ambition to serve God with humility. According to Boteach, if men can accept their own aging bodies, focus less on themselves while giving more to others, countless marriages will be saved and success will have a deeper meaning. JKL
readers with any level of Jewish knowledge can learn something from this book. MBA
CLOTHING OPTIONAL: AND OTHER WAYS TO READ THESE STORIES Alan Zweibel Villard, 2008. 272 pp. $22.00 ISBN: 978-0-345-50086-1
ccording to Wikipedia, short stories originate from an oral story-telling tradition usually involving a swiftly sketched situation that quickly comes to its point. How apropos then for sketch comedy and original Saturday Night Live writer Alan Zweibel to nail the short story genre with his latest book, Clothing Optional. The book begins with a hysterical foreword by Zweibel’s high school English teacher, who is absolutely shocked that her former student can write at all, let alone well. This type of personal humor at the expense of the author persists throughout the book with tales of running the NYC Marathon and being passed by a
...when done well, self-deprecation is funny stuff.
BUBBE MEISES: JEWISH MYTHS, JEWISH REALITIES Ronald H. Isaacs KTAV Publishing House, 2008. 194 pp. $19.95 ISBN: 978-1-60280-032-8
ubbe meises: the Yiddish term for old wives’ tales, superstitions, and cultural misunderstandings. Some of these ideas have been handed down for generations and many are still accepted today. Rabbi Isaacs, the prolific author of over 100 books, many of them guides to Jewish living for the layperson, grew up living with his grandmother, Bubbe Sadie, from whom he learned many of the ideas that he tries to explain or debunk in these pages. The chapters are divided into topics ranging from Jewish Beliefs; Medical Ethics; Jewish Holidays; Ritual Objects and Observances; Death and Dying; Bible, Israel and Prayers to Hebrew and Jewish Expressions; Opinions about Jews; Jewish Superstitions; even Sex. Rabbi Isaacs’ interesting explanations are easy to follow and
polar bear, “a thin person wearing two hundred pounds of white fur,” and corresponding with a passive aggressive fan, “Mr. Zweibel... I guess congratulations are in order (for your) Thurber Prize for American Humor nomination. I’m speechless. One can only conclude that this has been a slow year for the comic novel. Sincerely, Kevin.” Like any good comedian, Zweibel understands that when done well, self-deprecation is funny stuff. The author’s honesty continues as he divulges intimate tales about his own family. For instance, in the title story, Zweibel begs his wife to visit a nudist colony that he is researching, for a much needed conjugal visit. In another story, the author receives valuable advice from his fifth grade daughter after his movie is panned by the critics, “Dad...There’s something I really want to tell you, but I don’t want to get in trouble for it... Those people who are saying those things about you and the movie. F**k ‘em.” Without putting his own pride or that of
Ben Yehuda Press
Indulge yourself with ‘fantastical,’ ‘delightful’ & ‘marvelous’ ﬁction
The Cabalist’s Daughter by Yori Yanover A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption “A wildly-fun, fantastical Jewish Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” (Laurie Gwen Shapiro, author of The Matzo Ball Heiress) “A rip roaring read! It’s Tom Clancy meets Chabad meets feminism. I loved it.” (Judith Abrams, author of Talmud for Beginners) Nechama Gutkind is the clone of the late, great Cabalist of Brooklyn. She’s a gorgeous, gifted miracle worker just trying to ﬁll her father’s shoes and save the world. But with the highest reaches of the U.S. government and the deepest pits of Hell determined to stop her, will she be able to complete her mission? Luckily, she’s not without friends, including a 130-year-old mystic, a hunky counter-terrorism oﬃcer, a Ghanese warrior witch and a luscious succubus who band together to keep her in one piece.
A Delightful Compendium of Consolation A Fabulous Tale of Romance, Adventure and Faith in the Medieval Mediterranean
by Burton L. Visotzky
Journey with Karimah as she escapes her boring life as a bookkeeper and becomes a desert 978-1-9347302-0-1 brigand, a pirate queen and even a respected rebbetzin in 11th century Tunisia! Meet colorful historical characters as you travel through this frothy fantasy based on real Cairo Geniza documents and tales from 1001 Arabian Nights. Karimah will fascinate, seduce and confound, but she will not soon be forgotten. “Delightful indeed! An enticing blend of scholarship and imagination. I couldn’t put it down.” (Maggie Anton, author, Rashi’s Daughters) “A wonderful historical novel of love and intrigue. It’s a coming-of-age tale of a brother and sister, set against the rise of Jewish fortune and influence under Moslem rule. Each marketplace, sea voyage, caravan, or political intrigue come alive through Visotsky’s brilliant writing.” (Jewish Book World) “Visotzky poignantly re-creates a time period in which adventurers, scholars, Jews, and Muslims lived together in relative harmony” (Library Journal) The Wicked Wit of the West The last great Golden-Age screenwriter shares
The Hillel Narratives
Thirty-Two Gates of Wisdom
What do Talmudic tales of the first rabbi teach us about our faith?
A Concise Guide to Aw Awakening through Kabbalah
the hilarity and heartaches of working with
Groucho, Garland, Gleason, Burns, Berle, Benny & many more
Louis Rieser Joy of Text
New twists on Jewish scripture
A Jewish rebuttal to David Klinghoﬀer’s conservative polemic Gay Marriage?
Larry Yudelson and by
Irving Brecher as told to Hank Rosenfeld
author of The Cabalist’s Daughter
Rabbi DovBer Pinson
978-09789980-9-7 978 09789980 9 7
A Novel of Love and Revolution
by Lawrence Bush
“A marvelous story about an amazing woman. It will grip you from beginning to end.” (Hadassah Magazine)
978-09789980-3-5 978 09789980 3 5
“Bessie is a Jewish grandmother quite different from those we usually get to read about: a leftist, a one-time fervent Communist albeit with an independent mind that often kept her from toeing the party line. Written with love and grace, Bessie is very much an individual and a warm human being. It is a part of the American story that is rarely recounted.” (The New York Times)
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ON TRYING TO BE FUNNY IN A ROOM BY MYSELF By Alan Zweibel
t’s been said that the most creative thing writers do is figure out things to do instead of writing. And while I have no clue who originally said this, I’d be more than happy to research it as it will give me something to do instead of writing. Once again, the distractions beckon. Attempting to lure me from the laptop whose output my wife and children depend on for shelter and sustenance. Then why are these side trips even a consideration when so much is at stake? Allow me to explain. I got spoiled at an early age. My professional break came when I was chosen to be on the original writing staff of “Saturday Night Live.” Needless to say, it was great fun. Television writing is social. A team of like-minded people pooling their talents to make a script as good and as funny as possible. A purposeful party that takes place in offices with open doors or around a giant table with pizzas at all hours of the night. Consequently, that show’s great success opened doors that have allowed me to create my own television programs, motion pictures, Broadway plays, novels, and children’s books—a writer’s dream, as it gives my ideas the opportunity to be expressed in what I believe to be the best form in which they should exist. That’s the good news. At the present moment, however, I am incredibly lonely because everything I’m writing does not involve the participation of other human beings. Or, for that matter, any creatures even capable of eating a pizza. It’s just me in a room at the mercy of unseen collaborators. Muses who, when they are equal to their job description, tell me what order to put my words in and essentially make me an observer of manufactured characters who take on a life of their own and inform me
his family at risk, the author skirts the boundaries of culturally Jewish stereotypes and realities. Many of the Jewish characters, like his first comic mentor Stu ____ or an elderly Jewish woman who sues him after a mild car accident, will resonate with those who enjoy Jewish humor. But Zweibel draws on more than just cultural Judaism; he also manages to entertainingly weave without mocking Torah and religious teachings into his comedy. Stories like “My First Love,” a childhood memory involving a major crush on the matriarch Sarah, is a good example. In the story, an eleven-year-old Alan Zweibel imagines himself as Avraham Zweibel, or the real Avraham Sarah needs in her life. Beyond the hilarious “romantic” dialogue between an eleven year old boy and a ninety year old woman living 6,000 years apart, are direct passages from the Torah, periodically inserted and modifying the fantasy. After reading Genesis 17:15, young Alan processes new information changing what he had previously thought would be a future without children
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who they want to be, where they want to go, and what they want to say. People that I enjoy getting to know—like new friends. Friends who keep me company. But when these mythological writing partners decide to take a day off? Or an extended vacation that renders my new friends either mute or socially constipated to the point where they bore the hell out of me? It’s about that time that I start sniffing around in search of activity. Like watering my vegetable garden an hour after it’s rained. Or seeing what happens when you google Google. To combat this urge, I like to shift gears and redirect my efforts to developing other ideas. Diversifying the portfolio, if you will. This practice not only guards against a lapse in discipline but provides me with an honest answer should someone ask, “What are you working on?”—so that particular someone doesn’t think I’m a liar while I’m lying to him about what I’m working on. During these arid stretches, I prefer ideas that are not meant to be spoken by actors. Or deserving of all the paper that, when glued to a binding, is commonly referred to as a book. No, I usually drift toward those whose capacity is limited by a single notion that is best told in a burst. A literary shot of adrenalin. A mere handful of pages during which a point is made, explored and fulfilled. In the form of a short story. Or an essay. With every hope that this outburst will not only produce something that a magazine will eventually publish, but also light a fuse under the invisible behinds of my invisible collaborators so we can resume our other work and I can get back to my new friends. Sometimes this exercise is effective. Sometimes it actually manages to rally the creative troops and jumpstarts the process. And other times? Like now? Upon completion of this very magazine piece with nary an invisible writing partner in sight? Well, I’m off to the mall. Want anything? Alan Zweibel is an original “Saturday Night Live” writer, and collaborated with Billy Crystal on the Tony Award winning Broadway show, “700 Sundays”. His novel, The Other Shulman, won the 2006 Thurber Prize for American Humor. Alan’s most recent book, Clothing Optional—And Other Ways To Read These Stories will be published by Villard this fall.
for Sarah and himself, “Oh, so she wasn’t barren at all... My guess is that anyone who took only seven days to create everything that existed would be able to kick-start that ghost town of a uterus without breaking a sweat.” If ever a writer could move a short story along in a timely way while still providing ample meat and comic gristle to keep the reader entertained, sketch comedy writer Alan Zweibel is just the man for the job. MT
ccording to a Red Cross study done in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001, 60% of Americans indicated that, in the event of a disaster, they would turn first to a spiritual professional. Likewise the tragedy surrounding Hurricane Katrina put religious professionals in the forefront of responding to disaster (even as their institutions were, in many cases, destroyed). This collection of articles
60% of Americans indicated that...they would turn to a spiritual professional
DISASTER SPIRITUAL CARE: PRACTICAL CLERGY RESPONSES TO COMMUNITY, REGIONAL AND NATIONAL TRAGEDY Stephen B. Roberts and Willard W.C. Ashley Sr., eds. Skylight Paths, 2008. 384 pp. $40.00 ISBN: 978-1-59473-240-9
provides guidance and information to clergy, preparing them to respond to natural as well as human-made disasters that might confront them. Written by clergy and mental health professionals from a variety of faith traditions, the information helps clergy to plan, as well as to implement strategies for roles they may be called to play in disasters. The book includes copyright permitted pages that can be photocopied and used in reaching out to other cler-
Contemporary Jewish Life gy as well as in the direct work. ADS
HOPE, NOT FEAR: A PATH TO JEWISH RENAISSANCE Edgar M. Bronfman with Beth Zasloff St. Martin’s Press, 2008. 240 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 978-0312377922
dramatic change in Jewish life in North America began in the 1980’s when philanthropists entered the arena of Jewish education as partners with established organizations and as innovators on their own. Recognition of outstanding Jewish educators, active encouragement of young educators entering the field, and support for new initiatives designed to alter the landscape created greater interest in a field that had long been fraught with challenges.
Edgar Bronfman has long been a key contributor in recasting Jewish life. His involvement has been well documented in a number of key areas including Hillel, Birthright Israel, camping, and leadership development. With the publication of this small volume, we hear his perspective not only on his personal involvement but also on the work of all who have contributed significantly to the future of Jewish life in America and throughout the Jewish world. His powerful theme of hope in a real future for Jewish life permeates his stories. Each initiative has created a buzz that carries far beyond the individuals who are touched directly. As a community we need to capture his hope by bringing our personal creativity to the struggle. This small contribution to the ever-growing literature in journals and books is encouraging. Coming from Bronfman this book will hopefully encourage others with the resources to engage in building a strong future for the Jewish people. One challenge we face is that many of our leading philanthropists are not following in Bronfman’s footsteps. To succeed, we will need to engage many more in these ventures. Their
creativity and commitment is required over decades if we really believe in ourselves and our Jewish community. PAF
NEVERENDING PARENTING: BE A MATURE PARENT FOR YOUR ADULT CHILD Aaron Auerbach Devora Publishing, 2008. 300 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 978-1-934440-22-3
his is a book of case studies of difficult situations for adult children that offers specific advice for their parents. The author wants to teach parents to distinguish between the correct approach to their grown children’s problems, that is, giving the support that’s needed, versus sacrificing everything for one’s grown children. Divorce of a child, illness or death of a child,
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HIP KOSHER THE JEWISH PRINCESS COOKBOOK Tracey Fine and Georgie Tarn McBooks Press, Inc., 2008. 224 pp. $18.95 ISBN: 978-1-59013-161-9
hen I mention that I’m reviewing The Jewish Princess Cookbook, I encounter this response: Isn’t “JP” cooking ordering takeout? This is the seeming paradox bridged by authors Georgie Tarn and Tracey Fine, self-proclaimed Jewish Princesses. The duo’s idea is that while many a Jewish gal enjoys shopping, beautification, and eating out, a real Jewish princess balances it with running a lovely home that upholds the centrality of food in the Jewish tradition. To achieve this balance, Tarn and Fine provide recipes that are non-time-consuming, have under ten ingredients, and that look impressive too. I try out these claims, first cooking Paella Miami, a kosher version of the seafood classic, for a large Shavuot dinner. While this recipe breaks the ten ingredient rule and does leave me slaving away for much of an afternoon, it certainly fulfills my goal of wowing the crowds; it looks beautiful mixing rice and fish with red peppers, black olives, and green peas, and it tastes even more delicious cold the next day. In the true spirit of the Jewish Princess, I meet my sister for a birthday treat at the spa (and, yes, some shopping afterwards) and still have to make the first course for a Shabbat dinner that night. I whisk up the Parsley Potato Salad which is extremely easy and pretty and avoids the heavy mayonnaise frequently associated with the dish in favor of olive oil and added greens. The Jewish Princess Cookbook combines simple, nutritious, and snazzy recipes interspersed with the wit and advice of its authors, women who truly have their couture and bake their apple cakes too. LE
PAELLA MIAMI Serves 6 oil, for frying 2 tablespoons vegetable and diced 1 green chili, deseeded deseeded and chopped 1 medium red pepper, 2 teaspoons garlic puree sliced and cubed 2 large beef tomatoes, fish stock 5 1/4 cups vegetable or fron saf 2 generous pinches of ximately 7-8 oz.) pro (ap et 1 fresh salmon fill ximately 10 oz.) 1 fresh cod fillet (appro 1 3/4 cups rice ximately 6 oz.) 1 fresh tuna fillet (appro and drained ted pit , 4 oz. black olives taste to er pp pe Salt and black as pe zen 1/2 lb. fro sliced into rings 1 red onion, peeled and
Ronnie Fein Da Capo Press, 2008. 244 pp. $16.95 (pbk.) ISBN: 978-1-60094-053-8 (pbk.)
any of today’s kosher cooks are interested in expanding their repertoire beyond traditional Jewish cuisine. There is a growing trend to replace grandma’s chicken soup and kasha varnishkas with kosher meals that are both modern and eclectic. With over 175 recipes, Ronnie Fein’s latest cookbook, Hip Kosher, offers an antidote to conventional Jewish fare with a wide selection of easy to prepare contemporary dishes. With Fein’s explanation of kashrut and helpful cooking hints accompanying each recipe, every cook—from the novice to the seasoned pro—has something to gain from Hip Kosher. Her recipes, based on healthy and fresh ingredients include: gazpacho, curried quinoa stir-fry, salmon with pineapple CURRIED QUINOA ST mango salsa, chicken with IR-FRY dates and toasted 1 cup Quinoa almonds, yogurt spice 1/4 cup extra virgin oli ve oil cake, and an array of I medium onion, chopp ed vegetarian dishes. 1/2 small red bell pepp er, chopped With recipes that 1/2 cup thawed frozen peas appeal to any palette and 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots are suitable for a host of 1/4 cup toasted cashews occasions, this is the per1 teaspoon curry powd er fect cookbook for the Salt and freshly groun d black pepper, to tas adventurous cook who te 1 cup firm tofu, cut int o small cubes wants to have fun in the 1 tablespoon minced fre sh parsley kitchen. LES
pan with the vegetable Coat a large, deep frying and garthen add chili, pepper, oil (I usually use a wok), t, stirutes over moderate hea lic and cook for five min tomathe tinuously. Next, add ring the ingredients con s. ute min five r g for anothe toes and continue stirrin r me sim and n fro saf with the Pour in the stock along by e g and eye on the mixtur for ten minutes, keepin tuna d all the fish except the stirring occasionally. Ad to rice the d Ad s. r ten minute and simmer for anothe r me sim and ts, ten con h the the pan, mix it in the wit ppe s. Add the tuna, salt, and for another ten minute utes. k for a further five min per, and olives and coo s. In ute min five r for a furthe Add the peas and cook le litt a in gs rin ion on té the a separate frying pan, sau h. of the paella to garnis olive oil and add on top . sy of McBooks Press, Inc Recipe reprinted courte
Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan ov er high heat and add the quinoa. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbe d. Set aside. Heat the oli ve oil in a wok, stir-fry pan, or sauté pan over mediu m heat. Add the onion and be ll pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add the peas, apricots, cas hews, curry powder, and salt and pe pper to taste and coo k for 1 minute. Add the quino a and cook, stirring to distribute ingredients evenly. Ad d the tofu and toss the ingredients gently. Cook for 1-2 mi nutes or until the ingred ients are hot. Dish out and sprink le parsley. Makes 4 ser vin gs. Natural quinoa is covere d with saponin, a natura l substance that protec ts the seeds by repelli ng insects and birds. It is importa nt to rinse the grains un der cold water to remove it (it tastes bitter) but most packaged brands, available in tra ditional supermarkets as well as specialty stores are alr eady rinsed. From the book Hip Ko sher by Ronnie Fein. Re printed by arrangement with the Perseus Books Group (www.perseusbooks.com ). Copyright (c) 2008.
Fiction religious controversy, and bad relationships with in-laws are some of the problems Auerbach covers. Each chapter deals with a specific issue. This is a serious yet accessible study by a psychologist with experience in the American and Israeli military as well as in hospitals, clinics, schools, and private practice. MBA
WE PLAN, GOD LAUGHS: TEN STEPS TO FINDING YOUR DIVINE PATH WHEN LIFE IS NOT TURNING OUT LIKE YOU WANTED
Sherre Hirsch Doubleday, 2008. 208 pp. $18.95 ISBN: 978-0-385-523615
his is not what I planned.” “Life isn’t fair.” A rabbi must hear these words all too many times. It takes a special kind of skill to be able to effectively help people through profound disappointment, disillusionment, or loss. Judging by this concise and inspirational how-to book, Rabbi Hirsch possesses this skill in abundance. In mostly short, declarative sentences Hirsch presents ten steps to personal growth and spiritual strength. Among the steps are “Getting Present,” “Finding Meaning,” and “Finding Your Divine Spark.” Each chapter suggests pragmatic ways to take control of your attitude when things go wrong, to take positive steps toward change, to prevent regrets and past mistakes from tainting your future. Hirsch’s own experiences, including her unsteady path to the rabbinate, along with lessons learned through the struggles of biblical figures, serve to illustrate and reinforce her message. RKL
eith Gessen’s remarkable first novel follows the career-oriented and personal struggles of three up-and-coming writers, Sam, Mark, and Keith, who are united in their search for satisfaction and meaning in their lives. Sam is unyielding in his desire to write an epic novel about Zionism (despite his fairly undeveloped ideas on the subject); Mark, a lovelorn graduate student studying the Russian Revolution, is severely distracted in his attempts to finish his dissertation after a breakup with his longtime Russian girlfriend; Keith, an earnest journalist whose narrative is told in first-person, tries to navigate the world after his mother’s death in some of the most heartfelt sections of the novel. Gessen presents his characters as both selfpitying in their intellectual and romantic immaturity, and also endearing in their mix of naiveté and precocious talent, unbridled enthusiasm, and utter malaise. Although a challenging undertaking, Gessen’s novel ably captures the political and social milieu of the last decade through the lens of these three archetypal narratives. Gessen also succeeds as he thoroughly details the lives of these three men, in their sometimes comedic, sometimes solemn, enormously captivating march towards adulthood. PhS
Ami Silber The Toby Press, 2008. 348 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 978-1-59264-241-0
ALL THE SAD YOUNG LITERARY MEN
Keith Gessen Viking, 2008. 256 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 978-0-670-01855-0
his novel tells the story of Louis Greenberg, a young Jewish conman and talented jazz musician who has run away to Los Angeles from his family’s home in the Bronx. It is 1948, and Louis, who holds a questionable “4F” status from the army, spends his days conning “war widows,” his nights playing piano in bebop gigs. He narrates the tale in the parlance of the time and place, black jazz clubs where he is the only white player. He gets involved with a local black woman, a socially unacceptable arrangement in that era, and he sets out to prove himself to her and to his estranged father in the Bronx. It took me a little time to get used to the language in
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Fiction Louis’ monologue-like narrative but it made Louis more believable. I was surprised the author is a woman. MBA
ish Aesop, was born in France. The date of his birth is not exactly known. It may have been about 1190 C.E.. Moses Hades has translated 119 of Ha-Nakdan’s fables in Fables of a Jewish Aesop. I recommend that these two fable books from the Jewish tradition be read in tandem. PS
FEAR AND YOGA IN NEW JERSEY FABLES FROM THE JEWISH TRADITION Rabbi Manes Kogan; Sandy Berkofsky-Santana, trans.; Marcelo Ferder, illus. Mayapple Press, 2008. 103 pp. $19.95 (pbk.) ISBN: 978-0932412-669 (pbk.)
hese forty extremely brief fables—some only several lines and many about half a page—are the same as those found at the back of the great resource volume, The Book of Legends: Legends from the Talmud and Midrash (Sefer Ha-Aggadah), Edited by Hayim Nahman Bialik and Yehoshua Hana Ravnitzky. However, Rabbi Kogan, the reteller of these fables, illuminates each fable with insightful explication and connections drawn from the Talmud and midrash. These interpretations contain the Jewish meaning and perspective of these fables, along with their Talmudic and midrashic sources. In addition, he includes Aesop’s versions of some of the same fables but assigns very different messages to them. Because of the worth of fables accompanied by these offered commentaries and sources, this book can become a valuable literary text for adults and young people to read and explore together. Fables are like didactic ‘haiku’ poetry: through a brief narrative, often involving animals, they offer us strikingly effective moral lessons on how to live and behave. Fables have been part of the Jewish tradition as well as world folklore. And as Rabbi Kogan makes clear, fables have traveled a complex route in world and Jewish history. However, while Rabbi Kogan mentions Aesop, La Fontaine, and other fabulists in his valuable essay at the end of the book, “About Fables, Midrash and Talmud,” he never mentions the two great Jewish fabulists: Rabbi Meir and Berechiah Ha-Nakdan. Rabbi Meir was a student of Akiva who lived in Hellenic Asia Minor during the second century B.C.E.. According to the Talmud, he collected 300 fables, some of which are found in the Talmud and midrash. Ha-Nakdan, known as the Jew-
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Debra Galant St. Martin’s Press, 2008. 256 pp. $23.95 ISBN: 978-0312367251
ear and Yoga in New Jersey is a fun, humorous read saddled with a lousy title. The novel focuses on Nina and her seemingly normal, suburban New Jersey family. However, nothing is routine for Nina, a yoga teacher (ok, so this is where the ‘yoga’ in the title comes from) whose stressful life causes her to imitate the Walking Dog and other yoga poses intended for relaxation. Her home life is rife with strife, ranging from the outsourcing of her husband’s job as the meteorologist at the Newark Airport to her thirteen-year-old son’s sudden interest in becoming a bar mitzvah. Is it Jewish spirituality or the desire for a financial payday that
...Galant’s story is so delicious you’ll probably want to bite into it and eat the whole thing in one sitting. entices young Adam to seek out the local Chabad rabbi for religious guidance? The fact that Nina turned her back on Judaism years before has muddled the family’s religious stand. However, Adam’s not sure he’s buying what his mom is selling religiously. Confounding matters are Nina’s aged parents. They decide to evacuate Florida due to an impending hurricane and can’t understand why their meteorologist son-in-law doesn’t call every moment with a storm update. How they eventually arrive at Nina’s house, located all the way up the East Coast, is humorous and completely plausible because Galant perfectly captures the tzures rained down upon the masses by elderly, stereotypical Jews whose behaviors are laughable and nerve-wracking, yet endearing. Galant has crafted a quick read I did not want to put down. There’s nothing complicated about this book or its plot, but Galant’s story is so delicious you’ll probably want to bite into it and eat the whole thing in one sitting. Don’t worry...there’s nothing to fear in this novel, despite the title. TKM
THE MERCEDES COFFIN Faye Kellerman William Morrow, 2008. 384 pp. $25.95 ISBN: 978-0-06-122733-2
aye Kellerman’s seventeenth Peter DeckerRina Lazarus mystery has Decker working on a cold case. Fifteen years ago, Dr. Bennett Alston Little, a high-school guidance counselor, was found stuffed into the trunk of his Mercedes with a bullet hole in his head. The case remained unsolved. When music producer Primo Eckerling turns up in his Mercedes killed in the same way, a Silicon Valley executive, Genoa Greeves, notes the similarity. She has fond memories of “Dr. Ben,” who understood her when she was an awkward high-school student. When she offers the Los Angeles Police Department a large reward to reopen the old case, Decker’s captain tells him to give it top priority. Working with his best detectives, Marge Dunn and Scott Oliver, as well as his daughter, Cindy Kutiel, who is now an LAPD detective, too, they uncover links between the two cases. As they dig into Dr. Ben’s past, they find that not everyone loved him and that his wife, Melinda, has a secret life. Eckerling had some unsavory associates in the treacherous music business, too. Rina takes a back seat to the detectives in this story, cooking kosher dinners, and planning a cruise if her family can ever get vacation time. This is not Kellerman’s best work. The plot has too many inconsistencies and unresolved questions, but fans of the series will enjoy it.
MOSCOW RULES Daniel Silva G.B. Putnam’s Sons, 2008. 433 pp. $26.95 ISBN: 978-0-399-15501-7
oscow Rules is number eleven in Silva’s exciting Gabriel Allon Israeli espionage
series. Here we find our hero trying to outwit Russian illegal arms dealer Ivan Kharkov, an ex KGB colonel whose shady transactions threaten to endanger the Western world. This proves to be very tricky since the Russians are notorious experts at spy craft. We get to peek at the lifestyle of the newly rich Russian upper crust, with their foreign villas and fancy cars. Allon is now married to the beautiful Italian Mossad agent Chiara and there is some awkward dialogue between them, while the banter between Allon and his loyal team of Israeli cohorts is great. Allon is continually pressured by his longtime boss, the near-mythical Ari Shamron, and he’s still shying away from the inevitable promotion to take Shamron’s place in the organization. The description of Allon’s passionate work as an art restorer is fascinating. I found this book to be slightly less meaty than the previous ten but still a wonderful, gripping read. Mr. Silva, bring on number twelve! MBA
THE PATHSEEKER Imre Kertész; Tim Wilkinson, trans. Melville House Publishing, 2008. 129 pp. $13.00 (pbk.) ISBN: 978-1-933633-53-4 (pbk.)
mre Kertész, awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize for Literature, is best known for works which draw from his experiences as a teenager in Nazi concentration camps. The Pathseeker, published in Hungarian in 1977 and newly translated into English, is another semi-autobiographical return to events during the Holocaust. The Pathseeker, a man we learn little about, embarks on a journey that is both mysterious and haunting. In the limited space of this novella details are spare and vague. If we read very carefully, with a tuned ear and sharp senses, we realize we have travelled to the site of a former German concentration camp, amidst a town populated with people who deny its history. If the clues pass us by, we are nevertheless involved with the man every step of the way, watching as he begins to unlock secrets buried in his deepest memory. An excellent afterward by the translator highlights the classic literary touchstones the
author wrote in to place the story in its exact time, location, and political context. There is much to consider in this slim, but powerful tale. Afterward. PGM
SO LONG AT THE FAIR Christina Schwarz Doubleday, 2008. 244 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 978-0-385-51029-5
very character in Christina Schwarz’ newest novel, So Long at the Fair, is in a dysfunctional relationship, and there are many characters and many relationships. Yes, each struggles to find true love and personal fulfillment, but these self-indulgent egotists manage to look in all the wrong places and at all the wrong people. Their search results in a novel that is replete with love triangles and unrequited feelings. Beneath the superficiality of these affairs, however, are oddly philosophical ideas that appear to motivate, or perhaps explain, the actions of the characters. One character, for instance, identifies himself as a person who cares more about how things function than about how they look. Another wonders whether it is more important to be happy than to be good. Still another character responds by claiming that some people believe “being happy is the ultimate good.” Unfortunately, no one in this novel is happy. Whether any are good is a matter of opinion. Those looking for a light novel with a few twists, lots of small-town attitudes, and plenty of natural Wisconsin imagery will find this novel enjoyable and a quick read. MDE
his novel is a somber, somewhat ghostly retelling of the people and events in the Sobibor death camp. Categorized by the author as “a vivid testament of remembrance,” it is not for the casual reader; it is a raw story best suited for the serious student. The unremitting horrors as revealed through the memories, thoughts, and nightmares of the survivors are shattering. The critical nature of friendship as a life preserver is shown clearly through the interrelationships of the various people who live in the camp. We follow Berek, the conduit for the testimony, from the Polish shtetl of his childhood to his experiences during the Holocaust—the most horrific of which occurred during his incarceration in Sobibor. We learn, in great detail, about his participation in the uprising
…A somber, ghostly testament of remembrance [of] the unremitting horrors of the Sobibor death camp and his eventual escape from the camp. Of particular interest is information on the leader of the uprising, Alexander Pechersky, including the planning, problem solving, and coordination that was involved in executing a successful escape. Yet it is the relentless efforts of Berek and other Nazi hunters through which we participate, albeit vicariously, in the trials of two of the most vicious administrators of Sobibor. We are awed at the hunters’ determination to locate and bring these war criminals to justice for their unspeakable acts. If you choose to read this book, do so with the expectation that it will engender a range of emotions—anger, distress, disbelief— which, it is to say, pale in comparison to what Berek and his fellow prisoners experienced at the hands of the Nazis in the Sobibor camp. Epilogue and introductory essay. NDK
TALES OF THE TEN LOST TRIBES SOBIBOR Michael Lev; Barnett Zumoff, trans. Gefen Publishing House, 2007. 278 pp $19.95 ISBN: 978-965-2294-08
Tamar Yellin The Toby Press, 2008. 156 pp. $22.95 ISBN: 978-1-59264-213-7
his slim volume by award winning author Tamar Yellin comprises ten sto-
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History ries, each named for one of the lost tribes of Israel. The interconnected stories are told by an anonymous traveling narrator and they are finished with a satisfying though mysterious ending. Each chapter begins with quotes from various sources about the lost tribes, the wanderings of the Jews and the physical appearance of the Jewish people. Each story describes an encounter between the narrator and an eccentric character, every meeting taking place in a different unspecified stop on the narrator’s travels. Although this may sound vague, the tales are intriguing and the reader is easily propelled forward to the next story. The narrator is a good listener and observer of the characters encountered during the travels and the descriptions of people and places are vivid. MBA
religious, it tacitly suggests that a troubled family life and screwed up siblings might be the impetus for returning to the faith. And that seems far too simplistic. Also, the mother’s cult-breaking boyfriend and another cult related character who befriends Ash in Israel only furthers the idea held by many Reform and Conservative Jews that our more frum religious brothers and sisters are trapped in a “cult” of Judaism. The most tragic part of this novel, in this reviewer’s opinion, is that the women in the book remain self-hating throughout and rely upon men (lovers, husbands, brothers) to find happiness whereas the brother Ash finds peace of mind and an appreciation of self through Hashem. MT
THE BITTER ROAD TO FREEDOM: A NEW HISTORY OF THE LIBERATION OF EUROPE
WHO BY FIRE Diana Spechler Harper Perennial, 2008. 368 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 978-0-06-157293-7
aal teshuva, translated literally as one who has returned or repented, is the central theme of Diana Spechler’s novel, Who By Fire. After thirteen years of blaming himself for the disappearance of Alena, his baby sister, Ash has found a way to repent. Leaving UC Boulder in 2002 during the second Intifada, he moves to Jerusalem to bury his guilt and grief in learning
The book takes the reader into an unknown world of secular Jews becoming religious and mitzvot at an Orthodox yeshiva. His older sister Bits and his mother Ellie are also dealing with their residual grief and see Ash’s return as the way in which to heal their own pain. After Alena’s remains are remarkably recovered, self-loathing nymphomaniac Bits scrapes and steals enough money to fly to Israel to return Ash to reality and his past: Alena’s funeral. In the meantime, neurotic guilt-dispensing Ellie seeks solace in a new relationship with a cult interventionist who, of course, has his own bizarre and twisted past. While the book takes the reader into an unknown world of secular Jews becoming
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William I. Hitchcock Free Press, 2008. 384 pp. $28.00 ISBN: 978-0-7432-7381-7
ost histories of Europe during the period of World War II end with the defeat of the Nazis and the liberation of the occupied countries. But the story is far more complicated. William Hitchcock, a professor of history at Temple University, approaches this topic from a different perspective, that of the civilians living in the occupied countries. Europe welcomed the expulsion of the Germans, but the battles leading up to liberation left cities in ruins and killed many civilians. The combat-hardened soldiers did not always behave well as they interacted with the locals. Feeding, housing, and resettling displaced persons, prosecuting war criminals, and setting up relief organizations required intense effort. Using a wide range of sources (extensive notes and a bibliography), including personal accounts of citizens from the affected countries, Hitchcock considers thorny issues such as whether German civilians were victims. He provides a balance to the rosier accounts of this era without compromising the justice of the Allied cause. BMB
JEWISH HISTORY: THE BIG PICTURE Gila Gevirtz Behrman House, 2008. 288 pp. $22.50 ISBN: 978-0-87441-838-5
s the title implies, Gevirtz focuses more on breadth than depth regarding Jewish history. In this she succeeds, in that she deals with all of Jewish history, from Solomon’s kingdom to modern day Israel and the U.S. Considering the complexity of geography and culture the Jewish Diaspora has created for the Jewish people, Gevirtz does a fine job of moving between the histories of various communities, Sephardic and Ashkenazi, and continents and, for the most part, gives a satisfying and even, at times, detailed account of the different times and places. Her excellent account of the various expulsions before and during the years of the Inquisition is an example. Before covering World War I, Gevirtz ties up all the loose ends and sums up the Jews’ histories around the world. She devotes a separate chapter to European and American Jewry and the developing community in Israel. Despite the broad scope of the work, there is enough detail, especially from the Enlightenment on, to keep the work interesting. AV
THE JEWS OF PINSK, 1506 TO 1880 Mordechai Nadav; Mark Jay Mirsky and Moshe Rosman, eds.; Moshe Rosman and Faigie Tropper, trans. Stanford University Press, 2008. 606 pp. $75.00 ISBN: 978-0-8047-4159-0
n the wake of the Holocaust, it is too often assumed that the history of the annihilated communities is lost. The Jewish community of Pinsk, now in Belarus, existed for over 400 years as a principal center of Polish-Lithuanian Jewry. Its history was preserved in one of the most ambitious yizkor memorial books published in the generation after the Holocaust. The editors and translators of this remarkable volume are to be congratulated for making a portion accessible to those unable to read the Hebrew original. Constructed on a wide-ranging foundation of research into sources in Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish, Russian, German, and Latin, the story of Pinsk Jewry is told here with regard to its
NEW FROM JEWISH ENCOUNTERS
nuanced tale of a complex man whose mark on history continues to be felt today. NNK
BENJAMIN DISRAELI Adam Kirsch Schocken Books/Nextbook, 2008. 288 pp. $21.00 ISBN: 978-0-8052-4249-2
he biographer’s craft compels him to recount the life of his subject; his art enables him to slip inside his subject’s mind and heart and bring him to life. In Benjamin Disraeli, the ninth book (of twenty-seven projected) in Schocken’s “Jewish Encounters” series, Adam Kirsch vividly reveals Disraeli, the novelist-politician, and the Victorian age which produced him. Kirsch deconstructs his subject by analyzing Disraeli’s fictional creations and conveying how they reflect his ambitions and insecurities. Born Jewish into a nation with so few Jews England lacked even legal discrimination, unlike the rest of Europe, Disraeli manufactured his family’s history and assumed a name which two generations previously had simply been Israeli. This best known of England’s Jews, in fact, spent most of his adult years as a Christian, having been baptized at twelve years of age, together with his siblings. Despite lacking familiarity with Jewish customs, as a young man and as Prime Minister Disraeli was subjected to ridicule and derided as a stranger, regarded as an opportunist, and characterized as stereotypically arrogant and aloof, all as a result of his genealogy. Yet similar to George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda, Kirsch observes, Disraeli believed that “there was less shame in being a Jew than in trying to deny it.” His early autobiographical novels, which are insightfully summarized by Kirsch, provide a revealing selfportrait. As Disraeli noted, “In Vivian Grey I have portrayed my active and real ambition; in Alroy my ideal ambition; The Psychological Romance is a development of my poetic character. This trilogy is the secret history of my feelings.” And when one adds Kirsch’s analysis of such illuminating novels as Tancred and Coningsby, a roadmap to understanding Disraeli’s complex and provocative personality can be drawn. These works provide the reader with a key to discerning how the Jew was perceived in Victorian England, as well as in Europe, and how this powerful political figure influenced the Victorian perception of honor and justice. Identified closely with Queen Victoria, having been elected to Parliament in the year she assumed the throne, Disraeli served only one monarch. From his role in enacting the Reform Act of 1867, which “transformed England into a democracy,” to his serendipitous coup in securing the Suez Canal, to his cautious advocacy of Jewish achievement of power, Disraeli exerted oversized influence on Victoria’s age. And despite a limited understanding of traditional Jewish practices, his self-identification as a Jew was complete. Kirsch has woven a
RESURRECTING HEBREW Ilan Stavans Schocken Books/Nextbook, 2008. 240 pp. $21.00 ISBN: 978-0-8052-4231-7
lan Stavans woke one morning from an unsettling dream. At a party a voluptuous young woman speaks to him in a language he doesn’t understand; it’s Hebrew, explains his long-dead great grandfather, also a guest at the party—this was, after all, a dream. The dream and its aftermath left Stavans uneasy. Once fluent in Hebrew, Stavans, a writer and professor of Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College, had abandoned his use of the language. Multilingual and multinational, he now found himself seized with a desire to recover his lost Hebrew—to resurrect it and its significance in his life—and to learn all he could about the language’s resurrection. In tracking down Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (1858–1922), who devoted his life to creating a modern, usable Hebrew as the heart of his ardent Zionism, Stavans launched a search that led him in many directions—the role of Hebrew in creating a national identity, the historic tensions between the Orthodox and the Zionists, the place of Yiddish in Jewish/Israeli literary culture, Diaspora versus Israeli Judaism, the history of postbiblical Hebrew. As Stavans examines these issues with a wide range of scholars, writers, linguists, and journalists, he learns as much about himself as about Ben-Yehuda. A complex personal journey laced with a loose biography of Ben-Yehuda and the creation of modern Hebrew, Resurrecting Hebrew raises probing questions about language in general and about Hebrew in particular in shaping national, religious, and personal identities. As with the other volumes in Schocken’s Jewish Encounters series, an index would have been helpful; the Acknowledgments serve as a useful bibliography. Chronology. MLW
If you like these titles, you might like the other books in the Jewish Encounters Series. Current titles include: Barney Ross, by Douglas Century Betraying Spinzoa, by Rebecca Goldstein Emma Lazarus, by Esther Schor Jews and Power, by Ruth Wisse The Life of David, by Robert Pinsky Maimonides, by Sherwin Nuland Marc Chagall, by Jonathan Wilson The Wicked Son, by David Mamet Check out Nextbook.org or Schocken Books for information on forthcoming titles in the series.
Literary Studies economic, demographic, cultural, political, and religious development. Both the community’s successes and travails are recounted, as well as the intense struggles between the rising Hasidic movement and its Orthodox opponents, even as Pinsk became a center of modernizing Haskalah tendencies. Broad social, intellectual, and cultural trends are explored and portrayed through intimate family histories drawn from a variety of sources. One hopes that the remainder of the history of Pinsk Jewry will also soon appear in such a readable form. This book should be part of any serious Jewish library. Bibliography, index, maps, notes, photographs. RMS
LAUGH FOR GOD’S SAKE: WHERE JEWISH HUMOR AND JEWISH ETHICS MEET Stanley J. Schachter KTAV Publishing House, Inc., 2008. 154 pp. $20.00 ISBN: 978-1-60280-018-2
tanley J. Schachter ably demonstrates that any text can become a prooftext for Torah insights in this book, which takes examples of Jewish humor and utilizes them as illustrations of models of Jewish ethics. Dividing his presentation into such topics as “The Dark Side of Money,” “Jew Against Jew,” and “The Learned and the Ignorant,” Schacter combines an erudite knowledge of Biblical and Rabbinic tradition—and of Jewish humor. His thesis is simple. Based on Freud’s idea that a joke allows “the satisfaction of an instinct... in the face of an obstacle that stands in its way,” Schachter posits that the battle between the yetzer ha-tov, the innate sense to do good, and the yetzer hara, the temptation to do evil, often surfaces in the tension of a Jewish joke. Although many of the jokes are less funny in the context of an ethical conversation (and have lost something, by Schachter’s admission, in the translation from their original Hebrew or Yiddish), their point is clear. The book is a welcome addition not only to the libraries of those looking for material for speeches, but also to those readers, already familiar with these jokes, who welcome a psychological and spiritual approach. JBK
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WE HAVE WAYS OF MAKING YOU LAUGH: 120 FUNNY SWASTIKA CARTOONS S. Gross Simon & Schuster, 2008. 126 pp. $20.00 ISBN: 978-1-4165-5640-4
am Gross—a cartoonist best known for his panels dealing with precocious animals in The New Yorker—has ventured onto treacherous ground in this collection. The subtitle, jacket copy, and a brief afterword take pains to point out that these drawings, all of which involve the swastika, are meant to be funny, in an attempt to take the sting out of that powerful symbol of evil. But the most successful of the cartoons here are not so much funny as they are wry. The best of the bunch show ordinary people accepting the swastika as an integral part of their world’s decor, quietly satisfied at the fetishistic sense of belonging it confers while stupidly unaware of any darker connotations it may carry. Several panels make an explicit link between the swastika and various pests—usually insect—nicely suggesting the insidious nature of evil as it infests an otherwise humdrum world and comes to be accepted as a minor nuisance at best. Gross’ work here does not rise to the level of such masterful predecessors as Chaplin, Lubitsch, Brooks, and Spiegelman, whose success at satirizing Nazism was limited at best, but it does raise important questions about the limits of satire and the power of symbols. This is a volume worth owning, if only for the thoughts it will provoke. BB
THE LITERARY COMMUNITY: SELECTED ESSAYS— 1967-2007 Ted Solotaroff; Russell Banks, intro. Sheep Meadow Press, 2008. 289 pp. $18.95 ISBN: 978-1931357593
his priceless collection of some twenty-six essays, prefaces, and introductions by one of America’s most insightful editors reflects Solotaroff’s own journey from anxious graduate
student to trustworthy critic and guide through the literary world of the last half century, especially the Jewish literary world. It is a personal but not a solipsistic journey, a demonstration of what his memoirs (the last one was nearly finished and is sure to be published posthumously) portray as a battle with self-created family demons. The wannabe fiction writer became the editor by scrapping his mirror for a lens and discovering authors in their manuscripts, whatever they might seem to be in company. Personal anecdote, never name dropping, might frame Solotaroff’s insight to a writer, but terse summary and pointed analysis of the writing prove the point. Each of these essays in criticism begins by applying Matthew Arnold’s touchstone of seeing the work or the career whole—as what in itself it really is. Thus Walter Benjamin sees all good story telling as rooted not in the teller but in the tale, Alfed Kazin chronicles not so much regional story patterns as the essence of the American imagination, Irving Howe’s world of “Ourselves” is but the Jewish imprint on any immigrant culture: after a first generation’s determination to retain the old ways, and a second’s proclivity to forget them, the third generation’s need to stamp them in memory—before a final assimilation. Some two dozen writers, of poetry, fiction, and criticism, often, like Solotaroff himself up from working-class origins, come alive as forces and influences on a global readership. And the “community’ of the title includes dedicated grant providers for under-funded sponsors. The arrangement of the essays, not chronological but pedagogic, presents a course in understanding writing, its processes, temptations, pitfalls, over- and under-appreciations in a hard world of publishing, and, in a final tender essay called “The Pits of Fiction,” the difference between the critical mind that writes of thoughts and the vivid imagination that creates events. It is a book to be read over the course of a week or two, no more than two or three essays a day. The mulling time in between will be enriched by echoes of Solotaroff’s evocative prose. The “Introduction” by Russell Banks provides an overview of Solotaroff’s career and a partial list of original outlets for the essays. Within the text, the essays are identified by title and date but not usually by provenance. There is no index. One must often guess whether a given piece was originally a forward or a critical review and in what venue. But since this book is a window into the ways of publishing, the reader is free to guess that these omissions may be ascribed to budget. Its payoff is Ted Solotaroff’s generous gift to anyone spending some part of life in the community known as literature. AC
Modern Jewish Thought and Practice
MAPS AND LEGENDS: READING AND WRITING ALONG THE BORDERLANDS Michael Chabon McSweeney’s Books, 2008. 222 pp. $24.00 ISBN 978-1-932416-89-3
habon’s first nonfiction collection gathers sixteen essays and talks ranging over a variety of topics from Sherlock Holmes, Cormac McCarthy, M.R. James, and Will Eisner to the art of the short story, the role of the trickster, and the strange, mysterious, and marvelous power of the golem. Fifteen of the pieces in the collection have appeared previously, some in different forms, in various sources. Chabon’s fans will appreciate the glimpses he offers into his own formative years as a writer, and his fits and starts in the trade, in “My Back Pages.” Chabon’s loving tributes to masters of the comics Will Eisner (“Thoughts on the Death of Will Eisner”), Howard Chaykin (“The Killer Hook”), and Ben Katchor (“Landsman of the Lost”), as well as his manifesto on reviving the comic book for children today (“Kids’ Stuff”), reveal his deep and long-standing love affair with the comics. Underlying all of the pieces in this collection is Chabon’s abiding concern that all forms of literature, as they negotiate the borders of reality and appearance, should be entertaining and proud of their ability to entertain. HLC
MODERN JEWISH THOUGHT AND PRACTICE
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND PEOPLE: A PHILOSOPHY OF JEWISH LAW Elliot N. Dorff Jewish Publication Society, 2007. 310 pp. $35.00 ISBN: 978-0-8276-0840-5
lliot Dorff has been wrestling with Jewish theology and Jewish legal philosophy for
many years. As an academic based at the American Jewish University (formerly the University of Judaism) in California, he has published 200 articles on Jewish thought, law, and ethics, together with thirteen books, and lectures often on this topic. The current work is a pulling together of much of his previous positions and fleshing them out in a structured format. His papers have formulated many of the validated positions of the Conservative Movement on infertility treatments and on end-of-life issues, and his Rabbinic Letters on human sexuality and on poverty have become the voice of the Conservative Movement on those topics. Although he is highly regarded within the Conservative movement, this high regard does not always translate into agreement. In fact, learned members of the Jewish Theological Seminary faculty vehemently disagree with many of his positions. Dorff, who received a Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia with a dissertation on moral theory, believes that if a law is immoral based on our understanding, then it can and should be changed. The ability to change a law is predicated on the premise that the Torah is not the word of God. If the Documentary Hypothesis (key word is hypothesis) is accepted and the Torah was man-made then this logic holds: If man wrote it, man can change it. Dorff claims there is due regard for the weight of tradition when making changes and that communal concurrence should help guard against precipitous changes. Unfortunately this has not always been the case. His position on homosexuality almost split the movement. He places much faith in man’s understanding of what is moral, yet still maintains that Jewish tradition embodies a revelation of divine truth and will. This seems very contradictory. This book will be judged by those who are empowered to act on behalf of the Conservative movement. If they accept Dorff ’s thesis then certainly more and radical changes are on the way. “The trick...” as Dorff states “is striking a balance between assimilating to the outside environment or culture and asserting one’s own distinctiveness.” Further complicating this delicate balance is the manner in which Dorff selects rabbinic teachings upon which to base his innovations and interpretations. Rabbis in every generation looked for precedents. It is highly unlikely however that the rabbis whose sources are cited in some of these responsa would recognize the Judaism their decisions are purported to support, Dorff ’s demurral notwithstanding.
This book is a serious attempt by a serious scholar to address contemporary issues facing Conservative Jews. He develops a detailed case based on in-depth analogies of organism and covenant. He strives to understand the nature and functioning of Jewish law in a contemporary setting. “The strength of my analysis will depend on the extent to which what I suggest accurately reflects the realities of Jewish law in the past and present.” For this reviewer, this book does not meet that standard. Had there been more hugging of the tradition instead of wrestling with it, perhaps. WG
THE TENACITY OF UNREASONABLE BELIEFS: FUNDAMENTALISM AND THE FEAR OF TRUTH Solomon Schimmel Oxford University Press, 2008. 296 pp. $29.95 ISBN: 978-0195188264
chimmel opens with a glimpse into his own struggles and journeys, from his traditional Orthodox beginnings until his midtwenties when he began to acknowledge the “unreasonable” aspects of his beliefs and the worldview that was central to his life, as the backdrop for this book. His explicit goal is to give intellectual and “moral” support to those coming from similar fundamentalist backgrounds who are seeking to make their break from that belief system and world. His larger, also explicit purpose is that he hopes to make the case sufficiently well enough to persuade people—Jewish, Christian, or Muslim who are not struggling or dissatisfied with their beliefs—of the complete and utter error and foolishness of their ways and beliefs, and to instead ascribe to a rational approach grounded in modern current empirical knowledge and “truths.” He refers to his own mantra throughout the book as dealing with the issue of why some otherwise smart people sometimes think and believe stupid things. Schimmel’s central thesis is that any Godcentric religious belief system that is predicated on a revelation story and a core scriptural inerrancy and infallibility is by definition not subject to empirical demonstration of its validity, and therefore should be seen as errant thinking by intelligent, rational people. Through multiple textual examples in the
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Poetry Old Testament, New Testament, and the Koran and their respective traditional fundamentalist explicators, he shows that numerous internal consistencies, conflicts, and discrepancies exist, which seem to be reasonable, defensible, or explainable in ways that make most sense only to believers of said belief systems. Schimmel also suggests that fundamentalist religionists might be “better off ” if they stopped trying to substantiate and/or defend their beliefs through reason and/or empirical demonstrations of the validity of these beliefs. Finally, he offers a fairly good overview of basic psychological concepts that explain why and how people hold on to religious beliefs that are unsubstantiated, unverifiable, and/or irrational. While he struggles to maintain a somewhat respectful tone, he often slips into what is far too deprecatory a voice. Schimmel demonstrates his own rigidity and orthodoxy, putting rationalism, democracy, and “Western values” on a pedestal of questionable height and shaky foundation. More troubling is his tenacious need to demonstrate the errors of their ways to said fundamentalists lest they continue to be the source of intellectual dishonesty for themselves, harm their children, as well as be the source of many problems in the world, big and small. It is disingenuous at best for Schimmel to acknowledge that non-fundamentalists also cause harm in the world but since they aren’t the focus of this book he doesn’t need to address that perspective. While his focus on Orthodox Jewish scriptural fundamentalism is dominant, his particularly sharp attacks on Muslim scriptural fundamentalism become entangled in comments that he relates to Islamic militancy, 9/11, and concerns about security, all of which seem to belie simple unconscious prejudice. And the notion that a rationalist approach to demonstrating the foolishness of belief in fundamentalist Islam to Muslims can serve as a quasi political strategy in confronting intraIslamic support for terrorist acts against the West is ludicrous at best. Ironically, Schimmel states that he remains most comfortable in Orthodox synagogues, observant of much of Halacha, and is so Ortho-prax that he is frequently mistaken by students and others for being Ortho-dox. And he does bravely acknowledge that perhaps he lacks the ultimate courage to follow his convictions to their logical conclusion. Schimmel’s book serves to reveal the tenacity of his own unreasonable beliefs—that anyone who holds said fundamentalist beliefs could possibly be swayed to change their ways as a result of this book. WLL
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WAITING FOR RAIN: REFLECTIONS AT THE TURNING OF THE YEAR
fragile simile “Tiny joys, joys like a lizard’s tail:...” but penetrating further in a resounding chorus of “Everything blessed./A consoling music in everything,/in everything mysteries and hints—/and everything waiting for corals of beautiful words/to be strung by the imagination on its string.” Consider the poem “To my country,” in which she admits she has no heroic deeds or battles to bring to the glory of Israel but instead “...on the shores of the Jordan/my
Bryna Jocheved Levy Jewish Publication Society, 2008. 252 pp. $30.00 ISBN: 978-0-8276-0841-2
aiting for Rain is an elegantly written guide to the liturgical themes for the High Holy Days. The first part of the book addresses the major themes of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, giving us the history and rationale for many of the major prayers and Torah readings. The second part details the liturgy for the post Yom Kippur days of Hoshana Rabbah, Shemini Atzeret, and Simhat Torah. Each chapter devoted to these holidays contains Rabbinic commentary and Biblical scholarship by both traditional and modern authors. The themes of repentance, forgiveness, community, and our relationship to each other are treated with serious scholarship and graceful observations. This is a book not only for the High Holy Days, but also for appreciating the beauty and poetry of Jewish liturgy. BA
...to stare at the Khamsin with the eyes of grass and flowers. hands have planted a tree,/and my feet have made a pathway through your fields.” The sorrow of lost love and her own debilitating illness of multiple sclerosis are minimized by her quiet, realistic awareness that “I,/blessed by these showers/shall twist my way/between coffin cracks and up/through saturated clods/into the wide day,/to stare at the khamsin (hot desert wind)/with the eyes of grass and of flowers.” This is a heart-moving collection. DS
HARVEST OF BLOSSOMS: POEMS FROM A LIFE CUT SHORT Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger; Jerry Glenn and Florian Birkmayer, trans.; Irene Silverblatt and Helene Silverblatt, eds. Northwestern University Press, 2008. 101 pp. $18.95 ISBN: 978-0-8101-2537-7
S FLOWERS OF PERHAPS Ra’hel; Robert Friend with Shimon Sandbank, trans. The Toby Press, 2008. 140 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 978-1-59264-215-1
ensitive, susceptible, tender, and controlled are the words that come to mind when reading the beautiful poems of the renowned Israeli poet Ra’hel or Rachel, in the collection Flowers of Perhaps. “Tiny Joys” best exemplifies Ra’hel’s deep appreciation for life, using the
tories of manuscripts hidden, smuggled, saved, and ultimately published, course through Holocaust literature. New to the genre is Harvest of Blossoms, somewhat atypical because it is poetry, and written by a girl who died in the lesser-known Michailowka, Rumania, camp in 1942, at age eighteen. Translated from German (she was multilingual), her writing these fifty poems of death, adolescent love, fright, with many recalling nature’s beauty, comforted her before and during incarceration. The two editors, next-generation cousins of Selma, have written an extensive introduction. Detailing not only the poet’s volatile and lively life, but the efforts of Selma’s cousin, poet Paul Celan, to bring the manuscript to publication, the introduction includes a cap-
THE OTHER MONOTHEISTIC FAITHS
derful resource includes notes, a glossary, and a bibliography.
AN INTRODUCTION TO ISLAM FOR JEWS Reuven Firestone Jewish Publication Society, 2008. 272 pp. $18.00 ISBN: 978-0-8276-0864-1
Leonard A. Schoolman Jewish Lights Publishing, 2008. 163 pp. $16.99 ISBN: 978-1-58023-344-6.
ince most non-Muslims know little about Islam, a book explaining the religion is very helpful. Reuven Firestone, a rabbi with a Ph.D in Islamic studies, has written a scholarly but accessible introduction to Islam with sections explaining the Muslim relationship with Jews and Islam’s response to Jewish texts. Beginning with a survey of Islamic history, Rabbi Firestone focuses on the role of the Jews during Islam’s emergence. He then explains the religious system, looking at the literature, theology, scripture, traditions, and laws. By examining the similarities and differences betwen Judaism and Islam, the author helps Jewish readers understand difficult concepts such as Jihad and the Islamic view of Jews, Christians, and other “people of the book.” His treatment of the material is objective and thoughtful. This wonsule history of her native city, Czernowitz, and its Jewish, multilingual culture and post-war implosion into Chernivitsi, UKR. The poems, all short, touch both remembered joy “[the river] foams and roars and laughs at the chunks of ice,” with the end she knowingly faced “...fade like smoke, and leave no trace.” Through her poetry, Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger has not. Acknowledgments, introduction, notes, suggested further readings and media. ABS
TRADITION IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE: A DAVID NOVAK READER Randi L. Rashkover and Martin Kavka, eds. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2008. 372 pp. $42.00 ISBN: 978-0-8028-3072-2
THE CHANGING CHRISTIAN WORLD: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION FOR JEWS
his is an excellent introduction, which states its intention to be for Jews about Christianity. But Rabbi Schoolman, who works in the field of interfaith dialogue, has written a book that is equally suited to introduce many Jews to Judaism, and many Christians, as well as non-Christians, to Christianity as well as Judaism. Its focus is on American Judaism and Christianity, but not exclusively. Topics include theological areas like Jesus, Messiah, end times, sin, and how the Bible is viewed, and inter-relational concerns like the state of Israel, various kinds of Christian churches, and religious influences on the U.S. government. It is balanced and basic, but interesting; the kind of introduction you can recommend with confidence. Bibliography, glossary, and suggested readings. MDN
art of a series, “Radical Traditions: Theology in a Postcritical Key,” this complex scholarly collection of essays written by Novak over more than three decades is as much a tribute to the genius that Novak brings from the secular philosophical world and the Jewish scholarship field as it is an overview of his perspectives on a variety of issues. Considered by many to be one of the leading contemporary Jewish theologians and thinkers, Novak’s essays span a wide range of topics. The editors offer a twenty-page introduction that discusses each contained essay, and it is advisable to read this carefully—and perhaps refer back to it. Those essays that are singularly philosophically focused are particularly complex, with frequent references and footnotes containing terms, phrases, and even extensive quotations from primary sources in other languages. A glossary and perhaps even some translations of these passages would have been helpful. More accessible are Novak’s essays in the second major section of the book, particularly those grouped together under the heading “Case Studies: Judaism and Social Ethics,” including essays on his perspectives on Jewish views of war, abortion, capital punishment, and socialized medicine. Indices. WLL
VISUAL ARTS ACTION/ ABSTRACTION: POLLACK, DE KOONING, AND AMERICAN ART, 1950-1976 Norman L. Kleeblatt, ed. The Jewish Museum and Yale University Press, 2008. 344 p. $60.00; $40.00 (pbk.) ISBN: 978-0-300-12215-2 ISBN: 978-0-300-13920-4 (pbk.)
issing from the title and subtitle is the main thrust of the essays of this magnificently illustrated book about the key figures in the blazing art world of post World War II New York: the essays deal with how the two art critics, Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg, dominated the scene with their perspectives on the importance and meaning of the paintings of Jackson Pollack and Willem de Kooning. The two critics were known as leading intellectuals of the 1930’s when they turned their attention to the art
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World Jewry scene, each championing his choice abstract expressionist: Greenberg idolizing Pollack and Rosenberg revering de Kooning. Through their writings they influenced the public’s acceptance of the avant-garde as well as the idea that New York had replaced Paris as the world center of art. Each promoted the standards by which the art would be
criticism. Only in the essays by Mark Godfrey and Morris Dickstein is the matter discussed and they are noteworthy for the insight into the period of the great influence of Jewish intellectuals, with Greenberg editing the Partisan Review, a prestigious journal of ideas, and Rosenberg becoming the art critic for the New Yorker. Even earlier, they had each contributed articles to Commentary and its precursor Contemporary Jewish Record. Each had expounded on the subject of Jewish identity in their writings but only
Willem de Kooning, Gotham News, 1955, oil on canvas. Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, N.Y., Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1955. © 2008 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
judged, even inventing the terminology with which expressionist paintings would be described. Greenberg stood by formal criteria of form and content, favoring abstraction while Rosenberg considered the act of painting an “event” whereby the gesture—action—dominates the effect. The exhibition which occasioned this book is a kind of retrospective—the essayists don’t interpret or evaluate the art—rather they have mined the vast historical record— and it is vast—to present the art movement, Abstract Expressionism, in terms of specific social, political and literary forces at work during that period. Norman Kleeblatt, editor of the volume and senior curator of the exhibitions, contributes the major essay discussing each of the artists and the paintings
Two art critics, Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg, dominated the scene. reproduced in the book, including Kenneth Noland, Barnett Newman, Jasper Johns, Mark Rothko, Morris Louis, Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, Philip Guston, and Jules Olitski, as well as Pollack, de Kooning, and others. The fact that both Greenberg and Rosenberg were Jews (along with a number of the artists) wasn’t considered relevant to their art
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rarely addressed it in relation to their art criticism, Rosenberg’s lecture on “Is there a Jewish Art” given at the Jewish Museum, and later published in Commentary, notwithstanding. The essays address different aspects of the history of Abstract Art and the “Berg Boys,” each lucidly informative and accompanied by illustrations. It is a weighty book, solidly worthwhile. Bibliography and notes. EN
descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Other Black African groups have identified with the principles of Biblical Judaism, while some claim to be the authentic Jews, as opposed to the European-born pretenders who established Israel and comprise the majority of American Jews. This book, by a student of English scholar Tudor Parfitt, traces the roots of these Black Jewish groups to trends in AfricanAmerican history, as well as admiration for the rise and success of the State of Israel, and a desire to create an identity independent of European colonial influences. There is also the remarkable case of the Lembas of South Africa and Zimbabwe who identify as Jews and have been found frequently to be carriers of the recently identified “Cohen chromosome” in their DNA. This scholarly work of anthropology examines the origins and beliefs of Black Jewish groups in more than a dozen African nations, without addressing the question of their theological or halakhic legitimacy. Bibliography, index, map, and notes. RMS
CULTURE FRONT: REPRESENTING JEWS IN EASTERN EUROPE Benjamin Nathans and Gabriella Safran, eds. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008. 323 pp. $65.00 ISBN: 978-0-8122-4055-9
THE BLACK JEWS OF AFRICA: HISTORY, RELIGION, IDENTITY Edith Bruder Oxford University Press, 2008. 283 pp. $49.95 ISBN: 978-0-19-533356-5
he Beta Israel (also known as Falashas) from Ethiopia have been accepted by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate as Jews, while hundreds of the Abuyudaya community in Uganda were converted by American Conservative rabbis. An increasing number of Black African groups assert a Jewish identity as
his varied and broad collection of essays goes a long way toward filling in our appreciation of the thousand-year cultural heritage of Jews in Europe. Eastern European Jewry’s destruction sixty-five years ago is mentioned only elliptically in the last chapter; the focus of discussion is the “near-history” of the previous three centuries of Jewish symbiosis with Polish and Russian political, literary, and theatric productivity. Culture Front is written by and mostly for an academic audience. Yet the reader interested in European Jewish life will encounter a feast of investigations ranging from the Yiddish theatre in Warsaw to the texture of political debates on inclusion of Jews in pre-World War II civil society to early Zionist Hebrew literature to the engagement of Jews in pre-
World War II Revolutionary Russian politics. Among the most engaging essays are those which deftly illustrate a moment in time in the cultural life of Jews feeling the euphoria of (what they felt to be) a much fuller share in the stage or the literature or the political awakenings of Eastern Europe. JAK
The failed attempt to overthrow the Tsarist regime became a turning point for a generation of Russian Jews. A typical offering in this rich source tells how young Jewish intellectuals like David Green (later Ben Gurion), in despair over devastating government-sponsored pogroms, came to feel that Zionism was the only solution for the Jewish future. Another chapter deals with the identity problem of Polish Jewry. Should they, as many of them died, and as politically liberal Christians urged, assimilate as Polish citi-
How did young intellectuals like Ben Gurion come to feel that Zionism was the only solution for the Jews?
THE LAST JEWS OF KERALA Edna Fernandes Skyhorse Publishing, 2008. 228 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 978-1-60239-267-0
he Last Jews of Kerala details the fascinating history of the 2,000 year old littleknown Jewish community in India’s Kerala region, from its inception to its apex to its impending extinction. Author Edna Fernandes gives the work a human side by describing not only the history but her interactions with the present generation of these Jews, who now number fewer than fifty. The reader joins Fernandes in what feels like her personal journey of discovery. The subject is fascinating and poignant, the journey both languid and intense. Fernandes’ strongest suit is her ability to introduce a theme, seamlessly interweave it within the story, and conclude by unfolding a cohesive tapestry. Readers interested in Jewish history will not be disappointed. YK
zens of the Jewish faith? Or were they, as many claimed, a Yiddish-speaking Jewish nation? Excerpts from letters express the agony of young Jews who have lost hope of ever seeing their ruthless homeland be transformed by Marxism. Also included are studies of Jewish efforts to found schools and free libraries in the Pale. The conclusion is upbeat, with accounts of mass emigration to America and work by American Jewish organizations on behalf of victims of Tsarist brutality. Many articles can be recommended to general readers, particularly those eager to learn about their families’ Russian background. But since the text is directed toward academia, it requires serious interest. Bibliography, with notes, biographies of authors, cartoons of Jews, index, and map of the Pale. JW
WORLD WAR II
THE REVOLUTION OF 1905 AND RUSSIA’S JEWS Stefani Hoffman and Ezra Mendelsohn, eds. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008. 336 pp. $55.00 ISBN: 978-0-8122-4064-1
his fine collection of essays by noted scholars is a welcome addition to the literature on a critical period in Jewish history.
Baker weaves together diaries and journals, newspaper reports, radio addresses, magazine profiles and interviews to buttress the book’s thesis, which is that civilians are the fodder of war. Leaders know the truth and yet they engage in killing. Civilians know the truth and yet they follow their leaders into war. Spanning the period from the late 1800s to the beginning of World War II, Human Smoke climaxes in the greatest historical example of the end of civilization, the murder of six million innocents in the Holocaust. MDH
HUMAN SMOKE: THE BEGINNINGS OF WORLD WAR II, THE END OF CIVILIZATION Nicholson Baker Simon and Schuster, 2008. 576 pp. $30.00 ISBN: 978-1-4165-6784-4
WHY WE WATCHED: HOW ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE ALLIED NATIONS ALLOWED HITLER TO EXTERMINATE EUROPEAN JEWRY Theodore S. Hamerow W.W. Norton & Company, 2008. 576 pp. $35.00 ISBN: 9780393064629
ne would think that by now, so many years after the Holocaust, there can be little left to add to our understanding of the horrific acts that led to the extermination of European Jewry. Not so. Theodore Hamerow, in his book Why We Watched takes the information we already have and examines it from a new and original angle. Numerous studies have been conducted on the roles of bystanders during the Holocaust. These works looked at the various European countries involved in the extermination process in order to determine how much information they really had and the impact that information had on the ways they chose to act or not to act. Hamerow’s study provides a new twist. The author sets the stage before the Holocaust and suggests that because of the type of anti-Semitism that existed in these countries there is no conceivable chance that large numbers of ordinary citizens would have intervened to save the lives of European Jews as individuals or as a group. Hamerow’s thesis implies that the Jews of Europe never had a chance—not because of the power of Hitler, but because of the pre-Hitler make-up of the countries these Jews once called home. MDH
his is a work of history by novelist Nickelson Baker, though it reads like fiction.
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A is for Abraham Richard Michelson Sleeping Bear Press, 2008. 40 pp. $17.95 ISBN: 978-1-58536-322-3
leeping Bear Press has a fantastic series of alphabet books that covers such subjects as the library and Greek mythology. The format includes a short poem accompanied by beautiful illustrations, with a sidebar on each page that provides further detail about information in the poem. This alphabet book runs the gamut of Jewish history including bible stories (Abraham, David, and Noah), life cycle events and holidays, famous Jews like Albert Einstein and Marc Chagall, and things that are part of Jewish culture, like Ellis Island and Klezmer music. Some items are a little more obscure, like G for Golem, or O is for Oneg Shabbat. The richness of Jewish family life may best be illustrated by the C poem: “C could be the challah that my bubbe used to braid, or C could be the chicken soup, when I was sick, she made, or chocolate coins on Chanukah we added to our coffers. But I say C should be for chai, to “life” and all it offers.” While probably not for the Orthodox, it does cover a range of activities and information pertinent to all Jews. For the most part the rhymes are cute, with a combination of humor and information. While there are a few minor inaccuracies in some of the explanatory information, the positive feeling and overall coherence and presentation make for a book that is highly recommended. Ages 5–9. KSP
A Calendar of Festivals: Celebrations From Around the World Cherry Gilchrist; Helen Cann, illus. Barefoot Books, 2005. 80 pp. $12.99 ISBN: 9781841489704
his book contains descriptions of eight different holidays celebrated worldwide and a story to accompany each one. Each story is beautifully illustrated, and patterned borders surround the holiday descriptions. Some of the stories are folktales, for example a Russian fairy tale entitled “Father Frost” and a Celtic story called “The Halloween Changeling.” Other stories are important to the religions described, including the birth of Jesus and the life of Buddha. The only Jewish story is a retelling of the Book of Esther. While the story of Esther is told fairly correctly, the one page description of Purim contains several inaccuracies. People do not cheer the heroine during a megilla reading; Purimshpiels are still performed today, and were never pantomimed. People do not exchange presents; they give gifts of food. If there are this many mistakes in the descrip-
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tion of a familiar holiday, how many might there be for unfamiliar traditions? The writing is serviceable and the stories enjoyable, but the over use of the explanation point becomes very distracting. Even more troubling in a book that purports to be about appreciating other traditions and cultures, the assumption is made that the reader is Christian, “December 25th is the day on which one of our best-known and best-loved festivals takes place,” but, “the Jewish people still remember how they have been threatened.” This book is not recommended for purchase. Ages 8–12. HZ
Capturing the Moon: Classic and Modern Jewish Tales Rabbi Edward M. Feinstein Behrman House, Inc., 2008. 179 pp. $22.00 ISBN: 978-0-87441-840-8
ow wonderful to have another book of retellings of fabulous folktales and midrashim, classic and modern, to add to the storehouse of tellable stories! These thirty-six tales transmit Jewish culture and values
according to six themes, such as “Doing What’s Right” and “Teachers and Friends.” Each brief story (2–5 pages) concludes with some insightful commentary about its lesson and questions that explore its theme. At the end of the book, there is also a Values Index. The stories take place in various centuries and places, including ancient Israel, the East European shtetl, the State of Israel, and the USA. In Rabbi Feinstein’s versions of these story gems, he engages in a creative riff that produces some twists and turns different than the traditional tales. In other words, he has created variants of well-known stories through his adaptations. Sometimes those changes work wonderfully (as in “Challahs in the Ark”) but, at other times, the message is stretched (such as “The Bird in the Tree”) or even misconceived (such as “The Magician”). However, there is a major omission and weakness in this collection. This book lists no sources for any of the stories other than an occasional mention of a specific rabbi and time period. Some stories are midrashim that could have been easily sourced, but other tales that ‘seem’ to be midrashim, or another genre, may, in fact, be creative writing or pure invention (such as “The Rabbi and the Gladiator” and “The Last Story of the Wise Men of Chelm”). In fact, when tales are not identified as a midrash, a folktale, an original tale, or a tale based on an historical event, it leads to confusion about the stories. Adaptation of stories is part of the vibrant fluid folklore process, but we need to know that the story comes from a source, such as the Talmud or midrash, or is most identified with a specific Hasidic rabbi or a biblical-turned-folklore character. In his introduction, Rabbi Feinstein writes: “I did not compose these stories. Some of them I read in books. Some I heard at a Shabbat dinner table. Some I remember from my childhood. There are great scholars of Jewish stories who can tell us where a story came from, who first told it, and how in different versions developed. I have great reverence for such scholarship. But that’s not my expertise. I’m interested in a story’s power to teach. And so, to make the most of that power, I have taken the liberty of retelling the stories in my own way.” This “explanation” may be a justification for Rabbi Feinstein to retell these classic folktales, but it does not go far enough. As Jews, we always respect sources and proof-texts. We always want to know where a story or idea comes from. Not everyone may read that “disclaimer” in the Introduction and, thus, may assume that Rabbi Feinstein is the “author” of these sto-
ries or they are the versions he read/heard/ remembers. I am glad to see that his credit line on the cover is “Retold by Rabbi Edward M. Feinstein” but that, too, is not enough. The power of teaching comes from connecting our stories to our rich oral and literary tradition, sacred and secular. We need to teach our young people, from the earliest ages, that these stories are grounded in sacred, cultural and historical contexts. They are stories told by Jews wherever they have lived and over the centuries and why. Yes, we need to honor our sources. And also note how the reteller has changed the traditional folktale and why. Publishers of books for young and old now include pages of sources at the end of a book or at least a source is given at the end of each story. Librarians and all educators can teach the story better when they know the source and genre in order to use the stories for discussion and teach about various ethnic communities. I would hope that when this book is reprinted (or even before the publisher sells out the first batch), the publisher will insert a few pages of sources for these stories. Then the book would be more worthy of being a tool of teaching since we would know for sure that the values and lessons embedded in these stories are based on a strong foundation that is acknowledged and honored. This book of stories can appeal to a great range of ages from 6 to 120. PS
Celebrating With Jewish Crafts Rebeca Edid Ruzansky; Roberto Zeballos-Peralta, photography Rebeca Edid Ruzansky, 2008. 300 pp. $49.95 ISBN: 978-0615-17114-2
isit the colorful and cleverly designed website of this fabulous craft book (www.celebratingwithjewishcrafts.com) and you won’t think twice about shelling out a significant amount of money to own this one-of-a-kind resource. Clearly a labor of love by a talented group of designers and artists, this self-published huge hardcover book weighs in at over 300 pages of heavy art paper replete with beautiful full-color photos and step-by-step instructions. The crafts include every Jewish occasion imaginable, along with other fun items, like bookmarks, hamsas, siddur covers, placemats, etc. Each volume comes individually shrinkwrapped and in its own box. It seems that even
the artistically challenged can find enough projects to keep busy and have a good time, but most of the directions require pre-planning and a trip to the craft store for some supplies. “Salt Dough” and “Flour Paste” modeling look easy and fun and the uses for Polymer clay seem endless. Put a “Wine Bottle Suit” made of felt on the Manischewitz at your next Seder... braid your own Havdalah candles.... make a little Sukkah out of straws, chopsticks pencils or a sushi mat.... or a miniature Torah made from two small rolling pins...take apart a jump rope and make a coiled basket or coaster from the cord. The possibilities are endless and the money is well spent. LS
A Dozen Daisies for Raizy: A Shavuos Story Rebecca Klempner; Chava, illus. Hachai Publishing, 2008. 29 pp. $10.95 ISBN: 978-1-929628-41-4
aizy, the heroine of A Dozen Daisies for Raizy, goes shopping with her Bubby to buy flowers for Shavuos, choosing a dozen daisies to brighten her home for the holiday. On the way back she helps a new friend feel like part of the community by asking her to help with the family’s Kiddush, invites a lonely woman to join her family for blintzes, and offers to help with a neighbor’s twins so she and the neighbor can both hear the Ten Commandments read in the synagogue. To each neighbor she gives two of her daisies. Though her bouquet grows smaller, her joy increases as she remembers the neighbors she cheered with her mitzvot. Bold, brightly colored illustrations help to tell the story and show the mood of the characters. Without preaching, this sweet story teaches much about the meaning of Shavous and how it is traditionally celebrated. In a unique twist, the book features characters from both the Ashkenazic and Sephardic communities, using different languages, dialects and phrases to wish one another a happy holiday. As a note at the beginning of the book explains, “This highlights how important it is that all Jews remain united at the core, just as they were on the very first Shavuos.” A glossary defines the Yiddish and Hebrew words used in the story. Ages 4–8. DLR
The Dragonfly Pool Eva Ibbotson; Kevin Hawkes, illus. Dutton Children’s Books, 2008. 366 pp. $17.99 ISBN: 978-0-525-42064-4
n 1939 England, Tally, a student at the progressive Delderton boarding school, convinces the school to allow a group of students to participate in an International Children’s Dance Festival in the fictional European country of Bergania. Adventure ensues as Tally and her friends must rescue twelve-year-old Prince Karil from dastardly Nazi henchmen and smuggle him back to England. Think Harry Potter, without the magic, meeting the Sound of Music. Friendship and kindness triumph over cruelty, rigidity, and snobbism. The story is old-fashioned in the best possible way, featuring a heroic king, wicked villains, loyal companions, and a plucky heroine. The plot moves along quickly with lots of action. Ibbotson’s tongue in cheek humor adds to the enjoyment. The Jewish component of the book is practically non-existent. None of the characters are Jewish, and Jewish refugees are only mentioned briefly. The author herself was a Jewish refuge who left Austria in 1933, and Bergania resembles Austria in its natural beauty and Denmark with its heroic king. Young readers might be confused in that Bergania is a fictional country, but the other information about World War II is accurate. In spite of this reservation, this book is highly recommended. Ages 10–14. HZ
Hanukkah Haiku Harriet Ziefer; Karla Gudeon, illus. Blue Apple Books, 2008. 20 pp. $16.95 ISBN: 978-1-934706-33-6
his exquisitely illustrated book captures the joy and excitement of Hanukkah in the colorful dancing Chagall-like figures of the family who are lighting the Hanukkah candles. The cut pages show each successive candle being lit on the golden hanukiah as the book counts up to eight. A haiku for each night tells in 3 lines and seventeen syllables about the joy
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Angel Girl Laurie Friedman; Ofra Amit, illus. Carolrhoda Books, 2008. 32 pp. $16.95 ISBN: 978-0-8225-8739-2
erman Rosenblat had a happy childhood in Poland until the Nazis invaded in 1939. By 1942, he was taken to a concentration camp and separated from his family. The routine and conditions wore down his body and spirit. One day, he saw a girl on the other side of the camp fence. She threw him an apple, and became his “angel girl” by appearing daily with an apple for him. After the war ended, Herman went to England and then on to the United States. A friend set him up with a nurse on a blind date. When they began talking about their war experiences, they realized that she is the girl who threw him apples. This is based on a true story, and Herman and his angel girl, Roma, have been married for 50 years. It is a touching story and Amit’s expressive illustrations are a good match for the simple text. As with most illustrated Holocaust books, it is a challenge to determine for whom the book is appropriate. Although there is no overtly gruesome content, pictures of skinny prisoners in uniforms, Nazi Guards and barbed wire evoke certain feelings. The book importantly illustrates the innate goodness of people despite circumstances, and it is recommended for use with teacher or parent directive and for those looking for a Holocaust story with an uplifting ending. Ages 9–12. KSP
Naming Liberty Jane Yolen; Jim Burke, illus. Philomel Books, 2008. 32 pp. $16.99 ISBN: 9780399242502
ased on Yolen’s family history, parallel stories take readers on a journey from the old world to the new in this beautifully formatted offering. Beginning at two distinct and distant dinner tables, the left-hand pages tell the story of seven-year-old Gitl, a Russian Jewish girl whose family hopes to immigrate to the United States, while the right-hand pages follow the dream of Frenchman Frederic
Auguste Bartholdi to build a monument in honor of America’s hundredth birthday, the Statue of Liberty. Page by page, repetitive phrasing connects the two seemingly unrelated stories, e.g. “Moving across the ocean...takes time” and “...large dreams take time.” From the planning stages, through delays, frustrations and finally to fruition, two dreams reach their destination “in crates, by train, then boat,” so that Lady Liberty greets Gitl’s family as they sail into New York harbor. While the two stories never completely merge, their spirit and message dovetail to create a heartfelt tribute the American ideal of personal freedom. Illustrated in a rich palette of orange, brown and aqua, realistic oil paintings create a more subtle visual link between the stories through gestures such as the raising of arms at the dinner table, the tilt and expression of two heads, and Bartholdi’s glance across the page as he holds up a picture of Liberty’s torch, as though reassuring the immigrants on the opposite page that their long journey will be well worth it. A fine collaborative effort. Grades 2–4. TM
peared. Q is obsessed. If he wants to fulfill his fantasy, he’s got to find her. She has left a series of cryptic and clever clues that include Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, the use of capitalization, and a place called Agloe. The question is: does she want to be found? And if not, will she still be alive when they find her? With the help of his friends, Radar and Ben, as well as Margo’s friend, Lacy, Q takes the reader on a road trip that is unexpected, full of heart, and laugh-out-loud funny. In Paper Towns, Green creates fully drawn band geeks, intellectuals and gamers. The dialogue is smart and sophisticated and if for no other reason than to see what they will do next, the reader stays put. Their journey is hilarious and heartfelt. Paper Towns does not contain Jewish content. Although both Margo and Q have Jewish names, the only time Judaism is mentioned is when Q thinks about saying Kaddish. But this is a book that smart Jewish readers should read. Showing Jewish kids in a secular story can and will bring them to the table to talk about Jewish issues. This novel can spur a discussion on a number of topics: death, suicide, revenge, acceptance, and forgiveness, and may even get some to open up Whitman. But more important, Paper Towns shows smart kids being smart, doing daring things. We see them following their interests and succeeding, even when corny. Q, Ben and Radar may not be popular, but they are friends. They are not outcasts. Girls like them, often for their brains. And that’s not a bad thing to talk about with our kids. This is a hero’s story, and highly recommended for readers 14 and up. SA
John Green Dutton Books, 2008. 352 pp. $17.99 ISBN: 978-0525478188
argo always loved mysteries. And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.” This is high school senior Quentin Jacobsen, the protagonist of John Green’s newest novel, Paper Towns. Quentin, aka Q, has been in love with the beautiful Margo Roth Spiegelman since the two of them discovered a dead body in the park of their Orlando subdivision when they were nine years old. Now on very different paths (Q is an uber-clever nerd, while Margo lives in the popular zone), she shows up at his bedroom window in the middle of the night for a funfilled night of revenge, thrills, and creative pranks. In the morning, Q drags himself to school, with hopes of exploring his new and improved relationship, but Margo has disap-
Someone for Mr. Sussman Patricia Polacco Philomel, 2008. 40 pp. $16.99 ISBN: 978-0-399-25075-0
he unique and prolific Patricia Polacco again presents us with a look into the life and actions of a strong grandmother, this time a Jewish matchmaker. Jerome has a bubbie who is a talented shadchan; she has only failed to provide ONE of her clients, picky Mr. Sussman, with a spouse. Bubbie’s young grandson is depicted to look exactly like Rotten Richie, Polacco’s brother and protagonist of two of her successful stories.
The clients are all depicted with humor, even with a comic touch, and with all their warts. Bubbie works hard to satisfy Mr. Sussman’s needs but to no avail. Polacco has written many books about her ethnically mixed family; several portray the Jewish members beautifully, namely, The Keeping of the holiday. Some of the poems rhyme and others don’t, although the haiku form does not call for rhyme. Many words are repeated from poem to poem, making this reviewer wish the author had explored her topic a little deeper than saying that Hanukkah is fun. Although this book gives no real information about the history or celebration of Hanukkah, it is a delightful feast for the eyes that children will enjoy. Recommended Preschool; ages 1–5. SD
Quilt and The Butterfly. This family story, like others by this author, goes a long distance in helping the reader appreciate family characters and history, and also gives the reader a reason to believe there is always hope in life, despite all the vicissitudes. Polacco’s familiar artistic style is perfectly at
Happy Hanukkah, Dear Dragon Margaret Hillert; David Schimmell, illus. Norwood House Press, 2008. 32 pp. $19.93 ISBN: 978-1599531595
T The Hanukkah Mice Steven Kroll; Michelle Shapiro, illus. Marshall Cavendish Children, 2008. 32 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 978-0-7614-5428-1
t’s the first night of Hanukkah and there is a family of mice who live in the basement of the Stilman house. The mice come up from the basement to hear Mr. Stilman light the Hanukkah candles. After Mr. Stilman lights the candle and says the prayers, Rachel gets an exquisitely carved dollhouse with laced curtains “Just the right size for us,” says Mindy and Mitchell, the children of the mice family. While the Stilmans are asleep, the mice family explores and occupies the dollhouse. As each night of the holiday commences, Rachel gets furniture and dishes, which she fills with latkes, gelt and dreidels and places in the dollhouse. On the last night of Hanukkah Rachel gets a menorah. The mice wonder where all the gifts come from while Rachel lies on her bed and smiles. The illustrations are done in gouache with appealing bright colors which add a touch of whimsy and light heartedness to the story. (Michelle Shapiro received the 2007 Sydney Taylor Honor Award for Younger Readers for the book Rebecca’s Journey Home.) Children will enjoy knowing the secret of how the Hanukah goodies are provided to the little mouse family. Parents of young children will find this to be a simple and enjoyable Hanukkah story that does not contain any explanations about the historical or religious aspects of the holiday. Ages 4–8. BS
his new addition to the Dear Dragon series of “Beginning-to-Read” titles, begun over thirty years ago by Margaret Hillert, is very strange. Reviewed here as a library edition, it includes “an instructional note to caregivers, a word list, and activities to promote reading success.” However, except for the use of the word Hanukkah in the title and at the end, none of the objects for Hanukkah shown in this very early beginning reader are identified! The reader sees the boy and dragon go to visit a friend and his father who are wearing yarmulkes, the friend’s mother making rather hard-to-recognize potato pancakes, the boy lighting the candles of a menorah, and the two boys and the dragon playing with a dreidel, but these objects are not ever identified in the text when they are shown. Only at the back of the book, where there is an activity for reading reinforcement, are these words listed, and not with identifying pictures. Clearly the series is attempting to include only certain simple words and adding new ones would not go with the program. The cartoon-like color illustrations are very engaging, but at a price of over $18.00, this book is only recommended for schools and reading programs. ADa
Jodie’s Hanukkah Dig Anna Levine; Topaz Ksenia, illus. Lerner Publishing, 2008. 32 pp. $7.95 ISBN: 978-0-8225-7402-6
his appealing story includes some underused elements of Jewish children’s literature:
one with the story. In this oeuvre Bubbie and Mr. Sussman’s features are somewhat exaggerated, probably to identify them as “the crooked parts who have finally found a lid” (a quote from the dedication). A winning story recommended for ages five to eight, filled with Jewish content. SF a Hanukkah story that does not historically explain the holiday, takes place in modern day Israel, and shows a normal, (un-terrorized) happy, Israeli family. Young Jodie dreams of being a famous archaeologist and traveling to far-off places like her father. She lives outside of Jerusalem and one day her father gives her a chance to go visit a nearby dig in Modi’in. When the diggers find an interesting hole that is too small to enter, Jodie gets the chance to do some fearless exploring and finds an artifact from the time of the Maccabees. The historical aspects of Hanukkah are never mentioned, but Jodie’s feat of discovery places her squarely in their footsteps: “nimble enough to crawl through the tiny passageways, brave enough not to be afraid of the dark, and strong enough to fight off all the people who thought they were too little to win.” A well-written and engaging read, with attractive watercolor artwork. For ages 4–8. LS
Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass: Igniting the Nazi War Against Jews Stephanie Fitzgerald Compass Point Books, 2008. 96 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 978-0-75653-489-9
hortly after the events of Kristallnacht, Hugh Carleton Green, a correspondent who worked for London’s Daily Telegraph wrote: “Mob law ruled in Berlin throughout the afternoon and evening and hordes of hooligans indulged in an orgy of destruction. I have seen several anti-Jewish outbreaks in Germany during the last five years, but never anything as nauseating as this.” Part of the “Snapshots in History” series, Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass, portrays the horrific events in Germany and Austria leading up to, during, and following the night of November 9, 1938. Fitzgerald encompasses a great deal of material into one flowing narrative. Little-known, slightly bizarre
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facts should intrigue the teen reader. For example, it took six months to replace all the glass that had been smashed during that one night of violence, looting, and destruction. With its generous margins, appropriate sidebars, and black and white photos, Kristallnacht is a useful book for students who are researching this difficult subject. A detailed timeline, glossary, source notes, bibliography, and index contribute to an accessible and readable text. Unfortunately, one factual error and several copywriting errors mar what is otherwise an effective treatment of a heart-wrenching topic. Ages 12–14. ADu
vide a very useful feature called, “The Real Story Behind the Story” at the end of the book, which should promote further reading on the subject. Middle school readers, older than the narrator, but younger than the victim, will like this sad adventure if they can get past the packaging. Ages 11–14. EGC
Psalms for Young Children Marie-Helene Delval; Arno, illus. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2008. 80 pp. $16.00 ISBN: 978-0-8028-5322-6
The Locket: Surviving the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Suzanne Lieurance Enslow, 2008. 160 pp. $27.93 ISBN: 978-0-7660-2928-6
ripping, graphic, grousing, and grieving through each page, this stunning YA historical fiction is certainly not for the faint hearted. Rape and fiery death vie with myriad historical facts about immigrant life on the Lower East Side, the nascent garment workers’ labor movement and the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Company. The plot moves straight forwardly from introduction of the protagonist family of pogrom scarred Russian Jews through their cultural and political mores to their loss in the disastrous 1911 fire. There is romance, dull and chaste, due to the novel’s narrator, an elevenyear-old girl, observing her eighteen-year-old sister, but too young to really get it. History creates the stronger drama; the focus of the plot is the labor union. Jewish customs are over-described because the book caters to a universal audience uninformed about Jewish religious practice, notably Shabbat and sitting shivah. The novel is a well written, quick read despite much historical information which educates readers, supplies foreboding, supports the foreshadowing and ironically suggests the avoidability of the tragedy. The biggest question is will it have an audience? The packaging of textbook like binding and slick paper pages make the volume appear to be nonfiction despite the romantic danger suggested by the cover art. Enslow Publishers, known for general non-fiction titles, has started this new series with three American-related, fictional stories set in different historical settings. The authors pro-
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he author does an excellent job of conveying the essence of selected Psalms in concise, child-friendly language. The pastel and ink illustrations are colorful and full of motion, varied, yet consistent in style. There is no mention of the original Hebrew language of the Psalm, but on each page, a simple English translation is given in oversized and readable black font. The number of each Psalm is identified at the bottom. For example, Psalm 143 is translated to read, “Please God, don’t ignore me when I ask for your help. I know I can count on you! Show me the right road to take. Teach me to obey you and to do what you want. You are my God!” On the opposite page the appealing corresponding illustration serves to enhance the poetic imagery. Since the voice of an unspecified child addresses “God” in every Psalm, it almost becomes trite if the book is read in one sitting, but that was probably not its intent. The book is appropriate for children of any religion, though a Jewish translation might have chosen different names of God for different moods of the Psalms, or included Hebrew. A recommended first look at Psalms and spiritual poetry for the very young. Ages 4–8. MB
Rabbi Harvey Rides Again Steve Sheinkin Jewish Lights, 2008. 123 pp. $16.99 ISBN: 978-1-58023-347-3
ust as in the original, Rabbi Harvey Rides Again is a graphic novel set in Elk Spring, Colorado, during the 1870’s. Rabbi Harvey is the hero, judge and sheriff all rolled into one. Rabbi Harvey solves the town’s problems armed only with his wit and wisdom. Author Steve Sheinkin takes classic Jewish folktales and gives them am unexpected twist, seamlessly integrating Jewish folklore into the Wild West. The characters and dilemmas change in each story, but Rabbi Harvey is always there to cleverly save the day with his arsenal of Jewish knowledge. This sequel has 10 tales, each one with its own lesson and plot. Rabbi Harvey brings new life to tales and legends from Rabbi Akiva to Chelm and everywhere Jewish in between. The illustrations are simple, but Mr. Sheinkin took the time to add in period details, like mining and saddleries. Even readers who are not fans of graphic novels will enjoy this book. It can be used for simple bedtime reading with your child and also to facilitate discussions about Jewish ethics in religious school. Sheinkin certainly proves that the way to a child’s heart and mind is through the funny bone. Ages 8– RR
Rutka’s Notebook: A Voice from the Holocaust Vad Vashem, ed. Yad Vashem, 2007. 89 pp. $19.95 ISBN: 1-60320-019-3
utka’s Notebook is the diary of a Jewish teenager living in Bedzin, Poland in early 1943. Sixty years after the young author, Rutka, hid her diary, it was retrieved by a friend and subsequently published. The book covers the four months prior to Ruthke’s deportation to Auschwitz. Through the young author’s eyes we are witness to the horrors and brutality delivered by the Nazis during their occupation of Poland. Rutka reveals her life in her notebook, in both actuality and raw emotion. We are drawn in by Rutka’s typical teenage emotional conflicts—love, anger, jealousy—at the same time as we are buffeted by the brutality and horrendous cruelty of her Nazi tormentors. This book is unique in its format. Eschewing footnotes, the publishers intermingle photographs and explanatory text with relevant diary passages. The diary is a worthwhile read for
A CHAT WITH NORA RALEIGH BASKIN By Barbara Bietz Nora Raleigh Baskin is the author of several books for young readers. Her newest book, The Truth About My Bat Mitzvah (Simon and Schuster) is a touching story of a young girl’s journey to discover her own heritage after the death of her grandmother. I first heard about the book from Nora’s editor, Alexandra Cooper. I met Alexandra at an SCBWI retreat. Coincidentally, about a week later I received a copy of The Truth About My Bat Mitzvah to review for the AJL (Association of Jewish Libraries) newsletter. I was immediately drawn to the story, especially Nora’s ability to create such a believable, authentic character. By the end of the book I felt like I had been at Caroline’s side as she triumphantly navigated her way to a meaningful resolution. Interviewing Nora was a joy and I’m thrilled she was able to share her thoughts about her writing journey.
Tell me a little bit about your latest book, The Truth About My Bat Mitzvah. What inspired you to write a book with this theme? Short answer, my life. A little longer answer: This book is very much my story, although in my case it wasn’t that my Jewish mother was unobservant, but that she had died when I was three years old. But like Caroline in the book, I grew up without any understanding of my Jewish heritage—at all. But around the age of twelve, just like most girls and boys, I began questioning my identity and searching for who I wanted to be, what I wanted to be. And, while I wanted to believe in a connection to my mother, who I couldn’t even remember, and to my Judaism, there was a lot standing in my way. Mainly, that I had no idea what being Jewish meant. In seventh grade, I actually did pretend to be sick on Yom Kippur so that I would be absent from school just like the two “really” Jewish kids in my class Debbie Nemerofsky and Rob Schiff, I decided to have Caroline do the same thing. I remember it very clearly. For a long time I felt like a faker, a pretender, until I realized “I am Jewish” because I chose to be. And that holds true even for people who grew up learning Hebrew, having Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and knowing what Yom Kippur is. At some point in your life, you still have to choose.
What type of research was involved? I didn’t have to do much research because for the past twenty years, since my first son was born, I have been learning everything I can about Judaism. I even teach Hebrew school, for nearly as long. So I knew that having a Bar or Bat Mitzvah isn’t a “requirement” for being Jewish. I knew that having a Jewish parent, especially a mother (for the Conservative and Orthodox) was technically enough. But I also learned that being Jewish is about being part of an incredible history and that passing that history on, learning about it, writing about it, teaching it, remembering its beauty. I was proud of the things I learned about. When writing the book, I also used what I knew from teaching Hebrew school—how difficult it is to give things up, deal with missing games or trips because its Passover or Rosh Hashanna. Going to Hebrew school itself, every week. And while you may not “have to” have a B’nei Mitzvah, it is a wonderful thing—to stand in front of the whole world and proclaim who and what you are. I have beautiful memories of
my boys’ Bar Mitzvah services. I used those memories, too, while writing the book. But mostly I used my true “lived” experiences for this story. I really did break my Nana’s Star of David necklace. But I still found a way to wear in my school photo by pulling a leather shoelace from my work boot and using that (we all wore workboots in those days!) And I really did ask my grandfather for my Nana’s perfume when she died. It’s all I wanted and I still have it. So in a way this book is my way of connecting, not only to my mother, but to my Nana. I think she would be very happy to see how far I’ve come. Or rather, how close I am now.
How did you become a children’s writer? I have been writing for children for fifteen years. My first book was published in 2001 but I had been writing and trying to publish for a long time before that. In fact, some of my earliest attempts were short stories with Jewish themes. But they were too didactic. I didn’t realize all I needed to do was look within myself to find the real story I needed to tell. But live and learn, right? Nothing is ever really wasted.
What are you working on now? I have my first YA novel coming out in August (ALL WE KNOW OF LOVE) and then a book with an autistic first person narrator coming out in spring ’09 (ANYTHING BUT TYPICAL). And, by the way, if you look back at my work, you will find all my characters are Jewish, even if in name only. You will never find a casual Christmas celebration or gratuitous Easter unless it specifically fits the needs of the story.
What are a few fun facts about you? Hmm...facts about me? I hate zucchini and cilantro. (you can check out http://www.ihatecilantro.com/member.php?user=norabaskin) I love egg creams (just like Caroline!) chocolate or vanilla. I swim or run just about every day, or at least every other day. Or at least as often as I can.
What is your favorite holiday? Easy one! Passover. I make the most amazing Seder with toy frogs all over my table, Baby Moses in little baskets. I cook the best kosher chicken with onion. And my matzah ball soup is really, really good, so they tell me. None of my dishes match, or my napkins or glasses, but the table is so full and so beautiful it doesn’t matter. I love the Jewish holidays because they are all about “story”—every one, except maybe Tu B’shevat, right? Every holiday is based on some amazing piece of history and telling these stories over and over keeps them from disappearing. I think for all people, throughout all time, stories are what make us real, make us exist. They help us to understand ourselves and the world. They make us feel we belong and that makes us less lonely. I hope with my story, I did that—in some small way. Nora, it’s been a delight getting to know you! Wishing you continued success with The Truth About My Bat Mitzvah! If you would like to know more abour Nora, please visit her web site at www.norabaskin.com Barbara Bietz is a freelance writer and children’s book reviewer. She is currently a member 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.
mature students thirteen years of age and older, especially for those with some Holocaust study background. NDK
Sondra’s Search Ester Katz Silvers Devora Publishing, 2007. 235 pp. $21.95 ISBN: 978-1-932687-95-8
ondra, the narrator and main character, lives in a small Kansas town in the 1950’s with very few Jewish people. As she enters junior high, she and her cousin Howie are the only Jews in her class. Sondra has a special bond with Howie. Even though Sondra’s religious observance is not very extensive, she is upset with Howie when he starts to date nonJewish girls and becomes identified with those who are both popular and Christian. Sondra’s parents recognize the importance of having Sondra meet other Jewish teenagers. Therefore, they send her to live with cousins in Kansas City during the weekends. While there, Sondra meets and socializes with a large group of Jewish peers, including a girl named Debbie, who becomes one of her closest friends. Debbie and Sondra’s Shabbat experiences move Sondra towards Orthodoxy. By the time the girls are sophomores in college, they go to Jerusalem together to study. Sondra becomes engaged to a young man who is also a b’aal tshuvah while visiting Jerusalem. Unfortunately, the author writes with a hidden agenda. Her writing is neither fresh nor creative, and her dialogue is wooden. She repeatedly gives a biased view of the positives of being an observant Jew while criticizing other ways to live Jewishly. In one part of the book, she infers that Sondra’s cousin Howie and his Gentile girlfriend were killed in a car accident because Howie was dating outside the faith and was not observing Shabbat. Her heavy-handed
approach and focus on becoming “frum” detracts from the other messages of the book. Ages 12 and up. MK
Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are quoted, so it’s not for everyone) should provide any adult with bittersweet memories, while charming children with the clever illustrations. Ages 4–8. LS
A Tugging String: A Novel about Growing Up During the Civil Rights Era
This is Israel Miroslav Sasek Universe Publishing, 2008. 64 pp. $17.95 ISBN: 979-0-7893-1595-3
asek was a beloved Prague-born author and illustrator whose playful designs and witty text provided children with the delights of the world and encouraged visions of future travel. Those of us who grew up adoring this superb series of books about different cities and countries of the world can wax nostalgic over their re-publication. Twenty-first century children should be as enchanted with this series as the children of the 1960’s, even though the world has changed so dramatically. These books are facsimile editions (including New York, London, Venice, and others) which the publisher notes are “still timely and current in every way,” although the publisher has provided updates for modern readers. These are listed at the end of the book on a page entitled, “This is Israel...Today!”. Surprisingly, few updates are needed, and they have been noted by a small asterisk in the text, such as after mentioning the Mandelbaum Gate as a crossing point, or the Old City belonging to Jordan. The Western Wall is not mentioned, as it clearly was not accessible to the author almost 50 years ago. There is no denying the appeal of the truly charming illustrations and brilliant design of these collectible editions, and the decision to republish them was a great one. The question is whether readers will make sure to absorb the proper information along with the original. Nostalgia for a travelogue of the Israel of 1962 (definitely viewed through Christian eyes—biblical passages from both the
David T. Greenberg Dutton Children’s Books, 2008. 176 pp. $17.99 ISBN: 978-0-525-47967-3
uthor David Greenberg’s father, Jack, was Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and this work of fiction is based on both men’s experiences during the mid-1960s. David worries about his father’s trips to the South to help those who wanted to register to vote and enforce civil rights laws, but he also worries about his prowess at sports and acceptance by peers. The story alternates between David’s childhood in Great Neck, New York and a fictitious family in Selma, Alabama who eventually participate in the march to Montgomery. Thurgood Marshall’s, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, and President Johnson’s involvement are included and add historical context. In both stories, the characters must deal with prejudice and stand up for themselves. The title refers to the feeling one has inside that they must do what is right and seek justice. There is one Jewish character who mentions the synagogue and the Sabbath, otherwise the Jewish content is minimal. This is one of several books about the civil rights movement that demonstrate the involvement of Jews: A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg, whose father was also a civil rights lawyer and As Good As Anybody by Richard Michelson, give similar perspectives on the topic. Greenberg’s book is appropriate for ages 9–12, and will be a good choice for reluctant readers. KSP
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Please note that all descriptions have been taken from information provided by the publisher.
AMERICAN JEWISH STUDIES THE BUSINESS OF BEING A JEW Gunther Lawrence Jay Street Publishers, 2008. $18.00 ISBN: 978-1889534770 Behind the scenes at the Vatican with Pope John Paul II, Catholic/Jewish Relations and other issues including intermarriage, women rabbis, religion, and the media and the future of the Jewish Community.
IN THE TRENCHES: VOLUME 5 David A. Harris KTAV Publishing House, 2008. $34.95 ISBN: 978-1-60280-029-9 Selected speeches and writings of an American Jewish activist.
JEWISH SACRED MUSIC & JEWISH IDENTITY: CONTINUITY AND FRAGMENTATION Jonathan L. Friedmann and Bred Stetson, eds. Paragon House, 2008. $19.95 ISBN: 978-1-55778-872-6 Explores complex issues of religious pluralism and the preservation of Jewish identity in the context of American culture today, drawing on the perspective of the Cantor’s office.
JEWS IN NEW MEXICO SINCE WORLD WAR II Henry J. Tobias University of New Mexico Press, 2008. $24.95 ISBN: 978-0826344182 Tobias demonstrates how Jewish awareness in New Mexico following World War II gave
rise to significant cultural and political influence, introducing writers, musicians, and artists to the state’s flourishing art scene.
BIOGRAPHY, AUTOBIOGRAPHY, & MEMOIR ASSISTED LOVING Bob Morris Harper, 2008. $24.95 ISBN: 978-0061374128 Morris reveals the bitter grief of his mother’s death and the joyous re-emergence into the life of his widowed father, looking to find a new wife. This inspirational memoir captures all the needed laughs and emotions that go with love and life in the waning years of parent-child bonding.
THE CONE SISTERS OF BALTIMORE: COLLECTING AT FULL TILT Ellen B. Hirschland and Nancy Hirschland Ramage Northwestern University Press, 2008. $34.95 ISBN: 978-0810124813 Over fifty years, sisters Claribel and Etta Cone amassed one of the most acclaimed collections of late-19th and 20th century art in America. The authors follow the sisters through letters and personal stories as they travel to meet some of the artists whose works would turn their adjoining apartments into a gallery.
EPILOGUE Anne Roiphe Harper, 2008. $24.95 ISBN: 978-0061254628 Moving between heartbreaking memories of her thirty-nine year marriage and the pressing need of her new day-to-day routine, Epilogue takes readers on Roiphe’s journey into the unknown world of life after love.
EVERY FAMILY HAS A STORY Gary Mokotoff Avotaynu, Inc., 2008. $45.00 ISBN: 978-1-886223-35-6 Tells how genealogical research affected the lives of the researchers and the people they discovered.
FROM SCHLUB TO STUD: HOW TO EMBRACE YOUR INNER MENSCH AND CONQUER THE BIG CITY Max Gross Skyhorse Publishing, 2008. $12.95 ISBN: 978-1602392632 This endearing memoir is less a how-to (or even a success story) and more a genuine, funny series of vignettes from Gross’s life in New York City. Gross shares his story and ruminates on everything from meeting women to sports for schlubs.
THE KING OF STING: THE AMAZING TRUE STORY OF A MODERN AMERICAN OUTLAW
Matt Rothschild Crown, 2008. $23.95 ISBN: 978-0307405425 The memoir of a precocious and sexually confused boy raised by his grandparents, the only Jews in an elite Manhattan apartment building.
Craig Glazer Skyhorse Publishing, 2008. $24.95 ISBN: 978-1602392496 In 1971, at Arizona State University, Glazer got ripped off trying to buy marijuana. From this day on he orchestrated his first “sting” to get back at the dealers posing as
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local law enforcement, thus beginning his career as king of sting.
THE LETTERS OF ALLEN GINSBERG Allen Ginsberg and Bill Morgan Da Capo Press, 2008. $30.00 ISBN: 978-0306814631 Allen Ginsberg was one of 20th century literature’s most prolific letter-writers. This definitive volume showcases his correspondence with some of the most original and interesting artists of his time.
MEMOIRS: HANS JONAS Christian Wiese Brandeis University Press, 2008. $35.00 ISBN: 978-1584656395 A collection of unpublished materials which reflect Jonas’s ideas that were not fully appreciated until after his death. His life spanned the entire 20th century, providing pictures of German Jewry and Jewish Immigrants during the mid 1900’s.
SHALOM SHAR’ABI AND THE KABBALISTS OF BEIT EL Pinchas Giller Oxford University Press, 2008. $75.00 ISBN: 978-0195328806 Giller examines the mystical practices of the Beit El School, associated with the writings and personality of a charismatic 18th century Yemenite Rabbi, Shalom Shar’abi.
STILL ALIVE: A TEMPORARY CONDITION Herbert Gold Arcade Publishing, 2008. $25.00 ISBN: 978-1-55970-870-8 A memoir about how time overtakes us, how reminiscence, loss, hope, pain, success, failure,the lifelong accumulation of dreams and
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reality crowd about us with every passing day.
THE STRASSMANNS: SCIENCE, POLITICS AND MIGRATION IN TURBULENT TIMES 1793–1993
W. Paul Strassmann Berghahn Books, 2008. $49.95 ISBN: 978-1845454166 Across six generations and two hundred years, this book tells the story of a German-Jewish family who emigrated from Rawicz, Poland, first to Prussian Berlin, and then to America.
THE UNFORTUNATE PASSION OF HERMANN BROCH Jose Maria Perez Gay; Eduardo Jimenez Mayo, trans. Floricanto Press, 2008. $24.95 ISBN: 978-0979645730 This biography focuses on novelist Hermann Broch’s preoccupation with his Austrian-Jewish heritage and examines his obsession with human morality, social and moral decadence and mass psychology, specifically, in relation to the tragic historical events of the first half of the 20th century.
CONTEMPORARY JEWISH LIFE AND PRACTICE 1001 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON PESACH Jeffery M. Cohen Valentine Mitchell, 2008. $29.95 ISBN: 978-0853038108 Rabbi Cohen creates an encyclopedia for Pesach filled with excellent information on its practices, liturgy, festival observance, and halakhic dimensions.
Lander Marks Stephens Press, 2008. $24.95 ISBN: 978-1932173734 When DJ Singer learns her newly acquired paintings by her favorite artist are probably fakes she becomes entangled in a dangerous quest to recover the missing art pieces and return them to their rightful owners. Marks’ interviews with real life experts on stolen Holocaust art appear in the back of the novel.
I SMILE BACK Amy Koppelman Two Dollar Radio, 2008. $15.00 ISBN: 978-0-9763895-90 Koppleman delivers a portrait of a modern suburban woman who does what she wants; but lurking beneath her composed surface is an impulse which might destroy her family’s balance.
THE POST OFFICE GIRL Stefan Zweig New York Review of Books, 2008. $14.00 ISBN: 978-1590172629 Christie looks after her ailing mother and toils in a provincial Austrian post office until one afternoon she hears from her rich aunt. After a dizzying train ride, Christine finds herself at the top of the world, enjoying a life of privilege that she had never imagined.
SHINING CITY Seth Greenland Bloosmbury, 2008. $24.99 ISBN: 978-1-59691-504-6 When Marcus Ripps takes over his black sheep brother’s lucrative dry-cleaning busi-
ness he suddenly finds himself running one of the most popular escort services in West Hollywood, while also trying to balance his marriage, planning his son’s bar mitzvah, and taking care of his mother-in-law.
VIENNA FAREWELL David Jordan iUniverse, 2006. $13.95 ISBN: 978-0-595-43534-0 Drawing on his personal experiences, Jordan explores life in Nazi occupied Austria, telling the story of how individuals make personal adjustments to this new historical reality.
HISTORY THE GRAND INQUISITOR’S MANUAL: A HISTORY IN THE NAME OF GOD Jonathan Kirsch HarperOne, 2008. $26.95 ISBN: 978-0060816995 Kirsch exposes what’s behind the veil of the mystery of the inquisition; the original blueprints for the machinery of persecution that was invented in the height of the middle ages and applied to human flesh ever since.
IMAGINING THE UNIMAGINABLE: WORLD WAR, MODERN ART AND THE POLITICS OF PUBLIC CULTURE IN RUSSIA 1914-1917 Aaron Cohen University of Nebraska Press, 2008. $45.00 ISBN: 978-0803215474 Cohen shows how World War I changed Russian culture and especially Russian art; fostering a new artistic world by integrating the iconoclastic avant-garde into the art establishment and mass culture.
JEWISH IDENTITIES: NATIONALISM, RACISM, AND UTOPIANISM IN TWENTIETH CENTURY MUSIC
the scene as a young lad in Egypt until his departing farewell address to his flock.
Klara Moricz University of California Press, 2008. $49.95 ISBN: 978-0520250888 Mounts a formidable challenge to prevailing essentialist assumptions about “Jewish music,” which maintain that ethnic groups, nations, or religious communities possess an essence that must manifest itself in art created by members of that group.
MY BROTHER ESAU IS A HAIRY MAN: HAIR AND IDENTITY IN ANCIENT ISRAEL
JEWS AND OTHER GERMANS Till van Rahden University of Wisconsin Press, 2008. $29.95 ISBN: 978-0299226947 Social and cultural history that proves the parameters of Jewish integration in the half century between the founding of the German Empire in 1871 and the early Weimar Republic.
THE LEGACY OF ISLAMIC ANTI-SEMITISM Andrew G. Bostom, ed. Prometheus Books, 2008. $39.95 ISBN: 978-1591025542 A documented collection of articles attempts to debunk the conventional wisdom, which continues to assert that Muslim animosity toward Jews is entirely a 20th century phenomenon fueled mainly by the protracted Arab-Israeli conflict.
MOSES: ENVOY OF GOD, ENVOY OF HIS PEOPLE Mosheh Lichtenstein KTAV Publishing, 2008. $35.00 ISBN: 978-1602800120 Follows the path of Moses’ development as a leader from the moment he appears on
Susan Niditch Oxford University Press, 2008. $45.00 ISBN: 978-0195181142 Much has been written on the presentation of the body in various literatures, including the Bible, but the role of hair in ancient Israel has been neglected. This book charts a new path for studies on the body, religion, and culture.
WHAT THE RABBIS SAID: THE PUBLIC DISCOURSE OF NINETEENTH CENTURY AMERICAN RABBIS Naomi W. Cohen NYU Press, 2008. $45.00 ISBN: 978-0814716885 Examines a facet of the rich social history of 19th century American Jews, tracing sermons and other public statements of rabbis, both Traditionalists and Reformers, on a host of matters that engaged the Jewish community before 1900.
HOLOCAUST STUDIES FILM AND THE SHOAH IN FRANCE AND ITALY Giacomo Lichtner Mitchell Valentine & Co., 2008. $74.95 ISBN: 978-0853037866 A comparative analysis of the role of cinema in the development of collective memories of the Shoah in these countries.
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THE LIBERATION OF THE CONCENTRATION CAMPS 1945 Adele Anolik Ice Cube Press, 2008. $11.95 ISBN: 978-1888160321 A collection of accounts of concentration camp survivors who eventually ended up living in Des Moines, Iowa following World War II.
YOUTH TOURISM TO ISRAEL: EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES OF THE DISAPORA Erik. H Cohen Channel View Publications, 2008. $59.95 ISBN: 978-184541084 An analysis of educational tours to Israel for Jewish youth based on over ten years of the author’s empirical research and explored from multiple aspects.
ZIONISM: PAST AND PRESENT Nathan Rotenstreich SUNY Press, 2008. $16.95 ISBN: 978-0791471760 Rotenstreich traces the dialectical connections between Zionism’s past and present and also addresses relations between both Israel and the Diaspora and Israel and the Arab world.
JEWISH HUMOR DON’T MIND ME AND OTHER JEWISH LIES Esther Cohen; Roz Chast, illus. Hyperion, 2008. $16.95 ISBN: 978-1-4013-2238-0 In this small book that packs a big punch, Esther Cohen, with trademark line art from
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I’D BARK BUT YOU’D NEVER LISTEN: AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO THE JEWISH DOG Harold Kimmel Red Rock Press, 2008. $11.99 ISBN: 978-193317622-2 Kimmel explores the lovable attitudes, neuroses, and preferences of the Jewish dog.
New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, has compiled a list of subtle (sort of), sly (very), and hilarious (tremendously) Jewish lies, but lies with a specific purpose: to imply their opposite meaning, and as much as possible, to induce guilt.
MODERN JEWISH THOUGHT DICTIONARY OF JEWISH TERMS: A GUIDE TO THE LANGUAGE OF JUDAISM Ronald L. Eisenberg Schreiber Publishing, Inc., 2008. $36.00 ISBN: 978-0884003342 Represents vocabulary of Judaism including religious terms, customs, Hebrew, Aramaic and Yiddish terms, and terms related to American Jewish life and the State of Israel. With easy to read explanations and cross-references.
THE ESSENTIAL ROSA LUXEMBURG: REFORM OR REVOLUTION AND THE MASS STRIKE Helen Scott, ed. Haymarket Books, 2008. $12.00 ISBN: 978-1931859-36-3 Introductions and the full texts of Luxemburg’s two most important works, Reform or Revolution and The Mass Strike, with explanatory notes and appendices.
REPAIR OF THE SOUL Karen E. Starr Analytic, 2008. $29.95 ISBN: 978-0881634877 Examines transformation from the perspective of Jewish mysticism and psychoanalysis, addressing the question of how one achieves self-understanding that leads not only to insight but also to meaningful change.
WHY HEBREW GOES FROM RIGHT TO LEFT: 201 THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT JUDAISM Ronald H. Isaacs KTAV Publishing House, 2008. $18.95 ISBN: 978-1602800311 Explores many fascinating but unknown curiosities, strange facts, unusual statements, and oddities that have accumulated over Judaism’s illustrious history.
SCHOLARSHIP BETWEEN ATHENS AND JERUSALEM: PHILOSOPHY, PROPHECY AND POLITICS IN LEO STRAUSS’S EARLY THOUGHT David Janssens SUNY Press, 2008. $75.00 ISBN: 978-0791473917 Janssens traces Strauss’s rediscovery of the Socratic way of life as a viable alternative to both modern philosophy and revealed religion, and reconstructs the genesis of Strauss’s thought.
ADVENTURES IN YIDDISHLAND Jeffrey Shandler University of California Press, 2008. $24.95 ISBN: 978-0-520-25811-2
ARTISTS IN EXILE Joseph Horowitz Harper, 2008. $16.95 ISBN: 978-0-06-074846-3
A CALCULATED RISK Evan Wilson Clerisy Press, 2008. $16.95 ISBN: 978-1-57860-307-7
CAVIAR AND ASHES Marci Shore Yale University Press, 2006. $27.50 ISBN: 978-0-300-14328-7
CHILDREN OF JIHAD Jared Cohen Gotham Books, 2008. $15.00 ISBN: 978-1-592-40399-8
CHURCHILL’S PROMISED LAND, ZIONISM AND STATECRAFT Yale University Press, 2008. $20.00 ISBN: 978-300-14324-9
HOW TO RAISE A JEWISH CHILD
DUCK DUCK WALLY Gabe Rotter Simon & Schuster, 2008. $14.00 ISBN: 978-1-4165-3787-8
Anita Diamant with Karen Kushner Schocken Books, 2008. $15.95 ISBN: 978-0-8052-1221-1
THE EMPRESS OF WEEHAWKEN
LAST DAYS IN BABYLON
Irene Dische Picador, 2007. $15.00 ISBN: 078-0-312-42795-5
Marina Benjamin Free Press, 2006. $15.00 ISBN: 978-1-4165-7204-6
THE LIFE OF DAVID
Alan Morinis Trumpeter, 2007. $16.95 ISBN: 978-1-59030-609-3
Robert Pinsky Nextbook/Schocken, 2008. $12.95 ISBN: 978-0-8052-1135-5
THE FIRST DAY OF THE BLITZ Peter Stansky Yale University Press, 2007. $15.00 ISBN: 078-0-300-14335-5
THE GOLEM AND THE WONDROUS DEEDS OF THE MAGERAL OF PRAGUE Yudl Rosenberg Yale University Press, 2008. $18.00 ISBN: 078-0-300-14320-1
THE HISTORY OF LAST NIGHT’S DREAM Rodger Kamenetz HarperOne, 2007. $15.95 ISBN: 978-0-06-123794-2
LIVING A JOYOUS LIFE Rabbi David Aaron Trumpeter, 2007. $14.95 ISBN: 978-1-59030-611-6
THE LOST LIFE OF EVA BRAUN Angela Lambert St. Martin’s Griffin, 2008. $17.95 ISBN: 978-0-312-37865-3
MAIMONIDES Sherwin B. Nuland Nextbook/Schocken, 2008. $12.95 ISBN: 978-0-8052-1150-4
Jewish Book World
MAPS AND LEGENDS Michael Chabon Harper, 2008. $14.95 ISBN: 978-193241689-3
SEPHARAD Antonio Munoz Molina Harvest, 2008. $15.00 ISBN: 978-0-15-603474-6
MODERN HEBREW FICTION Gershon Shaked Toby Press, 2008. $14.95 ISBN: 978-1-59264-224-3
THE STORY OF YIDDISH Neal Karlen Haper, 2008. $13.95 ISBN: 978-0-06-083711-2
MOTHER AND ME
Julian Padowicz Academy Chicago Publishers, 2008. $19.95 ISBN: 978-0-89733-570-6
Trita Parsi Yale University Press, 2007. $17.00 ISBN: 078-0-300-14311-9
WRITING MOTHERHOOD Lisa Garrigues Scribner, 2007. $15.00 ISBN: 978-0-7432-9738-7
Israel Jacob Yuval University of California Press, 2008. $24.95 ISBN: 978-0-520-25818-1
SARAH’S KEY Tatiana De Rosnay St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007. $13.95 ISBN: 978-0-312-37084-8
VIVALDI’S VIRGINS Barbara Quick Harper, 2007. $14.95 ISBN: 978-0-06-089053-7
TWO NATIONS IN YOUR WOMB
THE RED LEATHER DIARY Lily Koppel Harper, 2008. $14.95 ISBN: 978-0-06-125677-6
UNLOCKED Louis Ferrante Harper, 2008. $14.95 ISBN: 078-0-06-113385-5
TWO LIVES Janet Malcolm Yale University Press, 2008. $13.00 ISBN: 978-0300143102
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Jewish Book World
In Memoriam: Ted Solotaroff 1928-2008 By Ehud Havazelet
never had the opportunity to work with Ted professionally. He was a guest at the graduate program where I teach in the mid-nineties, during which time he led workshops, visited classes, lectured, made himself available to students. It was, by all accounts, one of the great events the Writing Program has put together, and thanks to Garrett Hongo, who invited both of us, I met Ted. I’d known of him, of course, read him and his authors. I had a few random expectations, none of which were these: his size, the slow ursine presence of body somehow both softened and reinforced by his soft tone (put me in mind of Raymond Carver), his gentleness of expression, and most shocking to me, used to performance, edge in writers, the way he would immedi-
ately engage anyone—another writer, a novice grad student, anyone he met, it seemed—in real conversation. Where so many people of his experience and celebrity had plenty to offer in sermon and directive, Ted actually enjoyed listening. In his beat up sneakers and shambling walk, his unruly hair and I’m-hearing-you grin, he was here not to impress, not to solicit deference but to dis-
cuss writing, light a spark, welcome us into the world he had enlivened so long. We walked. We talked. I found I could talk to this man about just about everything, and as we circled the campus, got lost, ended up in coffee shops, I did. I found in Ted some congruencies with my own father—the religious upbringing, love and respect for learning, the weight of expectation—but he toiled in my vineyard (I, in his), and he approved of my choice, thought I might make it work. Trying overhard to impress him I misused the word “predicate.” Several times. I had gotten us trapped on the traffic median on Franklin Boulevard, a six lane thoroughfare fronting campus, and as I tried to figure out how to get across without killing our guest, he stopped me. “Why do you keep saying that?” he asked. I never bullshat him again. Over the years we met only a few times, and each time his welcome and kindness overwhelmed. He made lunch for my wife and me, chauffeured us to the beach, insisted we spend the night. Happily talked out we watched “Un Couer en Hiver” over a bottle of wine with his lovely wife, Virginia. When my older boy was thinking about University of Chicago Ted talked to him, offered advice, signed a copy of his book for Michael, invited him to be in touch. Michael had met Ted when he was younger, restive, polite. This time, in the car, he said to me, “I get what you’ve been saying.” Being a writer with hopes of career glory like the rest of us, sure, part of me wishes I’d met Ted earlier, was one of his amazing roster of published authors, had been part of that exciting maelstrom of New York publishing back in the day. But not really. We talked every other week or so. He never lost interest in my work, my family, never stopped reading what I wrote, offering me advice. Engaging. He ended every conversation the same way. “All right my friend,” (he never kept you on the phone too long), “let’s talk again soon.” Ehud Havazelet’s latest book, Bearing the Body, was a 2007 New York Times Notable Book and winner of the Edgar Lewis Wallant Award. He teaches writing at University of Oregon.
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MIRIAM BRADMAN ABRAHAMS (MBA) lives in Woodmere, NY, mother of three, avid reader, Hadassah Nassau Region One Book Coordinator, Hadassah Hewlett Herald editor and webmaster, and book fair chair. BARBARA ANDREWS (BA) holds a Masters in Jewish Studies from the University of Chicago and has taught Jewish adult education classes. SARAH ARONSON (SA) holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. She is a full time writer and has recently published her first novel, Head Case (Roaring Brook) for young adult. Sara blogs every Thursday for the Lilith blog. MIRIAM CAREY KNIGHT BERKOWITZ (MB) holds a BA from Harvard and an MA and Rabbinic Ordination from the Schechter Institute in Jerusalem. She is an adult educator, writer, and potter, currently based in Jerusalem, and a member of the Committee for Jewish Law and Standards. Her recent book Taking the Plunge: a Practical and Spiritual Guide to the Mikveh seeks to popularize mikveh for Jews of all backgrounds. JULI BERWALD (JMB), Ph.D. is a science writer and avid reader living in Austin, TX. She is also one of the chairs of the Austin Jewish Book Fair. BARBARA M. BIBEL (BMB) is a librarian at the Oakland Public Library in Oakland, CA; and at Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA.
editor. He has written for numerous newspapers including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Charlotte Observer, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Orlando Sentinel, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Washington Post Book World. SHARI CHARALAMBOUS (SC) is the day school librarian at Sinai Akiba Day School at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, CA. ELLEN G. COLE, (EGC), is 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 for the annual best literature for Jewish children 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. ALAN COOPER (AC) is professor emeritus and continous adjunct professor of English at York College, CUNY. He is author, among more than seventy other things, of Philip Roth and the Jews, (SUNY Press, 1996).
BILL BRENNAN (BB) is an independent actor, director, and writer living in Chicago.
ANDREA DAVIDSON (ADa) is the librarian of The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beechwood, Ohio. She holds and M.L.S. from the University of Michigan and is a former member of the Sydney Taylor Book Awards Committee.
ADA BRUNSTEIN (AB) is a freelance writer and an acquisitions editor for MIT Press. She has an MA in Linguistics from NYU and an MS in Science Writing from MIT. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, New Scientist, Discover and The Vocabula Review.
ANNE DUBLIN (ADu) is a retired teacher-librarian in Toronto, Canada and an award-winning author of books for children and young adults. Her new book, a collective biography of ten women dancers, will be published by Second Story Press in Spring 2009.
LINDA F. BURGHARDT (LFB) is a freelance journalist and author based in Great Neck, N.Y. She writes regularly for The New York Times, and her articles have appeared in USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, Jewish Week, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
SUSAN DUBIN (SD) was the first librarian honored with a Milken Family Foundation Jewish Educator Award. She is the owner/director of Off-the-Shelf Library Services and Library Instructional Consultant at Valley Beth Shalom Day School in Encino, CA.
HENRY L. CARRIGAN, JR. (HLC) writes about books for Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, ForeWord, and his column, “Readings,” appears weekly on Bibliobuffet, a web site on books and reading where he is a contributing
LAUREN EISNER (LE) lives in Manhattan and teaches English at the Rodeph Sholom School.
Jewish Book World
MALVINA D. ENGELBERG (MDE), an independent scholar, has taught composition and literature
at the university level for the past fifteen years. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Miami. SHELLY FEIT (SF) has an M.L.S. and a Sixthyear Specialist’s Certificate in Information Science. She is currently the library director and media specialist at the Moriah School in Englewood, NJ. PAUL FLEXNER (PAF) is a veteran Jewish educator with over thirty years in the field. He is currently an adjunct professor of education at George State University. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Book Council and is co-editor of the recently published What We NOW Know About Jewish Education: Perspectives on Research and Practice. ELLIKA K. FRYKMAN (EKF) is a freelance writer and a native Californian currently living in San Francisco. SHIMON GEWIRTZ (SG) is a cantor, composer, and playwright who has lectured on Jewish music at various universities and elderhostels around the country. His original songs and translations (from both Hebrew and Yiddish) appear in many anthologies. He has a Masters Degree in Theater Ed. from NYU. BOB GOLDFARB (BG) is the president of the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity, and the publisher of Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture. He lives in Jerusalem. WALLACE GREENE (WG) Ph.D., is the Director of Jewish Educational Services for the UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey. MICAH D. HALPERN (MDH) is a columnist and a social and political commentator. He is the author of What You Need To Know About: Terror, and maintains The Micah Report at www.micahhalpern.com TAMI KAMIN-MEYER (TKM) is a licensed attorney who would rather write than fight. Her byline has appeared in a variety of publications such as Ohio Super Lawyers, Ohio Lawyers Weekly, Ohio Magazine, Cleveland Jewish News, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and www.chabad.edu. She is also an awardwinning Hebrew school educator. JOSEPH A. KANOFSKY (JAK) holds a Ph.D. in literature, and rabbinic ordination. He is an educational consultant to the UJA-Federation of Greater Toronto.
MARGE KAPLAN (MK) is a retired English as a 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. JEFFREY KOBRIN (JBK) is the headmaster of the Rabbi Haskel Lookstein Middle School of Ramaz in Manhattan. He has taught Judaic studies and English literature. He lives in Riverdale, NY with his wife and three daughters. NAOMI KRAMER (NDK) is a retired reading consultant teacher who developed curriculum for using literature to educate children and adults in the history of the Holocaust. She is a docent and educator at the Nassau County Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Education Center. YEHUDA KRANZLER (YK) has a B.A. from Johns Hopkins, where he was co-editor in chief of the Johns Hopkins Black and Blue and education chairman of the Johns Hopkins Hillel. Mr. Kranzler is a licensed social worker who treats children and adolescents in New York. NOEL KRIFTCHER (NNK) is a professor and administrator at Polytechnic University, having previously served as Superintendent of New York City’s Brooklyn & Staten Island High Schools district. JUDD KRUGER LEVINGSTON (JKL), Ph.D., is a rabbi and teacher at the Perelman Jewish Day School in Elkins Park, PA. He also teaches in the Department of Religion at Temple University. He is completing a book about moral education, entitled, Thou Shalt Not Moralize! Moral Education in Public and Private Schools, to be published by Praeger/Greenwood in 2009. He lives with his family and minivan in Northwest Philadelphia. ROBIN K. LEVINSON (RKL) is an award-winning journalist and author of a dozen books, including the Gali Girls series of Jewish historical fiction for children. She currently works as an assessment specialist for a global educational testing organization. She lives in Hamilton, NJ. 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.
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 working at the Fairfax Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, where children and books go together like a cat in a hat. 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) recently retired as head librarian at Ramaz Upper School in New York City. A past editor of Jewish Book World, she has written on Jewish art for Zeek and is a frequent reviewer for the AJL Newsletter and Jewish Book World. MICHAEL ORBACH (MO) is a freelance writer and the editor of 72nd Avenue, a Queens College publication. RACHEL ORBACH (RO) is currently finishing her senior year in high school. She has written for Fresh Ink, a supplement to the Jewish Week, and would like to pursue a degree in journalism. 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. MARCIA W. POSNER (MWP) is librarian and program vice-president of The Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County. DIANE LEVINE RAUCHWERGER (DLR) is librarian for Congregation Beth Am, Los Altos Hills, California, and a children’s librarian for the Sunnyvale Public Library. She is author of a series of children’s picture books, including Dinosaur on Hanukkah, Dinosaur on Passover and Dinosaur on Shabbat, published by KarBen Publishing. RACHEL ROSNER (RR) is the director of the Jewish Book Festival in Rochester, New York. She also runs Jewish Family Programs for the JCC, where she has worked since 1994. She holds a degree in Early Childhood Education
from Syracuse University and is the director of Early Childhood Education at the JCC of Greater Rochester. PINCHAS ROTH (PR) is a doctoral student in medieval Talmudic literature at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. ARNOLD D. SAMLAN (ADS) MSW, is the director of Nassau/Queens Services of the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York. DEBORAH SCHOENEMAN (DS), is a former English teacher/Writing Across the Curriculum Center Coordinator at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School and coeditor of Modern American Literature: A Library of Literary Criticism, Vol. VI, published in 1997. PHIL SANDICK (PhS) teaches writing and literature at Philadelphia University. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the MFA fiction program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. PENINNAH SCHRAM (PS) storyteller and author, is associate professor of speech and drama at Stern College of Yeshiva University. She has recorded a CD, The Minstrel and the Storyteller, with singer/guitarist Gerard Edery. Her new illustrated anthology, The Hungry Clothes and Other Jewish Folktales (Sterling Publishing) was published in Spring 2008. ROBERT MOSES SHAPIRO (RMS) is associate professor of Judaic studies at Brooklyn College. His translation from Yiddish, Polish, and German of Isaiah Trunk’s ´Lódz´ Ghetto: A History was recently reissued in a paperback edition by Indiana University Press in association with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. BARBARA SILVERMAN (BS) has an MLS from Texas Woman’s University. She worked as a children’s librarian at the Corpus Christi Public Libraries and at the Corpus Christi ISD before retiring. She now works as a volunteer at the Astor Judaic Library of the Lawrence Family JCC in La Jolla, CA. LISA SILVERMAN (LS) is director of Sinai Temple’s Blumenthal Library in Los Angeles and a former day school librarian. She serves as the children’s book review editor of this magazine. LAUREN SKIBA (LES) graduated from Emory University in 2006 with a BA in Jewish and Middle Eastern Studies. She now lives in
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New York and works as the Director of Alumni Affairs at the American Pardes Foundation.
lish literature there. He contributes to a varity of publications county wide.
ARLENE B. SOIFER (ABS) earned degrees in English, and has had many years of experience as a freelance writer, editor, and public relations professional.
JANE WALLERSTEIN (JW) worked in public relations 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.
MARGARET TEICH (MT) is a freelance environmental writer and eco consultant living in New York City. Check out her blog, Gspotting.net. ALEX VINIK (AV) graduated from Queens College and is working on his doctorate in Eng-
MARON L. WAXMAN (MLW), retired editorial director, special projects, at the American Museum of Natural History, was also an editorial director at HarperCollins and Book-of-theMonth Club. She also leads editorial workshops.
HILLARY ZANA (HZ) has a BA and teaching credential from Princeton University. She was a Day School librarian for many years and has written many Hebrew textbooks available through Behrman House Publishers. She currently teaches English and history in the Los Angeles public school system. ETHAN A. ZIMMAN (EAZ) is a freelance writer from Reston, VA now living in Los Angeles.
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Check out www.jewishbookcouncil.org for the newly added Discussion Board! 56
Jewish Book World
An index of all titles included in the Winter issue of Jewish Book World Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN
BR = Book Review CBR = Children’s Book Review BN = Books of Note
Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN 1948, Morris, BR 1001 Questions and Answers on Pesach, Cohen, BN A is for Abraham, Michelson, CBR Aaronsohn Saga, Katz, BR Ace of Spades, Matthews, BR Action/Abstraction, Kleeblatt, BR All the Sad Young Literary Men, Gessen, BR Ambivalence, Garfinkel, BR Angel Girl, Friedman, CBR Artist’s Proof, Marks, BN Assisted Loving, Morris, BN Benjamin Disraeli, Kirsch, BR Between Athens and Jerusalem, Janssens, BN Bitter Road to Freedom, Hitchcock, BR Black Jews of Africa, Bruder, BR Broken American Male and How to Fix Him, Boteach, BR Bubbe Meises, Isaacs, BR Business of Being a Jew, Lawrence, BN Calendar of Festivals, Gilchrist, CBR Capturing the Moon, Feinstein, CBR Celebrating With Jewish Crafts, Ruzansky, CBR Changing Christian World, Schoolman, BR Clothing Optional, Zweibel, BR Cone Sisters of Baltimore, Hirschland, BN Culture Front, Nathans, BR Dictionary of Jewish Terms, Eisenberg, BN Disaster Spiritual Care, Roberts, BR Don’t Mind Me, Cohen, BN Dozen Daisies for Raizy, Klempner, CBR
11 48 40 18 18 37 29 18 42 48 47 33 50 32 38 24 24 47 40 40 41 37 24 47 38 50 26 50 41
Dragonfly Pool, Ibbotson, CBR Dream, Bernstein, BR Dumbfounded, Rothschild, BN Early Bright, Silber, BR Einstein And Oppenheimer, Schweber, BR Epilogue, Roiphe, BN Essential Rosa Luxemburg, Scott, BN Every Family Has a Story, Mokotoff, BN Fables From The Jewish Tradition, Kogan, BR Fear and Yoga in New Jersey, Gallant, BR Film and the Shoah in France and Italy, Lichtner, BN Flowers of Perhaps, Ra’hel, BR For the Love of God and People, Dorff, BR From Schlub to Stud, Gross, BN Grand Inquisitor’s Manual, Kirsch, BN Hanukkah Haiku, Ziefer, CBR Hanukkah Mice, Kroll, CBR Happy Hanukkah, Dear Dragon, Hillert, CBR Harvest of Blossoms, Meerbaum-Eisinger, BR Have You No Shame, Shukert, BR Hiking in Israel, Shkolnik, BN Hip Kosher, Fein, BR Hope, Not Fear, Bronfman, BR Human Smoke, Baker, BR I Smile Back, Koppelman, BN I’d Bark But You Never Listen, Kimmel, BN Imagining the Unimaginable, Cohen, BN In the Country of Brooklyn, Golenbock, BR In the Trenches, Harris, BN Introduction to Islam for Jews, Firestone, BR Jerusalem, Shudofsky, BN Jewish History the Big Picture, Gevirtz, BR
Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN 41 20 47 29 20 47 50 47 30 30 49 36 35 47 49 41 43 43 36 20 12 28 27 39 48 50 49 16 47 37 12 32
Jewish Identities, Moricz, BN Jewish Princess Cookbook, Tarn, BR Jewish Sacred Music & Jewish Identity, Friedmann, BN Jews and Other Germans, Rahden, BN Jews in New Mexico Since World War II, Tobias, BN Jews of Pinsk, Nadav, BR Jodie’s Hanukkah Dig, Levine, CBR Joshua & Isadora, Benanav, BR King of Sting, Glazer, BN Kristallnacht, Fitzgerald, CBR Last Jews of Kerala, Fernandes, BR Laugh For God’s Sake, Schachter, BR Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism, Bostom, BN Letters of Allen Ginsberg, Ginsberg, BN Liberation of the Concentration Camps 1945, Anolik, BN Literary Community, Solotaroff, BR Locket, Lieurance, CBR Maps And Legends, Chabon, BR Memoirs: Hans Jonas, Wiese, BN Mercedes Coffin, Kellerman, BR Moscow Rules, Silva, BR Moses, Lichtenstein, BN My Brother Esau is a Hairy Man, Niditch, BN My Jesus Year, Cohen, BR Naming Liberty, Yolen, CBR Neverending Parenting, Auerbach, BR New Mexico’s Crypto-Jews, Herz, BR Paper Towns, Green, CBR Past Imperfect, Bruskin, BR Pathseeker, Kertesz, BR Pens And Swords, Dunsky, BR Post Office Girl, Zweig, BN Psalms for Young Children, Delval, CBR Rabbi Harvey Rides Again, Sheinkin, CBR Repair of the Soul, Starr, BN Resurrecting Hebrew, Stavans, BR
Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN 49 28 47 49 47 32 43 20 47 43 39 34 49 48 50 34 44 35 48 30 30 49 49 22 42 27 16 42 22 31 11 48 44 44 50 34
Revolution Of 1905 And Russia’s Jews, Hoffman, BR Road To Rescue, Pemper, BR Rutke’s Notebook, Vad Vashem, CBR Serial No. 3817131, Papo, BR Shalom Shar’abi and the Kabbalists of Beit El, Giller, BN Shining City, Greenland, BN So Long at the Fair, Schwarz, BR Sobibor, Lev, BR Someone for Mr. Sussman, Polacco, CBR Sondra’s Search, Silvers, CBR Song of the Distant Dove, Scheindlin, BR Still Alive, Gold, BN Strassmanns, Strassmann, BN Tales of the Ten Lost Tribes, Yellin, BR Tenacity of Unreasonable Beliefs, Schimmel, BR This is Israel, Sasek, CBR Tradition in the Public Square, Rashkover, BR Tugging String, Greenberg, CBR Unfortunate Passion of Hermann Broch, Gay, BN Until Our Last Breath, Bart, BR Vienna Farewell, Jordan, BN Waiting for God, Bush, BR Waiting for Rain, Levy, BR We Have Ways of Making You Laugh, Gross, BR We Plan, God Laughs, Hirsch, BR What the Rabbis Said, Cohen, BN Who By Fire, Spechler, BR Why Faith Matters, Wolpe, BR Why Hebrew Goes from Right to Left, Isaacs, BN Why We Watched, Hamerow, BR Writing In The Dark, Grossman, BR Yiddish In America, Shapiro, BR Youth Tourism to Israel, Cohen, BN Zionism, Rotenstreich, BN
39 22 44 11 48 48 31 31 42 46 22 48 48 31 35 46 37 46 48 24 49 14 36 34 29 49 32 14 50 39 12 18 50 50
Would you like to be a reviewer for Jewish Book World? Submit a writing sample to Carol E. Kaufman Editor, Jewish Book World firstname.lastname@example.org 520 8th Avenue, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10018 Please include your name, address, phone number, e-mail address and areas of interest.
Jewish Book World
An index of all titles included in Jewish Book World in Vol. 26: 1-4, published in 2008 BR = Book Review CBR = Children’s Book Review BN = Books of Note
Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN 1940, Neugeboren, BR 26-2 1948, Morris, BR 26-4 All the Sad Young Literary Men, Gessen, BR 26-4 1001 Questions and Answers on Pesach, Cohen, BN 26-4 101 Reasons to Visit Israel (and Perhaps Make Aliyah), Solomon, CBR 26-2 101+ Ways to Help Israel, Nussbaum, BR 26-3 300 Ways to Ask the Four Questions, Spiegel, BR 26-1 34 Days, Harel, BR 26-3 A is for Abraham, Michelson, CBR 26-4 Aaronsohn Saga, Katz, BR 26-4 Abraham’s Journey, Soloveitchik, BN 26-3 Abstraction and the Holocaust, Godfrey, BR 26-2 Ace of Spades, Matthews, BR 26-4 Action/Abstraction, Kleeblatt, BR 26-4 Alban Berg and Hanna Fuchs, Floros, BN 26-3 Albert Einstein, Meltzer, CBR 26-3 Alfred Kazin, Cook, BR 26-2 All Afloat on Noah’s Boat, Mitton, CBR 26-2 Allies for Armageddon, Clark, BN 26-1 Always an Olivia, Herron, CBR 26-1 Ambivalence, Garfinkel, BR 26-4 Ancient Jewish Novels, Wills, BN 26-1 And No More Sorrow, Pelzman, BN 26-3 Angel Girl, Friedman, CBR 26-4 Angels Among Us, Lane, CBR 26-2 Another Word for Sky, Michaelson, BR 26-2 Answer, Krause, BN 26-1 Anti-Journalist, Reitter, BN 26-3 Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, Wagner, BN 26-1 Arguing with the Storm, Tregebov, BR 26-2 Ariel Sharon, Crompton, BN 26-1 Around The World On Two Wheels, Zheutlin, BR 26-3 Art of Being Jewish in Modern Times, Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, BN 26-1 Art of Dialogue in Jewish Philosophy, Hughes, BR 26-2 Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking, Schwartz, BR 26-1 Artists in Exile, Horowitz, BN 26-2 Artist’s Proof, Marks, BN 26-4 As Good As Anybody, Michelson, CBR 26-3 Ask for a Convertible, Brown, BR 26-2 Assisted Loving, Morris, BN 26-4 Atrocities on Trial, Heberer, BN 26-3 Away, Bloom, BR 26-1 Bag of Broken Glass, Sugarman, BR 26-3 Baghdad, Yesterday, Somekh, BN 26-1 Bang Bang, Hoffman, BR 26-1 Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, Metter, CBR 26-1 Bat-Chen Diaries, Shahak, CBR 26-3 Bearing the Body, Havazelet, BR 26-1 Beaufort, Leshem, BR 26-2 Bedtime Sh’ma, Gershman, CBR 26-2 Bella Abzug, Levine, BN 26-1
Jewish Book World
Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN
Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN
Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN
Benjamin Disraeli, Kirsch, BR Bernard Malamud, Davis, BR Between Athens and Jerusalem, Janssens, BN Beyond Berlin, Rosenfeld, BN Birth of Monotheism, Lemaire, BN Bitter Road to Freedom, Hitchcock, BR Black Jews of Africa, Bruder, BR Blood and Belief, Biale, BR Blood to Remember, Fishman, BN Bondage of the Mind, Gold, BN Book of Dahlia, Albert, BR Book of Getting Even, Taylor, BR Book of Psalms, Alter, BR Books for Children of the World, Pearl, CBR Books on Fire, Polastron, BN Bottle in the Gaza Sea, Zenatti, CBR Boy Who Dared, Bartoletti, CBR Branch Rickey, Lowenfish, BR Brass Diva, Flinn, BN Bread and Fire, Slonim, BR Breaking News, Fletcher, BR Breaking the Tablets, Halivni, BR Bride Who Argued With God, Ben-Zvi, BR Broken American Male and How to Fix Him, Boteach, BR Brotherhood of Warriors, Cohen, BR Bubbe Meises, Isaacs, BR Burnt House, Kellerman, BR Business of Being a Jew, Lawrence, BN Calendar of Festivals, Gilchrist, CBR Call Me By Your, Aciman, BR Cambridge Companion to Primo Levi, Gordan, BN Can I Have a Cell Phone for Hanukkah?, Estroff, BR Capturing the Moon, Feinstein, CBR Carl Schmitt and the Jews, Gross, BN Carpathian Diaspora, Jelinek, BN Catholic Church and the Jewish People, Cunningham, BR Celebrate Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur with Honey, Prayers and the Shofar, Heiligman, CBR Celebrating the Jewish Year, Steinberg, BR Celebrating With Jewish Crafts, Ruzansky, CBR Censor, the Editor, and the Text, Raz-Krakorzkin, BR Century of Leadership, Schept, BN Changing Christian World, Schoolman, BR Charity Girl, Lowenthal, BR Chicago’s Forgotten Synagogues, Packer, BN Childhood, Rosenkranz, BN Children’s Illustrated Jewish Bible, Brown, CBR Chosen Path, Sendler, BN Clothing Optional, Zweibel, BR Collected Stories, Michaels, BN Community under Siege, Aschler, BN Concealment and Revelation, Halbertal, BR
Cone Sisters of Baltimore, Hirschland, BN Contemporary Jewish Writing in Europe, Liska, BN Conversations With Woody Allen, Lax, BR Craving the Divine, Goldstein, BR Creativity and Tradition, Ta-Shma, BR Crime of My Very Existence, Berkowitz, BR Culture Front, Nathans, BR Cure for Grief, Herman, BR Dairy Gourmet, Lasry, BR Danger Boy City of Ruins, Williams, CBR Daring To Resist, Engel, BR Dateline Israel, Goodman, BR David Golder, The Ball, Snow in Autumn, The Courilof Affair, Nemirovsky, BR David Mamet, Nadel, BR Day by Day in Jewish Sports History, Wechsler, BN Dearest Anne, Katzir, BR Delightful Compendium of Consolation, Visotzky, BR Devora Doresh Mysteries 2, Hubner, CBR Diary of a Witness, 1930–1943, Lambert, BN Dictation, Ozick, BR, 26-3 Dictionary of Jewish Terms, Eisenberg, BN Disaster Spiritual Care, Roberts, BR Disguised As Clark Kent, Fingeroth, BR Divided By Faith, Kaplan, BN Do you Believe?, Monda, BR Don’t Mind Me, Cohen, BN Dough, Zachter, BR Dozen Daisies for Raizy, Klempner, CBR Dragonfly Pool, Ibbotson, CBR Dream, Bernstein, BR Dream of Zion, Salkin, BR Duck Duck Wally, Rotter, BN Dumbfounded, Rothschild, BN Early Bright, Silber, BR East of Time, Rosenberg, BR Eight Chanukah Tales, Mindel, CBR Einstein And Oppenheimer, Schweber, BR Einstein on Politics, Rowe, BR Eli Remembers, Zee, CBR Emil L. Fackenheim, Patterson, BN Empress of Weehawken, Dische, BR End of Innocence, Samuel, BN End of the Jews, Mansbach, BR Enlightenment in the Colony, Mufti, BN Epilogue, Roiphe, BN Epitaph for German Judaism, Fackenheim, BN Erased, Bartov, BR Escape from Hell, Wetzler, BN Essential Rosa Luxemburg, Scott, BN Esther Regina, LaCocque, BN Eternally Eve, Lerner, BR Every Day Lasts a Year, Browning, BN Every Family Has a Story, Mokotoff, BN
Everyday Jews, Perle, BR Eye of the Crow, Peacock, CBR Fables From The Jewish Tradition, Kogan, BR Fantastic Foto Hunt, Judaica Press, CBR Far Above Rubies, Polansky, BN Far Beyond Triage, Lantz, BR Far-Away Places, Wolf, BN Farewell, Babylon, Kattan, BR Farewell, Shanghai, Wagenstein, BR Fear and Yoga in New Jersey, Gallant, BR Feingold, Horwitt, BR Film and the Shoah in France and Italy, Lichtner, BN Finding Jefferson, Dershowitz, BN Finesilver’s Gold, Littman, BN Fire In The Blood, Némirovsky, BR First Book of the Bible, Jacob, BN First Day of the Blitz, Stansky, BN Fit For a Princess, Rotman, CBR Fleeing Hitler, Diamond, BN Flory, Van Beek, BN Flowers of Perhaps, Ra’hel, BR Fly Has A Hundred Eyes, Baron, BR Footdreams and Treetales, Wolfson, BR For the Love of God, Ostriker, BR For The Love Of God And People, Dorff, BR Forger, Schonhaus, BR Fortune Cookie Chronicles, Lee, BR Four Girls from Berlin, Meyerhoff, BR Four Letters to the Witnesses of My Childhood, Ganor, BN Freak II: Visions, Matas, CBR Freak: Book One of the Freak Series, Matas, CBR Fresh Kills, Nadelson, BR From Schlub to Stud, Gross, BN Funny Boys, Adler, BR Gentlemen of the Road, Chabon, BR Geography of Hope, Birnbaum, BR German Bride, Hershon, BR Ghettostadt, Horwitz, BR Gift of Friendship, Altein, CBR Girl From Foreign, Shepard, BR Girl on the Fridge, Keret, BR Golda, Burkett, BR Golden Rule, Cooper, CBR Goldie’s Lox and the Three Bagels, Dubinsky, BR Golem in Jewish American Literature, Morris, BN Good Neighbors, Bad Time, Schwartz, BN Grand Inquisitor’s Manual, Kirsch, BN Grandpa’s Mountain, Larkey, CBR Great Kisser, Evanier, BR Greece, Fleming, BR Growing Up At Grossinger’s, Grossinger, BR Hanukkah Haiku, Ziefer, CBR Hanukkah Mice, Kroll, CBR Hanukkah Present, Binder, CBR Happiness and the Human Spirit, Twerski, BR
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An index of all titles included in Jewish Book World in Vol. 26: 1-4, published in 2008 Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN
Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN
Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN
Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN
Happy Hanukkah, Dear Dragon, Hillert, CBR Harvest of Blossoms, Meerbaum-Eisinger, BR Hats & Eyeglasses, Frankel, BN Have You No Shame, Shukert, BR Healthy Cooking for the Jewish Home, Levy, BR Hebrew Bible, Greenspahn, BN Hebrew Manuscripts, Tahan, BN Hebrew Manuscripts, Tahan, BN Hebrew Republic, Avishai, BR Here And Now, Hasak-Levy, BR Hidden Children of the Holocaust, Vromen, BR Hidden Hand, Astor, BN Hidden Letters, Slier, CBR Hiking in Israel, Shkolnik, BN Hip Kosher, Fein, BR History of Last Night’s Dream, Kamentz, BR History of Palestine, Krämer, BN Hoffman’s Hunger, deWinter, BR Hollywood’s Celebrity Gangster, Lewis, BR Holocaust, Wood, BN Holocaust, Crowe, BN Holocaust in Israeli Public Debate in the 1950s, Stauber, BN Home is Where You Find It, Hirsch, BR Home We Build Together, Sacks, BR Honey and Ginger, Morris, BR Honey Cake, Stuchner, CBR Hope, Not Fear, Bronfman, BR Hours Of Devotion, Berland, BR How Jews Became Germans, Hertz, BN How Mama Brought the Spring, Manushkin, CBR How to Spell Chanukah and Other Holiday Dilemmas, Franklin, BR How to Spot One of Us, Kirchheimer, BR Human Smoke, Baker, BR Hunger Artist, Jacobson, BR Hungry Clothes and Other Jewish Folktales, Schram, CBR Hurry Down Sunshine, Greenberg, BR Husbandry, Fried, BR I Just Want my Pants Back, Rosen, BN I Smile Back, Koppelman, BN Iberian Jewish Literature, Decter, BN Icon Of Evil, Dalin, BR I’d Bark But You Never Listen, Kimmel, BN Illuminated Haggadah, Caredio, BR Imagining the American Jewish Community, Wertheimer, BR Imagining the Unimaginable, Cohen, BN In the Country of Brooklyn, Golenbock, BR In the Footsteps of the Lost Ten Tribes, Shachan, BR In The Mouth, Pollack, BR In The Shadow Of Race, Hattam, BR In the Trenches, Harris, BN Indignation, Roth, BR Inheritance (Yerushe), Markish, BR
Into the Tunnel, Aly, BN 26-1 Introduction to Islam for Jews, Firestone, BR 26-4 Invisible Book, Goetz, CBR 26-2 Invisible Wall, Bernstein, BR 26-3 Inward Bound, Dubov, BR 26-1 Israel at Sixty, Strober, BR 26-2 Israel in the Middle East, Rabinovich, BN 26-3 Israel, The Diaspora And Jewish Identity, Ben-Moshe, BR 26-1 It’s Israel’s Birthday, Dietrick, CBR 26-3 Italy’s Sorrow, Holland, BN 26-3 Jacques Faitlovitch and the Jews of Ethiopia, Semi, BN 26-1 Jerusalem, Shudofsky, BN 26-4 Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, Shanks, BR 26-1 Jew of Home Depot and Other Stories, Apple, BR 26-1 Jewel and the Journey, Walfish, CBR 26-2 Jewel Trader of Pegu, Hantover, BR 26-1 Jewish American Food Culture, Deutsch, BN 26-3 Jewish Americans, Wenger, BR 26-1 Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices: Body, Dorff, BR 26-2 Jewish Communities on the Ohio River, Shevitz, BN 26-1 Jewish Connection to Israel, Korn, BN 26-2 Jewish Denver, Abrams, BN 26-3 Jewish Dogs, Stow, BR 26-1 Jewish History the Big Picture, Gevirtz, BR 26-4 Jewish Holiday Cooking, Cohen, BR 26-1 Jewish Identities, Moricz, BN 26-4 Jewish Messiah, Grunberg, BR 26-2 Jewish Philosophical Polemics against Christianity in the Middle Ages, Lasker, BN 26-1 Jewish Princess Cookbook, Tarn, BR 26-4 Jewish Sacred Music & Jewish Identity, Friedmann, BN 26-4 Jewish Sisters in Sobriety, Freshman, BR 26-2 Jewish Values Finder, Silver, CBR 26-3 Jewish West Hartford, Hoffman, BN 26-1 Jewish Woman Next Door, Flancbaum, BN 26-1 Jews And Europe In The Twenty-First Century, Lambert, BR 26-2 Jews and Human Rights, Galchinsky, BN 26-2 Jews and Judaism in the Middle Ages, Steinberg, BR 26-3 Jews And Muslims In The Arab World, Lassner, BR 26-1 Jews and Other Germans, Rahden, BN 26-4 Jews in New Mexico Since World War II, Tobias, BN 26-4 Jews in the Early Modern World, Bell, BN 26-1 Jews of Pinsk, Nadav, BR 26-4 Jews, Germans and Allies, Grossmann, BR 26-1 Jezebel, Hazelton, BR 26-3 Joachim Prinz, Rebellious Rabbi, Prinz, BN 26-1 Jodie’s Hanukkah Dig, Levine, CBR 26-4 Jokes of Sigmund Freud, Oring, BR 26-1
Joshua & Isadora, Benanav, BR Journey Abandoned, Trilling, BN Journeys to a Jewish Life, Anann, BR Judaism in Contemporary Context, Neusner, BR Judaism of the Second Temple Period, Flusser, BN Junk Man’s Daughter, Levitan, CBR Just Say Nu, Wex, BR Kabbalah and the Spiritual Quest, Myers, BR Kabbalah Handbook, Samuel, BR Kafka And Cultural Zionism, Bruce, BR Kasztner’s Train, Porter, BR Keeping Israel Safe, Sofer, CBR King of Sting, Glazer, BN Klezmer America, Freedman, BR Koch Papers, Koch, BR Kristallnacht, Fitzgerald, CBR Lamentations of Youth, Skinner, BN Last Chicken in America, Litman, BR Last Jews of Kerala, Fernandes, BR Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming, Snicket, CBR Laugh For God’s Sake, Schachter, BR Lawrence and Aaronsohn, Florence, BR Lazarus Project, Hemon, BR Legacy of German Jewry, Goldschmidt, BN Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism, Warraq, BN Let Me Continue to Speak the Truth, Loentz, BN Let My People Go, Balsey, CBR Let’s Schmooze, Sinclair, BN Letters in the Attic, Shimko, CBR Letters of Allen Ginsberg, Ginsberg, BN Liberation of the Concentration Camps 1945, Anolik, BN Life and Thought of Hans Jonas, Wiese, BN Life Of The Neighborhood Playhouse On Grand Street, Harrington, BR Life of the Skies, Rosen, BR Light Fell, Fallenberg, BR Lion and the Unicorn, Aldous, BR Literary Community, Solotaroff, BR Lives and Embers, Rosenberg, BR Living a Joyous Life, Aaron, BR Locket, Lieurance, CBR Long Labour, Shandler, BN Lord is My Shepherd, Spirin, CBR Lords of the Land, Zertal, BN Lost Genius, Bazzana, BN Lost Scotch and other Tales of Money & Strife, Bookman, BN Lost Years, Matthews, BR Love Every Leaf, Stinson, CBR Magic Pickle, Morse, CBR Magic Pomegranate, Schram, CBR Manischewitz, Alpern, BR Manless in Montclair, Edelman, BR Maps And Legends, Chabon, BR Mary of Nazareth, Halter, BR Mascot, Kurzem, BR Masters of the Word, Kolatch, BN Matrimony, Henkin, BR
Mazel Tov, Rappaport, BN Meet the Yids, Hochenberg, CBR Memoirs: Hans Jonas, Wiese, BN Memory, Grimbert, BR Mendelssohn to Mendelsohn, Reade, BN Mentor of Generations, Eleff, BN Mercedes Coffin, Kellerman, BR Messiah, Halter, BR Miracle Letters of T. Rimberg, Herbach, BR Miracles of the Bible, Hanft, CBR Mishkan T’filah, Frishman, BR Mistress of Herself, Doress-Worters, BN Modernism, Feminism, and Jewishness, Linett, BN Moose, Klein, BN More Than it Hurts You, Strauss, BN Moscow Rules, Silva, BR Moscow Yiddish Theater, Harshav, BR Moses, Lichtenstein, BN Moses’ Women, Tuchman, BR Most Beautiful Monday in 1961, Brin, BN Mozart Question, Morpurgo, CBR Much Too Promised Land, Miller, BR My Brother Esau is a Hairy Man, Niditch, BN My Dear Daughter, Fram, BR My Father’s Secret War, Franks, BR My Jesus Year, Cohen, BR My Life of Turmoil, Wenig, BN My New Shirt, Fagan, BN Naming Liberty, Yolen, CBR Naming the Witch, Stratton, BN Nazi Ancestral Proof, Ehrenreich, BN Nazi Hunter, Elsner, BR Nazi Literature In The Americas, Bolano, BR Neverending Parenting, Auerbach, BR New American Judaism, Blecher, BN New Authentics, Boris, BR New Mexico’s Crypto-Jews, Herz, BR New Mexico’s Crypto-Jews, Herz, BR New York Echoes, Adler, BN Night to Remember, Zion, BR North of God, Stern, BR Office of Desire, Moody, BR On Three Continents, Carmilly-Weinberger, BN One Baby Step at a Time, Weisberg, BN One City, Two Brothers, Smith, CBR Only as Good as Your Word, Shapiro, BR Opa Nobody, Huber, BN Open Canon, Sagi, BN Out Of Line, Grimberg, CBR Out of the Depths & Other Stories, Brenner, BR Outlawed Pigs, Barak-Erez, BR Pale of Settlement, Singer, BR Papa Jethro, Cohen, CBR Paper Towns, Green, CBR Passing Over, Finkelstein, BR Passover Around the World, Lehman-Wilzig, CBR
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Jewish Book World
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An index of all titles included in the XXXXXX issue of Jewish Book World Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN
Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN
Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN
Title, Author, BR, CBR or BN
Past Imperfect, Bruskin, BR Pathseeker, Kertesz, BR Pens And Swords, Dunsky, BR People of the Book, Brooks, BR Planting Hatred, Sowing Pain, Salinas, BN Please Excuse My Daughter, Klam, BR Polyphony of Jewish Culture, Harshav, BR Portable God, Kohn, BR Portraits of Jewish Americans, Drucker, CBR Post Office Girl, Zweig, BN Power among Them, Pastorello, BN Practice, Bellm, BR Priorities in Tzedaka, Goldberger, BN Private Joel and the Sewell Mountain Seder, Fireside, CBR Promise, Lustiger, BR Psalms for Young Children, Delval, CBR Puzzle Pieces, Altein, CBR Quest for Authenticity, Rosen, BR Rabbi Harvey Rides Again, Sheinkin, CBR Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss on the Yamim Noraim, Weiss, BN Rabbi’s Cat 2, Sfar, BR Rabbi’s Daughter, Mann, BR Rabbis & Their Community, Robinson, BN Radio and the Jews, Siegel, BR Rather Laugh Than Cry, Zipora, BR Recovering “Yiddishland”, Bachman, BR Red Leather Diary, Koppel, BR Red Sea, Benedek, BR Redemptions, Leshem, BR Rejoice In Your Festivals, Kanatopsky, BR Remarkable Invention that Saves Zion, Stupniker, BN Remora, Kamin, BN Repair of the Soul, Starr, BN Restatement of Rabbinic Civil Law Volume XI, Index, Quint, BN Resurrecting Hebrew, Stavans, BR Resurrection, Madigan, BR Rethinking Poles and Jews, Cherry, BR Revolution of 1905 and Russia’s Jews, Hoffman, BR Reward Miles to Heaven, Schwartz, BN Richard Codor’s Joyous Hagaddah, Codor, CBR Righteous Indignation, Rose, BR
Rina’s Rainy Day, Altein, CBR Road to Rescue, Pemper, BR Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines, Rogov, BN Roman’s Journey, Halter, BN Russian Jews on Three Continents, Remennick, BN Rutka’s Notebook, Vad Vashem, CBR Sack Full of Feathers, Waldman, CBR Sammy Spider’s First Shavuot, Rouss, CBR Sarah Laughed, Goldhaber, BR Sarah Laughs, Jules, CBR Sarah’s Key, Rosnay, BR Scholar’s Tale, Hartman, BR Scottsboro, Feldman, BR Search Committee, Angel, BR Seasoned with Love, Schiff, BN Second Diasporist Manifesto, Kitaj, BR Secret of the Jews, Moshe, BN Secret Scroll, Cutler, BN Seder Stories, Rips, BR Senda Berenson, Melnick, BN Sephardi Entrepeneurs in Jerusalem, Glass, BN Serial No. 3817131, Papo, BR Shalom Shar’abi and the Kabbalists of Beit El, Giller, BN Shards of (personal history) and other poems, Eckstein, BR Shared Stages, Cohen, BN Shining City, Greenland, BN Shlomo’s Little Joke, Citron, CBR Shut Up, I’m Talking, Levey, BR Sit, Ubu, Sit, Goldberg, BR Skeletons At The Feast, Bohjalian, BR Snapshots, Govrin, BR So Long at the Fair, Schwarz, BR Sobibor, Schelvis, BN Sobibor, Lev, BR Socorro Blast, Taichert, BR Someone for Mr. Sussman, Polacco, CBR Sondra’s Search, Silvers, CBR Song Before it is Sung, Cartwright, BR Song of the Distant Dove, Scheindlin, BR Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter, Manseau, BR Spiritual Activism, Weiss, BR Staring at the Sun, Yalom, BR Still Alive, Gold, BN Stop Forgetting To Remember, Kuper, BR Story of Giraffe, Hermsen, CBR
Story of Yiddish, Karlen, BR Story Tree, Lupton, CBR Straddling Worlds, Harper, BN Strassmanns, Strassmann, BN Studies in Jewish Theology, Sherwin, BN Such a Prince!, Bar-el, CBR Sum, Hafftka, BR Surprised by God, Ruttenberg, BR Taking the Plunge, Berkowitz, BR Tales of the Ten Lost Tribes, Yellin, BR Talking About God, Polish, BR Tara’s Flight, Eitzen, CBR Ten Days of Birthright Israel, Saxe, BR Tenacity of Unreasonable Beliefs, Schimmel, BR Terror in Black September, Raab, BR Testimony, Tensions, And Tikkun, Goldenberg, BR They Called Me Mayer July, Kirshenblatt, BR Things I’ve Learned from Women Who’ve Dumped Me, Karlin, BR This is Israel, Sasek, CBR Three Times Chai, Becker, CBR To This Day, Agnon, BR Torah for Teens, Cohen, BN Torah: A Women’s Commentary, Eskenazi, BR Touch of the Sacred, Borowitz, BR Tradition in the Public Square, Rashkover, BR Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries, Hoffman, BN Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries, Hoffman, BN Transforming Identity, Sagi, BR Trekking Through Time, Kornblau, CBR Triumph of Deborah, Etzioni-Halevy, BR Truth About My Bat Mitzvah, Baskin, CBR Tugging String, Greenberg, CBR Turning Grief into Gratitude, Bulka, BN Twice Dead, Lubling, BR Two Flags, Apfelbaum, BN Two Lives, Malcolm, BR Understanding The Tanya, Steinsaltz, BR Unfortunate Passion of Hermann Broch, Gay, BN Unknown Black Book, Rubenstein, BN Unlocked, Ferrante, BR Unlocking the Torah Text, Goldin, BN Until Our Last Breath, Bart, BR
Victory Gardens of Brooklyn, Gerber, BR 26-3 Vienna Farewell, Jordan, BN 26-4 Vitebsk, Shatskikh, BR 26-1 Vivaldi’s Virgins, Quick, BR 26-1 Voyage, Geras, CBR 26-2 Waiting for America, Shrayer, BR 26-1 Waiting for God, Bush, BR 26-4 Waiting for Rain, Levy, BR 26-4 Wall of Two, Karmel, BR 26-3 War of the Rosens, Eidus, BR 26-2 We Have Ways of Making You Laugh, Gross, BR 26-4 We Plan, God Laughs, Hirsch, BR 26-4 Weimar Germany, Weitz, BR 26-2 What Do You See? At Home, Goetz, CBR 26-2 What Do You See? On Chanukah, Goetz, CBR 26-2 What Happened to Anna K, Reyn, BR 26-3 What the Rabbis Said, Cohen, BN 26-4 26-1 White Ethnic New York, Zeitz, BR Who By Fire, Spechler, BR 26-4 Who Will Write Our History?, Kassow, BR 26-3 Who’s Who In the Jewish Bible, Mandel, BR 26-1 Why Faith Matters, Wolpe, BR 26-4 Why Hebrew Goes from Right to Left, Isaacs, BN 26-4 Why Is This Night Different From All Other Nights, Kurshan, BR 26-1 Why We Watched, Hamerow, BR 26-4 Will to Freedom, Balas, BN 26-3 William & Rosalie, Schiff, BN 26-1 Women Remaking American Judaism, Prell, BR 26-2 World of Prayer, Munk, BN 26-1 Writing In The Dark, Grossman, BR 26-4 Yiddish In America, Shapiro, BR 26-4 Yigal Allon, Native Son, Shapira, BR 26-2 Yivo Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, Hundert, BR 26-3 You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right, Hirschfield, BR 26-3 You Shall Tell Your Children, Gubkin, BR 26-3 Youth Tourism to Israel, Cohen, BN 26-4 Zion before Zionism, Blumberg, BR 26-1 Zion in the Desert, Miles, BR 26-1 Zionism, Rotenstreich, BN 26-4 Zoe’s Extraordinary Holiday Adventures, Minaki, CBR 26-2 Zohar 4, Matt, BN 26-1
Jewish Book World
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The historic compilation of Yiddish classics, read aloud by native Yiddish speakers at Montrealâ€™s Jewish Public Library, and presented by the National Yiddish Book Center , preserves complete, unabridged books on CD. Thirty titles are now available, including works by: Sholem Aleichem, Sholem Asch, I.L. Peretz, Mendele Moykher Sforim, and I.B. Singer, among others.
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____ ____ ____
*the complete kit includes postage. For additional items, include extra postage as noted.
____________________________ City: ________________________ State: _______________________ Zip Code: ____________________ Please send check and order form to:
Jewish Book Council 520 8th Avenue, 4th Floor New York, NY 10018