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Mar 13, 2003: James Kugel reads from The God of Old. Harvard Holyoke Center, Cambridge. 6 PM
Mar 18, 2003: David Liss reads from COFFEE TRADER. B&N, San Antonio TX. 7 PM
Mar 18, 2003: Joseph Weisberg reads from 10TH GRADE. B&N, Pittsburgh. 7 PM
Mar 23, 2003: Marc Gafni in conversation. Temple Sinai, 10400 Wilshire Blvd Los Angeles 10 am
Mar 26, 2003: Peter Singer reads from PUSHING TIME AWAY. Politics and Prose, DC. 7 PM
Mar 26, 2003: Rabbi Tirzah Firestone reads from THE RECEIVING. B&N, Park Slope Brooklyn NY. 7 PM
Mar 31, 2003: Robert Levine read from THERE IS NO MESSIAH.. AND YOU’RE IT, 35w57 NYC 12PM

Apr 01, 2003: Jonathan Safran Foer reads from EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED. B&N, 82nd/Bway NYC. 7:30 PM
Apr 01, 2003: Moshe Rosman speaks on Di Yiddishe Mame’s Bobe: Lives of Jewish Women in Poland in the 17th and 18th Centuries. YIVO, 15W16TH NYC 7:30 PM
Apr 02, 2003: Marge Piercy, Nessa Rapaport, and EM Broner read about TOO SMART, TOO LOUD, TOO JAPpy: MOVING BEYONG STEREOTYPE. Lilith Magazine exhibit, HUC 1W4th NYC 7PM
Apr 02, 2003: FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE & SQUALOR: Gary Shteyngart and Paul Greenberg with Moderator Boris Fishman. JCC of the UWS in NYC. 8 PM
Apr 03, 2003: Edna Nahshon speaks on Mock Trials and Public Jewish Discourse. YIVO, 15W16TH NYC 7PM
Apr 03, 2003: Carmit Delman reads from BURNT CHUTNEY. Makor NYC. 7:30 PM $15
Apr 06, 2003: A.B. Yehoshua speaks on Israeli Identity in a Time of Peril. YIVO, 15W16TH NYC 2PM
Apr 09, 2003: BINNIE KIRSHENBAUM & SUSAN JOSEPHS read at ROUGH CUT Reading Series. JCC. KGB Bar, 85E4th NYC. 7:30 PM
Apr 11, 2003: Jane Leavy reads from SANDY KOUFAX: A LEFTY’S LEGACY, Metropolitan Syn. 40E35, NYC 8 PM
Apr 14, 2003: Thomas Levenson reads from EINSTEIN IN BERLIN. B&N, NYC 82nd ST. 7 PM
Apr 22, 2003: Leslie Epstein reads from SAN REMO DRIVE. Booksmith, Brookline. 7 PM
Apr 22, 2003: Rabbi Jan Goldstein reads from SACRED WOUNDS. B&N Pasadena. 7 PM
Apr 23, 2003: TRANCE performance at The Eldridge Street Project
Apr 29, 2003: AVIV GEFFEN performance at Makor NYC 8/10 PM
Apr 29, 2003: DAVID GROSSMAN reads from SOMEONE TO RUN WITH and SEE UNDER: LOVE. Queens College NYC 7 PM
Apr 30, 2003: Professor Bernard Lewis reads from CRISIS OF ISLAM. B&N Union Sq., 7 PM

May 01, 2003: Poet and Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky speaks at the Jewish Museum, NYC. 6:30 PM
May 01, 2003: British Chief Rabbi Sacks discusses why he rewrote his latest book after his congregants criticized him for saying that Judaism was not the only true religion. Center for Religious Inquiry. NYC 8 AM
May 06, 2003: A reading of Yehuda Amichai’s radio plays, in English, NYC 92nd St Y
May 07, 2003: Journalists Under Fire. Makor, NYC 7 PM
May 13, 2003: Rabbi Jan Goldstein reads from SACRED WOUNDS. B&N Portland OR. 7 PM
May 13, 2003: Rabbi Jan Goldstein reads from SACRED WOUNDS. B&N Seattle. 7 PM
May 17, 2003: Esther Jungreis reads from COMMITTED MARRIAGE. B&N, Park Slope Brooklyn 7 PM
May 19, 2003: Leslie Epstein reads from SAN REMO DRIVE. B&N, NYC E 86th St. 7 PM
May 21, 2003: Joel Siegel reads from LESSONS FOR DYLAN. B&N, NYC 82nd ST. 7 PM
May 21, 2003: Rabbi Jan Goldstein reads from SACRED WOUNDS. B&N Burlington WA. 7 PM
May 21, 2003: Arthur Magida reads from THE RABBI AND THE HIT MAN. B&N Marlton NJ. 8 PM
May 22, 2003: Leslie Epstein reads from SAN REMO DRIVE. B&N, Framingham 7 PM
May 22, 2003: Tod Giltin reads from LETTERS TO A YOUNG ACTIVIST. B&N, NYC 82nd 7 PM
May 22, 2003: Arthur Magida reads from THE RABBI AND THE HIT MAN. B&N Philadelphia 18th Walnut. 7 PM

Jun 03, 2003: Joel Siegel reads from LESSONS FOR DYLAN. A Clean Well Lighted Place. SF. 7PM
Jun 03, 2003: Joel Siegel reads from LESSONS FOR DYLAN. A Clean Well Lighted Place. SF. 7PM
Jun 08, 2003: Danny, Gidi & Friends concert (Gidi Gov, Danny Sanderson, etc.) NYC 7 PM
Jun 22-24, 2003: Kavod v’Nichum. Exploring Jewish Traditions Surrounding Dying and Death ( a Plenary on Chevra Kaddish groups, with Neil Gillman, Laurie Zoloth, David Wachtel, Hasia Diner, Jack Reimer, Arnold Goodman and other. Washington DC Rockville MD, with workshops on Tahara, Cemeteries, Shmira after 9/11, Bikkur Cholim, and Funerals.

Jul 08, 2003: Joseph Epstein reads from FABULOUS SMALL JEWS. B&N, Evanston. 7PM
Jul 09, 2003: Arthur Magida reads from THE RABBI AND THE HIT MAN. B&N Baltimore. 7 PM
Jul 15, 2003: Joseph Epstein reads from FABULOUS SMALL JEWS. B&N, NYC 82nd St. 7:30PM



[book] [book] [book] [book] [book] [book] [book]

by Jonathan Safran Foer

April 1, 2003.
Reader’s Guide:
The book is so good, so premium, absorbing, sensual, carnal, and hilarious. SEE OUR EXTENDED REVIEW ON OUR APRIL 2002 PAGE. Essentially, this book is so good, so funny, so sad, so true. Reviewers have said: passionate, perverse, and moving. “Exuberant and wise, hysterically funny and deeply moving, Everything Is Illuminated is an astonishing debut novel. In the summer after his junior year of college, a writer-also named Jonathan Safran Foer-journeys to the farmlands of Eastern Europe. Armed with only a yellowing photograph, he sets out to find Augustine, the woman who might or might not be a link to the grandfather he never knew-the woman who, he has been told, saved his grandfather from the Nazis (this really happened). Guided by the unforgettable Alex, his young Ukrainian translator, who writes in a sublimely, butchered English, Jonathan is led on a quixotic search across a devastated landscape and back into an unexpected past.
[book collage] Braided into this story is the novel Jonathan is writing, a magical realist fable of his grandfather's village in Ukraine, Trachimbrod, a tapestry of startling symmetries that unite generations across time. In a counterpoint of voices blending high comedy and deep tragedy, the search moves back in time, the fantastical history moves forward, and they meet in a heart-stopping scene of extraordinary power. Passionate, wildly inventive, and marked by an indelible humanity, Everything Is Illuminated mines the black holes of history and is ultimately a story about searching: for people and places that no longer exist, for the hidden truths that haunt every family, and for the delicate but necessary tales that link past and future.”
Some have written that the title comes from the idea that when everyone in the shtetl were making love and reaching coitus at the same time, an astronaut perceived it as an illumination from space. But me… I tell you that the title means that everything can be finally illuminated, even for those who cannot communicate clearly.

[book cover, click me] State of Siege
User's Manual
by Doron Goldenberg
April 2003. GEFEN.
Television audiences might be forgiven for believing that the nightly news presents the whole picture of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The broadcasts are by now familiar. A blown out Israeli bus, charred and smoking. Survivors sitting by the roadside, shocked and bleeding. Israeli tanks rolling into dusty Arab villages. The words "cycle of violence," "terror," and "retaliation." SEE IT ALL IN PHOTOS. But how does it feel to be walking down a street, knowing that at any moment, the next explosion might engulf you and those around you? What is it like to go to work or school on a bus – in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Haifa, hoping it will remain intact for the journey? 262 COLOR PHOTOS ABOUT THE MATZAV. State of Seige is a unique, controversial, and thought-provoking artistic critique of the situation in Israel today, conceived and created by the young Israeli artist, Doron Goldenberg, a graduate of the Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem. In this powerful work, through the use of both words and images, Goldenberg captures a sense of the impact of terror that can’t be broadcast on television. He has also created a visual tool that conveys a mood – a sensation – that can’t be communicated via a news-commentator. . Click to read more.

[book cover, click me] Hana's Suitcase
by Karen Levine
Spring 2003. Albert Whitman & Co.
Martha Link wrote, “Based on a Canadian Broadcasting radio documentary produced by Levine, this book tells the story of Hana Brady, a girl killed at Auschwitz, and how her suitcase came to be a part of the Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Center. A CD recording of the radio program is available and adds to the impact and power of the book. The story ends on a positive note by ultimately uniting Japanese schoolchildren fascinated by Hana's story with her brother George Brady, the only member of their immediate family to survive the war. The book alternates between past and present, one chapter telling the story of Hana's childhood in the Czechoslovakian resort town of Nove Mesto, and the next relating the experiences of Fumiko Ishioka, a teacher dedicated to educating the children of Japan about the horrors of the Holocaust. Black-and-white photographs of Hana and her family and Ms. Ishioka and her students accompany each chapter. As Hana's narrative draws her to Auschwitz and to the end of her life, Fumiko's story brings her closer to the solution of a puzzle that began with only a suitcase and a name. The narrative moves quickly, though the writing is often oversimplified. One can assume that direct quotes come from the memories of Hana's brother, George Brady, and Fumiko Ishioka, since they were the original narrators of the radio program, but there are no notes to that effect. Unfortunately, the stilted writing and lack of source notes mar an otherwise gripping story of a family's love and a teacher's dedication. An additional purchase for Holocaust collections.” Click to read more.

[book cover, click me] NOTHING SACRED
by Douglas Rushkoff
April 1, 2003. Crown.
The book came out on April Fool’s Day, and I immediately thought, oh great, a new media pundit on a soapbox about Judaism. Another pundit railing against Jewish orgs and “shuls with pools” that focus on Israel and continuity and intermarriage, and not spirituality, social action, and learning. But is he right? Does Chinese menu Judaism actually believe that nothing is sacred, that a literary, transparent Judaism is evolving? After the first chapter, you realize that this book is very good and he has much to say. I especially liked his views on the Passover plagues, that each one was an attack on an Egyptian diety (darkness against the sun god, blood against the Nile River god, the death of worshipped cattle, etc). Rushkoff asks whether it is the non-Orthodox Jews, those who wrestle with the questions, who are the most authentic Jews, while the Orthodox have corrupted the religion? IS NOTHING SACRED? He he he. Click to read more.

[book cover, click me] Who Was the Woman Who Wore the Hat
by Nancy Patz
Spring 2003. Albert Whitman & Co.
Leslie Barban wrote, “Grade 2-5-In this reflective poem drawn from a visit to the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, Patz recalls an exhibit she saw and asks, "Who was the woman/who wore the hat/I saw in the Jewish Museum?/What was she like?" In proselike poetry, the author poses questions about what the woman ate, whether she took cream in her coffee, and how she tilted her hat when she wore it. She reflects on whether the woman wore it the day she was arrested and taken to the Square in the Jewish Quarter. How did she know what she should pack, "Or how many sweaters/to put on each of her children-." Patz dramatically states on a spread with white letters against black paper that the hat might have belonged to her mother, herself, or you, the reader. Sepia-tone drawings and copies of old photographs are intentionally mixed together in a fragmentary manner, so as to "convey a sense of loss," as Patz states in the author's note. Loss is the perfect word for this simple, mournful poem reminding readers that the victims of the Holocaust went shopping, drank coffee, and wore hats like everybody else.” Click to read more.

[book cover, click me] A Picture of Grandmother by Esther Hautzig (Author), Beth Peck (Illustrator)
When Sara sees the large blue-and-white envelope that came in the mail, she knows it's from her uncle Benjamin in America. Usually he sends wonderful photographs of his life in Brooklyn, but this time Benjamin has invited Mama and Grandmother Hanna to the 1939 World's Fair in New York, and instead of sending pictures, he's requested an old photo of his mother - a picture that Sara has never seen and a request that upsets her mother. Assuming that the photo has been lost, Sara takes it upon herself to find it. But no one in the family will talk to her about it. That's why Sara goes to visit her outspoken aunt Lisa, knowing she will have some answers for her. But the answer Sara gets is one she never expected to hear. Esther Hautzig's clear, evocative telling and Beth Peck's lovely renderings from old photographs create a vivid portrait of a family on the eve of World War II. Click to read more.

[book cover, click me] Behind the Secret Window
A Memoir of a Hidden Childhood During World War Two
by Nelly S. Toll
Ages 10 and up. It was 1941. The Nazis come to Lwow Poland when Nelly is six. By the time she turns eight, the events of World War II have taken almost everyone she loves. Scared, lonely, and running from the Nazis, Nelly hides in the bedroom of a Gentile couple in Poland. For over a year, she lives in fear of discovery, writing in her diary and painting pictures of a fantasy world filled with open skies and happy families. Illustrated with Nelly's original watercolors, this powerful memoir tells the true story of how a little girl's imagination helped her survive a nightmare. Twenty-nine of her watercolors are included here; their poignancy is matched only by the art in I Never Saw Another Butterfly . Without emphasizing horror and loss, Toll conveys the effects of human evil and human folly, summoning up the forces of tragedy and courage. Click to read more.

My Grandfather and the Tragedy of Jewish Vienna
by Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics, Princeton

March/April 2003. Ecco. "What binds us pushes time away" wrote David Oppenheim to his future wife, Amalie Pollak, on March 24, 1905. Oppenheim, classical scholar, collaborator, then critic of Sigmund Freud, and friend and supporter of Alfred Adler, lived through the heights and depths of Vienna's twentieth-century intellectual and cultural history. He perished in obscurity at a Nazi concentration camp in 1943, separated from family and friends, leaving his grandson, the philosopher Peter Singer, without a chance to know him. Almost fifty years later Peter Singer set out to explore the life of the grandfather he never knew, and found a scholar whose ideas on ethics and human nature often parallel his own writings. Drawing on a wealth of documents and personal letters, Singer made startling discoveries about his grandparents' early romantic attachments, the basis on which they decide to marry, their professional aspirations, and their differing views of Judaism. An essay that Oppenheim co-wrote with Freud, but which was suppressed because of a bitter split within Freud's psychoanalytical society, leads Singer to explore the difficulties of following one's own ideas in the circles of both Freud and Adler. Combining touching family biography with thoughtful reflection on both personal and public questions we face today, Pushing Time Away captures critical moments in Europe's transition from Belle Époque to the Great War and to the rise of Fascism and the coming of World War II. Singer gives us a vivid portrait of Vienna when it was the center of European culture and new ideas, a culture that was both intensely Jewish and distinctly secular. Oppenheim was an atheist. Although his wife practiced Jewish rituals, he did not. He was anti-Zionist and a universalist. Examining this culture and its fate forces Singer to confront one of the foundations of his own thought: How much can we rely on universal values and human reason? Click to read more.

[book] The Lord Is My Shepherd: Why Do I Want
Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Soul
by Rabbi Paul Plotkin (Temple Beth Am of Margate Florida)

April 2003. Rabbi Plotkin, the former President (1998–90) of the Rabbinical Assembly of America, explores the Book of Psalms. The Book of Psalms, throughout history, has formed the foundation of prayer liturgy for the great western religions of Judaism and Christianity. Perhaps this is because in most of the books of the Bible, our Creator speaks to us, whereas in Psalms, we speak to Him. The psalmists of old were men and women who experienced the joys, fears, anxieties, and tragedies of human experience. Somehow, no matter the challenge, they were able to find equilibrium through a connection with the Divine. In The Lord Is My Shepherd—Why Do I Still Want?, Rabbi Paul Plotkin captures the voices of the psalmists and amplifies them through stories that will inspire, guide, and comfort modern readers of all religious backgrounds. Click to read more.

[book] Sacred Wounds
Succeeding Because of Life's Pain
by Jan Goldstein (Rabbi Jan Goldstein)
Spring 2003. Regan Books. In this immensely affecting and empowering guide, Jan Goldstein teaches readers how to take their most emotionally painful life events -- their spiritual wounds -- and transform them into a source of power and well-being. Goldstein's life-affirming program is inspired by his own heartbreak: the February morning when he was faced with the sudden news that his twelve-year marriage was ending, leaving Goldstein with primary custody of their three small children. Though paralyzed at first by feelings of loss and depression, Goldstein eventually discovered that the pain allowed him and his children a deeper appreciation for the simple moments of joy -- that his once "broken" family was succeeding not despite its wounds, but because of them. In Sacred Wounds, Goldstein reveals the secret to finding strength in challenging and often traumatic events, outlining a life-changing nine-step process to help readers move through heartache and toward healing. In clear, compassionate language, he refutes the notion of pain as a destroyer, drawing on the compelling stories of many of the people he has counseled along the way: Rick and Sara, who are plagued by infertility; Yvette, an aspiring man who battles her secular desires; Steve, for whom a frightening diagnosis portends the end...and then the beginning of hope. Remarkably affecting and inspiring, Goldstein's stories confirm that we are all well equipped to deal with the inevitable hurts and heartbreaks in life -- if only we release our preconceptions, acknowledge the strengthening power of our wounds, and follow the nine steps to a spiritual rebirth. Indispensable for anyone suffering through spiritual and emotional difficulties, Sacred Wounds is the key to shifting our perceptions and finding new strength and success in the painful experiences we all endure. Click to read more.

by Emily Bingham

April 2003. Hill and Wang. An Intimate Portrait of a Jewish American Family in America's First Century, Mordecai is a brilliant multigenerational history at the forefront of a new way of exploring our past, one that follows the course of national events through the relationships that speak most immediately to us-between parent and child, sibling and sibling, husband and wife. In Emily Bingham's hands, this family of southern Jews becomes a remarkable window on the struggles all Americans were engaged in during the early years of the Republic. In 1785, the Mordecai’s moved from Philadelphia to Virginia. Following Washington's victory at Yorktown, Jacob and Judy Mordecai settled in North Carolina. Here began a three generational effort to match ambitions to accomplishments. In 1815, Alfred Mordecai applied to West point, and he was accepted. Along the way, we witness the family against the national backdrop of the Great Awakenings (when some family members converted to Chirstianity), Nat Turner's revolt, the free-love experiments of the 1840s, and the devastation of the Civil War (when family members supported the Confederacy, and Alfred, a West point grad, must decide which army to join), we witness the efforts of each generation's members to define themselves as Jews, patriots, southerners, and most fundamentally, middle-class Americans. As with the nation's, their successes are often partial and painfully realized, cause for forging and rending the ties that bind child to parent, sister to brother, husband to wife. And through it all, the Mordecai’s wrote letters, diaries, newspaper articles, books. Out of these rich archives, Bingham re-creates one family's first century in the United States and gives this nation's early history a uniquely personal face Click to read more.

[book] The Women's Seder Sourcebook:
Rituals and Readings for Use at the Passover Seder
by Sharon Cohen Anisfeld (Editor), Tara Mohr (Editor), Catherine Spector (Editor)
Jewish Lights. April 2003. In 1993, a group of Yale students gathered for a women’s Seder. This is their revised Haggadah AND SOURCEBOOK. Includes contributions from Contributors include: Dr. Rachel Adler Rabbi Renni S. Altman Dr. Rebecca T. Alpert Zoe Baird Dr. Evelyn Torton Beck Susan Berrin Senator Barbara Boxer Dr. Esther Broner Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin Tamara Cohen Anita Diamant Dr. Carol Diament Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, Ph.D. Eve Ensler Dr. Marcia Falk Merle Feld Rabbi Susan P. Fendrick Rabbi Tirzah Firestone Dr. Ellen Frankel Nan Fink Gefen Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb Dr. Susannah Heschel Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar Rabbi Naamah Kelman Naomi Klein Irena Klepfisz Maxine Kumin Rabbi Noa Rachel Kushner Rabbi Joy Levitt Hadassah Lieberman Ruth W. Messinger Dr. Faye Moskowitz Dr. Alicia Suskin Ostriker Dr. Judith Plaskow Marge Piercy Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen Anne Roiphe Danya Ruttenberg Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso The Honorable Jan Schakowsky Rabbi Susan Schnur Rabbi Susan Silverman Dr. Ellen M. Umansky Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg Dr. Chava Weissler Cantor Lorel Zar-Kessler.

[book] The Women's Passover Companion:
Women's Reflections on the Festival of Freedom
by Sharon Cohen Anisfeld (Editor), Tara Mohr (Editor), Catherine Spector (Editor)
Jewish Lights. February 2003. A powerful--and empowering--gathering of women's voices transmitting Judaism's Passover legacy to the next generation. The Women's Passover Companion offers an in-depth examination of women's relationships to Passover as well as the roots and meanings of women's seders. This groundbreaking collection captures the voices of Jewish women--rabbis, scholars, activists, political leaders, and artists--who engage in a provocative conversation about the themes of the Exodus and exile, oppression and liberation, history and memory, as they relate to contemporary women's lives. Whether seeking new insights into the text and tradtions of Passover or learning about women's seders for the first time, both women and men will find this collection an inspiring introduction to the Passover season and an eye-opening exploration of questions central to Jewish women, to Passover, and to Judaism itself. Contributors include: Martha Ackelsberg Judith R. Baskin Ruth Behar Esther Broner Kim Chernin Phyllis Chesler Judith Clark Tamara Cohen Dianne Cohler-Esses Ophira Edut Leora Eisenstadt Merle Feld Lynn Gottlieb Leah Haber Bonna Devora Haberman Susannah Heschel Norma Baumel Joseph Chavi Karkowsky Janna Kaplan Ruth Kaplan Erika Katske Sharon Kleinbaum Lori Lefkovitz Haviva Ner-David Carol Ochs Vanessa L. Ochs Judith Plaskow Letty Cottin Pogrebin Lilly Rivlin Judith Rosenbaum Sandy Eisenberg Sasso Leah Shakdiel Ela Thier Judith Wachs Margaret Moers Wenig Jenya Zolot-Gassko Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg

[book cover] WOMEN IN THE TALMUD
by Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt
February 2003. Published by the Orthodox Union and Art Scroll. An anthology of the Talmud's stories about women, from Seder Zeraim and Moed, as explained by the classic commentators. The role of women in Judaism has become a subject of intense interest - and distortion - in recent years. Many people pontificate about what the Talmud and the Rabbis say on the subject, and back their often misguided claims with quotes that are either misinterpreted or wrenched from their context. Indeed, what does the Talmud say? And what is the true meaning of its sometimes allegorical, always succinct comments? These are the questions that Rabbi Doctor Aaron Glatt undertakes to answer in this anthology. He collects a full range of the Talmud's halachic and aggadic statements about women in the Sedarim (Orders) of Zeraim and Moed, but that is not all. This volume contains not only simply translations, but also full detailed explanations of the passages, drawn from centuries of Talmudic and Rabbinic literature. Often, the author leavens his anthologized commentary with his own original and enlightening observations. The sum total is a book that will educate and fascinate. Most importantly, it presents Judaism's true perspective on the lofty and respected role of women in Judaism.

[book cover] The Last Cemetery in Berlin:
A Post-Holocaust Love Story in the Ruins of the Berlin Wall
by Tania Wisbar, John Mahoney
February 2003. Holocaust ghosts emerge with their unknown stories as an unexpected byproduct of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of the former East Germany with the West in 1990, adding new dimensions to post-Holocaust literature. Once travel to what was East Germany, formerly a communist country, became possible again and archives sealed since World War II became available, the survivors and heirs of families whose lives and treasures were taken by the Nazis could begin their own personal searches for those lost long ago. Such a person is Lily Weitrek who travels from California in early 1991 to keep a promise to her deceased mother Theresa Weitrek.  The promise made was to go and put flowers on Theresa’s mother’s grave in a place outside Berlin called Weissenssee. To Lily’s surprise the small map she follows leads to a Jewish cemetery.  Lily learns clue by clue that her mother had built a false personal history for herself and the two infant daughters she had smuggled out of Nazi Germany in 1940.  Her mother’s second bequest is a property claim for a legendry German shoe factory owned previously by Theresa Weitrek’s family that was seized and aryanized by the Nazis in 1933, its owners, Theresa’s aunt, uncles and cousins, forced to flee, murdered or dead by suicide. With the help of a Berlin attorney, Wolfgang Schmidt, Lily begins the painstaking search for the history of the aryanization of the factory and for her unknown relatives, victims of Hitler’s policies.  The newly created German government challenges Lily with old and newly written laws regarding property claims that reach back to the Holocaust

[book] Brothers and Others in Arms:
The Making of Love and War in Israeli Combat Units
by Danny Kaplan (Editor)
Haworth Press; (December 2002). Kevin Riordan write the following: Makes a persuasive case that being gay is no particular disadvantage for a soldier, sailor or air force officer and may enable some men to thrive in what the author calls "masculitary" culture. The book got a lot of supportive coverage in Israel. The 35-year-old author and social psychologist was born in California but has spent most of his life in Israel; he lives in Jerusalem and teaches at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Army service is mandatory for most young Israeli Jewish and Druse men. In Israel, homosexuality is not considered an inherent barrier to service. The author was actively, discretely, gay during his 4 years of active duty, and that experience informs the eye-opening interviews with gay combat veterans that comprise the first half of "Brothers and Others in Arms." These frank, funny, occasionally horrifying and often moving accounts from the front lines give the book an emotional ballast often missing from sociological studies. AMONG THE INTERVIEWEES are Tom, a pilot cadet who remembers an intimate encounter with a fellow serviceman that included "a kiss that I can still taste today;" Nimrod, who served on a crowded ship where "the whole homosexual thing was an advantage;" and Yoni, a tank corps member who experienced "a kind of real love, that gave me the strength to serve." Kaplan said he was "surprised" that almost all of the soldiers he interviewed did not face specific adjustment problems related to their homosexuality. This held true even when the serviceman entered the realm that seems so sacred to American opponents of gays in the military — the shower. Turns out the typical combat shower is nothing like the steamily, lurid milieu imagined by conservatives — or by directors of gay porno movies, for that matter. "You get into the showers, especially in Lebanon, where it is below freezing outside and the water is ice cold," Nir, a reconnaissance unit veteran, told Kaplan. "The only thing you want to do is get in and to jump out as fast as you possibly can." Not that sex does not take place elsewhere on the front lines. "I was surprised by the amount of homoeroticism in the stories," Kaplan said, Noting that many, if not most, of his interviewees were guarded about their private lives during their service, or were still in the process of self-definition. In some cases, that process was aided by the fact that the military "is a homosocial institution," in Kaplan's words. To function, it needs more than firepower; it needs men who are capable of bonding emotionally with other men, regardless of sexual orientation. BENEATH THE PLATONIC ideal of brothers-in-arms enshrined in the popular iconography of the military lies an undercurrent of homoeroticism about which the military itself is well aware. "Perhaps the far more 'panicking' implication of acknowledging gays in the military," Kaplan writes, "is admitting that homosocial military culture in and of itself entails homoerotic desire, not only for gay men but for straight men as well." Kaplan said the American "don't ask, don't tell" policy is especially counterproductive because it prevents gays and straights from "negotiating" the issue of a serviceman or woman's actual (or imagined) homosexuality — thereby helping create friction and tension. "Everyone can be suspected of being gay," he said. And while homosexuality appears to be much less of an issue in the Israeli military, Kaplan said most of his interviewees chose not to make a public statement acknowledging their orientation. "In combat units, people usually choose how, and when to come out, usually to a couple of close friends," he said. "Even though the (official) policy is liberal, people don't (automatically) choose to come out. "I think the same thing will be true in the States once they change the policy," Kaplan said. "The policy is important, it's a symbol. But it doesn't matter as much as the macho combat culture itself." Click to read more.

[book cover] OR HADASH
A Commentary on Siddur Sim Shalom
by Reuven Hammer
April 15, 2003. 750 pages for Sabbath and festivals. Published by the Rabbinical Assembly. Or Hadash (New Light), a new commentary on the Conservative movement’s prayer book, Sim Shalom. It’s a book within a book, a commentary wrapped around the prayer book. It’s a kind of beginner’s service in print, but deeper, with historical context and contemporary commentary running along side the prayers. Its author is Rabbi Reuven Hammer, president of the denomination’s Rabbinical Assembly. The time had come for a Conservative prayer book user’s guide, as it were, because so many people were asking for one, says Rabbi Hammer. Some had even taking to using the Orthodox Artscroll prayer books, which utilize a clever format translating each line, and provide succinct directions about what to do when in the service. The new 750-page Sabbath and festival prayer book comes just 18 months after the release of "Etz Hayim," the movement's groundbreaking Bible commentary. "Or Hadash" works well as a companion to "Siddur Sim Shalom," by addressing what some movement insiders see as a key flaw in Rabbi Jules Harlow's otherwise popular 1985 translation. Rather than change the wording of some traditional Hebrew prayers that violate the theological sensibilities of Conservative Jews, Harlow often used a slightly altered, inexact, English translation. Not surprisingly, in a movement that prides itself on rigorous academic analysis of texts, this approach has caused discomfort in some circles. Hammer's commentary rectifies the situation by often providing the exact translation, insight into how the passage in question was originally understood and alternative understandings that might appeal to contemporary Jews.

[book] The Passover Seder
by Emily Sper
February 2003. Ages 3-7. Scholastic. From the innovative creator of Hanukkah: A Counting Book in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish comes The Passover Seder. There's no other book like this in the marketplace! Along with a simple retelling of the Passover story, this novelty book takes readers through a hands-on seder experience. Open a Hagaddah; turn a seder plate to match symbolic foods; lift the napkin and "break" the middle matzah; touch matzah, parsley and a pillow; pour drops of wine to symbolize the ten plagues; help the Jews cross the Red Sea; search for the hidden afikomen; and open the door to welcome Elijah the Prophet.

[book] Wrapped in a Holy Flame
Teachings and Tales of The Hasidic Masters
by Zalman Schachter Shalomi (Editor), and Nataniel M. Miles-Yepez (Editor)
April 2003. Jossey-Bass. Launched at the beginning of the 18th century by the legendary Ba' al Shem Tov, Hasidism is a spiritual movement based largely on parables and stories which encourage transcendent joy, the potential for personal transformation, aspirations of the Divine, and infusion of daily life with music, dancing, and loving exhalation. Hasidism is also clearly connected to Jewish mysticism and the Kabbalah. Generation of disciples, holy men, gurus, Rabbis, and teachers since the days of the Ba'al Shem Tov have introduced the Hasidic movement throughout the world. The famous Maggid of Mezritch, Reb Pinchas of Koretz, Shneur Zalman of Liadi, Reb Nachman of Bratzlav, and 20th century guru and artist Reb Shlomo Carlebach — these and other Hasidic masters are collected in this definitive volume which includes both the original works in new translations and a comprehensive introduction to the meaning and value of these classic stories. Click to read more.

by Francice Medoff
February 2003. Ages 3-8. Karben. Updated from 1983. A mouse lives in a wheatfield. A special matzah crop is being harvested. The mouse watches the process.

[book cover] MANJA
by Anna Gmeyner (UK Version)
Spring 2003. Manja, a novel about five children was written (in German) in London in 1936-7 by a young Austrian woman in her mid-thirties. It was published in Amsterdam in 1938 (because it could not be published in Germany) and was then published in England on 7th September 1939. The translation was by Philip Owens; this new translation is by Kate Phillips. The novel opens with five radical scenes – the conception one night in May 1920 of five German children. The writer Eva Ibbotson, Anna Gmeyner’s daughter, writes in her Preface: ‘The beginning attracted considerable attention, even criticism at the time. Born two streets away from where Sigmund Freud lived, my mother must have thought it evident that the sexual encounters of the five couples would presage the nature of the children that were conceived.’ The four boys and one girl, Manja, become friends when they are about eight, in the late 1920s. But their companionship, so loyal and innocent and good-natured, is doomed because of the differences between their parents: one father is a left-wing activist, another a Nazi, another a financier, another an idealistic doctor, another a Jewish musician. The book ends in the late autumn of 1933, but everything that will happen in Germany has been foretold: this is a deeply prophetic book. Click to read more.

[book cover] The Crisis of Islam:
Holy War and Unholy Terror
by BERNARD LEWIS (Princeton)
Spring 2003. This lean, muscular volume, an expansion of Lewis's George Polk Award-winning New Yorker article, sheds much-needed light on the complicated and volatile Middle East. To locate the origins of anti-American sentiment, Islamic scholar Lewis maps the history of Muslim anxiety towards the West from the time of the Crusades through European imperialism, and explains how America's increased presence in the region since the Cold War has been construed as a renewed cry of imperialism. In Islam, politics and religion are inextricable, and followers possess an acute knowledge of their own history dating back to the Prophet Mohammed, a timeline Lewis revisits. . . . Click to read more.

by Thomas Levenson

April 8, 2003. A study of the 18 years (1914-1932) Einstein residing in Berlin, expanding on his Theory of Relativity, his validating observations of a solar eclipse, and his promotion of peace and Zionism. Click to read more.

[book cover] Hineini in Our Lives:
Learning How to Respond to Others
Through 14 Biblical Texts, 14 Personal Stories
by Norman J. Cohen
April 2003. Jewish Lights. Through creative interpretation of Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, and Samuel, Dr. Cohen (HUC-JIR) examines the fourteen places in the Bible where this powerful word is used. He shows in each biblical moment what the particular Hineini can teach modern readers about themselves and their willingness to respond to the "other"--be that God, their family members, or simply other human beings. Extraordinary scholars and spiritual leaders share personal stories that exemplify each one of the Hineini pasages. These inspiring vignettes remind us that our responses to other people can have a force that positively affects our relationships and the world in which we live, and the shape of the world yet to unfold. Contributors include: Alan Dershowitz, Peter Pitzele, Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi, Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, Neil Gillman, Laura Geller, Blu Greenberg, Marcia Prager, Les Bronstein, Richard Jacobs, Lawrence Kushner, Harold Schulweis, Phyllis Trible, and Elie Weisel. Click to read more.

A guide to the Spiritual Meaning, Significance and Weekly Practice of the Jewish Sabbath.
April 2003. Jossey-Bass. The observance of the Sabbath is one of the most important precepts in Judaism. In The Miracle of the Seventh Day, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz provides a companion and guide for the Sabbath table at home. The book is designed for both those who know very little and for those well-versed in the rituals, traditions, and customs of Shabbat, as celebrated in the family at home. For those with little knowledge, it may serve as a guidebook to assist them in following or conducting a Shabbat meal, complete with blessings before and after the meal and hymns sung at the table. For those already knowledgeable, the book will shed new light upon the spiritual significance of various elements of the Sabbath and provide further insight into the history and development of the prayers and traditions of the day. Click to read more.

[book] Celebrating the Jewish Holidays:
Poems Stories Essays
edited by Stephen Rubin
April 2003. Brandeis University Press. an anthology. A unique collection of more than 100 stories, poems, and essays revealing the history and meaning of the Jewish holidays by many of the world's greatest Jewish writers. Click to read more.

by Todd Gitlin
April 15, 2003. Basic Books Mentoring series. PW writes: “Gitlin, a Columbia University professor…, is a former president of Students for a Democratic Society, SDS, …, one of whose primary focuses was anti-Vietnam War activities…. While Gitlin tries hard to convince his target audience that he understands them and once felt as they now feel-angry, impatient, outraged and above all convinced of his own rightness-it is unclear whether they would embrace his conclusions any more than Gitlin's generation embraced the suggestions of the Old Left. Such a response might be unfortunate, as Gitlin, who writes earnestly and has a knack for aphoristic observations, has some unusual points. For example, he derides Ralph Nader's third-party run for president as "narcissism wearing a cloak of ideals." He also offers insightful observations on the need for both outsider activists and sympathetic insiders to make meaningful changes in public policy, the dangers of identity politics and the requirement that activists willingly seek and accept institutional power. He eloquently argues for the need to resist the temptation of violence. …By and large, though, this is a generous and well-meaning book,…” Click to read more.

[book] Sam Spiegel (1903-1985)
The Incredible Life and Times of Hollywood’s Most Iconoclastic Producer..
by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni (Harper Bazaar-Francais)

April 8, 2003. Simon & Schuster. The life and story of the producer of On The Waterfront, The African Queen, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Lawrence of Arabia. He received three Oscars. But was he more than a meddling vulgarian producer? Like Bagleman, he served jail time for kiting checks (he arrived in the USA as a con man in 1927 from Austria) Born in what is now Poland, and then a feisty émigré to Palestine, Spiegel certainly had a checkered early history. Not the least of his shortcomings were arrests in two countries (the United States and Britain) and a propensity for skipping out on debts. His third wife said, "He would prefer to climb a tree than tell the truth." He had a very, very sharp story mind," the screenwriter Budd Schulberg said of Spiegel's contribution to "On the Waterfront." Mike Nichols says, "I realized that he adapted Jewish mother practices to business." And Gore Vidal acknowledges the Spiegel "truffle nose" for rooting out talented individuals down on their luck and realizing they might work at reduced rates. Later in life, Spiegel became less adorable as he chased younger and younger women, developing a reputation for casting-couch behavior as his work began to slip. After "Lawrence of Arabia," a generation gap separated him from new directorial talent. And the rise of the auteur filmmaker turned the credit-hogging producer into an endangered species. Still, as this book makes clear, Spiegel insisted on work of a certain seriousness and never turned to exploitation or schlock. Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni's affectionately delivers anecdotes as this prenuptial warning about Spiegel given to someone who planned to work with him. The groom was told: "Bob, the best wedding gift I can give you is this: If Sam Spiegel says it's going to be a sunny day tomorrow, reach for your umbrella and rubbers." Click to read more.

Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch
by Sue Fishkoff
April 2003. Doubleday. Schocken Books.
First a story from me. In 2001, I was walking a mall in Malaysia and saw a fresh faced blonde Anglo standing alone. He caught my eye, we approached each other, and I asked, “Are you a Mormon?” “Yes,” he replied. Later that day I was in Singapore and its downtown synagogue. There I met another fresh faced yet bearded young man. “You must be from Chabad,” I queried. “Yes,” he replied.
Many people know of these Chabad Hasidim by there street and outreach tactics. They have spread out throughout the world, on college campuses, in towns small and large, peddling their sweetened version of Judaism and Hasidic Jewish practice with mitzvah tanks and queries such as, “Are you Jewish?” They are in Nepal and West Philadelphia, prisons, the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska, Postville (Iowa), Kfar Chabad, and Rice Road in BKK. Fishkoff has written for us a behind the scenes look at a small, Crown Heights, Brooklyn based sect of Hasidism and the extraordinary lengths to which they will go to persuade their fellow Jews to live religiously “observant” lives. Who are these Lubavitcher Hasidim? Who are their over 3,800 husband and wife emissaries, or shlichim? How successful have their mitzvah tanks been? How have their public menorahs been received by other Jews? How do they deal with competitive tensions for the same slice of the pie with local Jewish institutions? Why do Hollywood celebs help Chabad but ignore there LA area Jewish institutions? How much influence does their dead leader have on their lives? What is their secret to successful outreach? How are they more like the local A.M.E. church than your local suburban synagogue? Fishkoff, a woman, spent a year meeting emissaries in the USA, learning about their mission, their drives, their motives and methods. Writing in the NYT, author Samuel Freedman faulted the book for not exploring the rift between Chabad and Rabbis Carlebach and Schacter-Shalomi. Click to read more.

A novel
by Lauren Weisberger
April 15, 2003. Doubleday. In real life, the author of this first novel graduated from Cornell and took a job at Conde Nast’s Vogue magazine, working for Anna Wintour. And now for the fiction. Andrea Sachs graduates from Brown and snags a job at a fashion magazine, Elias-Clark’s Runway magazine, in Manhattan, working for Miranda Priestly. It pays $32K. What the author creates is a thinly veiled fiction of what it was like to work at a fashion magazine for a demanding, curt boss. Andrea, who is not a good dresser, has a life now filled with Hilfiger, de la Renta, Prada, Versaci, and Armani. The women are stylish and thin, as are the men. Miranda can turn each and every one of these hip sophisticates into scared, whimpering children. Miranda asks that her dresses be expressed to homes and locations, so that she doesn’t have to carry any luggage. The latest Harry Potter book is expressed to her children in Paris by private. Andrea Sachs is sorely tested each and every day—and often late into the night with orders barked over the phone. She puts up with it all by keeping her eyes on the prize: a recommendation from Miranda that will get Andrea a top job at any magazine of her choosing. As things escalate from the merely unacceptable to the downright outrageous, however, Andrea begins to realize that the job a million girls would die for may just kill her. And even if she survives, she has to decide whether or not the job is worth the price of her soul. The story is cute, but Kate Betts, who worked at Vogue for 8 years, who reviewed this novel for The New York Times, wrote that Weisberger could have learned a lot more in her year at Vogue, and squandered her chance. But then of course, Weisberger got a great advance, a celebrated first novel and a six figure film option. And what does the reviewer have, other than a memory of her time at Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. Meee-ow. Click to read more.

by Jonathan Brent and Vladimir Naumov
April 2003. HarperCollins. Brent, an Isaac Babel scholar, has written a new investigation, based on previously unseen KGB documents, reveals the startling truth behind Stalin's last great conspiracy. On January 13, 1953, a stunned world learned that a vast conspiracy had been unmasked among Jewish doctors in the USSR to murder Kremlin leaders. Mass arrests quickly followed. The Doctors' Plot, as this alleged scheme came to be called, was Stalin's last crime. In the fifty years since Stalin's death many myths have grown up about the Doctors' Plot. Did Stalin himself invent the conspiracy against the Jewish doctors or was it engineered by subordinates who wished to eliminate Kremlin rivals? Did Stalin intend a purge of all Jews from Moscow, Leningrad, and other major cities, which might lead to a Soviet Holocaust? How was this plot related to the cold war then dividing Europe, and the hot war in Korea? Finally, was the Doctors' Plot connected with Stalin's fortuitous death? Brent and Naumov have explored an astounding arra of previously unknown, top-secret documents from the KGB, the presidential archives, and other state and party archives in order to probe the mechanism of on of Stalin's greatest intrigues -- and to tell for the first time the incredible full story of the Doctors' Plot. Click to read more.

by JOHN WEISS, Professor, Lehman College
April 2003. Ivan R Dee Publishing. A survey of the political culture in Europe that laid the groundwork for the Nazi atrocities. Professor Weiss shoes how anti_semitism and racism developed as a major element in European political processes. He focuses on Germany, Austria, Poland, and France. Click to read more.

A novel from memory
April 2003. His father and uncle, Philip and Julius Epstein, wrote many classic films of the late thirties and forties, including Arsenic and Old Lace, Mr. Skeffington, and Casablanca. Epstein himself has written eight books of fiction, including King of the Jews, Pinto and Sons, and Goldkorn Tales. Leslie Epstein grew up with an insider's view of life in Hollywood. Now a Brookline (Boston) resident and director of Boston University's Creative Writing Program, the author of King of the Jews and Goldkorn Tales presents his latest work, San Remo Drive: a Novel from Memory, a coming-of-age story based on his own experience. Click to read more.

[book cover, click me] HOLOCAUST JUSTICE
by Michael J. Bazyler, Whittier Law
April 2003. NYU Press. A study of American court cases by victims of Nazi thefts. Bazyler tells the story of unacknowledged bank accounts, slave labor, unpaid pre-war insurance policies, looted art, and of the human and legal dramas involved in the struggles for restitution. Significantly, he brings the often-forgotten voices of Holocaust survivors to the forefront. He discusses the morality of Holocaust restitution, the debate over how funds should be distributed, and the claims, by some, that efforts to receive monetary redress diminishes the memory of the Holocaust. Click to read more.

[book cover, click me] Freud and the Non-European
by Edward W. Said, Jacqueline Rose (Afterword), Christopher Bollas (Introduction)
April 2003. Verso Books. Edward Said explores the implications of Freud's Moses and Monotheism for Middle-East politics today. The resulting book reveals Said's abiding interest in Freud's work and its important influence on his own. He proposes that Freud's assumption that Moses was an Egyptian undermines any simple ascription of a pure identity, and further that identity itself cannot be thought or worked through without the recognition of the limits inherent in it. Edward Said suggests that such an unresolved, nuanced sense of identity might, if embodied in political reality, have formed, or might still form, the basis for a new understanding between Jews and Palestinians. Instead, Said portrays the Zionist entity of Israel's relentless march towards an exclusively Jewish state denies any sense of a more complex, inclusive past. Click to read more.

[book cover, click me] Commentary on the Torah
by Richard E. Friedman
April 2003. paperback edition. HarperSF. Richard Elliott Friedman, the bestselling author of Who Wrote the Bible?, integrates the most recent discoveries in biblical archaeology and research with the fruits of years of experience studying and teaching the Bible to illuminate the straightforward meaning of the text -- "to shed new light on the Torah and, more important, to open windows through which it sheds its light on us." While other commentaries are generally collections of comments by a number of scholars, this is a unified commentary on the Torah by a single scholar, the most unified by a Jewish scholar in centuries. It includes the original Hebrew text, a new translation, and an authoritative, accessibly written interpretation and analysis of each passage that remains focused on the meaning of the Torah as a whole, showing how its separate books are united into one cohesive, all-encompassing sacred literary masterpiece. This landmark work is destined to take its place as a classic in the libraries of lay readers and scholars alike, as we seek to understand the significance of the scriptural texts for our lives today, and for years to come. Click to read more.

[book] Triple Exposure:
Black, Jewish and Red in the 1950's
by Dexter Jeffries (Professor, CUNY)
April 2003. Jeffries was a red diaper baby, the youngest son of socially active Communist parents – a Jewish mother and a black father. Too light for some, too dark for others, he had to find his place in a race conscious America. A great memoir of childhood, the Army, driving cabs, teaching English, etc. Click to read more.

April 2003. Paperback edition. The Alchemists believed that by forging opposites, something whole will be made, something perfect and incorruptible. John Dee was a famed 16th Century alchemist. In the 1580s, King Rudolf of Prague summoned astrologers and alchemists to the Holy Roman Empire, and Dr Dee came. His assistant was Edward Kelley. In this novel, together in London, they summon spirits to learn the nature of the world, but are unprepared when a demon answers their spells instead and threatens Dee's family. Hoping to escape, Dee and his family travel with a peculiar Kelley to Prague, where they plan to ask the patronage of eccentric King Rudolf. In Prague, Dee meets Rabbi Judah Loew, who seeks to learn the identity of Jewish legend's 36 righteous men, whose very existence protects the world from being remade by evil. Unfortunately, influenced by Kelley, Rudolf thinks that if he can find those righteous men and kill them, he will be able to remake the world to his own specifications. After escaping Rudolf's prison, Dee and Loew build a man of clay, a GOLEM, to protect Prague's Jewish quarter from the king's soldiers, only to find once again that summoned powers can be hard to handle safely. In order to defeat evil, both men will first have to weigh their own magical abilities and realize that the power to create is merely the other side of the power to destroy. Although Goldstein's story has a tendency to meander all over the map, diluting her strong message about the cost of power and pride, Dee and Loew's search for truth makes for a telling morality tale. Click to read more.

[book] A Mouthful of Air
A Novel
by Amy Koppelman
April 2003. Julie Davis seems to have it all – wealth, a doting husband, an apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Philip Roth as a neighbor on the 16th floor, a cute one year old baby boy, oh, and pink scars on her wrist where she tried to kill herself. She is filled with shame. The book opens a few weeks after her attempted suicide and on the eve of her baby’s first birthday. Luckily she has a drug that is keeping her happy, but when she discovers that she is pregnant, she must stop taking the prescription. Click to read more.

[book] J’ACCUSE
by Aharon Shabtai, translated from Hebrew by Peter Cole
April 2003. PW writes: “In this provocative collection, Israeli poet Shabtai, author of more than 15 books of poetry, confronts what could be described as a collective identity crisis in Jewish culture, particularly in Israel. Having suffered immense persecution throughout history and learned to identify keenly with the dispossessed, Israeli Jews are now in a position of dominance over another people. Shabtai condemns Israel's role as occupier and military power, distancing himself from his country ("I'm a disciple of Shakespeare, not Ben Gurion") and identifying explicitly with the Palestinians ("I'm a Palestinian Jew"). While there are occasional glimmerings of personal struggle here-"O my country, my country,/ with each sandal,/ with each thread / of my khaki pants, / I've loved you"-for the most part, the book is a relentless polemic, elegizing innocent Palestinians and demonizing Israeli soldiers: "Idiotic soldiers of lead, / was your father a knife/ that only knows how to chop?" Plumbing modes familiar from Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet's subtle eroticism, Shabtai veers into sexual and violent shock value: "In the morning she sucks off a sniper in uniform,/ and at evening he returns/ and proudly displays/ the X he etched / into the butt of his rifle,/ after he'd terminated/ a young woman, age 19,/ who was hanging up laundry/ on her roof in Hebron." Titled after Emile Zola's impassioned defense of Alfred Dreyfus, these poems seem particularly designed to provoke a Jewish audience, using images of oppression drawn from Jewish liturgy and history. The book compares Israeli soldiers to Pharaoh's troops in ancient Egypt, refers to "pogroms" against Palestinians living in "ghettos" and explicitly likens present-day Palestinians to Jews living in 1930s Germany. What role this book will play in ongoing debates about Israel, the West Bank and Gaza remains to be seen, but it could prove even more controversial than Mahmoud Darwish's recent (and much more nuanced) Unfortunately, It Was Paradise. Click to read more.

By Nadene Goldfoot
April 2003. Nadene, her husband, and their dog lived in Israel for 5 years: 1980-85. She wrote letters during that time to her mother and children who were still in Oregon.  Since she was a teacher, she went over to be retrained to teach English as a Foreign Language.  While there, her husband and she started a Yiddish theater in English as well.  Every day was another adventure with all kinds of things happening to them. Click to read more.

[book] ISLAM
By Vartan Gregorian
April 2003. Brookings. At 14 he left Tabriz Iran to attend an Armenian School in Beirut. Later he became a Penn Provost, teacher of 19th Century Intellectual History, NYPL head, Brown President, and current Carnegie Foundation honcho and Armenian and scholar writes about Islam. Gregorian insists that U.S. citizens cannot afford to remain ignorant about a faith shared by nearly one-fifth of the world’s population. He recommends continuing dialogues between modernist and traditionalist Muslims, as well as among the educated, secular elite and their clerical counterparts. He also urges U.S.-led efforts to engage and better understand the diversity of Muslim communities in the United States and the world. The book begins with an accessible overview of Islam’s tenets, institutions, evolution, and historical role. Gregorian traces its origins and fundamental principles, from Muhammad’s call to faith nearly 1,400 years ago to the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, and the subsequent abolition of the Caliphate. He focuses particular attention on the intense struggle between modernists and traditionalists, interaction between religion and nationalism, and key developments that have caused bitter divisions among Muslim nations and states: the partition of Palestine, the break up and Islamization of Pakistan, the 1978 revolution in Iran, and the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Click to read more.

Translated from Hebrew by Philip Simpson
April 2003. A satirical fictional autobiography set in the future by Gunther Wunker, who is raised in Ramat Gan in the 1960s. In the 1980s, Gunther moves to Germany to escape a pious and stupid Israeli citizenry. Being less pious and less stupid than his landsmen, who lives in Germany as a voyeur and beds women using Holocaust guilt to get them in to bed. Like Nero who fiddles while Rome burns, Gunther has a lot of sex while Israel dies and is replaced by New Palestine. Click to read more.

[book] First Loves
A Memoir
by Ted Solotaroff
April 2003. An autobiography of a relationship, First Loves explores that of Solotaroff and his wife, Lynn, with pitiless intensity. He recalls his first sighting of her emerging from the water as if from a dream. Yet the image, coupled with intervening layers of pain and disappointment, is almost impossibly distant and fragile. Solotaroff's willingness to admit the shortcomings, personal and professional, alongside the triumphs of his formative years gives the work a three-dimensional intensity. The opposition of romantic and intellectual passion drives the narrative and eventually brings it to crisis. First Loves does not exonerate its author in recalling a powerful love affair that nevertheless failed. Solotaroff is the author of a New York Times Notable Book and nominee for the National Jewish Book Award. Click to read more.

[book] Soldier's Life: Inside the Israeli Army
by Xeriqua Garfinkel
Exploration Society Press. In the months leading up to Operation Defensive Shield, Xeriqua Garfinkel was the only photographer permitted to travel with units of the Israeli army. Her objective was to put a human face on the young men and women who risk their lives daily defending the Jewish homeland. In this deeply affecting collection of photographs, culled from the thousands taken during her stay, we meet the new inductees and the seasoned veterans, the artillery men and the border patrol officers, the mechanics and the combat soldiers. The dramatic reproductions are enhanced by text explaining the origin, evolution, and current workings of the Israel Defense Forces. Deborah ROsenbloom wrote: “Garfinkel wrote a letter to the IDF explaining her project and the IDF granted permission and helped make the arrangements. Garfinkel's goal was to humanize the soldiers who are often demonized by the media but at the same to portray them without editorial comments and without imposing her own point of view, a goal at which she succeeds. What does come through is Garfinkel's respect for people who serve their country, ``it is the highest sacrifice one can make,'' she said. Garfinkel chose to document the Israeli military for several reasons. Her previous trips to Israel had made her acutely aware of the young soldiers who are so visible throughout the country, she was unaware of any other such project, and she is fascinated by the military… Her photos include the first days of newly-inducted soldiers, disabled veterans undergoing physical therapy at the Beit Halochim,  and a funeral for a member of the Bedouin Desert Patrol Battalion who was killed by Hamas shortly before his wedding day. (Garfinkel was the only female at the cemetery since as women, even the mothers and wives of the deceased, are not permitted at Bedouin funerals. Being American and a journalist, no one stopped her.) She accompanied soldiers on guard duty in the Golan and she was allowed to photograph soldiers training for hand-to-hand combat (Krav Maga) at the Wingate Institute.” Click to read more.

[book] Adjusting Sights (Tiyum Kavanot)
by Haim Sabato, Hillel Halkin
April 2003. Just as the owner of th fig tree knows when it is time to gather in the figs; the owner of this website knows when a great book come along; and this is that book.
Adjusting Sights was the surprise winner of Israel’s Sapir Prize in 2000. Adjusting Sights means to adjust yourself so that you pray with intention (kavana), the way you readjust your focus, and it is also when you do to align the gun sights in a tank. Masterfully translated by Hillel Halkin, Sabato, a former tank corpsman, has a wholly original, deeply literate and religious voice, comparable only to SY Agnon. The tragedy of war and the loss of a close friend in battle cause the author to write about this modern war (Yom Kippur War, 1973) from a deeply personal perspective. Sabato uses his writing to bring together all the coordinates of his life, juxtaposing the frenzy of war and the pain of friends killed with references to prayers and Talmudic passages creating a fascinating examination of religious belief in an extreme situation. All along, the moon changes its phases, from Yom Kippur to Kislev. When the Yom Kippur war erupts in 1973, Haim is called up, along with his friend Dov. Haim is from Egypt, Dov from Romania; Haim is a gunner, Dov is his loader. Haim’s tank is attacked, his commander is deafened. Dov, in a separate unit is killed. Haim must try to investigate is best friend and study partner’s death. Sabato is actually Rabbi Sabato of the hesder Yeshiva Birkat Moshe of Ma’ale Adumim (Jerusalem area). He is the great great grandson of the former Chief Rabbi of Halab (Aleppo, Syria). Watch in 2003 for the film based on this book. Click to read more.

by Rabbi Marc Gafni
April 2003. With his first groundbreaking book, Soul Prints, Marc Gafni taught readers how to tread a lifelong path of meaning by realizing their true, unique selves. Now, in The Mystery of Love, he invites readers to the next step on the journey, addressing with passion, wisdom, and genuine humility the all-important issues of love, creativity, and our erotic connection to the universe. Gafni, with clarity, brilliance, and great compassion, re-frames our understandings of the erotic and the sensual in a way that invites us to live with passion and love in all facets of our lives. While drawn from the ancient wisdom texts of the Kabbalist tradition, The Mystery of Love speaks to all readers who seek a passionate, joyful, yet deeply grounded exploration of the ancient mysteries as their guide to enlightenment. Click to read more.

[book cover] SERIOUSLY FUNNY
April 15, 2003. The comedians of the 1950s and 1960s were a totally different breed of relevant, revolutionary performer from any that came before or after, comics whose humor did much more than pry guffaws out of audiences. Gerald Nachman presents the stories of the groundbreaking comedy stars of those years, each one a cultural harbinger, including Mort Sahl, of a new political cynicism; Lenny Bruce, of the sexual, drug, and language revolution; Bill Cosby and Godfrey Cambridge, of racial harmony; Mike Nichols & Elaine May and Woody Allen, of self-analytical angst and a rearrangement of male-female relations; Stan Freberg and Bob Newhart, of encroaching, pervasive pop media manipulation and, in the case of Bob Elliott & Ray Goulding, of the banalities of broadcasting; Mel Brooks, of the Yiddishization of American comedy; Sid Caesar, of a new awareness of the satirical possibilities of television; Joan Rivers, of the obsessive craving for celebrity gossip and of a latent bitchy sensibility; Shelley Berman, of a generation of obsessively self-confessional humor; and so many others. Nachman shines a flashlight into the corners of these comedians’ chaotic and often troubled lives, illuminating their genius as well as their demons, damaged souls, and desperate drive. Writing in the LA Times, Stanley Karnow, wrote, “Yet I concur with Nachman’s opbservation that it was not until the emergence of such comics as Allan Sherman during the 1960s that the nation was conspicuously Yiddishized. His song, “Hello Muddah..” was a smash hit. He exploited bagels, seltzer, pastrami…stuffed derma, and the garment industry… Accordingly, it is now common usage to plotz, kibitz, schlep, kvetch and display chutzpah.” Karnow adds, “Ironically, much of the anti-Jewish sentiment was spurred by the Hollywood moguls… Fearing hostility from rednecks, the forced Danny Kaye to dye his hair blond and Jerry Lewis to dilute his moronic Catskills antics… .. Nachman is enthralled by Sahl, who made a quiet debut on Christmas Eve of 1951 at the hungry I, ..a commentator rather than a comic, he surfaced during the heyday of conformity.” Click to read more.

[book cover] What I Saw at the Fair
by Ann Birstein
April 2003. You head for a fair full of hope. You have no idea what you will find and what you will accomplish, until you return. Then from hindsight, on the way back, you know. PW writes, “Fans of Birstein's work in the New Yorker and the New York Times will not be disappointed by this memoir, which expands on much of the colorful narrative found in her superb biography of her father, The Rabbi on Forty-Seventh Street, and delves deeper into her Hell's Kitchen childhood, college life and experiences among cliquish New York City intellectuals. Her father, Rabbi Bernard Birstein, headed the noted "Actors Temple," a synagogue that counted Milton Berle, Eddie Cantor, Jack Benny and Sophie Tucker among its members. After beginning with a wryly humorous segment on her visit to a German town bearing her last name (she was a Jew, not royalty), Birstein chronicles her struggles to be accepted by gentiles while retaining her Jewishness. Particularly entertaining are Birstein's anecdotes of her family, school days and experiences during the 1940s, full of her trademark sardonic observations. Birstein was convinced she'd never be married and is acerbic in her assessments of her young beaux, including one lover who seduced her and then announced his homosexuality, and another who was "a Southern gent scared of Jewish girls but thrilled with them." But singledom ended when Birstein met the highly respected writer and critic Alfred Kazin, an older divorcee‚ who transformed her future by winning her heart and thrusting her into the heady world of New York letters, involving parties with Clark Gable, Saul Bellow, James Baldwin, Hannah Arendt (a Nazi!), Ralph Ellison and others. Birstein's heartfelt recounting of the writer's life, her turbulent marriage, her divorce from Kazin and later emergence as an influential scribe in her own right will elicit readers' admiration. Click the book cover to read more.


[book cover] [wong and jackson in icu in modesto] FOLLOWING FOO
(the electronic adventures of The Chestnut Man)
by B.D. Wong
May 2003. HarperEntertainment. The author Robert Lipsyte wrote that when you are sick, you go to the Country of Illness, a place where time and actions differ, your priorities change, your career takes a back seat, the kindness of strangers is realized, the lives of health care workers are suddenly noticed. It is to this country that the author and his family traveled on Memorial Day Sunday, May 28, 2000 (23 Iyar, 38 L’Omer). It is on this evening that the actor/singer B.D. Wong and his talent agent partner, Richard Jackson, became fathers in Modesto, CA. Their twin sons were born woefully, dangerously, nearly 3 months premature. Over the next several months, Wong kept his friends informed of the roller coaster progress, ups and downs, through a series of emails. These introspective, mesmerizing, hopeful, honest emails got passed around, and have been compiled to create this book. At times it elicits chuckles, sometimes you will thank god for unsung heroic healthcare workers, and at other times your eyes will well with tears. The book is an adventurous journey into fatherhood, Jewish and Chinese American families, medical miracles, social work, gynecology, as well as sprinkling asides into life in television and film acting. The words are presented in a variety of fonts and styles to add drama to the reading. Graphics from the Milton Bradley games of Operation and Ka-boom also drive home some messages. Wong also includes some of the songs he wrote, such as his ode to Poop. The book is impossible to put down, as you hunger to learn whether first-born Boaz Dov Wong (Boaz: the swift, strong, giving biblical character who rescues Ruth and fathers the ancestors of King David; Dov: the quiet strength of a peaceful bear) and younger Jackson Foo Wong (Jackson/Yohanan: for his father’s surname, graciousness of god; Foo: wealth, for his grandfather) will survive and thrive. For readers who need linear stories, start with Update 8; all other can begin with the Preface. Click to read more.

By Joel Siegel
May 2003. Publicaffairs. Nothing makes you more devout than a bout with cancer. Siegel, an entertainment critic for ABC’s GMA, faced a terminal illness, and has created this story of his 58 years of life. At the age of 54, movie critic Joel Siegel became a father for the first time and learned that he had cancer. Now, in Lessons for Dylan, Siegel shares all the things he wants his son to know--in case he's not around to tell him--about his family history and Jewish heritage, life's pleasures and sorrows, the challenges of growing up (at any age), and, most important, who his father is and what he values. Threaded throughout are stories from Siegel's extraordinary life: he was born in East LA in 1943; his path from an immigrant neighborhood to national television; his work in the civil rights movement, and his career as a critic. Siegel’s grandmother survived the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911. Joel, in 1965, delivered a bag containing $800 in cash to a minister named Martin Luther King. He ended up working for King that Summer. Siegel says he invented several Baskin Robbins flavors, including German Chocolate Cake (my favorite) and Pralines and Cream. He was also nominated for a Tony for his musical about Jackie Robinson. Siegel landed a gig writing for Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, and witnessed Kennedy’s assassination in Los Angeles. Siegel candidly addresses the more difficult passages of his life, including the end of his marriage (his third) to Dylan's mother and the experience of having cancer. Jerry Della Femina bought pot for Siegel during his chemotherapy. But he also shares great stories from show biz (featuring Orson Welles, Marlene Dietrich, Paul Newman, Brad Pitt, Stevie Wonder, all four Beatles, and many more); lays out the History of the Jewish People in Four Jokes; and offers fatherly advice on sex ("ask your mother"), work, and what to cook for Rosh Hashanah (recipes included). Full of humor and wisdom, common sense and self-revelation, Lessons for Dylan offers lessons for all of us about what really matters in life. He is co-founder (with Gene Wilder) and president of Gilda's Club, a non-profit support facility for cancer patients.
Dear Dylan,
One day you might remember--maybe triggered by a photograph, or a sense memory of a texture or a color--the soft, grey cashmere sweater I bought for you for your second birthday. As an adult you may wonder, "What kind of schmuck buys a cashmere sweater for a two year-old boy?"
The answer is: A schmuck who tempts fate. I knew a cashmere sweater was a stupid thing to buy a two year-old, but I was feeling so good that if the call about the MRI results had come when I was walking down Park Avenue in front of the Mercedes place, I would've walked in and bought Dylan a car. The next day a CT-scan showed a small, black spot on the lower lobe of my left lung…
Click to read more.

May 2003. Houghton Mifflin.
I first became interested in Lipsky’s stories from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point when pieces first appeared in Rolling Stone magazine. Lipsky’s West Point stories profiled a cross section of cadets, from Plebes to Seniors, their frustrations, their attitudes, their machismo, their failures, and yes, there was Rash, the Jewish cadet from down South. Now we have the whole 4 years in book form and we learn about the choices and outcomes of their young lives. Drawing on complete, unprecedented access to West Point and its cadets, David Lipsky explores the academy’s rich history, describes the demanding regimen that swallows students’ days, and examines the Point as a reflection of our society. Is it a quaint anachronism, or does it still embody the ideals of equality, honesty, and loyalty that moved Theodore Roosevelt to proclaim it the most “absolutely American” institution? Lipsky tackles these questions through superbly crafted portraits of cadets and the elite officers who mold them, following them into classrooms, barracks, mess halls, and military exercises. His reportage extends from 1998 through 2002, arguably the most eventful four years in West Point history. He witnesses the end of hazing, the arrival of TV and telephones to students’ dorm rooms, the ability to order in pizza and Chinese takeout, the exposure and concealment of several scandals (US Air Force Academy, listen up), and the dramatic aftermath of 9/11 on student attitudes. He depicts young people of every race and class, and details the rigorous training program that erases their preconceptions and makes them a tight-knit community. We witness the failure of some Plebes who are unable to pass the Phys. Ed. requirements, even though one would, from the scripts of popular films, expect that all the Plebes would rally together and help their errant classmates to practice and overcome the Phys Ed requirement. Lipsky’s extensive experience covering college students for Rolling Stone helped him gain an astonishing degree of trust and truth from both cadets and administrators. Click to read more.

[book] Journey of Hope
The Story of Ilan Ramon, Israel's First Astronaut
by Alan D. Abbey
May 2003. Gefen
In 1995, President Bill Clinton announced that a future NASA space shuttle flight would carry an Israeli astronaut. In January 2003, that promise was fulfilled when Colonel Ilan Ramon, a decorated and heroic Israeli Air Force pilot, was part of the crew of space shuttle Columbia, flight STS-107. Two weeks after it was launched, within minutes of its scheduled landing, the ship disintegrated, killing all seven astronauts aboard. This book chronicles the selection, training, flight, and death of Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first astronaut, over a seven-year period. Ramon was the child of a Holocaust survivor and of parents who came to Israel to build new lives. He personified the best of Israel: a family man, a committed Israeli, a proud Jew, a war hero, and, as well, a quiet, modest person. Journey of Hope captures the drama, humor, and humanity of the life and death of Colonel Ilan Ramon. Journey of Hope includes NASA photographs, images of Holocaust artifacts that Ramon carried with him into space, the famous Hebrew poem read at his funeral, and the complete transcript of President George Bush’s comments at the official memorial ceremony for the Columbia Seven. Click to read more.

[book] King of Odessa
A Novel
by Robert Rosenstone
May 2003. Northwestern University Press
An offbeat and brilliant imagining of a "lost novel" by Isaac Babel. A celebrated writer returns to his hometown of Odessa, pondering a deal with the secret police, pining for a daughter living abroad, and hoping to pen one last homage to his own past. Isaac Babel, the world famous spinner of tales about Cossacks and gangsters, arrives in Odessa to be treated for asthma-and perhaps help a condemned prisoner to escape. Or is it Babel who intends to escape? In King of Odessa, Robert A. Rosenstone imagines a version of this visit and the novel Babel wrote during those weeks. He also ruminates on his past-his childhood as a sickly Jewish boy, the horrifying 1905 pogrom, the famous rides with the Cossacks that inspired Red Calvary, and above all his complicated relationships with women. Throughout the novel Rosenstone captures Babel's lively wit, his exhaustion with fame and the Soviet system, and his infectious charm. Click to read more.

Savoring Local Specialties from Kansas City to Cuzco
By Calvin Trillin
May 2003. Random House. Calvin Trillin has never been a champion of the “continental cuisine” palaces he used to refer to as La Maison de la Casa House—nor of their successors, the trendy spots he calls “sleepy-time restaurants, where everything is served on a bed of something else.” What he treasures is the superb local specialty. And he will go anywhere to find one. As it happens, some of Trillin’s favorite dishes—pimientos de Padrón in northern Spain, for instance, or pan bagnat in Nice or posole in New Mexico—can’t be found anywhere but in their place of origin. Trillin shares charming and funny tales of managing to have another go at, say, fried marlin in Barbados or the barbecue of his boyhood in Kansas City. We join the hunt for the authentic fish taco. He tries to use a glorious local specialty, the New York bagel, to lure his daughters back from California. I read this book on a recent trip to LA from NYC, where I regrettably realized that Nate and Al’s in Beverly Hills had better whitefish salad than Murray’s in NYC. When he would visit his daughters in California, Calvin Trillin used to take a dozen or two bagels with him from NYC, to tempt them back to the capital of bialys and appetizing stores from the Southern California wastelands of sun dried tomato and bee pollen bagels. But what can one make of a world where a London fish and chips salesman uses matza meal to batter coat his fish, San Francisco style burritos are sold in Manhattan, NY Bagels are in LA, and great Chinese food can be found in Paris? Calvin Trillin, in a series of essays, takes the reader on a very funny and enlightening trip around the world, as he finds the best local foods. He eats Chinese from Paris to Prague, he searches for the bagels of Hyman Perlmutter’s Tanenbaum’s bakery, and he explores the fish taco. Click to read more.

A Guide to finding a Soulmate and Building A Relationship Through Timeless Biblical Wisdom
By RebbitZin Esther Jungreis
May 2003. HarperSanFrancisco. Jungreis has been making matches since she was 16. She shares her wisdom on finding soulmates and communicating with spouses. She offers advice on finding your own identity, compassionate arguing, solutions to common problems, and shteiging (Yeshivish for constantly growing, striving, and developing.) Marriage is not give and take, it is give and give more. Click to read more.

By Elaine Pagels, PhD.
May 2003. Pagels, a Professor at Princeton, (The Gnostic Gospels), explores how Christianity began by tracing its earliest texts, including the secret Gospel of Thomas, rediscovered in Egypt in 1945. Using this gospel that was dropped from The New Testament, she investigates what Jesus meant to his followers before the invention of doctrine—and before the invention of uniform Christianity. The Gospel of Thomas (which is a tiny bit like kabbalah, about the light within each person; it isn’t about Jesus) show how Christian leaders chose to include some gospels and exclude others from the collection (fixed the canon in 357 CE). Many writings were suppressed. Traditions embodied in Judaism and Christianity can powerfully affect us in heart, mind, and spirit, inspire visions of a new society based on practicing justice and love, even heal and transform us. She shows how the author of the Gospel of John wrote it to refute the writings of Thomas. Click to read more.

In the Footsteps of the Biblical Hero
By Rabbi Shmuely Boteach
May 2003. Regan Books. Boteach, the Barnum and Mae West of Orthodox Judaism, has actually scored a hit with this book. The character of Adam is introduced twice in the Hebrew Bible. One is the public figure, one is the humble, private man. It is the Private Adam that Boteach seeks to emulate, the man who does the right thing, unsung each day (Boteach unsung? Well, maybe us) Part 2 of the book will teach you to fight evil, establish trust, be humble, facilitate others, honor your parents, dare to let it go, find joy in the everyday, say goodbye to glory, and dedicate yourself to service. Click to read more.

[book] Myself Among Others
by George Wein, Nate Chinen (Contributor)
May 2003. Here is the story of a middle-class Jewish kid from Boston who became the founder of the Newport Jazz Festival and, later, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The son of a Boston ENT physician, George Wein, now in his lates 70s, who pioneered the idea of bringing jazz to people beyond the club circuit, looks back on his long career and unforgettably describes his relationships --sometimes smooth, sometimes tempestuous--with the great figures he's known: Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Thelonious Monk, and Miles Davis, among many, many others. Click to read more.

[book] How We Returned to Egypt:
From Totalitarian Soviet Regime to Totalist Cult in Israel
by Dina Grossman
May 2003. Tzipora. Click to read more.

A novel
By Jonathan Wilson
May 20, 2003. This swift and sensual novel of passion and politics transports us to British mandate Palestine, where the Arabs, Jews and Brits mingle. It is 1924, and Mark Bloomberg, a disillusioned London painter, arrives in Jerusalem to take up a propaganda commission. When he and his American wife, Joyce, accidentally witness the murder of a prominent Orthodox Jew near their cottage, they become embroiled in an investigation that will test their marriage and their characters. Joyce, an ardent Zionist, is pulled into an affair with Robert Kirsch, the British policeman investigating the case, while Bloomberg, transfixed by the desert light, attempts to capture on canvas the complex, shifting truths of the region. Like Kirsch, whose brother was killed in France in 1918, all of the characters here have come to Palestine to escape the grief of the First World War, and are forced to confront their principles and their hearts in the midst of a culture in the throes of painful emergence. Click to read more.

A True Tale of Murder, Passion, and the Shattered Faith of a Congregation
by Arthur J. Magida
May 13, 2003. HarperCollins. Paraphrasing PW: A charismatic rabbi hired a nebbish to kill his wife so he can live happily with his favorite mistress (of four). Rabbi Fred Neulander grabbed headlines from New York City to Philadelphia until he was convicted after one mistrial, in 2002. Magida tries not too convincingly to give this luridly fascinating story a larger significance by examining the loneliness that afflicts longtime rabbis and citing a study of clergymen who engage in affairs with congregants. Magida is more successful in considering the painful and divisive impact of Neulander's crime on the South Jersey congregants who had adored their brilliant, ebullient rabbi. Neulander's outsize personality, rooted in ambition and ego, does come through. But Magida doesn't seem to have had access to the rabbi; sometimes tells readers what Neulander thought or felt; other times, he relies on "maybe" and "apparently." Carol, Neulander's murdered wife, remains a cipher, and there are frustrating gaps-two of Neulander's mistresses are virtually absent here, as are two of his three grown children, whose anguish one can only imagine Click to read more.

By Carl Reiner
June 2003. Reiner has collected here some memories of his long career. In short takes, he revisits his first jobs running entertainment programs at senior camps, his first breaks into show business, his favorite dinner parties, his most memorable faux pas and his great times with other grand old men of comedy, from George Jessel to Mel Brooks. He intersperses career tales with family vignettes: short but touching accounts of his father's inventions, his mother's illiteracy and his brother's final illness. Click to read more.

Selected poems: In the historic fight to obtain equal rights for Jews in 19th Century Norway
By Henrik Wergeland (1808-1845)
May 2003. University of Wisconsin. Timeless poetry. Click to read more.

[book] Historical Atlas of the Jewish People
by Yohanan Aharoni, Shmuel Ahituv
May 2003. Continuum. Click to read more.

By Connie Glaser and Barbara Smalley
May 2003. Rodale. Esther as a business role model. Click to read more.

[book] Blood from a Stone
by Yaron Svoray (Author), Richard Hammer (Author)
May 2003. Forge. The search for the Life Diamonds--the subject of the compelling documentary produced by the History Channel. They were known as Life Diamonds--rough uncut diamonds of high quality bought by Jews in Eastern Europe to use as passports to safety. After 1939 and the Nazi blitzkrieg, after the extermination camps began belching black smoke into the skies and the railroad station at Auschwitz II-Birkenau became the busiest train station in the world, they became Death Diamonds. Blood from a Stone is the amazing story of forty of those diamonds, of their journey across continents and oceans, from the mines of South Africa to the diamond centers in Antwerp and Amsterdam, to the Jews of Eastern Europe, to the Death Camps. . . and to the two American soldiers who liberated them from the SS, finally, and buried them in a forest in Alsace on the border between France and Germany. Click to read more.

An Artist’s Coming of Age in the Third Reich
By Irene Awret.
June 2003. University of Wisconsin. A founder of the Artists Colony in Tzfat Israel, and now a Virginia resident, this is her memoir of Berlin in 1939, when, as Irene Spicker, she escaped to Belgium, ended up in prison, was freed, hid, worked, was arrested by the Gestapo, and “luckily” ended up in Mechlin instead of Auschwitz. Click to read more.

[book cover] Death as a Way of Life
Israel Ten Years After Oslo
by David Grossman, Haim Watzman (Translator)
May 2003. Farrar Straus & Giroux. Power Does Not create security; and people act against their own best interests. A Personal Chronicle of the Last Ten Years from a Leading Voice of Israeli Dissent. What went wrong after Oslo? How can Israelis and Palestinians make peace? How has the violence changed their lives, and their souls? For the last ten years, David Grossman, one of Israel’s great fiction writers, has addressed these questions in a series of passionate essays and articles, writing not only as one of his country’s most respected novelists and reporters, but as a husband and father and peace activist bitterly disappointed in the leaders of both sides. Appearing for the first time in America, these pieces show us the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the inside and in the moment. They are indispensable reading for anyone who wants to understand the roots and results of the fighting today. Click the book cover to read more.

[book cover] Support Any Friend
Kennedy's Middle East and the Making of the U.S. Israel Alliance
by Warren Bass
May 2003. Oxford University Press. They were three of the most memorable figures of the twentieth century: David Ben-Gurion, Israel's indomitable founding father; Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser, the charismatic Arab nationalist; and the young and dynamic John F. Kennedy. Now Warren Bass illuminates these three extraordinary men and their diplomatic struggles at the height of the Cold War, offering stunning new insights into the origins of today's Middle East. The Kennedy period, Bass writes, was no "mere place-marker between Suez and the Six Day War, between the martial frostiness of Dwight Eisenhower and the Texas warmth of Lyndon Johnson." He shows how Kennedy sought greater influence in the Arab world, offering more foreign aid and a new diplomatic overture to Nasser, the Arab world's leading radical. For a while, Kennedy and Nasser engaged in a rich personal correspondence. But the rapprochement was cut short by Nasser's impulsive intervention in Yemen's civil war, which led Kennedy to deploy fighter jets in Saudi Arabia as a warning to Egypt. Meanwhile, Kennedy made the first major U.S. arms sale to Israel, providing it with advanced Hawk anti-aircraft missiles--a crucial policy shift that marks the origins of America's alliance with the Jewish state. But Kennedy also feared that Israel would get the bomb and demanded that Ben-Gurion open his secret nuclear reactor to U.S. inspectors, leading to a grave confrontation. Ultimately, Israel agreed to inspections--but continued its nuclear weapons program under the cover of intense secrecy. Drawing on meticulous research, Warren Bass paints a fresh, elegant portrait of the pivotal presidency that helped create the modern Middle East. Click the book cover to read more.


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