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Mar 30, 2004: SHERWIN NULAND (Lost in America) at the NextBook DC series DC JCC 7:30 PM
Mar 30, 2004: Discussion with author of WRESTLING WITH GOD & MEN: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition By Rabbi Steven Greenberg 7 PM Denver Mizel
Mar 30, 2004: Nathan Glazer, Norman Podhoretz, Ruth Wisse, and Edith Kurzweil discuss "The Jewishness of the New York Intellectuals" and founders of the Parisan Review. Center for Jewish History NYC 7:30
Mar 31, 2004: Ian Buruma And Avishai Margalit read from OCCIDENTALISM. B&N NYC UWS 7 PM
Mar 31, 2004: The Inward Journey: Jewish Writing Today with Pearl Abraham, Jonathan Rosen, Ellen Miller, Dara Horn, with Daniel Shifrin. 7:30 PM NYC Makor $15
Mar 31, 2004: Book Launch Party for WRESTLING WITH GOD & MEN: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition By Rabbi Steven Greenberg 6 PM NYC JCC West Side

Apr 01, 2004: LAURIE GWEN SHAPIRO reads from MATZO BALL HEIRESS. B&N Astor Place NYC 7:30 PM
Apr 01, 2004: HUC-JIR. Evening of Cantors. Rodeph Sholom NYC 7:30PM $25
Apr 08, 2004: Chang-Rae Lee reads from ALOFT. B&N UWS NYC 7:30 PM
Apr 15, 2004: SAUL FRIEDLANDER and PETER LONGERICH speak at UCLA Center for Jewish Studies.
Apr 17, 2004: Tom Levinson reads from All That's Holy: A Young Guy, an Old Car, and the Search for God in America at the Andover Acedmy, Andover MA
Apr 18, 2004: Book party with author of WRESTLING WITH GOD & MEN: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition By Rabbi Steven Greenberg valley Beth Shalom. Los Angeles
Apr 19, 2004: ILAN STAVANS at the NextBook DC series DC JCC 7:30 PM
Apr 21, 2004: Donna Rosenthal reads from THE ISRAELIS: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land, at the Los Angeles Festival of Books.
Apr 22, 2004: TOVA MIRVIS (The Outside World, Ladies Auxiliary) B&N UWS NYC 7:30 PM
Apr 22, 2004: Gideon Shimoni (Community and Conscience: The Jews in Apartheid South Africa) discusses the individual and group behavior of South African Jews under apartheid, Jewish Cultural Centre, London
Apr 24, 2004: The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA
Apr 25, 2004: The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA

May 02, 2004: TOVA MIRVIS (The Outside World, Ladies Auxiliary) KGB Bar NYC 7 PM
May 03-11, 2004: ProjectReconnect.ORG trip to Israel (for USY, Pilgrimage, etc alums and others)
May 04, 2004: Christine Benvenuto reads from SHIKSA at Marin County JFCS. CA
May 12, 2004: Panel Discussion on Judaism and Homosexuality with Dennis Prager, Elliot Dorf and the author Rabbi Steve Greenberg (author of Wrestling with God and Men) University of Judaism. Los Angeles
May 12, 2004: Novel Jews monthly literary series presented by The 14th Street Y and The JCC in Manhattan featuring: Laurie Gwen Shapiro author of The Matzo Ball Heiress and Michael Weinreb author of Girl Boy Etc. KGB Bar on East 4th St., 7-9 PM
May 16-18, 2004: AIPAC Annual Policy Conference, Wash DC. See
May 16, 2004: National Symposium on The American Jewish Experience as Reflected in Film. Queens College. $25. 10am-9pm. See
May 20, 2004: TOVA MIRVIS (The Outside World, Ladies Auxiliary) at the NextBook DC series DC JCC 7:30 PM
May 20, 2004: GARY TOBIN speaks at UCLA CENTER FOR JEWISH STUDIES on "jewish Philanthropy: Why do Jewish Donors Give and Not Give to Jewish Institutions?. 4:30 PM
May 23, 2004: Alison Leslie Gold reads from Fiet's Vase and Other Stories of Survival. Museum of Jewish Heritage In NYC
May 24, 2004: MICHAEL CHABON at the NextBook DC series DC JCC 7:30 PM
May 25, 2004: MICHAEL CHABON at the NextBook DC series Fairfax VA Gov Center 7:30 PM

June 02, 2004: Stephanie Wellen Levine reads from Mystics Mavericks and Merrymakers: An Intimate Journey Among Hassidic Girls. Museum of Jewish Heritage In NYC
June 07, 2004: Geroge Tabb reads from Playing Right Field: A Jew Grows in Greenwich. B&N Greenwich Village, with an after party at Continental Divide ** 6PM
June 09, 2004: Novel Jews (formerly Rough Cuts) monthly literary series presented by The 14th Street Y and The JCC in Manhattan featuring KGB Bar on East 4th St., 7-9 PM
June 09, 2004: Novel Jews (formerly Rough Cuts) monthly literary series KGB Bar on East 4th St., 7-9 PM
June 17, 2004: JONAH & SARAH: JEWISH STORIES OF RUSSIA AND AMERICA - with David Shrayer-Petrov and Maxim D. Shrayer. Manhattan JCC
June 27, 2004: Light One Candle. 40th anniversary of the Freedom Summer. Hosted by peter Yarrow with Letty Cottin Pogrebin, as well as Ben Cheney (as in James Cheney), and Dr. Carolyn Goodman (Andrew Goodman's mother). Museum of Jewish Heritage in NYC
July 14, 2004: Novel Jews (formerly Rough Cuts) monthly literary series KGB Bar on East 4th St., 7-9 PM
Aug 11, 2004: Novel Jews (formerly Rough Cuts) monthly literary series KGB Bar on East 4th St., 7-9 PM


APRIL 2004

by Jonathan Sarna
April 2004, Yale University Press
This magisterial work chronicles the 350-year history of the Jewish religion in America. Tracing American Judaism from its origins in the colonial era through the present day, Jonathan Sarna explores the ways in which Judaism adapted in this new context. How did American culture-predominantly Protestant and overwhelmingly capitalist-affect Jewish religion and culture? And how did American Jews shape their own communities and faith in the new world? Jonathan Sarna, a preeminent scholar of American Judaism, tells the story of individuals struggling to remain Jewish while also becoming American. He offers a dynamic and timely history of assimilation and revitalization, of faith lost and faith regained. The first comprehensive history of American Judaism in over fifty years, this book is both a celebration of 350 years of Jewish life in America and essential reading for anyone interested in American religion and life. Click the book cover above to read more.

April 2004, Jossey Bass
This highly original book introduces a fascinating new approach to yoga and Torah by combining the practice of classic yoga postures with traditional and mystical Jewish wisdom. Each chapter begins by presenting a central Jewish spiritual concept that engages readers of all faiths on a personal level. It offers an in-depth exploration of the concept, quoting and commenting on sacred Jewish texts from the Pentateuch (Five Books of Moses) and other sources. It then guides its readers with mastery and clarity through a meditation and a set of fundamental yoga postures--clearly illustrated by beautiful photographs--for both beginning and advanced yoga students. The Torah concept is actualized and experienced through the practice of these postures. Torah Yoga helps to heighten awareness of body, mind, and spirit-it illuminates the heart of Jewish wisdom. PW writes: "Students of Torah may never have considered yoga, just as students of yoga may never have considered Torah. Yet Bloomfield, a yoga instructor and longtime student of the Torah, seamlessly connects the two as she teaches readers how to engage body and breath while meditating on Jewish wisdom. Like any good teacher, Bloomfield carefully lays out her lesson plan and instantly engages her reader. She approaches her seven topics for reflection with a thoroughness employed by the most rigorous yeshiva student. At the same time, her posture instruction is clear and easily understood. Quoting the yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar, Bloomfield reminds us that "Yoga was given for the human race, not the Hindus... [it] is for the culturing of self and that self-culture has no barrier." She universalizes the Torah references and demonstrates a keen ability to unlock the plethora of doors found within the Hebrew language. For instance, Egypt is not only the land of ancient slavery; as she points out, with the change of a few vowels, the same Hebrew letters spell the word for "narrow straits." The center letters of the word, when paired, connote limitations and pain, yet are surrounded by letters that, when combined, spell the word for water -- a symbol of unlimited possibilities... a harbinger of new life." Readers of any faith or athletic inclination should do their souls a favor and investigate this illuminating guide" Click the book cover above to read more.

See also

[book] Aleph-Bet Yoga
Embodying the Hebrew Letters for Physical and Spiritual Well-Being
by Steven A. Rapp
March 2002, Jewish Lights Publishing

Cambridge University Press. April 2004.
For the past two hundred years Biblical scholars have usually assumed that the Hebrew Bible was essentially written and edited in the Persian and Hellenistic periods (the fifth-through-second centuries BCE). Recent archaeological evidence and insights from linguistic anthropology, however, point to the earlier era of the late-Iron Age (eighth-through-sixth centuries BCE) as the formative period for the writing of biblical literature. How the Bible Became a Book combines recent archaeological discoveries in the Middle East with insights culled from the history of writing to address how the Bible was written and evolved into sacred Scripture. Written for general readers as well as scholars, the book provides rich insight into how these texts came to possess the authority of Scripture and explores why Ancient Israel, an oral culture, began to write literature. It describes an emerging literate society in ancient Israel that challenges the assertion that literacy first arose in Greece during the fifth century BCE. William M. Schneidewind is Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA. He is the author of The Word of God in Transition (Sheffield Academic Press, 1995) and Society and the Promise to David.

A novel
by Laurie Gwen Shapiro
Red Dress Harlequin. April 2004.
Q: How does Heather Greenblotz, the 31-year-old heiress to the world's leading matzo company, spend Passover?
A: Alone. In her Manhattan apartment. With an extremely unkosher ham and cheese panini.
But this year will be different. The Food Channel has asked to film the famous Greenblotz Matzo family's seder, and the publicity opportunity is too good to, ahem, PASS OVER. Heather is being courted by the handsome host and the subtly sexy cameraman, and she's got family coming out of her ears. It's enough to make a formerly dateless heiress feel like a princess.

by Rabbi Barry Freundel
April 2004, Ktav
Freundel, who counts former presidential candidate Joe Lieberman among his Washington, D.C., congregants, invites readers, Jewish and non-Jewish, to gain a better understanding of Jewish law, tradition and belief in his succinct but thorough analyses of 31 different topics crucial to Orthodox Judaism, such as teshuvah (repentance), Israel, prayer and Shabbat and Kashrut. Each chapter summarizes the central sources upon which the Halakhah (Jewish law) is based in clear, understandable terms and explains the development of the tradition as well as its practical application in today's world. Additionally, Freundel provides all the relevant Orthodox opinions on the matter, including those that he or the law ultimately rejects, and elucidates how and why Jewish law maintains its ancient positions even as modernity infringes on them. He does not shy away from or gloss over sensitive or controversial issues; instead he seems eager to take them on and debunk popular myths, including the widespread notions that Judaism considers women inferior and that Jews do not believe in an afterlife. Even though most chapters number only a few pages, his essays are accurate, entirely to the point, easy to finish without losing interest and convenient to pick up or put down at any time. Freundel's evident mastery of the vast breadth of materials within Jewish thought and law combined with his eloquent and cogent writing makes for an exceptionally worthwhile, inspirational and instructive work that no informed person should be without. Click the book cover above to read more.

April 2004, Broadway
From the earliest days of his dictatorship, Saddam Hussein had vowed to destroy Israel. So, when France sold Iraq a top-of-the-line nuclear reactor in 1975, the Israelis were justifiably concerned-especially when they discovered that Iraqi scientists had already formulated a secret program to extract weapon-grade plutonium from the reactor, a first critical step in creating an atomic bomb. The reactor formed the heart of a huge nuclear plant situated twelve miles from Baghdad, 1,100 kilometers from Tel Aviv. By 1981, the reactor was on the verge of becoming "hot," and Israeli Prime Minister Begin knew he would have to confront its deadly potential. He turned to Israeli Air Force commander General David Ivry to secretly plan a daring surgical air strike on the reactor-a never-before contemplated mission that would prove to be one of the most remarkable military operations of all time. Written with the full and exclusive cooperation of the Israeli Air Force high command, General Ivry (ret.), and all of the eight mission pilots (including Ilan Ramon, who became Israel's first astronaut and tragically perished in the shuttle Columbia disaster), Raid On the Sun tells the extraordinary story of how Israel plotted the unthinkable: defying its U.S. and European allies to eliminate Iraq's nuclear threat. In the tradition of Black Hawk Down, journalist Rodger Claire re-creates a gripping tale of personal sacrifice and survival, of young pilots who trained in America on the then-new, radically sophisticated F-16 fighter-bombers, then faced a nearly insurmountable challenge: how to fly the 1,000-plus-kilometer mission to Baghdad and back on one tank of fuel; he recounts Israeli intelligence's incredible "black ops" to sabotage construction on the French reactor and eliminate Iraqi nuclear scientists; and he gives reader a pilot's-eye view of the action on June 7, 1981, when the planes roared off a runway on the Sinai Peninsula for the first successful destruction of a nuclear reactor in history. Click the book cover above to read more.

A novel
by Tova Mirvis
March 30, 2004. Knopf
From the best-selling author of The Ladies Auxiliary, a new novel about two Orthodox Jewish families brought together by the marriage of their children. Tzippy Goldman, or more so, her mother, have been planning Tzippy's wedding since before she was born. Tzippy and her sisters have idealized views of marriage, having prepared for it since birth. Tzippy's four younger sisters want her to marry the crown prince of Boro Park, a scholar and cute young man. But Tzippy is 22. In her frum community, she is an over the hill spinster. Her friends already have kids. She CANNOT STAND another date at the lobby of the Brooklyn Marriott (why should the boy pay for dinner if it isn't going to work out, so let's meet in the lobby to chat first). Tzippy is hungry for experience and longs to escape the suffocating expectations of religious stricture and romantic obligation. But Tzippy's mother secretly grew up in Rochester in a non-frum household. If she can make a good shidduch, she can prove to herself that she really BELONGS. Across the Hudson River, Bryan Miller's family lives in a liberal New Jersey community. Like modern-Orthodox Jews anywhere in the world, they spend Saturdays in shul, but Sundays at Little League. But to Bryan, this middle road looks more and more like hypocrisy. He longs for conviction, for the relief of absolutes, for authenticity. He longs for the black-hat over the knit kippah and Yankees cap. He returns from a year in Israel, won't hug his younger sister, and he trashes his photos of him with girls, his high school yearbook, his holy sacred Columbia sweatshirt (but not his Yankees cap), and his regular and swimsuit issues of Sports Illustrated. He implores his family to call him Baruch, not Bryan. His mother, Naomi, understand the matriarch Rebecca who brithed two nations: Esau and Yakov. Bryan/Baruch moves to Brooklyn. You get the idea... Bryan and Tzippy meet. In the courtship of Bryan and Tzippy, and in the progress of their highly freighted love affair and marriage, Tova Mirvis illuminates these worlds providing insight and humor. Click the book cover above to read more.

The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
by Lynne Trus
April 2004, Gotham
The British bestseller of 2003 is now available in the USA. A panda walked into a cafe. He ordered a sandwich, ate it, then pulled out a gun and shot the waiter. 'Why?' groaned the injured man. The panda shrugged, tossed him a badly punctuated wildlife manual and walked out. And sure enough, when the waiter consulted the book, he found an explanation. 'Panda,' ran the entry for his assailant. 'Large black and white mammal native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.' We see signs in shops every day for "Banana's" and even "Gateaux's". Competition rules remind us: "The judges decision is final." Now, many punctuation guides already exist explaining the principles of the apostrophe; the comma; the semi-colon. These books do their job but somehow punctuation abuse does not diminish. Why? Because people who can't punctuate don't read those books! Of course they don't! They laugh at books like those! Eats, Shoots and Leaves adopts a more militant approach and attempts to recruit an army of punctuation vigilantes: send letters back with the punctuation corrected. Do not accept sloppy emails. Climb ladders at dead of night with a pot of paint to remove the redundant apostrophe in "Video's sold here". . Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The View from Stalin's Head
March 2004, paperback Random House
THE STORY OF Young JEWS WHO "REVERSE MIGRATE" to Prague in search of "Jewish" identities
The Washington Post writes, "This debut collection of stories, most of them set in Prague, brings to mind the dream Kenneth Tynan tells of in his diaries in which his friend Antonia Fraser is asked if it's true that she has converted to Judaism. "Yes," she says. "But as Dr. Jonathan Miller once said, 'I'm not a Jew. I'm Jew-ish.' " The narrators of several of these 10 clunky and unpolished tales are American, gay and Jewish, but the most urgent question in the stories is the extent to which the characters will embrace any categorical identity. " 'Art is my religion,' " the narrator says in "Exile." " 'I'm not a big fan of Judaism. It excludes certain groups, like women.' I paused. 'And fags.' " He's not quite comfortable with being a Jew, but he's obsessed with the fact that he's Jewish. His commitment -- even to the religion of art -- is halfhearted at best. In the same story, the narrator asks a Czech friend if he agrees that Milan Kundera is a genius. The friend replies that he's never read Kundera's books, and then the narrator admits to himself that he "only made it halfway through" one of Kundera's novels but had just "wanted to offer a compliment" to his friend's country..." PW writes, "Callow young Americans grapple uneasily with Judaism and homosexuality as they navigate a cruddy, crumbling post-Communist Prague in this debut collection. The 10 hit-or-miss stories capture a narrow spectrum of expatriate life, populated by characters uncomfortable in their own skins; this awkwardness is the focus of Hamburger's best efforts. In "A Man of the Country," the protagonist endures a yearlong semiflirtation with massive, handsome Jirka, growing ever more frustrated ("I'm more than an asexual sidekick or polite, helpful English teacher"), but never quite willing to take the initiative. In "Exile," the artist-pornographer protagonist infiltrates a tiny Jewish community led by a fierce, closeted lesbian and makes friends with an eccentric Czech student of theology. The theology student also appears in "Jerusalem," seduced by insecure American expatriate Rachel after they meet at an Israeli folk-dancing class. Rachel, obsessed by her weight and her nagging Jewish mother, is little more than a caricature; this is also true of Debra, the activist protagonist of "You Say You Want a Revolution" ("She didn't want a family, not the traditional kind. She didn't want diapers and graham crackers and apple juice"), and Sarah, a strident tourist visiting Prague in "This Ground You Are Standing On." Hamburger overshoots the mark with these attempts at satire, but his sketches of oddball Prague natives are sharp and affectionate and his evocation of Prague in the 1990s (cheap Vietnamese markets, tough beef and sour cabbage, expatriate cafes) is vivid and unexpected." Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] WAR STORY
Seduced by the Holocaust??
Kitty and Joseph meet in a bookstore in New York. She is thirty-two, an aspiring writer. He is sixty, a Viennese Jew, a famous playwright who survived the Holocaust. In a faded bohemian hotel, they begin an obsessive and all-consuming affair. Night after night he spins stories for her, tales of prewar Vienna, his childhood in Amsterdam hiding from the Nazis, his literary triumphs, the countless women he has loved and left. One day, he tells her, he will leave her too. Click the book cover above to read more.

April 2004, HARCOURT
For fifty years, Anna Schlemmer has refused to talk about her life in Germany during World War II. Her daughter, Trudy, was only three when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota. Trudy's sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy, and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmführer of Buchenwald. Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the dramatic and heartbreaking truth of her mother's life. Combining a passionate, doomed love story, a vivid evocation of life during the war, and a poignant mother/daughter drama, Those Who Save Us is a profound exploration of what we endure to survive and the legacy of shame. Note: The Author, Jenna Blum, used to work for Spielberg's Shoah History projects. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] THERAPY
A mystery
April 2004, BALLANTINE
"Been a while since I had me a nice little whodunit," homicide detective Milo Sturgis tells Alex Delaware. But there's definitely nothing nice about the brutal tableau behind the yellow crime-scene tape. On a lonely lover's lane in the hills of Los Angeles, a young couple lies murdered in a car. Each bears a single gunshot wound to the head. The female victim has also been impaled by a metal spike. And that savage stroke of psychopathic fury tells Milo this case will call for more than standard police procedure. As he explains to Delaware, "Now we're veering into your territory." It is dark territory, indeed. The dead woman remains unidentified and seemingly unknown to everyone. But her companion has a name: Gavin Quick-and his troubled past eventually landed him on a therapist's couch. It's there, on familiar turf, that Delaware hopes to find vital clues. And that means going head-to-head with Dr. Mary Lou Koppel, a popular celebrity psychologist who fiercely guards the privacy of her clients . . . dead or alive. But when there's another gruesomely familiar murder, Delaware surmises that his investigation has struck a nerve. As he trolls the twisted wreckage of Quick's tormented last days, what he finds isn't madness, but the cold-blooded method behind it. And as he follows a chain of greed, corruption, and betrayal snaking hideously through the profession he thought he knew, he'll discover territory where even he never dreamed of treading. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover] EYES TO SEE
Recovering Ethical Torah Principles Lost in the Holocaust
by Rabbi Yom Tov Schwarz
April 2004. URIM
Rabbi Yom Tov Schwarz was born in Oswencim (Auschwitz), Poland in 1921. Recognized at a young age as a scholar and child prodigy, he entered the famed Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin at the age of fifteen. After miraculously surviving over two years in ghettos and two years in concentration camps, Rabbi Schwarz became the Chief Rabbi of Luneburg, Germany in 1947. He settled in the US in 1951 and has served as the Rav of K'hal Nachlas Yaakov for the past forty years. Eyes to See is a courageous call for fundamental change in the Torah-observant community. In it, the author calls for the abolition of a dangerous new phenomenon - the tendency among various Orthodox groups to establish their own insulated networks of schools and other institutions - because divisiveness and discord are a natural consequence of this factionalism within Jewish society. He implores Orthodox Jewry to designate a fast day in remembrance of the Holocaust, as indifference to the greatest tragedy in Jewish history can only sow cruelty and breed immorality. The author also calls upon Orthodox Jewry to re-assess the manner in which we relate both to our non-religious brethren and our non-Jewish neighbors, highlighting the Torah's command that we be compassionate and honest with all people, and that we strive to glorify G-d's Name and bring honor to the Torah by the manner in which we behave in even the most mundane aspects of our daily lives. Eyes to See: Recovering Ethical Torah Principles Lost in the Holocaust was written with the goal of restoring integrity, compassion, unity and kiddush HaShem to their central role in the observance of Torah and mitzvos, as Halacha demands. It paints a magnificent view of traditional Judaism, revealing that morality and ethics, honesty and integrity, and compassion and kindness are so basic to authentic Torah Judaism that they define Jewishness itself. This work also includes an incisive analysis of how the pre-Holocaust rabbinic infrastructure was destroyed and never rebuilt and lays out a framework for regaining the trust and respect rabbinical courts ought to have.

[book] Regions of the Great Heresy
Bruno Schulz, A Biographical Portrait
by Jerzy Ficowski, Theodosia Robertson (Editor/Translator)
W.W. Norton & Company; Spring 2004, paperback.
Sixty years after his murder by the Nazis, Bruno Schulz, one of the twentieth century's greatest and most enigmatic writers, is experiencing a renaissance in part occasioned by this biography by the renowned Polish poet Jerzy Ficowski. Widely regarded as the world's foremost authority on Schulz, Ficowski reconstructs the author's life story and evokes the fictional vision of his best-known works, The Street of Crocodiles and Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass. Including many of Schulz's paintings and letters as well as new information on the Mossad's removal of Schulz's murals from Poland in 2001, this book will stand for years to come as the definitive account of the author's tragic life. Developed for publication by The Jewish Heritage Project's International Initiative for Literature of the Holocaust. 35 illustrations. Click to read more.

[book] The Joy of Funerals
A Novel in Stories
by Alix Strauss
Griffin Trade Paperback; April 1, 2004, paperback.
I have heard of reading obits to find apartments.. but attending funerals to find dates?? Ummm.. some people put bananas on their Rice Krispies. Other put the ashes of their dead husband on their morning cereal. Helen, a woman with chutzpa pays a Shiva call to the wife of her psychiatrist with whom she was having a sexual affair, and she steals the ashes; a young widow, Leslie, lusts after men she meets in cemeteries; a daughter aches; a shopaholic hungers; Karen stakes out a diner in hopes of finding her lover's killer; another woman wonders whether the man who just died (her blind date) was the man she was destined to marry... The Joy of Funerals is a riveting collection that explores the lives of nine young women, each willing to take drastic measures to fill the voids created by longing and loneliness. The first eight face death differently, while the ninth woman Nina ties them all together by attending funerals in her search to connect with others. Written with raw wit, mordant humor and a uniquely penetrating voice, Strauss turns the spotlight on loss and grief. In the vein of Six Feet Under, this is a provocative look into the inner world of those left behind, and those still holding on. Click to read more.

[book] Classic Yiddish Stories of
S.Y. Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and
I.L. Peretz (Judaic Traditions in Literature, Music, and Art)
Edited by Professor Ken Frieden and Translated by Ted Gorelick and Michael Wex

Spring 2004. Syracuse University Press
Two early works by S.Y. Abramovitsh introduce the reader to Abramovitsh's alter ego Mendele the Book Peddler. Mendele narrates both The Little Man and Fishke the Lame. In different voices, he also presents a diverse cast of characters including Isaac Abraham as tailor's apprentice, choirboy, and corrupt businessman. Reb Alter tells of his matchmaking mishap and Fishke relates his travels through the Ukraine with a caravan of beggars. Sholem Aleichem's Tevye reemerges from new translations of "Hodel" and "Chava" in all of his comic splendor. Notes enable students to follow Tevye's uneven steps through Bible quotations. Four of Sholem Aleichem's other eloquent monologists come back to haunt us in scintillating translations. The selections from Peretz include his finest stories about the hasidim, such as "Kabbalists," "Teachings of the Hasidim," and the ironic tale "The Rebbe's Pipe." A fresh rendering of Peretz's masterpiece "Between Two Mountains" represents the meeting of an inspirational rebbe and an awe-inspiring rabbi. Following the translations are three biographical essays about these giants of modern Yiddish literature. Ken Frieden is the B. G. Rudolph Professor and Director of the Judaic Studies Program at Syracuse University. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Jewish Women of Ravensbrück Concentration Camp
by Rochelle G. Saidel (University of Sao Paulo)

April 2004. University of Wisconsin
Ravensbrück was the only major Nazi concentration camp for women. Located about fifty miles north of Berlin, the camp was the site of murder by slave labor, torture, starvation, shooting, lethal injection, "medical" experimentation, and gassing. While this camp was designed to hold 5,000 women, the actual figure was six times this number. Between 1939 and 1945, 132,000 women from twenty-three countries were imprisoned in Ravensbrück, including political prisoners, Jehovah's Witnesses, "asocials" (including Gypsies, prostitutes, and lesbians), criminals, and Jewish women (who made up about 20 percent of the population). Only 15,000 survived. Drawing upon more than sixty narratives and interviews of survivors in the United States, Israel, and Europe as well as unpublished testimonies, documents, and photographs from private archives, Rochelle Saidel provides a vivid collective and individual portrait of Ravensbrück's Jewish women prisoners. She worked for over twenty years to track down these women whose poignant testimonies deserve to be shared with a wider audience and future generations. Their memoirs provide new perspectives and information about satellite camps (there were about 70 slave labor sub-camps). Here is the story of real daily camp life with the women's thoughts about food, friendships, fear of rape and sexual abuse, hygiene issues, punishment, work, and resistance. Saidel includes accounts of the women's treatment, their daily struggles to survive, their hopes and fears, their friendships, their survival strategies, and the aftermath. . Click to read more.

[book] The Things Worth Fighting for
Collected Writings
by the late, Michael Kelly, with a foreword by Ted Koppel
Spring 2004. The Penguin Press
Ted Koppel told me that he especially liked Michael Kelly since he was a non Jew married to a Jewish woman, while Koppel was a Jewish man married to a non Jewish woman. Kelley, a former editor of Atlantic Monthly, covered Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Arafat's return to Gaza in 1994, and Bosnia in 1995. He was killed in the Iraq war in April 2003. Although he'd considered himself a dove in the Vietnam years, "I am certainly now a hawk," he declared in 2002, his war coverage having convinced him "of the moral imperative, sometimes, for war." "There are things worth dying for, and killing for," as "every twelve-year-old" in Bosnia already knows. While Kelly's war reportage dominates this collection of his columns (mostly published in The Washington Post, the New Yorker and The New Republic in the 1990s), the volume also covers domestic culture and politics. Kelly's signature format was the character (or lack of character) sketch, where he'd reduce larger-than-life politicians to a decidedly human scale. Jesse Jackson "jets around the world as secretary of his own state of mind." Ross Perot was America's "first fusion-paranoia candidate for the presidency." When Bob Dole makes a speech, his phrases interrupt each other "like a call-waiting system gone awry." Beyond mere Beltway-insider cleverness, Kelly argued for a return to core American values like courage, honesty and love of country. We can't go back to being "square"-it's quite as impossible as "revirginizing"-but being patriotic and conservative could be cool again, Kelly suggests. The book's strength lies in the impact of having Kelly's war essays in one place, in chronological order, giving them a power they didn't have when sprinkled weekly in the press. Click the book cover above to read more.

Spring 2004. The Penguin Press
From National Book Award winner Ron Chernow, a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation. Hamilton never attained the presidency, but who had a far more lasting impact than many who did. An illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean (of a Jewish parentage), Hamilton rose with stunning speed to become George Washington's aide-de-camp, a member of the Constitutional Convention, coauthor of The Federalist Papers, leader of the Federalist party, and the country's first Treasury secretary. Alexander Hamilton was born on the British island of Nevis, in the West Indies, on January 11, 1755 (or was it 1757). His mother, Rachel, was most likely Jewish, and his father, James Hamilton, was a non-Jewish Scotsman descended from the House of Hamilton in Ayrshire, Scotland. In the 1760s, Alexander attended a Jewish school in Nevis, which was housed in a synagogue in Charleston, the island's capital. The local Anglican school was not an option for Alexander, because he was a bastard in the eyes of the church. His mother, Rachel, had never divorced her first husband, Lavian (levine), and her union with James was therefore not technically marriage, making Alexander illegitimate. When his mother died in 1768 of a fever, her first husband took her savings and never gave it to Hamilton. With masterful storytelling skills, Chernow presents the whole sweep of Hamilton's turbulent life: his exotic, brutal upbringing; his brilliant military, legal, and financial exploits; his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, and Monroe; his illicit romances; and his famous death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July 1804. Chernow captures the personal life of this handsome, witty, and perennially controversial genius and explores his poignant relations with his wife Eliza, their eight children, and numberless friends. As they say Washington was the father of the country, Jefferson was the father of the Constitution, but Hamilton was the father of the American Government system. Click the book cover above to read more.

Spring 2004.
Alan "Battman" Batt has been photographing New York City and food for over two decades. This is more a breakfast table book than a coffee table book. It is filled with various renditions of the classic bagel and lox sandwich from some of the top chefs in New York City. Each photo can be a poster or calendar, and it really makes you not only salivate, but helps you to get your creative juices flowing by presenting a classic item in a new and unexpected way. My explanations cannot due any justice to the beauty and creativity of the actual photos, which is a must purchase, but included in the book are renditions by Gabriel Kreuther (Atalier) with lox on a bed of thinly sliced cucumbers; Rachel D'Amico (nicematin) with a smoked salmon nicoise that rises as a cylinder from a bagel hole, surrounded by quail eggs and sliced olives; Anito Lo (annisa) with a salmon sashimi and wasabi; Scott Romano (kitchen22) with salmon gravlax and crisp salmon skin cut in the shape of a sliced bagel; Amanda Freitag ('cesca) with lox and mascarpone on a ciabatta, photographed in front of a wood burning oven; Nichola Type (f+b gudtfood) with a lox hotdog in a bun topped with caviar and creme fraiche; Nitzan Raz (sushi samba) with a thin foot long cahaca-cured salmon and cream cheese espuma on a spicy yucca cracker, with the salmon folded like the undulating waves of an ocean. Joseph Cacaca (changa) presents us with a tequila cured salmon on a bagel shaped baked flour tortilla; and Florian Bellanger (fauchon paris) places lox on a croissant.

Elana Didier (alain ducasse) presents small circles of lox and one rectangular slice of a poppy seeded bagel; Vinny Scotto (gonzo) uses a bruschetta with robiola; and Jake Klein's (pulse) rendition is like a still life of bagel chips, lox, and three doctor brown's sodas. Some other photos include David Pasterack (esca) with a white salmon carpaccio sans bagel; Chueng-Hue Yang (mrk's) sculpted carrot rendition; and Stephan Lewandowski (tribeca grill) has salmon on latkas with fennel compote. Dannis Fitzgerald (remi) presents several types of bagels with lox, tuna, halibut, and spinach puree; Steven Duong (nam) has sticky rice with lox, fish sauce, spices, and mung beans; Greg Brainan (jean georges) uses smoked salmon gelee; Chris Geswaldi (montrachet) uses a cream cheese emulsion with dill oil and seaweed; John's Pizza makes a lox pizza; Kirti Pant (tamarind) has salmon fillet on naan and tandoori marinade; and in one of the best photos, Dan Silverman (lever house) cretes a whole salmon with head and tail filled sideways with several layers of slices of cream cheese and gravlax.

Other highlights include executions from The Fours Seasons, Petrossian Paris, The River Café (but with oysters.. tsk tsk,, he should be thrown in the East River), Le Bernardin, Ida Mae, Nobu, RM, Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill, and Jacques Torres' chocolate creation that mimics lox and bagels with molded white and dark chocolate ganache and strawberry fruit leather. My favorite is either Ari Nieminen (café des artistes) with his layers of lox displayed on the naked body of Ms. Jaeme Griffin (why not add a saddle too?), or Wayne Nish (march) with the classic bagel and lox deli style sandwich. But I am sure you will find others as find your faves in this creatively executed book.. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] NASSER
Said K. Aburish
APRIL 2004.
St Martins Press.
Since the death of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1970 there has been no ideology to capture the imagination of the Arab world except Islamic fundamentalism. Any sense of completely secular Arab states ended with him and what we see today happening in the Middle East is a direct result of Western opposition to Nasser's strategies and ideals. With the CIA continually trying to undermine him, Nasser threw his lot in with the Soviet Union, even though he was fervently anti-Communist. Nasser wanted to build up a military on par with Israel's, but didn't want either the '56 or '67 wars, according to this treatment of his life, by journalist Said Aburish, who also authored bios of Arafat and of Sadam Hussein. This was a man who was both a dictator and a popular icon... Click the book cover above to read more.

MAY 2004

by Rodney Dangerfield. Intro by Jim Carrey
May 25, 2004. Harper
I tell ya, nothin' goes right.Last week I found a guy's wallet ... Inside was a picture of my two kids. Anybody can repeat a Rodney Dangerfield joke, but nobody can tell one like the man himself. That's because his humor, built on the premise that he "don't get no respect," is drawn from a life so hard that the only way to survive was to laugh at it -- though all the drugs and hookers certainly didn't hurt. In IT'S NOT EASY BEING ME, Dangerfield comes clean (even if he still works blue) about his brutal life and the unlikely triumph he made out of it. His father was in vaudeville, and his mother was from hell, which is why a young Jack Roy grabbed a mike and got up on a stage straight out of high school. He was looking for laughs, some approval ... and a few easy women. He struggled for years, getting by but never getting over, playing dives and opening for strippers, hypnotists, and snake charmers. Then at thirty, Dangerfield walked away from all that glamour. He quit show business, got a "real" job -- as an aluminum-siding salesman -- and started raising a family in Englewood, New Jersey. He was out of comedy for twelve unhappy years, but all the while he was writing jokes, scheming, and dreaming of his comeback. Eventually, he changed his act, changed his name, and changed American comedy forever. He developed one of the most popular characters in all of show business -- the poor schnook who gets no respect. Not from his parents, his wife, his kids, not even from his physician, Dr. Vinnie Boombatz.
A Vegas headliner for 20-plus years, Dangerfield became a huge comedic success while maintaining his image as a hassled everyman. He is, says Carrey, "as funny as a carbon-based life form can be." After writing I Couldn't Stand My Wife's Cooking, So I Opened a Restaurant; I Don't Get No Respect; and No Respect, he now presents this anecdotal autobiography, effectively blending honesty and humor. He was born Jacob Cohen in 1921 to a vaudevillian father constantly on the road and a "coldhearted," "selfish" mother: "I guess that's why I went into show business-to get some love." As Jack Roy, he began performing in his teens, struggled in clubs across the country but quit in 1949 to spend 12 years as an aluminum-siding salesman. At 40, he changed his name and his act: "I was older and wiser, yeah, but I was funnier too." In a major comeback, he made 70 Tonight Show appearances and opened his own nightclub in 1969, followed by TV specials and commercials, albums and hit movies. Writing with hip, showbiz savvy and a backstage bawdiness, he regales with tales of Lenny Bruce, Andy Kaufman and many more, and devotes full chapters to sex and drugs. Sidebar jokes, relevant to the text, appear throughout, along with cartoons and b&w photos. Click the book cover above to read more.

by Paula Marantz Cohen
May 2004. St Martin's
Paula Marantz Cohen's triumphant first novel, Jane Austen in Boca, was an inspired blend of classic English literature and modern American manners. Her new novel heads north to the seemingly quiet suburban town of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, for a comedy that even Shakespeare couldn't have imagined. Carla Goodman is worried. Her husband, a gastroenterologist in private practice, is coming home frazzled because medicine isn't what it used to be. Her son's teachers want to put him on Ritalin to stop him from wreaking havoc on the fifth grade. And her cranky twelve-year-old daughter has a bas mitzvah coming up. But it's Carla's sweet, widowed mother, Jessie Kaplan, who really has her baffled. Jessie has suddenly "remembered" that she was Shakespeare's girlfriend---the Dark Lady of the sonnets---in a previous life. Can even the famed Dr. Leonard Samuels, psychiatrist and author of the self-help book How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love My Mother-in-Law, help with problems like these? Witty, engaging, and wickedly observant, Much Ado About Jessie Kaplan is an unpredictable tale of love, loss, and family rites of passage. Click the book cover above to read more.

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May 2004.
The sixth season of SEX IN THE CITY.
In Season Six, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) dates again, an old high school flame (David Duchovny) shows up, as does a reknowned painter (Mikhail Baryshnikov). Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) has an affair with Mr. Perfect (Blair Underwood). Charlotte's (Kristin Davis) finds love with Mister Jewish (Evan Handler), but they still have a few things to iron out. Great Jewish issues abound. Samantha's (Kim Cattrall) is in a hot relationship with waiter-actor-stud Smith Jerrod (Jason Lewis). Episodes (written by Cindy Chupack, Julie Rottenberg, Elisa Zuritsky, Michael Patrick King, Amy B. Harris, and others) are:
Episode 75: "To Market, To Market"; Episode 76: "Great Sexpectations" or the great conversion decision; episode 77: "The Perfect Present" or the accelerated conversion; episode 78: "Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little", or Charlotte's first Shabbat dinner in which she says, "Hi, Mrs. Collier. I'm a Jew now. How are you?" (Directed by: David Frankel Written by: Julie Rottenberg and Elisa Zuritsky); episode 79: "Lights, Camera, Relationship"; episode 80: "Hop, Skip And A Week"; when Charlotte goes to a blase synagogue singles event; episode 81: "The Post-it Always Sticks Twice"; episode 82: "The Catch", which should be titled, you can take the beemer and I will take the Bimah (filmed at Congregation Bnai Jeshurun on W 88th St); episode 83: "A Woman's Right to Shoes"; episode 84: "Boy, Interrupted"; episode 85: "The Domino Effect"; and episode 86: "One." Click the book cover above to read more.

May 4, 2004. Random House
A new book by one of the most famous people to have come from Scranton PA, NYC, and Toronto Ontario, Jane Jacobs, the author of The Life and Death of Great American Cities, and the mother of a whole generation of urban planners... In Dark Age Ahead, Jane Jacobs identifies five pillars of our culture that we depend on but which are in serious decline: community and family; higher education; the effective practice of science; taxation and government; and self-policing by learned professions. The decay of these pillars, Jacobs contends, is behind such ills as environmental crisis, racism and the growing gulf between rich and poor; their continued degradation could lead us into a new Dark Age, a period of cultural collapse in which all that keeps a society alive and vibrant is forgotten. But this is a hopeful book as well as a warning. Jacobs draws on her vast frame of reference -- from fifteenth-century Chinese shipbuilding to zoning regulations in Brampton, Ontario -- and in highly readable, invigorating prose offers proposals that could arrest the cycles of decay and turn them into beneficent ones. Wise, worldly, full of real-life examples and accessible concepts, this book is an essential read for perilous times. Click the book cover above to read more.


May 11, 2004. RANDOM HOUSE
From Publishers Weekly: "The growing concern about a global revival of anti-Semitism has been reflected in a number of new books, from Abraham H. Foxman's Never Again? to Phyllis Chesler's The New Anti-Semitism and Gabriel Schoenfeld's The Return of Anti-Semitism. All discuss the shift in geopolitical attitudes and events toward Jews and Israel since September 11; each also reflects its author's own political perspective. Rosenbaum's outstanding compilation of nearly 50 sharp essays has the advantage of not only displaying a wide range of views but juxtaposing pieces in debate with one another. Harvard president Lawrence Summers's critique of academic anti-Israeli sentiment, for instance, is answered by postmodern philosopher Judith Butler's pointing out the chilling effect of calling criticism of Israel "anti-Semitic." Rosenbaum (Explaining Hitler) focuses his collection on specific debates: three essays discuss the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, and another three discuss the controversy surrounding the alleged massacre by Israelis of Palestinians at Jenin. The selections are balancedâ€"anti-Semitism and freedom of speech on college campuses, for instance, are discussed by Jeffrey Toobin, Todd Gitlin and Laurie Zoloth. Rosenbaum is also attuned to new aspects of old issues: "The Greatest Story Ever Sold" presents Frank Rich's thoughts on the controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, while in "Who Did Kill Christ?" Nat Hentoff describes Christian rightists' ongoing promotion of the charge of deicide against the Jews. It's rare to find a book that includes essays by both Gabriel Schoenfeld and Edward Said, Ruth R. Wisse and Bernard Lewis." Click the cover art above to read more.

by Richard Ben Cramer
May 12, 2004. Simon and Schuster
Cramer's book is divided into four questions about the conflict
"Why do we care about Israel?",
"Why don't the Palestinians have a state?",
"What is a Jewish state?", and
"Why is there no peace?"
modeled after the questions asked at a Passover seder.
But you may say, "DAYENU" ENOUGH ALREADY.. but you would be wrong. Cramer is fresh and a great read, and funny as well. PW writes, "Cramer, who won a Pulitzer in 1979 for Middle East reporting, divides his book into four parts, dealing with four questions on the model of the four questions asked by children at the Passover seder. He blends up-to-the-minute events of the Palestinian uprising with memories of his time as a Middle East correspondent in the late 1970s and early 1980s for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Cramer is great at telling an anecdote, whether about his visit as a correspondent to an Arab village where he learns about both hospitality and honor, or about a recent visit to an Israeli family that he finds instructive regarding Palestinians' inability to reconcile themselves to a Jewish presence. When it comes to prognosis, Cramer shoots straight from the hip in giving advice to both sides. He's of the "plague on both of their houses" school ("I should have told [the mother of a dead Palestinian militant] the same thing I would have told Sharon: can't make a nation... based on whom you hate, or how many of them you kill"), and he's equally dismissive of Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon, although he seems to come down harder on the Israelis for failing to recognize the Arab world's need for honor." Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Absolutely American
Four Years at West Point
May 11, 2004. Now in Paperback. Vintage
What makes this Jewish? Two Bar Mitzvahs are recorded in the book, and one of the priomary stars of this book is a Jewish plebe.
Turow's "One L" is still read by those interested in Harvard Law; Robinson's "Snapshots From Hell" is read by those curious about biz school; and Michael Lewis' "Liar's Poker" is skimmed by those intrigued by the hey day of Wall Street. To this trilogy, I would add Lipsky's "Absolutely American." I became interested in Lipsky's stories from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point when his reports from there appeared in Rolling Stone magazine a few years ago. His reportage profile a cross section of cadets, specifically from the G-4 Guppies, from Plebes to Yuks, Cows, and Firsties, their frustrations, their attitudes, their machismo, their failures, and their goals during a time when the Academy, like all institutions, was perpetually evolving. Lipsky came for the chow, but stayed embedded for the whole story, rented a room in Highland Falls, off post (campus), and stayed a few years (1998-2002). What other school gets diverse jocks and brains from all fifty states and territories, and forces them to work together and take leadership and honor seriously? The reader is introduced to a cross section of students who sacrifice their material comforts. Like a documentary film, you never know how it will turn out. Who will "five and fly" to Wall Street and b-school, and who will commit to an army career? Will the top students choose infantry or the more marketable aviation school? Who will be huah, and who will turn cynical? Who will be separated from the Academy? How do these macho guys (and 15% women) bond and say goodbye? When a football player cries after the Army-Navy game loss, Lipsky captures the depth of feeling towards the school and patriotic commitment. The ability to order in pizza and Chinese takeout (especially on beer battered cod fish night), the purchases of condoms and beer, Gatorade addiction, the exposure and concealment of several scandals (US Air Force Academy, listen up), internet porn and chewing tobacco, and the dramatic aftermath of 9/11 on student attitudes are tracked as the stories progress. Are there no atheists in fox holes? Probably not, since Lipsky even captures in print the bar mitzvahs of two cadets, and the evangelical fervor of another. While at other schools, faculty and tenure decisions are filled with intrigue; Lipsky shows how USMA faculty intrigue take on greater devastations when honor, duty, and the desire to fall on "grenades" for your platoon is involved. While Hollywood might depict all the Plebes rallying around the Plebe who has problems passing a Phys Ed requirement or honor violation, we instead see the reality of shunnings among the cadets. The book, like an indie film, unlike a Hollywood studio flic, doesn't beat you over the head with conclusions. It presents the suspense, the stories, the mud, forced groupthink, and honor, and let's you draw conclusions on the future of the military, leadership, professionalism, and America. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The Between Boyfriends Book
A Collection of Cautiously Hopeful Essays
by Cindy Chupack
May 1, 2004. Now in Paperback. St. Martin's Griffin
I can say the love word... I need my SPACE (to read this), and I Love (the book). Chupack, a Jewess from Oklahoma, the chief writer for the Sex and The City television series has written this collection of essays on the pangs of dating and the single life. She gives such great advice, that even her ex-husband comes to her for advice on his current relationships. She makes up words; a few are: "lone rangered" (who was that masked man who broke up with me no goodbye); "RelocationShips" (moving for the chance of a good guy); "Man-me-downs"; Halloweenies (guys who break up at Halloween, so they don't have to date you during Thanksgiving and the December holidays); and "premature 'we'jaculation" (when one of you says "we" before the other is ready). She writes about when a major magazine asked her to write about how to juggle men, when she wasn't even juggling one. She asks, if you count the number of men you have been with, do you have to count the men from drunken frat college parties? There is the story about the guy who had his doorman break up with her; there is the story of the guy who broke up with a woman on the account of her nose; and the story of each of her 17 awful dates that she went on (3 per week) in order to have one good 18th date. She decided to ask her dates to bring a CD to trade, so at least if it is a bad date, you might get a bonus of a good CD. When her date brought her ABBA, she dropped him and that idea fast. Cindy tells about her 10 day fast in order to lose weight, well not really to lose weight, but well, who knows why she went on it. You have to read it as if the character of Carrie from "Sex And The City" is reading it to you. It is much funnier that way. Nearly each story is less than 4 pages, so it is great for subway reading, or the beach (where the red flags are about swimming, not dating). In addition to the stories and dating advice, we learn about fathers' obsessions with asking daughters, "How's the car?"; the frustration of (NOT) being chosen to be a bridesmaid; the skillful spins of agents; and the idea for karaoke-like bars that women can go to do open mike rants after their bad dates. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] What I Wish My Christian Friends Knew about Judaism
by Robert Schoen
May 2004. Loyola Press
While admitting that "describing what it is like to be Jewish is like describing snow," author Robert Schoen provides a smart and practical understanding of Judaism for a Christian audience. In What I Wish My Christian Friends Knew about Judaism, he presents readers with thoughtful insight into Judaism. Writing from the perspective of an "average Jewish American," Schoen points out the differences and highlights the similarities between Judaism and Christianity. Readable chapters promote understanding and tolerance. Schoen discusses the different sects of Judaism and what they mean and believe; describes Jewish ceremonies, holidays, and festivals; and explains religious texts, symbols, religious apparel, and kosher food. Important historical and social issues including anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, Israel, and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East are also addressed. The book includes a glossary of Hebrew and Yiddish words and a pronunciation guide. PW adds, "Written in a breezy, conversational style and laced with humor, this primer on Judaism delivers precisely what the title indicates. Schoen describes himself as "a layman" and an "average Jewish American." He is actually an accomplished musician whose compositions have been played in recital and appear on two CDs. Schoen claims that he wrote the book to present a systematic response to questions about Judaism that were posed by his Christian friends. Schoen begins his guidebook with a clear explanation of the streams of Judaism: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist. He then discusses what goes on inside the synagogue, followed by an examination of the Jewish holidays. The final sections deal with Jewish life cycle events, home life and beliefs and Judaism in the world. The book concludes with a plea for inter-faith cooperation. What is truly remarkable about this compendium is its thoroughness and lucidity. Schoen manages to touch briefly on practically all aspects of Judaism from Israel, the Holocaust and anti-Semitism to the role of women, Jewish symbols, Jewish art and appropriate behavior at a bar or bat mitzvah, Jewish weddings and Jewish funerals. Although Schoen says he wrote the book as a manual for Christians, Jews can also benefit from this masterful overview of their religion, either as a refresher or as a quick source of new information." Click the book cover above to read more.

May 2004. SCRIBNER
Is Nama Goldstein the new Grace Paley??
PW writes: "Set in Israel and suburban America, this funny, moving debut collection mines the rich complexities of cultural dislocation in the idiom of in between. "I know -- I understand with the full feeling of living life -- that you can be of one place and another, not at all the same," says the bilingual third-grade narrator of "The Conduct for Consoling." Goldstein, an American who grew up in Israel, writes eloquently of the longing for home, evoking the material differences between her two countries with a few telling details: a certain breakfast cereal, a prime-time television program or a tiled floor. America both entices and disturbs the Israeli children in "A Pillar of a Cloud," who glimpse it through a visiting cousin casually offering a Sloppy Joe sandwich to an Arab worker. In scenes like these, Goldstein depicts a loaded situation with unexpected originality through her artfully off-kilter syntax and whimsical characters, both insightful and self-deluded. In "A Verse in the Margins," Goldstein conjures the misguided high school teacher Mr. Durchschlag in a single sentence: "With every unclish wink to every blush of theirs the world revolved more steadily, the proper ratio of this to that restored." Even the most limited characters in these eight stories are likable: Shulee, the rebellious Israeli teen in "The Roberto Touch," remains sympathetic though she behaves badly on a school trip. As generous as it is unsentimental, this resonant collection captivates and provokes. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Growing Up Palestinian
Israeli Occupation and the Intifada Generation
by Laetitia Bucaille
PW WIRTES: French political scientist Bucaille faces a daunting task-humanizing the Palestinian fighters who are involved in almost-daily violence against Israel- and to her credit, she mostly succeeds, tracing the lives of several of the young men known as the shebab, who are on-the ground fighters in the three-and-a-half-year-old second intifada. In interviews and vivid descriptions, Bucaille brings to light their worldview-one in which hopelessness has fueled violence, and the violence fuels hopelessness. The Palestinian fighters she interviews tell her that they do not oppose the state of Israel. But the lives of the fighters are only part of Bucaille's investigation. Along the way, she traces the recent history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the failed Oslo peace process. She sees that process as having been doomed from the beginning. The accords "gave the Palestinians nothing but the bastard status of autonomy over most of Gaza and a small area of the West Bank." It did, however, create a new set of dynamics in Palestinian society, as the return of Yasser Arafat and his coterie created a new wealthy class and, after initial euphoria, led to resentment among those Palestinians who had fought in the first uprising, from 1987 to 1993. The author is frank in depicting these fault lines in Palestinian society, although she generally leans somewhat to a pro-Palestinian stance. While those who are strongly pro-Israel will be put off by this, readers wanting a look at the lives of young Palestinians and their society will be hard-pressed to find a better book.
Click the book cover above to read more.

A Novel
May 2004. SCRIBNER
PW writes, "For 20-something Rachel Silverstein, finding the right guy to marry was the easy part - she'd known her now-fiancé, whom she met during her freshman year in college, for about two minutes before she started referring to him as "the love of my life Dan Gershon." Luckily, Dan returned the affection - but now they have to plan the wedding to prove it, as Rachel's motley crew of family and friends weigh in on an event that is quickly spinning out of control. A writer for a popular young adult novel series, Rachel is living the dream - sort of - of making a living through her craft while enjoying plenty of time to explore her beloved adopted city of New York. But her skinflint father and social-climbing stepmother are issuing sign-and-return ultimatums to her semi-estranged mother, the poster child for borderline personality disorder. Meanwhile, Dan's parents, apparently still mired in the 1950s, blissfully plan a breadwinner-father-stay-at-home-mother existence for the happy couple. Bridesmaid Naomi wants an edgy, experimental dress, and voice-of-reason Aunt Natalie is overcome by familial forces and retreats to the background to dispense martinis and offer a shoulder to cry on. What's a girl to do? Wry observations of young New York life from a bagels-and-lox-at-Barney-Greengrass perspective instead of a Manolos-and-Cosmos-at-Balthazar angle are refreshing, and the hints of JEWISH LIFE in New York are atmospheric and charming. Schwartz, a columnist for the New York Sun, offers a pleasant and witty, if somewhat familiar, tale of wedding woes." Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Blood from a Stone
The Quest for the Life Diamonds
by Yaron Svoray and Richard Hammer
May 1, 2004 in Paperback (2003 in Hardcover).
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. It is the story of the curse believed to lie over the fabulous wealth of these stones, bringing death and disaster to all who touched them. It is the story of Yaron Svoray, who spent more than a decade in search of one small foxhole somewhere in a thousand square miles of forest...and of his unbelievable success. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] SARAH
By Marek Halter
Translated from Frnech by Howard Curtis

May 2004. CROWN
Booklist writes, "With the success of The Red Tent (1997), the women of the Bible became fair game for writers of historical fiction. This novel about Sarah is grounded in its biblical source material even as it twists tales all its own. Halter's Sarah, already a best-seller in France, begins at that matriarch's tomb in Hebron, where she awaits her death and remembers her life. In Halter's telling, Sarah is no willing handmaiden of the one God. A Sumerian girl raised in luxury, she runs away from an arranged marriage and takes an elixir that stops menstruation; so instead of a wife, she becomes a high priestess of Ishtar. But her love for Abraham, whom she has met briefly, sustains her and leads her back to him. Halter works hard at establishing some feminist bona fides for her heroine ("Sarah is the prototype of the free woman"), but however beguiling such speculation may be, there is a tendency here to pass off legend as fact. Still, the writing is lively and shimmering with detail, and if some aspects of Sarah's story seem surprisingly truncated (the binding of Isaac, for example), the tale rolls along smoothly and, with the help of a big push from the publisher, just may hit it big on the book-club circuit. Sarah is the first in Halter's Canaan trilogy, which will conclude with novels about Lilah and Zipporah." Click to read more.

[book] The Dark Sister
a novel
by Rebecca Goldstein

May 2004. University of Wisconsin
Reissue. If you like the fiction of Henry James, the psychology of his brother William, and have a taste for Gothic mysteries you will enjoy The Dark Sister. The novel is a curious mixture of the Victorian repressiveness about sex, intricate stories within stories, and Jewish humor. Click to read more.

[book] ILAN STAVANS - Eight Conversations
by Neal Sokol

May 2004. University of Wisconsin
The New York Times described Ilan Stavans as "the czar of Latino literature in the United States." But his influential oeuvre doesn't address Hispanic culture exclusively. It has also opened fresh new vistas into Jewish life globally, which has prompted the Forward to portray Stavans as "a maverick intellectual whose canonical work has already produced a whole array of marvels that are redefining Jewishness." Neal Sokol devoted almost a decade to the study of Stavans's work. He applies his substantial knowledge to this candid, thought-provoking series of eight interviews. In them Stavans is caught at the vortex where his Mexican, Jewish, and American heritages meet. He discusses everything from the formative influences that shaped his worldview to anti-Semitism, Edmund Wilson, sexuality in Latin America, Gabriel García Márquez, and the fate of Yiddish. He also contrasts the role of intellectuals in advanced and developing societies, dwells on his admiration for Don Quixote, his passion for dictionaries, and reflects on his groundbreaking, controversial research on Spanglish--the hybrid encounter of English and Spanish that infuriates the Royal Academy in Madrid and also makes people describe Stavans as "the Salman Rushdie of the Hispanic world." Sokol shrewdly tests Stavans's ideas and places them in context. By doing so, he offers a map to the heart and mind of one of our foremost thinkers today--an invaluable tool for his growing cadre of readers. Click to read more.

[book] Mordecai : An Early American Family
by Emily Bingham
May 2004. Paperback
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 sure 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. 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. Against the national backdrop of the Great Awakenings, Nat Turner's revolt, the free-love experiments of the 1840s, and the devastation of the Civil War, 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 Mordecais 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] Goldberger's War
The Life and Work of a Public Health Crusader
by Alan M. Kraut
2003 Hill and Wang
Goldberger's War chronicles one of the U.S. Public Health Service's most renowned heroes-an immigrant Jew who trained as a doctor at Bellevue, became an early recruit to the federal government's health service, and ended an American plague. And he did so by defying conventional wisdom, experimenting on humans, and telling the South precisely what it didn't want to hear. In this fine work, Alan Kraut shows why Dr. Goldberger's life became, quite literally, the stuff of Action Comic storyboards. On the front lines of the legendary public-health battles of the early 20th-century, he fought the epidemics that were then routinely sweeping the nation--typhoid, yellow fever, and the measels. After successfully confronting (and often contracting) the infectious diseases of his day, in 1914 he was assigned the mystery of pellagra, a disease whose cause and cure had eluded the world for centuries and was then afflicting tens of thousands of Americans every year, particularly in the emerging "New South." Dispatched to find a medical solution to what prevailing wisdom assumed was another infectious disease, Goldberger discovered its cause in a dietary deficiency and spent years conducting experiments (some on himself and family) to prove he was right. But finding the cause was just half the fight; its cure required nothing less than challenging the economy, culture, and politics of the entire South. Click to read more.

Grove paperback May 2004
The debut novel by 28 year old Arab-Israeli Sayed Kashua has been praised around the world for its honesty, irony, humor, and its uniquely human portrayal of a young man who moves between two societies, becoming a stranger to both. Many know Kashua as the popular Israeli Arab newspaper columnist in Tel Aviv. Kashua's nameless antihero has big shoes to fill, having grown up with the myth of a grandfather who died fighting the Zionists in 1948, and with a father who was jailed for blowing up a school cafeteria in the name of freedom. When he is granted a scholarship to an elite Jewish boarding school in Jerusalem, his family in the village of Tira rejoices, dreaming that he will grow up to be the first Arab to build an atom bomb. But to their dismay, he turns out to be a coward devoid of any national Arab pride; his only ambition is to fit in with his Jewish peers who reject him. He is more Israeli than the average Israeli; he acts as a Jew. Like a pinocchio. He changes his clothes, his accent, his eating habits, and becomes an expert at faking identities, sliding between different cultures, schools and languages, and eventually a Jewish lover and an Arab wife. He pretends to read Wittgenstein's Nephew in public, and he speaks Hebrew to Arabs in his effort to pass as a Jew. Maybe he can be the first Arab Israeli Prime Minister, or maybe today he will be a bomber. With refreshing candor and self-deprecating wit, Dancing Arabs brilliantly maps one man's struggle to disentangle his personal and national identities, only to tragically and inevitably forfeit both. Chapter titles include: "On Days When There are Terrorist Attacks," "The Day I Saw Jews Up Close for the First Time," and "There's No Beer in Saudi Arabia." Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Death as a Way of Life
From Oslo to the Geneva Agreement
by David Grossman
Paperback May 2004
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 to read more.

[book] Patents
Ingenious Inventions -- How They Work and How They Came to Be
by Ben Ikenson
Black Dog & Leventhal Pub; (May 2004)
The first thing that attracts you to this book is its cover, which is half ensconced in a thin layer of a laminated cushioning material (also known as bubble wrap, Patent Number 3,142,599; July 28, 1964 by M. A. Chavannes of Brooklyn, for a method of making bubble wrap). This book celebrates a few of the 6.5 million patents that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted since Thomas Jefferson issued the first one in 1790. For each patent, Mr. Ikenson provides that patent name, number, date, the person granted the patent (not always the inventor) and the assignee of the patent, if necessary. These are followed by explanations and drawings about what the item does, how it works, and then a statement in the inventor's own words. Included in this book are dynamite, the artificial heart, the airplane (wright), camera (wolcott), helicopter (sikorsky), cotton gin (whitney, 1794), gas motor engine (otto), light bulb (edison, glowing filament in a glass globe), neutronic/nuclear reactor (fermi and szilard), penicillin production method (moyer), transistor (shockley), rocket (goddard), skyscraper steel (bessemer), and most importantly, the Lava Lamp (walker, 1971).
Along the way, you will notice how some of the corporate names now popular are based on companies that were created around the inventor and patent, such as rubber vulcanization (goodyear), frozen food (birdseye), door lock (yale, 1844)and corn flakes process (kellogg, 1919). Additional patents include ones for the chia pet (1994), traffic signal (1923), bra, astro turf, kitty litter, adhesive bandage (bandaid, assigned to johnson and johnson in 1958), zipper (1893), velsro (155), prozac, viagra, kevlar, pez dispenser (and how it works), slinky, roller skates , bar codes, and barbed wire, to name just a few. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] How Things Are Made
From Automobiles to Zippers
by Sharon Rose, Neil Schlager
Black Dog & Leventhal Pub; (March 2003)
The denim book cover with sewn pocket on the cover draws you in.. and the text keeps you "riveted." For anyone, young or old, who has ever wondered, "how do they make those?"-here is an entertaining, illustrated exploration of the process behind the manufacture of everyday items. What are bulletproof vests made of? How do they get lipstick into the tube? How much brass does it take to make a trumpet? The answers-and so much more fascinating information-can be found in HOW THINGS ARE MADE, a behind-the-machine look at everyday objects of all kinds, from guitars, helicopters, and compact discs to lawn mowers, running shoes, and chocolate. Each page of HOW THINGS ARE MADE features informative, step-by-step text along with detailed illustrations, diagrams, and sidebars to tell the stories behind the things we sometimes take for granted but often wonder about. Did you know that Edison didn't really invent the light bulb? Or that the first bar code was on a pack of Wrigley Spearmint gum? Find out these answers and much more in HOW THINGS ARE MADE, which has a cover made of real denim with a pocket. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The Iraq War
Knopf; (May 25, 2004)
Keegan, one of the best military historians, writes about the history of the Middle East since the Ottoman Empires's end through the Iraq War. Keegan argues that America's mistake was to disband the Iraqi Army, thus releasing over 100,000 young bored unemployed men. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
by David Sedaris
Little Brown; (May 31, 2004)
With Dress Your Family in Courduroy and Denim, David Sedaris returns to his deliriously twisted domain, hilarious childhood dramas infused with melancholy; the gulf of misunderstanding that exists betwen people of different nations or members of the same family; and the poignant divide between one's best hopes and most common deeds. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Battle Ready
by Tom Clancy, Tony Zinni, Tony Koltz
May 24, 2004, Putnam
Tony Zinni has co authored this best seller on the Iraq War. He criticizes Bush's civilian advisors, the interventionist "neoconservatives," for the war and getting the us (the USA) involved in this War. He blames the neocons: Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle and undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith and others. He doesn't blame President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, or Secretary of State Colin Powell. People in the beltway will tell you that "neocon" means "Jews." Blame the Jews. Zinni says this is bullshit. He doesn't care about religion or ethnicity, The neoconservatives have merely "captured" Bush and Cheney, and Powell is a "good soldier."
In his first three Commanders books, Tom Clancy teamed with Generals Fred Franks, Jr., Chuck Horner, and Carl Stiner to provide masterful blends of history, biography, you-are-there narrative, insight into the practice of leadership, and plain, old-fashioned storytelling. Marine General Tony Zinni was known as the "Warrior Diplomat" during his nearly forty years of service. As a soldier, his credentials were impeccable, whether leading troops in Vietnam, commanding hair-raising rescue operations in Somalia, or-as Commander in Chief of CENTCOM-directing strikes against Iraq and Al Qaeda. But it was as a peacemaker that he made just as great a mark-conducting dangerous troubleshooting missions all over Africa, Asia, and Europe; and then serving as Secretary of State Colin Powell's special envoy to the Middle East, before disagreements over the 2003 Iraq War and its probable aftermath caused him to resign. Battle Ready follows the evolution of both General Zinni and the Marine Corps, from the cauldron of Vietnam through the operational revolution of the seventies and eighties, to the new realities of the post-Cold War, post-9/11 military-a military with a radically different job and radically different tools for accomplishing it. It is an eye-opening book-a front-row seat to a man, an institution, and a way of both war and peace that together make this an instant classic of military history. Click the book cover above to read more.

JUNE 2004

[book] NATASHA
And Other Stories
by David Bezmozgis
Farrar Straus & Giroux; 1st edition (June 9, 2004)
Few readers had heard of David Bezmozgis before last May, when Harper's, Zoetrope, and The New Yorker all printed stories from his forthcoming collection. In the space of a few weeks, these magazines introduced America to the Bermans-Bella and Roman and their son, Mark-Russian Jews who have fled the Riga of Brezhnev for Toronto, the city of their dreams. Told through Mark's eyes, and spanning the last twenty-three years, Natasha brings the Bermans and the Russian-Jewish enclaves of Toronto to life in stories full of big, desperate, utterly believable consequence. In "Tapka" six-year-old Mark's first experiments in English bring ruin and near tragedy to the neighbors upstairs. When Tapka is hit by a car, it is symbolic of the injury of the past. There will no longer be any stability. In "Roman Berman, Massage Therapist," Roman and Bella stake all their hopes for Roman's business on their first, humiliating dinner in a North American home. Bella bakes a cake for Dr. Kornblum, their Toronto Jewish potential benefactor. But he rejects it, since maybe it isn't kosher enough for him. Even though they spent so much on the ingredients. Later, in the title story, a stark, funny anatomy of first love, we witness Mark's sexual awakening at the hands of his fourteen-year-old cousin, a new immigrant from the New Russia, and a former, yes you guessed it, child kiddie porn star. In "Minyan," Mark and his grandfather watch as the death of a tough old Odessan cabdriver sets off a religious controversy among the poor residents of a Jewish old-folks' home. The stories in Natasha capture the immigrant experience with a serious wit as compelling as the work of Jhumpa Lahiri, Nathan Englander, or Adam Haslett. At the same time, their evocation of boyhood and youth, and the battle for selfhood in a passionately loving Jewish family, recalls the first published stories of Bernard Malamud, Harold Brodkey, Leonard Michaels, and Philip Roth. Click the book cover above to read more. Click the book cover above to read more.

June 2004. Soft Skull Press.
One of a handful of Jews in the WASPish enclave of Greenwich, Connecticut, which was nearly restricted, and undersized at that, George Tabb was routinely kicked around by the other kids - one blind, another one with one arm - as well as by his father. He was born in Brooklyn, but was exiled to Connecticut when his parents separated. Playing Right Field refers to an early experience of the author and his brother, Lloyd, who played Little League together; they were forced to share one team T-shirt because their father the multimillionaire was too cheap to buy one for each of them. George and Lloyd chose right field because hardly any balls ever got hit out there and they thought it would be safe and provide them with lots of space. This book is a series of vivid remembrances - morality tales with an absurdist edge - that trace Tabb's growing sense of isolation and rebellion. Best among them are the time he threw a bully from the back of a school bus, and the time he retaliated against a first baseman and sparked a Little League brawl. Tarb later became a top punk musicianEach is illustrated by noted underground cartoonist Fly. Click the book cover above to read more.

June 2004. Simon and Schuster
Glatt writes smoothly
PW writes: "A girl becomes a comma like that, with wrong boy after wrong boy," muses the narrator of Glatt's keenly observed debut. "She becomes a pause, something quick before the real thing." Rachel Spark, a 30-ish university poetry teacher, is looking for the real thing - but she's also living in L.A with her mother, "because she was sick and because I was poor.... It was love, yes, but need was part of it too." As her mother slowly succumbs to breast cancer, Rachel seeks solace - and escape - in the arms of various unsuitable men. Glatt's tone shifts through comic, pensive and mournful as she also explores the lives of Rachel's newlywed student, Ella Bloom; her lovelorn, allergy-challenged best friend, Angela Burrows; and Georgia Carter, a promiscuous 16-year-old patient at the health clinic where Ella works and where Rachel later seeks an abortion. Repeated references to breasts, limbs and organs in discomfort and disease foreground these women's uneasy relationships with their bodies and their lives; drunken and sorrowful sex abounds; connections with men are made and then broken. Rachel loves her mother, but disapproves of her shedding her wig, ordering a vibrator and falling in love in the face of death. As the dying woman - Glatt's liveliest character - evicts Rachel from her hospital room, readers may sympathize: much earlier, mother has diagnosed daughter, "You're thirty. Of course you need connection." Glatt's clear-eyed rendering of the complexities of relationships between friends and family enriches a story in which the steps toward healing are small and tentative, but moving nevertheless. As the COMMA title suggests, there are details in the book with hidden importance which will later emerge into more developed dramas. Click the book cover above to read more.

By Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer
Summer 2004. Jewish Lights
Leads those with new or limited knowledge of Jewish ritual through the basics of Jewish wedding rituals. Especially good for interfaith relationships. Wedding planning can be a stressful experience. Keeping track of all the details-deciding who to invite, choosing a caterer, arranging the reception-can sometimes lead to a couple forgetting about the bigger picture and the significance of this day in their lives: A joyous occasion that should reflect not only your personality, but your values, as well. The Creative Jewish Wedding Book brings your complete wedding planning into focus. Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer helps you express your individuality and spirituality on your wedding day. Whether your plans are traditional or alternative, whether you are planning your first or second marriage, she provides the tools you need to look at and think about ritual and tradition in new and innovative ways. Insights and reflections from a broad range of couples who have created their own distinctive weddings Practical hands-on techniques and ideas for creating many of the ritual objects connected to a Jewish wedding-from designing your own ketubah, to making paper for invitations, to fashioning the chuppah How to express your spiritual life and values through your ceremony An up-to-date guide to wedding resources in the Jewish world. Click the book cover above to read more.

By Steve Almond
Summer 2004. Algonquin
Booklist writes: Anyone who has ever really savored a piece of candy and appreciates more than its mere sweetness will sympathize with Almond's obsession. Much of the source of this addiction appears to stem from his psychiatrist father, who had a similar fixation. Then, of course, there is that surname, which his Polish immigrant grandfather took mostly as a way to ensure that he'd sort alphabetically to the top. Whatever its origins, Almond's passion for candy, chocolate or otherwise, leads him to inventory the various sweetmeats he has encountered throughout his life. He attempts to visit candy factories to back up his appetite with fact, but he discovers how very secretive candy manufacturers can be. He does achieve a tour of Pittsburgh's Clark bar factory, and there Almond finds out just how far the freshly made product surpasses the candy bar that has been sitting on a grocer's shelf. The decidedly regional nature of American candy production takes Almond to all sorts of destinations where he encounters those tastefully inventive minds who satisfy the country's sweet tooth. Click the book cover above to read more.


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