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Apr 06, 2005: Makor NYC - Metropolitan Klezmer with Los Mas Valientes
Apr 07, 2005: An Evening with Zeek Magazine, with Hal Sirowitz, Aaron Hamburger, and others. Makor NYC 7:30 PM
Apr 07, 2005: Jacqueline Osherow speaks on YIDDISH POEMS IN AMERICA. Part of the Nextbook series. Washington DCJCC
Apr 07, 2005: Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz signs his new book. Borders Bookstore NYC Columbus Circle, 7PM
Apr 11, 2005: Tony Kushner reads. Part of the Nextbook series. Washington DCJCC
Apr 11, 2005: Makor Film NYC: Checkpoint, with Producer Elinor Kowarsky
Apr 18, 2005: An Evening of Sephardic Lit with Ilan Stavans. Makor NYC
Apr 19, 2005: Esther Freud reads. Part of the Nextbook series. Washington DCJCC
April 21, 2005: Reading of The Big Book of Jewish Conspiracies by David Deutsch and Joshua Neuman, B&N Astor Place, 7PM
Apr 21, 2005: Makor Film NYC: Tampopo followed by a discussion with a chef
Apr 27, 2005: Makor NYC - Freedom Sings with the Klezmatics and friends
Apr 30, 2005: Hirsh Goodman appears on BOOK-TV.. see your local listings for some fabulous television!

May 00, 2005: UJA Federation of New York publishing division honors Doubleday Broadway president and publisher Stephen Rubin and PW 40 year veteran executive Daisy Maryles
May 03, 2005: Reading of The Big Book of Jewish Conspiracies by David Deutsch and Joshua Neuman, Sway 305 Spring. 9 PM release party
May 03, 2005. Sam Freedman reads from WHO SHE WAS. B&N UWS, 7:30 PM
May 04, 2005: Sam Apple reads from SHLEPPING THROUGH THE ALPS, with Hans Breuer. Makor NYC
May 17, 2005: David Rackoff reads (Don't Get Too Comfortable; Fraud). Part of the Nextbook series. Washington DCJCC
May 23, 2005: Rebecca Goldstein reads. Part of the Nextbook series. Washington DCJCC
May 24, 2005: Proust and the Power of Conversation. The NY Jewish Museum. 6:30 PM
May 26, 2005: Israel Festival til May 31,
November 2005: National Adoption Day.


APRIL 2005

[book cover click here] [book cover click here] [book cover click here] EXTREMELY LOUD AND
April 2005,
Jonathan Safran Foer emerged as one of the most original writers of his generation with his best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated. Now, with humor, tenderness, and awe, he confronts the traumas of our recent history. What he discovers is solace in that most human quality, imagination. But wait.. First let me admit to doing something. After reading his first novel, Everything Is Illuminated, I sent away for brochures from Accounting Programs at American universities in the name of one of his characters (who wanted to go to study accounting) and had them sent to Foer's JH address before he moved onto to the better boro in PS.
Meet Oskar Schell, an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist, correspondent with Stephen Hawking and Ringo Starr. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. An inspired innocent, Oskar is alternately endearing, exasperating, and hilarious as he careens from Central Park to Coney Island to Harlem on his search. Along the way he is always dreaming up inventions to keep those he loves safe from harm. What about a birdseed shirt to let you fly away? What if you could actually hear everyone's heartbeat? His goal is hopeful, but the past speaks a loud warning in stories of those who've lost loved ones before. As Oskar roams New York, he encounters a motley assortment of humanity who are all survivors in their own way. He befriends a 103-year-old war reporter, a tour guide who never leaves the Empire State Building, and lovers enraptured or scorned. Ultimately, Oskar ends his journey where it began, at his father's grave. But now he is accompanied by the silent stranger who has been renting the spare room of his grandmother's apartment. They are there to dig up his father's empty coffin. Click the book cover above to read more.
[book cover click here] [book cover click here] [book cover click here] [book cover click here]

[book cover click here] ALLIGATORS MAY BE PRESENT
(Library of American Fiction) A novel
by Andrew Furman
April 2005, University of Wisconsin Press
I think Furman's novel captures and vividly evokes South Florida and the quest for Home and Belonging so much more than the EARLY BIRD non fiction book by Rodney Rothman that will be released in late Spring
While many Jews pick Florida as the perfect place to retire, Matt Glassman has chosen it as the place to begin his adulthood. Growing up in Los Angeles, with memories of his visits to the fictional magical town of Clay Avenue of Lackawanna PA, he arrives in South Florida in order to make a home. Why Florida, which some think of as God's waiting room, the place where elderly northerners go to wait for death to take them. Perhaps that's because the pressures of life have always reminded him of his grandfather, who mysteriously disappeared from the family twenty years ago. Now, while he tries to begin a family of his own, Glassman also builds a relationship with the one person, his grandmother, who might know the truth about his grandfather's disappearance. She's remained stubbornly reticent on the topic all these years, but when a familiar old man shows up at Glassman's office he thinks he may finally get some answers. Of this book, Aryeh Lev Stollman wrote: Furman explores with remarkable compassion and hope the twin mysteries of loss and abandonment, and the constant struggle to keep at bay the aching burden of sadness that threatens even the most peaceful and quiet of lives.
Andrew Furman is associate professor and chair of the Department of English at Florida Atlantic University. His other books include Israel through the Jewish-American Imagination and Contemporary Jewish American Writers and the Multicultural Dilemma. His essays and reviews have appeared in such publications as Poets & Writers, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Forward, MELUS, Image, Tikkun, Thought & Action and the Miami Herald, where he is a regular book reviewer. He has also been a frequent judge for the National Jewish Book Award in fiction Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here][rodney rothman] Early Bird
A Memoir of Premature Retirement
by Rodney Rothman
Simon and Schuster
May 3, 2005
REMEMBER on Seinfeld when the character of KRAMER retired to Florida in his forties?
What happens when an able-bodied 28-year-old decides to "retire" in a Florida senior community?
Rothman thought up this project after losing his television job. He is a former head writer for the Late Show with David Letterman, and was a writer and supervising producer for the television show Undeclared. Following through with his plan, Rothman comically probes Boca Raton's Century Village. He infiltrates the social hierarchy of the "pool group," eats dinner at the local early-bird specials and joins a shuffleboard club. He captures these experiences in short, humorous chapters, consistently detailing his own physical and mental failings compared to the seniors he meets. The book's laconic and self-deprecating tone brings to mind Rothman's former boss, David Letterman, but unfortunately, Rothman doesn't balance the two traits as well as Letterman. During a Thanksgiving dinner in the community, when Rothman competes with his neighbor Sylvie's son for Sylvie's attention and says, "I'm committing Grand Theft Mother, directly in front of him. I don't feel bad about it. Why should I?" his humor can feel uncomfortably callous. Much of Rothman's angst stems from his idleness, but it's hard to muster sympathy when that situation is self-imposed. This undermines what is otherwise a funny and engaging memoir of a quarter-life crisis

[book cover click here] THE SEX DOCTORS IN THE BASEMENT
April 5, 2005, Villard
Molly John-Fast writes about growing up as the daughter of Erica Jong (Fear of Flying), and grandaughter of Howard Fast (writer of Jewish books), and conversations with a long line of childhood therapists. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] THE MIDDLE EAST UNDER ROME
by MAURICE SARTRE, University of Tours
Translated from French. April 2005, Harvard University Press
The ancient Middle East was the theater of passionate interaction between Phoenicians, Aramaeans, Arabs, Jews, Greeks, and Romans. At the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Mesopotamia, and the Arabian peninsula, the area dominated by what the Romans called Syria was at times a scene of violent confrontation, but more often one of peaceful interaction, of prosperous cultivation, energetic production, and commerce - a crucible of cultural, religious, and artistic innovations that profoundly determined the course of world history. Maurice Sartre has written a long overdue and comprehensive history of the Semitic Near East (modern Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel) from the eve of the Roman conquest to the end of the third century CE and the dramatic rise of Christianity. Sartre's broad yet finely detailed perspective takes in all aspects of this history, not just the political and military, but economic, social, cultural, and religious developments as well. He devotes particular attention to the history of the Jewish people (following the rebellion of CE 66-74), placing it within that of the whole Middle East. Drawing upon the full range of ancient ources, including literary texts, Greek, Latin, and Semitic inscriptions, and the most recent archaeological discoveries, The Middle East under Rome will be an indispensable resource for students and scholars. This absorbing account of intense cultural interaction will also engage anyone interested in the history of the Middle East. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] [book cover click here] SCHLEPPING THROUGH THE ALPS
My Search for Austria's Jewish Past with Its Last Wandering Shepherd
by Sam Apple
Ballantine Books Spring 2005
Hans Breuer, Austria's only left wing activist turned wandering shepherd, is also a Yiddish folksinger (Yiddish is the language of victimhood to the 1968 leftists). He walks the Alps, shepherd's stick in hand, singing lullabies to his 625 sheep. Sometimes he even gives concerts in historically anti-Semitic towns, showing slides of the flock as he belts out Yiddish ditties. Born in 1954, Breuer spent his childhood in Vienna fighting the lingering Nazism in Austrian society. His performances are an attempt to educate his fellow citizens on the people their parents and grandparents had helped to wipe out of Europe.
When New York-based writer and kfar blum alum, Sam Apple, 29, (the son of Max Apple of I LOVE GOOTIE and ROOMMATES and THE EIGHTH DAY fame) heard about this off-the-wall eccentric (at an NYU concert in 2000), he flew to Austria the next year and ends up signs on as a shepherd's apprentice. Actually Breuer was invited to perform at a klezmer festival in Canada, and from there, a small group called Yugntruf brought him to New York to do the concert that Sam Apple attended and then wrote a short piece about Hans for the Forward
Demonstrating no immediate natural talent for shepherding, Apple does his best to earn the respect of Breuer's sheep, while keeping a safe distance from the fierce herding dogs. As this strange and hilarious adventure unfolds, Apple is determined to find out why Breuer has chosen to become a folk-singing shepherd and to see if there are really as many anti-Semites in Austria as he fears. What Apple discovers turns out to be far more fascinating and moving than he had imagined. By the way, Sam is now working on a book about his bris called IN SEARCH OF MY FORESKIN.
To BUY a copy of the music from HAN BREUER, the shepherd, visit
See also and
Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Salonica, City of Ghosts
Christians, Muslims and Jews, 1430-1950
by Mark Mazower
April 2005, Knopf
Salonica, City of Ghosts is an evocation of the life of a vanished city and an exploration of how it passed away. Under the rule of the Ottoman sultans, one of the most extraordinary and diverse societies in Europe lived for five centuries amid its minarets and cypresses on the shore of the Aegean, alongside its Roman ruins and Byzantine monasteries. Egyptian merchants and Ukrainian slaves, Spanish-speaking rabbis-refugees from the Iberian Inquisition-and Turkish pashas rubbed shoulders with Orthodox shopkeepers, Sufi dervishes and Albanian brigands. Creeds clashed and mingled in an atmosphere of shared piety and messianic mysticism. How this bustling, cosmopolitan and tolerant world emerged and then disappeared under the pressure of modern nationalism is the subject of this remarkable book. The historian Mark Mazower follows the city's inhabitants through the terrors of plague, invasion and famine, and takes us into their taverns, palaces, gardens and brothels. Drawing on an astonishing array of primary sources, Mazower's vivid narrative illuminates the multicultural fabric of this great city and describes how its fortunes changed as the empire fell apart and the age of national enmities arrived. In the twentieth century, the Greek army marched in, and fire and world war wrought their grim transformation. Thousands of refugees arrived from Anatolia, the Muslims were forced out, and the Nazis deported and killed the Jews. This richly textured homage to the world that went with them uncovers the memory of what lies buried beneath Salonica's prosperous streets and recounts the haunting story of how the three great faiths that shared the city were driven apart. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] THE MESSIAH MYTH
April 30, 2005, Basic Books
From a prominent scholar, a provocative argument that the Biblical characters of Jesus and David should be viewed not as historical figures, but as embodiments of Babylonian, Egyptian, and Near Eastern traditions. Since the eighteenth century, scholars and historians studying the texts of the Bible have attempted to distill historical facts and biography from the mythology and miracles described there. That trend continues into the present day, as scholars such as those of the "Jesus Seminar" dissect the Gospels and other early Christian writings to separate the "Jesus of history" from the "Christ of faith." But with The Messiah Myth, noted Biblical scholar Thomas L. Thompson argues that the quest for the historical Jesus is beside the point, since the Jesus of the Gospels never existed. Like King David before him, says Thompson, the Jesus of the Bible is an amalgamation of themes from Near Eastern mythology and traditions of kingship and divinity. The theme of a messiah-a divinely appointed king who restores the world to perfection-is typical of Egyptian and Babylonian royal ideology dating back to the Bronze Age. In Thompson's view, the contemporary audience for whom the Old and New Testament were written would naturally have interpreted David and Jesus not as historical figures, but as metaphors embodying long-established messianic traditions. Challenging widely held assumptions about the sources of the Bible and the quest for the historical Jesus, The Messiah Myth is sure to spark interest and heated debate. Thompson is also the author of The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology and the Myth of Israel. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here][book cover click here] KOSHER LIVING
Jossey Bass, April 2005
Kosher Living is an essential guide to Jewish ethics and morality for your everyday life. Rabbi Ron Isaacs offers a warm, humorous, and eminently useful book that shows what is really kosher, proper, and appropriate in all aspects of our lives. Kosher Living includes comprehensive entries organized into practical categories of daily life practices3/4business, hospitality, relationships, care of the body, and more3/4it gives advice from all aspects of Jewish religion, custom, ritual, and tradition. This book is an invaluable source of inspiration; and a definitive reference work for every Jewish family. Written in an easy-to-use format, Kosher Living is a perfect tool for teaching Jewish values and tradition. Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Who She Was
My Search for My Mother's Life
by Samuel G. Freedman
Simon & Schuster (April 4, 2005)
When Samuel G. Freedman was nearing fifty, the same age at which his mother died of breast cancer, he realized that he did not know who she was. Of course, he knew that Eleanor had been his mother, a mother he kept at an emotional distance both in life and after death. He had never thought about the entire life she lived before him, a life of her own dreams and disappointments. And now, that ignorance haunted him. So Freedman set out to discover the past, and Who She Was is the story of what he found. It is the story of a young woman's ambitions and yearnings, of the struggles of her impoverished immigrant parents, and of the ravages of the Great Depression, World War II, and the Holocaust. It is also the story of a middle-aged son wracked with regret over the disregard he had shown as a teenage boy for a terminally ill mother, and as an adult incapable for decades of visiting her grave. It is the story of how he healed that wound by asking all the questions he had not asked when his mother was alive. Whom did she love? Who broke her heart? What lifted her spirits? What crushed her hopes? What did she long to become? And did she get to become that woman in her brief time on earth? Who She Was brings a compassionate yet unflinching eye to the American Jewish experience. It recaptures the working-class borough of the Bronx with its tenements and pushcarts, its union halls and storefront synagogues and rooftop-tar beaches. It remembers a time when husbands searched hundreds of miles for steady work and wives sent packages and prayers to their European relatives in the desperate hope they might survive the Nazis. In such a world, Eleanor Hatkin came of age, striving for education, for love, for a way out. Researched as a history, written like a novel, Who She Was stands in the tradition of such classics as Call It Sleep and The Assistant. In bringing to life his mother, Samuel G. Freedman has given all readers a memorable heroine. Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Princess Or Prisoner?
Jewish Women In Jerusalem, 1840-1914
(Brandeis Series on Jewish Women)
April 2005, Brandeis
This is a fascinating journey into the world of women in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of Jerusalem toward the end of Ottoman rule in the Holy Land. Until now, the story of life in the Land of Israel in this period has been told exclusively from the male viewpoint-a story of religious observance and fulfillment confined to the male world of Torah study and prayer. Margalit Shilo sheds new light on female society of the time, a subject nearly untouched by historians. Through painstaking research, Shilo has unearthed a wealth of primary sources, including women's memoirs, letters, and the contemporary Jewish press. The author weaves together the different threads that made up the world of ultra-Orthodox women in Jerusalem: the experience of immigration to the Land of Israel, marriage, the family unit, economic and philanthropic activities, and female scholarship. She also takes a hard look at the adversities of women's lives, such as desertion, poverty and prostitution. By revealing the unheard, unseen female voice, Shilo paints a new and lively picture of Jewish society in Jerusalem around the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] RESPONSIBLE MEN
April 2005, Algonquin
Max Wolinsky is a forty-one-year-old, ethically challenged salesman from a family of mostly upstanding salesmen. He longs to become a better son and a better father, but when he returns home to Philadelphia for his son Nathan's bar mitzvah, he knows it won't be easy. For one thing, it means going to his former home to see his ex-wife, who's now living with the gardener he once hired. It means facing his unhappy son's complaints- Nathan is particularly upset about being forced to join a troop of kosher Boy Scouts. It also means hearing his father, Caleb, plead for him to move back to Philly from Florida. And it means trying to reconnect with Uncle Abe, once the family's most charismatic salesman, who hasn't been able to speak coherently since his stroke. If Max can be civil to his ex-wife, listen to his son, and pull off one last scam so his father and uncle can live a better life, everything just might turn out all right. What Max doesn't know is that Uncle Abe has his own master plan for the family. Responsible Men is by turns funny, poignant, and wise. Schwarzschild gets inside the hearts of men in prose that is both skillful and authentic
The Baltimore Sun wrote: "It's all very jaunty and picaresque, and because the novel switches point-of-view with each chapter, the possibility of a character being humiliated (and therefore, the possibility of comedy) is on every page. ... the book skims along emotionally. When Max confesses to 13-year-old Nathan that he hasn't always been on the straight and narrow, there's no sense of embarrassment or shame on the part of either father or son. That contrasts with an incident in the novel's most emotionally engaging chapter, set in the decades just after the turn of the century. Max's elderly uncle, Abe Wolinsky, recalls discovering at age seven that his father was an unethical lawyer - a gradual realization freighted with disappointment and menace. Schwarzchild's handling of this material is masterful. It was the only time I didn't feel the author holding back - and such restraint, of course, is crippling." Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] OMAHA BLUES
April 2005, FS&G
The profoundly moving family history of one of America's greatest newspapermen. As his father lies dying, Joseph Lelyveld finds himself in the basement of the Cleveland synagogue where Arthur Lelyveld was the celebrated rabbi. Nicknamed "the memory boy" by his parents, the fifty-nine-year-old son begins to revisit the portion of his father's life recorded in letters, newspaper clippings, and mementos stored in a dusty camp trunk. In an excursion into an unsettled and shakily recalled period of his boyhood, Lelyveld uses these artifacts, and the journalistic reporting techniques of his career as an author and editor, to investigate memories that have haunted him in adult life. With equal measures of candor and tenderness, Lelyveld unravels the tangled story of his father and his mother, a Shakespeare scholar whose passion for independence led her to recoil from her roles as a clergyman's wife and, for a time, as a mother. Joseph was usually the only Jewish kid in his classes. This reacquired history of his sometimes troubled family becomes the framework for the author's story; in particular, his discovery in early adolescence of the way personal emotions cue political choices, when he is forced to choose sides between his father and his own closest adult friend, a colleague of his father's who is suddenly dismissed for concealing Communist ties. Lelyveld's effort to recapture his family history takes him on an unforeseen journey past disparate landmarks of the last century, including the Scottsboro trials, the Zionist movement, the Hollywood blacklist, McCarthyism, and Mississippi's "freedom summer" of 1964. His excursion becomes both a meditation on the selectivity and unreliability of memory and a testimony to the possibilities, even late in life, for understanding and healing. As Lelyveld seeks out the truth of his life story, he evokes a remarkable moment in our national story with unforgettable poignancy. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] PASSOVER SPLENDOR
by Barbara Rush
April 2005. Stewart Tabori Chang
Why is this night different from all other nights?" The festival of Passover, which commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, is the most widely observed home holiday in the Jewish calendar. The central event of this week-long celebration is the seder feast, held at a table laid with beautiful ritual objects. Crafted especially for festival use, these splendid wine goblets, plates, cloths, and haggadahs offer compelling testimony to the creativity of Jewish ritual objects and the beauty and meaning of this beloved holiday. Passover Splendor showcases more than 60 of the finest of these ritual objects from museums and private collections around the world, reflecting the varied cultural and stylistic influences of the Jewish Diaspora. The book also features a retelling of the timeless Passover story and outlines the parts of the seder, including traditional prayers and songs. This elegant book helps make the seder meal an especially festive event. AUTHOR BIO: Barbara Rush has written and co written 12 books on Jewish folklore and folktales, including The Diamond Tree: Jewish Tales from Around the World, The Lights of Hanukkah (STC), and The Jewish Year: Celebrating the Holidays (STC). Rush, who has an M.A. in Jewish Studies, is a professional teller of Jewish tales. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] We Jews
Who Are We and What Should We Do
by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
Jossey-Bass (April 2005)
In We Jews, Rabbi Steinsaltz explores the most important issues that concern Jews today as Jews. His longtime editor, Arthur Kurzweil, poses 12 questions on the Jewish FAMILY (the family of the Jewish people) in 12 chapters to Rabbi Steinsaltz. He provides wise and uplifting answers to Jews everywhere, whether they are secular and assimilated or orthodox- Are we actors with masks? What will become of the Jewish people? Are we a nation or a religion? Are the stereotypes of Jews really true? Why are Jews so controversial? How can we navigate the opposing forces of diversity, culture, and politics? Can we survive intermarriage and the loss of tradition? Do we still worship the Golden Calf? In this book, Rabbi Steinsaltz sees causes and consequences, achievements and failures, looks at the contemporary world, and observes the dreams and longings of modern Jewish people. Written as an intimate and inspiring internal memo to the whole Jewish family, We Jews answers these questions and many more in a way that is at once insightful and inspiring Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] A Jewish Doctor in Auschwitz
The Testimony of Sima Vaisman
by Sima Vaisman
(April 2005)
Written just days after her liberation but not discovered by her family until 50 years later, this riveting manuscript by Sima Vaisman, a Jew who suffered the worst of Nazi persecution, first fleeing the Nazis as they invaded her native Poland, then escaping to Paris only to be arrested and deported to Auschwitz, is her story of being a doctor forced to work in the hospital run by the infamous "Angel of Death," Dr. Josef Mengele. Told in detached, clinical language that holds nothing back, this gripping memoir provides key information and chilling details about how the infamous death camps worked-revealing, for example, how the lethal gas was actually administered by two Nazis in early-version chemical suits in the death chambers. Vaisman also shares the details of her liberation when the camp was captured by the Russian army, as well as her return to Paris, where she subsequently said little about her testimony until her family discovered it. Her story is supplemented by a moving foreword by famed Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld, who gives her account a full historical context. The author's cousin, famed fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg, herself the daughter of an Auschwitz survivor, provides a moving afterword that gives a stirring portrait of the Vaisman she knew. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Auschwitz
A New History
by Laurence Rees
Pw writes: This pathbreaking work reveals the "destructive dynamism" of the Nazis' most notorious death camp. Rees, creative director of history programs for the BBC, consistently offers new insights, drawn from more than 100 interviews with survivors and Nazi perpetrators. He gives a vivid portrait of the behind-the-scenes workings of the camp: for instance, of how a sympathetic guard could mean the difference between life and death for inmates, and the opening of a brothel to satisfy the "needs" of sadistic camp guards. But this is more than an anecdotal account of Nazi brutality. Rees also examines, and takes a stand on, controversial issues: he argues, for instance, that bombing the camp's train tracks wouldn't have saved many Jews. Nor does he overlook stories of individual acts of kindness or the Danes' rescue of their Jewish community. Rees (The Nazis: A Warning from History) gives a complete history of the camp-how it was turned over time from a concentration camp into a death factory where 10,000 people were killed in a single day. Indeed, his argument for incrementalism at Auschwitz mirrors his larger claim that the "Final Solution" came about in an ad hoc fashion, as top Nazi officials struggled for a way to implement their virulent anti-Semitism. Some scholars have made this argument, and others reject it, but the depth and wealth of detail Rees provides make this treatment highly compelling. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. FYI: This book is the companion to a documentary that PBS will air in three two-hour segments, on January 19, January 26 and February , 2005. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] The Question of Zion
by Jacqueline Rose
Princeton University Press (April 1, 2005)ca
Zionism was inspired as a liberation movement--one driven by the search for a homeland for the stateless and persecuted Jewish people. Yet, it has become so controversial that it defies understanding and trumps reasoned public debate. So argues prominent British writer Jacqueline Rose, who maintains that Zionism has trampled the rights of Arabs in Palestine. In this book, she uses her political and psychoanalytic skills to take an unprecedented look at Zionism--one of the most powerful ideologies of modern times. Rose enters the inner world of the movement and asks a new set of questions. How did Zionism take shape as an identity? And why does it seem so immutable? Analyzing the messianic fervor of Zionism, she argues that it colors Israel's most profound self-image to this day. Rose also explores the message of dissidents, who, while believing themselves the true Zionists, warned at the outset against the dangers of statehood for the Jewish people. She suggests that these dissidents were prescient in their recognition of the legitimate claims of the Palestinian Arabs. In fact, she writes, their thinking holds the knowledge the Jewish state needs today in order to transform itself. In perhaps the most provocative part of her analysis, Rose proposes that the link between the Holocaust and the founding of the Jewish state, so often used to justify Israel's policies, needs to be rethought in terms of the shame felt by the first leaders of the nation toward their own European history. For anyone concerned with the conflict in Israel-Palestine, this timely book offers a unique understanding of Zionism as a compelling and unavoidable psychic and historical force. Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] The Big Book of Jewish Conspiracies
by Joshua Neuman, David Deutsch
St. Martin's Griffin (April 1, 2005)
What if it was all true? Every charge ever leveled against Jews, that is. A sweeping study of Jewish badness through the history of western civilization, from the editors of HEEB: The New Jew Review. Among the cabals, schemes, and tricky business explored in these pages are: How blood libel began aftar an unfortunate baking accident resulted in the tastiest matzo ever Why the Jews invend (and still run) Hollywood How circumcision became a widely adopted 'health' procedure The invention of psychoanalysis as a way to hypnotize wealthy and powerful gentiles The mother of all conspiracies: 9/11 Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Soldiers and Ghosts
A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity
by J. E. Lendon
Yale University Press (April 10, 2005)
Sparta, Macedon, and Rome -how did these nations come to dominate the ancient world? What set their armies apart? Noting this was an age that witnessed few technological advances, J. E. Lendon shows us that the most successful armies were those that made the most effective use of cultural tradition. Ancient combat moved forward by looking backward for inspiration-the Greeks, to Homer; the Romans, to the Greeks and to their own heroic past. The best ancient armies recruited soldiers from societies with strong competitive traditions; and the best ancient leaders, from Alexander to Julius Caesar, called upon those traditions to encourage ferocious competition at every rank. Ranging from the Battle of Champions between Sparta and Argos in 550 B.C. through Julian's invasion of Persia in 363 A.D., Soldiers and Ghosts brings to life the most decisive military contests of ancient Greece and Rome. Lendon places these battles, and the methods by which they were fought, in a sweeping narrative of ancient military history. On every battlefield, living soldiers fought alongside the ghosts of tradition-ghosts that would inspire greatness for almost a millennium before ultimately coming to stifle it.
So what makes it a Jewish book? I have added it because I found the chapter on the Jewish Wars (67-70 C.E.) quite interesting, especially details on the Roman siege of Jerusalem and their capture of Josephus in the Galilee. Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Always Remember Me
How One Family Survived World War II
by Marisabina Russo
Atheneum/Anne Schwartz Books (April 1, 2005)
Rachel's Oma (her grandmother) has two picture albums. In one the photographs show only happy times -- from after World War II, when she and her daughters had come to America. But the other album includes much sadder times from before -- when their life in Germany was destroyed by the Nazis' rise to power. For as long as Rachel can remember, Oma has closed the other album when she's gotten to the sad part. But today Oma will share it all. Today Rachel will hear about what her grandmother, her mother, and her aunts endured. And she'll see how the power of this Jewish family's love for one another gave them the strength to survive. Marisabina Russo illuminates a difficult subject for young readers with great sensitivity. Based on the author's own family history, Always Remember Me is a heartbreaking -- and inspiring -- book sure to touch anyone who reads it. Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] The Flag With Fifty-Six Stars
by Susan Goldman Rubin, Bill Farnsworth
Holiday House, Spring 2005)
On May 6, 1945, when members of the 11th Armored Division of the U.S. Army marched into the Mauthausen concentration camp, the soldiers were presented with an extraordinary gift. A group of prisoner shad surreptitiously sewed scraps of sheets and jackets together to make a U.S. flag. Having no flag to look at, they worked from memory and added an extra row of stars. Profoundly moved by the gesture, commanding officer Colonel Richard Seibel ordered that the flag with fifty-six stars be flown proudly over the camp as a symbol of freedom. This inspiring account of the liberation of one of the Third Reich's most infamous camps is a tribute to the humanity and hope preserved by the survivors of Mauthausen in defiance of the monstrous conditions endured
From Booklist: Grades 4-6.: When the Americans liberated Austria's Mauthausen concentration camp, a group of survivors presented the commander with an American flag they had secretly sewn from scraps, a symbol of their hope and gratitude. Now that flag (which the prisoners inadvertently made with an extra row of stars) hangs in Los Angeles' Simon Wiesenthal Center and Library Archives, named in honor of the famous Mauthausen survivor. Through the story of that flag, this stirring picture book for older children tells the history of the brutal labor camp and its liberation. There is none of the festivity of Margaret Wild's Let the Celebrations Begin! (1991). Rubin draws on eyewitness accounts and extensive interviews with liberators and prisoners, including Wiesenthal, to document the suffering, the resistance, and, finally, the hope. Farnsworth's somber, dark, unframed paintings show the camp and the marching laborers as well as close-ups of emaciated people sewing in the shadows--and then, free at last. Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] CLASSIC ITALIAN JEWISH COOKING
Ecco, April 2005
Classic Italian Jewish Cooking starts with the ancient Italian adage Vesti da turco e mangia da ebreo ("Dress like a Turk and eat like a Jew"). In this definitive volume of Italian Jewish recipes, Edda Servi Machlin, a native of Pitigliano, Italy, a Tuscan village that was once home to a vibrant Jewish community, reveals the secrets of this delicate and unique culinary tradition that has flourished for more than two thousand years. Originally introduced into the region by Jewish settlers from Judea, other Middle Eastern countries, and North Africa, Italian Jewish cuisine was always more than a mere adaptation of Italian dishes to the Jewish dietary laws; it was a brilliant marriage of ancient Jewish dishes and preparation methods to the local ingredients that relied on the imaginative use of fresh herbs, fruit, and vegetables. Fifteen hundred years later, with the influx of Iberian refugees, it was enriched by some Sephardic (from Spain and Portugal) dishes. Here you'll find recipes for the quintessential Italian Jewish dishes -- from Goose "Ham," Spicy Chicken Liver Toasts, and Jewish Caponata to Sabbath Saffron Rice, Purim Ravioli, and Tagliatelle Jewish Style (Noodle Kugel); from Creamed Baccalà, Red Snapper Jewish Style, and Artichokes Jewish Style to Creamed Fennel and Fried Squash Flowers; from Couscous Salad and Sourdough Challah Bread to Haman's Ears, Honey Cake, and Passover Almond Biscotti. Selected from Edda Servi Machlin's three widely admired books on Italian Jewish cuisine and filled with beautifully rendered memories from her birthplace, this rare collection of more than three hundred recipes is a powerful tribute to a rich cultural heritage and a rare gift to food lovers. Special section on Jewish holiday menus. Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Soldiers and Slaves
American POWs Trapped by the Nazis' Final Gamble
by Roger Cohen
Knopf, April 2005)
If you saw the film on BERGA (PBS VIDEO) and want to know much more, this is the book to read. It reminded me of the story my father told me. As a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, he met a guy at his infantry division's reunion, a Jewish soldier who was taken prisoner by the Germans, who was saved when his NCO stopped him from stepping forward when the Germans asked all Jewis to step forward.
PW writes, "A former Balkans bureau chief for the New York Times, Cohen last explored atrocity in Hearts Grown Brutal: Sagas of Sarajevo; he now steps back 60 years and moves a few hundred kilometers west to recount the fate of 550 American POWs shipped into eastern Germany during the winter of 1944-1945. Most were Jewish--or appeared Jewish enough to satisfy Nazi officials, who needed to meet labor quotas the dying concentration camp inmates were no longer fit to handle. Cohen's interviews with survivors show that the POWs met nearly as dire a fate, as they dug underground to build a synthetic fuel plant, with 20% of them dying and others being crippled for life by rock falls, dust, starvation and by the brutal treatment from the guards. Postwar, the camp fell within what became East Germany, where the investigation into the Holocaust was less rigorously pursued than in the West. The guards got off lightly; the commandant was sentenced to only eight years. Following Germany's reunification, exploration into the methods and motives of the Third Reich has been losing support, Cohen shows; his outrage is plain when he encounters a German environmentalist who wants the surviving caves turned into a bird sanctuary. The book is well organized, but the writing style is not always smooth; it's Cohen's level of detail that makes this journalistic history come alive." Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Given Up for Dead
American POWs in the Nazi Concentration Camp at Berga
by Flint Whitlock
Westview Press, April 2005)
My father was an infantry soldier in the Battle of the Bulge, but he has no dog tags. He buried them thinking they were about to be captured, knowing well that the SS and German Army had special treatment for Jewish POW's, POW's who would have an "H" for Hebrew on their tags...
George Cohen, writing in Booklist, wrote, "In December 1944, many American soldiers were captured in the Battle of the Bulge. Most prisoners were treated according to the rules established by the Geneva Convention, but 350 POWs who were Jewish or from other "undesirable" ethnic or religious groups (including Catholics) were sent to the slave-labor camp Berga, outside Bad Orb, Germany. They worked in the mines and surrounding forest; the camp was crawling with lice, there was very little food, they were beaten, and they suffered from mental cruelty. On April 3, 1945, the survivors were marched south toward Bavaria, and on April 22, American soldiers liberated them. Some of them had died "on the route to nowhere." After the war, the U.S. Army told some of them not to disclose any details of their captivity. Whitlock interviewed survivors, and his book, with 95 black-and-white photographs and 11 maps, chronicles their story for the first time." Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] The Discontinuity of Small Things
by Kevin Haworth
Quality Words in Print; 1st edition (April 15, 2005)
This quiet story of the Holocaust chronicles the lives of several Danes through the summer of . It is the discontinuity of small things--the scattered inconveniences, chance meetings, glimpses of injustice, and indulgences of hope,--that haphazardly directs each individual to his fate. An hypnotic story of ordinary people caught in a silent maelstrom, ultimately driven to extraordinary feats. After the German invasion of 1940, the occupation of Denmark proceeds with a type of bruising normality that suffuses the lives of ordinary people. Many live in denial, clinging to the idea that civility, a non-confrontational nature, and the supposition of reason limit the possibilities for peril. Kevin Haworth's breathtaking novel chronicles the lives of several Danes through the tenuous summer of 1943. It deftly conveys the life-altering impact of military occupation, ironically described by the Germans as a "great understanding" between themselves and the Danish government. The Discontinuity of Small Things is a subtle story of fate, of interruptions, and of simple, everyday hardships. In Denmark, the "lovely country by the sea", citizens are subject to the disquieting strictures of martial law: the accumulation of deprivations haphazardly prods them toward moments of astonishing courage, humiliating cowardice, and affecting sorrow. By skillfully rendering the overlap of memory, apprehension, and impulse, author Kevin Haworth reveals a consciousness that brims with immediacy and longing. Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Speaking Freely
Trials of the First Amendment
by Attorney Floyd Abrams
Viking (April 7, 2005)
PW wrote: In 1971, a young lawyer made his first appearance before the Supreme Court, successfully defending the New York Times against the Nixon administration's attempt to block publication of the Pentagon Papers. With that case, the cause of free speech found a formidable advocate. Abrams recounts his role in several landmark cases as he became the legal icon of an era of unparalleled extension of First Amendment protections. Most illuminating are Abrams's detailed explanations of the legal and psychological tactics he has used before the Supreme Court. He also creates some vividly villainous portraits of his antagonists, most notably Rudolph Giuliani ("deeply contemptuous of the First Amendment"), who was sued by the Brooklyn Museum of Art over his attempts to cut its financing after a controversial exhibit. Abrams rarely steps back from his courtroom reconstructions to make a more comprehensive argument for his nearly absolutist reading of the First Amendment. Only in describing his fight against the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law does Abrams reason more broadly, and his powerful argument makes a reader wish the whole book had been more expansive. Still, Abrams conveys the nuance of constitutional law, the grappling for incremental advances in precedent, the interplay between the needs of his clients and the larger cause of free speech, and the sheer intellectual pleasure of legal disputation. What I loved best is the fact that Giuliani used to represent the Daily News and was well aware of the First Amendment, but as a Mayor of NYC, he was a habitual serial critic of the First Amendment when it was politically expedient. Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] THE SIDDUR COMPANION
Devorah Publishing, April 2005
There is an architecture to the Siddur which is truly a work of splendor. It was not created by one hand, nor at one time or in one place. The Siddur records the Jewish People's joyous searching for God, but it also records their longing for redemption, even as the text frequently marks suffering and hostile surroundings. This work is intended to form the background for a meaningful devotion to prayer, during the week and on the major festivals. It will help guide the novice through the different prayers and make these prayers more understandable and fulfilling. It will also give the daily davener a sense of where these prayers came from, how the rabbis developed them, and even their deeper purpose and meaning. Rabbi Vishny explores the origin of the siddur, the morning blessings, the p'sukei d'zimra, the amida prayers, the k'dusha, kaddish, havdalah, musaf, and so much more. Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Buried by the Times
The Holocaust and America's Most Important Newspaper
by Laurel Leff , Northeastern University
Cambridge University Press, Spring 2005
Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America's Most Important Newspaper is an in-depth look at how The New York Times failed in its coverage of the fate of European Jews from 1939-1945. It examines how the decisions that were made at The Times ultimately resulted in the minimizing and misunderstanding of modern history's worst genocide. Laurel Leff, a veteran journalist and professor of journalism, recounts how personal relationships at the newspaper, the assimilationist tendencies of The Times' Jewish owner, and the ethos of mid-century America all led the Times to consistently downplay news of the Holocaust. It recalls how news of Hitler's 'final solution' was hidden from readers and - because of the newspaper's influence on other media - from America at large. Buried by The Times is required reading for anyone interested in America's response to the Holocaust and for anyone curious about how journalists determine what is newsworthy. Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] HITLER YOUTH
Scholastic, April 2005
Grades. 7-10. What was it like to be a teenager in Germany under Hitler? Bartoletti draws on oral histories, diaries, letters, and her own extensive interviews with Holocaust survivors, Hitler Youth, resisters, and bystanders to tell the history from the viewpoints of people who were there. Most of the accounts and photos bring close the experiences of those who followed Hitler and fought for the Nazis, revealing why they joined, how Hitler used them, what it was like. Henry Mentelmann, for example, talks about Kristallnacht, when Hitler Youth and Storm Troopers wrecked Jewish homes and stores, and remembers thinking that the victims deserved what they got. The stirring photos tell more of the story. One particularly moving picture shows young Germans undergoing de-Nazification by watching images of people in the camps. The handsome book design, with black-and-white historical photos on every double-page spread, will draw in readers and help spark deep discussion, which will extend beyond the Holocaust curriculum. The extensive back matter is a part of the gripping narrative. (Hazel Rochman, Booklist). Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] [book cover click here] Salonica, City of Ghosts
Christians, Muslims and Jews, 1430-1950
by Mark Mazower
Knopf (April 26, 2005)
Booklist writes: The city of Thessaloniki, or Salonica, is a port city in northern Greece that apparently emerged as a polity under the reign of Phillip of Macadon in the fourth century B.C.E. In the Hellenistic and Roman eras, the city became a vibrant, cosmopolitan commercial center sitting astride the trade routes to Africa and Asia. Under the Byzantine Empire, the city was a center of humanistic learning and theological debate, coming under Ottoman control in 1430. Mazower's illuminating and surprising account focuses on the city from the commencement of Ottoman rule to the Nazi occupation. Despite the claims of Greek nationalists, Ottoman rule was relatively benign, as Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived, worked, and often prospered together. When the city reverted to Greek control in 1912, the consensus started to dissolve. Muslims left or were expelled, and resentment against Jews increased. Under the Nazis, Jews, perhaps, 20 percent of the population, were deported en masse to concentration camps. A vivid but ultimately tragic light shed on a vanished urban civilization. Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] [book cover click here] How To Cook Like A Jewish Grandmother
by Marla Brooks
Pelican Publishing Company (April 15, 2005)
When you're raised by a grandmother whose life ambition is to see that all of her family and friends are fed palate-pleasing traditional dishes, the apple strudel doesn't fall far from the tree. Whenever people came to visit Marla Brooks's grandmother, the first question was always "What can I get you to eat?" soon followed by "Here, have a little bit more." Over time, Ms. Brooks has come to follow in her grandmother's footsteps, and always has something tasty to offer guests. In this time of healthy cooking and healthy eating, crowd-pleasing and satisfying, full-flavor meals are often left behind. This cookbook contains no calorie counts, carbohydrate statistics, or other nutritional guidelines. You don't have to be a Jewish grandmother to cook like one, nor to eat like one. But it's often said that in a Jewish grandmother's way of thinking, love and food are synonymous. If that's the case, this is a book full of love. Wholly dedicated to good old-fashioned taste, these family recipes--many from the author's grandparents' delicatessen--include everything from knishes to blintzes, with some borscht and kugel thrown in. There are also recipes from celebrities such as Richard Simmons and Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and crowd-pleasers like brisket, matzo ball soup, chicken wings, and much more. Whether you are a novice cook or an experienced gourmand, these recipes are easy to prepare and sure to please. Marla Brooks is a Los Angeles-based entertainment writer whose love of old-fashioned comfort food was encouraged by growing up in the family that ran Slobod's Delicatessen in Philadelphia in the '30s and '40s. Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] One Tough Mother
Success In Life, Business, And Apple Pies
by Gert Boyle, Kerry Tymchuk
2005, Westwinds Press
When a heart attack claimed Bert Boyle's husband in 1970, the forty-six-year-old housewife and mother of three found herself at the helm of Columbia Sportswear, a small and financially struggling outerwear manufacturer in Portland, Oregon. With no business experience whatsoever, Boyle was faced with the challenge running Columbia, which had been founded in 1937 by her father-a Jewish immigrant who fled Hitler's Germany to come to America. Though many expected Boyle to fail, she and her son Tim persevered, and kept the business afloat through very challenging times. In 1970, Columbia Sportswear boasted forty employees and $800,000 in annual sales. Under the leadership of Gert and Tim Boyle, the company now has more than two thousand employees, annual sales approaching one billion dollars, and is the leading seller of skiwear in the United States. And thanks to a creative advertising campaign that billed her as "one tough mother," Gert Boyle has become an icon in her industry, and she is the first woman ever inducted into the International Sporting Goods Hall of Fame. In ONE TOUGH MOTHER, Boyle presents and honest, open, and often irreverent account of her truly remarkable journey from a childhood in Nazi Germany to fame and fortune in America. Boyle offers insights into succeeding in business and in life, and shares many of the advertisements and strategies that have made her so recognizable. Her story is one that will inspire anyone who dreams of turning a small business into a bigger business, as well as individuals who find themselves facing circumstances beyond their control. Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] The Gi's Rabbi
World War II Letters Of David Max Eichhorn (Modern War Studies)
by Greg Palmer, Mark S. Zaid, David Max Eichhorn, Doris L. Bergen (Introduction)
University Press of Kansas
"We saw 39 boxcars loaded with Jewish dead in the Dachau railway yard, 39 carloads of little, shriveled mummies that had literally been starved to death; we saw the gas chambers and crematoria, still filled with charred bones and ashes. And we cried not merely tears of sorrow. We cried tears of hate." He was the soldier in the jeep with the big Star of David, driving from foxhole to foxhole, sometimes under fire, bringing faith and friendship to fighting men. David Max Eichhorn, a Jewish chaplain in the U.S. Army's XV Corps, saw action across France and into Germany until VE-Day and beyond. He was there at the Battle of the Bulge, participated in the liberation of Dachau, and became embroiled in the behind-the-scenes controversy that led to the execution of Private Eddie Slovik. Eichhorn's letters show us a devoutly religious man trying to cope with the perils of combat and the needs of his fellow soldiers. They are filled with amazing stories and poignant insights as Eichhorn tells about combat experiences, relations with Christian chaplains, encounters with Jewish refugees, and impressions of the defeated Germans. Once he was ordered to hold a Yom Kippur service in a beleaguered French town that was still under attack. It was a tough assignment, but after 350 battle-grimed Jewish soldiers showed up he wrote, "I tell you unashamedly that, for the first time since I have been in France, I broke down and cried." Yet that experience paled before the liberation of Dachau, where he organized the first Shabbat service for the survivors, or the fall of Nuremberg, where he and a handful of Jews held a ceremony of thanksgiving at the site of Hitler's infamous rallies. Eichhorn also writes of French villagers hiding Jews, of the dangers faced by chaplains, and of the place of Jews in U.S. Army ranks. Throughout he vividly conveys the experience of war and how it altered forever a small-town rabbi-a man of faith and courage who never fired a gun in combat. Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] View from the Eye of the Storm
Terror and Reason in the Middle East (Hardcover)
by Haim Harari
Regan Books, 2005
In 2004, internationally known physicist Haim Harari was invited to address the advisory board of a major multinational corporation. In a short speech he offered a penetrating analysis of the components of terror, and presented a passionate call for a new era in the Middle East. The speech, entitled "A View from the Eye of the Storm," was not intended for publication, but when a copy was leaked and posted onto the Internet, it caused a worldwide sensation, eventually being translated into more than half a dozen languages. Now -- as the modern era of Islamic terror continues to unfold -- Harari reaches further, to offer this serious yet accessible survey of the landscape of Middle Eastern war and peace at this challenging crossroads in history. Moving beyond the sterile discourse of foreign affairs journals, Harari encourages the world to view the Middle East through the eyes of a "proverbial taxi driver," a man on the street whose wisdom (and sense of humor) outstrips that of the experts. And, as he observes, to anyone familiar with the Middle East from a taxi driver's perspective, the "persistent ugly storm" engulfing the Arab world is far more than a territorial battle with Israel: It is an "undeclared World War III" that rages from Bali to Madrid, from Nairobi to New York, from Buenos Aires to Istanbul, and from Tunis to Moscow. The sad result is that much of the Arab world has become an "unprecedented breeding ground for cruel dictators, terror networks, fanaticism, incitement, suicide murders, and general decline." And unless the free nations of the world mobilize to stop it, Harari argues, this new world war will continue to cause bloodshed on all continents. As a fifth-generation Israeli-born observer, Harari includes a thorough response to the conventional wisdom about Middle Eastern affairs, including a frank dissection of the media's lopsided portrait of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Drawing on his family's two centuries of life in the Middle East, he offers a compelling catalog of the steps necessary to reach a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians -- steps, he writes, that are "inevitable -- not because everybody accepts them today, but because all sides must accept them before peace can be achieved." And he urges the civilized world to combat terror by isolating its state sponsors, blocking its funding, and promoting education, women's equality, and human rights reform. Eloquent in its simplicity, written with passion, humor, and the directness of a scientist who has spent a lifetime explaining his work to the general public, A View from the Eye of the Storm is that rare book with the power to change hearts and minds. Click on the cover above to read more.

MAY 2005

[book cover click here] Who We Are
On Being (and Not Being) a Jewish American Writer
by DEREK RUBIN (Editor)
Schocken, May 10, 2005
Professor Rubin taught Jewish American Lit at SUNY and now teaches at Utrecht in the Netherlands. In his book, 29 major Jewish writer are evaluated. The question of identity is examined, from E. I. Doctorow, who wrote against the idea of the Jewish American writer, to Allegra Goodman, who embraces this notion. Thane Rosenbaum writes that as a child of Holocaust survivors, his writing imagines new outcomes. Dara Horn writes for a more creative way to tell the Jewish story, one that doesn't focus on anti-Semitism. Rubin also loks at the early years of famous writers, including the late Saul Bellow, the late Chaim Potok, and the poet Grace Paley. Picking up this book is a pleasure, and it includes references to Art Spiegelman, Erica Jong, Tova Mirvis, Jonathan Rosen, Cynthia Ozick, Pearl Abraham, Alan Lelchuk, Nessa Rapoport, Rebecca Goldstein, Lev Raphael, M. J. Bukiet, Biunnie Kirshenbaum, Rachel Kadish, Yael Goldsetin, Steve Stern, Jonathan Wilson, and others. Spanning three generations of Jewish writing in America, these essays--by turns nostalgic, comic, poignant, and provocative--give fascinating insights into the thinking and the work of some of America's most important contemporary writers. Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] THE HISToRY OF LOVE
May 2005, Norton
The hottest book of May and June; a PW starred review
The story of a long-lost book that mysteriously reappears and connects an 80 year old Polish Jewish locksmith, Leo Gursky, searching for his son with a girl (Alma Singer) seeking a cure for her mother's loneliness (Charlotte Singer). Leo is invisible, no one notices this old Jewish man in New York. He has a novel that he wrote and is now lost (little does he know that another man published it in Chile under another author's name); he has a lost son who doesn't know Leo is his father, and he has a lost love. Alma was named for the heroine in Leo's lost novel. When Alma is hired to translate the "lost" novel from Chilean Spanish into English, bedlam occurs.
Click the book cover above to read more.

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[book cover click here] Shlemiel Crooks
by Anna Olswanger, Paula Goodman Koz (Illustrator)
NewSouth Books (May 30, 2005)
Ages 4 - 8
Ths beautifully illustrated books evokes a bygone era and celebrates a past Yiddish world. In the middle of the night on a Thursday, two crooks - "onions should grow in their navels" - drove their horse and wagon to the saloon of Reb Elias Olschwanger at the corner of Fourteenth and Carr Streets in St. Louis. This didn't happen yesterday. It was 1919. Reb Elias, you should know, didn't have a sit-down kind of saloon with men coming in to guzzle whiskey. Oh, no! Reb Elias had the kind of saloon with housewives-grandmas even-coming in to buy bottles of wine and brandy, unopened of course and strictly kosher, for the Jewish Sabbath. He was the only one in St. Louis selling kosher wines back then. Listen, he also sold kosher cognac-that's a kind of brandy-and mead, which is made out of honey and goes down easy. For the children, he kept in the back a barrel of pretzels with lots of thick salt on them. Meanwhile, the two crooks - potatoes should sprout in their ears - were stealing crates of Passover wine shipped special that year to Reb Elias on a boat from the Land of Israel. Reb Elias paid a little more-okay, he paid a lot more-for that wine. Usually he was buying his Passover stock from the Manischewitz family in Cincinnati. But after Mr. Balfour-excuse me, Lord Balfour-a big politician in England, promised to make a home for the Jews in the Land of Israel, Reb Elias thought maybe they could use the extra business over there. The Jews swatting mosquitoes overseas shouldn't have only watery soup and a little goat's milk to drink.
Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here][rodney rothman] Early Bird
A Memoir of Premature Retirement
by Rodney Rothman
Simon and Schuster
May 3, 2005
REMEMBER on Seinfeld when the character of KRAMER retired to Florida in his forties?
What happens when an able-bodied 28-year-old decides to "retire" in a Florida senior community?
Rothman thought up this project after losing his television job. He is a former head writer for the Late Show with David Letterman, and was a writer and supervising producer for the television show Undeclared. Following through with his plan, Rothman comically probes Boca Raton's Century Village. He infiltrates the social hierarchy of the "pool group," eats dinner at the local early-bird specials and joins a shuffleboard club. He captures these experiences in short, humorous chapters, consistently detailing his own physical and mental failings compared to the seniors he meets. The book's laconic and self-deprecating tone brings to mind Rothman's former boss, David Letterman, but unfortunately, Rothman doesn't balance the two traits as well as Letterman. During a Thanksgiving dinner in the community, when Rothman competes with his neighbor Sylvie's son for Sylvie's attention and says, "I'm committing Grand Theft Mother, directly in front of him. I don't feel bad about it. Why should I?" his humor can feel uncomfortably callous. Much of Rothman's angst stems from his idleness, but it's hard to muster sympathy when that situation is self-imposed. This undermines what is otherwise a funny and engaging memoir of a quarter-life crisis
An Excerpt:
I lost my job in January. The television show I was working on was canceled. I've been raised to believe that losing your job is a bad thing, but I am more relieved than disappointed. I've been working seventy hours a week for the better part of a decade. I've spent more time in my office chair than I have in my bed. My wrists twitch. My back throbs. My butt hurts. When I close my eyes, I see a blinking keyboard cursor. I'm twenty-eight years old, and far too many of my memories involve me sitting in my office after midnight, tasting every quarter-filled coffee cup on my desk until I find the one that is still a little warm.
Now I'm off work and I don't care. I may not be a coal miner, but work is work, and I need to stop doing it for a while. I don't know what I want to do next. Everyone says I should make lists of what my priorities are and see where that takes me. It's nice sometimes to be told what to do. I try making lists of "important things," and "life goals," and "meaningful values." I take long walks, praying for epiphany. Epiphany does not come, so I get pizza instead. Being unemployed makes everyone around you nervous. Nobody knows what to say to you. At parties and dinners, making small talk, you're always supposed to be doing something, or at least up to something. "So what are you doing? What are you up to?" they start to ask, once a few weeks have passed.
I tell them I'm "off work" or "taking time off," terms I've come to resent because they remind me that I'm supposed to be "on." Years ago, people would call this "taking a vacation," which had a nice, assertive ring to it, but nobody I know calls it that anymore. The first place I vacationed was Florida, to visit my grandparents. It blew my eight-year-old mind. The snowstorms and school-yard fights of my typical New York February were far away. My family rented a convertible and drove around as an actual family for once, listening to bad radio like Lionel Richie. But down in Florida, I learned, Lionel Richie sounds good! I'd get sunburned, and my grandmother would call it "healthy color." I would sleep on the world's only comfortable cot, listening to the ocean through the window screen, and my head would sing: Yeah! Jambo Jumbo!
"I'm Jewish," I say to myself one day. "I'll end up retired in Florida anyway. Why not get a head start and check it out?" My friends say the whole plan sounds neurotic. My family agrees, and also wants to know if I have a date yet for my sister's wedding.
"This is what it is," I tell my friend Jill, who I met, of course, at work -- where else do you meet people these days? -- when I used to be a joke writer for David Letterman, and Jill was a segment producer. "I move down to Florida and test out retirement early. I get to relax in the only place I've ever actually been relaxed. And while I'm there, I get to see what retirement is like forty years before I get there. I get to see if working hard is worth it. Maybe I meet a bunch of wise elderly people who inspire me and I somehow figure out a way to write a book about it. I've read Tuesdays with Morrie. I know how it goes."
"You're kidding me," she says.
"Everything is so accelerated lately," I say. "Maybe I've crammed a lifelong career into seven years."
"Sweetie, you go insane when you're not working," she says. "You gotta go back to work."
"I don't," I explain to her. Instead of actually doing work I can at least tell people at parties, when they ask me what I'm doing, that I'm "writing a book." Then they will say, "Oh, wow, a book, that's great." I could drag it out for years. Americans are surviving longer and longer these days. Between the Bronze Age and 1900 -- about 4,500 years -- our life expectancy extended twenty-seven years. In the last hundred years, thanks to medical advancements and better home care, our life expectancy increased the same amount. Replacement body parts, the Human Genome Project. We're going to live a long time. I don't want to get ready for those final years the way I get ready for a dental cleaning, maniacally flossing for two days to make up for months of neglect, then acting surprised when the hygienist says my gums are infected. What's neurotic about being exceedingly prepared?
Click on the cover above to read more.

[will eisner in tamarac florida]

[book cover click here]
The Secret Story Of The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion
by Will Eisner
W. W. Norton & Company.
Octogenarian Will Eisner wrote "A Contract With God," set in the tenements of his Bronx youth and published in 1978. Sadly, he passed away in January 2005, prior to the release of this book.
He now applies his dark, 1930's-style illustrations to real events of a century ago. This latest work, called "The Plot," tells the story behind the creation of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," the infamous Russian forgery that purported to reveal a Jewish plan to rule the world. Mr. Eisner, the son of Jews who fled Europe, has reached into the past to say something about the present: a time, he says, when anti-Semitism is again on the rise. Eisner, 86, said, "I was amazed that there were people who still believed `The Protocols' were real...I decided something had to be done." He is fighting for justice in a bleak world, the way his most famous comic-book character, the Spirit, did in American newspapers throughout the 1940's. Enlisting the help of N. C. Christopher Couch, who teaches a course on graphic novels at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the two began piecing together the facts, helped by a French comic-book fan, Benjamin Herzberg. Historians say "The Protocols," first published in 1903, were fabricated in Russia by the czar's secret police as a way of undermining a growing social reform movement. Jews figured prominently in this movement, and the police theorized that they could discredit it by making it appear to be a front for a sinister Jewish agenda.
[book cover click here]

Mathieu Golovinski, a propagandist, concocted the 24 fraudulent "protocols" or minutes, of an international meeting of Jewish bankers, journalists and financiers outlining a purported Jewish-Masonic plot to dominate world affairs. The forgery was revealed in 1921 when the Times of London published a series of articles demonstrating that the actual source for the text was a a French political satire published in 1864 by Maurice Joly, in which Machiavelli and Montesquieu discuss a plan for world domination by Napoleon III. In "The Plot," which is about 160 pages, Mr. Eisner reveals this fabrication through three different methods that draw on all phases of his 70-year career. In a short introduction he provides an account of how he came upon "The Protocols" and learned the truth behind them.
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In the main body of the work he depicts the creation and unmasking of "The Protocols" through a comic-book-like series of panels and text. In the concluding section Mr. Eisner displays numerous excerpts from "The Protocols" alongside examples from the text in Joly's satire.

[book cover click here] The Art of Amazement
by Rabbi Alexander Seinfeld
Tarcher Daas, May 2005
The Art of Amazement is a curriculum for anyone to begin transforming our lives individually and collectively. Have you ever stopped to look at a breathtaking sunset and felt tremendous joy, calmness, or even timelessness? Has your entire body ever responded to something with awe? The Art of Amazement helps us to identify the source of that wonder, and to cultivate it and experience it daily-even hourly and minute by minute. Rabbi Seinfeld's powerful book outlines the ancient Jewish spiritual arts in clear terms for any spiritual seeker. The art of amazement is practical and accessible to anyone, and does not demand a radical lifestyle change. Each chapter in the book offers a lesson paired with exercises to help make small changes in routine to ultimately achieve a larger shift in perspective. Seinfeld's Jewish journey began after completing degrees in Classics and Anthropology at Stanford University. He slowly turned toward the Jewish path after living for two years in rural Mississippi, "surrounded by folks who knew my people's book better than I did." He journeyed around the world, and along the way, observant Jews he met in Paris inspired him to study in Israel. Seven years of study in Jerusalem culminated in rabbinical ordination and the seeds of the Art of Amazement book and seminar. Seinfeld is irritated that Michelangelo painted God as a bearded man in the sky in the Sistine Chapel. That did God and humanity a disservice. Seinfeld views the God of the patriarchs and matriarchs as more in line with what he believes the sages of Judaism always understood: a great, good and infinite spirit, one that should arouse in us a perpetual sense of amazement. Seinfeld hopes his book will help Jews (and even non-Jews) better savor the miracles of life, great and small. In one exercise, the rabbi asks readers to take their sweet time in eating an orange. That means fully contemplating the flavor, the texture, and even the fact that fruit was placed here on earth for our pleasure and nourishment. The resulting feeling should be one of amazement, something Seinfeld believes lies at the heart of Judaism and which may be mastered over time. Seinfeld adds that the brachot of daily life open a portal to the Infinite even in the midst of everyday life. "We're busy," says the rabbi. "Who has time to be amazed all the time? That's the genius of brachot. If you're going to eat the food anyway, how about appreciating the intense pleasure and wonderment of that first bite." "We have to recognize that one of the keys to loving your neighbor is to recognize the divine spark in every human being," he says. "Judaism gives us tools to do that." Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Around the Family Table
A Comprehensive Bencher and Companion for Shabbat and Festival Meals and other Family Occasions
With insights and commentary
by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of Efrat
URIM; Ohr Torah Stone, (May 2005)
Around the Family Table is a practical and inspiring book of devotion and prayer for the Jewish home. Many uplifting and ancient Jewish traditions are rooted in the home and celebrated with the family. This book of prayer and celebration is intended to serve as a guide for meaningful expressions of the Jewish experience at home. Inspiring stories and personal commentary by the author supplement the text throughout. Blessings and songs celebrating the entire year of Jewish festivals and Sabbaths, in Hebrew, with English instructions and translations, make this work of fundamental value for the Jewish home. From the blessings said on festivals and for Hannukah candle lighting to birth celebrations for boys as well as for girls, the marriage ceremony and blessings, prayers for inaugurating a new house, and other momentous life cycle occasions, all are marked with traditional praise and holy words. Rabbi Riskin's sensitivity and unique imprint is present throughout this comprehensive and handy companion. Some of the special additions include the following: Blessings for the children on Yom Kippur eve; Symbolic foods and ceremony for Rosh Hashana; Ushpizin for sukkot meals (welcoming patriarchs and matriarchs); Songs for all festivals Hannukah candle blessings; Eve of Israel Independence Day meal celebration; Tu b'shevat seder; Shalom Zakhar, Shalom Bat; Circumcision ceremony; Redemption of the firstborn; Simhat bat ceremony for baby girls; Dedication of a new home. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] THE SEVENTY FACES OF TORAH
The Jewish Way of Reading the Sacred Scriptures
by Rabbi Stephen M. Wylen, Temple Beth Tikvah in Wayne, NJ
Paulist Press, May 2005
Judaism, Christianity and Islam all acknowledge the Hebrew Bible to be sacred Scripture. And yet these different, and often contradictory, religions each has its own way of reading the Bible, interpreting it according to its own later sacred literature. In The Seventy Faces of Torah, Rabbi Stephen Wylen has written an important book that explains in clear and simple language the Jewish art of reading and interpreting the Bible. He introduces the reader to the major texts and genres of rabbinic literature in which the Jews discover 70 profound insights in every single verse of the Bible. Many Christians mistakenly think of Judaism as the "religion of the Old Testament," and wonder why Jews persist in their ancient faith and, unlike Christians, do not find Christ in every verse of the Bible. And how can such different religions be based on the same holy book? As Rabbi Wylen explains, Jews interpret the Bible in accordance with their own sacred literature, much as Christians do with the New Testament. These written scriptures of Judaism (such as The Talmud and Mishnah) are distinct from "Torah," the divine voice which speaks anew every day whenever Jews gather to learn the sacred texts of Jewish tradition. This book will be of interest to a wide audience, from Christian clergy and seminarians, and avid lay students of the Bible, to beginning rabbinical students, Jews who want to know more about their own tradition, and to all people who wonder what the Bible has to say to contemporary humanity. Rabbi Wylen also sheds new light on the conflict between religious modernism and Fundamentalism, which will make The Seventy Faces of Torah a valuable book for Bible study groups in churches and synagogues. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] LOSING THE RAT RACE, WINNING AT LIFE
by Rabbi Marc D. Angel, PhD
Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue (Shearith Israel) of New York City
URIM; Spring 2005
Our favorite Seattle-born Sephardic rabbi and religious leader has written this prescription for life. In the rush to meet the challenges and pressures of life, we don't always allow ourselves the time to contemplate the meaning of our realities. Why are we here? What do we hope to accomplish with our lives? Where are we headed, and what is genuinely important? We live in an exciting, fast-paced world that can provide us with many good things. On some level, however, we find ourselves feeling stuck in a rat race that lacks ultimate meaning. This book sheds light on the obstacles of the rat race, stimulates thought about the direction of our lives, and helps us draw on our strengths to get beyond the mundane. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] DIGNITY BEYOND DEATH
by Rochel U. Berman, MSW (Hunter)
URIM; Spring 2005
Foreword by Rabbi Irving Greenberg
A basic tenet of Judaism is the obligation to value and serve the deceased, to extend dignity beyond death. In Judaism, a death is the affair of the entire community. Preparation of the dead for burial is undertaken by a community organization called the Chevra Kadisha, the Sacred Society. The volunteers of the Sacred Society quietly and privately wash, purify and dress the deceased. They simultaneously recite lyrical prayers from Psalms, thereby bearing witness to death as the last of life's important passages. Dignity Beyond Death examines the rituals of preparing the dead for burial from the point of view of those volunteers who undertake it, including chapters on the Holocaust and terrorism. For the first time, through personal interviews, the author shares a wealth of fascinating anecdotal material that will engage the reader in the humanity and ultimate dignity of this time-honored deed. Rochel Udovitch Berman was a member of the Congregation Rosh Pinah Chevra Kadisha in Westchester, N.Y. for seventeen years. She is currently a member of the Boca Raton Synagogue Chevra Kadisha and serves as a consultant to the Congregation B'nai Torah Chevra Kadisha in Boca Raton, Florida. In 2004, she narrated a Public Broadcasting System segment on Chevra Kadisha that aired on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] TORAH LIGHTS
Genesis Confronts Life, Love and Family
by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of Efrat
URIM; Ohr Torah Stone, (May 30, 2005)
Rabbi Riskin writes, "The world of biblical commentary reveals many secrets. First and foremost, the Bible... may be likened to a magnificent diamond, glistening with many brilliant colors all at the same time. And although the different hues often appear to be contradictory, when you view the totality of the light emanating from the diamond, you begin to appreciate how complementary they really are. Thus the sages of the Talmud understood that there are many possible truths contained in each biblical statement, each adding its unique melody to the magnificent symphony of the whole, synthesizing not in conflicting dissonance but in holy dialectic...." Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Translating God
My Journey To Godliness
by Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, (Valley Beth Shalom in Encino CA)
Jewish Lights Publishing , May 1, 2005
The esteemed and eminent rabbi of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino CA leads the readers on his journey to the rabbinate and the call of god and service.. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Song Of Songs:
The Honeybee In The Garden
May 2005, Jewish Publication Society of America
The Song of Songs has provided generations with some of the most passionate and most lasting love poetry ever recorded. And because of that passion, it has also been a source of lasting controversy and debate. What exactly is the true meaning of these 117 verses -- a celebration of romantic love, or an allegory of divine love and redemption? Now in The Song of Songs: The Honeybee in the Garden, author and artist Debra Band presents a breathtakingly beautiful illuminated work in which these two lines of interpretation are harmonized within a stunning visual context. Her fine calligraphy and striking artwork are like The Song of Songs itself, both literal and allegorical, sensuous and spiritual. This lovingly produced volume contains 65 full-page illuminations and beautifully crafted papercuts. The illuminations draw upon classic rabbinic texts and modern scholarship, creating both visual beauty and a new visual midrash on this beloved poetry. The art is accompanied by the artist's interpretation of the images, and it includes the Bible text in its original Hebrew, next to both the JPS English translation and the new David Band translation. The preface, by Raymond Scheindlin, eminent scholar of medieval Hebrew literature at The Jewish Theological Seminary, provides the framework for truly understanding Band's artistic achievement and scholarly contribution. This work, hailed as a masterpiece by art-lovers and scholars across the world, is an art-book collector's delight, a Bible devotee's treasure, and a magnificent gift for weddings, anniversaries, and other special occasions. Click on the cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] DID GOD HAVE A WIFE?
Eerdmans (April 2005)
Following up on his two recent, widely acclaimed studies of the history and social life of ancient Israel, William Dever here uses archaeological and biblical evidence to reconstruct the folk religion of ancient Israel. Did God Have a Wife? shines new light on the presence and influence of women's cults in early Israel and their implications for our understanding of the official "religion of the book." Dever pays particular attention to presences of the goddess Asherah, reviled by the authors of the Hebrew Bible as a foreign deity but considered by many modern scholars to have been popularly envisioned as the consort of biblical Yahweh. The first book by an archaeologist on ancient Israelite religion, this fascinating study critically reviews virtually all of the archaeological literature of the past generation, and it brings fresh evidence to the table as well. While Dever digs deep into the past-revealing insights are found, for example, in the form of local and family shrines where sacrifices and other rituals were performed-his discussion is extensively illustrated and communicated in non-technical language accessible to everyone. Dever calls his book "a feminist manifesto-by a man," and his work gives a new prominence to women as the custodians of Israel's folk religion. Though the monotheistic faith and practice recounted in the Bible likely held sway among educated, elite men in Jerusalem, the heart and soul of Israelite religion was polytheistic, concerned with meeting practical needs, and centered in the homes of common, illiterate people. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] LION OF HOLLYWOOD
Simon and Schuster, May 2005
Lion of Hollywood is the definitive biography of Louis B. Mayer, the chief of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer -- MGM -- the biggest and most successful film studio of Hollywood's Golden Age. An immigrant from tsarist Russia, Mayer began in the film business as an exhibitor but soon migrated to where the action and the power were -- Hollywood. Through sheer force of energy and foresight, he turned his own modest studio into MGM, where he became the most powerful man in Hollywood, bending the film business to his will. He made great films, including the fabulous MGM musicals, and he made great stars: Garbo, Gable, Garland, and dozens of others. Through the enormously successful Andy Hardy series, Mayer purveyed family values to America. At the same time, he used his influence to place a federal judge on the bench, pay off local officials, cover up his stars' indiscretions, and, on occasion, arrange marriages for gay stars. Mayer rose from his impoverished childhood to become at one time the highest-paid executive in America. Despite his power and money, Mayer suffered some significant losses. He had two daughters: Irene, who married David O. Selznick, and Edie, who married producer William Goetz. He would eventually fall out with Edie and divorce his wife, Margaret, ending his life alienated from most of his family. His chief assistant, Irving Thalberg, was his closest business partner, but they quarreled frequently, and Thalberg's early death left Mayer without his most trusted associate. As Mayer grew older, his politics became increasingly reactionary, and he found himself politically isolated within Hollywood's small conservative community.
Writing in the SF Chronicle, Mick LaSalle wrote, "Louis B. Mayer, who helped build Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, has gone down in movie history as a monster. He is regarded as such even by people -- no, especially by people -- who love the movies he presided over as head of MGM for 30 years. Other studio heads, equally ruthless, get a pass: Harry Cohn of Columbia was a monster, too, but at least he admitted it -- he wasn't a hypocrite. And Jack Warner, who tormented just as many stars as Mayer, is remembered as a lovable rogue. Though Mayer discovered Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford and many other stars, all we remember is his stinginess in contract negotiations, his psychological manipulation of talent and his legendary grudges against stars such as John Gilbert. His was the greatest studio during the magic years of Hollywood, and yet none of the glamour rubs off on him. His production chief Irving Thalberg is a figure of nostalgia, but Mayer remains a figure behind a desk, scowling. .. . But does Mayer deserve this bad reputation? On the downside, he was a sanctimonious hypocrite, who extolled family values but privately pursued starlets. He was also ruthless and unforgiving, and his taste in movies ran to the phony and sentimental. I admit it: I don't want to like him, either. He was the prose in an era of poetry, the man with the smoke and mirrors, the embodiment of earthbound business in an age of soaring artistry. But he built the best-run studio in the world and also the most successful. And if Mayer was really so horrible, how come everybody wanted to work for him and not his competitors, and why was the work atmosphere better at MGM than at other studios? Scott Eyman, the noted biographer, turns his attention to these questions in a rigorous and well-written new book, "Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer." Eyman's book is the most informed and trustworthy guide to Mayer. The research behind the book is staggering, though Eyman isn't staggered by it. He maintains an even keel and a relaxed, conversational tone as he presents that rarest of all things in biographies, a truly balanced portrait."
Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Weaving a Family
Untangling Race and Adoption
by Barbara Katz Rothman
Beacon Press (May 15, 2005)
Barbara Katz Rothman, a noted sociologist who has explored motherhood in four previous books and has more recently explored the social implications of the human genome project, now turns her eye toward race and family. Weaving together the sociological, the historical, and the personal, Barbara Katz Rothman looks at the contemporary American family through the lens of race, race through the lens of adoption, and all-race, family, and adoption-within the context of the changing meanings of motherhood. Drawing on her own experience as the white mother of a black child, on historical research on white people raising black children from slavery to contemporary times, and pulling together work on race, adoption, and consumption, she offers us new insights for understanding the way that race and family are shaped in America today. This book is compelling reading, not only for those interested in family and society, but for anyone grappling with the myriad issues around raising a child of a different race-an estimated seven million American families in 2005. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] THE BOY WHO LOVED ANNE FRANK
April 2005, Norton
Whatever happened to the boy who hid in the attic with Anne Frank and her family. His name was Peter van Pels. He swore to Anne that he would survive and succeed, and in this novel he does. On February 16, 1944, Anne Frank recorded in her diary that Peter, whom she at first disliked but eventually came to love, had confided in her that if he got out alive, he would reinvent himself entirely. This is the story of what might have happened if the boy in hiding survived to become a man. Peter arrives in America, the land of self-creation; he flourishes in business, marries, and raises a family. He thrives in the present, plans for the future, and has no past. But when The Diary of a Young Girl is published to worldwide acclaim and gives rise to bitter infighting, he realizes the cost of forgetting. Based on extensive research of Peter van Pels and the strange and disturbing life Anne Frank's diary took on after her death, this is a novel about the memory of death, the death of memory, and the inescapability of the past Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] AFTER SUCH KNOWLEDGE
Memory, History, and the Legacy of the Holocaust
by Eva Hoffman
April 2005, Public Affairs
Now in paperback: Eva Hoffman's "extraordinarily clear-eyed and unsentimental meditation" on our relationship to the Holocaust (New York Times Book Review) As the Holocaust recedes from us in time, the guardianship of its legacy is being passed on from its survivors and witnesses to the next generation. How should they, in turn, convey its knowledge to others? What are the effects of a traumatic past on its inheritors, and the second-generation's responsibilities to its received memories? In this meditation on the long aftermath of atrocity, Eva Hoffman-a child of Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust with the help of neighbors, but whose entire families perished-probes these questions through personal reflections, and through broader explorations of the historical, psychological, and moral implication of the second-generation experience. As she guides us through the poignant juncture at which living memory must be relinquished, she asks what insights can be carried from the past to the newly problematic present, and urges us to transform potent family narratives into a fully informed understanding of a forbidding history. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] THE TREEHOUSE
April 2005, Simon and Schuster
Social critic Naomi Wolf's father was a Romanian born professor at San Francisco State University, where he taught a 12 step method for creative living and thinking. His daughter tell's of Leonard Wolf's life and teachings. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] The Writing On The Wall
A Novel
by Lynne Sharon Schwartz
Counterpoint Press (May 31, 2005)
For the first time, one of New York City's major resident authors spins a breathtakingly immediate, intimate family novel centered around the September 11, 2001 attacks. Thirty-four and decidedly independent, Renata has been known to keep her involvement with people-men in particular-to a minimum. Even her job at the library keeps her at a remove from the uncertainty of trusting other people with the stories of her past. Instead she loses herself in language, ever measuring the integrity of words against lived experience. Then Jack, patient, solid, and sexy, enters her life. One bright September morning, as Renata walks across the Brooklyn Bridge to work, the sky bursts open and change comes without warning. It quickly becomes clear in the days ahead that Renata cannot keep memories of her buried past-of a twin sister, a betrayal, of family truths too ugly to acknowledge-at bay. Written with tremendous compassion and imagination, informed by an abiding love for the people of New York, and crafted by a master storyteller at the height of her powers, The Writing on the Wall is a profoundly engaging novel about how one woman saw-and we all continue to ponder-the defining event of our time Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Faith at War
A Journey on the Frontlines of Islam, from Baghdad to Timbuktu
by Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal
May 2005, Henry Holt
Drawing on reporting from more than a dozen Islamic countries, Faith at War offers an unforgettable portrait of the Muslim world after September 11. Choosing to invert the question of what "they" have done to "us," Wall Street Journal reporter Yaroslav Trofimov examines the unprecedented American intrusion in the Muslim heartland and the ripples it has caused far beyond the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. What emerges is a penetrating portrait of people, faith, and countries better known in caricature than reported detail. The ordinary Muslims, influential clerics, warlords, jihadis, intellectuals and heads of state we meet are engaged in conversations that reveal the Muslim world to us from a new, unexpected perspective. In Mali, one of the most successful democracies in Africa, we encounter Ousmane Madani Haidara, an influential cleric who sees Wahhabi extremists, rather than his country's secular government, as the real enemy of the true faith. In Saudi Arabia, we explore the bizarre world of exporting dead bodies from a kingdom that bars the burial of non-Muslims. On a US Navy aircraft carrier floating just off the coast of Pakistan in October 2001, we witness the mechanics of war: the onboard assembly of bombs that, hours later, are seen on T.V. exploding in Kabul. And in Iraq, we accompany Trofimov as he negotiates his escape from an insurgent mob, rides in a Humvee with trigger-happy GIs, and gets lectured by a Shiite holy man on why America is the foe of mankind. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] News from the New American Diaspora and
Other Tales of Exile
(Literary Modernism Series
by Jay Neugeboren
University of Texas Press (May 1, 2005)
Prize-winning novelist Jay Neugeboren's third collection of short stories focuses on Jews in various states of exile and expatriation--strangers in strange lands, far from home. These dozen tales, by an author whose stories have been selected for more than fifty anthologies, including Best American Short Stories and O. Henry Prize Stories, span the twentieth century and vividly capture brief moments in the lives of their characters: a rabbi in a small town in New England struggling to tend to his congregation and himself, retirees who live in Florida but dream of Brooklyn, a boy at a summer camp in upstate New York learning about the Holocaust for the first time, Russians living in Massachusetts with the family who helped them immigrate. In "The Other End of the World," an American soldier who has survived life in a Japanese prisoner of war camp grieves for members of his family murdered in a Nazi death camp, and in "Poppa's Books" a young boy learns to share his father's passion for the rare books that represent the Old World. "This Third Life" tells of a divorced woman who travels across Germany searching for new meaning in her life after her children leave home, while both "His Violin" and "The Golden Years" explore the plight of elderly Jews, displaced from New York City to retirement communities in Florida, who struggle with memory, madness, and mortality. Set in various times and places, these poignant stories are all tales of personal exile that also illuminate that greater diaspora--geographical, emotional, or spiritual--in which many of us, whether Jews or non-Jews, live. Click the book cover above to read more.

Okay.. not a Jewish book... but very funny.. and who knows.. maybe you might get inspired and write your own book, like HaShem and Man at Temple Beth Judea Hebrew School. How I Became Jewish Despite years of Hebrew School and $500 in gifts from my Bar Mitzvah. Hehe
[book cover click here] God and Man at Georgetown Prep
How I Became a Catholic Despite 20 Years of Catholic Schooling
by Mark Gauvreau Judge
Crossroad, Spring 2005
Mark Gauvreau Judge, one of the most talented writers to emerge from GenX, and former teenage drunk, takes us through a hilarious, edgy, take no prisoners look at his experience in three of the most prestigious Catholic schools in U.S. history. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] THIRTEEN AND A DAY
FS&G (May 11, 2005)
Since its emergence here a century ago, the bar or bat mitzvah has become a distinctively American rite of passage, so much so that, in certain suburbs today, gentile families throw parties for their thirteen-year-olds, lest they feel left out. How did this come about? To answer that question, Mark Oppenheimer set out across America to attend the most distinctive b'nai mitzvah he could find, and Thirteen and a Day is the story of what he found- an altogether fresh look at American Jews today. Beginning with the image of a party of gaudy excess, Oppenheimer then goes farther afield in the great tradition of literary journalists from Joseph Mitchell to Ian Frazier and Susan Orlean. The two dozen Jews of Fayetteville, Arkansas, he finds, open their synagogue to eccentrics from all over the Ozarks. Those of Lake Charles, Louisiana, pass the hat to cover the expenses of their potluck dinner. And in Anchorage, Alaska, a Hasidic boy's bar mitzvah in a snowed-in hotel becomes a striking image of how far the Jewish diaspora has spread. In these people's company, privy to their soul-searching about their religious heritage, Oppenheimer finds that the day is full of wonder and significance. Part travelogue, part spiritual voyage, Thirteen and a Day is a lyrical, entertaining, even revelatory look at American Jews and one of the most original books of literary journalism to appear in some years. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] THE J.A.P. CHRONiCLES
Jane Austen set in an elite Jewish summer camp.
Read an excerpt at the following URL:
After seventeen years, the girls from Willow Lake Camp reunite and find that some things have changed, while others will always remain the same. Ali dropped her hand and slunk lower in her chair. Dafna and Beth were dressed like twins (of course) . . . What was it with that outfit? Was it something that came with your apartment when you moved to the Upper East Side, like a welcome basket in a hotel room filled with fruit and champagne? (Welcome to the Upper East Side! Enjoy your Marc Jacobs skirt and top and these adorable Manolo Blahnik sandals!) Arden hated odd numbers . . . Their old hateful apartment had been on the ninth floor of a West Side prewar building and although the space had been charming and a bona fide movie star had lived on the floor above them, Arden felt, after consulting both a numerologist and a feng shui specialist, that the vibe was entirely too negative on an odd-numbered floor. The girl who had played second fiddle to Dafna since they were eight years old was going to walk down the aisle first!? How could it be? She, Dafna Eve Shapiro, who had never been short of boyfriends, wasn't about to end up an old maid! Beth wears size 9. She hates her nose and thighs and hair. And the once-formidable Wendy Levin was now nothing more then a well-toned, well-manicured, well-dressed suburban mom . . . It was a far cry from the superjock camper everyone thought would win the U.S. Open one day. This is a funny spirited novel. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] FREAKONOMICS
By Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J Dubner
May 2005, MORROW
I once studied with The Summers/Arrows, economists who tried to actually value the increased price they had to pay for a home with a Pacific Ocean view, and gave their kids chits with which they could bid on which tv program the family would watch in order to decrease squabbles (but the kids colluded against the parents, so the plan backfired) And now there is Steven Levitt, who is a refreshing and creative economist. The cover art says it all.. You cut open a green apple and find an orange. Professor Levitt had me when he analyzed why street drug dealers still live at home with their mothers and grandmothers. Or do the names given to African American students hurt their chances of employment later in life in America. He provides realism and logic to classical Economic theory. Will reading sto your baby aid in creating a better student? Is it the reading or the time you spend? Was the reduction in crimes (by 18 years olds) linked to the increase in abortions two decade ago? And so I have awaited the release of this book, and am now satisfied and excited with its release. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] WHORES
May 2005, DA CAPO
The first biography of Jane's Addiction who became Godfathers of the Alternative Nation, originated the Lollapalooza festival, and captured the spirit of Los Angeles at its most decadent. Jane's Addiction's 1988 breakthrough album, Nothing's Shocking, had a seismic impact on the music scene of the late 80s. With a bracing combination of metal, punk, and psychedelica, coupled with lead singer Perry Farrell's banshee-in-a-windtunnel vocals, the arrival of Jane's Addiction put what would soon be co-opted as"alternative" on the map. Rising from the depths of Venice Beach's junkie-surfer demonade, Jane's Addiction freely mixed the decadent with the innocent, and paved the way for the mainstream success of bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana. After Nothing's Shocking, Jane's Addiction released another classic album, Ritual de Lo Habitual (featuring the hit "Been Caught Stealing"), founded the Lollapalooza festival, and openly celebrated a bacchanalian lifestyle that blurred all lines of gender and sexuality. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Make the Leap
A Practical Guide to Breaking the Patterns That Hold You Back
by Farrell Silverberg
Marlowe & Company (May 10, 2005)
A psychoanalyst in private practice for many years, Silverberg makes the valid but oft-reiterated point that many people are held back from achieving their goals by their adherence to self-defeating ways of thinking and behaving. These unconscious patterns, according to Silverberg, must be raised to a conscious level to be overcome. He provides a complex program for this called SUBGAP, an acronym for seeing, understanding, breaking and guarding against patterns. Silverberg claims he has simplified dense psychoanalytic principles so that people can practice them without the help of a professional. Those who profit from sticking to a narrowly defined, exhaustively detailed program may take to his approach, but Silverberg's steps-with top-down and bottom-up pattern-hunting-may still be too complex for many. The case histories he offers are more illuminating than the program. For example, Mitch created brilliant ad campaigns, but he was demoted because his perfectionism created extra costs and extra work for others. Mitch learned to apply his attention to detail to recognizing and breaking his pattern and set his career back on track. It's an inspiring story-but not easy to learn to do on your own. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Dictionary Days
by Ilan Stavans
May 2005, Graywolf
Ilan Stavans is quite the prolific writer.. What? Sometimes I think he publishes a book every few hours. Ilan Stavans is the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. His latest books include Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language and The Schocken Book of Modern Sephardic Literature. In Dictionary Days, award-winning essayist Ilan Stavans explores our very human need to "seize upon the meaning of a word." Owner of hundreds of dictionaries, he follows a fascinating, zigzagging history of lexicography across many languages, including English, French, Spanish, German, Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, and Cyrillic. Throughout his journey, Stavans spots strange meaning inconsistencies, uncovers unusual origins, and shares extraordinary and often hilarious anecdotes. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND ME
PW writes: Wallach has the right and the title to discourse at length on method acting and the Actor's Studio, where he was a charter member, but instead hews tightly to his book's subtitle. A string of often funny and charming memories of his interactions with fellow actors and eclectic directors (in particular, spaghetti Western director Sergio Leone), his book is engagingly frank and personable. Because Wallach, known for his work in Tennessee Williams's Broadway productions as well as for his roles as memorably suspicious rascals, was taught by such cultural icons as Martha Graham and Lee Strasberg, his memoir is also a valuable source on 20th-century American culture. The author, however, is a cultural treasure in his own right: born Jewish in 1915 in an Italian section of Brooklyn, he headed off for the University of Texas at Austin during the Great Depression on a ship and became a medic overseas in WWII. From early struggles with auditions and bouts of hubris onstage, Wallach emerged to become one of America's most prolific, restlessly inventive and enduring actors (at 88, he took an uncredited role in 2003's Mystic River as Mr. Loonie, the liquor store owner). His insights and recollections of the acting life outweigh the book's pat and perfunctory conclusion. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Top Nazi
Karl Wolff
The Man Between Hitler and Himmler
by Jochen von Lang
May 2005.
Karl Wolff stood at the top of the infamous Nazi hierarchy. Involved in some of the most gruesome atrocities, Wolff was promoted to general then to SS head in Italy and became police chief in Italy in 1943-1945, where he planned to kidnap the Pope. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] The Search For Major Plagge
The Nazi Who Saved Jews
by Michael Good
Fordham University Press, 2005
"Perhaps in other places only a small amount of determination was lacking in order to prevent or decrease the atrocities. I never felt that this needed special courage. It required only the conviction and strength that anyone can draw from the depth of moral feelings that exists in all humans." --Major Karl Plagge, from a letter written in 1956
On April 11, 2005, in Jerusalem, Karl Plagge will be named a "Righteous Among the Nations" hero by the State of Israel. He joins Oskar Schindler and some three hundred eighty other similarly honored Germans who protected and saved Jews during the Holocaust.
While all "Righteous Gentiles" share the stamp of conscience, Karl Plagge's story is of a unique kind of courage--that of a German army officer who subverted the system of death to save the lives of some 250 Jews in Vilna, Lithuania. One of those he saved was Michael Good's mother. Karl Plagge first joined, then left, the Nazi Party. In Vilna, whose teeming ghetto held tens of thousands of Jews facing extermination, he found himself in charge of a work camp where military vehicles were repaired. Time after time, he saved Jews from prison and SS death squads, pulling whole families from the ghetto by issuing them work permits as "indispensable" laborers essential to the war effort. In this remarkable journey of discovery, Michael Good fills the missing pages in Karl Plagge's life. He also reminds us all of the many ways human beings can resist evil. "I guess he was just a decent man," Pearl Good said of the man who saved her life when he didn't have to. "There are always some people who decide that the horror is not to be."
Haunted by his mother's stories of a mysterious, benevolent officer who commanded her slave labor camp, Michael Good resolved to find out all he could about the enigmatic "Major Plagge." For five years, he wrote hundreds of letters and scoured the Internet to recover, in one hard-earned bit of evidence after another, information about the man whose moral choices saved hundreds of lives. This unforgettable book is the first portrait of a modest man who simply refused to play by the rules. Interviewing camp survivors, opening German files that had been untouched for more than fifty years, and translating newly discovered letters by Plagge, Good weaves an amazing tale.
Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Dying To Kill
The Allure of Suicide Terror
by Mia Bloom
Columbia University Press (May 23, 2005)
An "explanation of the unexplainable," this lucid and comprehensive study of the historical roots and contemporary motivations of suicide terror is a major study. Bloom's historical range is formidable; the first eight chapters are a marvel of historical compression, moving from the Zealots of first-century Judea to the Japanese kamikaze of WWII within a few bleak but instructive pages. Bloom stresses that suicide bombings can only thrive with the implied consent of an aggrieved population, which can be withdrawn: the Omagh bombing of 1998, for example, was a disaster for the IRA.
[book cover click here] [book cover click here]
Over and over again-from Chechnya to the West Bank-history teaches that harsh counterterror tactics become part of the cycle, or, as University of Cincinnati political scientist Bloom terms it, part of the contagion of violence. She sees hopeful signs in Turkey's recent measured and partially successful response to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. The book also includes a fascinating chapter on suicide terror as practiced by women, especially in Chechnya and Sri Lanka, and how it is viewed, ironically, as a source of female empowerment. The last chapter is a clear-eyed consideration of the possible occurrence of suicide bombing on U.S. territory. A generous appendix contains charts and usefully annotated list of sources. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] King of the Jews
by Nick Tosches
Ecco (May 1, 2005)
Tosches' alleged biography of Jewish gangster Arnold Rothstein certainly takes an interesting approach. After opening with Rothstein's death in 1928, Tosches embarks on a lengthy linguistic study of the Bible's change from "gods" to "God," then proceeds to debunk the myth that all European Jews came to the New World fleeing pogroms, pausing to explore early U.S.-Russian relationships, before even depicting Rothstein's grandparents' arrival in Manhattan in 1852. Along the way, he includes transcripts of a hearing regarding Rothstein's contested will and a first-person rant that starts by saying the Holocaust is inappropriately named. It's either deep, deep background or . . . what? Is Rothstein a Christ figure? A holy sinner? Was Jazz Age New York paradise? Is contemporary New York hell? Two-thirds of the way through, the book does start to be more "about" Rothstein. Writing in the first person again, Tosches says he's given up on the "tricks" of his trade, but all writing involves trickery; he's just opened a new bag. His book is sometimes boring, sometimes brilliant, often irritating. Readers looking for a gangster tale will be sorely disappointed--readers who want to know what it's like to live inside Tosches' head will hit the jackpot. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Cruel World
The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web
May 2005. Knopf
Very soon after Adolf Hitler came to power, policies of eugenic selection and euthanasia began to weed ill or disabled children out of the New Order by poison, gas, and starvation. Defect-free "good blood" children were subjected to an "education" based on racism, propaganda, and the glorification of the Führer, and were deliberately deprived of free time that would allow independent thought or action. Once the war began, "Nordic"-looking children were kidnapped from families in the conquered lands and subjected to "Germanization." Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of "bad blood" children-Jews, Gypsies, Poles, Ukrainians, Russians(were separated from their families and condemned to forced migration, slave labor, sadistic experiments, starvation, and mass execution. At the end of the war, uprooted children of every origin wandered the bombed-out cities and countryside, some having been taken from home at such a young age that they did not know where they had come from or even their own names. Millions surged into and out of DP camps, exploited by political and religious groups, while the Allies and the fledgling United Nations tried mightily to put families back together and to find new homes for the orphans. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Conduct Under Fire
Four American Doctors and Their Fight for Life as Prisoners of the Japanese, 1941-1945
by John Glusman (Editor in Chief, FS&G)
May 2005. Viking
Roland Green wrote in Booklist: Glusman's big, thoroughly absorbing narrative centers on his father and three fellow navy physicians, who spent World War II as Japanese POWs. Refusing to allow "a clash of cultures" to excuse the Japanese for their largely barbarous treatment of Western POWs, Glusman exposes the horrors of the four doctors' experience in vivid and sometimes sickening detail. He benefits from access to much recent research into racial aspects of the war that generated much of its brutality and incomprehension and led to the total nature of the war, which eventually endangered a good many Allied POWs on Japanese prison ships and in Japan during Allied saturation bombing raids. Dr. Glusman's status as an educated and trained observer also spurred his son's insights, including those offered here on what determined the difference between survival and death among the POWs, and on what decisions led to humane conduct by Japanese guards. A very notable addition to the literature on its harrowing subject.
Murray Glusman and John Bookman were graduates of NYU Med School. Glusman was the son of a pharmacist, Bookman was descended from a top Jewish medical family in NYC. George Ferguson hailded from Kansas City, and was stationed in Shanghai before being sent to the Philippine Islands, and Fred Berley became a doctor after failing at aviation due to his low weight. Click the book cover above to read more.


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