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SPRING 2006 RECOMMENDED JEWISH BOOKS



SPRING 2006 BOOK READINGS

Mar 13, 2006: MACUALAY CULKIN, former husband of Natalie Portman, reads from JUNIOR, B&N Union Sq NYC 7 PM
Mar 14, 2006: Purim starts at sundown.
Mar 16, 2006: GERSHOM GORENBERG reads from THE ACCIDENTAL EMPIRE, NYC Cong B'nai Jeshurun in Nyc. 7 PM
Mar 20, 2006: JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER reads from EXTREMELY LOUD... , B&N Union Sq NYC 7 PM
Mar 22, 2006: RABBI JOSEPH TELUSHKIN reads from A CODE OF JEWISH ETHICS, B&N UWS NYC 7 PM
Mar 27, 2006: ARTHUR KURZWEIL AND DALE L. MINTZ read from the HADASSAH JEWISH FAMILY BOOK OF HEALTH AND WELLNESS, B&N UWS NYC 7 PM
Mar 28, 2006: Israeli elections. Watch the results live, NIF Office in NYC 7PM
Mar 28, 2006: ABIGAIL POGREBIN speaks on STARS OF DAVID. JTS, NYC 6 PM
Mar 30, 2006: DAVID NIRENBERG and YOSEF HAYIM YERUSHALMI discuss ALFONSO VIII and the JEWESS OF TOLEDO: A LOVE STORY. Columbia University NYC

Apr 02, 2006: RODGE GLASS, 27, the Jewish bard of Glasgow Scotland speaks on NO FIREWORKS, KGB Bar, NYC 7pm
Apr 05, 2006: Jonathan Safran Foer interviewed by lana Newhouse, Makor NYC 7 PM
Apr 08, 2006: Idan Raichel in concert NYC www.israelatheart.org
Apr 09, 2006: The Sixth Annual Downtown Seder, live on XM Radio, NYC $135.
Apr 23, 2006: David Bergelson Tribute at Eldridge Street Synagogue, NYC 3PM.
Apr 25, 2006: HEEB MAGAZINE Money issue Release Party, Movida NYC.
Apr 25, 2006: RICH COHEN reads from SWEET AND LOW, B&N Chelsea 7 PM.

Apr 26, 2006: The 55th Annual National Jewish Book Awards. The Jewish Book Council. Featuring Ari Goldman, Samuel Freedman, Amos Oz, and others. NYC 7:30 PM.

Apr 27, 2006: Wayne Koestenbaum, (Jewish porn.. ) and Eddy Portnoy read at JCC of Manhattan.
Apr 29-30, 2006: Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, UCLA.
Apr 30, 2006: Darfur protest in Washington DC. Need bus fair from NYC? Let us know. We will subsidize you.

May 01, 2006: DAVID GROSSMAN and ETGAR KERET speak at NYC's 92nd ST Y
May 02, 2006: IRSHAD MANJI speaks at NYC's 92nd St Y
May 13, 2006: Join Alana Newhouse, Dara Horn, and T. Cooper on Jewish Writers. SAJ, NYC
May 17, 2006: ABIGAIL POGREBIN reads from STARS OF DAVID. Congregation Emanu-El NYC 6:30 pm
May 18, 2006: Janna Malamud Smith and Hugh Roth read from forthcoming memoirs about their fathers, Bernard Malamud and Henry Roth, two seminal figures of American Jewish literature. Eldridge Street Synagogue, NYC Garden Cafeteria Literary Series
May 20, 2006: Paula Marantz Cohen reads from Jane Austen in Scarssdale. Border in White Plains, NY, 2 PM
May 18-21, 2006: Book Expo America in Washington DC
May 21-23, 2006: Hillel Summit-Inspiring Values, Creating Leaders, Washington DC
May 24, 2006: REBECCA GOLDSTEIN reads from SPINOZA - YIVO INSTITUTE, NYC 7PM

Jun 01, 2006: Author BRUCE FEILER leads a session for Shavuot at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, NYC. Swfs.org 7:30 PM
Jun 01, 2006: RAMI KLEINSTIEN, JUDY GOLD, DEBBI FRIEDMAN, and more at TIKKUN LEIL SHAVUOT at the JCC UWS and 92ND ST Y, NYC TikkunNY.org
Through Jun 30, 2006: Art Show featuring fifteen contemporary Israeli artists. Horan Gallery, NYC UES
Jun 07, 2006: Beit Rabban - Manna From Heaven featuring authors Susie Fishbein, Sandee Brawarsky, and Naftali Citron. NYC
Jun 07, 2006: COMING TO AMERICA: Noted authors Akhil Sharma, Gary Shteyngart and Edgardo Vega Yunqué, born in India, Russia, and Puerto Rico, respectively, read from their work and share insights on the immigrant experience in the 21st century. Join us afterwards for drinks and conversation. Eldridge St Sysnagogue, NYC
Jun 14, 2006: Novel Jews at KGB Bar. KGB BAR, NYC
Jun 16, 2006: Wayne Hoffman reads from HARD, his novel. KGB BAR, NYC
Jun 28 - Jul 06, 2006: New Israel Fund Study Tour of Israel.
Jul 15, 2006, Wayne Hoffman reads from HARD, Now Voyager Books, Ptown Cape Cod
HEY.. NOW YOUR CAN SEARCH OUR SITE, INSTEAD OF JUST SEARCHING AMAZON. TRY IT OUT...









LATE MARCH 2006

[book][book] The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
March 2006, Knopf. Children and Adults
Grade 9 and Up
Zusak has created a work that deserves the attention of sophisticated teen and adult readers. Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. The child arrives having just stolen her first book-although she has not yet learned how to read-and her foster father uses it, The Gravediggers Handbook, to lull her to sleep when shes roused by regular nightmares about her younger brothers death. Across the ensuing years of the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Liesel collects more stolen books as well as a peculiar set of friends: the boy Rudy, the Jewish refugee Max, the mayors reclusive wife (who has a whole library from which she allows Liesel to steal), and especially her foster parents. Zusak not only creates a mesmerizing and original story but also writes with poetic syntax, causing readers to deliberate over phrases and lines, even as the action impels them forward. Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but he does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesels story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves. An extraordinary narrative. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book][book] A Code of Jewish Ethics
Volume 1: You Shall Be Holy
by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
March 2006, Bell Tower.
See also www.AcodeOfJewishEthics.com
Did you know that hatred and lying are permissable in some cases?
Read more
Code of Jewish Ethics, Volume 1: You Shall Be Holy is the initial volume of the first major code of Jewish ethics to be written in the English language. It is a monumental work on the vital topic of personal character and integrity by one of the premier Jewish scholars and thinkers of our time. With the stated purpose of restoring ethics to its central role in Judaism, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin offers hundreds of examples from the Torah, the Talmud, rabbinic commentaries, and contemporary stories to illustrate how ethical teachings can affect our daily behavior. The subjects dealt with are ones we all encounter.
They include judging other people fairly;
knowing when forgiveness is obligatory, optional, or forbidden;
balancing humility and self-esteem;
avoiding speech that shames others;
restraining our impulses of envy, hatred, and revenge;
valuing truth but knowing when lying is permitted;
understanding why God is the ultimate basis of morality; and
appreciating the great benefits of Torah study.
Basic vices and virtues takes up 257 pages. :)
Telushkin has arranged the book in the traditional style of Jewish codes, with topical chapters and numbered paragraphs. Statements of law are almost invariably followed by anecdotes illustrating how these principles have been, or can be, practiced in daily life. The book can be read straight through to provide a solid grounding in Jewish values, consulted as a reference when facing ethical dilemmas, or studied in a group. Vast in scope, this volume distills more than three thousand years of Jewish laws and suggestions on how to improve one's character and become more honest, decent, and just. It is a landmark work of scholarship that is sure to influence the lives of Jews for generations to come, rich with questions to ponder and discuss, but primarily a book to live by. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book][book] THE ACCIDENTAL EMPIRE
ISRAEL AND THE BIRTH OF THE SETTLEMENTS, 1967-1977
By GERSHOM GORENBERG
March 2006, Times Books.
After Israeli troops defeated the armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in June 1967, the Jewish state seemed to have reached the pinnacle of success. But far from being a happy ending, the Six-Day War proved to be the opening act of a complex political drama, in which the central issue became: Should Jews build settlements in the territories taken in that war? The Accidental Empire is Gershom Gorenberg's masterful and gripping account of the strange birth of the settler movement, which was the child of both Labor Party socialism and religious extremism. It is a dramatic story featuring the giants of Israeli history-Moshe Dayan, Golda Meir, Levi Eshkol, Yigal Allon-as well as more contemporary figures like Ariel Sharon, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres. Gorenberg also shows how the Johnson, Nixon, and Ford administrations turned a blind eye to what was happening in the territories, and reveals their strategic reasons for doing so. Drawing on newly opened archives and extensive interviews, Gorenberg reconstructs what the top officials knew and when they knew it, while weaving in the dramatic first-person accounts of the settlers themselves. Fast-moving and penetrating, The Accidental Empire casts the entire enterprise in a new and controversial light, calling into question much of what we think we know about this issue that continues to haunt the Middle East. Click the book cover above to read more. Writing in The New York Times, Jonathan D. Tepperman, an editor of Foreign Affairs, wrote, "...this the perfect time to look back at how Israel got into this mess in the first place. Generally speaking, there have been two prevailing explanations: one of Israeli innocence, the other of guilt. In the first, the tiny state was forced into war in 1967 and grabbed Gaza, Sinai, the West Bank and the Golan Heights in self-defense, planning to hold them only until they could be safely traded for peace. In the other, Israel used its victory in 1967 deliberately to expand its borders. It disenfranchised the locals, stole their land and settled the territories with religious fanatics. Now Gershom Gorenberg, an American-born Israeli journalist, has produced a remarkably insightful third account. ... he portrays the first two decades after '67 as a melancholy story of inadvertant colonialism. It's a groundbreaking revision that deserves to reframe the entire debate. According to Gorenberg, the Israelis did not quite acquire their colonies as the British were said to, in a fit of absent-mindedness - but just about. In 1967, Israel won an unexpected victory in a war it didn't seek and found itself sitting on new territory three times its original size. But Prime Minister Levi Eshkol was paralyzed by this unhappy prize. He refused either to annex the land (since this would mean either expelling or absorbing 1.1 million Arabs) or to return it (since Israel's 1949 borders were deemed indefensible).Instead, he and his Labor Party successors (Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin) pursued a policy of no policy. The tragedy of this dodge, Gorenberg reveals, was that it ended up amounting to a policy anyway, for "stalemate was the soil in which settlements grew." As the deadlocked cabinet dithered, a decisive few - mostly young zealots dreaming of a biblical "Greater Israel" - took action....
.... Gorenberg shows Moshe Dayan, Israel's one-eyed war hero, musing that the Palestinians would end up as grateful colonial subjects like the Togolese; Henry Kissinger overlooking obvious signs of Israel's settlement construction; and Arab leaders rejecting Israel's peace offerings in the faith they'd soon crush it on the battlefield....The book works powerfully on two important levels: as a deeply informative counterhistory and as a mournful reminder of what happens when a democratic government acquiesces in the face of its own militants...by showing the root of the problem - incompetence, not ideology - Gorenberg points to the direction from which an answer may someday emerge.







[book] The Boy Who Fell Out of the Sky
A True Story
by Ken Dornstein
March 2006, Random House.
Ken Dornstein uses family history, notebooks, photos, and interviews to reconstruct and rediscover the life of his brother, who was killed on Pan Am 103 over Scotland, on his way back from Israel. Ken Dornstein interweaves the moving story of his own coming-of-age with the promise of greatness his brother never lived to fulfill. The Boy Who Fell Out of the Sky is a heartbreaking but profoundly hopeful book about finding beauty in the midst of tragedy and making sense of it. David Dornstein was 25, a handsome, charismatic young man on the verge of becoming an extraordinary writer, when he boarded Pan Am Flight 103 from London on the evening of December 21, 1988. Thirty-eight minutes after takeoff, he died, along with the 258 other passengers and crew, when a terrorist's plastic explosive ripped the plane apart over Lockerbie, Scotland. David's brother, Ken, was nineteen, a college sophomore home on winter break, when the call came. All his life Ken had looked up to David, confided in him, followed where he led. David's death left Ken with a void that both crushed and consumed him. What were his brother's plans when he died? Was David really carrying home a draft of the great novel everyone knew was in him? Was he in love with the woman he was living with overseas? Ken Dornstein needed to learn the truth about his brother's life and death. In this harrowing and affecting memoir, he records what he found out. It was years before Ken could bring himself to confront the stacks of notebooks and letters David left behind, but once he began to read he was drawn deep into his brother's world. From David's early obsession with writing down his every thought to his misadventures on the streets of New York, from an unraveling love affair in Israel to a devastating childhood secret, piece by piece Ken assembles a complex, disturbing portrait of an artist struggling to find a voice for passions that often threatened to tear him apart. Then, by chance, Ken runs into David's college girlfriend on a train and everything changes once again. He starts to question his motives and his memories, and finally sets off on a complicated journey to finish the book that his brother started. As haunting as a dream, as electrifying as the day's news, The Boy Who Fell Out of the Sky is an incandescent and unforgettable account of one man's struggle to find inspiration in his brother's life and create a life of his own. What begins as a tragedy turns into a love story of deeply affirming power. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] Cobra II
The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
by Michael R. Gordon, Bernard E. Trainor
March 2006, Pantheon.
The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq (HEY GUESS WHAT... IT WASN'T A JEWISH RUN CONSPRIACY RUN BY JEWISH NEO-CONS IN DC).
There have been many reports about the Iraq war and the vicissitudes of the American occupation, yet none heretofore has been informed by the inside story. Rendered fairly and documented impressively, it offers a galvanizing account of the strategy, the personalities, the actual battles, the diplomacy, the adversary, and the occupation. COBRA II is stunning work of investigative journalism by Michael Gordon, the chief military correspondent of The New York Times, winner of the George Polk Award for Investigative Reporting in 1989 and the one and only correspondent embedded in Allied land command; and General Bernard E. Trainor, former military correspondent for The New York Times and current military analyst for NBC. Brimming with new and compromising disclosures, the book promises to be a singularly authoritative and comprehensive account of the planning and prosecution of the Iraq war. Michael Gordon had unparallel access to top military brass and was in the war room with Tommy Franks, Donald Rumsfeld and the field generals who were key in the formulation and execution of the war strategy. He has interviewed an extraordinary range of officials, including Franks himself, Condoleezza Rice, Steve Hadley, Paul Wolfowitz, Marc Grossman (the third ranking State Department official), Jerry Bremer, General Meyers (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), as well as virtually every general, regimental commander and brigade commander. He has had access to classified military and diplomatic documents, military archives and internal after-action reports and oral histories not meant for public consumption. This book also discusses: When and how was the war strategy formed? What were the disputes among the generals and the differences between the field commanders and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld?; How did Rumsfeld seek to monopolize war planning, and what was his relationship to the rest of the Bush administration?; What was the basic strategic assumption of the war plan, and how was it flawed?; How wide off the mark was the CIA in its assessments? What were the principal battles, and what has so far not been revealed about them?; and more, Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes
by T. Cooper ( a Koret finalist in 2004)
Dutton Adult (March 16, 2006).
NOTE: When Ms. Cooper's grandparents arrived at Ellis Island, they actually DID lose a child, and never found him. They moved on. Part of his grandparents family ended up in Amarillo, Texas, part of the Galveston Movement of sending Jews to the hinterlands.
Epic, ambitious, heartbreaking, and wholly original, T Cooper's Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes is a literary tour de force that spans the twentieth century with one family's search for a lost son. In Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes, author T Cooper chronicles the unusual history of the Lipshitz family, Jewish refugees who narrowly escape the bloody Russian pogroms of 1903. Upon landing at Ellis Island, Esther and Hersh Lipshitz lose their uncharacteristically blond-haired, blue-eyed son Reuven. Circumstances eventually force them to give up their fruitless search for Reuven and to join a relative living in the Texas panhandle. However, Esther never stops pondering the fate of her lost son, and when she sees a picture of the blond, blue-eyed Charles Lindbergh after his 1927 transatlantic flight, she becomes convinced that the aviator is her grown son Reuven. Esther's obsession with Lindbergh (Reuven) slowly destroys those around her and will leave far-reaching effects on the entire Lipshitz family. In 2002 in New York City, we encounter the character T Cooper, the last living Lipshitz, who has received an unsolicited box from his estranged mother. In it, he finds clippings and letters to Charles Lindbergh and his family, all once carefully preserved by his great-grandmother Esther. When he is forced back to Texas to bury his suddenly and tragically deceased parents, T finds himself the inheritor of a family history filled with loose ends, factual errors, and maniacal behavior. An ex-literary golden boy who has quit writing to pursue a career as a bar mitzvah entertainer who impersonates the rapper Eminem, T struggles to make sense of all that came before him and-in light of his wife's desire to have a baby-what legacy he might leave behind as well. Click the book cover above to read more.




[book cover click here] [book cover click here] LENNY BRUCE IS DEAD
by Jonathan Goldstein
MARCH 2006, Counterpoint
From Publishers Weekly: Goldstein's woeful, funny debut novel is a series of aphorism-capped vignettes, paced at the rate of approximately one scene per paragraph. As these snapshots flash past, protagonist Josh ages rapidly from child to onanistic teen to depressive adult, mourning the death of his mother and the loss of a series of vividly described girlfriends along the way. Throughout, descriptions of Josh's suburban-anytown Jewish upbringing and job at local fast-food franchise Burger Zoo, while peppered with scatological and Portnoy's Complaint-esque sordidly sexual details, often achieve a level of nuance that's poetic and almost profound. In the latter third of the book, Josh's preoccupation with a Hasidic neighbor and the "Rebbe's Kosher-style Love Lotion" that he begins to experiment with grow repetitive and confusing. But "This American Life" contributing editor Goldstein has a knack for imagery ("He was crying on the floor, pulling toilet paper off the spool with both hands like he was climbing a rope") and ear for hyper-realistic dialogue, making him a writer to watch. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] The Last Jew
A Novel (Hardcover)
by Yoram Kaniuk, Barbara Harshav
Grove Press March 2006.
Innovative novelist Yoram Kaniuk takes us from the scorched earth of mid-century Europe, to the arid plains of the Holy Land, to the urban bustle of the American Diaspora, compressing the rise and fall of the Jews into the enigmatic character of one Ebenezer Schneerson. Following the ravages of World War II, Ebenezer finds that although he has no recollection of his family or childhood, he can, at will, recite Einstein's theory of relativity, the entire canon of Yiddish poetry, and the genealogical histories of any number of extinguished shtetls; he has somehow become the final repository for all of Jewish culture. Samuel Lipker, a fellow survivor and crass opportunist, makes money off of Ebenezer's macabre talents, trotting him around Europe to regale spooked cabaret audiences with his uncanny memory. Appearing in English for the first time, The Last Jew is an ingenious tapestry alive with narrative acrobatics and stylistic audacity. Alternately tragic, absurd, heartbreaking, and bitter - not unlike the Bible itself - it is a profound exploration of Jewish identity and the multitude of disparate, often contradictory shapes it has taken in the last century. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] The Mercy Room
A Novel
by Gilles Rozier
Little Brown, March 2006.
From Booklist: *Starred Review* This haunting and, at times, harrowing novel, set in France during the German occupation of the 1940s, is a variation of the Anne Frank story. The narrator lives in a small town, in the family house, where the mother and sister also live; the father is a prisoner of war in Germany. The narrator teaches German at the local school and regards the literature in that language to be the supreme passion of life. That is, until one day when the narrator, awaiting a translation assignment from the local Gestapo agency, lays eyes on an attractive young man--Jewish--who obviously is being taken off. The narrator whisks the young man away and stashes him in the wine cellar of the family home. There the young man lives, hidden away, for more than two years--during which the narrator and he fall in love and have a torrid sexual relationship. But as the end of the war approaches, the young man loses patience with his captivity, and an escape is planned, but things don't go as he and the narrator had outlined. Adding allure to the drama is that the gender of the narrator is never revealed; is this a heterosexual or homosexual affair? We never need to know, for this gripping story transcends such specifics. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] Seven Days to the Sea :
An Epic Novel of the Exodus
by Rebecca Kohn
Rugged Land (March 21, 2006)
As a child, Miryam foretells the birth of a leader who will save their people from oppression-a vision so vivid that she dedicates her life to seeing it fulfilled in her brother, Moses. But after many years, she wonders in the deepest confines of her heart if her sacrifices mean anything, if her calling is real. Tzipporah, a desert shepherdess who knows nothing of her husband's divine purpose, suffers as he is torn from her by a strange god, a foreign people, and an unforgiving sister. In her heart, she harbors terrible secrets that haunt the love she shares with Moses and threaten her tenuous peace with Miryam. Together, Miryam and Tzipporah weave a narrative that gives voice to the women of Exodus-their lives, their community, and ultimately, their sisterhood. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] Dying for Jerusalem
by Walter Laqueur
Sourcebooks. March 2006.
From Booklist: *Starred Review* Laqueur, a veteran historian and journalist, offers a fascinating look at Israel that is part memoir, part history, part commentary. As a 17-year-old in 1938, Laqueur fled Germany and found himself in Israel. Although he has lived elsewhere for much of his adult life, he has regularly traveled to Israel, sometimes spending a few weeks, sometimes working there for years. Perhaps because of this history of coming and going, he is able to look at Israel both objectively and intimately, as visitor and resident. He writes as if he's having a conversation with his reader, and the conversation is wide-ranging: the country's archaeological underpinnings, the evolution of kibbutz life, the lives of the ultraOrthodox, the influence of the Sephardic Jews. Because Laqueur talks with such familiarity on so many topics, readers get both facts and opinions. In the chapter on Jerusalem tourism, for example, Laqueur begins with what the first Baedeker guide (published in 1876) had to say about visiting the city (bring bribes) and goes on to write intriguingly about how tourism has evolved and how visitors react to the city's history, interweaving tensions between the locals and the tourists and examining the fervor that religiosity can evoke, including the Jerusalem syndrome, in which visitors imagine themselves to be people from the Bible. Readers interested in Israel and its history won't want to miss this one (Ilene Cooper).
Shlomo Avineri, in The Washington Post, writes: Walter Laqueur's Dying for Jerusalem ... Its title is a misnomer: While trying to explain why Jerusalem remains such a contentious issue, Laqueur -- with his usual panache as a historian and political analyst -- paints on a much wider canvas.... Laqueur's detailed knowledge of Jerusalem's quarters -- Rechavia and Talbiya, Mea Shearim and Machane Yehuda -- evokes the very aroma of each disparate area. Laqueur starts with his arrival in Jerusalem on Nov. 15, 1938, and the date says it all: His train left Germany just as Kristallnacht descended on German Jewry. Laqueur spent the war years in Palestine (he left in 1955 but has been continually coming back), and he is ever thankful to Zionism and Jerusalem for saving him from the Holocaust. Still, he is ambivalent about some basic tenets of the Zionist movement founded by Theodor Herzl. " 'We are a people, one people,' Herzl had exclaimed in a famous speech in an early Zionist Congress to stormy acclaim, but was it still true?" Laqueur asks, with a bluntness that would make every Zionist uncomfortable. The strengthening of the right wing in post-1967 Israeli politics has made him even more ambivalent, and he obviously has a visceral dislike of the ultra-Orthodox.But for all this, Dying for Jerusalem is a plea for a liberal, open vision of a Jewish state: Its compassion applies equally to Jews and Arabs, and Laqueur's humanism gives the book a bit of an elegiac quality. Hence some of his nostalgia for pre-1948 Jerusalem, when, under the British Mandate, Jews and Arabs did not live exactly peacefully but still lived together, albeit uneasily, under imperial custody.... ... [it ] is fascinating in its erudition and appealing in its humanism. Yet ultimately, like everyone else, Laqueur is flummoxed by the inscrutability of history. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] Seinology
The Sociology of Seinfeld
by Tim Delaney, SUNY Oswego
Prometheus. March 2006.
No one was better at turning everyday social interactions into memorable comedy sketches than Seinfeld creators Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David. The show, still very current in syndication, is filled with astute social observations delivered with great comic effect. Sociologist, and avid Seinfeld fan, Tim Delaney explores the sociological implications of the famous comedy show in Seinology. Part sociology primer and part Seinfeld tribute, Delaney's book uses excerpts from many of the now-classic episodes to illustrate key facets of sociology. Along the way, readers are treated to an entertaining and educational tour of the whole Seinfeld series. In fifteen chapters, amusingly titled after some of the shows famous incidents, Delaney reviews the major contributions of sociology. Examples include: · "Tub is love." (socialization and personal relationships) · "Not that there is anything wrong with that." (sex and gender issues) · "You double-dipped the chip!" (social deviance) · "Happy Festivus: a festival for the rest of us." (religion) · "Look to the cookie, Elaine." (race and ethnicity) · "You don't have to help anybody. That's what this country's all about." (crime and social control) · "Yada, yada, yada." (and much, much more) .Click the book cover above to read more.




[book] HOW TO CURE A FANATIC
By AMOS OZ
Princeton University Press. March 2006.
Internationally acclaimed novelist Amos Oz grew up in war-torn Jerusalem, where as a boy he witnessed firsthand the poisonous consequences of fanaticism. In two concise, powerful essays, the award-winning author offers unique insight into the true nature of fanaticism and proposes a reasoned and respectful approach to resolving the Israeli Palestinian conflict. As an added feature, he comments on contemporary issues--the Gaza pullout, Yasser Arafat's death, and the war in Iraq--in an extended interview at the end of the book. Oz argues that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a war of religion or cultures or traditions, but rather a real estate dispute--one that will be resolved not by greater understanding, but by painful compromise. As he writes, "The seeds of fanaticism always lie in uncompromising righteousness, the plague of many centuries." The brilliant clarity of these essays, coupled with Oz's ironic sense of humor in illuminating the serious, breathes new life into this centuries-old debate. He emphasizes the importance of imagination in learning to define and respect other's space, and analyzes the twisted historical roots that have led to Middle East violence. In his interview, Oz sends a message to Americans. Why not, he proposes, advocate for a twenty-first-century equivalent of the Marshall Plan aimed at preventing poverty and despair in the region? "What is necessary is to work on the ground, for example, building homes for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who have been rotting in camps for almost sixty years now." Fresh, insightful, and inspiring, How to Cure a Fanatic brings a new voice of sanity to the cacophony on Israeli-Palestinian relations--a voice no one can afford to ignore. .Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] THE PRICE OF WHITENESS:
JEWS, RACE, AND AMERICAN IDENTITY
By ERIC L. GOLDSTEIN (Emory University)
Princeton University Press. March 2006.
What has it meant to be Jewish in a nation preoccupied with the categories of black and white? The Price of Whiteness documents the uneasy place Jews have held in America's racial culture since the late nineteenth century. The book traces Jews' often tumultuous encounter with race from the 1870s through World War II, when they became vested as part of America's white mainstream and abandoned the practice of describing themselves in racial terms. American Jewish history is often told as a story of quick and successful adaptation, but Goldstein demonstrates how the process of identifying as white Americans was an ambivalent one, filled with hard choices and conflicting emotions for Jewish immigrants and their children. Jews enjoyed a much greater level of social inclusion than African Americans, but their membership in white America was frequently made contingent on their conformity to prevailing racial mores and on the eradication of their perceived racial distinctiveness. While Jews consistently sought acceptance as whites, their tendency to express their own group bonds through the language of "race" led to deep misgivings about what was required of them. Today, despite the great success Jews enjoy in the United States, they still struggle with the constraints of America's black-white dichotomy. The Price of Whiteness concludes that while Jews' status as white has opened many doors for them, it has also placed limits on their ability to assert themselves as a group apart. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] PEACE IS POSSIBLE
CONVERSATIONS WITH ARAB AND ISRAELI LEADERS FROM 1988 TO THE PRESENT
by S. DANIEL ABRAHAM
Foreword by former President Bill Clinton

Newmarket. March 2006.
A first-hand personal account of American businessman and Slim Fast founder Danny Abraham's more than 15 years of peacemaking efforts in the Middle East and the reasons he believes peace is possible. For more than fifteen years, entrepreneur Danny Abraham, founder and former chairman of Slim Fast, chose to utilize his considerable resources to facilitate Mideast peace. Together with Utah Congressman Wayne Owens, Abraham made more than sixty trips to the Middle East between 1988 to 2002, meeting with Arab leaders Hosni Mubarak, Hafez Assad, Crown Prince Abdullah, and Yasser Arafat, and Israeli prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, and Ariel Sharon. Using his business experience with difficult negotiations, Abraham took an active behind-the-scenes role, setting up critical one-on-one meetings between key figures. He urged these leaders to articulate not what they wanted, but what they needed, to make peace, fostering significant advances in the peace process. Since Owens' untimely death in 2002, Abraham has continued to arrange peacemaking meetings on his own. Drawing from meeting transcripts, diary entries, and extensive handwritten notes, Abraham writes in the first person about these extraordinary, often private meetings, giving us rare "you are there" insight into historically significant events. In his pragmatic and hopeful book, he writes, "I am a great optimist, particularly about a region of the world that usually brings out people's most pessimistic inclinations-Israel and its neighbors." Foreword by President Bill Clinton. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] THE HEART HAS REASONS:
HOLOCAUST RESCUERS AND THEIR STORIES OF COURAGE
BY MARK KLEMPNER
Pilgrim Press. March 2006.
PW writes: Asked why she helped save Jewish children during Germany's occupation of Holland in WWII while so many others stood by, Clara Dijkstra replies, "The heart has reasons." Klempner, a folklorist and oral historian, attempts to explore some of those reasons through interviews with 10 Dutch resisters who rescued Jews from the Nazis. Each of the chapters includes a short introduction, a first-person narrative from the rescuer, followed by a question and answer format and historical information. The result is often choppy; a straight and more integrated narrative throughout each chapter would serve these powerful stories better. As the son of a Holocaust survivor, the author uses the book to come to terms with his family's past and figure out what to do with his life. The dual objectives of profiling rescuers and wrestling with personal issues don't always work well together; the narrative often shifts uncomfortably between a focus on the rescuers and the author's focus on himself. But the summary chapter, which explores the lessons learned from the resisters and the application of those lessons for today's world is a highlight. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] My Parents Went Through the Holocaust and All I Got Was This Lousy Tshirt
by S. Hanala Stadner
Spring 2006.
See www.MyParentsWent.com
When I met the author, sorry everybody, I sort of thought of Tammy Faye or Charo or a publicist on speed or someone who experienced tremendous pain.
Tortured by a past filled with Nazis and the parents who fled them, Hanala escaped from Montreal, headed for Hollywood and changed her name to something not Jewish. She became Suzan Stadner, the creator and star of the number one show in the history of L.A.'s public access TV, The Suzan Stadner Show. But not right away. When she first arrived, instead of getting into acting, she got into drugs, alcohol and limos with strange men. After several overdoses, she became sober and an aerobics instructor. Now she is a spin instructor. This autobiography is a Traumedy (Tragedy+Time=Comedy). A little bit Auschwitz, a little bit Brady Bunch... Roots- with a smaller family. The book is filled with anecdotes of growing up to the present day. From getting to Hollywood and scoring drugs, having sex and over eating and drinking, ... During the 1980s, she appeared in a number of films including Return of the Living Dead Part II and Ruthless People where she appeared in both films as an aerobics instructor. Her writing and story telling is compelling. She mixes her life with a good sense of humor that has helped her overcome all her downs in life and shows how she bounced back with vigor and confidence.
She says : "Being raised by Holocaust parents, I learned that my silly feelings should be ignored. I had no right to feel bad, "Is a Nazis chasing you?" As I said in the book, Hitler spoiled my parents for regular suffering. So, in therapy I learned that my feelings WERE important, therefore I was important. After all, if we're not our feelings, what are we here for, to be money-making robots?" Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] Becoming Eichmann
by David Cesarani
March 2006. Perseus
A monumental and groundbreaking biography-the first one in more than forty years-of Adolf Eichmann, Germany's architect of the Final Solution. In charge of the logistical apparatus of mass deportation and extinction, Adolf Eichmann was at the center of the Nazi genocide against the Jews. He was personally responsible for transporting over two million Jews to their deaths in Auschwitz-Birkenau and other death camps. This is the first account of Eichmann's life to appear since the aftermath of his famous trial in 1961 and his subsequent execution in Jerusalem a year later. It reveals that the depiction of Eichmann as a loser who drifted into the ranks of the SS is a fabrication that conceals Eichmann's considerable abilities and his early political development. Drawing on recently unearthed documents, David Cesarani shows how Eichmann became the Reich's "expert" on Jewish matters and reveals his initially cordial working relationship with Zionist Jews in Germany, despite his intense anti-Semitism. Cesarani explains how the massive ethnic cleansing Eichmann conducted in Poland in 1939-40 was the crucial bridge to his later role in the mass deportation of the Jews. And Cesarani argues controversially that Eichmann was not necessarily predisposed to mass murder, exploring the remarkable, largely unknown period in Eichmann's early career when he first learned how to become an administrator of genocide. This challenging work deepens our understanding of Adolf Eichmann and offers fresh insights both into the operation of the Final Solution and the making of its most notorious perpetrator. Click the book cover above to read more.





[book] I Am My Mother's Daughter
Making Peace With Mom-before It's Too Late
by Iris Krasnow
March 2006. Basic
From Publishers Weekly: "-At 50, American University communications professor Krasnow (Surrendering to Marriage) reconciled with her difficult mother, a Holocaust survivor and former saleswoman. Here she gathers insights from other adult women with diverse backgrounds and experiences but similar life wisdom: "Ditching old baggage and learning to love our mothers must come before we learn to love, and know, ourselves." A private investigator becomes caretaker to her highly competent mother, a former nurse, and discovers that the Superwoman is merely human; a Trinidadian immigrant and victim of spousal abuse accepts her lawyer daughter's lesbianism and gains her respect. A therapist and survivor of eating disorders shares a marital problem with her "historically non-empathetic" mother and is gratified by her response; a social services professional pushing 70 learns to cope with the 96-year-old family matriarch who still treats her like a child. Celebrities get to vent, too: singer Chynna Phillips reconnects with her neglectful rock star mother, Michelle, of the Mamas and the Papas, as they bond over Chynna's children and a passion for music. Although it doesn't pack the punch that Nancy Friday's revolutionary My Mother/My Self did in its day, Krasnow's worthy effort will resonate with introspective baby boomers." Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] Moscow Stories
by Loren R. Graham
March 2006. Indiana
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. On his first trip into the Soviet Union, in 1960, Graham had to walk through the Finnish woods with his luggage after he was kicked off a train because his papers weren't in order. That's par for the course in this fascinating book recapping more than 40 years of visiting the Soviet Union and, later, post-Soviet Russia. Graham introduces a host of eccentric characters: the widow of a top Soviet official killed by Stalin; an American who fit into Soviet society because of his rumpled clothes and love of Russian dumplings; and a Georgian who cuts open a can of fish with his teeth as he and Graham share vodka. But the characters Graham encountered as a student and academic (he's a professor of the history of science at MIT) are only part of the story. These essays also depict the absurdities, both humorous and painful, of life in the Soviet Union. He recounts having to sneak back into the residence of the American ambassador in Moscow during one visit, how he was visited by the FBI and recruited by the KGB. Not only are the stories captivating but they are also well told: Graham's that rare academic who knows how to write for a popular audience. Click the book cover above to read more.









[book] LODZ GHETTO
A HISTORY
By Isaiah Trunk, Israel Gutman (Introduction), Robert Moses Shapiro (Translator)
2006. Indiana
In his comprehensive examination of the Lódz Ghetto, originally published in Yiddish in 1962, historian Isaiah Trunk sought to describe and explain the tragedy that befell the Jews imprisoned in the first major ghetto imposed by the Germans after they invaded Poland in 1939. Lódz had been home to nearly a quarter million Jews. When the Soviet military arrived in January 1945, they found 877 living Jews and the remains of a vast industrial enterprise that had employed masses of enslaved Jewish laborers. Based on an exhaustive study of primary sources in Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish, German, and Russian, Isaiah Trunk, a former resident of Lódz, reconstructs the organization of the ghetto and discusses its provisioning; forced labor; diseases and mortality; crime and deportations; living conditions; political, social, and cultural life; and resistance. Included are translations of the 141 documents that Trunk reproduced in his volume. Isaiah Trunk (1905-1982) was Senior Research Associate and Chief Archivist at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. He is author of Judenrat: The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe under Nazi Occupation. Robert Moses Shapiro is Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies, Brooklyn College, City University of New York. He is editor of Holocaust Chronicles: Individualizing the Holocaust through Diaries and Other Contemporaneous Personal Accounts. Click the book cover above to read more.









[book] American Artists, Jewish Images
(Judaic Traditions in Literature, Music, and Art)
by Matthew Baigell, Professor Emeritus, Rutgers
In the first extended work tracing the Jewish influences of fifteen major American artists, this landmark book chronicles the enormous contribution of Jewish artists to twentieth-century American art. Born over a fifty-year period, the artists in this volume represent several generations of twentieth-century artists. Examining the work of such influential artists as Mark Rothko, Max Weber, and Ruth Weisberg, Baigell directly confronts their Jewish identity-as a religious, cultural, and psychological component of their lives-and explores the way in which this influence is reflected in their art. Drawing upon their common heritage, Baigell reveals the different ways these artists responded to the Great Immigration, the Depression, the Holocaust, the founding of the state of Israel, and the rise of feminism. Each artist's varied Jewish experiences have contributed to the creation of a visual language and subject matter that reflect both Jewish assimilation and Jewish continuity in ways that inform modern Jewish history and changes in present-day America. Offering a fresh examination of well-known artists as well as long overdue attention to lesser-known artists, Baigell's incisive observations are indispensable to our understanding of the Jewish themes in these artists' work. Written in a lively and spirited prose, this book is compulsory reading for those interested in modern American art and Jewish studies. Click the book cover above to read more.









APRIL 2006

[book][book] BEST-SELLING JEWISH PORN FILMS
POEMS (yes POEMS)
By Wayne Koestenbaum
April 2006. Turtle point.
Guess what?
There aren't any best selling Jewish porn films.
Wayne would like to make some
Jewish law helps to contain behaviors. It can be strict, but also comforting and homey. The same is true about syntax. His thoughts are exposed and can also hide within poetic syntax.
From Publishers Weekly: Acclaimed for work in queer studies and queer theory that includes books on opera divas, Andy Warhol and Jackie Onassis, the New York-based Koestenbaum is first and foremost a poet (as well as an accomplished pianist). His fifth book of verse ranges widely, entertainingly, sometimes bizarrely through fears, loves, tastes and obsessions: movie stars, middle age, cats, social theory, the meaning of cool and the significance of the poet's mother (the poet Phyllis Koestenbaum), who often appears in his dreams ("Sometimes I call my mother 'Bob' "). Koestenbaum's many short poems and shorter stanzas pivot between the quizzical and the chatty, between the simply fabulous and the merely strange, achieving, at best, a campy bravura with an undertone of dismay:
I love art
History
if only
I were
not exploding.
Admirers of Koestenbaum's early excursions may have a hard time putting these smaller, spikier pieces together; those who like their verse both cryptic and charming might consider them just the ticket.
Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] [book] SWEET AND LOW
A Family Story
by Rich Cohen
April 2006. FSG.
We read and enjoyed 3 of Cohen's previous books that plumbed his family connections, so we are loving this new book and highly recommend it (Tough Jews, The Avengers, and Lake Effect)
From Publishers Weekly: "Disinherited from the family fortune built by his maternal grandfather, Ben Eisenstadt, who invented the artificial sweetener Sweet'N Low, Cohen mines a wealth of family history in this funny, angry, digressive memoir. Ben worked as a short-order cook during the Depression and conceived of but failed to patent the sugar packet before he and his son Marvin hit pay dirt in the 1950s with the saccharin formula for Sweet'N Low.
[book]
Today a distant third to Equal and Splenda, Sweet'N Low is run by Marvin's son Jeff, who took over after Marvin and several other chief officers were charged with tax evasion and criminal conspiracy in 1993. This story of the family-owned, Brooklyn-based company is, at its heart, a tale of immigrant strife and Cohen's fractious Jewish clan, including his grandmother Betty, for whom "love is finite," and his hypochondriac, housebound Aunt Gladys ("a tongue probing a sore"), who connived to eliminate her sister (Cohen's mother) from Betty's will. Though Cohen often dollies back in a self-conscious if breezy effort to pad his memoir with big ideas-the history of artificial sweeteners, the post-WWII weight-watching craze, etc.-the real grace of his writing (seen in Tough Jews) lies in the merciless, comic characterizations of his relatives." Click the book cover above to read more.
THE NYT adds: "How decadent... to indulge in Rich Cohen's rollicking account of his family and the business it built, a book that aims mostly to settle old scores, air dirty laundry and answer decades of petty insults from relatives. This is the family that invented first the sugar packet and then Sweet'N Low, capitalizing on Americans' diet madness to build a company that by 1996 was producing 50 million packets of artificial sweetener a day at a factory in Brooklyn. Corruption set in, scandal erupted, and in the ensuing battles Cohen's mother and her "issue," as lawyers dispassionately referred to his branch of the family, were written out of the wills, for reasons still in dispute. Set deliriously free by disinheritance, Cohen resolved to tell of the rise of the Cumberland Packing Company - and, as he calls it, "the fortune that would be the cause of all the trouble" - and sort out how things went so horribly awry. He paints vividly, and not flatteringly. There is Uncle Marvin, "as peppy as a camp counselor," who takes over the company from Cohen's grandfather and insists on being called Uncle Marvelous. A shut-in aunt who stage-manages the family drama from her bed in Flatbush. ("Her tongue is thousands of miles of fiber-optic cable.") A grandmother so determined to shape destiny that she changes her name twice (Pessie to Bessie to Betty), "the kind of woman," as her daughter describes her, "who wanted you to think she never went to the bathroom." And on the other side, Grandma Esther, "the loudmouthed immigrant who suddenly becomes a member of your family," who takes an afternoon to tell a story better told in five minutes, then winds it up by saying, "That's it in a nutshell," who takes her grandchildren to a movie and attempts to get a children's discount - even though they are ages 22 and 30. Cohen's grandfather Benjamin Eisenstadt, a lawyer turned short-order cook who started the whole enterprise, transformed his cafeteria near the Brooklyn Navy Yard into a tea bag factory after the end of World War II sapped his business, and had the idea to put sugar in little bags after being frustrated by the congealed sugar clogging a glass dispenser on a tabletop. Ben took his invention, unpatented, to a sugar company, which apparently stole it, rendering him forever suspicious. He got his revenge in the mid-50's, however, when he and Uncle Marvelous came up with the idea for Sweet'N Low. They positioned it first as an aid to diabetics, but dieters began swiping it from hospitals and restaurants, and soon the little pink packets had largely replaced not only the sugar dispenser but sugar itself. "Ben and Marvin had tapped into the zeitgeist," Cohen writes; "they had boarded a bullet train called Fat but Still Hungry."... Click the book cover above to read more.
The audio book: [book]










[book] MAN IN THE SHADOWS
INSIDE THE MIDDLE EAST CRISIS WITH A MAN WHO LED THE MOSSAD
BY EFRAIM HALEVY
April 2006. ST MARTIN'S PRESS.
Israel's Mossad is thought by many to be one of the most powerful intelligence agencies in the world. In Man in the Shadows, Efraim Halevy-a Mossad officer since 1961 and its chief between 1998 and 2002-provides an unprecedented portrait of the Middle East crisis. Having served as the secret envoy of prime ministers Rabin, Shamir, Netanyahu, Barak, and Sharon, Halevy was privy to many of the top-level negotiations that determined the progress of the region's struggle for peace during the years when the threat of Islamic terror became increasingly powerful. Informed by his extraordinary access, he writes candidly about the workings of the Mossad, the prime ministers he served under, and the other major players on the international stage: Yasir Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Hafiz al-Assad, Mu'amar Gadhafi, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush. From the vantage point of a chief in charge of a large organization, he frankly describes the difficulty of running an intelligence agency in a time when heads of state are immersed, as never before, in using intelligence to protect their nations while, at the same time, acting to protect themselves politically. Most important, he writes fiercely and without hesitation about how the world might achieve peace in the face of the growing threat from Islamic terrorist organizations.
In this gripping inside look, Halevy opens his private dossier on events past and present: the assassination attempt by the Mossad on the life of Khaled Mashal, now the leader of Khammas; the negotiations surrounding the Israeli-Jordan Peace Accord and its importance for the stability of the region; figures in the CIA, like Jim Angleton and George Tenet, with whom he worked (Halevy even shares his feelings about Tenet's abrupt resignation). He tells the truth about what the Mossad really knew before 9/11. He writes candidly about assessing the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the region and beyond, and what this spells for the future of international stability and survival. He touches on the increasing visibility of the CIA in the Middle East and openly shares his misgivings about both the report of the 9/11 Commission and the Middle East road map to peace that was pressed on all sides of the conflict by the U.S. government. He looks at the terrorist attacks in Madrid and London and their far-reaching effects, and states the unthinkable: We have yet to see the worst of what the radical Islamic terrorists are capable of. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Crown Heights
Blacks, Jews, And the 1991 Brooklyn Riot
(The Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life)
by Edward S. Shapiro
April 28, 2006. Brandeis.
From Publishers Weekly: Perhaps no single event shook the notion of a black-Jewish alliance like the 1991 unrest in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, which began after a Hasidic Jewish motorcade accidentally killed a black child. As Shapiro shows in this comprehensive, dispassionate account, the accident and what followed touched off a political firestorm in New York City: both black and Jewish activists exploited the death and the ensuing black unrest-during which a Jewish student was killed-for their own purposes. Shapiro deconstructs the simplistic readings of the event given at the time: some thought the Hasidic community received favored treatment, others that then Mayor David Dinkins was unwilling to use force against the black community. Historian Shapiro (A Time for Healing: American Jewry Since World War II) writes with detachment but is willing to make judgments: a guilty verdict in the first of four trials in the death of the Jewish student "would have dissipated much of the anger of Jews over the mayor's handling of the riot." A myriad of factors-sociological, personal, religious and economic-had to be in place for the unrest to occur, says Shapiro, and he goes a long way toward providing the context necessary to understand them. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Half/Life
Jew-ish Tales from Almost, Not Quite, and In-between
by Laurel Snyder
April 2006. Soft Skull Press.
Written by authors born into the so-called "dilemma of intermarriage," the stories in Half/Life explore the experience of being raised in a half-Jewish home. Though each essay is distinct, and the experiences are vastly different, each describes growing up without a streamlined identity, unsure of community or religious direction. From Jenny Traig, whose experiences led her to extreme devotion in the form of religious-obsessive compulsion (scrupulosity) to Thisbe Nissen, who finally felt Jewish after discovering a rosary in her boyfriend's sock drawer, these authors examine the complicated relationships they felt with the Jewish community and the world at large. By turns tragic and funny, religious and heartbreaking, angry and surprisingly familiar, Half/Life represents the altogether diverse memories and reflections of a handful of men and women who have spent a lifetime grappling with how to define themselves, or not. What results from that struggle is a complex exploration, and some truly brilliant prose. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] The Spirituality of Welcoming
How to Transform Your Congregation Into a Sacred Community
By Ron Wolfson, PhD
Spring 2006, Jewish Lights.
An empowering guide to creating the kind of spiritual community that reaches, teaches and inspires. Synagogues are the single best opportunity we have to support the Jewish people, spiritually and physically. But synagogues must be communities where relationships, not programs, matter most and where membership is not simply about reaching in, but also about reaching out to welcome and involve the unaffiliated. In this empowering, practical guide, Dr. Ron Wolfson explores how to transform your synagogue into a sacred community by creating a culture founded on the spirituality of welcome. Wolfson explores how to create an "ambience of welcome" in the congregation, analyzes why the emergence of welcoming "seeker" worship services provide spiritual uplift to those with little or no knowledge of the liturgy, and shows how to connect and deepen membership. Tapping into his experiences as cofounder of Synagogue 2000 (now Synagogue 3000), the transdenominational institute for envisioning the synagogue of the twenty-first century, this book is ideal for synagogue leadership and boards who work to create sacred communities infused with the spirituality of welcoming. Dr. Ron Wolfson is Fingerhut Professor of Education and founding director of the Whizin Center for the Jewish Future at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. He is president/CEO of Synagogue 2000, and the author of Hanukkah, Passover and Shabbat, all family guides to spiritual celebrations; and A Time to Mourn, A Time to Comfort: A Guide to Jewish Bereavement and Comfort. Click the book cover above to read more.









[book] Rethinking Synagogues
A New Vocabulary for Congregational Life
By Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, PhD
Spring 2006, Jewish Lights.
A critical and challenging look at reinventing the synagogue and what that means for the survival of religious Judaism. Synagogues are under attack, and for good reasons. But they remain the religious backbone of Jewish continuity, especially in America, the sole western industrial or post-industrial nation where religion and spirituality are rapidly growing in importance. To fulfill their mandate for the American future, synagogues need to replace old and tired conversation with a new way of talking about themselves. Based on ten years of research with Synagogue 2000 (now Synagogue 3000), a pioneering experiment in synagogue transformation that dealt with some one hundred synagogues across all denominations, Rabbi Hoffman provides a fresh way for synagogues to think as they undertake the exciting task of transformation for success in the twenty-first century. Central to the challenge is his theological (not ethnic) rationale for the synagogue; his call for transformative, not just additive, change; and his exploration of what it would take for the synagogue to become a k'hilah k'doshah, a "sacred community," the moral and spiritual center that is needed for the twenty-first century. Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, PhD, is cofounder of Synagogue 2000 and professor of liturgy at Hebrew Union College. He has written or edited over twenty-four books, including The Way Into Jewish Prayer, the multi-volume My People's Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries series, and The Art of Public Prayer: Not for Clergy Only . Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] The Healthy Jewish Cookbook
100 Delicious Recipes from Around the World
by Michael Van Straten, Bunny Grossinger
Spring 2006.
Traditionally associated with the heavy, fat-laden foods of Europe - deep-fried latkes, chicken fat, and achingly sweet desserts - Jewish food is, in fact, far more varied. Jews who migrated to other parts of the world developed cuisines unique to their new countries, yet still flavored with the tastes of the Middle East and the strict requirements of Jewish dietary laws. This beautifully illustrated book takes readers on a fascinating journey around the world, showing how Jewish cookery adapted and why it offers so many health benefits. There is the light, flavorful Mediterranean diet of Greek Jews and the Moorish-influenced food of the Jews expelled from Spain in 1492, both of which are rich in natural antioxidants, as well as the grain-based dishes of North Africa and the fragrant salads of the Middle East. With recipes like Egg and Onion with Cilantro, Nutty Spinach with Raisins, Schmaltz Herrings, Roast Duck with Cherries, and Ginger Hazelnut Cookies, this cookbook is a treasure trove of delicious, nutritious recipes for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. . Click the book cover to read more.






[book] YELLoW STAR
by JENNiFER ROY
April 2006. Cavendish.
Ages 10 and up
Autobiographical poems from a survivor. Syvia Perlmutter, the Aunt of author Jennifer Roy, was one of 12 children who survived her Lodz ghetto. 800 people survived out of 250,000. This is her story of survival written in free verse. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] DINOSAUR ON PASSOVER
by DIANE LEVIN RACHWERGER
Illustrated by Jason Wolff
April 2006. Karben.com
Ages 2 - 6
An eager playful dinosaur comes to a young boy's house to join him in celebrating Passover, causing havoc at the seder. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] THE NIMROD FLIPOUT
by ETGAR KERET. Translated from Hebrew
April 2006. FSG.
Already featured on This American Life and Selected Shorts and in Zoetrope: All Story and L.A. Weekly, these short stories include a man who finds equal pleasure in his beautiful girlfriend and the fat, soccer-loving lout she turns into after dark; shrinking parents; a case of impotence cured by a pet terrier; and a pessimistic Middle Eastern talking fish. A bestseller in Israel, The Nimrod Flipout is an extraordinary collection from the preeminent Israeli writer of his generation. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Abraham
The 1st Historical Biography
by David Rosenberg, (former editor of JPS)
April 2006. Basic Books.
From the co-author of the New York Times bestseller The Book of J, the first modern history of the Biblical Abraham and his world (WELL, that is hyperbole... cuz don't forget that Bruce Feiler wrote ABRAHAM two years ago, and there was also THE DISCOVERY OF GOLD from Doubleday)..... The world's major religions-Judaism, Christianity, and Islam-find a common root in one man: Abraham. Yet Abraham looms so large in the realm of world religions that he has remained a ward of the Divine rather than a flesh-and-blood citizen of Humanity. In his new book, David Rosenberg provides a long-overdue history of the patriarch; while revealing that the original story embedded in the Bible is actually our oldest historical biography. We also discover that the wandering ascetic of tradition cannot explain our deep-seated feelings for Abraham and his God. The road that Abraham traveled was marked by signs of civilization that we still recognize: libraries, museums, hotels, and houses of worship. He is a sophisticated, educated Sumerian; an artisan who became the first Jew. Moreover, through Rosenberg's audacious translation of the Abraham story from Genesis, we learn that many of the core tenets of the monotheistic tradition-the idea of God's covenant and the soul-are Sumerian in origin. Rosenberg first finds Abraham at his father's workshop in the cosmopolitan city of ancient Ur and follows his journey through what is today the Middle East. What kind of baggage-emotional, material, and spiritual-would Abraham have taken with him on his migration to a new land? Abraham does more than present a founding spiritual figure and his dynamic relationships with father, wife, and son. We witness this man as he transforms his heritage into an anxious embrace of religion with secular culture-the human condition in which we are still enfolded today. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] GRANDPA'S LITTLE ONE
BY BILLY CRYSTAL
ILLUSTRATED BY GUY PORFIRIO
Ages 9 - 12
April 2006. HarperCollins .
Tony Award-winning comedian, director, actor, and bestselling author Billy Crystal is, above all things, a devoted grandfather. Drawn from his own experience, Grandpa's Little One tells the story of the first year in his grandbaby's life. It's a year filled with tender memories of every first-time event: first smile, first swim, first giggle and laugh, first piece of cake. Seen from a grandfather's point of view, each reverberates with love, tenderness, and a sense of humor. Grandparents everywhere will recognize themselves in the words and pictures of this book. Click the book cover above to read more.
[book]







[book] Storm from the East
The Struggle Between the Arab World and the Christian West
(Modern Library Chronicles)
by Milton Viorst
April 2006. Random House.
America's engagement with the Arab world stretches back far beyond the Iraq wars. According to Milton Viorst, the current conflict is simply the latest round in a 1,400-year struggle between Christianity and Islam, in which the United States became a participant only in the last century. Today, the Bush Doctrine aims to free the Arab peoples from political oppression and create a democratic Iraq. So why are Arabs, and Iraqis in particular, so suspicious of our efforts? The explanation, Viorst says, is simple: "What the American leadership has miscalculated, or simply dismissed, is Arab nationalism." In Storm from the East, Viorst offers a balanced, lucid, and vital history of America's uneasy relationship with the Arab world and argues that brutal conflict in the region will continue until the West, with the United States taking the lead, honors the Arabs' insistence on deciding their own destiny. Viorst examines the long struggle of the Arab world to overthrow Western hegemony. He explores the Arab experiences with democracy and military despotism; Nasserite socialism in Egypt and Ba'athism in Syria and Iraq; tribal monarchy in Saudi Arabia and Jordan; guerrilla warfare waged by the Palestinians; and, finally, Islamic rebellion culminating in Osama bin Laden's extremist al-Qaeda. All have the same goal: the liberation of the Arabs from foreign domination. Storm from the East is a powerful work that, like no other, limns the political, religious, and social roots of Arab nationalism and the present-day unrest in the Middle East. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] TUNJUR! TUNJUR! TUNjUR!
A Palestinian Folktale
Retold by Margaret Read MacDonald
Collected by Ibrahim Muhawi (University of Munich) and Sharif Kanaana (Bir Zeit University, Ramallah)
April 2006. Cavendish.
Ages 3 - 8
A mischievous pot rolls in to trouble. It is a naughty pot. It must learn that there are consequences for stealing and other naughty actions. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] HONEST ANSWERS TO YOUR CHILD'S JEWISH QUESTIONS
By Sharon Forman
April 2006. Union of Reform Judaism Press.
What do you say when your five-year-old asks, "What does God look like?" or "Why am I Jewish?" By middle school, the questions are tougher: "Is the Torah true?" "Why do I have to learn Hebrew?" This helpful new book suggests successful response to these questions and many more, summarizing liberal Jewish thought in an accessible, easy-to-use format. The author, a rabbi and a mother, covers a broad array of topics, including God, holidays, ethics, history, Israel, prayer, Jewish diversity, practices, and identity. This is a must-have for Jewish educators and parents. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Swords and Plowshares
Jewish Views of War and Peace
by Edwin Goldberg
April 2006. Union of Reform Judaism Press.
With terrorism and violence pervasive worldwide and much of the Middle East in a state of war, the age-old concerns about war and peace have fresh relevance. What does Judaism say on the subject? Is war ever justified, and under what circumstances? This timely new book presents relevant texts-biblical, rabbinic, and medieval-along with examples from modern history, and suggests questions for discussion and contemplation. This work is vital for anyone who follows news coverage from Israel or around the world. Rabbi Goldberg also provides brief essays to help guide the reader through the texts. In vocalized Hebrew and English with glossary and bibliography. Appropriate for teen and adult audiences. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Defending the Holy Land
A Critical Analysis of Israel's Security and Foreign Policy
by Zeev Maoz
April 2006. University of Michigan Press.
Defending the Holy Land is the most comprehensive analysis to date of Israel's national security and foreign policy, from the inception of the State of Israel to the present. Author Zeev Maoz's unique double perspective, as both an expert on the Israeli security establishment and esteemed scholar of Mideast politics, enables him to describe in harrowing detail the tragic recklessness and self-made traps that pervade the history of Israeli security operations and foreign policy. Most of the wars in which Israel was involved, Maoz shows, were entirely avoidable, the result of deliberate Israeli aggression, flawed decision-making, and misguided conflict management strategies. None, with the possible exception of the 1948 War of Independence, were what Israelis call "wars of necessity." They were all wars of choice-or, worse, folly. Demonstrating that Israel's national security policy rested on the shaky pairing of a trigger-happy approach to the use of force with a hesitant and reactive peace diplomacy, Defending the Holy Land recounts in minute-by-minute detail how the ascendancy of Israel's security establishment over its foreign policy apparatus led to unnecessary wars and missed opportunites for peace. A scathing and brilliant revisionist history, Defending the Holy Land calls for sweeping reform of Israel's foreign policy and national security establishments. This book will fundamentally transform the way readers think about Israel's troubled history.
Zeev Maoz is a professor of Political Science, and former head of the Graduate School of Government and Policy at Tel-Aviv University. He also served as the Head of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies (1994-1997), as the Academic Director of the M.A. program of the National Defense College of the IDF (1990-1994), and as Chairman of the Department of Political Science at the University of Haifa (1991-1994). Prof. Maoz received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Yellow Star
by Jennifer Roy
April 2006. Marshall Cavendish.
Syvia is four years old in 1939, when the Germans invade Poland and start World War II. A few months later, her family is forced into the crowded Lodz ghetto, with more than a quarter of a million other Jews. At the end of the war, when Syvia is 10, only about 800 Jews remain-only 12 of them are children. Syvia remembers daily life: yellow stars, illness, starvation, freezing cold, and brutal abuse, with puddles of red blood everywhere, and the terrifying arbitrariness of events ("like the story of a boy / who went out for bread / and was shot by a guard / who didn't like the way the boy / looked at him"). When the soldiers first go from door to door, "ripping children from their parents' arms" and dragging them away, her father hides her in the cemetery. For years thereafter, she's not allowed to go outside. In 1944 the ghetto is emptied, except for a few Jews kept back to clean up, including Syvia's father, who keeps his family with him through courage, cunning, and luck. As the Nazis face defeat, Syvia discovers a few others hidden like her, "children of the cellar." When the Russians liberate the ghetto, she hears one soldier speak Yiddish, and the family hears of the genocide, the trains that went to death camps. At last they learn of the enormity of the tragedy: neighbors, friends, and cousins-all dead. There's much to think t and talk about as the words bring the history right into the present





[book] One Who Came Back
The Diary of a Jewish Survivor
by Josef Katz, Hilda Reach (Translator)
April 2006. University of Wisconsin Press.
In December 1941, the SS deported twenty-three-year old Josef Katz from his home in Lübeck, Germany, to the Riga ghetto. Over the next four years, he and thousands of other Jews were subjected to unrelenting brutality in internment ghettos and concentration camps. One Who Came Back is an unflinching account of Katz's coming through each day's terror and its constant threat of death. Liberated in 1945, and surviving a death march back to Germany, he began this diary in 1946, finishing it a year later in New York where he arrived with his wife Irene, also a survivor of Riga. One Who Came Back has been acknowledged by historians, including Martin Gilbert and Leni Yahil, as a significant contribution to our understanding of what slave laborers endured in Nazi camps during the war.





[book] 1111 Days in My Life Plus Four
by Ephraim Sten, Moshe Dor (Translator)
2006. University of Wisconsin Press.
In 1941, in Zlochow, Poland, where Ephraim Sten lived with his family, the SS rounded up Jews into ghettoes. Thirteen-year old Sten, who had started a diary, fled with his mother to the countryside where a Catholic-Ukrainian couple hid them and several relatives. Sten's account of those years was harrowing. Fifty years later he had the diary translated into Hebrew for his children and responded to each of his own youthful entries. "For decades," he writes, "I was not conscious of the load crushing my soul. This damned writing has newly rediscovered everything." 1111 Days in My Life Plus Four is a double testimony of the boy and the man he became-an extraordinary record and, in itself, a distinctive work of literature. As Myra Sklarew writes, "the boy and the man he became finally stand side by side in an attempt to free themselves from the voices, faces, images of their shared past."





[book] THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION
THE BEGINNING OF OUR RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS
BY KAREN ARMSTRONG
April 2006. Knopf.
In the ninth century BCE, the peoples of four distinct regions of the civilized world created the religious and philosophical traditions that have continued to nourish humanity to the present day: Confucianism and Daoism in China, Hinduism and Buddhism in India, monotheism in Israel, and philosophical rationalism in Greece. Later generations further developed these initial insights, but we have never grown beyond them. Rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, for example, were all secondary flowerings of the original Israelite vision. Now, in The Great Transformation, Karen Armstrong reveals how the sages of this pivotal "Axial Age" can speak clearly and helpfully to the violence and desperation that we experience in our own times. Armstrong traces the development of the Axial Age chronologically, examining the contributions of such figures as the Buddha, Socrates, Confucius, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the mystics of the Upanishads, Mencius, and Euripides. All of the Axial Age faiths began in principled and visceral recoil from the unprecedented violence of their time. Despite some differences of emphasis, there was a remarkable consensus in their call for an abandonment of selfishness and a spirituality of compassion. With regard to dealing with fear, despair, hatred, rage, and violence, the Axial sages gave their people and give us, Armstrong says, two important pieces of advice: first there must be personal responsibility and self-criticism, and it must be followed by practical, effective action. In her introduction and concluding chapter, Armstrong urges us to consider how these spiritualities challenge the way we are religious today. In our various institutions, we sometimes seem to be attempting to create exactly the kind of religion that Axial sages and prophets had hoped to eliminate. We often equate faith with doctrinal conformity, but the traditions of the Axial Age were not about dogma. All insisted on the primacy of compassion even in the midst of suffering. In each Axial Age case, a disciplined revulsion from violence and hatred proved to be the major catalyst of spiritual change. Click the book cover above to read more.






A JEWISH BOOK? HE HE
DOES THIS MEAN THE CHURCH CAN'T BLAME THE JEWS?
[book] The Gospel of Judas
Commentary by Bart D. Ehrman, Edited by Rodolphe Kasser, Marvin Meyer, and Gregor Wurst
April 2006. National Geographic Society
This volume is the first publication of what is known as the Gospel of Judas, condemned as heresy by early Church leaders, most notably by St. Irenaeus, in 180 CE. Hidden away in a cavern in Middle Egypt, the codex (or book) containing the gospel was discovered by farmers in the 1970s. In the intervening years the Coptic papyrus codex was bought and sold by antiquities traders, hidden away, and damaged into fragments. In 2001, it finally found its way into the hands of a team of experts who would painstakingly reassemble and restore it. The Gospel of Judas has been translated from its original Coptic in clear prose, and is accompanied by commentary that explains its fascinating history in the context of the early Church. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] GIRL STORIES
A graphic novel by Lauren Weinstein
APRIL 2006. Henry Holt Books for Young Readers.
Ages 12-19.
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Weinstein's short, bitterly hilarious stories of teenage-girl angst were a popular feature on gURL.com; this book collects them, along with new material that turns them into a loose narrative of her semiautobiographical protagonist's eighth- and ninth-grade years. "Lauren" is obsessively concerned with her social standing and weight, guilty about still playing with Barbies, fixated on Morrissey, annoyed by being Jewish at Christmas, tormented by a navel piercing gone awry and perplexed by the mystery of boys and why they like her or don't. (It doesn't help that everyone in her school is as cruel as, well, teenagers.) Fortunately, her imagination, her sense of humor and her knack for woe-is-me exaggeration are her escape routes. Weinstein draws her stories with frantic, scraggly lines and eye-scalding neon colors straight off the teenage cosmetics rack. Everything looks crude and distorted on the surface, but her artwork is a lot cleverer and subtler than it initially appears. Weinstein understands the painful immediacy of everything in teenagers' lives-how every success, even in egging a tree, feels like a monumental victory, and every moment of social or academic awkwardness feels like the end of the world-and these anecdotes and images both sympathize with and mock this revelation. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] The Notebook Girls
by Julia Baskin, Lindsey Newman, Sophie Pollitt-Cohen, Courtney Toombs
APRIL 2006. Warner.
Four young students from NYC's Stuyvesant High School shared a notebook diary. If you ever wanted to be a voyeur, or know what teens actually think about sex or Jewish identity or school or life... this is a must
Julia, Lindsey, Sophie, and Courtney enter Stuyvesant, New York City's most prestigious public high school, in September of 2001, just days before they watch the Twin Towers crumble outside their classroom window. A bond of friendship is struck, and yet demanding class schedules, extracurricular activities, and busy social lives make it hard for them to stay in touch. This prompts the four girls to start "The Notebook," a collective journal'ing project that allows them to express their frustrations, triumphs, and everyday encounters inside an ordinary composition book. Their experiences are not unusual: They get cut from teams, get bad grades, win debates, get rebuffed by boyfriends, plan surprise parties, smoke, drink, experiment with sex, and argue with their parents. But it is the raw honesty of these page-turning exchanges that will captivate readers, involving them in both their individual and group stories, and laying bare what it is really like to be a teenager today. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Every Mother Is a Daughter
The Neverending Quest for Success, Inner Peace, and a Really Clean Kitchen
(Recipes and Knitting Patterns Included)
by Perri Klass, Sheila Solomon Klass
APRIL 2006. Random House
These authors avoid the pitfalls of the often saccharine mother-daughter memoir by interspersing humorous anecdotes within a solid framework of stories of mom Sheila's dark upbringing during the 1940s and daughter Perri's current struggle to keep her own life as a mother, doctor, writer and avid knitter under control. The two exchange ideas, conflicting memories of past events and even gentle criticisms in chapters such as "There Are No Old Babies" and "Milking Reindeer." Readers will appreciate the honesty between the pair as Sheila writes about growing up with abusive and distant parents and her experience as a working mother in New Jersey during the 1960s, while Perri struggles to "have it all" in 2005, consistently feeling as though something, or someone, has been forgotten along the way. The mother-daughter duo triumph over hectic schedules and physical distance through their love of writing and travel, ending with reminiscences of their trip to India to visit the Taj Mahal. This is a treasure for any generation. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] BLUE NUDE
A novel by Elizabeth Rosner
APRIL 2006. Ballantine Books.
In this sensual, intimate novel, prizewinning poet and bestselling author Elizabeth Rosner tells the engrossing and timely story of an artist and his model, and the moral and political implications of their relationship. Born in the shadow of postwar Germany, Danzig is a once-prominent painter who now teaches at an art institute in San Francisco. But while Danzig shares wisdom and technique with students, his own canvases remain mysteriously empty. When a compelling new model named Merav poses for his class, Danzig, unsettled by her beauty, senses that she may be the muse he has been waiting for. The Israeli-born granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, Merav is a former art student who discovered her abilities as a model while studying in Tel Aviv. To escape the danger and violence of the Middle East, she moved to California, where she found work posing for artists around the Bay Area. Now challenged by Danzig's German accent and the menace it suggests, Merav must decide how to overcome her fears. Before they can create anything new together, both artist and model are forced to examine the history they carry. Like a paintbrush in motion, Blue Nude moves back and forth through time, recounting the events that have brought Danzig and Merav together: their disparate upbringings, their creative awakenings, and their similarly painful, often catastrophic, love lives. The novel ultimately unites them in the present and, through the transcendent power of artistic expression, moves them forward to the point of reconciliation, redemption, and revival. Using words to paint the landscapes of body and soul, Elizabeth Rosner conveys the art of survival, the complexity of history, the form of exile, the shape of desire, and the color of intimacy. Blue Nude is the narrative equivalent of a masterpiece of fine art. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] A Woman of Uncertain Character
The Amorous and Radical Adventures of My Mother Jennie
(Who Always Wanted to Be a Respectable Jewish Mom)
by Her Bastard Son
by Clancy Sigal
APRIL 2006. Carroll and Graf.
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Screenwriter Sigal (Frida), a Renaissance man blacklisted in Hollywood and active in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, draws from his tempestuous childhood in the 1930s in gangland/union-busting Chicago. This vivid, poignant and political memoir depicts his complicated, beloved mother, a "crazy bohemian" Russian Jewish émigré immersed in the politics and mores of her time (she is now deceased). Jobless but never manless, Jennie Persily, youngest of 10, settled on Manhattan's Lower East Side, attended lectures given by John Reed and Emma Goldman, and fashioned her politics after theirs. An organizer for unions, she called her first strike at 13. An unwed mother at 31, she brought Clancy with her as she traveled the country by train, organizing. Along the way there were many men (and some women), and close calls with police and gangland hoods over her union activities. Clancy's childhood was peppered with characters like Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky and the "abusive Swede," his favorite of his mother's lovers. Gritty prose worthy of any classic noir film propels this engaging, often tender memoir of a larger-than-life woman and her self-deprecating but accomplished son, who still misses their shared adventures. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Memoirs of a Muse
A Novel
by Lara Vapnyar
APRIL 2006. PANTHEON.
Lara Vapnyar, author of the prizewinning story collection There Are Jews in My House, brings us a poignant and comic first novel about a delightfully sincere modern-day muse. We meet Tanya as a typical Russian girl, living with her bookish professor mother in a drab Soviet apartment. As a teenager, Tanya becomes obsessed with Dostoevsky and settles on her life's calling: she will be the companion to a great writer. Her memoirs tell of her immigration to New York after college, the stifling expectations of her Brighton Beach cousins, and the crucial moment in a bookshop on the Upper West Side, where Tanya attends a reading by Mark Schneider, a Significant New York Novelist. Tanya soon moves in with Mark, ready to dazzle in bed, to serve and inspire . . . if only he would spend a little more time writing and a little less time at the gym, the shrink, and the literary soirees where she feels hopelessly unglamorous and out of place. But as she gradually learns to read English-struggling to better understand Mark's work and her true role as Muse-Tanya also learns more than she expected about the destiny she has imagined for herself. Animated by Vapnyar's beguiling grace and vividness-with a narrative richness reflecting the great tradition of Russian realism to which she is a natural heir-Memoirs of a Muse is an altogether wonderful novel. It is a lively meditation on female capabilities and happiness, on the mysteries of artistic inspiration (and the absurdities of artistic life), and, perhaps most movingly, on the pain and wonder of the immigrant experience in New York City. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Renaissance England's Chief Rabbi
John Selden
by Jason P. Rosenblatt
APRIL 2006. OXFORD.
In the midst of an age of prejudice, John Selden's immense, neglected rabbinical works contain magnificent Hebrew scholarship that respects, to an extent remarkable for the times, the self-understanding of Judaism. Scholars celebrated for their own broad and deep learning gladly conceded Selden's superiority and conferred on him titles such as "the glory of the English nation" (Hugo Grotius), "Monarch in letters" (Ben Jonson), "the chief of learned men reputed in this land" (John Milton). Although scholars have examined Selden (1584-1654) as a political theorist, legal and constitutional historian, and parliamentarian, Renaissance England's Chief Rabbi is the first book-length study of his rabbinic and especially talmudic publications, which take up most of the six folio volumes of his complete works and constitute his most mature scholarship. It traces the cultural influence of these works on some early modern British poets and intellectuals, including Jonson, Milton, Andrew Marvell, James Harrington, Henry Stubbe, Nathanael Culverwel, Thomas Hobbes, and Isaac Newton. It also explores some of the post-biblical Hebraic ideas that served as the foundation of Selden's own thought, including his identification of natural law with a set of universal divine laws of perpetual obligation pronounced by God to our first parents in paradise and after the flood to the children of Noah. Selden's discovery in the Talmud and in Maimonides' Mishneh Torah of shared moral rules in the natural, pre-civil state of humankind provides a basis for relationships among human beings anywhere in the world. The history of the religious toleration of Jews in England is incomplete without acknowledgment of the impact of Selden's uncommonly generous Hebrew scholarship. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] The Water Door
A Novel (Paperback)
by Rosetta Loy, Gregory Conti (Translator)
2006. OTHER PRESS.
A Garcia Lorca poem gives this book its title, "not even the smallest hand can open the water door," and this epigraph begins a story of unrequited love. A five-year-old girl, the daughter of a bourgeois Roman family in the late 1930s, finds the object of her desire in her German-speaking governess: blond, blue-eyed, milky-white Anne Marie. The story of their relationship spans a single season, as the family moves through its obligatory social rituals. Their customs and manners are all absorbed through the wide-eyed gaze of their little girl making her first contact with the outside world. She encounters kindergarten, the nuns and their baroque Catholicism, and most importantly, a fascinating Jewish girl who lives across the street. Their friendship will change her relationship with her governess forever, especially once the Jewish girl disappears. Loy's rhythmic, sensual prose animates a kaleidoscopic narrative, combining the intimacy of childhood emotions with nightmare glimpses of Fascist Italy during World War II . Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Jew Gangster
A Father's Admonition
by Joe Kubert
Veteran comics artist Kubert took a major leap out of genre comics with Yossel (2003), the tragic story of a teenager trapped with his family in the Warsaw ghetto. The venture invigorated him, and now he offers another departure from his usual war and superhero work. Jew Gangster is about young Ruby, who rejects his immigrant parents' aspirations to respectability and falls in with a brutal mob. The story shares the milieu of Will Eisner's graphic novels, Jewish New York in the first half of the twentieth century. Unlike Eisner, who seems to draw directly from real life, Kubert appears to be inspired by 1930s Warner Brothers crime films. Even so, Kubert is one of the few comics artists alive who lived through the Depression, and his way with Brooklyn street scenes and Ruby's family's tenement apartment conjures an aura of authenticity. His full-bodied drawing style has always made most other comics artists look pallid, and he works with even greater vigor here. Admirers of Eisner's graphic novels should like Kubert's recent works, too. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Brownsville
by Neil Kleid, Jake Allen
April 2006
Conventional wisdom says that poverty produces gangsters, but Kleid and Allen focus on a thug whose family was making it. Allie Tanennbaum is first glimpsed peeking through the bushes around his father's Catskills resort at some famous customers: rising mobster Louise "Lepke" Buchalter and a couple henchmen. His brother yanks him away, and his father talks to him, then and later, but Allie's fascination with tough guys who are Jews like him is too strong. He becomes a member of Murder, Inc., which Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano's crime syndicate employed to enforce, uh, discipline. Eventually, when New York D.A.s Thomas Dewey and William O'Dwyer got on Murder, Inc.'s case, Allie turned canary and sang about the hit on Dutch Schultz, among other matters. Kleid fills out the main characters psychologically and sociologically, and Allen aims for verisimilitude in portraying persons and places while pulling out the crime-movie stops in terms of lighting and angle of vision. They contribute compellingly to true-crime literature in this smart, absorbing nonfiction graphic novel. Click the book cover above to read more.






TWO UNIQUE BOOKS:
[book] [book] Dumplings are Delicious
By Deborah Capone
And Freaky Foods from Around the World
Platillos Sorprendentes de Todo el Mundo
by Ramona Moreno Winner, Luis Borsan
Ages 4 - 8
Lucas' abuela (grandmother) invites his class over for lunch and the menu is all but common. Before she puts the platter down, abuela says: When food is strange and quite unknown and not familiar like our own, don't squirm around making funny faces, because foods comes from different places. That's why it's different! A natural history section provides information on the animals used in this book as a food source. Falafel not included.. but she serves chicken feet, cricket, tongue, moose heart and more. It reminds me of eating in a Tel Aviv Yemeni diner, where I ate spinal chord, cow's udder, and more. The lesson here is to respect other cultures and to be open to new experiences. Click the book cover above to read more.






IN HONOR OR ARTHUR HERTZBERG, an intellectual leader who passed away on Monday, April 17, 2006, we highlight a few of his works:
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MAY 2006


[book] EVERYMAN
A NOVEL
BY PHILIP ROTH
MAY 2006. HOUGHTON MIFFLIN.
One day your body will die, and take your mind with it. It is a very depersonalizing process.
The book opens with the burial of this unnamed everyman (Everyman, the title, comes from a Christian morality play in which Death pays a visit), a burial in a Jewish cemetery that should be maintained better. It is as rundown as a decaying body. It is in New Jersey. Roth was inspired by the death of his friends, including Saul Bellow; after Bellow's funeral, Roth went home and began to write.
From Publishers Weekly: What is it about Philip Roth? He has published 27 books, almost all of which deal with the same topics-Jewishness, Americanness, sex, aging, family-and yet each is simultaneously familiar and new. His latest novel is a slim but dense volume about a sickly boy who grows up obsessed with his and everybody else's health, and eventually dies in his 70s, just as he always said he would. (I'm not giving anything away here; the story begins with the hero's funeral.) It might remind you of the old joke about the hypochondriac who ordered his tombstone to read: "I told you I was sick." And yet, despite its coy title, the book is both universal and very, very specific, and Roth watchers will not be able to stop themselves from comparing the hero to Roth himself. (In most of his books, whether written in the third person or the first, a main character is a tortured Jewish guy from Newark-like Roth.) The unnamed hero here is a thrice-married adman, a father, and a philanderer. He is a 70-something who spends his last days lamenting his lost prowess (physical and sexual), envying his healthy and beloved older brother, and refusing to apologize for his many years of bad behavior, although he palpably regrets them. Surely some wiseacre critic will note that he is Portnoy all grown up, an amalgamation of all the womanizing, sex- and death-obsessed characters Roth has written about (and been?) throughout his career.But to obsess about the parallels between author and character is to miss the point: like all of Roth's works, even the lesser ones, this is an artful yet surprisingly readable treatise on... well, on being human and struggling and aging at the beginning of the new century. It also borrows devices from his previous works-there's a sequence about a gravedigger that's reminiscent of the glove-making passages in American Pastoral, and many observations will remind careful readers of both Patrimony and The Dying Animal-and through it all, there's that Rothian voice: pained, angry, arrogant and deeply, wryly funny. Nothing escapes him, not even his own self-seriousness. "Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work," he has his adman-turned-art-teacher opine about an annoying student. Obviously, Roth himself is a professional. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Remembering Voices of the Holocaust
A New History in the Words of the Men and Women Who Survived
by Lynn Smith
MAY 2006. CARROLL AND GRAF.
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Elie Wiesel's Night may be topping bestseller lists, thanks to Oprah's book club, but there is still a need for other testimonies to the horrors of the Holocaust. Smith, who has recorded the experiences of survivors for London's Imperial War Museum, weaves together more than 100 accounts to construct a narrative of Nazi persecutions from the first anti-Semitic measures in 1933 through the liberation of the concentration camps. Atrocities, cruelties and random acts of kindness are recounted, fueled by a fierce need to preserve the truth for future generations. The strength of this collection is deepened by the inclusion of the experiences of Jehovah's Witnesses, Gypsies, members of German police battalions, and resistance fighters. The most horrific anecdotes evoke the suffering of German, Polish and Czech Jews in overcrowded ghettos and extermination centers, somehow managing to outwit and, against all odds, overcome the final solution by luck and their persistent will to live. This is an extraordinary work of scholarship and a reminder of the power of individual stories, which can bring home the horrors of WWII more forcefully than abstract numbers.
Book description: A landmark achievement in Holocaust scholarship, Remembering Voices of the Holocaust is culled from hours of first person accounts from survivors recorded for inclusion in the sound archives of both the Imperial War Museum in London, and the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. In their own words, Jewish survivors as well as Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, and both perpetrators and ordinary observers recount the entire horrific arc of the Holocaust from the ominous rise of the Nazi party during the Weimar days through the liquidation of the ghettos and the institution of Hitler's "final solution," continuing on to the liberation of the camps and the harrowing aftermath of the War. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] My Father's Keeper
The Story of a Gay Son and His Aging Parents
by Jonathan G. Silin
May 2006, Beacon Press.
My Father's Keeper is the moving story of Jonathan Silin, a teacher at the Bank Street College, a gay man in midlife (50's), who learned to care for his elderly parents as a series of life-threatening illnesses (including cancer of the larynx) forced them to make the difficult transition from being independent to being reliant on their son. Their new needs and unrelenting demands brought parents and child into intimate daily contact and radically transformed what had been a distant and emotionally fraught relationship. At times, the author did not want to visit his father in the nursing home, since his father was so emotionally abusive and angry, an anger that dated back to when the author began to write articles on gay issues. My Father's Keeper chronicles the ways in which the ideas and skills Silin acquired as an early childhood educator, a specialist in life span development, and a compassionate witness to the devastation of the HIV/AIDS crisis came together with his interest in human psychology to deeply inform his thinking about the dramatic changes in his family's life and increasingly influence his role as his father's (and mother's) keeper. (Along the way, Silin's partner of 30 years succumbs to an illness. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] The Genesis of Leadership
What the Bible Teaches Us about Vision, Values and Leading Change
By Rabbi Nathan Laufer (Yeshiva University, Fordham Law)
May 2006, Jewish Lights.
A revealing look at the first five books of the Bible as the origin of leadership and how their ancient examples can help define leadership today. Most people do not think of the first five books of the Bible as books about leadership. After all, they mostly contain stories about individuals and their families. There are few political stories and even fewer chapters involving large masses of people-the kind of circumstances that we usually associate with leadership. Yet personal relationships parallel the relationships that leaders face in the larger world. The relationship dynamics in the first five books of the Bible point to the core issues of initiative, responsibility and fairness that are the foundations of successful or failed group leadership. In this inspiring guidebook, Rabbi Nathan Laufer exposes the first books of the Bible as the genesis of leadership, containing and confronting the issues of trust, relationship, vision and persuasiveness with which modern-day leaders must contend. Along with instances of exemplary leadership, Laufer also points out examples of failure to lead, leading with no direction, and leading in the wrong direction that pervade the first five books of the Bible and how these ancient examples can shape our lives as leaders today and in the future. Click the book cover above to read more.









[book] Foundations of Sephardic Spirituality
The Inner Life of Jews of the Ottoman Empire
by Rabbi Marc D. Angel, Ph.D.
May 2006, Jewish Lights.
From Booklist: Rabbi Angel's grandparents were Sephardic Jews who were born in Turkey and the Island of Rhodes, their generation shaped by the vagaries of history of Jews living in the Ottoman Empire. Although on the lower rungs of the economic, educational, and cultural ladders, the Sephardim saw themselves in a distinctly positive light, maintaining a rich inner life with an infinite faith in God. Angel chronicles their Iberian roots and their religious foundations; the Bible and the Talmud were the primary texts of their religious worldview. He explains their spiritual approach to Midrashic/Kabbalistic Judaism, the religious and social structure of their lives, and their Ladino folklore. He concludes that the Sephardic experience in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire demonstrates the triumph of the human spirit in the face of ubiquitous discrimination, poverty, and political weakness. Click the book cover above to read more.









[book] Traces Of God
Seeing God in Torah, History and Everyday Life
by Rabbi Neil Gillman.
2006, Jewish Lights.
From Booklist: Rabbi Gillman, a theologian, has written a column in the Jewish Week, New York's -Anglo-Jewish weekly, for the past 25 years. As the voice of the conservative movement, Gillman has selected 60 columns for this anthology. The author examines evidence that will help answer questions of what he calls a "spiritual search." They include such topics as God's existence and his presence, control over our destinies, suffering and redemption, and the role we play in shaping our relationship with God. Gillman has arranged the anthology into four broad terms: seeing God; images of God; revelation and law; and suffering, death, and redemption. There may never be definitive answers to some of these questions, but Gillman's astute book is a start. Click the book cover above to read more.









[book] HAMAS
POLITICS, CHARITY, AND TERRORISM IN THE SERVICE OF JIHAD
BY MATTHEW LEVITT
May 2006, Yale University Press.
LEVITT destroys and puts to rest the talking head notion that Hamas' charitable and military and political wings are separate from each other. It is, to put it simply, a movement striving for a radical Islam to permeate all life and behavior.
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Levitt, formerly a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and now a deputy assistant secretary in the Treasury Department, has completed a timely assessment of one of the world's most prolific terrorist organizations. As Hamas wields increasing power within the Palestinian Authority, Levitt offers a sobering analysis of the group's likely priorities and of the quickly dimming prospects for peace in this most intractable of conflicts. Probably the most comprehensive study of the tactics, finances and structures of the Islamic resistance movement ever published, many of the details will primarily interest the specialist. In nine heavily annotated chapters, Levitt explores Hamas's infrastructure, laying out detailed blueprints for indoctrination, money laundering, public outreach and militant activities, charting the anatomy of a typical attack down to the cost of each bullet. Levitt's well-documented assertion that there is essentially no separation between Hamas's military wing and its myriad charitable activities leaves him less sanguine than many commentators in the wake of the recent legislative elections.
[book] Levitt is likely to gain some enemies with evidence that, for instance, the Council on American-Islamic Relations is implicated in fund-raising for Hamas, but all his information is impeccably researched and compellingly presented. Click the book cover above to read more.









[book] IF HARRY POTTER RAN GENERAL ELECTRIC
LEADERSHIP WISDOM FROM THE WORLD OF THE WIZARDS
May 2006. Doubleday
However important the magic of wands, brooms, cauldrons, potions, and spells might be to the vivid story telling of [the Harry Potter] books, it is merely incidental to their philosophy of life.... I can't count the number of times I've heard someone in a business context say something like "I wish I could just magically solve all these problems" or "I'll try my best to deal with this, but remember, I'm no magician." What is particularly interesting is that the most difficult problems that the people in Harry's world face are rarely solved with just magic, but rather by the use of intelligence, reasoning, planning, courage, determination, persistence, resourcefulness, creativity, fidelity, friendship, and many other qualities traditionally known by the philosophers in our world as virtues.... The meaning of life is not to be found in elixirs or incantations, secret words or exotic objects with esoteric powers, but in real moral virtue and the magic of what it can help us do...." In IF HARRY POTTER RAN GENERAL ELECTRIC, bestselling business author Tom Morris (IF ARISTOTLE RAN GENERAL MOTORS) uncovers the values and timeless truths that underlie Rawling's hugely popular books and illuminate the lessons they offer to all of us in our careers and daily lives. But, you say, Harry Potter lives in a world of magic? What can we possibly learn to apply to our own careers and everyday lives? Morris shows that the most difficult problems Harry and his friends face are rarely solved by the use of magic alone. Rather, they are conquered by intelligence, reasoning, determination, creativity, friendship, and a host of other classic virtues-the very qualities, in fact, that make for success in every aspect of our lives. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] Roosevelt and the Holocaust
by Robert Beir
May 2006. Barricade
From Publishers Weekly - Why didn't FDR bomb Auschwitz? Why did he abandon the St. Louis refugees? And why did he allow Breckinridge Long and the State Department to pursue an anti-immigration policy? Aided by novelist Josepher (What the Psychic Saw), Beir, a successful businessman and amateur Roosevelt scholar, grapples with familiar accusations waged posthumously against FDR, intertwining Roosevelt's career with memories from his own long life. Born in 1918, Beir lost a brother to strep throat and experienced anti-Semitism for the first time when he was 14. His parents' wealth from a fabrics business weathered the Depression, and Beir became the first in his family to go to college. After Brown and Harvard Business School, Beir entered the navy and, serving in London, decoded messages from FDR to Churchill. "What did servicemen in Great Britain know about the Holocaust during this time? The answer, simply, was nothing," he claims. Beir compares his father to FDR; both were secretive, imposing, prideful and elusive. ..." Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] Absurdistan
A Novel
by Gary Shteyngart
May 2006.
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Misha Vainberg, the rich, arrogant and very funny hero of Shteyngart's follow-up to The Russian Debutante's Handbook, compares himself early on to Prince Myshkin from Dostoyevski's The Idiot: "Like the prince, I am something of a holy fool... an innocent surrounded by schemers." Readers will more likely note his striking resemblance to John Kennedy Toole's Ignatius Reilly. A "sophisticate and a melancholic," Misha is an obese 30-year-old Russian heir to a post-Soviet fortune. After living in the Midwest and New York City for 12 years, he considers himself "an American impounded in a Russian body." But his father in St. Petersburg has killed an Oklahoma businessman and then turned up dead himself, and Misha, trying to leave Petersburg after the funeral, is denied a visa to the United States. The novel is written as his appeal, "a love letter and also a plea," to the Immigration and Naturalization Service to allow him to return to the States, which lovingly and hilariously follows Misha's attempt to secure a bogus Belgian passport in the tiny post-Soviet country of Absurdistan. Along the way, Shteyngart's graphic, slapstick satire portrays the American dream as experienced by hungry newborn democracies, and covers everything from crony capitalism to multiculturalism. It's also a love story. Misha is in love with New York City and with Rouenna Sales, his "giant multicultural swallow" from the South Bronx, despite the pain they have caused him: a botched bris performed on Misha at age 18 by New York City's Hasid-run Mitzvah Mobile, and Rouenna running off with his stateside rival (and Shteyngart's doppelganger), Jerry Shteynfarb (author of "The Russian Arriviste's Hand Job") while Misha is stuck in Russia. The ruling class of Absurdistan is in love with the corrupt American company Halliburton, which is helping the rulers in a civil war in order to defraud the U.S. government. Halliburton, in turn, is in love with Absurdistan for the money it plans to make rebuilding Absurdistan's "inferstructure" and for the plentiful hookers who spend their nights and days by hotel pools looking for "Golly Burton" employees to service. And everyone is in love with America-or at least its money. Everything in Shteyngart's frustrated world-characters, countries, landscapes-strives for U.S.-style culture and prosperity, a quest that gives shape to the melancholy and hysteria of Shteyngart's Russia. Extending allegorical tentacles back to the Cold War and forward to the War on Terror, Shteyngart piles on plots, characters and flashbacks without losing any of the novel's madcap momentum, and the novel builds to a frantic pitch before coming to a breathless halt on the day before 9/11. The result is a sendup of American values abroad and a complex, sympathetic protagonist worthy of comparison to America's enduring literary heroes. Click the book cover above to read more.






OH GOODIE.... MAYBE WE CAN SELL THESE WITH our own self published Jewish Feng Shui guidebook, and our Chai Bo 18 minute exercise tape
PLEASE EXCUSE ME
WHILE I WRETCH UP
THREE MONTHS WORTH OF MEALS
LET'S ALL JUMP ON THE KABALA BANDWAGON SO WE CAN HIRE MORE... well, u know..
[book] Ask the Kabala Oracle Cards
by Deepak Chopra, Michael Zapolin, Alys Yablon
May 2006.
Well. Gee, it does have a nice cover design and colors
And I guess it goes well with out Kabala water, our Kabala red string, and our Kabala blue windowsills, and our full set of the Zohar, and our CD by the Israeli singer named Zohar, ... maybe we can get a small statue of Madonna and light incense, too... BUT WE DIGRESS...
Includes a 160 page guidebook. The deck consists of 22 illustrated cards, one for each of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each letter is represented by a specific story or character from the Bible, and a life lesson or meditation based on that story from a kabalistic perspective. Deepak Chopra is a physician and author, Michael is a Kabala.com specialist who knows lots about Kabala energy, and Alys lives in Jerusalem.. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] Soviet And Kosher
Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939
by Anna Shternshis
May 2006. Indiana University Press
Kosher pork-an oxymoron? Anna Shternshis's fascinating study traces the creation of a Soviet Jewish identity that disassociated Jewishness from Judaism. The cultural transformation of Soviet Jews between 1917 and 1941 was one of the most ambitious experiments in social engineering of the past century. During this period, Russian Jews went from relative isolation to being highly integrated into the new Soviet culture and society, while retaining a strong ethnic and cultural identity. This identity took shape during the 1920s and 1930s, when the government attempted to create a new Jewish culture, "national in form" and "socialist in content." Soviet and Kosher is the first study of key Yiddish documents that brought these Soviet messages to Jews, notably the "Red Haggadah," a Soviet parody of the traditional Passover manual; songs about Lenin and Stalin; scripts from regional theaters; Socialist Realist fiction; and magazines for children and adults. More than 20! 0 interviews conducted by the author in Russia, Germany, and the United States testify to the reception of these cultural products and provide a unique portrait of the cultural life of the average Soviet Jew. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] Book of Longing
by Leonard Cohen
May 2006.
From Publishers Weekly - Renowned singer-songwriter Cohen also boasts a reputation as a writer for the printed page, especially in his native Canada. This capacious collection (his first since 1993's Stranger Music) compiles musings, jottings, quatrains, brief lyrics, prose meditations and offhand epigrams, along with Cohen's ink drawings and work in his own handwriting. The melancholy Cohen displays both a surface humility and an underlying self-confidence as he reflects on women (as when recalling his seduction of "the most beautiful girl/ on the religious left"), Zen doctrine, his own advancing age (Cohen turned 70 two years ago) and the legacy of the '60s. Many poems feel like his song lyrics: "Sometimes just a list/ Of my events/ Is holier than the Bill of Rights/ And more intense." The volume will get a boost from Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man, a documentary scheduled for theatrical release . Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] THE JEWS OF MUSSOLINI'S ITALY
FROM EQUALITY TO PERSECUTION
BY MICHELE SARFATTI
Summer 2006. University of Wisconsin Press.
Finally available in English. This Milan based historian sheds light on the lives of Jews under Mussolini, from 1922 - 1945. It is a strong condemnation of the fascist regime. Sarfatti's use of statistics shows how the social climate of Italy changed, and how prejudicial it became. Rome did not ONLY FOLLOW Berlin, but Mussolini created his own anti-Jewish laws independent of Berlin. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] A HECKUVA JOB
MORE OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION IN RHYME
BY CALVIN TRILLIN
May 30 2006. Random House.
Trillin write dated poems about the Bush administration's decisions. Trillin deals with the people around Bush, such as Nanny Dick Cheney and Mushroom Cloud Rice and Orange John Ashcroft and Orange John's successor, Alberto Gonzales ("The A.G.'s to be one Alberto Gonzales- / Dependable, actually loyal über alles"). He tries to predict the behavior of the famously intemperate John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations in poems with titles like "Bolton Chases French Ambassador Up Tree" and "White House Says Bolton Can Do Job Even While in Straitjacket." Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] The Lemon Tree
An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East
by Sandy Tolan
May 2006. Bloomsbury USA.
In 1967, not long after the Six-Day War, three young Arab men ventured into the town of Ramle, in what is now Jewish Israel. They were cousins, on a pilgrimage to see their childhood homes; their families had been driven out of Palestine nearly twenty years earlier. One cousin had a door slammed in his face, and another found his old house had been converted into a school. But the third, Bashir Al-Khairi, was met at the door by a young woman called Dalia, who invited them in. This act of faith in the face of many years of animosity is the starting point for a true story of a remarkable relationship between two families, one Arab, one Jewish, amid the fraught modern history of the regio. In his childhood home, in the lemon tree his father planted in the backyard, Bashir sees dispossession and occupation; Dalia, who arrived as an infant in 1948 with her family from Bulgaria, sees hope for a people devastated by the Holocaust. As both are swept up in the fates of their people, and Bashir is jailed for his alleged part in a supermarket bombing, the friends do not speak for years. They finally reconcile and convert the house in Ramle into a day-care centre for Arab children of Israel, and a center for dialogue between Arabs and Jews. Now the dialogue they started seems more threatened than ever; the lemon tree died in 1998, and Bashir was jailed again, without charge. The Lemon Tree grew out of a forty-three minute radio documentary that Sandy Tolan produced for Fresh Air. With this book, he pursues the story into the homes and histories of the two families at its center, and up to the present day. Their stories form a personal microcosm of the last seventy years of Israeli-Palestinian history. In a region that seems ever more divided, The Lemon Tree is a reminder of all that is at stake, and of all that is still possible. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] The Mighty and the Almighty
Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs
by Madeleine Albright
MAY 2006, harpercollins.
From Booklist: *Starred Review* Albright brings considerable experience as a former diplomat, history professor, and child of Czech immigrants to an absorbing look at the intersection of world politics and world religion. With a sweeping view of U.S. historical involvement in the fight against communism and for human rights, as well as some of our more morally dubious pursuits, Albright critiques U.S. foreign policy and our notions of manifest destiny. From personal experiences, Albright notes the importance of religion in shaping world events, including the influence of Pope John Paul II on Poland and the world. As an admitted hybrid between realist and idealist, Albright suggests that politics and the values of faith can--and should--be joined in the interest of peace. But unfettered reliance on religious beliefs to guide politics is a formula for continued conflict. While President Bush portrays the U.S. anti-terrorism campaign as one aimed against evil, Albright notes that Osama bin Laden also "portrays a clash between the good defender and the evil aggressor, but with roles reversed." Albright details the historic conflicts between Christianity and Islam, between Israelis and Muslims, and conflicts among Muslims, all based on interpretations of religious texts. She believes the Christian Right has contributed to the complexity of foreign diplomacy with encroachment into areas that had formerly been personal matters--from contraception to sexual orientation--that are now matters of international interest. A thoughtful and absorbing look at religion and world politics for readers of all religious and political persuasions. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Jane Austen in Scarsdale
Or Love, Death, and the SATs
by Paula Marantz Cohen
MAY 2006, St Martins Press.
From Booklist: Following her send-up of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen in Boca (2002), Cohen tackles Austen's final novel, Persuasion, about first love getting a second chance. At age 21, Anne Ehr-lich was persuaded by her family to break up with her poverty-stricken boyfriend, Ben Cutler. Thirteen years later, Anne is working as a guidance counselor at a competitive high school when Ben, now the well-known founder of a travel guide series, walks back into her life.
[book][book] His nephew, Jonathan, is transferring to the school Anne works at, and Ben is determined to get him into Columbia, the university Anne herself attended. Anne finds her feelings about Ben haven't changed one bit, but Ben is engaged to another and doesn't seem inclined to forgive Anne for caving in to her family's wishes all those years ago. Cohen's novel is part witty satire on the college application process and part love story, guaranteeing Austenites and lovers of romantic comedy in general will cotton to this charming modernization of one of Austen's best novels. Click the book cover above to read more.








[book] SECRETLY INSIDE
A NOVEL
BY HANS WARREN
May 2006. University of Wisconsin Press.
In English for the first time, this is a translation of the 1975 Dutch best seller, STEEN DER HULP, but the late Hans Warren, one of Holland's best known writers and diarists (he kept a diary from 1939 - 2001). This novel will have a film based on it in 2006 from Laika Films, directed by Bavo Defurne, the Belgian filmmaker. Ed is a Jew in hiding in Nazi occupied Holland. In Zeeland, he is taken in by some farmers. But perhaps the Van't Westeindes are not as friendly as the seem. Camiel, the son of the family, is mourning the suicide of his friend, a German soldier. Ed is interested in Camiel, while Mariete, the family's daughter is interested romantically in Ed. She is quite unstable. The farmhouse that is Ed's sanctuary slowly becomes his prison. Click the book cover above to read more.
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[book] A DEATH IN BELMONT
By Sebastian Junger
MAY 2006. Norton.
In the spring of 1963, the quiet suburb of Belmont, Massachusetts, is rocked by a shocking sex murder that exactly fits the pattern of the Boston Strangler. Bessie Goldberg was killed. Sensing a break in the case that has paralyzed the city of Boston, the police track down a black man, Roy Smith, who cleaned the victim's house that day and left a receipt with his name on the kitchen counter. Smith is hastily convicted of the Belmont murder, but the terror of the Strangler continues. On the day of the murder, Albert DeSalvo-the man who would eventually confess in lurid detail to the Strangler's crimes-is also in Belmont, working as a carpenter at the Jungers' home. In this spare, powerful narrative, Sebastian Junger chronicles three lives that collide-and ultimately are destroyed-in the vortex of one of the first and most controversial serial murder cases in America. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Conversation with Spinoza
A Cobweb Novel (Writings from an Unbound Europe)
by Goce Smilevski, Filip Korzenski (Translator)
MAY 2006. Northwestern University Press.
Prizing ideas above all else, radical thinker Baruch Spinoza left little behind in the way of personal facts and furnishings. But what of the tug of necessity, the urgings of the flesh, to which this genius philosopher (and grinder of lenses) might have been no more immune than the next man-or the next character, as Baruch Spinoza becomes in this intriguing novel by the remarkable young Macedonian author Goce Smilevski. Smilevski's novel brings the thinker Spinoza, all inner life, into conversation with the outer, all-too-real facts of his life and his day--from his connection to the Jewish community of Amsterdam, his excommunication in 1656, and the emergence of his philosophical system to his troubling feelings for his fourteen-year-old Latin teacher Clara Maria van den Enden and later his disciple Johannes Casearius. From this conversation there emerges a compelling and complex portrait of the life of an idea--and of a man who tries to live that idea.
"Through this extraordinary literary expedition, [he] gives the Spinoza 'hologram,' usually projected onto the pages of historic-philosophical studies, his peculiar double--a man of flesh and blood who paradoxically shares his lonely universe with all those existing, or to exist, similar to him."--Ana Dimiskovska, PEN Center Literary Review
From Publishers Weekly: At the deathbed of 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, "you," a kind of theoretical interlocutor, notices a teardrop on the dead man's cheek-of which his spirit then denies the existence. Thus begins Macedonian novelist Smilevski's fourth novel (his first translated into English), which uses Spinoza's work as a way into his scantily documented life. In order "[t]o understand my contempt for tears," Spinoza goes on to tell his life story: the early death of his mother, his rejection of all romance, the books he wrote and the ideas he cultivated-it's a life free from emotion or desire, lived according to his ideals. At the end, the interlocutor demands a retelling, one told by the Spinoza "who knew what despair and sorrow really meant"-and gets it. Not only does Smilevski fulfill the difficult task of explaining Spinoza's dense ideas, dropping sly references to Darwin and Kundera into 17th-century Dutch life but he makes a hidden life wonderfully manifest. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Betraying Spinoza
The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity
by Rebecca Goldstein
MAY 2006. Schocken.
In 1656, Amsterdam's Jewish community excommunicated Baruch Spinoza, and, at the age of twenty-three, he became the most famous heretic in Judaism. He was already germinating a secularist challenge to religion that would be as radical as it was original. He went on to produce one of the most ambitious systems in the history of Western philosophy, so ahead of its time that scientists today, from string theorists to neurobiologists, count themselves among Spinoza's progeny. In Betraying Spinoza, Rebecca Goldstein sets out to rediscover the flesh-and-blood man often hidden beneath the veneer of rigorous rationality, and to crack the mystery of the breach between the philosopher and his Jewish past. Goldstein argues that the trauma of the Inquisition's persecution of its forced Jewish converts plays itself out in Spinoza's philosophy. The excommunicated Spinoza, no less than his excommunicators, was responding to Europe's first experiment with racial anti-Semitism. Here is a Spinoza both hauntingly emblematic and deeply human, both heretic and hero-a surprisingly contemporary figure ripe for our own uncertain age. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Festival of Freedom
Essays on Pesach and the Haggadah
By Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
MAY 2006. Ktav.
Booklist writes: Pesah is the Hebrew word for Passover, the Jewish holiday observed for eight days in the Diaspora. The festival commemorates the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt. The Haggadah, literally the telling of the Passover story, is read at the seder on the first two nights of the holiday. Soloveitchik (1903-93) was one of the outstanding Talmudists of the twentieth century. In these 10 essays, he explains how the seder teaches us about the Jewish approach to the meal, Torah study, and the nature of freedom. In examining the various themes, Soloveitchik discusses nuances in the biblical and rabbinic texts associated with Passover and presents a philosophical analysis of the nature of the Jewish community and its religious experiences. The editors of this book selected material from Soloveitchik's manuscripts from surviving tapes of lectures given in Boston and New York. These essays give new meaning to a historic ritual. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] THE LADDER OF JACOB
ANCIENT INTERPRETATIONS OF THE BIBLICAL STORY OF JACOB AND HIS CHILDREN
By James L. Kugel
MAY 2006. Princeton.
The biblical story of Jacob and his children must have troubled ancient readers. By any standard, this was a family with problems. Jacob's oldest son Reuben is said to have slept with his father's concubine Bilhah. The next two sons, Simeon and Levi, tricked the men of a nearby city into undergoing circumcision, and then murdered all of them as revenge for the rape of their sister. Judah, the fourth son, had sexual relations with his own daughter-in-law. Meanwhile, jealous of their younger sibling Joseph, the brothers conspired to kill him; they later relented and merely sold him into slavery. These stories presented a particular challenge for ancient biblical interpreters. After all, Jacob's sons were the founders of the nation of Israel and ought to have been models of virtue. In The Ladder of Jacob, renowned biblical scholar James Kugel retraces the steps of ancient biblical interpreters as they struggled with such problems. Kugel reveals how they often fixed on a little detail in the Bible's wording to "deduce" something not openly stated in the narrative. Thus, Simeon and Levi, they concluded, tricked no one. As for Reuben, he was led astray after having caught sight of Bilhah bathing, while Judah was the unfortunate victim of his own weakness for alcohol. These are among the earliest examples of ancient biblical interpretation (midrash). They are found in retellings of biblical stories that appeared in the closing centuries BCE--in the Book of Jubilees, the Aramaic Levi Document, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, and other noncanonical works. Through careful analysis of these retellings, Kugel is able to reconstruct how ancient interpreters worked. The Ladder of Jacob is an artful, compelling account of the very beginnings of biblical interpretation. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] A Responsible Life
The Spiritual Path of Mussar
by Ira F. Stone
MAY 2006. Aviv Press.
Mussar, a late 19th century Jewish renewal movement, focused on a spirituality of ethics. This book explores how Mussar principles are relevant to contemporary life, discusses the challenges of making moral choices, and explains how to use Mussar principles to develop a meaningful spiritual practice that is based on the needs of others, rather than the self. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Saving the Jews
Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Holocaust
by Robert N. Rosen, Alan M. Dershowitz (afterword) and Gerhard Weinberg (intro)
MAY 2006. Thunder's Mouth Press.
From Publishers Weekly: Was FDR an indifferent or possibly anti-Semitic president who abandoned European Jews, or was he a pragmatic leader who understood that the key to saving the Jews was winning WWII as swiftly as possible? This bloated, repetitious volume reads like one long apology as it takes on the so-called "revisionist" historians who question FDR's good will; it concludes that he should be "honored for [his] actions during World War II, not defamed." According to Rosen (The Jewish Confederates), FDR may have told ethnic jokes about Jews, but he also surrounded himself with Jewish friends and advisers like Henry Morgenthau Jr. FDR didn't have the political clout to change American immigration laws, and two-thirds of the refugees on the SS St. Louis, who were refused entry to the U.S. in 1939, are believed to have survived the war. Roosevelt probably didn't know about requests by various Jewish leaders to bomb Auschwitz, an action that, Rosen says would have killed Anne Frank and other innocents. Although Rosen is able to debunk some of the more overheated claims put forth four decades ago by Arthur Morse in While Six Million Died, his often simplistic arguments don't undo landmark works like David Wyman's The Abandonment of the Jews. . Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers
Looking After Yourself and Your Family While Helping an Aging Parent
by Barry J. Jacobs
MAY 2006. Guilford.
From Publishers Weekly: For anyone with the responsibility of caring for a sick or disabled parent, this clear-eyed guide will be of real assistance. Jacobs, director of behavioral sciences for the Crozer-Keystone Family Medicine Residency Program in Pennsylvania, knows firsthand the emotional and financial devastation such illness can cause: his father died of cancer when Jacobs was 13. He illustrates the problems caregivers face through the story of two women (composites of caregivers he has known), middle-aged, married sisters struggling with the cancer of their widowed mother from diagnosis to death. As Jacobs points out, the sisters, their mother and her doctors are not perfect models of resilience and wisdom: rather, they're average people whom readers will be able to identify with and learn from. Through this story, Jacobs explores how to define your commitment to caregiving and recruit relatives as well as professionals to help, along with strategies for preserving your own personal life during an extended illness. Jacobs recommends that family members meet regularly, even online, to negotiate caregiving responsibilities. Jacobs's frankness about the emotional as well as medical traps that await families dealing with serious illness, and his concrete advice on how to handle them, offers in-depth support to caregivers. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Drag King Dreams
by Leslie Feinberg
MAY 2006. Carroll and Graf/Avalon.
From award-winning and best-selling author, Leslie Feinberg, comes Drag King Dreams, the story of Max Rabinowitz, a butch lesbian bartender at an East Village club where drag kings, dykes dressed as men, perform. A veteran of the women's and gay movement of the past 30 years, Max's mid-life crisis hits in the midst of the post-9/11 world. Max is lonely and uncertain about her future - fearful, in fact, of America's future with its War on Terror and War in Iraq - with only a core group of friends to turn to for reassurance. Max is shaken from her crisis, however, by the news that her friend Vickie, a transvestite, has been found murdered on her way home late one night. As the community of cross-dressers, drag queens, lesbian and gay men, and "genderqueers" of all kinds stand up together in the face of this tragedy, Max taps into the activist spirit she thought had long disappeared and for the first time in years discovers hope for her future. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] THE ATTACK
A novel by Yasmina Khadra
MAY 2006. Nan A Talese.
From Publishers Weekly: [Ms.] Yasmina Khadra, the pseudonym of [Mr.] Mohammed Moulessehoul, an exiled Algerian writer celebrated for his politically themed fiction (The Swallows of Kabul), turns his attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in this moving novel unlikely to satisfy partisans on either side of the issue. Dr. Amin Jaafari is a man caught between two worlds; he's a Bedouin Arab surgeon struggling to integrate himself into Israeli society. The balancing act becomes impossible when the terrorist responsible for a suicide bombing that claims 20 lives, including many children, is identified as Jaafari's wife by the Israeli police. Jaafari's disbelief that his secular, loving spouse committed the atrocity is overcome when he receives a letter from her posthumously. In an effort to make sense of her decision, Jaafari plunges into the Palestinian territories to discover the forces that recruited her. Khadra, who nicely captures his hero's turmoil in trying to come to terms with the endless violence, closes on an appropriately grim note. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] The Heartless Stone
A Journey Through the World of Diamonds, Deceit and Desire
by Tom Zoellner
May 31, 2006. St. Martin's Press
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. After his fiancée dumps him and he's left with a diamond ring to unload, Men's Health contributing editor Zoellner crisscrosses the globe unlocking the mystique of this glittering stone "that brings misery to millions of people across the world." Zoellner probes how "blood diamonds" are used to fund vicious civil wars in Africa; how De Beers, seeing new markets to exploit, linked diamonds to the ancient yuino ceremony in Japan and played on caste obsession in India; and how India is pushing Belgium and Israel out of the gem trade. The author is expert with vivid prose: Australia's Argyle deposit is "shaped a little like a human molar"; impoverished urchins in the diamond-smuggling haven of the Central African Republic get high on bread-and-shoe polish sandwiches; and a Brazilian miner finds a rich concentration of river diamonds but fritters away much of the loot on prostitutes and booze, and eventually is ruined by a dishonest money changer. Politically conscious consumers can now avoid African and Brazilian mines teeming with human rights abuses. Canada pulls $1.2 billion worth of rough diamonds out of the tundra every year while enforcing tough environmental laws, and a Florida company uses Siberian high-pressure chambers to create low-cost chemically perfect diamonds. This is a superior piece of reportage.
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JUNE 2006


[book] Triangle
A Novel
by Katharine Weber
June 2006. FSG
Esther Gottesfeld is the last living survivor of the notorious 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire and has told her story countless times in the span of her lifetime. Even so, her death at the age of 106 leaves unanswered many questions about what happened that fateful day. How did she manage to survive the fire when at least 146 workers, most of them women, her sister and fiancé among them, burned or jumped to their deaths from the sweatshop inferno? Are the discrepancies in her various accounts over the years just ordinary human fallacy, or is there a hidden story in Esther's recollections of that terrible day? Esther's granddaughter Rebecca Gottesfeld, with her partner George Botkin, an ingenious composer, seek to unravel the facts of the matter while Ruth Zion, a zealous feminist historian of the fire, bores in on them with her own mole-like agenda. A brilliant, haunting novel about one of the most terrible tragedies in early-twentieth-century America, Triangle forces us to consider how we tell our stories, how we hear them, and how history is forged from unverifiable truths. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] KRISTALLNACHT
PRELUDE TO DESTRUCTION
BY MARTIN GILBERT
June 2006. HarperCollins
From Publishers Weekly: An acclaimed Churchill biographer and Holocaust scholar, Gilbert makes a strong case in this elegant volume that Kristallnacht was the watershed moment that laid the groundwork for the Holocaust. Known as "the Night of Broken Glass," the "coordinated, comprehensive rampage" that began on the night of November 9, 1938, saw Nazi-inspired thugs ransack synagogues and Jewish-owned property across Germany and Austria. Gilbert maintains a tight focus on the individual experiences of Jewish men, women and children during the 24-hour spree of destruction, as well as on Germans and Austrians who rioted, opposed the riot or simply looked the other way. The book begins with a harrowing account of that night's events, using accounts from news sources of the day: " 'Terrified children were turned sobbing out of their beds, which were then smashed to pieces.'" Gilbert devotes a chapter each to eyewitness accounts from Berlin and Vienna, where some of the worst destruction occurred. As Felix Rinde, then an Austrian-Jewish teenager, later wrote, "Jewish life in Vienna came to a virtual end." A third chapter offers similar accounts from other cities. Gilbert's commanding account then traces the origins of Kristallnacht in the years of mounting Jewish discrimination that began when Hitler came to power in 1933, and shows how Kristallnacht pointed the way toward the events to come. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] The Din in the Head
Essays
by Cynthia Ozick
JUNE 2006. Houghton Mifflin.
One of America's foremost novelists and critics, Cynthia Ozick has won praise and provoked debate for taking on challenging literary, historical, and moral issues. Her new collection of spirited essays focuses on the essential joys of great literature, with particular emphasis on the novel. With razor-sharp wit and an inspiring joie de vivre, she investigates unexpected byways in the works of Leo Tolstoy, Saul Bellow, Helen Keller, Isaac Babel, Sylvia Plath, Susan Sontag, and more. In a posthumous and hilariously harassing "(Unfortunate) Interview with Henry James," Ozick's hero is shocked by a lady reporter. In "Highbrow Blues" and in reflections on her own early fiction, she writes intimately of "the din in our heads, that relentless inner hum," and the curative power of literary imagination. The Din in the Head is sure to please fans, win new readers, and excite critical controversy and acclaim. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Gucci Gucci Coo
A novel
by Sue Margolis
JUNE 2006. Bantam
From Booklist: Ruby Silverman's boutique caters to London mothers who treat their tots like the latest fashion accessories. And the type of celebrities whose pregnancy bumps miraculously disappear the minute they're holding their new bundles of joy. But when she accidentally catches a pregnant star sporting a prosthetic belly, she suspects something fishy is going on at London's best maternity ward. Just to make things interesting, Ruby has recently begun dating a handsome American doctor at that very hospital. Margolis deftly takes on pregnancy, relationships, body image, and medical ethics all in one hilarious and quick-paced package. Who knew baby brokering could be such a riot? This popular British author keeps turning out fun and witty novels that readers will grab off the shelves. Though her previous books have drawn many Bridget Jones comparisons, her writing may become the new standard for the chick-lit genre. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Mendel in the Kitchen
A Scientist's View of Genetically Modified Foods
by Nina V. Fedoroff, Nancy Marie Brown
JUNE 2006. J. Henry Press
I AM SO EMBARRASSED. I thought this was a Jewish cookbook. MENDEL in the Kitchen? I thought it was by a chef named Mendel, not about some MONK who liked playing with peas.
From Publishers Weekly: Is genetically engineered Golden Rice (enriched with vitamin A) a dangerous "Frankenfood" or a safe, nutritionally enhanced food that could fill a major vitamin deficiency in the Third World? Fedoroff, a molecular biologist and member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, and science writer Brown (A Good Horse Has No Color) argue forcefully for the latter view, saying we should embrace most of the advances genetic engineering has made in the agricultural arena. In an extremely accessible style, they take readers through the basics of genetics and genetic engineering to demonstrate why they believe that the risks associated with this technology are trivial. They also contend that the use of modern molecular technology to insert genes from one species into another isn't very different from the hybrid crosses that agriculturalists have been doing for millennia. Taking on concerns voiced by environmentalists, the authors articulate how genetically modified crops could reduce the amount of pesticides and fertilizers used and increase the yield of crop plants to keep up with a growing world population that could reach eight or nine billion in this century. Though likely to be controversial, the authors' clear and rational presentation could well change the opinions of some readers Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] [book] HARD
A novel
by WAYNE HOFFMAN
JUNE 2006. Carroll and Graf
Taking place over the course of a single year, HARD periodically stops the action to delve into the sexual psyche of its main characters, exploring what motivates them, what turns them on, what defines their identity - what makes them hard. As FAGGOTS explored the 1970s sexual universe of gay men in New York, Hard takes a serious look a generation later, taking readers into adult theaters, online chat rooms, bedrooms, and into the minds of the gay men who have sex there. But while Faggots was written before AIDS, the characters in Hard are very much affected by the epidemic: Frank lost his lover to the disease, Gene is HIV-positive, Aaron's lover unwittingly puts them both in danger, and Moe Pearlman's sexual politics are deeply informed by AIDS. There's nobody in Hard who hasn't had his sexuality and politics shaped by the epidemic. There's also a motley crew of activists and sex partners, co-workers and family members, porn stars and B-list celebrities. The complex web of characters and subplots create a rich portrait of New York in the 1990s. And, like Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, Hard does it with edgy humor, snappy dialogue, and a scene-driven episodic structure.
Mr. Hoffman, the author, is an editor at THE FORWARD. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Hidden
A novel
by Victoria Lustbader
JUNE 2006. Forge
From Publishers Weekly: Lustbader's debut novel, set in roaring '20s New York, updates the Rich Man, Poor Man plot with a Brokeback Mountain twist. David Warshinski, 18, leaves his Jewish family's Lower East Side tenement to join the army, where he meets Jed Gates, grandson of a Manhattan business mogul. When the two friends return from WWI, David cuts off family ties, abandons his religion and changes his name to Shaw, while Jed refuses to acknowledge that he is in love with David. Instead, Jed dutifully marries, fathers a son and goes to work in the family business, keeping David, a financial and marketing genius bent on getting ahead, by his side. Meanwhile, David's sister Sarah, a seamstress still mourning their sister Rose (lost in the Triangle Factory fire) stealthily keeps track of David, and Jed's sister Lucy, a Henry Street Settlement nurse, knows all about David's desires. Lustbader, long time fiction editor at Harper & Row and Putnam, and the spouse of novelist Eric, skillfully envisions history in the making during a time of economic and social change. She falls prey to a few family saga clichés (fraternal feuds, maternal manipulation), but is terrific in depicting her characters' work lives. She transcends the miniseries story line to reveal a promising talent in historical fiction. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] [book] Lonely Soldier
The Memoir of an American in the Israeli Army
by Adam Harmon
JUNE 2006. Presidio Press
Adam grew up in NH and graduated from American University in 1989. Ever since visiting Israel as a teen in 1984 with his Jewish teen tour, he planned to move to Israel. He is an American citizen and an Israeli soldier. In this book, he recounts his service with the IDF. Harmon moved to Israel and joined the military. Without family in the country, he was designated a chayal boded, or lonely soldier. One of the few nonnatives to become an Israeli paratrooper-and already an "old man" in a country where service is compulsory after high school- Harmon describes the tough training and strict standards that define the Israeli combatant. From the very first push-up to ambushes in Lebanon and operations in the West Bank, readers march alongside Harmon and discover the value of having retsach bi'anigh (murder in your eye) and learn why "time is holy." The Israeli military culture surprised Harmon. It was very different from the one he expected to find. As within the U.S. military, Israeli soldiers avoid punishment only by being perfectionists, but the Israeli military has an unusually high regard for individualism. Commanders rely more on achieving consensus than on issuing orders; and every soldier is free to disobey an order he finds immoral. Over the next thirteen years, Harmon was in the ranks of a military that was adapting to ever-changing threats. In 1990 killing was always used as a last resort, but by 2002 targeted assassinations were employed to "decapitate" terrorist gangs. Harmon's own wish for a separate Palestinian state never wavered, but his dismay at the increasing violence by Palestinians, desperate to achieve independence, mirrors the growing belief in Israel that a true rapprochement is not on the horizon. Lonely Soldier, completed as Israel was beginning to disengage from Gaza, is a unique and thrilling glimpse into a revered yet misunderstood institution that is integral to Middle East peace. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] THE CANTOR'S DAUGHTER
STORIES
By SCOTT NADELSON
JUNE 2006. HawthorneBooks.com
The Cantor's Daughter is the compelling new collection from Oregon Book Award Winner and recipient of the GLCA's New Writers Award for 2005, Scott Nadelson. In his follow-up to Saving Stanley, these stories capture Jewish New Jersey suburbanites in moments of crucial transition, when they have the opportunity to connect with those closest to them or forever miss their chance for true intimacy. In "The Headhunter," two men develop an unlikely friendship at work, but after twenty years of mutually supporting each other's families and careers their friendship comes to an abrupt and surprising end. In the title story, Noa Nechemia and her father have immigrated from Israel following a tragic car accident her mother did not survive. In one stunning moment of insight following a disastrous prom night, Noa discovers her ability to transcend grief and determine the direction of her own life. And in "Half a Day in Halifax" Beth and Roger meet on a cruise ship where their shared lack of enthusiasm for their trip sparks the possibility of romance. Nadelson's stories are sympathetic, heartbreaking, and funny as they investigate the characters' fragile emotional bonds and the fears that often cause those bonds to falter or fail.
From Publishers Weekly: The most authentic pieces in Nadelson's collection of eight careful stories about suburban New Jersey Jews (after Saving Stanley: The Brickman Stories) turn on the inescapable mix of love and destruction in father-son or father-daughter relationships. In "Model Rockets," Nadelson's most affecting story, three well-drawn generations are locked in an uncomfortable familial embrace: Benny tries to protect, control and punish his misfit 16-year-old son, Steven, while his father-in-law-and employer-undermines his authority. But Nadelson overloads the title story, about a 16-year-old girl hemmed in by her widowed father's grief and her boyfriend's clichéd, self-serving romantic fantasies until she arrives at a feminist epiphany that feels unearned. Elsewhere, Nadelson diagrams ugly undercurrents to family dynamics or depicts lonely people yearning to connect while their relationships stall on resentment and self-doubt, as in "Half a Day in Halifax," about a doomed affair between two homely singles on a Carnival cruise. Nadelson bears unflinching witness to his characters' darkness-murderous sibling rivalry, self-loathing, selfishness-but he telegraphs too much. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Eternally Eve
Images of Eve in the Hebrew Bible, Midrash, And Modern Jewish Poetry
(Brandeis Series on Jewish Women
by Anne Lapidus Lerner, JTS
JUNE 2006. Brandeis University Press.
A fascinating analysis of the story of Eve, using modern poetry in conversation with biblical texts and rabbinic rewritings to reveal new layers of meaning The biblical accounts of Eve's life are central to Western culture, occupying a privileged place in our literature and art, culture, and society. For both Judaism and Christianity, these stories involving Eve have for centuries been entangled with the religious and social construction of gender. The ambiguous biblical record of her life from the two versions of her creation, through her encounter with the forbidden fruit, to her expulsion from Eden, and followed by the tantalizing glimpses of her life in the real world has served through the ages as a mirror of commonly held views about women. For Jewish readers, Eve's role as metonym -- signifying womanhood, or Jewish womanhood, as a whole -- is of prime importance. By tracing the imagined character of Eve from ancient times to the present, Eternally Eve opens a window on the transmission and persistence of cultural and social values. Eternally Eve takes as its subject the many ways these stories can be read, interpreting the biblical narratives as well as their iteration by rabbinic midrashists and modern poets. Anne Lapidus Lerner argues that we must set aside, or at least rethink, a series of assumptions about Eve that have been dominant in Jewish thought for centuries and instead return to the original texts to rediscover meanings implicit in them. Using modern poetry about Eve as a touchstone for reinterpreting older texts, Lerner discovers that Genesis is often more open to contemporary values than are later rabbinic texts. Linking sacred texts to works of the classical and modern imagination, Lerner restores to her sources meanings suppressed or neglected over many years and demonstrates their power to speak today. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Let It Be Morning
by Sayed Kashua, Miriam Shlesinger (Translator)
June 2006. Grove Atlantic
In his debut, "Dancing Arabs," Sayed Kashua established himself as one of the most daring voices of the Middle East. In his searing new novel, a young Arab journalist returns to his hometown - an Arab village within Israel - where his already vexed sense of belonging is forced to crisis when the village becomes a pawn in the never-ending power struggle that is the Middle East. Hoping to reclaim the simplicity of life among kin, the prodigal son returns home to find that nothing is as he remembers: everything is smaller, the people are petty and provincial. But when Israeli tanks surround the village without warning or explanation, everyone inside is cut off from the outside world. As the situation grows increasingly dire, the village devolves into a Darwinian jungle, where paranoia quickly takes hold and threatens the community's fragile equilibrium. With the enduring moral and literary power of Camus and Orwell, "Let It Be Morning" offers an intimate, eye-opening portrait of the conflicted allegiances of the Israeli Arabs, proving once again that Sayed Kashua is a fearless, prophetic observer of a political and human quagmire that offers no easy answers. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] FEAR
Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz
by Jan Gross
JUNE 2006. RANDOM HOUSE
Poland suffered an exceedingly brutal Nazi occupation during the Second World War. Close to five million Polish citizens lost their lives as a result. More than half the casualties were Polish Jews. Thus, the second largest Jewish community in the world-only American Jewry numbered more than the three and a half million Polish Jews at the time-was wiped out. Over 90 percent of its members were killed in the Holocaust. And yet, despite this unprecedented calamity that affected both Jews and non-Jews, Jewish Holocaust survivors returning to their hometowns in Poland after the war experienced widespread hostility, including murder, at the hands of their neighbors. The bloodiest peacetime pogrom in twentieth-century Europe took place in the Polish town of Kielce one year after the war ended, on July 4, 1946.
Jan Gross's FEAR attempts to answer a perplexing question: How was anti-Semitism possible in Poland after the war? At the center of his investigation is a detailed reconstruction of the Kielce pogrom and the reactions it evoked in various milieus of Polish society. How did the Polish Catholic Church, Communist party workers, and intellectuals respond to the spectacle of Jews being murdered by their fellow citizens in a country that had just been liberated from a five-year Nazi occupation? Gross argues that the anti-Semitism displayed in Poland in the war's aftermath cannot be understood simply as a continuation of prewar attitudes. Rather, it developed in the context of the Holocaust and the Communist takeover: Anti-Semitism eventually became a common currency between the Communist regime and a society in which many had joined in the Nazi campaign of plunder and murder-and for whom the Jewish survivors were a standing reproach. Jews did not bring communism to Poland as some believe; in fact, they were finally driven out of Poland under the Communist regime as a matter of political expediency. In the words of the Nobel Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz, Poland's Communist rulers fulfilled the dream of Polish nationalists by bringing into existence an ethnically pure state. For more than half a century, what happened to the Jewish Holocaust survivors in Poland has been cloaked in guilt and shame. Writing with passion, brilliance, and fierce clarity, Jan T. Gross at last brings the truth to light.
Writing in the Washington Post on June 25, Elie Wiesel spent three pages on this book. "...A professor at Princeton now, Gross is a Polish Jew who knows his subject. Neighbors -- a book of high moral quality -- described the massacre of Jews at Jedwabne as not carried out by Germans but by native Poles. Published in English in 2001, it had formidable impact in America and elsewhere. One can easily predict a similar effect and success for his new work, Fear . You read it breathlessly, all human reason telling you it can't be so -- and the book culminates in so keen a shock that even a close student of the Jewish tragedy during World War II cannot fail to feel it. Bitterness, envy, murderous rage: Everything that is low, primitive, vile and ugly in the human animal is laid bare and analyzed on these pages. Reading this book -- repugnant and revolting as it can be -- one is seized by an impulse to close it and say: No. It is not possible for so many human beings to have loosed their savage hounds on fellow human beings -- men, women, children, all of them innocent and defenseless in a place that was just waking from a long nightmare.
Fear is a word we use often in reference to dictatorships and totalitarian regimes; it is, for want of a better term, employed inadequately to speak of the Holocaust. In a dark time, on a continent overcome by the din of triumphant Nazism, fear gripped the occupied countries and all nations in Germany's shadow; but, mostly, fear gripped the Polish people, whom Hitler wanted reduced to slavery, and the Jewish people, singularly destined for isolation, humiliation and total extermination. Had these last two communities acted logically, they might have understood that they faced a common enemy and worked to combine their strengths to help each other. Unfortunately, that was not to be. Gross describes how Warsaw's onlookers watched young Jewish fighters throw themselves from burning windows during the pathetic yet glorious ghetto uprising in 1943, then applauded when German soldiers set upon them below. But in this strongly sourced work, another fear emerges. It is that felt by Jews, not during Poland's occupation by the Nazis, but afterward, even as the country was being liberated by the Red Army.
Based on official documents as well as numerous testimonies, Fear recounts events as they unfolded in 1945-46. The most heinous and outrageous cruelties, it appears, were inflicted by civilians, soldiers and policemen on a benighted population of Jewish survivors from hells near and far, who were returning sick, poor, wounded -- orphans beyond hope.
To put it clearly: Like many of us, they had thought all too naively that antisemitism, discredited 6 million times over, had died at Auschwitz with its victims. They were wrong. Only the dead perished at Birkenau; antisemitism itself survived in most places, and mostly in Poland. This is, in sum, what Jan Gross reveals in a style that is at once sober and overwhelming in its very bluntness. There were manhunts, public humiliations, insane acts of brutality. The rare escapees who thought themselves fortunate to return home found their property occupied by strangers who chased them away with scornful cries: "What, you're still in this world?" Eventually, they were made to regret their very survival. Trapping a Jew was reason enough to beat him senseless. Discover another, and pelt him with stones....."
This antisemitic blight, all too insidious and thorough, infected every level of the population. There were those who killed Jews in order to steal from them; others who coveted their stores and homes; others, to avenge the Jews' mythical power in communist secret circles; and then there were those who killed for the simple pleasure of it. There was the official version: Authorities minimized the tragedy's Jewishness. Even as they commemorated the dead, they forgot to mention that they were Jews. And the public version: Jews were barred from civic life -- from schools as well as public office. Traditional antisemitism, too, lived on, fueled by ancient religious prejudices as well as individual and collective hatreds.
Then there were the pogroms. First in tiny villages, followed by those in the big cities. Gross's reader is suddenly thrust into the Middle Ages. In Krakow and in Kielce, those thirsting for Jewish blood didn't hesitate to maim or murder. In these two towns, it began with that old canard claiming that Jews slaughtered Christian children to use their blood for the ritual preparation of Passover matzos. In Kielce, it was rumored, Jews had lured a Polish boy into a cave so that they could murder him. Little did it matter that there was no cave in the local Jewish Committee's building at 7 Planty Street. Little did it matter that, for centuries, the highest authorities of the Catholic Church had repudiated and condemned these accusations as stupid and malicious lies. The Polish population clung to such myths to feed their hatred and rage against the Jews, who were guilty of nothing more than having survived Treblinka and Auschwitz. And more: The Polish clergy in towns and provinces, almost to the last man, chose to guard its silence.
As he has done for Jedwabne in Neighbors , Gross here shows the horror of Kielce in all its aspects. Hatred for Jews seemed to render the whole world blind. Old and young, men and women, soldiers and police -- even boy scouts -- took part in the lynchings. And spectators either applauded or did not care. How to explain so much hate, at so many levels? It is a question for the intellectuals as well as the politicians; neither could have predicted it. Gross quotes Tacitus, who once said, "It is indeed human nature to hate the man whom you have injured." Taking it one step further, the author posits that Polish antisemites detested their Jewish victims for their suffering, which caused such shame: "Jews were so frightening and dangerous, in other words, not because of what they had done or could do to the Poles, but because of what Poles had done to the Jews."
Does it follow that all of Poland was to blame? I do not believe in collective guilt. Only the guilty are guilty; their contemporaries are not. The children of killers are not killers but children. Today, a new generation will assume responsibility for its history. And yet there is this: The past lives on in the present, impossible to forget. Jan Gross forces Poland to confront that past. Just as he forces his readers.
One of his saddest revelations? During the war, here and there, there were Polish citizens with generous and brave hearts who, risking life and liberty, hid and protected Jews. But rather than be proud of such acts, they preferred not to talk about them. They were afraid of the anger and the recriminations from their neighbors. ?
Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Troubling the Waters
Black-Jewish Relations in the American Century
(Politics and Society in Twentieth Century America)
by Cheryl Lynn Greenberg
June 2006. Princeton
The eloquent J. Sarna writes: The best-researched and most comprehensive account yet of Black-Jewish relations in the twentieth century. The messy complexities of the relationship, the insensitivities displayed on all sides, are here revealed for all to see. Sobering, realistic, and definitive. Stephen Steinberg, author of "Turning Back: The Retreat from Racial Justice in American Thought and Policy" : For readers who puzzle about what happened to the fabled alliance between Blacks and Jews, Troubling the Waters provides the authoritative answer. It is testament to Cheryl Lynn Greenberg's discipline as a historian, as well as her personal acumen and devotion to justice, that she is able to take up so fraught a subject and to give us such an illuminating account. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] HILLS OF SPICES
Poetry from the bible
Edited by Rena Potok
JUNE 2006. JPS.
Beautiful verse from the world's greatest book In the concluding lines of the Song of Songs, one lover beckons the other to hurry to the "hills of spices," a place rich in fragrances and flavors, a feast for the senses. This lovely new collection invites us all to feast our senses on poetry from the Song of Songs and from many other passages of the Bible. Some of these, like The Song of the Sea and David's Lament are well-known classics; others, such as surprising poetic moments in Isaiah and Ezekiel, will, for many, be delightful new discoveries. Verses from the pages of Genesis, Exodus, Ecclesiastes, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Proverbs, Psalms, and many other biblical books are here, with the JPS English translation sitting across the page from the original biblical Hebrew. The poems are organized thematically-Blessings and Curses, Laments, Love Songs, Prayers and Songs of Praise, among others-making it easy to find the right verse to fit the mood or need. There is an appendix listing the poems by biblical book, chapter, and verse, and another listing Psalms by their everyday use. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] LILAH
A FORBIDDEN LOVE, A PEOPLE'S DESTINY
A NOVEL
BY MAREK HALTER
JUNE 2006. CROWN.
From Publishers Weekly: In his final installment of the Canaan Trilogy (Sarah; Zipporah), Halter ambitiously tackles portions of the complicated biblical book of Ezra, which centers on the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple and calls Israel to ethnic and religious purity. In the Persian town of Susa, the beautiful Lilah dreams of marrying her Persian lover and childhood sweetheart, Antinoes. However, her beloved brother Ezra, who has immersed himself in studying the laws of God, refuses to approve of their union since Antinoes is not a Jew. As the story unfolds, with scenes full of rich detail, Lilah becomes the unlikely instrument of gaining royal approval for the Jewish people to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the holy city. However, once there, Ezra orders all non-Jewish wives and children driven away in what is surely one of the most heart-wrenching episodes directly from scripture. A horrified Lilah repudiates her brother and leaves with them. As the cast-off women wander unprotected outside the city, rape, murder and mayhem ensue. (It's confusing that Lilah narrates one violent scene, but readers are unsure how she survives it.) As in Sarah and Zipporah, there is plenty of highly charged sexuality and some imaginative storytelling..... Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] TERRORIST
A novel
By John Updike
JuNE 2006. Knopf
From Publishers Weekly: Ripped from the headlines doesn't begin to describe Updike's latest, a by-the-numbers novelization of the last five years' news reports on the dangers of home-grown terror that packs a gut punch. Ahmad Mulloy Ashmawy is 18 and attends Central High School in the commuter city of New Prospect, N.J. He is the son of an Egyptian exchange student who married a working-class Irish-American girl and then disappeared when Ahmad was three. Ahmad, disgusted by his mother's inability to get it together, is in the thrall of Shaikh Rashid, who runs a storefront mosque and preaches divine retribution for "devils," including the "Zionist dominated federal government."The list of devils is long: it includes Joryleen Grant, the white trash slut with a heart of gold; Tylenol Jones, a black tough guy with whom Ahmad obliquely competes for Joryleen's attentions (which Ahmad eventually pays for);
Jack Levy, a Central High guidance counselor who at 63 has seen enough failure, including his own, to last him a lifetime (and whose Jewishness plays a part in a manner unthinkable before 9/11); Jack's wife, Beth, as ineffectual and overweight (Updike is merciless on this) as she is oblivious;
and Teresa Mulloy, a nurse's aide and Sunday painter as desperate for Jack's attention, when he takes on Ahmad's case, as Jack is for hers. Updike has distilled all their flaws to a caustic, crystalline essence; he dwells on their poor bodies and the debased world in which they move unrelentingly, and with a dispassionate cruelty that verges on shocking. Ahmad's revulsion for American culture doesn't seem to displease Updike one iota. But Updike has also thoroughly digested all of the discursive pap surrounding the post-9/11 threat of terrorism, and that is the real story here. Mullahs, botched CIA gambits, race and class shame (that leads to poor self-worth that leads to vulnerability that leads to extremism), half-baked plots that just might work" all are here, and dispatched with an elegance that highlights their banality and how very real they may be. So smooth is Updike in putting his grotesques through their paces" effortlessly putting them in each others' orbits" that his contempt for them enhances rather than spoils the novel. Click the book cover above to read more.








JULY 2006


[book] COOKING JEWISH
652 GREAT RECIPES FROM THE RABINOWITZ FAMILY
BY JUDY BART KANCIGOR
July 2006. Workman.
Grandma Sera Fritkin's Russian Jewish brisket, gefilte fish, 17 kugels, 12 cheesecakes. Originally piblished as a gift to her family, this has four generations of recipes. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] COOKING JEWISH
Straight Up & Dirty
A Memoir
by Stephanie Klein
July 2006. Regean
Stephanie had it all. Young, a husband, a newborn, a nice apartment. Then her husband divorced her. Taken from her blog and expanded on, this is the story of divorce in New York, court, dating, online dating, and therapy. See www.StephanieKlein.blogs.com. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] WHAT ISRAEL MEANS TO ME
EDITED by ALAN DERSHOWITZ
JULY 2006. WILEY.
From Publishers Weekly: "Harvard law professor Dershowitz is out to defend Israel again"this time, with a little help from his friends. In this volume, some 80 writers, scholars and journalists, many of them prominent figures, most of them Jewish, contribute short pieces about the meaning of Israel in their lives. The breadth of authors is impressive, from Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota and the Rev. Pat Robertson to the actresses Natalie Portman (Jewish, born in Israel) and Christina Applegate (not Jewish, visited Israel). As might be expected, many of the pieces emphasize the writer's emotional connection to the Jewish state. Some are prone to hyperbole (former Cabinet member William Bennett counts himself "among the millions of Americans who see America's fate and Israel's fate as one"), while others are overly sentimental. But to Dershowitz's credit, the collection includes selections from more nuanced and critical thinkers. Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts points out the importance of Israel as a haven for Palestinian gays and lesbians, while noting that Israel has a way to go in ridding itself of homophobia. Some authors oppose Israel's existence or, like Israeli politician Shulamit Aloni and American Jewish activist Michael Lerner, are critical of Israeli policy in the West Bank, in essays that may expand the readership for this collection beyond the usual pro-Israel suspects."
Includes Erica Jong, Jonathan Kellerman, Barney Frank, Tovah Feldshuh, David Harris (AJC), Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, Larry King, David Mamet, Michael B. Oren, and many more. Click the book cover above to read more.








[book] WEIMAR IN EXILE
EXILE IN EUROPE, EXILE IN AMERICA
By Jean-Michel Palmier, Transl. From French by D. Fernbach
July 2006. VERSO.
The artists and writers who left when the Nazis came to power were "the best of Germany"-Palmier weaves their diverse stories into a history of magisterial scope. In 1933 thousands of intellectuals, artists, writers, militants and other opponents of the Nazi regime fled Germany. They were, in the words of Heinrich Mann, "the best of Germany," refusing to remain citizens in this new state that legalized terror and brutality. They emigrated to Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Oslo, Vienna, New York, Los Angeles, Shanghai, Mexico, Jerusalem, Moscow. Throughout their exile they strove to give expression to the fight against Nazism through their work, in prose, poetry and painting, architecture, film and theater. Weimar in Exile follows these lives, from the rise of national socialism to the return to their ruined homeland, retracing their stories, struggles, setbacks and rare victories. This absorbing history covers the lives of Walter Benjamin, Ernst Bloch, Bertolt Brecht, Alfred Döblin, Hans Eisler, Heinrich Mann, Thomas Mann, Anna Seghers, Ernst Toller, Stefan Zweig and many others, whose dignity in exile is a moving counterpoint to the story of Germany under the Nazis. . Click the book cover above to read more.






IS THIS BOOK KOSHER?
A KOSHER PIG?
[book] The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten
100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher
by Julian Baggini
JULY 2006. PLUME.
Pub Weekly: For Stelios, the teletransporter is the only way to travel." So begins one of the 100 philosophically based brain teasers in Baggini's clever book. Each entry includes an imagined scenario, which is based on sources from Plato to Sir Bernard Williams, followed by commentary that introduces a series of mind-bending questions and broadens the possible contexts: e.g., if Stelios's body is disintegrated and then recomposed by the transporter, is Stelios still the same person he was? Is it ever ethical to eat animals, even if they want to be eaten? Is there really an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving God? Is it right to do something wrong if it doesn't hurt anyone? Is torture ever a good option? Baggini, the editor of the U.K.'s Philosopher's Magazine, offers no firm answers, only hints as to where the discussion might go next. The conceit of the volume forces some repetitiveness and some simplification, but overall, it effectively explores aesthetics, ethics, language, logic, religion, mind and the self. More importantly, it's hugely entertaining. Any one of these thought experiments would serve as a great party game, keeping the conversation going for hours.
Click the book cover above to read more.








[book] My Einstein
Essays by the World's Leading Thinkers on the Man, His Work, and His Legacy
by John Brockman (Editor)
JULY 2006. PANThEON.
From Publishers Weekly: For "generations of ambitious young Jewish kids like me," observes Lawrence M. Krauss, Albert Einstein provided the inspiration to pursue the study of theoretical physics. Several of these scientists share their thoughts in an anthology edited by Brockman, a literary agent and editor of popularizing science books (What We Believe but Cannot Prove). But not every contributor is a physicist, and not every piece relates directly to Einstein: historian George Dyson (son of physicist Freeman Dyson) was babysat by the great man's personal secretary, while New York Times science writer George Johnson looks back at the books that introduced him to relativity. For some, Einstein looms as an iconic figure, while others actually met Einstein during his later years at Princeton. The overall tone is respectful, even reverential. The Einstein who emerges possesses no surprising characteristics, making the book seem a light afterthought to a year of celebrating 2005 as the centenary of Einstein's world-changing papers on relativity.Click the book cover above to read more.








[book] HOW THIS NIGHT IS DIFFERENT
STORIES
BY ELISA ALBERT
JuLY 2006. FREE PRESS
From Publishers Weekly Titled to reflect the customary question asked at Passover, these 10 stories by debut writer Albert explore traditional Jewish rituals with youthful, irreverent exuberance as her characters transition into marriage and child-rearing. In "Everything But," dutiful daughter Erin finds herself, after her mother's death, disturbed by the lovelessness of her marriage. In "So Long," Rachel has become "born again" as an Orthodox Jew and resolved to have her head shaved before her marriage, as per custom; the narrator, Rachel's maid of honor, struggles to suppress her sarcastic disbelief. "The Mother Is Always Upset" plays on the familial chaos of ritual circumcision (the bris): tearful mother Beth cowers in the bedroom, while exhausted new father Mark takes his cue from the sanguine mohel. And Albert, writing as nice Jewish girl Elisa Albert, becomes a cocksure writer determined to have the last word in the hilariously vulgar postmodern final story, "Etta or Bessie or Dora or Rose"" an unabashed autobiographical fan letter to Philip Roth, "the father of us all." Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] MOTHER AND ME:
ESCAPE FROM WARSAW 1939
By JULIAN PADOWICZ
July 2006, Academy Chicago.
From Booklist: Padowicz, a Polish Jew, was seven when he and his mother escaped from Warsaw at the start of World War II when the Germans began bombing the city. The author chronicles their escape, first going to Ukraine in a frightful journey by truck and farm wagons, and then--in 1940--crossing the border into Hungary on foot through the Carpathian Mountains. Padowicz describes how his mother and other adults spent hours foraging for supplies--mostly food and firewood. He details his relationship with his mother, a Warsaw socialite who left his upbringing to Kiki, a Catholic governess who he loved. At the start of the war, Kiki returned to her family in Lodz; the author's stepfather joined the Polish army and was killed. Kiki taught the author about God and Mary, "their little boy Jesus, and the Holy Ghost." He learned the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Act of Contrition, "all of which I recited fervently at bedtime." Much of the book deals with Padowicz's struggle over his religious identity as he and his mother stayed one step ahead of the Germans. There is too much dialogue here--Padowicz could not have remembered verbatim conversations from more than 60 years ago--but Mother and Me recounts a chilling journey during the war. Click the book cover above to read more.









[book] The Tent of Abraham
Stories of Hope and Peace for Jews, Christians, and Muslims
by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Sister Joan Chittister (OSB), and Saadi Shakur Chishti
July 2006, Beacon.
In recent years there has been an explosion of curiosity and debate about Islam and about the role of religion, both in the world and in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The numerous books published on these questions speak to issues of politics, history, or global security. None speaks to the heart and the spirit, and yet millions of people experience these issues not as political, economic, or intellectual questions but as questions of deep spiritual, emotional, and religious significance. The Tent of Abraham provides readers with stories that can bring all the faiths together. Written by Saadi Shakur Chishti, a Scottish American Sufi, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, an American Jew, and Joan Chittister, a Benedictine sister, the book explores in accessible language the mythic quality and the teachings of reconciliation that are embedded in the Torah, the Qur'an, and the Bible. It also weaves together the wisdoms of the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian traditions into a deeper, more unified whole. The Tent of Abraham is the first book to tell the whole story of Abraham as found in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sources and to reenergize it as a basis for peace. Joan Chittister, OSB, is a best-selling writer and lecturer. She lives in Erie, Pennsylvania. Rabbi Arthur Waskow is the director of The Shalom Center in Philadelphia and author of numerous books, including Seasons of Our Joy and Down-to-Earth Judaism. Saadi Shakur Chishti (Neil Douglas-Klotz) is an internationally known Sufi scholar and writer. His most recent book is The Sufi Book of Life. Click the book cover above to read more.









[book] Jewish Ethics And the Care of End-of-Life Patients
A Collection of Rabbinical, Bioethical, Philosophical, And Juristic Opinions
Edited by Peter Joel Hurwitz, Jacques Picard, and Avraham Steinberg, and Translated by Dr. Benjamin Sklarz
July 2006, KTAV.
From Publishers Weekly: Ethical dilemmas multiply as medical advances intensify the complexity of decision making at the end of life. A basic issue often arises from the conflict between two highly esteemed values: reverence for life and patients' right to self-determination. This collection of essays tries to address the Jewish approach to such problems. Steinberg, an Israeli physician and ethicist, chaired a 59-member committee that worked from 2000 to 2002 to produce a law regulating the care of dying patients in Israel. The law was enacted in 2005. Steinberg's description of the committee's work, its report and the actual law are the most useful parts of the book. His contributions detail an approach that carefully tried to codify into law a significant version of the Jewish view of death and dying. Lack of consensus on the subject from biblical and Talmudic times to the present made the task difficult. Disagreement is amply documented in the book's other essays that offer different Jewish perspectives on such knotty subjects as assisted suicide, euthanasia, death on demand and the withholding or withdrawal of treatment. Despite the unevenness of the presentations, the anthology sheds useful light on a subject that is of universal concern. Click the book cover above to read more.










AUGUST 2006


[book] Essential Torah
A Complete Guide to the Five Books of Moses
by George Robinson
AUGUST 2006. Schocken.
Jewish theology with commentaries. Click the book cover above to read more.








[book] Overcoming Life's Disappointments
by Harold S. Kushner
AUGUST 2006. Knopf.
Barbara Jacobs, writing for From Booklist, wrote: "Rabbi emeritus Kushner, author of, among other titles, When Bad Things Happen to Good People (1981), scores another hit with book number 10, which is based on the theme and philosophy of his previous best-sellers. His idea is to explain the inexplicable in terms that turn negatives into ways of coping. Kushner skillfully uses the tale of Moses to manage the oh-so-true statement, "Nobody gets everything he or she yearns for." Forbidden to enter the Holy Land? Having wandered for 40 years and endured complaints and rebels, Moses was tired; another leader deserved to take the lead. Plus, reading into the Bible and other religious tomes, the author finds that Moses ignored his family--a critical element comprising the complete life. Moses is not the only example used. Abraham Lincoln was weighed down by depression--or, in his case, what doesn't kill us makes us strong. Sondheim's second act of Into the Woods underscores the importance of assessing broken dreams and forging new ones. Joseph Campbell of mythology fame is cited, as are Tevye and wife from Fiddler on the Roof, among many others. In all, the universal lessons for overcoming disappointment remain simple yet profound: remember who you're working for, substitute new dreams for old, keep promises, be humble, maintain life's priorities, forgive and forgive, and always dare to dream. Amen." Click the book cover above to read more.








Speaking of life's disappointment... Not getting into the college of your choice can be a majorone. So to help to get those Jewish kids of yours into the colleges of their (or your) choice... :
[book] What Colleges Don't Tell you
(And Other Parents Don't Want You to Know)
272 Secrets for Getting Your Kid into the Top Schools
by Elizabeth Wissner-Gross
August 2006.
From Publishers Weekly A self-styled "educational strategist" and mother of two high achievers, journalist Wissner-Gross has found a keenly sought after niche in helping parents "package" their children for college admission. The author's approach is to endow the student's advocate, usually a parent who has the most time to devote to the task, with the skills to elicit and enhance the student's natural accomplishments, rendering him or her desirable to colleges. Through sound experience, and the use of scattered case profiles, Wissner-Gross demonstrates that even students with extremely unlikely prospects for admission to good colleges can succeed handsomely when they are wisely packaged-i.e., when their specific academic passions ("the current buzzword") are extracted and polished. The author highlights 272 "secrets" to winning at the college application process, from answering the Big Question of why a specific college would take one's son or daughter to preparing for standardized testing and interviews with college admissions officers. Most helpful is the author's advice gleaned from admissions officers about the best and worst kinds of application essays ("Avoid writing an essay about a luxury tour"), and her reminder to stay persistent even when a student is waitlisted at her college of choice. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] What Colleges Don't Tell you
(And Other Parents Don't Want You to Know)
272 Secrets for Getting Your Kid into the Top Schools
by Elizabeth Wissner-Gross
August 2006.
From Publishers Weekly A self-styled "educational strategist" and mother of two high achievers, journalist Wissner-Gross has found a keenly sought after niche in helping parents "package" their children for college admission. The author's approach is to endow the student's advocate, usually a parent who has the most time to devote to the task, with the skills to elicit and enhance the student's natural accomplishments, rendering him or her desirable to colleges. Through sound experience, and the use of scattered case profiles, Wissner-Gross demonstrates that even students with extremely unlikely prospects for admission to good colleges can succeed handsomely when they are wisely packaged-i.e., when their specific academic passions ("the current buzzword") are extracted and polished. The author highlights 272 "secrets" to winning at the college application process, from answering the Big Question of why a specific college would take one's son or daughter to preparing for standardized testing and interviews with college admissions officers. Most helpful is the author's advice gleaned from admissions officers about the best and worst kinds of application essays ("Avoid writing an essay about a luxury tour"), and her reminder to stay persistent even when a student is waitlisted at her college of choice. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Jewish Cooking For All Seasons
Fresh, Flavorful Kosher Recipes for Holidays and Every Day
by Laura Frankel (Skokie IL, chef/co-owner of Shallots)
AUGUST 2006. WILEY.
From Publishers Weekly: "You can say one thing for this collection of modern kosher recipes"it ain't chopped liver. That fatty, flavorful favorite is replaced with fancy-schmancy fare like Artichoke Confit and Fava Bean Salad. Frankel, owner of Shallots restaurant in Chicago, deserves credit for widening the horizons of kosher cooking, as she incorporates novelties such as venison (Ginger-Marinated Venison Loin with Purple Sticky Rice and Spring Pea Salad) and bison (Bison, Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches). Dishes are grouped by season, but despite the promising subtitle, there are no holiday menus included. Chatty prose abounds in sidebars ("It may sound a little silly to say that I am passionate about salmon. Nevertheless... I am!"). There's nothing especially Jewish about Grilled Marinated Short Ribs with Spicy Fruit Barbecue Sauce or Herbed Roasted Chicken with Quinoa-Mushroom Pilaf except that they can be prepared to meet the laws of kashrut. Even without a strong hook, though, bubbe would approve, and the two million kosher households in the U.S., as the publisher figures, will likely be grateful for these new recipes." There are now two million kosher consumers in the U.S., but even cooks who don't keep kosher will love these inspired recipes for Jewish holiday feasts and everyday meals. Grouped by seasons, the 150 recipes in Jewish Cooking For All Seasons reflect a refreshing approach to Jewish cooking and emphasize freshness and real, flavorful ingredients. Recipes range from Braised Veal Shanks with Acorn Squash Gnocchi (Autumn) to Dry-Roasted Short Ribs with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes and Caramelized Onions (Winter) to Herb-Crusted Sock-Eye Salmon (Spring) to Chilled English Pea and Mint Soup (Summer); 16 gorgeous color recipe photos tantalize. This chef and mother of three has creatively adapted her restaurant classics for the home cook, offering inspiration and guidance for memorable meals with family and friends. Click the book cover above to read more.








[book] I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors
by Bernice Eisenstein
August 17, 2006, Riverhead.
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Children of Holocaust survivors carry an unusual burden, but you don't come across many who consider their status a form of "cachet" that they can "socially trade on." Yet not only does Eisenstein freely admit to just that, she does it with an eloquent irreverence and a blend of self-absorption and self-awareness that make her debut captivating. The daughter of Polish refugees who settled in Toronto in the late 1940s, Eisenstein is a gifted artist as well as a wordsmith, and her color illustrations take over here when words are insufficient. She grasps that it was her parents who suffered through the Holocaust, but in describing herself as "some Jewish Sisyphus, pushing history and memory uphill, wondering what I'm supposed to be," she neatly articulates her struggle to understand their suffering and get to know them as human beings. Eisenstein treasures the rare moments when her reticent parents share their past. She seeks connections through relatives, books and other survivors. Her frustration and confusion are palpable, but what emerges most strongly is a deep and abiding love for her parents. "Never forget" is a central tenet of Judaism. In this beautiful tribute, Eisenstein shows she's taken that lesson to heart. Click the book cover above to read more.









[book] Why Do Men Fall Asleep After Sex?
More Questions You'd Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Whiskey Sour
by Mark Leyner, Billy Goldberg, MD
AUGUST 2006. Three Rivers Press.
From the Jewish guys who gave you WHY DO MEN HAVE NIPPLES? Click the book cover above to read more.








[book] A JEW AMONG THE EVANGELICALS
A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED
AUGUST 2006. Westminster John Knox.
From Publishers Weekly: "What's a nice Jewish boy doing at a Baptist church on Sunday? This is not the first line of a joke, but the raison d'être of Pinsky's account of American evangelicalism. Pinsky (The Gospel According to the Simpsons) is a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, and his beat-religion in the Sunbelt-draws him into close contact with evangelical Christians. Here, he examines evangelical pop culture and asks hard questions about evangelicalism's attitudes toward Judaism. But it is Pinsky's treatment of evangelicals in politics that distinguishes his book from countless other journalistic forays into the land of megachurches and Veggie Tales. Pinsky shows that evangelicalism is much more politically diverse than is often acknowledged. To illustrate, Pinsky takes readers to Calvin College, where a furor erupted when President Bush was invited to speak at graduation; many of the faculty and students at this decidedly evangelical school were appalled, and some boycotted commencement rather than give tacit approval of a president they disdained. Pinsky charts a growing evangelical environmental movement and shows that though many people who believe in a literal six-day Creation are evangelicals, many evangelicals do not hold to creationism. Kudos to Pinsky for offering nuanced reporting instead of stereotypes."
Mark Pinsky takes the curious reader on a tour of the fascinating world of Sunbelt evangelicalism. Pinsky, religion reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, uses his unique position as a Jew covering evangelical Christianity to help nonevangelicals understand the hopes, fears, and motivations of this growing subculture and breaks down some of the stereotypes that nonevangelicals have of evangelicals. Click the book cover above to read more.








[book] A LIFE OF SECRETS
VERA ATKINS AND THE MISSING AGENTS OF WWII
BY SARAH HELM
AUGUST 22, 2006. DOUBLEDAY/TALESE
From Publishers Weekly: Vera Atkins (1908-2000) was the highest-ranking female official in the French section of a WWII British intelligence unit that aided the resistance. Atkins sent 400 agents into France, including 39 women she'd personally recruited and supervised. Many were caught by the Gestapo and subsequently disappeared and presumed dead. In 1945, after the war, Atkins, fiercely loyal to the memory of her missing agents, took it upon herself to spend a year interviewing concentration camp officials and survivors in order to piece together her agents' fates. Helm, a founding member of London's Independent, brilliantly reconstructs Atkins's harrowing detective work, shedding light in particular on the fate of missing agent Noor Inayat Khan, whose suitability for the job had been widely doubted. Helm's portrait of Atkins is acute, dwelling evocatively on her Romanian-Jewish origins and their social significance for Atkins within upper-crust British circles, and on Atkins's mysterious personal life. Drawing on interviews with relatives and friends of both Atkins and her agents, and on full access to Atkins's private papers, Helm has produced a memorable portrait of a woman who knowingly sent other women to their deaths and a searing history of female courage and suffering during WWII. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] Inviting God In
The True Meaning of the Jewish Holy Days
by Rabbi David Aaron
August 2006. Shambhala
Rabbi Aaron encourages the recognition of the loving presence of god.. Click the book cover above to read more.








[book] The Price of Admission
How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges -- and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates
by Daniel Golden
September 2006. Crown
. Click the book cover above to read more.








[book] The Theocons
Secular America Under Siege
by Damon Linker
September 2006. Doubleday
George W. Bush has gone out of his way to blur the line between religion and politics in America-this is acknowledged by his strongest supporters no less than by his most strident critics. The most common explanation of the president's religious agenda points to the rise of evangelical Protestantism. Yet as Damon Linker demonstrates in his groundbreaking book, an exclusive focus on the role of evangelicals misses the heart of the story. At its core, the Bush administration's overt religiosity represents the triumph of an ideological movement that for the past several decades has devoted itself to fashioning a theocratic governing philosophy for the United States-a governing philosophy rooted in Roman Catholicism. Led by Father Richard John Neuhaus, this group of "theoconservatives" has actively sought to roll back the division of church and state in American life. Their aim is to transform the political and cultural landscape of the country to such an extent that the separation of church and state as we have known it will cease to exist. The election of 2000 brought the theocons to the peak of political power and influence in Washington. Their ideas inspire the most controversial and divisive policies of the Bush administration-policies whose ultimate goal is nothing less than the end of secular politics in America. . Click the book cover above to read more.








[book] [book] A History of the End of the World
How the Most Controversial Book in the Bible Changed the Course of Western Civilization
by Jonathan Kirsch
SEPTEMBER 2006. Harper SF.
From Publishers Weekly The question of how and when the world will end has captivated thinkers for centuries. Wars, natural disasters, social upheaval and personal suffering often send believers back to the writings of their prophets and seers, whose gift is to bring satisfying answers to such questions. The book most studied in the Western tradition is Revelation, the last entry in the Christian canon. Kirsch, an attorney and book columnist for the Los Angeles Times, takes the reader on a delightful 2,000-year journey as he explores a text he describes as "a romantic tale, full of intrigue and suspense" and shows how churches, philosophers, clergy and armchair interpreters have promoted their political, social and religious agendas based on their belief that the end was imminent. Some of this history can be quite sobering, as the powerful have waged wars and built societies based on their varying perceptions of Revelation's message. However, consistent with Kirsch's earlier literary efforts, in particular The Harlot by the Side of the Road, the author exercises great care while treating his material with both sobriety and a healthy sense of the ironic. Written clearly and for a general audience, this is a fine book that merits wide readership. Click the book cover above to read more.








[book] The Littlest Hitler
Stories
by Ryan Boudinot
September 2006. Counterpoint / Perseus
In the title story, a little boy dresses as Hitler for Halloween. The girl who fancies dresses as Anne Frank. Ummm. O. Henry never thought up stories like these. In another story, teens in the future must kill their parents (preferably with ice picks) to get accepted into the colleges of their choice. Is this the influence of Yaddo. Such are the stories of Mr. Boudinit (author, and employee at Amazon.com) Click the book cover above to read more.








[book] [book] Life, Death & Bialys
A Father/Son Baking Story
by Dylan Schaffer
September 2006. Bloomsbury
A mystery writer and his strange (and estranged) father bake their way to truth, reconciliation, and forgiveness. In 2002 Flip Schaffer asked his son to join him in an intensive bread class at a fancy culinary school in New York. At, first, the idea seemed considerably less than half-baked. The two hadn't spent much time together-not since Flip left Dylan and his siblings in the care of their crazy mother thirty years before. Neither knew the first thing about making bread. And, Flip's end-stage lung cancer was expected to kill him long before the class began. But Flip made it. The two spent seven days at the French Culinary Institute becoming artisanal bakers and seven tumultuous nights in a shabby Bowery hotel getting to know each other. And to their mutual astonishment, just in time, they came to something like terms of forgiveness. As moving as it is irreverent, Life, Death & Bialys is about how an imperfect father said goodbye to his son and to his city and how a reluctant son discovered the essence of forgiveness. Dylan Schaffer is the author of the award winning legal thrillers Misdemeanor Man, which won Mystery Ink Magazine's 2004 Gumshoe Award for best debut, and I Right the Wrongs, both of which were Booksense picks. In his spare time he is a criminal defense lawyer who has served as appellate counsel in hundreds of cases ranging from drunk driving to multiple murders. He lives in Oakland, California, with many animals and one wife.
Als drait zich arum broit un toit It all comes down to bread and death-Yiddish proverb
Click the book cover above to read more.








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