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[bookcover] Jew Vs. Jew: The Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry by Samuel G. Freedman
Hardcover - 384 pages (August 2000) Simon & Schuster. I started to read this book the day after an Orthodox neighbor of mine said to me that the vandalization of the Liberal (HUS) yeshiva in Jerusalem was probably the work of Reform Jews seeking sympathy for their plight. Okay...
At a time when America's 6 million Jews should feel more secure and cohesive than ever, a CIVIL (civil as in calm most of the time) WAR is tearing us apart (well at least Jewish leaders, the rank and file is probably not concerned with the issue). Congregations, neighborhoods, even families are taking sides in battles about Jewish identity and Jewish authenticity. The conflict pits fundamentalist against secularist, denomination against denomination, even liberal against conservative within each branch of Jewry. JEW VS. JEW tells the story of how American Jewry has increasingly -- and perhaps terminally -- broken apart in the last forty years. The flash-points range from conversion standards to the role of women, from the peace process in Israel to the sexual climate on an Ivy League campus. But behind them all, as Samuel Freedman writes, lie common causes. Israel once was a unifier of Jews, now it divides them. Anti-semitism is no longer a unifying threat. Why are non-Orthodox Jews trying to stop an Orthodox congregation from building a synagogue in suburban Beachwood, Ohio? Why did a Jewish man (Harry Shapiro) try to blow up a liberal Florida synagogue where Shimon Peres was speaking? What happened when a Los Angeles synagogue leader tried to use more gender neutral language at her synagogue by adding the names of the matriarchs to the Amidah (Sarah, Rachel, Rebecca and Leah)? Freedman, a former reporter at the NYT and a journalism Professor at Columbia, was attending his local synagogue and saw the tremendous conflict between members, among various Jewish denominations, among Zionists, among various levels of parentage and observance. This led to this book on how the Jewish community in America has become fragmented since 1960. Has Israel fragmented Jews rather than bring them together? Has the lack of a single enemy at whom to direct community wrath caused internal strife? has the Jewish community begun to eat at itself? Is an intermarriage rate of 52% a problem? Why are the Orthodox stratified among the YU-Modern Orthodox, the Agudath Israel, and the various Hasidic sects? Will American Judaism end up being a handful of Orthodox and the rest a group that has seder's and watches Seinfeld?
Watch your local listings for a debate between Freedman and Ari Goldman (BEING JEWISH), coming to a town near you. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[bookcover] Being Jewish : The Spiritual and Cultural Practice of Judaism Today by Ari L. Goldman
Hardcover - (September 2000) Simon & Schuster. Goldman, a former reporter at the NYT, a graduate of Harvard Divinity, an Orthodox pluralist, and a journalism Professor at Columbia, writes on the current state of American Jewry - a state that is definitely not homogenous. If a person buys a pork filled hot dog on Passover, but doesn't eat the leavened hot dog bun, is s/he Jewish? Is s/he performing a Jewish ritual? Goldman explores these traits and rituals that are practiced "in the streets" by American Jewry. A must read. Segmented into three sections: Jewish life cycle events; the Jewish calendar/holidays; and the Jewish day from morning prayers (or lack thereof) to bedtime. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[bookcover] HIS BROTHER'S KEEPER. ISRAEL and DIASPORA JEWRY In The Twenty-first Century by Yossi Beilin.
Hardcover 272 Pages, Schocken (August 23, 2000). Should the Jews of the 6,000 strong Jewish community of Omaha Nebraska be able to set policy on the relationship between the American and Israeli Jewish communities? Or should only the Orthodox and major metro Federations hold that role? After fifty years of donating hundreds of millions of dollars to Israel, do Diaspora Jews fells smugly superior to their Israeli cousins? Should they continue this smugness? Is it false? Should Israel or New York be the center of Jewish life? Should American Jews forget about sending money to Israel and fund American institutions instead? Does Israel really need the UJA? The JNF? The Jewish Agency? Isn't it time to outgrow the babysitter and cut the umbilical? Beilin is an Israeli Minister in the government's of Rabin, Peres, and Barak. He is one of the father's of the Oslo Accords. This is his prescription for renewed relations between the Jewish communities of the United States and Israel. What cooperation is required to aid both communities? Can Israel help America's Jewish community halt assimilation and outmarriage? Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[book] False Papers by Andre Aciman.
Hardcover - 288 pages (July 2000) Move over marcel Proust (remembrance of things past). A sequel to his best selling, "out of Egypt" which focused on his family's exile in the mid 1960s from Alexandria Egypt (under gamal abdel nasser). What happens when you are exiled from a home, and cannot find another; never feeling at home in another place. Can you yearn for a place, a nostaligic place, even when you are standing there? A collection of essays that reflect on memory, nostalgia, displacement, how consciousness prevents us from experiencing ecstasy, and making sense out of life even though we know there is no sense to be made.
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[bookcover] I Hope You Have a Good Life: A Memoir. by Campbell Armstrong
Hardcover (August 29, 2000) Crown Books. The author met his first wife, Eileen, in Glasgow. She was Jewish, from an Orthodox family. They were both young. Five years earlier, at age 17, Eileen had given birth to a daughter who was placed up for adoption. It was the result of an affair with a man ten years her senior. The child was named Barbara after a doll. Eileen showed Campbell the scar from the birth on their first sleepover camping date. After a move and a pregnancy, Campbell and Eileen married. After three children and years of marriage, Eileen and Campbell divorced. Campbell was a boozer and drug user and philanderer. Years later, Campbell got a call. Eileen was dying of cancer in Arizona. Campbell traveled to the US to aid his dying ex-wife. Simultaneously, there was a call from a Yorkshire woman named Barbara, age 40, who was looking for her birth mother. Her adoptive mother had died in 1979 of a heart attack. Barbara was also dying of cancer. This is the remarkable and uplifting story of their urgent reunion. Could they live a lifetime in just a few short weeks? Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[book] Rookie Cop : Deep Undercover in the Jewish Defense League by Police Chief Richard Rosenthal.
Paperback - 250 pages (August 2000). An exciting tale. Rosenthal is a police chief in Wellfleet Massachusetts, but it the late 1960s and 1970, Rosenthal was a police plant in the JDL of Rabbi Meir Kahane. He became a weapons instructor for the JDL and was a body guard to Kahane. The book explains his undercover work and adventures, includes info on the JDL's attempted highjacking and bombing plots, but he doesn't discuss the JDL history in depth.
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[bookcover] Keep It Simple, Stupid: You're Smarter Than You Think
by Judge Judy Sheindlin
Hardcover - 224 pages (August 2000). The sass and savvy of the tv-Judge, Judy Sheindlin, who tells viewers and readers to grow up.. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[bookcover] Defining the Yiddish Nation : The Jewish Folklorists of Poland (Raphael Patai Series) by Itzik Nakhmen Gottesman
Hardcover - 256 pages (August 2000) Wayne State Univ Press. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[book] God at the Edge: Searching for the Divine in Uncomfortable and Unexpected Places by Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein
AUGUST 2000. I read a review that said it needs better editing, but after reading it, I found it to be, at times, rambling in a GOOD way. There are many alternate paths to god, and god is present in the darkness as well as the light. Many people find god in pretty parks, humble houses of worship, massive mountaintops, and serene meadows. Others find spirituality in foxholes, in the muck and mire, in degradation, or in prison. In the bible, Avraham Avinu smashed the idols in his father's retail idol outlet. Rabbi Goldstein did not smash an idol, he just smashed a urinal in a fit of mortal rage and anger at a Manhattan bar two weeks prior to graduating college. He spent a night in the Manhattan's Tombs Prison with accused murderers and transvestite prostitutes. But didn't Joseph spend time in jail, as did Shneur Zalman? Didn't Jonah have to go down to Jaffa, down to the hold of the ship, and down into a fish to turn around? These events led to spiritual awakenings and eventual leadership. A restless Rabbi Goldstein, 33, is seeking authenticity, meaning, wholeness, and rest. He is a police chaplain and DEA advisor, and a founding rabbi of the New Shul which met at HUC-JIR in Greenwich Village/Manhattan (now meets at Judson Kirche). He is also a specialist in the Fear of God, as author of "Forests in the Night. Fear of God in Early Hasidic Thought." His book is part travelogue and part spiritual search. For example, on a trip to Nepal and Katmandu, he and his father attend a weekly animal sacrifice in Dakshinkali. As a goat's head is severed, and his father hugs him, Niles is reminded of the Akedah. When discussing the fine line between the spiritual and sacrilegious, he is reminded of Nadav and Avihu and the Golem of Prague. His trip 'into the wilderness' of Alaska and meeting with a hungry grizzly bear brings on thoughts of the Rambam's discourse on fear and the awareness of one's meagerness in comparison to god. He has the ability to find God while dog-sledding in the Arctic Circle, while counseling police officers in the Bronx, getting dumped by a young girlfriend in Princeton, and while on additional excursions in Asia, Alaska, Boston, Africa, and the wilds of New Hampshire.
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[book] The Way into Jewish Prayer (Second in the 14 volume THE WAY INTO series of books) by Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman
SUMMER 2000. Jewish Lights. An invitation and a roadmap to becoming a prayerful person. Why do we pray? How do we pray? Where do we pray? Hoffman is a Professor of Liturgy at HUC.
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[book] The Sleep-Over Artist: Fiction by Thomas Beller
Hardcover - 256 pages (June 2000) W.W. Norton & Company A collection of stories about Alex Fader, a child of Upper West Side, Riverside Drive Jewish wealth, who has friends who drop thousands on bar mitzvah receptions, and comes to maturity not really fitting in. After his father dies when Alex is a pre-teen, Alex seeks out older powerful mothering types for dating and sex
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[book] Spinning Blues into Gold : The Chess Brothers and the Legendary Chess Records by Nadine Cohodas
The story of Leonard and Phil Chess (born czyz), the polish Jewish immigrants to chicago who founded Chess Records and the Macomba Lounge and recorded Etta James, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Ramsey Lewis, Ahmad Jamal, Muddy Waters, and other blues artists who then influenced the Beatles.
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[book] Fighting For Your Jewish Marriage by Joel Crohn, Howard J. Markman, Susan L. Blumberg, and Janice Levine
Hardcover - 256 pages (July 2000). From the authors of the best-selling Fighting For Your Marriage -- a proven method for confronting the unique issues Jews face as they struggle to achieve stronger, more satisfying marriages. Drawing on traditional Jewish thinkers and texts as well as the widely successful, research-based Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP), this book provides new ways for couples to understand their personal, spiritual, and cultural differences. Each chapter offers case histories and innovative exercises focused on such issues as gender roles, work, raising children, religious practice, and intermarriage. Includes an analysis of how Jewish couples differ from those that are non-jewish, and a section gender analyses that is quite interesting
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[book] Jews, Money and Social Responsibility: Developing a "Torah of Money" For Contemporary Life
A Shefa Fund Paperback. Jews, Money and Social Responsibility is a lively discussion of socially responsible shopping, investment and philanthropy from an American Jewish perspective. The authors explore Judaism's teachings on economics, wealth, individual responsibility and community to develop a contemporary ethic of money and society. Their work offers a unifying vision of economic life that can sanctify and heal ourselves and our world.
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August 2000. My isn't Justice Minister Beilin prolific this Fall? Did you know that before Rabin was assassinated, it was agreed that the Jerusalem suburb of Abu Dis would become the capital of the new Palestinian state? Beilin, an Israeli Minister, was an architect of the Oslo Accords in 1993, between Israel and the Palestinian representatives. This is the behind the scenes blow by blow story of what happened in Norway, and how the accords came about. The last chapter offers an analysis of the internal Israeli politics that have taken shape since Oslo, and what still needs to be addressed. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The Journey of Adam Kadmon by Leslie Stein
hardcover novel. Summer 2000. It's WWII, it's Poland, it's India. Professor Moses Aarons is becoming obsessed with the Zohar (Jewish mysticism) as he becomes unglued and sexually dysfunctional. He corresponds with Jung. On a trip to Poland back from Switzerland, Aarons meets Seth Tripathi, a Franciscan Monk, on his way to India. After the Nazi's invade Poland, Aarons flees to India, finds Seth, and together they wander India in a Jungian dream allegory.
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[book] THE LAST JEW by Noah Gordon
An historical novel set during the Inquisition. At age 13, Yonah Helkias, hides out in Spain rather than fleeing. He works in a variety of jobs, witnesses the execution of Dr. Bernardo Espina (a converso), and trains to be an armor maker. Along the way, he seeks revenge, fights criminals and persecutors, and finds love.
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[book] True Confessions. Making Peace with the Past, Celebrating The Present, Embracing the Future
by Uri Geller, Smuley Boteach. And guess what, Deepak Chopra does an intro. Oh wow.

September 1, 2000. (hey why not have God do the foreward or the Dali Lama) Puh-lease. Maybe Boteach should cry out for help, saying, "please stop me before I publish again." Better yet, why not just open a PR agency. Let me get this straight. Geller and Boteach have a weekly Shabbat dinner, yet they decide to write letters to each other, and this is the collection of letters. Sounds like two guys who like to hear themselves speak. Can you say maniacs?
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Hardcover - 400 pages (July 5, 2000). Arafat and Netanyahu are scheduled to meet Clinton in dc. But sarah greenwood, a counter terrorism expert, has disappeared. Nick stone is ordered to investigate. But they don't know that he had an affair with her in the past and it ended her marriage. When he does track her down in North carolina, it turns out that his orders are to eliminate her with extreme prejudice. But wait, she has information on bin Laden that can save the Mideast peace efforts.
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[book] Harry and Ruth By Howard Owen
August 2000. Harry Stein met Ruth Crowder at a social in Saraw NC during the war. She gets pregnant, but since Harry is Jewish, she doesn't expect him to marry her. Harry returns to Richmond VA and marries Gloria Tannenbaum. Harry ships out to war, and ruth gives birth to a daughter NAOMI, who forever is seeking her identity. Harry and ruth continue to correspond over the years secretively. Now Harry is dying of cancer on Long Island, Ruth is driving to Florida with her son, hank, for a family reunion. Will these two star crossed lovers finally be together again?
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[book] The Years of Bloom : James Joyce in Trieste, 1904-1920 by John McCourt
Hardcover - 320 pages (July 2000). Although joyce was born in dublin, he matured in trieste. How did trieste, its work habits, culture, and marital storms (and its Jewish community) influence the development of Leopold Bloom
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[book] Arguing the World : The New York Intellectuals in Their Own Words by Joseph Dorman (Editor)
Hardcover - 256 pages (August 2000) Free Press. Based on the 1999 documentary. The life stories of Nathan Glazer, Daniel ell, Irving Howe, and Irving Kristol, those left wing Jewish kids who went to City College and went on to become leading American left and neoconservative pundits. Includes interviews with Alfred Kazin, Tom Hayden, Bill Buckley Jr, Trilling, Podhoretz, Bellow, Gitlin, and others
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by Eric Jordan
Can spies write? I am not here to judge. Jordan, a former spy and advisor to Reagan writes a thriller about an Israeli plot to elect a U.S. President. Brenda Straus, an FBI Agent is on their trail, attempting to find which candidate is on the Israeli payroll.

Hey, check out MEN ARE FROM ISRAEL, WOMEN ARE FROM MOAB. Unfortunately it is a evangelical Christian book about relationships that uses the Sefer Ruth as a base, but the title is cute, no?


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