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More Fall 98 and other new Recommended Releases
(click on a listing for more information or to purchase it)

[book] Kindling the Flame : Reflections on Ritual, Faith, and Family by Roberta Israeloff
$23 before 30% off. Hardcover - 256 pages (August 1998). In a powerful memoir, Israeloff recounts her return to the faith of her childhood through Reconstructionism. Disenchanted with the Judaism of her parents, Israeloff rejected her religion when she was young. Moving back and forth in time, Israeloff recalls the deep Jewish faith of her parents and grandparents and the lessons they taught her about the strength of faith and family traditions. Click below to read additional reviews.
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[book] The Year Mom Got Religion: One Woman's Midlife Journey into Judaism by Lee Meyerhoff Hendler
$20 before 30% off. Hardcover - 200 pages (October 1998). Light-hearted, humorous, and poignant, this spiritual autobiography tells the tale of one woman's awakening to religious understanding during middle age, and how her wish to make her faith an essential part of her life affected her, her family, and her lifestyle. Read more by clicking below.
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[book] The Talmud : The Steinsaltz Edition : Tractate Sanhedrin Part 3 by Adin Steinsaltz
Price before discount: $60. Hardcover - 224 pages. Vol 17 (October 1998) Random House. Tractate Sanhedrin, Part III, covers chapters four through six of the tractate, and continues the discussion of judicial procedures in civil and criminal cases. It addresses the rules governing the cross-examination of witnesses and explores cases in which witnesses contradict one another. Also addressed are cases in which one may act in self-defense. It examines instances in which a judge must compensate a claimant for his own mistakes, and describes the seating arrangement of the Sanhedrin. Several well-known and beloved aggadic passages also appear in this section.
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[book] The Talmud : The Steinsaltz Edition : Tractate Sanhedrin, Part 4 by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz (editor)
Price before discount: $65. Hardcover - 224 pages Vol 18 (October 1998) Random House. Tractate Sanhedrin, Part IV, covers chapter seven of the tractate and continues the discussion of judicial procedures in criminal cases. It outlines four modes of execution, followed by a fascinating discussion of the seven commandments given to Noah, known as the Noahide commandments. In Jewish theology, only Jews are bound by the commandments set forth in the Torah. Non-Jews are bidden to observe the seven commandments given to Noah and his children after the Flood. These include the injunction to believe in one God and to establish a court system, as well as prohibitions against incest, murder, and cruelty to animals. In contemporary terms, the Noah-ide code forms the basis for discussions about the existence of "natural law" and whether society can establish a universal standard of morality.
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[book] Bech at Bay by John Updike
$23 before discount. Hardcover - 272 pages (October 1998) Knopf. Updike's latest story about the character, Henry Bech, the moderately well known Jewish-American writer. See also Bech: A Book (1970) and Bech Is Back (1982). Beck is now older but scarcely wiser. He is still pursued by the hounds of desire and anxiety, of unbridled criticism and publicity in a literary world ever more cheerfully crass. He fights intimations of annihilation in still-Communist Czechoslovakia, while promiscuously consorting with dissidents, apparatchiks, and Midwestern Republicans. Next, he succumbs to the temptations of power by accepting the presidency of a quaint honorary body patterned on the Académie Francaise. Then, the reader finds him on trial in California and on a criminal rampage in a gothic Gotham, abetted by a nubile sidekick called Robin. Lastly, our septuagenarian veteran of the literary wars is rewarded with a coveted medal, stunning him into a well-deserved silence. It's not easy being Henry Bech in the post-Gutenbergian world, but somebody has to do it, and he brings to the task an indomitable mixture of grit and ennui.
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[book] I Married a Communist by Philip Roth.
$26 before discount. Hardcover - 336 pages (October 1998) Houghton Mifflin. Is this a novel about McCarthyism or about Philip Roth's real life wife? Either way, Radio actor Iron Rinn (born Ira Ringold) is a big Newark roughneck blighted by a brutal personal secret from which he is perpetually in flight. An idealistic Communist, he marries the nation's reigning radio actress and beloved silent-film star, the exquisite Eve Frame (born Chava Fromkin). And with Eve's dramatic revelation to the gossip columnist Bryden Grant of her husband's life of "espionage" for the Soviet Union, the relationship enlarges from private drama into national scandal. Set in the heart of the McCarthy era, the story of Iron Rinn's denunciation and disgrace brings to harrowing life the human drama that was central to the nation's political tribulations in the dark years of betrayal, the blacklist, and naming names. I Married a Communist is an American tragedy as only Philip Roth can conceive one--fierce and funny, eloquently rendered, and politically accurate.
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[book] With Roots in Heaven: One Woman's Passionate Journey into The Heart of Her Faith. Or The Journey of a Renegade Rabbi by Tirzah Firestone
($25 before 30% discount) Hardcover - 352 pages (September 1998) E P Dutton. A lot of books come by my desk each season, and I approached this book lacking any great interest. But after the first few pages I was actually addicted. If an autobiography can be called suspenseful, this one is. This book scores as both a primer in spirituality and the story of a woman who flees her Orthodox upbringing in Saint Louis, studies New Age and eastern religions, marries a Christian minister, but then returns to her roots to study for the rabbinate. Rabbi Firestone, a colleague of Rabbi Zalman Schecter-Shalomi, is now a leader in the Jewish Renewal movement, and serves the Jewish communities of Boulder Colorado and the Intermountain area. I will try not to ruin the suspense of the book's story, but suffice it to say the following: The book opens when Rabbi Firestone, born Miriam Firestone in Saint Louis, walks into a Miami hotel for the wedding of her niece. Her brothers, sisters, and mother will be there; some of whom she has not seen in decades, some of whom view her as dead! We must wait for the epilogue to discover what happens at the hotel. Between this intro and the epilogue, we follow Tirzah and her family and friends as she yearns for and seeks out spiritual connections, and desires to learn her bashert in life. She must realize the true path of her heart and discover the inverted tree that descends from the heavens. Along the way we learn why New Age and Eastern religions have been so enticing to Jewish youth, we meet Jew-Bhu's, Hin-Jews, and gurus. The late Rabbi Shlomo Carlbach, a cousin to Tirzah, even makes an appearance in the book, as do beautiful people and seekers of all religions, as well as rogue and manipulative gurus and rabbis. Regretably, her honest portraits of some of the Orthodox leaders she meets along the way brings shame upon some in our community. It took a troubled Christian minister to help Tirzah realize that what she sought could be found in her birth religion of Judaism and in the writings of Heschel, Buber, and the Lurianic Kabbalists. I think readers will try to read faster only to find out in each succeeding chapter what will happen to Tirzah. How will she react to her family's belief that her older brother's suicide was due to a faulty mezuzah? Like Jonah, will she survive a sailing ordeal on the Pacific with a racist rabbi? Will her marriage kill her parents? Will she learn to trust her own heart and break her need to follow strong male spiritual leaders? Can she overcome her personal issues and fear of reconnecting with organized religion? Who is that Yiddish jokester inner voice that saves her in many instances? Surely, this book should be a contender for the Jewish Book Award. This book may actually change some of our leaders' opinions on officiating at intermarriages in the future.
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[book] To Begin Again. The Journey Toward Comfort, Strength, and Faith in Difficult Times. By Naomi Levy (Rabbi)
(list $23 before discount). Hardcover - 320 pages (October 1998) Knopf. How do you continue after experiencing a loss? How do you overcome being a survivor to become a participant. The last time I flew across the U.S., I read Naked by David Sedaris and laughed out loud. Over Sukkot, I flew across the U.S. on a 6+ hour flight and read Naomi Levy's book, and wept quietly from sorrow and also from joy. How do you suvive pain and tragedy? How do answer your congregants who ask the value of believing and praying when tragedy occurs? Rabbi Naomi Levy, who served Congregation Mishkon Tephilo in Venice California has known grief also, and has written this book to help people overcome tragedy. It is must reading for anyone who has experienced loss, considering rabbinical school or planning to work in the Jewish counseling. Rabbi Levy is one of the first female graduates of JTS' rabbinical school. The book is filled with stories of loss and recovery, and applicable prayers and quotes from Jewish texts. The first chapter opens with the kidnapping, robbery and rape of a congregant while on her way to Kol Nidre services. In later chapters we meet a congregant who loses all physical connection to her past when a fire destroys her family's home (except for a single unmelted mezuzah), another who suffers a stillbirth, and others who suffer illnesses, addictions, and other losses. Rabbi Levy had her own losses to overcome, too. At age fifteen, her father was brutally, senselessly murdered by a mugger, leaving a devastated family and destroying Naomi's faith in the police, doctors, people and god. She became a pessimist overnight, and understood the Talmudic quote that 'to destroy a single life is to destroy the world.' Yet, she was able to slowly overcome this loss. The book is not going to cure the reader overnight, but it will set you on the right path and give you or your friends hope. Definitely one of the best books for Fall 98.
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[book] My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin by Peter Gay
(list $23 before discount). Hardcover. 240 pages, Yale Univ Press. Just as former Secretary of Treasury Blumenthal waited for his senior years to look back on his buried German Jewish past in "The Invisible Wall", Peter Gay, now retired, is ready to explore a past he buried. My first exposure to the insightful writings of Peter Gay was in 1980 with his book "Art and Act", a psychoanalytic study of famous artists, which has affected my thinking ever since. Professor Gay now focuses his psychoanalytic eyes on the study of a boy, Peter Frohlich, a Jew in 1930s Berlin, a boy who later changed his name to Peter Gay. The Frohlich family were a relatively prosperous clan of "Jews by Nazi edict" who did not escape Berlin until 1939 (via Cuba). Gay provides an interesting study of an assimilated family in Berlin and a boy, who busied himself with stamp collecting and British soccer as a way to deflect adolescent angst and the rise of Nazism.
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[book] The House of Rothschild: Money's Prophets 1798-1848 by Niall Ferguson or also known as The World's Banker: A History of the House of N. M. Rothschild, Volume 1
(list $30 before discount). Hardcover - 608 pages (October 1998) Viking Pr. A spellbinding story of the rise of Rothschild, as well as the story of European finance. Ferguson, an Oxford historian, was given unprecedented access to the pre-1915 Rothschild archives. Nathan Mayer Rothschild is given the spotlight (the son of Mayer Amschel who was sent to London, and traded bonds and commodities). Ferguson debunks many myths in this book and no other Rothschild book compares to this.
Click here to read more about it, or to BUY this book.

[book] There Once Was a World : A Nine Century Chronicle of the Shtetl of Eishyshok by Professor Yaffa Eliach
(list $40 before discount). Hardcover - 960 pages (October 1998) Little Brown. Already nominated for the National Book Award, Professor Eliach reconstructs 900 years of Jewish life in this Lithuanian town. She spent nearly 20 years on this project, documenting the town in which she was born and her family killed.
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[book] Shtetl: The Life and Death of a Small Town and the World of Polish Jews by Eva Hoffman
(list $14 before discount). Paperback. 272 pages (October 1998) powerful memoir of life under Nazi occupation
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[book] Insisting on the Impossible. The Life of Edwin Land (Polaroid inventor) by Victor K. McElheny
($30 before discount). Hardcover - 512 pages (October 1998).a former NYT science reporter documents the life, inventions, and paranoia of Edwin Land, who had over 500 patents, and is most famous for the Land Camera, which is also known as the Polaroid camera (and was born into an observant Jewish family).
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[book] Work In Progress. by Michael Eisner with Tony Schwartz
($28 before discount). Hardcover - 464 pages (Sep 24 1998) Random House. Michael Eisner, CEO of Disney and ABC discusses his life and his rise to the top of Disney, and his love of two-man partnerships. Chock filled with vivid accounts his rise in the biz, on his teaming up with Barry Diller, and how he became the CEO (you know you just don't get tapped for the job, you have to fight for it.) I enjoyed the book, even if some of the sentences sounded as if Larry King ghost-wrote it. The one draw back... Eisner may think that "denial" is a river in Egypt, cuz you won't find any deep introspection in this on why his childhood was not as happy as one would hope, or why he was sent to boarding school for high school, his facing death (near fatal heart attack), or the loss of Disney president Frank Wells, Disney lyricist Howard Ashman, or the flight of Jeffrey Katzenberg.
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[book] Kaddish by Christian Boltanski
$65 before 30% discount. Hardcover - 1160 pages (May 1998) Gina Keyahoff Pub. This is a book without text. It accompanied a Paris museum show. It is filled with over 1,000 pages of pictures. The pictures have no captions. Many of the characters in the pictures reappear in later pages, as we watch them age. Some of the photos are of Nazi's soldiers at leisure. Others are of confiscated personal effects.
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[book] Does the World Need the Jews?: Rethinking Chosenness and American Jewish Identity by Daniel Gordis
$24 before 30% discount. Hardcover - 256 pages (September 1998) Scribner. Rabbi Gordis is dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the Univ of Judaism in LA. He is the author of "God Was Not in the Fire." Are Jews special because they are born Jewish, or because they practice Judaism and thus offer something to the world? What does it mean to be Jewish? Are most American Jews, who don't follow substantive Jewish rituals but consider themselves Jewish just fooling themselves? This book explores how living a Jewish life filled with Jewish practices and Jewish learning makes a difference to the world, explores the concept of chosenness, and discusses whether Jewish social values and American liberalism are in sync.
Click here to read additional reviews or to BUY this book for 30% OFF its list price

[book] Jewish Roots in Poland: Pages from the Past and Archival Inventories by Miriam Weiner (Routes to Roots), and Michael Berenbaum(Shoah Visual History) and YIVO.
($50) Hardcover - 446 pages (June 1997) 75% of American Jews can trace an ancstor to Poland. Poland's Jews bore the brunt of the Holocaust. But a significant part of their history has survived in municipal and Jewish archives. Jewish Roots In Poland: Pages from the Past and Archival Inventories offers an authoritative guide to what records still exist and where they can be found. A town-by-town index to archives shows, for example, that in Lublin tax rolls go back to 1716 and Jewish community records to 1775. But there is far more than archival listings. There are hundreds of poignant photographs and old tinted postcards of scenes from the early years of the century. Many of the materials predate 1808, the year in which Polish Jews were obliged to register births and deaths with civil authorities.
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[book] Jewishdays by Francine Klagsbrun, Mark Podwal
(list $16 before 20% off) Paperback - 256 pages (September 1998) Noonday Press. An engrossing, encyclopedic Jewish calendar by two powerhouses in Jewish letters and arts.
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[book] Everything I Know: Basic Life Rules from a Jewish Mother by Sharon Strassfeld
(list $17 before 30% off) Hardcover - 160 pages (August 1998) Simon & Schuster. From the woman who co-wrote and gave us the Jewish Catalog series of books, this book provides her heartfelt wisdom that she seeks to impart to her kids.
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[book] Words That Hurt Words That Heal: How to Choose Words Wisely and Well by Joseph Telushkin
($14 before discount) Paperback - 240 pages (September 1998). Telushkin offers advice on how to kick the habit of Lashon Hara, gossip, and words that hurt. Rabbi Telushkin explains the harm done by spreading gossip, teaches why anger, criticism, and lying destroy any possibility of true communication, and shows how to turn every exchange into an opportunity.
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[book] Empty Arms; A Spiritual Companion for Dealing with Infertility and Pregnancy Loss by Rabbi Nina B. Cardin.
($20) Hardcover - 150 pages (October 1998) Jewish Lights. A guide through the pain of childlessness.
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[book] Slow Motion: A True Story by Dani Shapiro.
($24 before discount) Hardcover - 245 pages (August 1998) Random House. Reading Ms Shapiro's article on her father and his mystery wife in an August issue of The New Yorker was a Summer literary highlight of mine, and the talk of the town. This book is the true story of Dani, who grew up in an affluent, observant Jewish family in suburban New Jersey, and fell into a life of drugs and alcohol in her early 20's. A Sarah Lawrence dropout, Dani was the mistress of a wealthy married man (her best friend's father), who kept her in furs. It was not until her mother was left severely injured and her father was left comatose by a car crash that she was awakened from this zombie-like life and moved to change. This is the story of how she embarked on a quest to heal herself and her parents.
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[book] Rereading the Rabbis : A Woman's Voice by Judith Hauptman
(list $26) Hardcover - 336 pages (January 1998). Judith Hauptman demonstrates that the rabbis of the Talmud made significant changes in key areas of Jewish law in order to benefit women. Reading the texts with feminist sensibilities - recognizing that they were written by men and for men and that they endorse a set of social relations in which men control women - Hauptman shows that patriarchy was not always and everywhere the same.
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[book] Jews, Slaves and the Slave Trade: Setting the Record Straight by Eli Faber
($28 before 30% discount) Hardcover - 352 pages (August 1998) NYU Press. No this is not a Pesach story. In response to politically-inspired accusations against Jews by preachers and the Nation of Islam, Eli Faber, a Professor at CUNY, has researched the issue of Jews in the Atlantic slave trade. Yes, many Jews in Amsterdam, England, America, and the Caribbean were in the merchant class. In the colonies they lived in towns and not on plantations. But they focused on fabrics and metals, and not slaves. Many Caribbean Jews owned household slaves, but their involvement in the trade was minimal. This is a must read, but you know what? People who believe that devilish Jews controlled the slave trade after reading this book, just don't care to know the truth.
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[book] Herbal Rituals by Judith Berger.
($23 before 30% discount) 256 pages (September 1998) St Martins Pr. Is Herbal rituals a Jewish Book? Well, I will count it as such, since the author states in the flyleaf that she grew up in an Orthodox Jewish household, and some of the experiences she discusses in the book are about growing up Jewish. This book is about making herbs a part of your everyday life and your health and wellness. Judith Berger, who writes on herbs for Martha Stewart Living, grew up in an Orthodox Jewish household in Mill Basin, Brooklyn, NY. The book has a calming tone, and made me feel closer to the Earth and the natural world as I read it. I was somewhat repelled by Berger's talk on what I perceive as pagan rituals and holidays, such as the Mexican Day of the Dead and Halloween. Broken into 12 chapters for each month, and one epilogue for a thirteenth month, the book starts in November (not a Jewish September or April). For each chapter, Ms. Berger selects some themes and an herb; and she discusses its uses and recipes. November is for Visioning and Remembering, and the herb to use is a silver green Cronewort. December is for Centering, Illuminating and Giving. It's herb is the refreshing and cleansing Pine. In April, Violet is for Growing, Nurturing, and Renewal; while in September, a time for the shofar, Days of Awe, and T'shuva, Berger calls for Turning and Returning as the Summer heat turns to cool Autumn. The herb for September is Comfrey (which she notes may be poisonous to some).
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[book] The World of Jewish Entertaining: Menus, Recipes and Helpful Hints for Celebrating Holidays and Life-Cycle Events by Gil Marks
($30 before discount). Hardcover - 384 pages (September 1998) Simon & Schuster. The acclaimed author of "The World of Jewish Cooking" brings his unique perspective as a rabbi, gourmet chef, and historian to this beautiful guide to entertaining for all Jewish occasions.
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[book] A Short History of the Jewish People by Raymond P. Scheindlin
($23 before discount). Hardcover - 224 pages (October 1998) Macmillan. Concise and popularly written, this narrative account covers 3,000 years of Jewish history, introducing readers to all of the major political events and individuals who have contributed to the shaping of the Jewish diaspora
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[book] Powerful Prayers by Larry King with Rabbi Irwin Katsof
(list $23 before discount of 30%) Hardcover-256 pages (October 1998) Renaissance Books. Larry King, after several marriages and heart problems, the man must know something about prayer. In this book, her offers conversations on faith.
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[book] Steal This Dream: Abbie Hoffman and the Counterculture Revolution Against America by Larry Sloman
($28 list) Hardcover 512 pages (August 1998) Doubleday. Written in a unique style, a fascinating oral history of the social and cultural revolution in America in the 1960s and beyond, as seen through the life of Abbie Hoffman and those who knew him. Sloman interviewed over 200 people who knew Hoffman. Includes inside stories on the Chicago Convention, the starts of the Yippies, running a Pig for President, how Hoffman became a master at the publicity stunt, like levitating the Pentagon or throwing dollar bills onto the floor of the NY Stock Exchange, his fight with Jerry Rubin, the Chicago Eight, his flight underground, his attempts at parenthood, and his suicide.
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[book] Grandparenthood: One of America's Most Trusted Voices Offers Valuable Insights into a Rewarding and Complex Relationship by Ruth K. Westheimer, Steven Kaplan
List Price: $22 before discount. Hardcover - 256 pages (September 1998). One of my favorite books was Dr. Ruth Westheimer's autobiography which I read in the Palm Garden of Frankfurt. But now, Dr. Ruth is Grandma Ruth. In her latest book, she counsels grandparents on how to bond with their grandkids and how not to come between their kids and their grandkids. She counsels grandparents on playing, imparting values and traditions, maintaining contact, and on how to handle grandkids living in non-traditional environments.
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[book] The Menorah's Story by Mark H. Podwal
(list: $15, less 30%) Reading level: Ages 4-8 Hardcover - 24 pages (October 1998) Greenwillow.
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