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More Fall 1999 Books
(click on a listing to learn more, add a review, or purchase it for up to 50% off, tax free) We also sell NYT Best Sellers for 50% off! Check our Ofrah's BookClub.


[book] The American Jewish Desk Reference from The American Jewish Historical Society.
600 PAGES. Hardcover. October 1999, Random House. Arranged by subject, this is a comprehensive reference covering Jewish life in America, beginning with Joachim Gaunse, who landed in Roanoke Island over 400 years ago in 1585. Include 100 photos, a timeline, 500 biographies, and subject headings such as Rituals and Celebrations, Conversion, Intermarriage, Science, Entertainment, Politics.
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[book] Haikus for Jews by David Bader
Hardcover - 96 pages (September 1999).

So you thought I would
Write a Jewish haiku to
Sell this book. Guess not
Bader, a Hahvahd Lawyer, and the author of "How to Be an Extremely Reform Jew" provides us with the essence of the faith in 5-7-5 / 17 syllable portions. Like the Japanese ahiku, the Jewish haiku (or Chai-ku) includes 'a kigo', or a 'season word', hinting at a time of year. For example, a Japanese haiku would use "russet" in Fall, and "dragonfly" in Summer. A Jewish haiku may use "extra sweater" in Winter or "Gefilte Fish" at Pesach. Some samples?

No fins, no flippers
The gefilte fish swims with
some difficulty

Heimlich. Is that a
Jewish name? I wonder as
a diner turns blue.

Monarch butterfly,
I know your name used to be

Cherry blossoms bloom
Sure, it's beautiful, but is
it good for the Jews?

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[book] Sacred Intentions; Daily Inspiration to Strengthen the Spirit Based on the Jewish Wisdom Tradition by Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky, Lori Forman
Paperback - 300 pages (Sep 1999) Jewish Lights Publishing. Optimism and renewal.
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[book] A Joyful Noise: Claiming the Songs of My Fathers. by Deborah Weisgall
Hardcover - 256 pages (September 1999) Atlantic Monthly Press.
Avalon meets the cantor's granddaughter...
Psalm 100 begins, "Make a joyful noise to the Lord...serve the Lord with gladness." This verse is carved above the doorway to the synagogue in Ivancice, Moravia, the synagogue in which the author's ancesters sang and prayed. In "A Joyful Noise," Deborah Weisgall, a critic for The New York Times, tells a moving story of growing up with two remarkable men who lived life as if they were characters in an atonal opera. Her Czech-born grandfather Abba served as a cantor in Baltimore; and her Czech-born father, Hugo, was an often frustrated husband, opera composer, JTS teacher, and conductor of the Baltimore synagogue's holiday choir. These men were descended from a long line cantors. Deborah grew up in this 1950's milieu, but as a girl, could not fully participate in the musical tradition of her forebears. A Joyful Noise recounts Deborah's turbulent search for a place within the family tradition, and finally, her triumphant discovery of a way to make the men who would exclude her - who are also the men she loves - listen to her voice. As in the prayer, Unasena Tokef, these men were like the great shofars, yet a still small voice needed to be heard. I can assure you will not survive Chapter 13 with dry eyes. I highly recommend this book not only as a memoir, but as a book that evokes the feeling of growing up as a Jewish female in the 1950's, that cool Spring yet warm feeling of opening the door for Elijah during a seder, the Jewish flight to the suburbs, the Jewish participation in the civil rights movement, a woman's lifelong desire to be noticed, and the pain of high school love. Sure, I had problems with the book.... I was surprised that much of it took place in her childhood and teen years, and was surprised by her portrayal of her mother, but these issues are so minor when compared with the overall excellence of the book's stories and readability.
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[book] The Second Avenue Deli Cookbook: Recipes and Memories from Abe Lebewohl's Legendary New York Kitchen by Sharon Lebewohl and Rena Bulkin.
October 1999. Hardcover. Villard. A cookbook from New York's legendary 2nd Avenue deli in the East Village, where 400,000 meals are served each year. Co-authored by Abe's daughter, it contains 166 of its famous recipes, including appetizer recipes, chopped liver, salads, kugels, challah-apple stuffing, 6 different latkes, rice-pudding brule, kasha varnishkes, and I can go on and on. The book also includes recipes from 28 of its famous clientele, including Paul Reiser's riff on the egg cream of 14th Avenue; and Dustin Hoffman's family's macaroni and cheese; Morley Safer's mother's kosher brisket that uses both garlic and pickling spices; Raoul Felder's family's meatloaf; and the cheesecake recipe from the late Bella Abzug. Abe Lebewohl was murdered in 1997 by a thief, and the case remains unsolved. The Polish-born Lebewohl started as a soda jerk in Brooklyn's Coney Island deli, became a counterman and then an owner. He fed the homeless, strikers, Mets fans, tourists, and neighbors. The deli uses 1,000 pounds of cole slaw per day. That's a lot of cabbage even for the East Village. He once sent a magazine 350 pounds of chopped liver to be in a photo shoot.
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[book] The Wholeness of a Broken Heart by Katie Singer
Hardcover - 336 pages (October 1999). Singer tells this compelling, contemporary mother-daughter love story in all its intimacy, anger, and tzurris across four generations of Jewish women, from the Litvak shtetl and Cossack rape, to the Holocaust, immigration to New York City, to the princess life in suburban Cleveland. To read more, please click.
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[book] Ice Fire Water: A Leib Goldkorn Cocktail by Leslie Epstein
Hardcover - 288 pages (October 1999) Norton. In this triptych, we meet Leib Goldkorn, age 97 and living on NYC's Upper West Side. As his health deteriorates, he narrates this novel and cares of his ailing, bedridden wife, Claire. The humorous novel is divided into three sections: Ice, Fire, and Water. In Ice, Austrian-born, Jewish, Goldkorn reminisces about how he tried to convince Finnish Sonja Henie to avoid Hitlerism at the 1936 Olympic Games. How he survived Kristallnacht (in Paris). He mistakenly foils the plot of his sister to kill Hitler, but does get him a ticket to Hollywood when Daryl Zanuck calls for him. In Fire, Goldkorn recounts his adventures, or romantic misadventures, with Carmen Miranda and the conductor Arturo Toscanini. Had Leib only been able to mount his opera production, Hitler may have fallen. But at least he saves Esther Williams from a tribe of man, or woman, eaters. In Water, Leib, having survived the war when his family didn't, embarks on an attempted rescue of a porn star he believes is being held prisoner. And then there is the part about that ice queen... the book reviewer for the New York Times, Michiko Kakutani. That's a Finnish name isn't it?
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CLICK HERE FOR Goldkorn Tales: Three Novellas by Leslie Epstein.
CLICK HERE FOR KING OF THE JEWS by Leslie Epstein... (P.S. -- Sorry, but the Steinway Quintet is probably out of print.)

My Road from Kovno to Jerusalem: A Memoir of a Holocaust Survivor by Zev Birger (forward by Shimon Peres)
160 pages. Hardcover. October 1999. Zev Birger, well known to book mavens as the Director of the Jerusalem International Book Fair, has never even told his kids about his Holocaust experiences and survival. But time is running out, so he has penned this memoir. In 1941, he was forced from Lithuania to the Kovno ghetto, where he started an underground Zionist cell, and built bunkers. In 1944, he was deported to Dachau. His brother was executed, his mother was killed. After the war he worked for the US Army, and he fought the British blockade of Palestine. To read more, please click.
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[book] An Echo In My Blood. The Search for a Family's Hidden Past by Alan Weisman
Hardcover (October 19, 1999) HarcourtBrace. 342 page memoir. Have you ever embarked on writing a family history, and discovered the tales you heard and cherished as a child were false? Alan Weisman may be familiar to you from his NPR 22-part radio series called "Vanishing Homelands" or his book on Latin America, "Gaviotas." But back to the book... Throughout his childhood in Minneapolis, Alan Weisman was told that his grandfather, Avraham Weisman, was killed by Communists in the Ukraine (Mala Viska) during the Soviet revolution because he was a capitalist, owned a mill, and sold wheat to the Imperial Army. Avraham was killed by Bolsheviks who raided his house, and little, six year old Shimon/Simon ended up with a scar on his head. That is part of the story that his father (Simon) told Alan. As an adult, Alan, along with a "friend" with a similar surname, meets his long-estranged Uncle Herman (Simon's brother) who tells a very different version of the family story. Alan, having buried his father, and then his mother seven weeks later, embarks on a search for the truth about the Weisman family while he is visiting Chernobyl. Like a good detective story, the peices come together. Why did his father fabricate the stories, stories that helped to define Alan as he grew up. Did many Jewish immigrants, in order to survive in a new world, create protective family myths? Weisman probes, and discusses his own rootlessness. He investigates the hopes and dreams of his father's generation. Click to read more.
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[book] King David's Harp. Autobiographical Essays by Jewish Latin American Writers. Edited by Stphen Sadow
Paperback - 296 pages (September 1999) University of New Mexico Press. Stephen Sadow of Northeastern University has compiled this excellent collection of Jewish writing from Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Guatemala, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, and Argentina. Writers include men and women, and first and second generation writers, including Moacyr Scliar, Alberto Gerchunoff, Marjorie Agosin, Jose Kozer, Alcina Lubitch Domecq, Ricard Feierstein, Margo Glantz, Ilan Stavans, and of course Ariel Dorfman.
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[book] BAD JEWS by Gerald Shapiro
Hardcover - 278 pages (October 1999) Zoland Books. Shapiro's second collection of short stories. The first one was From Hunger which was filled with absurd, funny and sardonic stories. In this fresh collection, we meet an unusual assortment of Jewish characters living on the edge, going through divorces, having adulterous trysts, realizing that when a door opens to good fortune, it will probably slam shut on a finger. In "Bad Jews", the father of Leo Spivak passes away in Arizona. Leo must arrange for a cheap coffin and a cheaper eulogy, and maybe he'll realize that here in middle age, he still isn't a mensch. In "Worst Case Scenario", Leo turns up in San Francisco as a salesperson of weird security goods, who ends up stalking a woman for whom he had a high school crush. In "Suskind the Impresario", we meet Elliot Suskind, the P T Barnum for the Museum of the Mind in San Francisco. As the museum's publicist, he arranges for a publicity stunt involving bike messengers who will race across the city, and a sex contest that literally kills his mother. Click to read more.
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[book] Exodus 1947 : The Ship That Launched the Nation by Ruth Gruber, Richard Holbrooke (Introduction)
Paperback - 144 pages (October 1999) Times Books. The reissue and updating of the best book on the ship, The Exodus, and it's 4,500 refugee passengers that tried to run the British (Britich Foreign Office) blockade of Palestine prior to the founding of the State of Israel. Includes 94 black and white photos. Click to read more.
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[book] Discovering Jewish Meditation: A Beginner's Guide to an Ancient Spiritual Practice by Nan Fink Gefen
Paperback - 160 pages (October 1999). Jewish Lights Publishing. Nan Fink Gefen seeks to leaders to a deeper and personal connection to God through Jewish meditative practices.
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[book] Rumkowski and the Orphans of Lodz by Lucille Eichengreen, and Rebecca Fromer
Chaim Rumkowski was appointed by the Nazi's to lead the Lodz ghetto. Was he a collaborator? Or did he do his best to save Jews in a no-win situation? In this book, Lucille Eichengreen, who, as a teenager, was deported to the Lodz Ghetto in October 1941, tells the reader that Rumkowski was a monster and collaborator, who sexually abused and molested the ghetto's children. A graphic story of life in the ghetto.
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[book] Chosen by God : A Brother's Journey by Joshua Hammer
Hardcover - 256 pages (November 1999) Hyperion. Joshua Hammer, an unmarried, secular, Newsweek journalist currently based in LA struggles to reconnect with and to understand his brother Tony's, now Tuvia, spiritual journey from agnostic to fervently devout Hasidic Jew. Tony graduated from NY's High Schoof for the Performing Arts and left Hobart college in 1981 to study German and Marxism for a semester in Israel at a socialist kibbutz. A day after landing at Ben Gurion airport though, he ended up in Tel Aviv, then wandered to a West Bank moshav, then drifted a few weeks later to Jerusalem, living like a poor scavenger, and then ended up in an Ohr Somayach affiliated yeshiva. Tuvia is now married with 6 kids and living in Monsey NY. At the start of the book, Joshua, who like his father, is embarrassed and filled with rage over his brother's "return to the faith" hasn't spoken with him in five years. In the book, Joshua makes many visits to Monsey and tries to understand why his brother made the change and what his observance provides for him. Along the way we learn about their parent's divorce, father's remarriage, and family crises (their father wrote "The Court Martial of Lt. Calley", but was then destroyed by his authorship of a book on Lucky Luciano). Joshua also gets to interview the infamous indicted kidnapper and Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, with whom Tuvia was closely associated. Click to read more.
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[book] The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World by Avi Shlaim (Oxford Univ Professor)
Hardcover - 448 pages (November 1999) W.W. Norton & Company. A new book sure to inspire venom or love, by one of Israel's (and Oxford's) leading revisionist Historians. At the beginning of the State, Israel, so that it could negotiate from a position of strength, created an Iron Wall between the Arab countries and itself. Shlaim attempts to convince the reader that the Wall was unnecessary, and that the Arab leaders, contrary to their populations, would have negotiated had Ben Gurion not been so obstinate. Nonetheless, it provides an exciting entry into Israeli history.
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Speaking of Revisionism... you should actually read the following book instead or in addition to the one above. I am speaking of RIGHTEOUS VICTIM, A HISTORY OF THE ZIONIST - ARAB CONFLICT, 1881-1999 BY REVISIONIST AUTHOR BENNY MORRIS (Ben Gurion University. In this book, which is so much more scholarly and deeper than Professor Shlaim's, Morris posits that Zionism's success created the Palestinian identity, which did not exist prior; and that the Palestinian took the identity of the 'victim' away from the Israeli, who also used that identity.

[book] Shared Dreams: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Jewish Community by Rabbi Marc Schneier Preface by Martin Luther King, III
Hardcover - 352 pages (November 1999) Jewish Lights Publishing. Rabbi Schneir unfolds the story of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King's support for human and civil rights for Jews. Rabbi Schneir, the son of Rabbi Arthur Schneir of Manhattan's Park East Synagogue, is a rabbi, former real estate salesperson, founding rabbi of the West Hampton Synagogue, planner of the Palm Beach Synagogue, force behind a new cross-denominational rabbinical assembly, and member of the NAACP (I am quite sure I remember him on the dais at a recent NAACP dinner). Schneier is quite frank, and includes the story of how some Jews were reluctant to aid the civil rights movement and were wary of the far-left-wing Jews in King's entourage. He also discusses King's attitudes toward Israel, Zionism, militarism and the Six Day War. Click to read more.
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[book] The Way Into Jewish Prayer by Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman
Hardcover - 160 pages (November 1999) Jewish Lights Publishing. Rabbi Hoffman of HUC/JIR opens the door to Jewish prayer by defining terms and pointing the way to tefillah and god.
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[book] Trees, Earth, and Torah: A Tu B'Shvat Anthology by Ari Elon (Editor), Naomi M. Hyman (Editor), and Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow (Editor)
Hardcover - JPS, Fall 1999, $30. Collection of resources for Tu-B'shvat, the 15th of Shvat. You can't ask ofr a better book, since Waskow conducts the best seders on the East coast. The first comprehensive collection of Jewish resources for observing the popular late midwinter holiday of Tu B'Shvat, the Jewish "New Year of Trees." Established in the sixteenth-century by the Jewish mystics of Sefat, this holiday celebrates natural and supernatural renewal, and includes a special seder modeled after the Passover seder. The relationship of humanity with the earth-of adam to adamah-has long been a vital element of Hebrew scripture. Today, the Tu B'Shvat holiday has taken on added significance because of the greening of Israel and the growth of the ecology and environmental movements in the United States and abroad. Trees, Earth, and Torah draws from biblical, rabbinical, medieval, and modern sources-from art, music, recipes, and crafts, as well as fiction, poetry, and essays-about the significance and historical development of the holiday, and includes mystical writings along with Zionist and Eco-Jewish pieces. The anthology also includes several examples of a "Seder Tu B'Shvat," ranging from kabbalistic ritual to a contemporary ceremony that makes the concepts and ideas behind the holiday more tangible.
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[book] From Your Father's House: Reflections for Modern Jewish Men by Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky
Paperback (December 1999) Jewish Publication Society. An inquiry into the emerging Jewish men's movement.
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[book] Broken Tablets; Restoring the Ten Commandments and Ourselves by Rabbi Rachel Mikva (Editor)
Hardcover - 160 pages (September 1999) Jewish Lights Publishing. Rabbi Rachel Mikva (of Rye NY) pays tribute to Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf (of Chicago) by wrestling with the commandments and what these rules demand and mean to us today. Ten contributors share their challenges, including Eugene Borowitz, Zalman Schacter-Shalomi, Lawrence Hoffman, Fuchs-Kreimer..., including Intro by Rabbi Lawrence Kushner. Each commandment is followed by an essay. Leonard Fein, for example, discusses "Honoring Your Parents;" Rabbi Weiman-Kelman questions whether "You shall not murder" includes suicide and mercy-killing; and "You shall not steal" is discussed in light of the theft of ideas, time, and reputations by Rabbi Richard Levy.
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[book] The Translation of the Ein Yaakov by Avraham Yaakov Finkel (Editor), and Jacob Ben Solomon Ibn Habib (Editor)
Hardcover (September 1999) Aronson Press. Click to read more.
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[book] Straight Talk: My Dilemma as a Modern Orthodox Jewish Woman by Sally Berkovic
Ktav. Hardcover (Fall 1999). Mixes history, memoir and polemics. Berkovic, the daughter of Holocaust survivors and the wife of an Orthodox rabbi, insists that she is deeply troubled because most of the Orthodox world is failing to address the fundamental conflicts and contradictions in the modern Jewish woman's life: a life influenced by unparalleled access to the secular world and the impact of feminist thought and action. The author, mother of two daughters, says that the Orthodox establishment does not provide the same opportunities for its girls to reach their intellectual and spiritual potential as its boys. She believes that it is imperative that Orthodoxy adapt to the changing realities of the modern woman's life. Berkovic, who offers readers a convivial account of her Orthodox upbringing, makes a convincing case for changes in Orthodox practices, a viewpoint that is sure to be controversial.
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[book] Mystery Midrash: An Anthology of Jewish Mystery and Detective Fiction by Lawrence W. Raphael (Editor). Preface by Joel Siegel (ABC-TV).
Paperback - 200 pages (July 1999) Jewish Lights Publishing.
A Yiddishe Kop, I know... but a Yiddishe Cop?
Will dvar mysteries replace dvar torahs on Shabbat morn?
Will parents stop hoping their child will be a doctor or a lawyer, and hope for a Jewish cop or detective?
What is midrash? Isn't it a deep investigation of the text in order to learn more about it, and piece things together, to compare various texts and clues? Isn't that what a P.I. (Private Investigator) does, too? In this book are original stories by notable mystery writers. Batya Gur (famous for her "Murder on a Kibbutz") contributes "Kaddish", a mystery about a secular Jew who must console a dead rabbi's family by helping them focus on the rabbi's goodness and not the alleged, scandalous events surrounding his death. In "Bread of Affliction" by Michael Kahn (author of the Rachel Gold series, Sheer Gall, Grave Designs), Chicago Attorney Rachel Gold must use her knowledge of Pesach to solve a mystery surrounding a contested will. Richard Fliegel, creator of the Jewish detective, Shelly Lowenkopf ("A Minyan for the Dead"), writes in "A Final Midrash" about four rabbi's who help a detective solve a murder that one of them has committed. If I had a sack of cash, I would certainly option the film rights for "A Final Midrash." For not only is it an interesting short mystery, but it is a well crafted allusion to the 3 rabbis who entered Pardes with Rabbi Akiva, as well as the four ways to create a drash, namely Pshat, Sot, Drash, and Mysticism. Other contributors include: Toni Brill, Howard Engel, Stuart Kaminsky, Faye Kellerman, Ronald Levitsky, Ellen Rawlings, Shelly Singer, Bob Sloan, Janice Steinberg, and James Yaffe. I was not used to reading mysteries prior to reading this book, but I think this anthology has sparked that "Pintelye Mystery".
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[book] OUT OF PLACE by Edward Said.
Hardcover - 352 pages (September 1999) Knopf. Who does not know the name Edward Said, one of America's leading literary scholars, as well as one of America's leading Palestinian advocates, Anti-Zionist, and opponent to Arab peace with Israel? As The Times review alluded to, just as Herzl, who felt excluded from Vienna society, took up the Zionist cause for the European Jews with whom he had little in common, it seems that Mr. Said, who always felt exiled from his parents, Cairo, culture, and family, took up the Palestinian cause although he was really raised in Cairo. The first page of this book pretty much told me everything. He was named Edward by his overbearing, Christian parents, not Yasir, not Anwar, not an Arabic Christian, Coptic, or Moslem name, but a name from British aristocracy. But Edward's father, Walter, had changed his own name from Wadie Ibrahim. Edward was out of place from his birth onwards. He is at home in the land of exile. He felt out of place as a child of a prosperous secretive family. He felt out of place at home, in school, in the streets, at Summer camp in Maine, and at the "moral" prep school in Massachusetts (Mount Hermon). Commentary Magazine criticized this book in August, when it printed a story that said that Mr. Said was not a Palestinian refugee, but an Egyptian. But Said is upfront in this book about growing up in Cairo, although he visited Jerusalem, went to school there for a few months, and was born in Jerusalem, since his mother did not trust Cairo hospitals. Click to read more.
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[book] One God Clapping: The Spiritual Path of a Zen Rabbi by Rabbi Alan Lew and Sherril Jaffe
Hardcover - 320 pages (August 1999) Kodansha. Whenever I am in San Francisco, that City by the Bay, I leave my heart at Beth Shalom, the friendliest shul West of Nevada. Rabbi Alan Lew, the popular Rabbi of San Francisco's Congregation Beth Shalom discusses his rich Brooklyn youth, his family's move to the vacuous and anti_semitic 'burbs of Westchester, his studies at Penn, his marriage, his move into Zen and ten years in monastic contemplation to fulfill his spiritual yearnings, and his return to Judaism and the rabbinate. Who else do you know who traveled alone from Penn to DC for the March on Washington, but left right before Rev. Dr. M. L. King gave his "Free At Last" speech, because he thought he should call a friend at a pay phone to tell her that he wouldn't be able to make it for dinner? This is the story of his integration of the East with the West. And to think, what he could have been had his ill-gotten Everlast Boxer shorts and gloves not been stolen. But seriously folks, this book is both easy to read and interesting. It's about Jewish Karma, baby. Click to read more.
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[book] Israel and the Arabs: The Fifty Years' War by Ahron Bregman, Jihan El-Tahri
Hardcover-448 pages (August 1999) TV Books Inc. A companion book to the PBS series. Behind the scenes look at Israeli-Arab efforts to make peace, filled with little known stories.
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[book] Teshuvot (Responsa) For The Nineties by W. Gunther Plaut and Mark Warshofsky
Paperback, 1999. Rabbi Plaut, a Senior Scholar from Toronto's Holy Blossom Synagogue and Warshofsky, an Associate Professor of Rabbinics at HUC-JIR discuss over seventy Reform Responsas. Questions posed include the need fr a minyan, how to have a bris without a father's name, mezuzah's, internment of a non-Jewish same sex partner, cosmetic surgery, baptism, gossip, marrying a sister in law, conversion, disabled people, smoking, a funeral of a child of a mixed marriage, auto eroticism among the ill, smoking, terminal illness, endangered species, and the treatment of the indigent. Click to read more.
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What Jews Say About God: From Biblical Times to The Present. Edited by Alfred J. Kolatch.
September 1999, 350 pages. By the author of the Jewish Book of Why, the thesis of this book is that god comes in a variety of guises, and jweish thought on god is complex and sometimes contradictory. Kolatch helps to sort it out, including thoughts from very diverse sources: rabbi's scholars, poets, politicians, actors, including Heschel, the Baal Shem Tov, Baeck, Kaplan, our sages, and even Allen Ginsburg, the poet.


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