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Purim and Hanukkah
are memories, the latkas and hamantaschen are eaten. Spring is bursting, but here are over four pages of recent books. Check out our Pages for Purim and Haggadahs, too.

CLICK HERE To see the Finalist and Winners of the 1999 Jewish Book Awards.


[book] A Rumor About the Jews: Reflections on Antisemitism and the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion by Stephen Eric Bronner.
Hardcover - 160 pages (April 2000) St Martins Press. With the whole issue over the Protocols of the Elders of Zion reaching such a boiling point, I wish to point out this excellent history of the topic. Rutgers Political Science Professor, Stephen Eric Bronner, whose parents fled Nazi Germany and settled in the German Jewish enclave of Washington Heights in Manhattan, provides this remarkable analysis into the antecedents of THE PROTOCOLS, the reasons it was published in 1903 by the Russian Imperial Secret Police, the groups that used the Protocols for their political ends, the legal suit that was brought against the book in the 1930's in Switzerland, the early opponents to this popular fictitious Antisemitic tract, and the current state of antisemitism, whether it be social, religious, or political. A MUST READ. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[book] City of God by E. L. Doctorow.
Hardcover (February 15, 2000) Random House. Only 320 pages, great wordplay, lots of stories. Doctorow, author of The Book of Daniel, Ragtime, Loon Lake, Lives of the Poets, World's Fair, Billy Bathgate, and The Waterworks to name a few. This novel is a mirror of our times. Man is frail but redemption can be achieved at the end of the 20th century. There are many subplots and story streams to follow. In one stream, an altar cross is stolen from an East Village Episcopal church and turns up on the roof of an alternative synagogue (Evolutionary Judaism) on the Upper West Side. The temple is led by Rabbi Joshua Gruen and his wife. While investigating the crime, Rabbi Gruen teams up with the church's rector as they explore religion at the century's end. The rector and the rabbi's wife, Rabbi Sarah Blumenthal, who is investigating her father's wartime ordeals, "team up" to comfort each other. Their "teaming" only deepens the mystery of the cross. How far will the rector (minister) go to be with his new love? What are they (Judaism and Christianity) accelerating towards? Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[book] Open Closed Open: Poems by Yehuda Amichai, Translations by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld.
Hardcover - 208 pages 1st edition (March 7, 2000) Harcourt Brace. The English translation of Amichai's 1998 book of poetry. A magnum opus. A poet would be needed to describe the genius of his words. I never "get" poetry. It doesn't work for me. But then I read a poem by Amichai and it made sense. Then I went to hear him at a reading at NYU several years ago, and it clicked. Then I read an excerpt from this book last Fall in The Forward, and I have been anxious for this book's release for the past 6 months. I bought this book and I consumed it. Reading his poems is like praying, like meditating. Here is one tiny excerpt that is reprinted with permission. If it clicks for you, get the book.

Tova's brother, whom I carried wounded from the battle at Tel Gath,
recovered and was forgotten because he recovered, and died
a few years later in a car crash, and was forgotten
because he died. And even if my bloodied hands
had been prophets then, my eyes saw not
and my feet knew not what the grain in the field knows,
that green wheat ripens yellow.
That's the life prophecy of a field of wheat."

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[book] The Genesis of Justice : Ten Stories of Biblical Injustice that Led to the Ten Commandments and Modern Law by Alan M. Dershowitz
Hardcover - 320 pages (March 2000) Warner Books. Violence, lust, deception, murder, incest, and vengeance: These are the subjects of the biggest--and perhaps the juiciest--bestseller of all time, the Book of Genesis. It's oft-told tales have inspired, cautioned, and challenged humankind for generations. But perhaps never before has anyone examined these stories from a modern legal perspective. Based on Alan Dershowitz's class at Harvard Law School, The Genesis of Justice shows how The Good Book is also a law book.. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[book] I Will Bear Witness: The Diaries of Victor Klemperer VOLUME 2 1941-1945. by Victor Klemperer
Hardcover-544 pages (March 2000) Random House. This is the second volume of the translation from the 1700 page German best seller about the life of Victor Klemperer in Germany as a "protected Jew" during WWII, a master philologist of the Nazi lexicon of words. It is the most vivid account of life in Germany during the war, including his period at forced labor and the bombing of Dresden. Throw away your Anne Frank and read this. Read how he remained human among barbarians. Volume 1 was named one of the Notable Books of 1998. Look for a 13-part TV series to be based on these diaries.
Click here to BUY VOLUME 2 for the period 1933-1941
Click here to BUY VOLUME 1 for the period 1933-1941

[book] In Praise of Public Life by U.S. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman (CT-D) with Michael D'Orso.
Hardcover - 192 pages (February 2000) Simon & Schuster. A quick read by one of America's eleven serving Jewish U.S. Senators (Democrat, Connecticut), and member of the Congressional Minyan and Prayer Breakfast. Lieberman got the public service bug like many, after hearing JFK's inaugural speech. (of course, had the media been as intrusive in JFK's life as it has been in current office holders, JFK would be no hero to Lieberman). This book is Lieberman's call to other for public service, a plea for banishing cynicism from American politics, and a glimpse of what the life of a senator is like and how the Senate really works. Lieberman begins by complaining that today's public servant "must face questions not only about how he is doing his job but how he is living his life--and how he has lived his life." This poisonous atmosphere of ad hominem politics and attack-dog journalism has created an environment in which young people don't want to enter public life, writes Lieberman. He asks his interns, and they tell him that they do not want to live through the media inspection or raise the millions needed to mount a campaign. He offers his own career as a tonic, describing the challenges and joys of working his way through the party ranks and achieving his dream of becoming a U.S. Senator. Personal contacts are tremendously important to passing legislation, patience and persistence are perhaps a senator's two most useful character traits, and foreign trips represent one of the best opportunities to get to know colleagues and transact business. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[book] For the Relief of Unbearable Urges: Stories by Nathan Englander

[book] KADDISH by Leon Wieseltier


[book] Carved Memories : Heritage in Stone from the Russian Jewish Pale by David Goberman (Photographer).
Hardcover - 168 pages (January 2000) Rizzoli. In conjunction with the show at The Brooklyn Museum of Art Winter 2000. Photos by the Russian photographer, David Goberman, 88, from the 1930s through the 1960s. Through these photographs, the exhibition documents and explores the vanishing art of stone carvers and highlights themes of folk art and spiritual belief. The photos also provide a timeless record of Jewish tradition in Russia (Ukraine and Moldova). Following their photographic documentation, many of the tombstones were later destroyed and used as construction materials. The book includes three maps showing the villages where the cemeteries were located. Intricately carved motifs include crowns of the Torah, Kohanim signs, birds, fallen fruit, a single candle, a broken tree and three small chicks, fish, deer, unicorns, bear, and lions. Those with menorahs, grapes and water jugs usually represented Levites. Peacocks represent paradise. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[bookcover click me] The Will to Live on: The Resurgence of Jewish Heritage by Herman Wouk
Hardcover - 416 pages (February 2000). Quite moving here and there, with lots of information. Whether your only connection to Judaism will be to say kaddish once per year, or you lay tefillin each morning, this book will inspire you. Herman Wouk, like the gold bar mitzvah pocket watch he got from a Bronx shul over 70 years ago, is still ticking. He is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of such classics as The Caine Mutiny (Jewish lawyer knows in his heart that the Captain Queeg saved the world during WWII even though he is now being tried at a Court Marshall); Marjorie Morningstar (life as a young Jewish woman); The Hope (Israel's founding); The Glory (6 Day War); The Winds of War and War and Remembrance (WWII); and "This Is My God" (An explanation as to why Wouk studied Talmud and practiced Judaism in the 1950's when it was definitely not the rage). In addition to writing though, he has also read, reading daf yomi for decades from his grandfather's set of the Talmud, published in Stettin in the 1870's. Wouk, aged 85, and living in Palm Springs, avoids the press, and communicates to us through this book. Its impetus was the funeral of the murdered P.M. Yitzhak Rabin, a funeral that was attended by dozens of heads of state, and by Herman Wouk. Rabin, according to Wouk, was the modern day King Gedalia (as in the Fast of Gedalia), the only leader for whom Jews fast, a Judean king who was murdered while he was trying to make peace. In "The Will to Live On," Wouk illuminates the revolution that is occurring in Jewish life and practice. In part 1, he explores Jewish history and heritage, the Shoah, and survival. In part 2, Wouk surveys our sacred literature: Bible, Talmud, Kabbalah, the works of Rashi and Rambam, and the rise of modern Zionism. He provides a concise synopsis and captures each section's marrow. He also provides anecdotes and episodes from his long life that helps you visualize his points. In part 3, Wouk examines the current state of Jewry, or as he calls it, "The Way We Live Now." While all is not bad, and there is much hope and a will to live on, Wouk confronts those who like a worm that lives in horseradish, and thinks there is nothing sweeter, are living with blinders on and relishing their past successes. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[bookcover click me] The Book of Jewish Values : A Day-By-Day Guide to Ethical Living by Joseph Telushkin
Hardcover - 544 pages (February 22, 2000). A co-worker used to correct others when they said "I have time to kill." He said "make time to live." Or when a flight was delayed, rather than be irritated, he thought, "oh, more time to read or meet someone." Jewish Values are similar. We seek to empathize, we seek to heal, we seek to praise. Integrity is a something most people yearn for but these days it sometimes seems harder and harder to figure out the right thing to do in a tricky situation. Luckily, Rabbi Telushkin has done our homework for us. He's gone back to the sources of Jewish ethics and explains that although things may have new names, good is still good and bad bad. There's a lifetime of study in this book (both his lifetime and yours) and reading it is like having a wise teacher by your side to tell you how to act. You can use it for group discussion or as a personal guide. It will never let you down. Click to read more reviews of this book and to see a synopsis of some of the days.
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[book] Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments by Rabbi Shmuely Boteach.
Hardcover - 256 pages (January 2000) Doubleday. Watch out America, Rabbi Boteach, winner of England's Preacher of the Year Award, the man who caused a stir in the UK, is homeward bound to the States, and tearing up a path in the realm of sex and dating. Hot on the heals of his best selling, KOSHER SEX, he publishes this book, which looks for hidden meaning in the ten commandments. Let me say this... he is good at packaging. It's a cute book, but in the end it's cotton candy. For example, Honor Your Mother and Father = Commandment Numero Five = Why you should bring your boy or girlfriend home to meet the folks. Commandment Four = Honor the Sabbath = Make your dates special and don't take them for granted. Blah blah blah. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[book] Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback (Illustrator), R. Hayes (Editor).
Reading level: Ages 4-8. 40 pages. (November 1999). WINNER OF THE CALDECOTT AWARD FOR THE BEST CHILDREN'S BOOK OF 1999. BASED ON A YIDDISH SONG AND FOLKTALE. Joseph, a resourceful tailor and farmer in Yehupetz Poland, had a little overcoat, but it was full of holes--just like this book! When Joseph's coat got too old and shabby, he made it into a jacket. But what did he make it into after that? And after that? (scarf, tie, handkershief, button) Taback employs die-cuts to tell the story (jacket, vest, scarf, tie, handkerchief, and button). Taback incorporates details of Jewish life-the Yiddish newspaper the Morning Freiheit; references to Sholom Aleichem and other writers and philosophers; Yiddish proverbs and Chelm stories-to create a veritable pageant of pre-WWII Jewish-Polish life. As children turn the pages of this book, they can use the die-cut holes to guess what Joseph will be making next from his amazing overcoat--while they laugh at the bold, cheerful artwork and learn that you can always make something, even out of nothing. The back page includes the Yiddish song (music and text). Based on a 1977 version that Simms Taback authored. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[book] A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss.
Hardcover (February 2000) Random House. 438 pages. What Memoirs of a Geisha did for Japanese, this will do for 18th Century British Jewry. David Liss is a young Jewish student descended from British Jews. He is completing his dissertation at Columbia University, and this is his first novel, a historical fiction. The topic of the dissertation is how the Eighteenth Century English novel reflects the idea of modern personal finance. Okay, now for the novel... This is a story of adventure, filled with villains, street ladies, fights, a Jewish ruffian hero in 18th Century London, and a Jewish cousin who's glamour may hide a hidden life. Our hero is Benjamin Weaver, who lives on the edge as a bailiff, or a bounty hunter for those creditors who are owed money. A former boxer, he has left his family and much of his faith, until his father befalls a murderous end. Using his wile skills, Weaver seeks to bring his father's murderers to justice, and to do this he must plunge deeper into the criminal world, as well as learn the ways of finance and speculation, just as the Bank of England and the South Sea Company are at each others throats in a spectacular bubble. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[book] Fibroids : The Complete Guide to Taking Charge of Your Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Well-Being by Johanna Skilling
Paperback - 272 pages (February 2000). Yes, I know you were expecting a novel, but my two February selections are non-fiction and serious. When Johanna Skilling, a member of the same synagogue I attend, was diagnosed with fibroid tumors, she was confused by treatment recommendations that ranged from "watch and wait" to total hysterectomy. She was even more frustrated by the lack of data about fibroids, so she set out to close the information gap. Skilling offers practical information and reassurance, she explores the medical, emotional, and sexual implications of a fibroid diagnosis simply and thoroughly; explains what fibroids are, what influences their growth, what to expect after a diagnosis, and how to live with fibroids if surgery isn't chosen; and discusses traditional and alternative treatments and the mind-body connection. Click for more information.
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[book] My People's Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries, Volume 3: The P'sukei D'zimrah (Morning Psalms) by Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman (Editor)
Hardcover - 200 pages Vol 3 (January 2000) Jewish Lights Publishing. Wow. Rabbi Hoffman is prolific. This is Volume 3 and latest addition to the soon to be seven volume series of prayer books filled with explanations and excellent translations. In this volume, the meaning of the P'sukei D'zimrah, or morning psalms, is explored. Like a spiritual appetizer to later prayers, these prayers set the tone and prepares the way for the daily transition from secular routine to the sacred act of communal prayer. The book has the Hebrew prayers with new translations. An introduction to each prayer explains what to look for in the prayer service, as well as how to truly use the commentaries, to search for--and find--meaning in the prayer book. Commentaries are from teachers from all movements of Judaism. Contributers include Marc Brettler, Elliot N. Dorff, David Ellenson, Ellen Frankel, Judith Hauptman, Joel M. Hoffman, Lawrence A. Hoffman, History of the Liturgy, Reuven Kimelman, Lawrence Kushner, Nehemia Polen, and Daniel Landes. Click to read more reviews of this book.
Click here to get more info on Volume 3 (P'sukei D'zimrah) of the SERIES, or to order this book from, or to read more reviews, or to add your own review.

Click here to get more info on VOLUME 2 (THE AMIDAH) of the SERIES.

Click here to get more info on VOLUME 1 (THE SHEMA) of the SERIES.

[bookcover] THE RED TENT by Anita Diamant
Yes, I know that this book is from 1997, and the paperback was printed in 1998, but it's still having sales growth, and Ms Diamant is promoting the books this Winter in Florida and Chicago. It is still a top seller for Jewish book groups and in suburbs known for their Jewish communities. If you haven't read it yet, try it. Ms Diamant, who you may know from her baby name book or Jewish Weddings book, has written a midrash about Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah who is mentioned briefly in the Torah (Genesis 30:21 - 35:26). It is a fantastic story, but remember that it is a fictional midrash that attempts to tell us what is not mentioned in the Torah. Much license is taken, but we are all adults, and can handle it. (For example, Naphtali and Issachar were actually born of different mothers and were not twins as Diamant writes to progress a sub-story). In the story we follow Dinah as she lives a happy childhood in the land of Laban, we meet her family, and learn more about Grandpa Laban and his wives. When Dinah reaches puberty and enters the Red Tent (the place women visit to give birth or have their monthly menstrual periods). Leah, Rachel , Zilpah, and Bilhah initiate Dinah into the religious and sexual practices of the Children of Abraham and Sarah. As Dinah grows, she enters a doomed relationship with Shalem, son of a ruler of Schechem, and we all know what happens to her and Shechem's tribe at the hands of Jacob's sons. In Diamant's story, Dinah flees to Egypt after the rape. Pregnant with a child, she gives birth and becomes a famous midwife. And do I need t otell you how important midwives were to the Hebrew slaves? Click the book cover or below to read more reviews of this book.
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IF you buy the book, please visit this readers guide by Rabbi Laurie Braun. It will help you get the most out of the book.


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