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Dec 03, 2003: Growing up Hasidic. With author Stephanie Wellen Levine, Professor Samuel Heilman, filmmaker Pearl Gluck, and Nina Hurwitz. Makor NYC 7:30 PM
Dec 04, 2003: Rabbi Tirzah Firestone on Jewish Women's Wisdom. NYC 92nd St Y
Dec 04, 2003: The Burbs. David Amsden (Important Things That Don't Matter), Jennifer Natalya Fink (BURN), and Jill Bialosky (House Under Snow). Makor NYC 7:30 PM
Dec 10, 2003: Discussion. The Day the Rabbi Went to Jail. Abuse in the Rabbinate, with Rabbi Yosef Blau, Arthur Magida, Dr. Michelle Friedman, and the NY Jewish Week editor Gary Rosenblatt. Makor NYC 7:30 PM
Dec 14, 2003: Ted Solotaroff converses on Alfred Kazin. NYC 92nd St Y
Dec 20, 2003: Klezmatics perform The Yiddish Woody Guthrie. NYC 92nd St Y
Dec 23-29, 2003: 19th Annual KlezKamp - Swan lake Hotel, Swan Lake, NY see LivingTraditions.ORG

Jan 14, 2004: DAVID DENBY reads from AMERICAN SUCKER. B&N NYC 7:30 PM
Jan 27, 2004: ABRAHAM FOXMAN reads from NEVER AGAIN?. B&N Boca Raton 7 PM
Jan 14, 2004: DAVID DENBY reads from AMERICAN SUCKER. B&N NYC 7:30 PM

Jan 26, 2004: TONY KUSHNER, THANE ROSENBAUM, and SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN in a panel on The Jewish Writer: What's Left To Say? NYC Center for Jewish History 7:30 PM

Feb 08, 2004: Renee Levine Melammed on Defying The Spanish Inquisition. The Crypto-Jewish Women of Castille. UCLA Los Angeles. 1 PM
Feb 17, 2004: MARK KATZ reads from CLINTON AND ME. B&N NYC UWS 7:30 PM
Feb 18, 2004: MARK KATZ reads from CLINTON AND ME. B&N WASH DC Georgetown 7:30 PM
Feb 18, 2004: CHARLIE LEDUFF reads from WORK AND OTHER SINS. B&N Brooklyn Slope 7:30 PM
Feb 24, 2004: Rabbi Harold Schulweis reads from IN GOD'S MIRROR (1990, Ktav) B&N Encino CA 7:30 PM
Feb 25, 2004: Rabbi Michael J. Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Warsaw speaks at Center for Jewish History. 8PM NYC
Feb 26, 2004: Responses to Mel Gibson's THE PASSION by Sister Mary Boys, Dr. Deal Hudson, Rabbi Eugene Korn and Professor Paula Fredrikson (BU). Center for Jewish History, NYC 6:30 $10

Mar 12, 2004: JONATHAN KIRSCH reads from GOD AGAINST THE GODS. Dutton's Brentwood (LA)
Mar 13, 2004: MARK KATZ reads from CLINTON AND ME. Vromans Pasadena
Mar 14, 2004: Rochelle Krich (Dream House) will read with fellow Jewish mystery writer, Ayelet Waldman, Chicago ORT
Mar 21, 2004: Robert Putnam (Harvard) speaks on The Nature of Community in America. 3-5 PM, JTS Seminary in NYC
Mar 22, 2004: Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Jenna Weissman Joselit, Sam Freedman and Jeffrey Shandler on The Role of the Media in the Construction of the Jewish Community. Jewish Museum, NYC 8 PM
Mar 23, 2004: Mentally challenged Jayson Blair profits off by deceit thought his book BURNING DOWN MY MASTERS HOUSE. MY LIFE AT THE NEW YORK TIMES. B&N Atlanta GA
Mar 24, 2004: GRACE PALEY at the NextBook DC series DC JCC 7 PM
Mar 24, 2004: Eric A. Kimmel reads from Wonders and Miracles: A Passover Companion. B&N Portland OR.
Mar 25, 2004: JONATHAN GOLDSTEIN (This American Life, and Lenny Bruce is Dead) at the NextBook DC series DC JCC 7:30 PM
Mar 25, 2004: BRUCE FIELER reads from ABRAHAM. B&N NYC UWS 7:30 PM
Mar 25, 2004: Annette Meyers reads from her mystery novel, Repentences, The Black Orchid Bookshop Manhattan.
Mar 30, 2004: SHERWIN NULAND (Lost in America) at the NextBook DC series DC JCC 7:30 PM
Mar 30, 2004: Discussion with author of WRESTLING WITH GOD & MEN: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition By Rabbi Steven Greenberg 7 PM Denver Mizel
Mar 30, 2004: Nathan Glazer, Norman Podhoretz, Ruth Wisse, and Edith Kurzweil discuss "The Jewishness of the New York Intellectuals" and founders of the Parisan Review. Center for Jewish History NYC 7:30
Mar 31, 2004: Ian Buruma And Avishai Margalit read from OCCIDENTALISM. B&N NYC UWS 7 PM
Mar 31, 2004: The Inward Journey: Jewish Writing Today with Pearl Abraham, Jonathan Rosen, Ellen Miller, Dara Horn, with Daniel Shifrin. 7:30 PM NYC Makor $15
Mar 31, 2004: Book Launch Party for WRESTLING WITH GOD & MEN: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition By Rabbi Steven Greenberg 6 PM NYC JCC West Side



[book] I AM JEWISH
Edited By Ruth and Judea Pearl
January 2004. Jewish Lights.
Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl's last words were, "I am Jewish." Famous Jews reflect on these words in these very personal essays. With contributions from Bronfman, Dershowitz, Kitty Dukakis, Thomas Friedman, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Senator Lieberman, Peres, Rabbis Sasso and Schulweis, Wiesel, and dozens more. Also.. Wendy Wasserstein, Medved, Prager, Feinstein, Kerri Strug, Richard Dreyfuss, Wiesel, and Avrum Burg. Their thoughts are organized around 5 themes of identity: heritage, covenant, humanity, tikkun olam, and chosenness and faith. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Give Me a Break
How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists
and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media
by John Stossel
January 2004. HarperCollins
Stossel, the well-known television correspondent, was one of the first consumer reporters, sticking up for the little folks who got scammed by quack doctors, envelope-stuffing schemes, and the like. But he found himself frustrated. He would expose the bad guys, and the next month they would be back in business. Why, he asked, can't government step in and help? "The more reporting I did," Stossel writes, "the more it dawned on me that the government is often the problem, not the solution." His book, drawn from his television pieces, is full of stories of government gone mad: entrepreneurs put out of business because they violated a ridiculous regulation; competition unfairly quashed by regulators acting in the interests of lobby groups; laws interpreted so narrowly that they become ludicrous. Rapidly, he went from an intrepid consumer reporter to--in the eyes of his critics--a turncoat who abandoned the cherished liberal belief in the ability of government to help people. Although the book is clearly one man's opinion, Stossel is very persuasive. His thesis is simple: there is nothing government can do that the private sector can't do better, more efficiently, and cheaper. We are being ripped off, he laments, by excessive taxation, incompetent and bloated bureaucracies, and politicians who make decisions based on self-interest rather than public interest. It's a powerful, well-argued, and immensely thought-provoking book, and with Stossel's visibility, not to mention the incendiary subject matter, it's sure to be a hot one, too Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Down and Dirty Pictures
Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film
by Peter Biskind
January 2004. Simon and Schuster.
PW WRITES: "According to Biskind, most people associate independent filmmaking with such noble concepts as integrity, vision and self-sacrifice. This gritty, ferocious, compulsively readable book proves that these characterizations are only partly true, and that indie conditions are "darker, dirtier, and a lot smaller" than major studios' gilded environments. The intimidating image of Miramax's Harvey Weinstein plows powerfully through Biskind's saga; the studio honcho emerges as a combination of blinding charm and raging excess, a boisterous bully who tears phones out of walls and overturns tables. Former Miramax exec Patrick McDarrah, in comparing Weinstein with his brother and partner, Bob Weinstein, concludes, "Harvey is ego, Bob is greed." These two volatile personalities directly-and fascinatingly-contrast with the book's other protagonist, Sundance creator Robert Redford. Biskind presents Redford as passive aggressive, an invariably polite conflict avoider, but also notorious for keeping people waiting and failing to follow through on commitments. Because of the actor/director's elusive persona and his artistic tastes0which Biskind describes alternately as puritanical, conservative and mushy-the Weinsteins dominate throughout. Biskind brilliantly covers their career hits, from the high-profile acquisition of Steven Soderbergh's Sex, Lies and Videotape through backstories for Cinema Paradiso, Good Will Hunting and Chicago to brutal clashes with Martin Scorsese over Gangs of New York. And Quentin Tarantino's lust for stardom, Billy Bob Thornton's "ornery, stick-to-your-guns" personality and Ben Affleck's frustration about being underpaid are just a few of the other mesmerizing elements Biskind includes. Above all, Biskind conveys a key truth: the Weinsteins and Redford, whatever their personal imperfections, possess courage and a deep, overwhelming love of film." Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] More Money Than God
Living a Rich Life Without Losing Your Soul
by Steven Z. Leder, Rabbi of the Wilshire Boulevard Synagogue (HUC-JIR, 1987)
January 2004. Bonus Books
Explores how money affects our families, friends, work, loves, ethics, and feelings of self-worth. Where does money lust come from? How do you teach your children the value of money and giving? What do you do when money is tearing apart your marriage or relationship? How do you deal with losing money through death, divorce, or job loss? "More Money Than God" will show you how to balance your life as carefully as your bank account. Readers will learn why money and spirituality are not mutually exclusive and, as many unscrupulous company heads are discovering, why you must conduct your business affairs as if God were the ultimate CEO. With the guidance of this book, readers will learn: How to keep money from being a focal point; How to understand the difference between wants and needs; What kind of moral code to live by while seeking the comfort that money brings; How to teach children well, not wealth; How much is too much. Click the book cover above to read more.

Featuring the Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Translation
Oxford University Press. January 2004.
Oxford University Press breaks exciting new ground in the field of study Bibles with The Jewish Study Bible. This innovative volume will, for the first time, offer readers of the Hebrew Bible a resource that is specifically tailored to meet their needs. It offers readers the fruits of various schools of Jewish traditions of biblical exegesis (rabbinic, medieval, mystical, etc.) and provides them with a wealth of ancillary materials that aid in bringing the ancient text to life. The nearly forty contributors to the work represent the cream of Jewish biblical scholarship from the world over. The JSB uses The Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation, whose name is an acronym formed from the Hebrew initials of the three sections into which the Hebrew Bible is traditionally divided (Torah, Instruction; Nevi'im, Prophets; and Kethubim, Writings). A committee of esteemed biblical scholars and rabbis from the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism movements produced this modern translation, which dates from 1985. Unlike other English translations based upon such ancient versions as the Septuagint and Vulgate, which emend the Hebrew text, TANAKH is faithful to the original text. Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist Jews, professors, students, rabbis: indeed, anyone interested in acquiring a fuller understanding of the riches of the Hebrew Bible will profit from reading The Jewish Study Bible. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] [katzsignsbooks] CLINTON AND ME
BY MARK KATZ (Former White House / Clinton Joke Writer)
January 2004. Miramax Books.
So... I was once sitting at a Barnes and Noble in Manhattan waiting for a book reading to begin, and the guy next to me was very humorous, and chatting with friends about submitting the final corrections for his book, etc. Lo and behold... This is the book he was talking about. And if the book is half as funny as he was just sitting in a bookstore, then this book is a must purchase. And if you buy enough books, I can ask him to try to get me a date with Cindy Chupack.
This book is the painfully funny adventures of President Clinton's in-house joke writer. Mark Katz, the son of an orthodontist, was the kid who cracked jokes from the back row of your seventh grade English class (but then he learned to self edit all his jokes and only voice the best ones). He grew up to write humor speeches for nation's Chief Seventh Grader, Bill Clinton, as well as a top Hollywood celebrity, Vice President Al Gore, Secretary Albright and others. Katz's job was to write Clinton's funny responses to the crises of the moment. You mean like "I did not inhale" and "I did not have sex with that woman"? Clinton & Me is a life-long coming-of-age story unlike any political memoir ever written. So.. what makes it a Jewish book?? Well, just look at the index entry below:
Jewish, Needlessly Reminding People I Am:
Reference to my Bar Mitzvah, Page 2
Synagogue attendance with Mom dressed like Jackie Kennedy, Page 9
Rabbi Frishman calls to wish me "Happy Hannukkah," Page 155

This book opens like all good business and political biographies. There is a crisis the author must face. Once overcome, the book starts at the author's birth and works forward to the opening episode. In this book, the episode is stress-filled but humorously enlightening. President and Mrs. Clinton are perturbed; Clinton's speech is minutes away, and Katz's jokes are not to the President's liking. Will Katz buckle under the pressure or stand up for his jokes? And will Clinton find something to nosh on as they talk? When the story continues, we find Katz in his mother's womb. Yes, just as Clinton was influenced by JFK and shhok the hand of JFK at the White House, Katz's life was affected by JFK. He was nearly prematurely born when his pregnant mother was startled by JFK's assassination in 1963. As a preteen, the dentist's son was supporting McGovern in the way a kid could and rushing home from school to watch the Watergate hearings on PBS. In high school, his jokes were getting him in trouble with the princiPAL, and in college he was writing a humor column. In his book we learn about the life of a grunt volunteer on the Dukakis campaign, his struggle up the staff ladder, and the backstory of Dukakis' photo-op with the tank. His stints in advertising in Manhattan and California, and his cross-country road trip are hilarious and bluntly honest. How was Katz to know that his first boss would be the best friend of Katz's brother's litigious ex-fiancé, or that the sweater he borrowed from his brother for work was hers? As Waldman's book, "Podus Speaks," verified, joke writers have strong egos and desires for exposure, in a world where copywriters and speechwriters are supposed to live in anonymity. In mid-book, when Katz joins the emerging Clinton campaign and crashes on the couch of a guy named Stephanopoulos in Little Rock, we learn about the role of humor and the joke writer, the annual DC Winter roasts and dinners known, and gain insights into the machinations of the West Wing, OEOB, and VP's residence. Katz also lists the jokes that never made it into the recorded speeches. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] There Are Jews in My House
by Lara Vapnyar
December 2, 2003. Pantheon Books.
Innocence rounds the bend to experience in these beautifully shaped stories of Moscow and Brooklyn, which take up the worldview of the young and overlooked. The stunning Second World War story that opens the book is a masterpiece of ambivalence-about the simultaneous generosity and hypocrisy of Galina, a gentile Russian woman who offers safe harbor to a Jewish friend and her daughter during the German occupation. In "Love Lessons-Mondays, 9 A.M.," a young math teacher is assigned to teach a girls' sex education class, even though she herself is still awaiting her first kiss. And in "Mistress," a boy newly arrived in this country bears witness to the intimate details of his grandparents' new and diverging lives: his grandmother's doctors' appointments, where he is charged with translating her myriad complaints into English, and his grandfather's clandestine courtship of another woman. Adept at both snapshots and long exposures, Lara Vapnyar, herself a recent immigrant, writes of life's adventures and possibilities, its disappointments and unexpected turns, with delicate humor, brilliant timing, and striking emotional honesty. She is a writer to relish and to watch. Click the book cover above to read more.

Dark Tales from Tinseltown
by Pater Bart (Variety magazine)
December 2003. Hyperion.
As Bart writes, "the movie business does not attract reasonable people." This makes for tasty stories. The tales are smarmy, entertaining and enlightening, but definitely not dangerous. I would have titled this Mildly Menacing Deceitful Egos; in these stories one can witness why Hollywood is called tinseltown, since each character shimmers briefly and believes they are really platinum rather than cheap reflective plasticized aluminum. Bart's characters could easily have become stock cliches, but happily, in his hands, they aren't. Most of the petulant characters are connected not by their Atkins diets, but by their ownership of homes on Starlight Terrace, a street that had its name changed from Rattery Lane, like an actress with a foreign sounding surname. There are stories about actors, agents, writers, lawyers, producers, directors, studio execs, more lawyers, an MPAA rater, and husbands, wives, adopted kids, and lovers. Most memorable are the stories of the aging actress who uses so much Botox, her director says she can no longer show facial expressions; her 60 year old agent who celebrated his birthday with a chemical peel that might melt his face in the LA sun; a rabbi who is more concerned that his MPAA-rater wife discusses curse words than the fact she is Catholic; the young agent and her younger boy-toy whom she uses for 'recreation'; her retiring mentor who reinforces the adage that successes have many fathers, and failures are orphans; and a hard driving exec who like to remind people that he got Bar Mitzvah'ed in a polo shirt cuz his poor father bounced the check on his new bar mitzvah suit (oh, the shame!). Needless to say, this is Hollywood, so the plethora of Jewish sounding surnames is in abundance in all the stories. While these may be cautionary tales to some, to many others they will serve as appetizing enticements. Click the book cover above to read more.

By Abraham Rabinovich
January 2004. Schocken.
Not since the late General (President) Chaim Herzog's book on the Yom Kippur War have I read such an enlightening book on the period. It is 30 years later, and so many classified documents have now been declassified. Rabinovich (Abraham, not Itamar) not only delivers the information, but weaves a highly readable and adventurous story. He interviewed over 130 players in the war, and even snagged a chat with U.S. General (ret.) Donn A. Starry (who was sent in 1973 by the U.S. Army to Israel to study the war's lessons. It was 30 years ago, when on October 5, 1973, 100,000 Egyptian soldiers with 1,350 tanks waited at the Suez Canal facing 450 clueless Israeli soldiers and 229 tanks. In the Golan, five Syrian divisions faced Israel. Syria had an 8 to 1 advantage in tanks and armor. A few hours later the war began, and Rabinovich covered it for the Jerusalem Post... Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Your Travel Guide to Ancient Israel
(Passport to History)
by Josepha Sherman
Winter 2004, Lerner Publications (Kar-Ben)
Ages: 8-12/Grades 3-7/Hardcover. Visit the ancient holy lands at the time of King Solomon. Find out what to wear in the desert heat, what to eat and what cities to visit. Tour Jerusalem, Solomon's palace, the temple on Mount Moriah, and more. Enjoy this detailed picture of everyday life. Imagine you can travel back to ancient Israel - cities to visit (Jerusalem, Jericho, Megiddo), transportation (donkeys), what to wear (linen or wool), fun shopping (gold and gemstone jewelry), fun food (matzah, cheese, roasted locusts), and more. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The Jewish Community of the North Shore
by Alan S. Pierce, The Jewish Historical Society of the Nor, and Avrom J. Herbster
Winter 2004, Arcadia
The Jewish Community of the North Shore captures the vibrant history of Jewish immigration, entrepreneurship, and community life north of Boston. The first major influx of Jewish immigrants to the region came in the late nineteenth century as eastern Europeans fled oppression and persecution in search of a new life in the land of freedom and promise. Many Jews found work in the tanneries of Peabody, known worldwide as the Leather City, and in the shoe factories of Lynn, while others ran their own businesses, including kosher butcher shops, newspapers, and retail trade stores in Salem and Beverly. Culled from the impressive archives of the Jewish Historical Society of the North Shore, this rare compilation pays tribute to the Jewish immigrants who settled north of Boston and their descendants who became prominent business, spiritual, and community leaders. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The Jewish Community of the North Shore
by Alan S. Pierce, The Jewish Historical Society of the Nor, and Avrom J. Herbster
Winter 2004, Arcadia
The Jewish Community of the North Shore captures the vibrant history of Jewish immigration, entrepreneurship, and community life north of Boston. The first major influx of Jewish immigrants to the region came in the late nineteenth century as eastern Europeans fled oppression and persecution in search of a new life in the land of freedom and promise. Many Jews found work in the tanneries of Peabody, known worldwide as the Leather City, and in the shoe factories of Lynn, while others ran their own businesses, including kosher butcher shops, newspapers, and retail trade stores in Salem and Beverly. Culled from the impressive archives of the Jewish Historical Society of the North Shore, this rare compilation pays tribute to the Jewish immigrants who settled north of Boston and their descendants who became prominent business, spiritual, and community leaders. Click the book cover above to read more.

see also
[book] [book] The Jewish Community of South Philadelphia
The Jewish Community Around North Broad Street
(Images of America: Pennsylvania)
by Allen Meyers

Fall 2003. Callaway
The second is a series of children's books by Madonna (Ritchie). Mr. Peabody's Apples has beautiful drawings that evoke Hopper or Benton. It takes places in rural, small town America. It is based on and attributed to a Jewish tale.. a Jewish tale in which a man slanders the community's rabbi. Feeling remorseful, the man begs the rabbi for forgiveness for his idle gossip and lashon ha'ra. For penance, the rabbi tells him to take several feather pillows, cut them open, and scatter the feathers to the winds. The man returned, notifying the rabbi that he had fulfilled his request. He was then told, "Now go and gather all the feathers." "But that's impossible," he responds. "Of course it is," says the rabbi, "And though you may regret what you have done and truly desire to correct it, it is as impossible to repair the damage done by your words as it will be to recover the feathers."
Unfortunately, Madonna's book is not as good as the simple tale, and the language does not flow as well for someone tryingto read it as a bedtime story. Also, it isn't the best book for repeated tellings. But it works for teaching gossiping adults or children. Click the book cover above to read more.

Jewish Stories of Russia and America
Edited by David Shraer-Petrov and Maxim D. Shrayer
Fall 2003. Syracuse
Love, talent, and magic oppose-and sometimes vanquish-anti-Semitism, totalitarianism, and vulgarity in this collection of new and selected stories by David Shrayer-Petrov. From the deceptively simple narratives Apple Cider Vinegar and Hurricane Bob to the surrealist story Dismemberers and the magical tales Jonah and Sarah and Lanskoy Road, the tempo fluctuates, but throughout, David Shrayer-Petrov seamlessly preserves familiar voices. The stories have a genuine feel of the setting and epoch-the Russian stories work as narratives of everyday life, while the American stories offer an accurate sense of an émigré's alienation. Like all good works of fiction, these stories take on a mythic quality and transcend time and place. Each carries and communicates to the reader an aura of mystery, the enigma of love, and a meeting of the Jewish past and present. Whether he invokes lyrical dialogue, gentle irony, or sharp polemical discourse, Shrayer-Petrov shows that he is a powerful presence in Russian and Jewish literature. For those interested in fiction about new immigrants to America or in the psychology of Jews in the two decades before the Soviet Union's collapse. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Mr. and Mrs. Hollywood
How Lew and Edie Wasserman Created a Global Entertainment Empire
by Kathleen Sharp
December 2003. Carroll & Graf. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book][book] SACRED THERAPY
Jewish Spiritual Teachings on Emotional Healing and Inner Wholeness
by Estelle Frankel
December 9, 2003. Shambhala.
From Publishers Weekly: "There is nothing more whole than a broken heart," taught Hasidic master Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotsk. Frankel cites that paradoxical wisdom as well as other biblical, Hasidic, Talmudic and kabbalistic traditions to shape her thesis: healing begins with brokenness and leads to transformation, wholeheartedness and renewal. As a psychotherapist and teacher of Jewish mysticism, Frankel integrates the psyche and spirit so they "flow as two currents in a single stream, creating a synergistic healing power." She uses the kabbalistic myth of the shattered vessels to mirror the inevitability of brokenness in our lives, the broken tablets at Sinai as a metaphor for imperfection, the Exodus from Egypt as a reflection of change and self-liberation and the process of teshuvah (repentance) and the High Holiday cycle as paradigms for healing. "Locating ourselves in Jewish myth and metaphor," she says, can lessen the sense of isolation in suffering, as well as enlarge our identities through spiritual awareness. The book is divided into three parts: kabbalistic cosmology and healing; healing and birthing the self; and wholeness and integration. Client case studies and reflections on her own life focus on common psychological complaints: a broken heart, transition, loss, depression and illness. Suggestions for guided meditations and spiritual rituals give readers practical ways to be "healed by, or in spite of, whatever illnesses and difficulties we face in our lives." Those familiar with the concept of tikkun olam-repairing the world-will discover here its more personal and interconnected form-tikkun nefesh: healing our own souls." Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The Trouble with Islam
A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith
by Irshad Manji
January 2004. St. Martin's Press.
In blunt, provocative, and deeply personal terms, Irshad Manji unearths the troubling cornerstones of mainstream Islam today: tribal insularity, deep-seated anti-Semitism, and an uncritical acceptance of the Koran as the final, and therefore superior, manifesto of God. In this open letter to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, Manji asks arresting questions. "Who is the real colonizer of Muslims - America or Arabia? Why are we all being held hostage by what's happening between the Palestinians and the Israelis? Why are we squandering the talents of women, fully half of God's creation? What's our excuse for reading the Koran literally when it's so contradictory and ambiguous? Is that a heart attack you're having? Make it fast. Because if more of us don't speak out against the imperialists within Islam, these guys will walk away with the show. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover art] MOURNING A FATHER LOST
by Avraham Balaban
December 2003. R&L.
The death of a fatherled Balaban to return home to mourn, but he mourns more than the deaths of his parents, but the awful (to him) kibbutz way of life and his father's emotional absence. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover art] A CIVILIAN OCCUPATION
by Rafi Segal and Eyal Weisman
December 2003.
Censored last year by the Association of Israeli Architects, A Civilian Occupation is the first attempt by Israeli architects, scholars, journalists, and photographers to highlight the role of Israeli architecture in the Middle East conflict. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the declared aim of the Zionist project has been to build a national home for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. From the settlement offensive of the Tower and Stockade villages in the 1930s, through the total planning of the state of Israel soon after its independence, to the colonization of the occupied territories from 1967 to the present, this book reveals how central Israeli architecture has been in securing that aim. 25 color and 116 b/w photos/illustrations. Contributors: Daniel Bauer, B'Tselem, Meron Benvenisti, Zvi Efrat, Nadav Harel, Miki Kratsman, Milutin Labudovic, Gideon Levy, Ilan Potash, Sharon Rotbard, Rafi Segal, Efrat Shvily, Eran Tamir-Tawil, Eyal Weizman, Pavel Wolberg, Oren Yiftachel. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover art] KILLING THE BUDDHA
A Heretic's Bible
by Jeff Sharlet, Peter Manseau
January 2004.
The word heresy is from the Greek meaning "to choose." In the freedom of America, people choose among the organized religions, as well as their own forms of belief. There is a Buddhist teaching from the ninth century that states that if you see the Buddha walking down the road, kill him. For if you fashion this person to be the Buddha, if you become so intoxicated with your religion that you actually see the Buddha, if you have these parts of yourself that have been left unexamined, it cannot be real and true, so you must kill it. Peter Manseau (the son of a nun and priest who married in the 1960's) and Jeff Sharlet (the son of a Jewish father and a Pentacostal Hindu Buddhist mother) this adage by Lin Chi to heart and set out on a 12 month car trip around America in a Ford Tempo, looking for Buddhas along the road and the people who meet them: prophets in G-strings dancing to pay the rent, storm chasers hunting for meaning in devastating tornados, gangbangers inking God on their bodies as protection from bullets, cross-dressing terrorist angels looking for a place to sing. They called upon some of today's most intriguing writers to recast books of the Bible by taking them apart, blowing them up with ink and paper. Rick Moody recasts Jonah as a modern-day gay Jewish man living in Queens. A.L. Kennedy meditates on the absurdity of Genesis. In Samuel, April Reynolds visits a man of tremendous vision in Harlem. Peter Trachtenberg unravels the Gordian logic of Job by way of the Borscht Belt. Haven Kimmel dives into Revelation and comes out in a swoon. Darcy Steinke rewrites the Song of Songs as a story about all the men her character has slept with; she measure time not in seconds or cups of coffee, but by men and failed affairs. In "Exodus," Francine Prose draws upon her childhood to explain why she can no longer stomach seders; and Michael Lesy anguishes over being a Levite, hence one of biblical Israel's official executioners. Woven through these divine books are Manseau and Sharlet's dispatches from the road, their Psalms of the people. What emerges from this work of calling is not an attack on any religion, but a many-colored, positively riveting look at the facets of true belief. Together these curious minds tell the strange, funny, sad, and true story of religion in America for the spiritual seeker in all of us: A Heretic's Bible. Click the book cover above to read more.

The Controversy over the Jedwabne Massacre in Poland
by Antony Polonsky (Editor), Joanna B. Michlic (Editor)
January 2004. Princeton University Press.
Neighbors--Jan Gross's stunning account of the brutal mass murder of the Jews of Jedwabne by their Polish neighbors--was met with international critical acclaim and was a finalist for the National Book Award in the United States. It has also been, from the moment of its publication, the occasion of intense controversy and painful reckoning. This book captures some of the most important voices in the ensuing debate, including those of residents of Jedwabne itself as well as those of journalists, intellectuals, politicians, Catholic clergy, and historians both within and well beyond Poland's borders. Antony Polonsky and Joanna Michlic introduce the debate, focusing particularly on how Neighbors rubbed against difficult old and new issues of Polish social memory and national identity. The editors then present a variety of Polish voices grappling with the role of the massacre and of Polish-Jewish relations in Polish history. They include samples of the various strategies used by Polish intellectuals and political elites as they have attempted to deal with their country's dark past, to overcome the legacy of the Holocaust, and to respond to Gross's book. The Neighbors Respond makes the debate over Neighbors available to an English-speaking audience--and is an excellent tool for bringing the discussion into the classroom. It constitutes an engrossing contribution to modern Jewish history, to our understanding of Polish modern history and identity, and to our bank of Holocaust memory. Click the book cover above to read more.

January 2004.
Brief profiles of Israelis and Palestinians. Some may not like the moral relativism, but it is these people's lives in their own words. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] THE ZOHAR
January 2004. Stanford University Press.
This is Volume 2 (Volume 1 was published in Fall 2003)
Finally... the Zohar can be accessible to you and me. Well as close to being accessible as it ever has been in English. The commentaries, the explanations, this is the real thing and not that red string bullshit that kabbalh-entrepreneurs and celebutantes pass off as Judaism.
The 2nd Volume opens with a commentary on Parshat Lekh Lekha (Bereshit Genesis 12:1 - 17:27) and preceeds through Parshat Va-Yetse (Genesis 28:10 - 32:3). It has the feel of a Hertz Chumash. In his commentary he has attempted to go back before Rabbi Luria, to scrape away several hundred years of Lurianic Kabbbalistic readings and recover something closer to "what the Zohar meant" when it first emerged. This, of course, is impossible; you cannot recapture the mentality of a 13th-century kabbalist or totally escape a 21st-century mindset. But still, he has tried to approach what one of his teachers used to call peshat ha-Zohar, its "simple sense."
Professor Matt writes the following about his translation technique: My style of translation is literal yet poetic. I am convinced that a literal rendering of the Zohar is not only the most accurate but also the most colorful and zestful-the best way to transmit the lyrical energy of the Aramaic. Still, at times, the multivalent language invites a certain freedom of expression. Let me cite one example (Zohar 1:83a), where Rabbi Shim'on describes the nighttime journey of the soul, soaring skyward from her sleeping body: "Flying, she encounters those qumrin tehirin of defilement." What does this bizarre term mean? The Sperling-Simon translation renders it as "certain bright but unclean essences." The English translation of Tishby's Wisdom of the Zohar reads: "the deceiving lights of uncleanness," while Tishby's original Hebrew translation reads a bit differently: qimmurei negohot-roughly: "vaulted splendors"-though in his note he acknowledges that the meaning is "doubtful." I render the sentence as follows: "Flying, she encounters those hooded, hunchbacked, dazzling demons of defilement." The accompanying commentary explains that these are malevolent forces who block the ascent of an unworthy soul. Qumrin derives via rabbinic usage from the Greek qamara "arched cover," while tehirin is a cognate of the Aramaic tihara, meaning "brightness, noon." One class of demons is named tiharei, "noonday demons." Although the Zohar's basic vocabulary is limited, its roots generate a rich variety of meanings, which demand a wide range of English renderings. For example, the root tqn spans the following: "establish, institute, mend, restore, correct, perfect, prepare, arrange, array, adorn." The root slq can mean: "rise, raise, culminate, attain, surpass, depart, disappear, die, remove, postpone, reserve, emit (fragrance)." I find that I have to navigate between conflicting meanings and determine the appropriate one-or sometimes to discover how differing meanings pertain simultaneously. The frequent dilemmas of interpretation suggest that in exploring the Zohar, linguistic search and spiritual search go hand in hand. By this I mean that you can't just read the text; you have to contemplate possible meanings. You have to enter openings created by the rich language, travel down the winding paths, try out various potential implications, see how they resonate within yourself. In this quest, the intellect is vital, but so is the spirit; the two must work hand-in-hand, aiding and correcting one another. The Zohar cannot be fully appreciated on a purely academic level; it demands engaging the text and self reflection."
Professor Matt basically restructured his life around the project, which will take about 15 years. He works as much as I can each day, without exhausting or draining himself. He eats very carefully and exercises daily. He feared at the beginning that he might grow tired of the work, but now, after six years, he loves it even more than when he began. He avoids other professional commitments and limits his socializing. The time he spends with his family is precious; he spent the years 1998-2002 in Jerusalem with his wife and two children.
Ever since it emerged mysteriously in Castile, Spain toward the end of the 13th century, the Zohar has enthralled, confounded, challenged, and enraptured readers. Composed mostly in lyrical Aramaic, the Zohar is a mosaic of Bible, medieval homily, spiritual fantasy, and imaginative commentary, or midrash, on the Torah written in the form of a mystical novel. In it a group of rabbis wander through the hills of Galilee, discovering and sharing secrets of Torah: at times they interpret the actions of biblical figures, and at other times, they take center stage themselves through their adventures on the road and their encounters with various astonishing characters. The scope of the Zohar is far greater than a single book; it is virtually an entire body of literature, whose central theme is the intimacy between human beings and God. In this lies one of the Zohar's boldest propositions, the capacity of the human being to effect change in the divine realm. Awestruck by the profundity of its insights, symbolism, and dreamlike images, Jews in many lands over the centuries have come to accept the Zohar as revealed truth-no less sacred than the two other major texts of their religion, the Torah and the Talmud. And yet, until now, there has never been a fully reliable comprehensive, scholarly English translation of this revered work with line-by-line commentary. In a monumental undertaking that has already stirred enormous interest and eager anticipation among scholars and various religious communities, Daniel C. Matt, the son of Rabbi Hershel Matt, is one of the world's foremost authorities on Jewish mysticism. He spent the past four years in Jerusalem completing the first phase of this immense project: a 12-volume, annotated English translation of the Zohar. Click the book cover above to read more.

By Rabbi Arthur Green, the Philip W. Lown Professor of Jewish Thought at Brandeis University.
January 2004. Stanford University Press.
The Zohar is the great medieval compendium of Jewish esoteric and mystical teaching, and the basis of the kabbalistic faith. It is, however, a notoriously difficult text, full of hidden codes, concealed meanings, obscure symbols, and ecstatic expression. This illuminating study, based upon the last several decades of modern Zohar scholarship, unravels the historical and intellectual origins of this rich text and provides an excellent introduction to its themes, complex symbolism, narrative structure, and language. A Guide to the Zohar is thus an invaluable companion to the Zohar itself, as well as a useful resource for scholars and students interested in mystical literature, particularly that of the west, from the Middle Ages to the present. Topics include: The Kabbalistic Tradition: A Brief History Until the Zohar; Teachings of the Kabbalists: The Ten Sefirot; The Zohar: Midrash on the Torah; The Zohar Narrative; Mysticism of the Zohar; The Zohar in Historical Context; Selected Themes within the Zohar: Creation and Origins, Between Worlds, Evil and the Demonic, Torah and Revelation, The Commandments, Avodah : The Life of Worship, The Tsaddiq and the Life of Piety, ....; The Question of Authorship; The Language of the Zohar; and the Influence and Canonization of the Zohar. Click the book cover above to read more.

A Resource for the Soul, Body & Mind during Pregnancy, Birth and the First Three Months.
By Dr. Sandy Falk and Rabbi Daniel Judson, with Steven A. Rapp
September 2003. Jewish Lights.
Falk, a physician and Harvard Medical School instructor in OB/Gyn; Rapp, author of Alef-Bet Yoga; and Judson, the author of Rituals and Practices of a Jewish Life, meet an important need with this resource book for creating and renewing Jewish prayers and rituals for this miraculous and challenging times in life. Prayers from generations past are revived. Medical information is shared. Pre-natal alef-bet yoga is taught, with pictures from early and late state pregnancy. For each stage of pregnancy and beyond, the authors provide prayers, resources, and meditations, and they are mindful of the anxieties you will feel about the dangerous less positive outcomes. Also discusses topics including miscarriages and selective fetus reduction/selection. (note.. the book seems to end abruptly) Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Human Parts
by Orly Castel-Bloom, translated by Dalya Bilu
January 2004.
The English translation of the celebrated Hebrew novel from 2003, set during the Intifada in Israel. To portray the fragmented, fateful daily existence of the average Israeli, Castel-Bloom's four major characters -- Kati, Adir, Iris and Tasaro and their diverse constellations of families -- are tracked in a ferociously paced narrative. Kati and Tasaro are new immigrants from Kurdistan and Ethiopia respectively. Kati grew up in the Ramle transit camp and never finished grade school. When her husband, Boaz, chose to marry her, he was disinherited. She bluntly accuses his family of racism, but admits they couldn't help themselves, "Israeli society was in a state of infancy. Today everything is more open." And Tasaro is scorned by her family in Netanya because necessity forced her to become a sex worker at the central bus station, where she was saved by her current partner, Adir, who helped her become a model for television. The contrast between Adir's upper-class Ashkenazi family and Tasaro's, and between Boaz's established Sephardi family and Kati's, is devastatingly depicted against a Kafkaesque backdrop of an invented future of a winter with the coldest Israeli weather on record and a strange epidemic, the Saudi flu. But even snow and hailstones and a life-threatening illness prove secondary to the terrorist attacks and suicide bombings recurring with relentless predictability as the Hebrew months pass. Michele Leber wrote, "In Castel-Bloom's Israel, a bitter winter has people losing limbs to the cold as well as to violence, an epidemic dubbed "Saudi flu" proves deadly, and terrorism continues unabated. Individuals have their own problems. Kati Beit-Halahmi, a mother of four whose husband is disabled, revels in her status as the poster child for poverty; but when media attention wanes, she takes unusual measures to better herself. Iris Ventura, a divorced mother of three who needs a new washer and dental work, is helped unexpectedly by ex-lover Adir Bergson, who lives comfortably on an inheritance but dreams of immigrating to Canada. In understated prose, Castel-Bloom notes the existence of racial and ethnic discrimination, at least on the personal level, and highlights the problem of poverty while suggesting that more personal responsibility is needed. As their exhausted president goes from funeral to funeral for terrorist victims, and radio stations program music based on the number of newly dead, individual Israelis persevere--because what else can they do? " Documentation of Israel's nouveau pauvre is a pervading theme, via the new immigrants from Kurdistan and Ethiopia, the divorced and, finally and by brutal contrast, the terrorist-widowed. Castel-Bloom's social realism has been compared to that of Ann Beattie and Grace Paley, but I hear echoes of Mordecai Richler. Coincidentally, Adir wants to rescue Tasaro by taking her away from Israel, and emigrating to Canada She will read from the book at Drexel on October 30 and at the Harvard Hillel on November 5, 2003. Click the book cover above to read more.

January 2004. W W Norton
An elegant and richly evocative collection about the nature of paradise and the complexities of desire. These eight magical stories are about the Edenic spaces that people create in their lives and the serpents that subtly inhabit them; in each case a form of revelation accompanies the threat of expulsion from the earthly paradise. In "Rug Weaver" (selected for Best American Short Stories 2001), an Iranian Jewish rug dealer exiled to Southern California makes a paradise of his prison cell by weaving an elaborate rug in his mind. Grieving parents in the title story transfigure an exotic luxury subdivision in southern California into a vision of heaven. In "Interpreters" a couple working in a re-created colonial village find that the roles they play are more seductively real than their lives outside. For all these men and women, the apple is only the beginning. And in every story there is a tension between inner and outer worlds as the characters leave a place that grows greener, lusher, and more perfect as they look back. Click the book cover above to read more.

Claiming Sacred Ground at Judaism's Holy Site
Edited by Phyllis Chesler and Rivka Haut
January 2004. Jewish Lights Pub
Includes 27 pictures, including the one in which a make worshipper throws a chair at the women.
This passionate book documents the legendary grassroots and legal struggle of a determined group of Jewish women from Israel, the United States, and other parts of the world--known as the Women of the Wall--to win the right to pray out loud together as a group, according to Jewish law; wear ritual objects; and read from Torah scrolls at the Western Wall. Eyewitness accounts of physical violence and intimidation, inspiring personal stories, and interpretations of legal and classical Jewish (halakhic) texts bring to life the historic and ongoing struggle that the Women of the Wall face in their everyday fight for religious and gender equality. Marcia Welsh wrote: "On the morning of December 1, 1988, an international, multidenominational group of Jewish women approached the Kotel (formerly known as the Wailing, or Western, Wall) in Jerusalem to conduct a women's prayer service. The women-including editors Chesler (a psychotherapist and author of Women and Madness) and Haut (coeditor of Daughters of the King: Women and the Synagogue)-were jeered at, cursed, threatened, and assaulted: "proper" Jewish women do not pray aloud in public, carry or read from the Scroll, or wear ritual objects. WOW-Women of the Wall-was born. For the next 14 years, they fought for their right to continue prayers at the Kotel in this way, which is not prohibited by Jewish law but was banned by Israeli law because it caused such a riot. This is the story of WOW's continuing struggle. Divided into four sections, it contains thoughtful personal accounts by participants, keen legal and political analysis, various denominational views, and discussion of halakhic theory and ritual objects. This is the first book-length treatment of this landmark case in Jewish women's spirituality, feminism vs. Orthodox tradition, pluralism in Israeli society, and basic human rights." Click the book cover above to read more.

By Andras Koerner, with 125 illustrations by the author
January 2004. Univ Press of New England.
A Taste of the Past is an entertaining reconstruction of the daily life and household of Therese (Riza) Baruch (1851-1938), the great-grandmother of the author, András Koerner. Based on an unusually complete cache of letters, recipes, personal artifacts, and eyewitness testimony, Koerner describes in loving detail the domestic life of a nineteenth-century Hungarian Jewish woman, with special emphasis on the meals she served her family.
Based on Riza's letters, part one offers an imaginative sketch of growing up in a religious middle-class family in the 1860s and 70s in an industrial town in western Hungary. Part one also describes Riza's reactions to the dilemmas posed by the early signs of Jewish assimilation. In part two, the heart of the book, Riza has married, moved to a smaller town near the Austrian border, and become the central figure of a large household. Koerner recreates a typical day in the life of Riza and her family, peppering his narrative with recipes of the food she served for breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon coffee-and-cake, and the much more modest evening meal.
Riza's family was religious, and Koerner also describes the special foods (pike in sour aspic, cholent, apple-matzo kugel, and much more) she served to celebrate the Sabbath and the six major Jewish holidays. Short introductions to the recipes describe the evolution of the dishes through the centuries, their role in Jewish culture, and how cultural influences and religious traditions shaped Riza's cooking.. Click the book cover above to read more.

By Gail Parent
Reissued January 2004.
Three decades after its original bestselling publication, Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York is still completely on target as the most achingly funny book-length suicide note ever written by an agonizingly single 30-year-old trying unsuccessfully to straddle two worlds: the one she's been programmed for from birth-marriage first, life later-and the illusive swinging singles scene of liberated New York City. Meet Sheila Levine, she's smart and funny, and her mother tells her she's beautiful. . . . But her skirt's always a bit wrinkled, she's trying to lose 15-make that 25-pounds, she just turned 30 . . . and she's still single. She tries to date and mate, she really does, but disappointment turns to desperation, and after a flash of insight, Sheila calmly decides to kill herself. So she starts to get her affairs in order and writes a suicide note to her loving parents to explain it all Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Justice Matters
Legacies of the Holocaust and World War II
by Mona Sue Weissmark
January 2004. Oxford
Booklist writes: "In 1992 Weissmark brought together 22 Jews and Germans for a four-day meeting at Harvard University. They were sons and daughters of concentration camp survivors and sons and daughters of Nazis. Weissmark, a psychologist and the child of Holocaust survivors, undertook a study to examine how injustice influences interpersonal behavior as the participants tried to come to terms with the past and with each other. Drawing on interviews and the conference findings, the book uncovers a complex story and reveals how unjust, painful events of years ago continue to shape the legacies of both survivors' and Nazis' children. Weissmark explores the question, "Can good people pursue heinous acts?"; reviews research concerning the psychology of injustice; analyzes research concerning people's experience of injustice; and provides a framework for understanding how emotions and cognitions follow the perception of injustice. The book is a major contribution to the study of the descendants of survivors and perpetrators" Robert Rosenthal adds, "The profoundly moving events of those four days are documented here with the richest moments coming in the words of these two groups of participants as they spoke of their lonely but intertwined heritages. The author places the events of these four days into a scholarly context of social psychology, developmental psychology evolutionary psychology, clinical psychology, history, psychiatry, philosophy, and theology. This book will prove hard to put down and even harder to forget." Dr. Weissmark, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and completed postdoctoral training at Harvard university. She headed the Harvard Holocaust Conference research Project and was on the faculty of the Harvard University Medical School. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The Floating Book
A Novel of Venice
by Michelle Lovric
January 2004. Regan
Venice, 1468. The beautiful yet heartless Sosia Simeon (a Dalmatian Jewess) is making her mark on the city, driven by a dark compulsion to steal pleasure with men from all walks of life. Across the Grand Canal, Wendelin von Speyer has just arrived from Germany, bringing with him a cultural revolution: Gutenberg's movable type. Together with the young editor Bruno Uguccione and the seductive scribe Felice Feliciano, he starts the city's first printing press. Before long a love triangle develops between Sosia, Felice, and Bruno -- who has become entranced by the verse of Catullus, the Roman erotic poet. But a far greater scandal erupts when Wendelin tempts fate by publishing the poet -- and changes all of their lives forever. Sosia, the heartless sensualist; Felice, a man who loves the crevices of the alphabet the way other men love the crevices of women; Lussieta, whose anguish gives the story its soulful heart: these and many other characters make The Floating Book an unforgettable experience for lovers of romance, history, and the printed word. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Farewell, Godspeed
The Greatest Eulogies of Our Time
January 2004. Harmony Books
Farewell, Godspeed is a remarkable collection of eulogies for some of the most notable figures of our time, delivered by the people who knew them best. In the words used to eulogize the great and celebrated men and women of the world-sometimes reverential, sometimes funny, always poignant-we come as close as perhaps we ever will to seeing the warm humanity beneath their public personas. Eulogies help the living to look at their own lives. They help us to compare our roads to that of the dead, like a mini Yom Kippur. Cyrus M. Copeland was a Madison Avenue ad exec, who after he delived a eulogy for his father, he realized that this was not the life he desired, and he quit. Copeland has gathered some of the greatest of these writings about artists, scientists, authors, public servants, entertainers, and others who have captured our attention by making the world a better, or at least a livelier, place. Here is Andy Warhol's close friend describing Warhol's hidden spirituality. Albert Einstein's assistant recounting his humanism. Edward Kennedy remembering with a brother's tenderness the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Larry McMurtry's lively and loving tribute to Irving "Swifty" Lazar. And Robert Bernstein, longtime publisher and friend of Dr. Seuss, memorializing him with special, never-before-published verse. Also included are the eulogies of the Challenger astronauts by President Ronald Reagan; Charles Schulz by Cathy Guisewite (creator of the comic strip Cathy); Bette Davis by James Woods; Bob Fosse by Neil Simon; Lucille Ball by Diane Sawyer; Martin Luther King Jr. by Benjamin E. Mays; David O. Selznick by Truman Capote; Karl Marx by Friedrich Engels; Ossie Davis on Malcolm X; Eric Idle on George Harrison; Winona Ryder on Timothy Leary (her godfather); and Gianni Versace by Madonna. Click the book cover above to read more.


[book] Making Americans
Jews and the Broadway Musical
by Andrea Most (Toronto)
February 2004. Harvard University Press. From 1925 to 1951--three chaotic decades of depression, war, and social upheaval--Jewish writers brought to the musical stage a powerfully appealing vision of America fashioned through song and dance. It was an optimistic, meritocratic, selectively inclusive America in which Jews could at once lose and find themselves--assimilation enacted onstage and off, as Andrea Most shows. This book examines two interwoven narratives crucial to an understanding of twentieth-century American culture: the stories of Jewish acculturation and of the development of the American musical. Here we delve into the work of the most influential artists of the genre during the years surrounding World War II--Irving Berlin, Eddie Cantor, Dorothy and Herbert Fields, George and Ira Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein, Lorenz Hart, and Richard Rodgers--and encounter new interpretations of classics such as The Jazz Singer, Whoopee, Girl Crazy, Babes in Arms, Oklahoma!, Annie Get Your Gun, South Pacific, and The King and I. Most's analysis reveals how these brilliant composers, librettists, and performers transformed the experience of New York Jews into the grand, even sacred acts of being American. Read in the context of memoirs, correspondence, production designs, photographs, and newspaper clippings, the Broadway musical clearly emerges as a form by which Jewish artists negotiated their entrance into secular American society. In this book we see how the communities these musicals invented and the anthems they popularized constructed a vision of America that fostered self-understanding as the nation became a global power. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Contested Memories
Poles and Jews During the Holocaust and Its Aftermath
by Joshua D. Zimmerman
February. Rutgers University Press.
This collection of essays, representing three generations of Polish and Jewish scholars, is the first attempt since the fall of Communism to reassess the existing historiography of Polish-Jewish relations just before, during, and after the Second World War. In the spirit of detached scholarly inquiry, these essays fearlessly challenge commonly held views on both sides of the debates. The authors are committed to analyzing issues fairly and to reaching a mutual understanding. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Someone To Run With
A Novel
by David Grossman
February 2004. FS&G.
Earnest, awkward, and painfully shy, sixteen-year-old Assaf is having the worst summer of his life. With his big sister gone to America and his best friend suddenly the most popular kid in their class, Assaf worries away his days at a lowly summer job in Jerusalem city hall and spends his evenings alone, watching television and playing games on the Internet. One morning, Assaf's routine is interrupted by an absurd assignment: to find the owner of a stray yellow lab. Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, Tamar, a talented young singer with a lonely, tempestuous soul, undertakes an equally unpromising mission: to rescue a teenage drug addict from the Jerusalem underworld . . . and, eventually, to find her dog. Someone to Run With is the most popular work to date from "a writer who has been, for nearly two decades, one of the most original and talented . . . anywhere" (The New York Times Book Review), a bestseller hailed by the Israeli press (and reform politicians such as Shimon Peres) for its mixture of fairy-tale magic, emotional sensitivity, and gritty realism. The novel explores the life of Israeli street kids-whom Grossman interviewed extensively for the novel-and the anxieties of family life in a society racked by self-doubt. Most of all, it evokes the adventure of adolescence and the discovery of love, as Tamar and Assaf, pushed beyond the limits of childhood by their quests, find themselves, and each other. Click the book cover above to read more.

How Young People Cope with Moral Dilemmas at Work
by Wendy Fischman, Becca Solomon, Deborah Greenspan and Howard Gardner
February 2004. Harvard University Press. You're young, ambitious, entering the field of your dreams; you're on your own, the competition is fierce--and then you see your chance: the big story, the big role, the big discovery. But you'll have to cut a few corners, bend the rules, cheat a bit. What choices will you make? After studying more than a hundred young people launching their careers, these longtime researchers of "good work"--work that is both skillful and honorable--find unsettling answers. Although young workers know what it takes to do good work, they don't always feel they can follow the ethical route. "Later, when I'm successful," is their implicit promise. Making Good explores the choices confronting young workers who join the ranks of three dynamic professions--journalism, science, and acting--and looks at how the novices navigate moral dilemmas posed by a demanding, frequently lonely, professional life. The authors also uncover striking comparisons between these young professionals and the veterans in their fields--most notably, older workers recall inspiring models and mentors, while today's beginners see themselves as on their own. With extensive insights into how young workers view their respective domains, the nature of their ambitions, the sacrifices they are willing to make, and the lines they are prepared to cross, this study will prove instructive to young employees and employers alike, as well as to those who wish to understand the shifting moral and social character of the working world. All four authors work at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover art] DOUBLE OR NOTHING?
by Sylvia Barack Fishman (Brandeis)
Winter 2004. Brandeis Univ Press.
A lively and accessible look at Jewish intermarriage and its familial and cultural effects. Some observers believe America's promises are dramatically fulfilled by marriage across boundaries. Following their hearts rather than familial and communal preferences, intermarried couples illustrate the triumph of such Romantic values as the sanctity of the individual and the sacredness of personal passions. Intermarriages are also touted as emblems of increased tolerance. If intermarriage is a blessing, American Jews are among the prime beneficiaries. Recent statistical studies show that about half of all recent marriages involving a Jew have been to non-Jews. Many of these Jews maintain at least some ties to their own ethnoreligious heritage. At the same time, very few of the non-Jews marrying Jewish men and women today convert to Judaism. The same cultural tolerance that nurtures mixed marriage also promotes the idea that each partner can maintain his or her own distinctive, premarriage identity. Thus, the homes they form include two religious identities, and, often, two or more ethnic identities. The American Jewish resistance to intermarriage held by earlier generations has given way to the view that intermarriage is normative in the American milieu. But what is the impact of mixed marriage on Jews and Judaism? Concerned that intermarriage may weaken American Jewish vitality, many wonder: Will the blessing of American openness cause Jewish culture to be virtually loved out of existence in twenty-first-century America? This provocative question frames Fishman's study. Drawing on more than 250 original interviews with mixed-married men and women, focus group discussions with their teenaged children, materials produced by communal, secular, and religious organizations, and conferences, books, and films created by and for interfaith audiences, Fishman examines family dynamics in mixed-married households. She looks at the responses of Jewish and non-Jewish family and friends. She investigates how the "December dilemma" plays itself out in diverse mixed Jewish households and explores popular cultural depictions of mixed marriages in fiction, film, television, and in material artifacts such as the "Mixed Message Greeting Card Company." Fishman concludes with a look at Jewish communal responses from rabbis, schools, and synagogues, and the Jewish community to the potential demographic crisis resulting from mixed marriages. While understanding and accepting the cultural imperatives that have produced high intermarriage rates, Fishman emphasizes the key role of education in creating Jews who seek to remain affiliated. As one reviewer points out, her book offers a "well-thought-out response to a problem that has generated more hysteria than reasoned analysis." Click the book cover above to read more.

February 2004, Scribner
Lilian Nattel, the acclaimed author of The River Midnight, masterfully brings to life a vanished world -- the lanes boiling with the steam from kettles of laundry, the smokestacks belching coal dust, the chatter of tailors, piemen, and thieves. This is where Nehama arrives with her dreams of independence, not realizing the dangers that a girl on her own must face. Tricked into prostitution and with only the whispers of her deceased grandmother to guide her, she escapes into the alleys of the East End, where bustling market stalls and penny seats at the theater are just a handsbreadth away from the criminal warrens. In the Jewish ghetto Nehama makes a new life, remembering the lessons of the street to help another runaway, Emilia, pregnant and unwed. But Emilia refuses a hardscrabble life and, relinquishing her baby to Nehama, re-creates herself in the chic streets of the West End. Nattel intertwines the stories of these women as they build their lives in two sides of the city. With stunningly vivid prose Nattel writes of the chaos of this rich city life; she tells the stories of whores and rabbis, street vendors and artists, sweatshops and Yiddish theater, and she beautifully renders the courage of mothers and sisters navigating dangerous realms. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover art] Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran
Oscar and the Lady in Pink
Two Novellas
by Eric-Emmanuel Schmidt, Translated by Marjolijn De Jager
February 2004. Other Press.
The novella behind the award winning film starring Omar Sharif. Set in the 1960 in Paris' Jewish Quarter, Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran is about a troubled Jewish boy, Moses, or Momo, who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a solitary Muslim shopkeeper named Monsieur Ibrahim. Momo's hilarious yet heart-wrenching story begins when loses his virginity in a bordello at the age of 11. Ibrahim offers Momo his ear and advice, and gradually the precocious boy that there is more to life than whores and stealing groceries. When Momo's father, a passive-aggressive lawyer who neglects his son who neglects his son's well being, disappears and is found dead, Ibrahim adopts the newly orphaned boy. Eventually the two decide to make a trip across Europe to the birthplace of Monsieur Ibrahim that brings them to the most important crossroads of their lives. As this deeply funny and exquisitely crafted plot unravels, it reveals how we learn the most essential aspects of life and death when we expect them the least. Oscar and the Lady in Pink gives us an entirely different tale of love and courage. Oscar is ten years old and dying of leukemia. He knows that his bone marrow transplant has failed, but the only person who will talk to him about dying is his beloved Mamie-Rose, an elderly volunteer who visits the sick children. When it becomes clear that Oscar's time is growing short, Mamie-Rose gives him an idea: he should pretend that every day he lives represents the passage of ten years, and at the end of each day he should write down his experiences as a letter to God so that he might feel less alone. With Mamie-Rose as his guide, Oscar begins an uplifting journey through days made fuller by the richness of his imagination and spirit. Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt has given us two illuminating tales about suffering, love, compassion, and faith both in God and humanity. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] [signs books] Wrestling With God and Men
Homosexuality and the Jewish Tradition
by Rabbi Steven Greenberg
Late Spring 2004. University of Wisconsin Press
Greenberg is an Orthodox rabbi who is also an out gay person. He realized he was gay at an early age, but sublimated his feelings toward his other passion, the study of Torah. The yeshiva environment allowed him to throw himself into study in an intense male community, where sexuality was placed a distant second to immersion in Torah. Greenberg received his B.A. from Yeshiva University but doubts about his sexuality began to plague him. While studying abroad in Israel, he sought out a highly respected Orthodox rabbi, Rav Eliashuv, and told him "I am attracted to both men and women! What should I do?" Eliashuv answered: "My dear one, then you have twice the power of love. Use it carefully." Shocked and exhilarated by this response, Greenberg decided to go on in his spiritual life and seek ordination as an Orthodox rabbi. He graduated from Yeshiva University's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). But even as a practicing rabbi, he knew his journey was still not complete. Deep in the closet, he practiced celibacy, trying to find a way to balance his commitment to halakhah with what he saw as his God-given identity as a gay man. The first step was to publish an article, Gayness and God pseudonymously in Tikkun Magazine. In it, he discusses the halakhic issues surrounding Jewish discussions of sexuality, and the hope of a welcoming, observant Judaism for all Jews. The publication of the article gave him the strength he needed, and he came out thereafter in American and Israeli Jewish publications. Much of the Orthodox community, including his colleagues at RIETS, were angered. But he has been shown support by and given support to the increasing number of Orthodox Jews wishing to live observant and truthful lives. He was prominently featured in the documentary Trembling Before G-d, the first such film about Orthodox gay Jews. In this book, Rabbi Greenberg explores the Torah and Homosexuality, Leviticus 18:22, the love between David and Jonathan, the creation of Eve and Adam, the story of the destruction of Sodom, David's sister, and the nexus of Jewishness and sexuality. Some reviewers take issue with Greenberg's use of the words "perhaps" and "maybe" when it comes to discussing the Torah, but I assume they have never been in a Torah study class. Click to read more.

[book] Wonders And Miracles
A Passover Companion
by Eric A. Kimmel
February 2004. Scholastic
An elegant volume with art and text that spans 3,000 years, four continents, and fifteen countries. Passover is a beloved holiday that millions of people from all over the world have celebrated for centuries. And the customs and rituals that are practiced today are a reflection of those many people, places, and times that came before. Now, in a rich and fascinating compilation, award-winning writer Eric A. Kimmel presents this ancient festival through stories, songs, poems, prayers, and commentary, which make this timeless, ever-changing holiday understandable and relevant to today's readers. Here is a book for the whole family to read before or during the holiday. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Creating Lively Passover Seders
An Interactive Sourcebook of Tales, Texts & Activities
by David Arnow
February 2004. Jewish Lights
A guide to help you invigorate your Seder, create lively discussions, and make personal connections with the Exodus story today. For many people, the act of simply reading the Haggadah no longer fulfills the Passover Seder's purpose: to help you feel as if you personally had gone out of Egypt. Too often, the ritual meal has become predictable, boring, and uninspiring. Creating Lively Passover Seders is an innovative, interactive guide to help encourage fresh perspectives and lively dialogue. This intriguing Haggadah companion offers thematic discussion topics, text study ideas, activities, and readings that come alive in the traditional group setting of the Passover Seder. Each activity and discussion idea aims to: Deepen your understanding of the Haggadah; Provide new opportunities for engaging the themes of the Passover festival, including interactive readings and bibliodrama; Develop familiarity with the Exodus story, as well as the life and times of the people who shaped the development of the Haggadah; Reliving the Exodus is not about remembering an event long ago, but about participating in a conversation that provides hope and strength for the struggle to make tomorrow a brighter day. With this complete resource, you can create more meaningful encounters with Jewish values, traditions, and texts that lead well beyond the Seder itself. Each chapter begins with a short selection from the Haggadah, followed by Arnow's interpretations, ideas for discussion of relevant topics (e.g. miracles, slavery, exile) and suggestions for hands-on activities. Some adults may find these activities cheesy, but Passover has always been a holiday in which children are actively involved, and they will love "marching" from Egypt to the Red Sea, or stepping outdoors mid-meal to gaze at the full moon. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Make Your Own Passover Seder
A New Approach to Creating a Personal Family Celebration
by Alan Abraham and Jo Kay
2004. Jossey-Bass
PW writes, "Passover novices will enjoy this creative, step-by-step how-to guide, written entirely in English and geared for today's families. The Kays provide very basic information about all the components of preparing and hosting a seder, from selecting a Haggadah to planning different types of menus. The book's second half walks readers through the 15 elements of the seder experience. The authors show a special sensitivity for interfaith and interracial families, and a slightly earthy-crunchy slant. (Alongside the traditional pre-Passover-search-and-destroy mission for leaven, for example, they suggest purging the home of any products that may have been tested on animals.) Particularly helpful are the "tip" boxes scattered throughout the book, sharing practical and personal suggestions from real-life seder celebrants. The Kays also offer recipes, songs, stories, a glossary of terms and numerous referrals to other books for information about specific aspects of the seder experience." Click the book cover above to read more.

The Nazi Raid on America
by Michael Dobbs (Washington Post)
February 2004. KNOPF
Shortly after America's entry into World War II, Adolf Hitler ordered an extensive sabotage campaign against the United States to disrupt the production of tanks and airplanes and blow up bridges and railroads. Eight German saboteurs were dispatched across the Atlantic by U-boat, one team landing in Amagansett, Long Island, the other near Jacksonville, Florida in the Summer of '42. They brought with them enough money and explosives for a two-year operation and traveled inland to explore potential targets. The full story of this audacious endeavor is a remarkable account of a terrorist threat against America. Michael Dobbs describes the saboteurs' training in Nazi Germany, their claustrophobic three-week voyage in submarines, and their infiltration into American life (some had lived in the USA prior to the War). He explores the reasons each volunteered, and their links to a network of Nazi sympathizers in the United States. He paints a portrait of the group's leaders: George Dasch, a onetime waiter who dreamed of leaving his personal mark on history, and Edward Kerling, a fanatic Nazi caught between his love for his mistress and his love for his wife. And he shows how the FBI might never have captured the saboteurs had one of them not helped J. Edgar Hoover transform a hapless manhunt into one of his proudest accomplishments. A military tribunal (not a civil court), a HISTORIC Supreme Court session, and one of the largest mass executions in American history provide a stunning climax to a dangerous but failed mission. Click the book cover above to read more.

The Girl Watchers Club
Lessons from the Battlefields of Life
by Harry Stein
February 6, 2004. HarperCollins
PW writes, "Journalist Stein's portrait of WWII veterans who meet weekly in Monterey, Calif., to share their thoughts and feelings is touching and straightforward, reminiscent of Tuesdays with Morrie. Members of the titular club range from their 70s to 80s and are stirring representatives of honor, self-reliance, honest effort and commitment to ideals larger than themselves. What makes the book unusually affecting is that the men are imperfect, eccentric and sometimes prejudiced. There's vigor to Stein's characterizations and solid grace in his writing. The dominant protagonist is Stein's father-in-law, Moe, a former navy ensign, confrontational but loyal and generous. Boyd Huff, history professor and former prisoner of war in a Nazi camp, demonstrates "inextinguishable optimism" despite having a schizophrenic son and losing two other children. Yet there's no self-pity or whining, and war experiences are candidly recounted. The men's patriotism is dramatized when Stein tells of slight, skinny 19-year-old Harry Handler fighting in Okinawa and becoming a leader. Handler exemplifies a soldier who was patriotic, but didn't view himself as a hero, simply a man with "moral clarity" and a sense of responsibility to his country. On a more personal level, Stein addresses old age through Moe's terror of developing Alzheimer's and Cooper's potentially fatal cancer. The book, however, is never depressing. Attorney Stuart Walzer eloquently sums it up when he says young people look at his friends as "old men waiting to die... we're all gonna be old and waiting to die. It's just a matter of what you do with it." Click the book cover above to read more.

A Novel
February 2004. Ecco
Who knew that reading could be so fun? On the cusp of the great age of 1970's disco, and in a part of Brooklyn a million miles away from Manhattan, lives fifteen-year-old Valentine Kessler and her long-suffering 273 pound mother, Miriam. Miriam doesn't pry. Valentine -- Jewish, pretty, and a touch flaky -- is an unremarkable teenager except for two things: she is a dead ringer for the Virgin Mary as she appeared to Bernadette at Lourdes, and her very being, through some inexplicable conspiracy of fate, seems to shatter the dreams and hopes of people around her. She goes mute with longing when she sees Christmas lights or hears Ave Maria. She hides a copy of "The Lives of The Saints" under her bed. John Wosileski, Valentine's lonely math teacher who adores her from afar, embraces the martyrdom wrought by his unconditional and unrequited love. Joanne Clarke, the bitter and sad biology teacher who schemes to be John's wife, reviles Valentine to eventual self-destruction. Valentine's best friend, a former figure-skating champion, humiliates her for the crime of being "different." But Miriam Kessler -- betrayed and anguished by the husband she once worshipped loves Valentine only the way a mother could -- deeply, yet without knowing. Miriam eats and eats and seeks solace in mah-jongg. The mah-jongg girls, a cross between a Greek Chorus and a Brooklyn rendition of the Three Wise Men, dispense advice, predictions, and care in the form of extravagant gifts and homemade strudels. When Miriam's greatest fear for Valentine is realized, she takes comfort in the thought that it couldn't get any worse. But then something even stranger happens, and Valentine's mysterious presence becomes an even more mysterious absence. Even if you don't enjoy the plot, you will enjoy the book for its structure and language, and its perfect homage to Jewish life in 1970s Brooklyn. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The Two Americas
Our Current Political Deadlock and How to Break It
by Stanley B. Greenberg
January 2004, Thomas Dunne Books
Co You Want to Be Viewed as a Genius at your synagogue men's club, minyan, or sisterhood event? Do you want to know why certain candidates lost the primaries and others won. THEN READ THIS BOOK THIS IS THE PLAYBOOK of the DNC. PW writes: " Pollster Greenberg (ed: Democracy Corps, with partner James Carville), who was part of Bill Clinton's victorious "war room" team during the 1992 presidential campaign, is dissatisfied with the country's political split down the middle and has ideas for how to break the Democratic/Republican impasse. He considers the last, embattled presidential election "just the current moment in an era of political deadlock" stretching back to the Eisenhower administration, a half-century in which the two parties have traded power back and forth unable to form a lasting dynasty. The 2004 election, he says, promises to be just as competitive. Analyzing each party's potential, Greenberg breaks down their loyalists into identifiable factions, like "F-You Boys" (Deep Southern white male blue-collar workers who "think President George W. Bush is their guy") and "Super-Educated Women" (Democratic loyalists though their husbands, "Privileged Men," are Republicans), Then Greenberg closely examines three regional blocs that may be up for grabs: he calls them Tampa Blue, Seattle's Eastside Tech and Heartland Iowa. In the second half of the book, he imagines how party leaders might plan to keep or retake the White House. His analysis of the GOP's strategy to present Bush as the carefully scrubbed "Reagan's Son" seems dead-on. Several possible strategies are described for Democrats, but his clear preference is for putting a 21st-century spin on the values and agenda of the Kennedy-Johnson era, with such talking points as universal health care and education, tax reform, even a new "Apollo project" to tackle energy security and global warming. Intricate strategic analysis and close attention to a wavering electorate make this political handbook stand out from the pack." Click the book cover above to read more.

MARCH 2004

March 2004. PUTNAM
Silva is a former journalist now living in DC. In his new book, The sins of the past reverberate into the present, in an extraordinary novel by the new master of international suspense. It was an ordinary-looking photograph. Just the portrait of a man. But the very sight of it chilled Gabriel Allon to the bone. Art restorer and sometime Israeli spy and assassin, Gabriel Allon, is sent to Vienna to authenticate a painting, (and investigate the murder of a Jewish Nazi hunter) but the real object of his search becomes something else entirely: to find out the truth about the photograph that has turned his world upside down. It is the face of the unnamed man who brutalized his mother in the last days of World War II, during the Death March from Auschwitz. But is it really the same one? If so, who is he? How did he escape punishment? Where is he now? Did he know Allon's mother? Is it the neo-Nazi candidate for Austria's chancellorship? Is he the one who was supposed to hide the proof of Nazi atrocities? Fueled by an intensity he has not felt in years, Allon cautiously begins to investigate; but with each layer that is stripped away, the greater the evil that is revealed, a web stretching across sixty years and thousands of lives. Soon, the quest for one monster becomes the quest for many. And the monsters are stirring... Rich with sharply etched characters and prose, and a plot of astonishing intricacy, this is an uncommonly intelligent thriller by one of our very best writers. Click the book cover above to read more.

by DAVID HOROVITZ (Jerusalem Report)
March 2, 2004. Knopf
Alistair Cooke died on March 30, 2004, and for over fifty years he broadcast his LETTER FROM AMERICA on the BBC. I enjoyed listening to his 13 minute essays each week. I look at David Horovitz as a sort of Cooke, sending back these LETTERS FROM ISRAEL
And so... from the author of A LITTLE TOO CLOSE TO GOD. THE THRILL AND PANIC OF LIVING IN ISRAEL, we have this new on the scene, on the front lines book.
Terrorism is a "grim lottery", a fact of life in Israel since 2000. He makes clear that far from becoming blasé or desensitized, its citizens respond with deepening horror every time the front pages are disfigured by the rows of passport portraits presenting the faces of the newly dead. He takes us to the funeral of a murdered Israeli, where the presence of security personnel underlines that nowhere is safe. He describes how his wife must tell their children to close their eyes when they pass a just-exploded bus on the way to school, so that the images of carnage won't haunt them.
He talks with government officials on both sides of the conflict, with relatives of murdered victims, with Palestinian refugees, and with his own friends and family, letting us sense what it feels like to live with the constant threat and the horrific frequency of shootings and suicide bombings. Examining the motives behind the violence, he blames mistaken policies and actions on the Israeli as well as the Palestinian side, and details the suffering of Palestinians deprived of basic freedoms under strict Israeli controls.
But at the root of this conflict, he argues, is terrorism and Yasser Arafat's deliberate use of it after spurning a genuine opportunity for peace at Camp David, and then misleading his people, and much of the world, about what was on offer there. He describes how the world's press has too often allowed prejudgment to replace fair-minded reporting. And finally, Horovitz makes us see the vast depth and extent of the mistrust between Israelis and Palestinians and the enormous challenges that underlie new attempts at peacemaking.Human and harrowing-and yet projecting an unexpected optimism-Still Life with Bombers affords us a remarkably balanced and insightful understanding of a seemingly intractable conflict. Click the book cover above to read more.

March 16, 2004. Random House
Kirkus writes: "With eloquent wit, Liss manipulates the concepts of misdirection and probability theory in his serpentine third novel (after The Coffee Trader, 2003). Once again, we meet the unconventional protagonist of the author's Edgar-winning debut A Conspiracy of Paper (2000). "Thief-taker," retired prizefighter, and Jew Benjamin Weaver, as resourceful a former rogue as ever, is in peril again-falsely convicted and sentenced to hang for the murder of a dockworker and labor leader whom he barely knew. The year is 1722, and London is abuzz over England's first General Election, vigorously contested by conservative Tories who support Hanoverian King George I and antiroyalist Whigs, who may or may not be in league with Jacobites plotting the restoration of deposed "Pretender" James II of Scotland. Weaver escapes from Newgate Prison (in a marvelously detailed sequence), and, while laboring to clear his name, assumes multiple disguises and forms affiliations with several members of London's political, ecclesiastical, and criminal elites. These include the woman he loves unrequitedly, his cousin's widow Miriam, and her husband, Whig Parliamentary candidate Griffin Melbury; duplicitous parish priest Christopher Ufford (in whose service suspicion for murder had fallen on Weaver); brutal tobacco merchant Dennis Dogsmill and his fetching sister Grace, and numerous other power brokers and ruffians whose allegiances and very identities are seldom what they seem. The dazzling plot, which grows steadily more intricate and circuitous, turns on the allegation that "there [is] a Tory spy among the Whigs," and the likelihood that Weaver's victimization is connected to the election that the charismatic Melburyblithely characterizes as "a spectacle of corruption." Liss's impressive research provides a wealth of information about 18th-century politics, emergent labor organizations, and gradations of etiquette and malfeasance among contrasting social levels. And Weaver's somber, wry, knowing narrator's voice is a deadpan delight. Furthermore, it all ends with yet another twist that seems to promise we'll hear more from-and of-the indefatigable Benjamin Weaver." Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] SHIKSA
The Gentile Woman in the Jewish World
by Christine Benvenuto
March 2004. St Martins Press
Don't you love the cover art, with the green and red xmas colored "K"? Contrary to Ms Benvenuto's generalization, I, for one, never counted shiksas before going to bed. But she is right. Shiksa is a loathing, maligning, deriding, noxious word. It is like the "n" word, but it is used in some Jewish circles with abandon. Its root in the idea of abomination and unclean things. Think Jezebel. But Moses' wife was one, as was Tamar and Ruth and Yael. Portnoy complained about them. On Seinfeld, Jerry fawned over Elaine. Actually, in nearly all sitcoms, Jewish men married or dated them. In Sex and the City, Charlotte dates Harry, she is a Shiksa Goddess who converts to Judaism and becomes more observant than Harry. Is the shiksa an agent of assimilation, or an agent of greater exploration of the religion. Who is this non-Jewish partner? Who is this convert? Benvenuto, who gre up in a Jewish neighborhood, mostly Jewish apartment building, and who later converted to Judaism, explores the history and current situation of those some would term Shiksas.
PW writes: "At best exhaustive and provocative, and at worst exhausting and inflammatory, this study addresses the role gentile women ("shiksas") played in the Bible and, to a point, explores the role their contemporary sisters play in American Judaism today. Discussion of biblical gentile women is thorough, from the better known Hagar and Jezebel to the lesser known Cozbi and Zimri. However, though journalist Benvenuto concedes that her contemporary subjects "are individuals, each with her own history and perspective" and are "not intended to represent the full range of gentile women raising children in, or on the edge, of the Jewish community," a tone of strident indignation permeates the book. Benvenuto tells a tale of relentless exclusion, of gentile wives being shut out of shul life. Of her almost 30 interviewees, only two women have enough self-conviction to be comfortable in their choices, and Benvenuto dismisses as "implausible" one Jewish leader's claim that she has never heard "any negative attitudes towards non-Jewish women expressed." Although only two men are featured, one alone and one as part of a couple, Benvenuto offers the generalization that "young Jewish men still seem to count shiksas before they fall asleep at night, [while] married men... tend to deny that a partiality for gentile women played a role when they chose their non-Jewish wives." Few topics within Judaism are as volatile or as potentially divisive, and this account appears more likely to fan the flames than contribute to serious, constructive dialogue."
Ms. Benvenuto (Sarah Lawrence) is a novelist and journalist, her work has appeared in The Village Voice, The San Francisco Chronicle, Mothering, Tikkun, and Moment. She now lives with her husband and three children in Massachusetts, where she is an active member of her Jewish community. Christine was an associate at the Five College Women's Studies Research Center at Mount Holyoke College. Click the book cover above to read more.

A novel by Tova Mirvis
March 30, 2004. Knopf
From the best-selling author of The Ladies Auxiliary, a new novel about two Orthodox Jewish families brought together by the marriage of their children. Tzippy Goldman, or more so, her mother, have been planning Tzippy's wedding since before she was born. Bring on the lace and parve frosting. Tzippy's four younger sisters want her to marry the crown prince of Boro Park, a cute young man who is also a scholar. But Tzippy is 22. To her frum community, she is an over the hill spinster. Her friends already have kids. She CANNOT STAND another date at the lobby of the Brooklyn Marriott (why should the boy pay for dinner if it isnt going to work out, so let's meet in the lobby to chat first). Tzippy is hungry for experience and longs to escape the suffocating expectations of religious stricture and romantic obligation, but at the same time she wants marriage. Tzippy's mother secretly grew up in Rochester in a non-frum household. If she can make a good shidduch for her daughter, she can prove to herself that she really BELONGS. Bryan Miller's family lives in a liberal New Jersey community, a place like Teaneck NJ. Like modern-Orthodox Jews anywhere in the world, they spend Saturdays in shul, but Sundays at Little League. But to Bryan, this middle road looks more and more like hypocrisy. He longs for conviction, for the relief of absolutes. He wants Ellis Island in reverse, he wants Lithuania and Poland. He longs for the black-hat over the knit kippah and Yankees cap. He meets Tzippy in Israel and moves to Brooklyn. In the courtship of Bryan and Tzippy (will she let her hand brush up against his briefly?), and in the progress of their encumbered love affair and marriage, Tova Mirvis illuminates these worlds providing insight and humor. With whom will the spend holidays? How will the relate to their in laws. How will the in laws deal with each other. Will Baruch/Bryan's father overcome his doubts over Orthodoxy? Will he make it home in time for Shabbat? Is his lateness rooted in a deeper marital issue? Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking
200 Seasonal Holiday Recipes and Their Traditions
by Phyllis Glazer and Miriyam Glazer
March 2004. Harpercollins
With sisters Phyllis and Miriyam Glazer's The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking as your guide, you will gain a rich understanding of the Jewish calendar year and its profound link to the signs of nature and the produce of the earth in each season. This landmark volume addresses a central question often left unanswered: Why do we eat what we eat on these important days? Organized by season, the ten chapters cover the major holidays and feast days of the Jewish year, providing more than two hundred tempting recipes, plus menus and tips for creative and meaningful holiday entertaining. In-depth essays opening each chapter illuminate the origins, traditions, and seasonal and biblical significance of each holiday and its foods, making the book a valuable resource for Jewish festival observance. Inspired recipes add a fresh, contemporary twist as they capture the flavors of the seasonal foods enjoyed by our ancestors. For Passover, prepare such springtime delights as Roasted Salmon with Marinated Fennel and Thyme, alongside Braised "Bitter Herbs" with Pistachios. On Shavuot, characterized by the season's traditional bounty of milk and the wheat harvest, try fresh homemade cheeses; creamy, comforting Blintzes; or luscious Hot and Bubbling Semolina and Sage Gnocchi. At Purim, create a Persian feast fit for a king and learn new ideas for mishloah manot, the traditional gifts of food. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover art] THE TWENTIETH TRAIN
by Marion Schriber. Translated from German
March 2004. Grove Press.
Marion Schreiber's gripping book about the only Nazi death train in World War II to be ambushed draws on private documents, photographs, archive material, and police reports, as well as original research, including interviews with the surviving escapees. One day in April, 1943, resistance fighter Youra Livchitz, a young doctor, discovered the departure date of the next transport train and recruited two school friends to pull off one of the most daring rescues of the entire war. Equipped with only three pairs of pliers, a hurricane lamp covered in red paper, and a single pistol, the men ambushed the train, which was transporting 1,618 Jews to Auschwitz. These three lone men freed seventeen men and women before the German guards opened fire. Miraculously, by the time the convoy had reached the German border another 225 prisoners had managed to escape unharmed and found shelter with the locals. In a testament to the solidarity of the Belgians, no one was betrayed. No one, that is, except the three young rescuers, who were turned in by a double agent, imprisoned, and killed. Like Schindler's List, The Twentieth Train creates a vivid, moving portrait of heroism under impossible circumstances. Click the book cover above to read more.

How Will You Be Different This Passover Night?
by Michael Kagan
Urim. March 2004.
THE HOLISTIC HAGGADAH is a fascinating guide to the inner journey that the Passover Seder evening offers us. It is a daring commentary that challenges each of us to go down into our self-imposed Mitzrayim (Egypt) and face our attachments and the false gods that confine us. It then beckons us forth to true freedom and a more meaningful relationship between ourselves and God. Besides the ritual question - "How is this night different from all other nights?" - the most common question asked at the Seder table is probably, "When is the food coming?" The Holistic Haggadah asks deeper questions: "How are you going to be different this night? How are you prepared to let this night change you?" This commentary incorporates a holistic approach to Judaism, which activates the four worlds of the individual: the world of action, the world of emotion, the world of intellect and the world of spirit. It weaves a beautiful tapestry, illuminating the treasures available to us within Passover and the yearly festival cycle. It is the hope that this Haggadah will find a place in the hearts of all those whose souls, regardless of denomination, yearn for greater depths and higher vistas, and will provide spiritual sustenance not only on Passover but the entire year.
From The Holistic Haggadah: "The Alienated Child is angry. With compassion and understanding must come the answer. Help the child soften. Explain that a rejection of the Divine is a rejection of Self; that giving up leads to self-condemnation in the crucible of enslavement; that there are many questions but not necessarily corresponding answers. The entire evening, in fact, can be seen as being dedicated to this dejected and rejecting child."
"Hametz is bread - soft, delicious bread. It consists mainly of empty space produced by a gas that does not sustain human life. Its great volume is an illusion of its true essence. Hametz is symbolic of our inflated, swollen egos - mostly hot air."
Includes the full traditional Passover Haggadah text in Hebrew with a new translation and original commentary in English by Michael Kagan. Includes translations of Hallel and Blessings over the Meal by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi includes illustrations by Sandra Pond.

By Adele Geras
F. Lincoln. March 2004 (paperback version).
Rebecca's family is getting ready to celebrate the Jewish festival of Passover, and she is helping Granny Sarah make the food needed for the special meal called the Seder. The family will sit down on the first and second evening of the celebration and eat matzah for eight days. As Rebecca and her brother work, Granny Sarah tells them the story of Passover: how God sent the ten plagues to the Egyptians and how Moses led the freed Israelite slaves through the Red Sea and across the desert. Sensitive text and vivid artwork show the vitality and timelessness of this story.

[book] House of Bush, House of Saud
The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties
by Craig Unger
March 2004. Scribner
House of Bush, House of Saud begins with a politically explosive question: How is it that two days after 9/11, when U.S. air traffic was tightly restricted, 140 Saudis, many immediate kin to Osama Bin Laden, were permitted to leave the country without being questioned by U.S. intelligence? The answer lies in a hidden relationship that began in the 1970s, when the oil-rich House of Saud began courting American politicians in a bid for military protection, influence, and investment opportunity. With the Bush family, the Saudis hit a gusher -- direct access to presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. To trace the amazing weave of Saud-Bush connections, Unger interviewed three former directors of the CIA, top Saudi and Israeli intelligence officials, and more than one hundred other sources.His access to major players is unparalleled and often exclusive -- including executives at the Carlyle Group, the giant investment firm where the House of Bush and the House of Saud each has a major stake. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover] Brighton Beach Memories
Neil Sedaka Sings Yiddish
Neil Sedaka
In concert for Yiddish theatre benefit at Carnegie Hall. Check your listings. Here is the CD. Includes 1/Vi Ahin Zol Ich Geyn 2. Shein Vi Di L'Vone 3. My Yiddeshe Mamme 4. Eishes Chayil 5. Bei Mir Bist Du Shein 6. Mein Shtetele Belz 7. Tumbalalaika 8. Sunrise, Sunset 9. Ochichorniya (Dark Eyes) 10. Exodus 11. Ich Hob Dich Tzufil Lieb 12. Anniversary Song 13. Tzena Tzena Tzena. Favorite of Neil Sedaka, who wrote "The Diary," "Stairway to Heaven," "Calendar Girl," "Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen," and "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do." audience. Neil's Brighton Beach Memories features thirteen songs inspired by his Jewish roots - a recording that you will enjoy listening to over and over again.

[book cover] Small Acts of Kindness
Striving for Derech Eretz in Everyday Life
by Shalom Freedman (Seymour Freedman)
Urim. March 2004.
Shalom Freedman hails from Troy, New York, and received a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Cornell University. He came to Israel in 1974 in the wake of the Yom Kippur War. He resides in Jerusalem. Derech eretz is, in its broadest sense, acting with consideration and kindness to one's fellow human beings, and in so doing, fulfilling the will of God. In Jewish religious terms, everyday life presents us with constant struggles to act in the correct way -- we are constantly battling between good and evil. It is a never-ending ethical drama in which the individual should always be striving to serve God in the best way possible. It means being able to transcend the mere formulaic response, yet, in turn, also being able to endure the anguish that true freedom of choice often encompasses. In a time of great turmoil and trouble in our society, each one of us, nonetheless, has many opportunities in the small encounters of everyday life to show kindness and be of help to others. In Small Acts of Kindness, Shalom Freedman tells his own story of such encounters in a realistic and instructive way.

March 2004. Bloomsbury USA
An international sensation already sold in fifteen languages, this heartbreaking collection of recently discovered letters captures the destruction not only of a life but also of an entire nation. Born in 1900 to wealthy Jewish parents, Lilli Jahn stood firmly among the German bourgeoisie. A doctor by training, she married a young Protestant physician. Her husband divorced her in 1942, after sixteen years of marriage and five children, leaving her with no means of supporting her family (Jews were no longer allowed to practice medicine), and no protection from the dangers to come. Arrested by the Gestapo in 1943, Lilli perished in Auschwitz in 1944. My Wounded Heart is a collection of three-hundred-odd letters between Lilli, her children, and their circle of friends, extending from the mid-1930s to just before her death. Full of everyday details of life from both Lilli and her correspondents, these extraordinary letters are both informative and moving. In the end, we are witness to her daughter's attempts to meet her mother, even though it means going into the labor camp itself, and Lilli's courage in the face of her inevitable end. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] God Against the Gods
The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism
by Jonathan Kirsch
Viking Press; (March 8, 2004)
PW Writes, "Although many scholars point to Israel as the fount of monotheism, Kirsch shows that the earliest impulses toward monotheism can be found in Egypt with pharaoh Akhenaton's attempt to move the nation to the worship of one god. This Egyptian likely influenced Moses, according to Kirsch, and much of the history of early Israel is the history of the worship of one god emerging out of the worship of many gods. Monotheism gained momentum with the development of Christianity and was codified under Constantine. His son Julian strove to return polytheism to the scene by issuing edicts of toleration concerning polytheistic religious customs, but Julian's successor Theodosius I restored monotheism as the official practice of the Empire. Kirsch helpfully points out that the conflict between the worship of many gods and the worship of one true god never disappeared from the lives of Israelites, Jews, or Christians, in spite of many historians' claims to the contrary. In addition, Kirsch observes that monotheistic religions have too often used the worship of one god as a way to persecute those who do not share similar beliefs. While Kirsch breaks no new ground, he demonstrates clearly the ways in which this conflict gave rise to the tensions that exist even within monotheistic religions today."
The more intellectually minded should read F.E. Peter's "THE MONOTHEISTS."
Click the book cover above to read more.

Directed by Steven Spielberg
(March 9, 2004) Universal Studios
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Amazon writes: Adapted from the best-selling book by Thomas Keneally and filmed in Poland with an emphasis on absolute authenticity, Spielberg's masterpiece ranks among the greatest films ever made about the Holocaust during World War II. It's a film about heroism with an unlikely hero at its center--Catholic war profiteer Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), who risked his life and went bankrupt to save more than 1,000 Jews from certain death in concentration camps. By employing Jews in his crockery factory manufacturing goods for the German army, Schindler ensures their survival against terrifying odds. At the same time, he must remain solvent with the help of a Jewish accountant (Ben Kingsley) and negotiate business with a vicious, obstinate Nazi commandant (Ralph Fiennes) who enjoys shooting Jews as target practice from the balcony of his villa overlooking a prison camp. Schindler's List gains much of its power not by trying to explain Schindler's motivations, but by dramatizing the delicate diplomacy and determination with which he carried out his generous deeds. As a drinker and womanizer who thought nothing of associating with Nazis, Schindler was hardly a model of decency; the film is largely about his transformation in response to the horror around him. Spielberg doesn't flinch from that horror, and the result is a film that combines remarkable humanity with abhorrent inhumanity--a film that functions as a powerful history lesson and a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the context of a living nightmare

[book] Burning Down My Masters' House
My Life at the New York Times
by Jayson Blair
March 6, New Millenium
Dubious whining crap. Is he the Nathan McCall of NYC? Aren't you tired of accounts of people who destroy themselves with drugs and drinks? Wouldn't you like to be the fact checker on this book? I assume it is fiction. This is the story of Jayson Blair by Jayson Blair on how, when he got frustrated by not getting the assignments he wanted, he lied and cheated, traded sex for positive mentions in his stories, and scored drugs for bosses and colleagues, before being discovered at The New York Times and being fired in disgrace and causing The Times's two top editors to resign. Oops.. I guess he had a mental problem that he failed to see a doctor about. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The Origins of the Final Solution
The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942
by Christopher R. Browning, Jurgen Matthaus (UNC at Chapel Hill)
March 2004. Nebraska
Focusing on the months between the German conquest of Poland in September 1939-which brought nearly two million additional Jews under Nazi control-and the beginning of the deportation of Jews to the death camps in the spring of 1942, Christopher R. Browning describes how Poland became a laboratory for experiments in racial policies, from expulsion and decimation to ghettoization and exploitation under local occupation authorities. He reveals how the subsequent attack on the Soviet Union opened the door for an immense radicalization of Nazi Jewish policy-and marked the beginning of the Final Solution. Meticulously documenting the process that led to this fatal development, Browning shows that Adolf Hitler was the key decision-maker throughout, approving major escalations in Nazi persecution of the Jews at victory-induced moments of euphoria. Thoroughly researched and lucidly written, this groundbreaking work provides an essential chapter in the history of the Holocaust. Click the book cover above to read more.

An Autobiogrphical Novel
by Stefanie Zweig. Translated by Marlies Comjean
March 2004. University of Wisconsin Press
Nowhere in Africa is the extraordinary tale of a Jewish family who flees the Nazi regime in 1938 for a remote farm in Kenya. Abandoning their once-comfortable existence in Leobschutz in Upper Silesia Germany, Walter Redlich, his wife Jettel, and their five-year-old daughter, Regina, each deal with the harsh realities of their new life in different ways. Attorney Walter is resigned to working the farm as a caretaker; pampered Jettel resists adjustment at every turn; while the shy yet curious Regina immediately embraces the country--learning the local language and customs, and finding a friend in Owuor, the farm's cook. As the war rages on the other side of the world, the family's relationships with their strange environment become increasingly complicated as Jettel grows more self-assured and Walter more haunted by the life they left behind. In 1946, with the war over, Regina's fondest dream comes true when her brother Max is born. Walter's decision, however, to return to his homeland to help rebuild a new Germany puts his family into turmoil again. Click the book cover above to read more.

THE DVD (2002)


A graphic novel

FALL 2003. Doubleday
In FAGIN THE JEW, Eisner proves himself to be not only a master of comic storytelling, but also an incisive literary and social critic. This project was first conceived as an introduction to a pictorial adaptation of Oliver Twist, but as he learned more about the history of Dickens-era Jewish life in London, Eisner uncovered intriguing material that led him to create this new work. In the course of his research, Eisner came to believe that Dickens had not intended to defame Jews in his famous depiction. By referring to Fagin as "the Jew" throughout the book, however, he had perpetuated the common prejudice; his fictional creation imbedded itself in the public's imagination as the classic profile of a Jew. In his award-winning style, Eisner recasts the notorious villain as a complex and troubled antihero and gives him the opportunity to tell his tale in his own words. Depicting Fagin's choices and actions within a historical context, Eisner captures the details of life in London's Ashkenazi community and brilliantly re-creates the social milieu of Dickensian England. Click to read more.


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