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Nov 28, 2005: Tree Lighting at NYC Lincoln Center featuring the Klezmatics hehe
Dec 04, 2005: Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks speaks. Yorkville Synagogue, NYC 4PM
Dec 05, 2005: Jackie Hoffman at Joe's Pub in NYC. Monday nts in December
Dec 05, 2005: Joseph Dan (Professor Emeritus of Kabbalah at Hebrew University) speaks on "From Neo-Hasidism to Contemporary Kabbalah. The Quest of Spirituality and Its Worldly Benefits." JTS in NYC. 7:30PM
Dec 06, 2005: On Being (And not Being) a Jewish-American Writer. Featuring Yael Goldstein, Dara Horn, Thane Rosenbaum, Jonathan Rosen, Erica Jong, Derek Rubin, and Lara Vapnyar. 92nd St Y. 8:15PM
Dec 07, 2005: Freeing The Captive. The Jewish Response to Human Trafficking. HUC NYC 6:30
Dec 07, 2005: Jews and Justice. With Author Ronald Dworkin. Center for Jewish History, NYC 7PM
Dec 07, 2005: NAOMI ROSENBLATT reads from AFTER THE APPLE. B&N Rockville MD
Dec 09, 2005: Abigail Pogrebin reads from STARS OF DAVID. B&N Skokie IL
Dec 11, 2005: Jewcy Chanukkah Party at CroBar featuring Triumph the Insult Dog. See for $25 tix NYC
Dec 18, 2005: Hadassah gross-Unwrapped with Rebbetzin Hadassah Gross. 92nd St Y. 7:30 PM
Dec 18, 2005: Yo Chanuka Yo Chanuka Party in NYC. 45e33rd. 6-9PM Dec 18, 2005: Rabbi Marcia Prager, the author of new prayers, discusses prayers. 92nd St Y. 7:30 PM
Dec 21, 2005: Susan Stamberg. Stories of the Season. 92nd St Y. 7:30 PM
Dec 24, 2005: NYC Gotham Comedy Club. A Very Jewish Christmas featuring three Jewish headliners. 7:30/9:30
Dec 24, 2005: NYC Comic Strip Live. Moo Shoo Meshuginas. 7:30/9:30
Dec 25-30: KLEZKAMP. Check LivingTraditions.ORG They best Winter camp, featuring top musicians and chef Anne Rosenzweig, and authors Henry Sapoznick and Michael Wex.

Jan 05, 2006: Abigail Pogrebin reads from STARS OF DAVID. B&N NYC 82nd Bway
Jan 13, 2006: New York City's 92nd Street Y starts Saturday programs for the first time since 1874. Hurray.
Jan 13-16, 2005. Limmud NY. See
Jan 16, 2006: Elliot Perlman reads from REASONS I WON'T BE COMING. B&N NYC Linc Sq.
Jan 17, 2006: The Moth at the JCC featuring Andy Borowitz and Myla Goldberg. NYC $30.
Jan 17, 2006: Sherry Halperin reads from RESCUE ME, HE'S WEARING A MOSOSE HAT . Borders NYC.
Jan 20, 2006: SchmoozeDance 2006 Film Festival. Park City UTAH. Temple Har Shalom
Jan 22, 2006: Lecture on SOSUA. An Island Refuge. NCJW, NYC.
Jan 22-25, 2006: Annual Conferece of the NAJC, Natnl Association of Jewish Chaplains, NY. See

Feb 01, 2006: Dara Horn Reads from THE WORLD TO COME. NYC UWS B+N 7PM
Feb 06, 2006: Ayelet Waldman Reads from LOVE AND OTHER IMPOSSIBLE PURSUITS. NYC UWS B+N 7PM
Feb 07, 2006: Yair Lapid speaks and screens WAR ROOM, JCC UWS NYC 8 PM
Feb 08, 2006: Israel Non Stop screens JOY by Julie Shies, JCC UWS NYC 8 PM
Feb 08, 2006: Kenji Yoshino Reads from COVERING. NYC Chelsea B+N 7PM
Feb 09, 2006: Yiftacjh Klein stars in Cameri's High Noon, JCC UWS NYC 8 PM
Feb 10, 2006: Yair Lapid dinner at Israel Non-Stop, JCC UWS NYC 7 PM
Feb 11, 2006: Ehud Banai in concert at Israel Non-Stop, JCC UWS NYC 8 PM
Feb 12, 2006: Israel Non-Stop featuring Chumus taste-off; photography; music; fashion; etc, JCC UWS NYC 8 PM
Feb 18, 2006: Robin Gorman Newman Reads from HOW TO MARRY A MENSCH. NYC Bayside B+N 1PM
Feb 19, 2006: Yeshiva University SOY Seforim Sale in NYC, which sells over $1 million in Jewish books over 2 weeks wraps up with a community wide study session for men and for women featuring Rabbis Moshe Tendler, Michael rosensweig, Kenneth Brander and Prof Smadar Rosensweig. 9:30 AM
Feb 21, 2006: T Cooper Reads from LIPSHITZ SIX, OR TWO ANGRY BLONDES. NYC Astor Place B+N 7:30PM
Feb 21, 2006: Anthony Rapp Reads from WITHOUT YOU: A MEMOIR... NYC Chelsea B+N 7PM
Feb 21, 2006: Jewish Mysticism and West Coast Kabbalah. A lecture at UCLA by Professor Rachel Elior of Hebrew Univ. 314 Royce Hall 7:30 PM
Feb 24, 2006: Comic-Con in NYC. Javits Center
Feb 24-25, 2006: Chief Canter Helfgot in New Moon Prayers for Adar at Park East NYC

Mar 03, 2006: Shabbat Across America. 888-shabbat or www.njop.Org
Mar 05, 2006: UCLA lecture on Di Razza Ebraica. Jewish Intellectuals, Fascism, and Anti-Semitism in 20th Century Italy. Featuring Guri Schwarz (University of Pisa), Michele Sarfatti (CDEC Ebriaca), S. Sullam (Columbia), and others. UCLA 1 PM
Mar 06, 2006: All day conference on Conversion and Reversion featuring teachers from YU, Hebrew U, Touro, BC, Emroy, BGU, NYU, and more. Center for Jewish History NYC
Mar 07, 2006: ALLEGRA GOODMAN reads from INTUITION, B&N UWS NYC 7 PM
Mar 08, 2006: JCC of Manhattan opens exhibit on Jewish Woman's Lens. 7 PM NYC
Mar 13, 2006: MACUALAY CULKIN, former husband of Natalie Portman, reads from JUNIOR, B&N Union Sq NYC 7 PM
Mar 14, 2006: Purim starts at sundown.
Mar 16, 2006: GERSHOM GORENBERG reads from THE ACCIDENTAL EMPIRE, NYC Cong B'nai Jeshurun in Nyc. 7 PM
Mar 20, 2006: JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER reads from EXTREMELY LOUD... , B&N Union Sq NYC 7 PM
Mar 28, 2006: Israeli elections. Watch the results live, NIF Office in NYC 7PM

Apr 09, 2006: The Sixth Annual Dowtown Seder, live on XM Radio, NYC $135.



[book cover click here] THE COMMENTATOR'S BIBLE
The JPS Miqra'ot Gedolot: Exodus
Michael Carasik, Editor (The University of Pennsylvania)
Compiled by Michael Carasik, a teacher of Bible at the University of Pennsylvania, Miqra'ot Gedolot (or "large format bible") is now available in an understandable English edition. First published 500 years ago (the second edition was published in 1525 by Rabbi Yakov ben Hayyim) as the "Rabbinic Bible," the biblical commentaries known as the Miqra'ot Gedolot have inspired and educated generations of Hebrew readers. The format is a Hebrew text from the bible in the middle of the page. Surrounding this Hebrew text is a Targum, or translation(s) in English, and medieval commentaries from Rashi (RAbbi SHlomo ben Yitzhak, 1040-1105, Northern France), Rashbam (RAbbi SHmuel Ben Meir, 1085-1174, grandson of Rashi, Northern France) , Ibn Ezra (Rabbi Avraham ibn Ezra, 1089-c1164, Muslim Spain/Italy/France/England), Nachmanides / Ramban (RAbbi Moshe Ben Nahman, 1195-c1260, Spain/Israel) in new more understandable English translations. Other commentators are included when appropriate, including "masorah", Bekhor Shor (12th Century France), Rabbi David Kimhi (RaDaK, c1160-c1235, Provence), Hizkuni, Gersonides/Ralbag, Abarbanel (15th Century Inquisition/Spain/Portugal, Italy), and Sforno (Italy, 1470-1550). The biblical passage is translated using BOTH the 1917 and 1985 JPS English translations, since great scholars wrote them in each period, and nuggets of insight can be derived from each one, even if they are not parallel. The beauty of reading medieval commentaries on Exodus is that they find connections and contradictions that lay readers in English may miss from the more modern bibles. Also, since the commentators lived at different times in different circumstances, the reader can see how the biblical passage spoke to various scholars over time. It also is more raw than the Hertz bibles (U.K. Chief Rabbi J. H. Hertz), that were used in many synagogues, and written to gloss over "primitive" Hebrew practices. The editor recommend that you follow one particular commentator through an entire story, compare different commentators, compare the two differing English translations and try to understand why they differ, read an entire chapter in the Old JPS translatoin and then in the New JPS translation and see what insights you can find; and ponder whether the questions you ask on the text are the same questions that Abarbanel and others felt were the glaring issue. Go and Learn.
With this edition, the voices of Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Nahmanides, Rashbam, and other medieval commentators come alive once more, speaking in a contemporary English translation annotated and explicated for lay readers. Each page of The Commentators' Bible contains several Hebrew verses from the book of Exodus, surrounded by both the 1917 and 1985 JPS translations and new English translations of the major commentators. This large-format volume is beautifully designed for ease of navigation among the many elements on each page, including explanatory notes and selected additional comments from the works of Bekhor Shor, Hizkuni, Abarbanel, Sforno, Gersonides, and others. Click the book cover above to read more.
View sample page:

[book cover click here] The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate
Edited by Ruth Fredman Cernea
DECEMBER 2005, University of Chicago Press
Forget the bibles, zohar, kabbalah books.. forget Ragen, Roth and Ozick... this is the most important book in the past few months and I have waited over 25 years for its release. I first became an addict of the Great Latke-Hamantash debates in the 1970's when I read about them in the now defunct Israel Magazine (or was it a 1970s issue of Moment). This is the sort of event that makes you want to become a Hillel Program Director.
In 1946, a debate was started each November at the University of Chicago as a way to foster a sense of community among Jewish students and faculty members. The debates were farces; they attracted the top Jewish professors and students, Nobel laureates, university presidents, and notable scholars together to debate whether the potato pancake or the triangular Purim pastry is in fact the worthier food. They applied their fields of study to these symbolic Jewish foods. Professor Marvin Mirsky observed the roundness of the latke which clearly suggested Plato's circle of perfection and its flatness emphasized Plato's ultimate truth. Professor Lawrence Sherman reminded his audience that in Romeo and Juliet, "Juliet was a Capulatke, Romeo a Hamantashague." In poetry, essays, jokes, and revisionist histories, members of elite American academies attack the latke-versus-hamantash question with intellectual panache and an unerring sense of humor, if not chutzpah.
The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate is the first collection of the best of these performances, from Martha Nussbaum's paean to both foods-in the style of Hecuba's Lament-to Nobel laureate Leon Lederman's proclamation on the union of the celebrated dyad. The latke and the hamantash are here revealed as playing a critical role in everything from Chinese history to the Renaissance, the works of Jane Austen to constitutional law. One law professor stunned the audience by breaking the rules, and defending the knish. One professor showed that Jewish foods influenced the roots of rock and roll, including "Good challeh, miss molly" and "Borsht Gudonov"; while another two teachers focused on Darwin and the evolution of bagels, latkes, and hamantaschen. During one satirical symposium (1961), the Historian Bernard Weisberger discussed the latke in the context of original frontier (frying pan) American history, freedom, and manifest destiny (the latke expands in the oil). The late Allan Bloom explored the foundation of the foods in manna, and expounded on the Jewish Canon, Hegel, Marx, (latke as Freudan round male thesis, hamantasch as female triad antithesis). Professor of Medicine, Lawrence Sherman, showed the Shakespeare was actually a baker, and Juliet's moon was actually "mohn." Was 'Love and Latkes' the unpuboished sequel to 'Pride and Prejudice'? Eminent philosopher and humorist Ted Cohen, who has moderated many debates, supplies a wry foreword, and anthropologist Ruth Fredman Cernea provides a larger context with her overview of the Jewish holidays, recipes, and a glossary of Yiddish and Hebrew terms, making the book accessible even to the uninitiated. The University of Chicago may have split the atom in 1942, but it's still working on the equally significant issue of the latke versus the hamantash. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book][book] Megillat Esther
(Paperback) by J. T. Waldman

Jewish Publication Society of America (January 15, 2006)
Megillat Esther is commonly referred to as the Book of Esther: but there is nothing common about JT Waldman's interpretation of this Biblical story. In what may be the world's first religious, scholarly comic book, Waldman tells the epic tale of exile and redemption in graphic form. When Esther, a Jewish woman, is made Queen of Persia she must keep her identity hidden, all the while maneuvering to save her people from annihilation. This is a story familiar to many Jews who have heard it recounted every year on the holiday of Purim. But readers of all backgrounds will be entranced by what artist Waldman depicts in his interpretation of the text. At once traditional and groundbreaking Megillat Esther will challenge secular assumptions about the Bible. Each page of Megillat Esther is a visual tour de force and features the Hebrew text with original English translation, as well as opulent drawings depicting the story of the Persian Queen. Traditional interpretations of the story are woven throughout the panels. Megillat Esther presents the reader with a topsy-turvey world in which fortunes reverse and nothing is what it seems. This vibrant, edgy retelling of a classic Biblical tale is sure to amaze and intrigue scholars and laypeople of all religions and comic book lovers alike.
VISIT to see the artwork

[book cover click here] Striking Back
The 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and
Israel's Deadly Response
by Aaron J. Klein
DECEMBER 2005, Random House
Spielberg's film, MUNICH, will be released in December 2005. If you want the real story, buy this book and consume it. This is the full account, based on access to key players who have never before spoken, of the Munich Massacre and the Israeli response-a lethal, top secret, 30 year long antiterrorism campaign to track down the killers. In 1972, Black September murdered 11 Israeli athletes. Nine hundred million people watched the crisis unfold on television. Back in Israel, Prime Minister Golda Meir vowed to track down those responsible and, in Menachem Begin's words, "run these criminals and murderers off the face of the earth." A secret Mossad unit, code named CAESAREA, was mobilized, a list of targets was drawn up. Thus began the Israeli response-a mission that unfolded over decades. The Mossad has never spoken about this operation. No one has known the real story. Until now. Aaron J. Klein is Time magazine's Military and Intelligence Affairs correspondent in the Jerusalem Bureau. He was the recipient of 2002 Henry Luce Award and has been a consultant for CNN. Klein was the military/security correspondent and analyst for Hadashot and Al-Hamishmar, two of Israel's leading national newspapers. He is a contributor to Malam, the journal for former IDF Intelligence, Mossad and Internal Security Agency officers. He teaches at Hebrew University and is a Captain in the IDF's Intelligence. Klein shows that the Israeli response to Munich was not simply about revenge, as is popularly believed. By illuminating the tactical and strategic purposes of the Israeli operation, Striking Back allows us to draw profoundly relevant lessons from one of the most important counterterrorism campaigns in history. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Awakening to Kabbalah
The Guiding Light of Spiritual Fulfillment
by Rav Michael Laitman
December 2005, Jewish Lights
Publishers Weekly wrote: By the author's own admission, this book may seem "dry, schematic... unemotional," more instruction manual than heart-moving guide. Laitman comes from a very specific school of thought regarding Kabbalah, originating from a belief that his mentor, Baruch Ashlag, carried a reincarnated soul that originated with the biblical patriarchs, passed to the rabbi known as the Ari and finally to Ashlag's father, Baal HaSulam. Kabbalah, as Laitman sees it, requires one to "rise to the spiritual world while living in this world," but this "can only be achieved through the right study, with the real books" written by rabbis in this particular lineage. Unfortunately, his efforts to make Baal HaSulam relevant to our current times result in thin and sometimes contradictory arguments. In discussing the importance of the numbers seven and 70, for example, he refers to 70 nations in the world today (there are nearly 200) and an average life span of 70 years, which is too low both in fact and for his schema of the Messiah's return to make mathematical sense. More revealing of the exclusive, myopic nature of interpretation than of the world of Kabbalah, this guide will serve few readers other the followers of Baal HaSulam . Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] ALIYA
Three Generations of American-Jewish Immigration to Israel
by Liel Leibovitz (Columbia J School)
DECEMBER 2005. St Martin's Press
As a 10-year-old Israeli, Leibovitz thought his American cousins had it all: freedom, prosperity and McDonald's. So he was shocked to learn that his cousins were abandoning their New Jersey "oasis" for the blood-soaked land of Israel. The question of why anyone would make such a move haunted his journey to adulthood, and now he attempts to explain this phenomenon, known in Hebrew as aliya, of diaspora Jews leaving comfortable homes to immigrate to Israel. He concludes that the answer "simply isn't available to the cognitive faculties. Why would American Jews-not just materially successful but, perhaps unique among the Jewish diaspora, truly socially accepted-choose to leave material comfort and safety in the United States for uncertainty and violence in Israel? This is a fundamental question for American Jewry, and one that Liel Leibovitz answers with resounding success in Aliya. Leibovitz focuses on three sets of immigrants, from Israel's chaotic birth through its equally turbulent present. One couple came to Palestine before Israel was even created, and were present through its violent birth. One man was involved in the Yom Kippur War. And one family of four made aliya in 2001, during the most recent unsettled phase of Israel+s existence. Aliya is the powerful story of the relationship of American Jews to Israel, both those who make the journey and those who stay behind. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] THE EMPTY MEN
The Heroic Tradition of Ancient Israel
by Gregory Mobley
DECEMBER 2005, Doubleday
Gregory Mobley (a Baptist Minister, and past teacher at Harvard, Union Theo and currently at Andover Newton Theo) brings a highly original eye to the familiar stories found in Judges, which depicts Israel's frontier era, and the First and Second Books of Samuel, which portray the ragged and violent emergence of kingship in Judah and Israel. From Ehud's mission into an inaccessible Moabite palace to the triumph of Gideon and his elite squadron against a Midianite swarm, from the gangland epic of the warlord Abimelech's rise and fall to the narrative of Samson, Israel's great outlaw-hero, Mobley rescues these stories from their theologically minded biblical editors and traditional interpreters. Mobley draws upon Semitic and European heroic traditions about warriors and wild men, and upon Celtic, Anglo-American, and African-American balladry about borderers and outlaws, to dig out the heroic themes submerged in biblical adventure stories. THE EMPTY MEN describes the process by which adventure stories-replete with foolish love, warfare, assassinations, ritual slaughter, and grim masculine codes-were transformed into sermons and history lessons. Mobley also offers reflections on the Iron Age theology of these narratives, with their emphasis on poetic justice, and on the mythic dimensions of landscape in these stories. Mobley is sure to attract a lot of attention in the scholarly community for his raw portrayals of biblical heroes, for his unblinking attention to the martial codes and the warrior subculture of ancient Israel, and for his bittersweet reflections on the theological and ethical significance of this corpus of adventure stories which are under the surface-but close to the bedrock-of the many mansions that Judaism and Christianity have built in subsequent centuries on these foundational texts Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] A FIRE IN THEIR HEARTS
Yiddish Socialists in New York
by Tony Michels (Wisconsin)
DECEMBER 2005, Doubleday
Did infighting and rising economic incomes of Jewish immigrants put the nail in the coffin of Jewish socialism?
Nothing is harder to envision today than the burning passion for knowledge, self-improvement, and social justice that once united working-class immigrants and fiery intellectuals under the banner of socialism. A Fire in Their Hearts is an illuminating and exceptionally well-researched account of the early decades of the Jewish left, the immigrant cauldron in New York, and secular Yiddish culture in America. Michels's book has much to tell us about this still fascinating era. The Yiddish socialist movement shaped Jewish communities across the United States well into the twentieth century and left an important political legacy that extends to the rise of neoconservatism. A story of hopeful successes and bitter disappointments, A Fire in Their Hearts brings to vivid life this formative period for American Jews and the American left. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] The Reasons I Won't Be Coming
by Elliot Perlman
The nine smart, thoughtful stories in this collection explore the complex worlds of lovers, poets, lawyers, immigrants, students, and murderers. They tell of corporate betrayals and lost opportunities, and the hopes, fears, and vagaries of desire. Witty, vulnerable, and honest, they display the same preoccupations that made Perlman's novel, Seven Types of Ambiguity, one of the most notable literary publications of 2004. "A Tale in Two Cities," the final novella charting the limits of Jewish emigrι resilience, is Perlman in full: mystery, tight dialogue, layers of irony. At his best, Perlman makes false reasoning testify eloquently Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] The Jazz singer
(Wisconsin/Warner Bros. screenplay series)
by Robert L. Carringer (Editor),
Alfred Abraham Cohn and Samson Raphaelson
Script for the Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson.. The first talkee. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] The Brooklyn Follies
by Paul Auster
DECEMBER 2005, Henry Holt
Nathan Glass has come to Brooklyn to die. Divorced, estranged from his only daughter, the retired life insurance salesman seeks only solitude and anonymity. Then Nathan finds his long-lost nephew, Tom Wood, working in a local bookstore-a far cry from the brilliant academic career he'd begun when Nathan saw him last. Tom's boss is the charismatic Harry Brightman, whom fate has also brought to the "ancient kingdom of Brooklyn, New York." Through Tom and Harry, Nathan's world gradually broadens to include a new set of acquaintances-not to mention a stray relative or two-and leads him to a reckoning with his past. Among the many twists in the delicious plot are a scam involving a forgery of the first page of The Scarlet Letter, a disturbing revelation that takes place in a sperm bank, and an impossible, utopian dream of a rural refuge. Meanwhile, the wry and acerbic Nathan has undertaken something he calls The Book of Human Folly, in which he proposes "to set down in the simplest, clearest language possible an account of every blunder, every pratfall, every embarrassment, every idiocy, every foible, and every inane act I had committed during my long and checkered career as a man." But life takes over instead, and Nathan's despair is swept away as he finds himself more and more implicated in the joys and sorrows of others. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] How to Read the Bible
Translating the Culuture of the Bible
by Marc Zvi Brettler
DECEMBER 2005, JPS Jewish Publication Society
In his new book, master Bible scholar and teacher Marc Brettler argues that today's contemporary readers can only understand the ancient Hebrew Scripture by knowing more about the culture that produced it. And so Brettler unpacks the literary conventions, ideological assumptions, and historical conditions that inform the biblical text and demonstrates how modern critical scholarship and archaeological discoveries shed light on this fascinating and complex literature. Brettler surveys representative biblical texts from different genres to illustrate how modern scholars have taught us to "read" these texts. Using the "historical-critical method" long popular in academia, he guides us in reading the Bible as it was read in the biblical period, independent of later religious norms and interpretive traditions. Understanding the Bible this way lets us appreciate it as an interesting text that speaks in multiple voices on profound issues. This book is the first "Jewishly sensitive" introduction to the historical-critical method. Unlike other introductory texts, the Bible that this book speaks about is the Jewish one -- with the three-part TaNaKH arrangement, the sequence of books found in modern printed Hebrew editions, and the chapter and verse enumerations used in most modern Jewish versions of the Bible. In an afterword, the author discusses how the historical-critical method can help contemporary Jews relate to the Bible as a religious text in a more meaningful way. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] God's Mountain
The Temple Mount in Time, Place, and Memory
by Yaron Z. Eliav
DECEMBER 2005, John Hopkins Press
From Publishers Weekly: Previous works on Jerusalem's Temple Mount, such as Gershom Gorenberg's The End of Days, have mostly been journalistic and nationalistic explorations of the claims and counterclaims to this disputed area. By contrast, Eliav, a faculty member in the University of Michigan's Department of Near Eastern Studies, has written an academic treatise based on extensive research during the last 12 years. Beginning with his doctoral dissertation at Hebrew University, he expanded his investigation at libraries in Princeton, Oxford and New York. Eliav uses his impressive knowledge of Talmud, the Bible, archeology, languages, rabbinic texts, the classics and patristic literature to debunk the notion that the Temple Mount was a sacred space for ancient Jews and Christians. According to him, it did not achieve this status until long after the Second Temple was destroyed. In a dazzling display of erudition, he supports his thesis by providing new readings of familiar sources and by citing many little-known references. Defying conventional wisdom, Eliav also claims that there were several Temple Mounts. Unfortunately, most nonspecialists will have neither the patience nor the knowledge to follow his closely reasoned argument, since the book is densely written in often impenetrable language. . Click the book cover above to read more.

December 2005, FS&G.
Siegfried Sassoon was born in 1886 in Kent, and began writing verses as a boy. While a brave young officer, he confronted the terrible realities of the First World War on the battlefield, in verse, and, finally, by announcing his opposition to the war in 1917, showing that physical courage could exist alongside humanity and sensibility. In 1918, Sassoon found himself one of the most famous young writers of the time, a mentor to Wilfred Owen, and admired by Winston Churchill and T.E. Lawrence. He joined the Labour Party, became literary editor of the socialist Daily Herald, and began close friendships with Thomas Hardy and E.M. Forster, while trying to adapt his poetry to peacetime. Then Sassoon fell in love with the artistocratic aesthete Stephen Tennant, who led him into his group of Bright Young Things who inspired the early novels of Evelyn Waugh. At the demise of his passionate and fraught relationship with Tennant, Sassoon suddenly married the beautiful Hester Gatty in 1933 and retreated to a quiet country life until their eventual estrangement and Sassoon's subsequent conversion to Catholicism. Click to read more.

[book cover click here] The Natural History of the Bible
An Environmental Exploration of the Hebrew Scriptures
By Daniel Hillel, Univ Mass Professor Emeritus
Winter 2006, Columbia University Press
From Publishers Weekly: That environmental factors affect our daily lives is disputed by no one. But can environment, climate and topology play a part in the development of a religious community? Hillel, professor emeritus of environmental studies at the University of Massachusetts and senior research scientist at Columbia University's Center for Climate Systems Research, says yes. He comes to the subject immersed in the lore of ancient Israel, from his grandfather's instruction to his own years living in modern Israel. He sees the Jewish belief system as an amalgam of ideas emerging from an interplay of human beings with both the land and its peoples, "absorb[ing] all the cultural strands... from all the ecological domains of the ancient Near East... and assimilat[ing] them into their own culture." He divides sacred history into seven "domains," dispensations based not on some theological construct but rather on the terrain in which the Israelites lived. What emerges is a largely naturalistic explanation of Israel's beliefs and laws, with a strong emphasis on the impact of culture and environment on the evolving Jewish religion. Hillel recounts, in a richly detailed and beautifully told manner, the origins of the Hebrew Bible in a new and satisfying way. . Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Two Thousand Years of Jewish Life in Morocco
by Haim Zafrani
DECEMBER 2005, Ktav
A collection of notes, observations and statistics, some of them enlightening, a few fascinating, but all presented as a mιlange .... Zafrani assumes a familiarity with his subject matter that renders much of the book inaccessible to readers with only a passing familiarity with Moroccan Jews.... Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again
The True Adventures of a Hollywood Nanny
by Suzanne Hansen
From Publishers Weekly: Misadventures in nannyhood" is how Hansen, an Oregon teen who'd trained at the Northwest Nannies Institute, characterizes her amusing account of several years as live-in drudge to the stars. Readers of James B. Stewart's DisneyWar are already acquainted with her first employer, Michael Ovitz, then still the superagent commander of the CAA talent agency, and parent, with his wife, of three children. Hansen isn't a flippant writer; she doesn't try to score easy shots; and she cites her own inexperience and shyness, but it becomes increasingly clear through her account (backed up by the diary she kept) that the portraits drawn by other writers-of a cold, shrewd, controlling man-are accurate. Still, there was glamour, which at first made up for the grueling 24/7 workload and a curious chintziness. However, Hansen lasted just over six months. She later found work with the charming Debra Winger and left only because it became clear that the doting Winger didn't really need a full-time nanny. Her next and last nanny job was with the wonderful and thoughtful Rhea Perlman and Danny DeVito and their three kids. Hardly backstabbing, this entertaining book possesses a sincerity other nannying tomes lack.. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Gotz and Meyer
by David Albahari, Ellen Elias-Bursac (Translator)
DECEMBER 2005, Harcourt
From Booklist "What would I have done?" is a fundamental question in Holocaust literature. Translated from the Serbian, this stirring novel draws on a wealth of archival materials, maps, and Nazi bureaucratic records about the concentration camp at the Belgrade Fairgrounds, from where, over five months in 1942, 5,000 Jews were loaded into a truck and gassed. A Serbian Jewish college professor looks back now and obsessively imagines himself as perpetrator, victim, and bystander. Who were the two drivers who connected the exhaust pipe each time so that the fumes killed the passengers? How did it become just a routine job? Who buried the heaped corpses? What if one kid tried to resist? How could Belgrade citizens not know? There are no chapters or even paragraphs, but the spacious text is simple and eloquent, and readers will be drawn into the professor's obsessive first-person narrative in which the horror is in the facts of bureaucratic efficiency and the unimaginable evil in ordinary life. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The Warsaw Uprising of 1944
by Wlodzimierz Borodziej, Barbara Harshav
Wisconsin. December 2005.
The Warsaw Uprising of 1944 dramatically tells the largely unknown story of the Warsaw resistance movement during World War II. Desperate to free themselves from German military oppression but also hoping to show the advancing Soviets that they could not impose easy rule upon the citizens of Warsaw, the Poles launched an almost hopeless attack against the Germans on August 1, 1944. Wlodzimierz Borodziej presents an evenhanded account of what is commonly considered the darkest chapter in Polish history during World War II. In only sixty-three days, the Germans razed Warsaw to the ground and 200,000 people, mostly civilians, lost their lives. The result-a heroic and historically pivotal turning point-meant that the Poles would lose both their capital and an entire generation. This concise account of the trauma-little known to English-speaking readers-will appeal to anyone interested in the history of World War II in general and is a must-read for students of Polish history in particular. Wlodzimierz Borodziej is professor of history at Warsaw University and the author of a number of books dealing with German-Polish topics. The Warsaw Uprising of 1944 is his first book available in English. Click to read more.

[book] Telling the Little Secrets
American Jewish Writing since the 1980s
by Janet Handler Burstein
Wisconsin. December 2005.
Janet Burstein argues that American Jewish writers since the 1980s have created a significant literature by wrestling with the troubled legacy of trauma, loss, and exile. Their ranks include Cynthia Ozick, Todd Gitlin, Art Spiegelman, Pearl Abraham, Aryeh Lev Stollman, Jonathan Rosen, and Gerda Lerner. Whether confronting the massive losses of the Holocaust, the sense of "home" in exile, or the continuing power of Jewish memory, these Jewish writers search for understanding within "the little secrets" of their dark, complicated, and richly furnished past. Janet Handler Burstein is professor of English at Drew University and chair of the Modern Literature section of the Association for Jewish Studies. She is the author of Writing Mothers, Writing Daughters: Tracing the Maternal in Stories by American Jewish Women. Click to read more.

[book cover click here] The Zohar : Volume 3
Pritzker Edition Volume 3(Zohar Pritzker Edition)
by Daniel C. Matt (Translator)
Stanford University Press, December 26, 2005
The first two volumes sold over 15,000 copies. This is the third volume of a planned 15 volume set. This third volume of "The Zohar: Pritzker Edition" completes the "Zohar"'s commentary on the book of Genesis. Here we find spiritual explorations of numerous biblical narratives, including Jacob's wrestling with the angel, Joseph's kidnapping by his brothers, his near seduction by Potiphar's wife, his interpretation of Pharaoh's dreams, and his reunion with his brothers and father. Throughout, the "Zohar" probes the biblical text and seeks deeper meaning-for example, the divine intention behind Joseph's disappearance, or the profound significance of human sexuality. Divine and human realities intertwine, affecting one another. Toward the end of Genesis, the Bible states: "Jacob's days drew near to die"-an idiomatic expression that the "Zohar" insists on reading hyperliterally. Each human being is challenged to live his days virtuously. If he does, those days themselves are woven into a garment of splendor; at death, they "draw near," enveloping him, escorting him to the beyond. "Sefer ha-Zohar" (The Book of Radiance) has amazed and overwhelmed readers ever since it emerged mysteriously in medieval Spain toward the end of the thirteenth century. Written in a unique Aramaic, this masterpiece of Kabbalah exceeds the dimensions of a normal book; it is virtually a body of literature, comprising over twenty discrete sections. The bulk of the "Zohar" consists of a running commentary on the Torah, from Genesis through Deuteronomy. Click the book cover above to read more.
[book cover click here] [book cover click here]

[book cover click here] MOSES LEVY OF FLORIDA
It is only recently that the importance of Moses Elias Levy (1782-1854) as a Jewish social activist has come to be appreciated. C. S. Monaco's discovery of Levy's Plan for the Abolition of Slavery in the late 1990s began the transformation of historians' understanding of this man's life and work. Now, in the first full-scale biography of Levy, Monaco completes the picture of one of the antebellum South's most influential and interesting Jewish citizens. Long known only as the father of David L. Yulee, the first Jew elected to the U.S. Senate, Levy appears here in all his many, sometimes contradictory roles: abolitionist and slave owner, utopian colonizer and former arms-dealer, religious reformer and biblical conservative. Each aspect of Levy's life and character comes into sharp relief as Monaco follows him from his affluent upbringing in a Sephardic Jewish household in Morocco-where his father was a courtier to the sultan-through his career as a successful merchant shipper, to his radical reform activities in Florida. With his many residences abroad-in Morocco, Gibraltar, Danish Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Curacao, England-Levy virtually epitomized the Atlantic world, and Monaco escorts readers from country to country, considering Levy's accomplishments in each. The sole Jewish voice during the British abolitionist crusade... Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Rescue Me, He's Wearing a Moose Hat
And 40 Other Dates After 50
by Sherry Halperin
Seal Press (December 10, 2005)
With some trepidation, author Sherry Halperin reentered the dating scene in 1994 at age 51, several months after her husband of 26 years passed away. At first she thinks the dating game isn't for her, until she gets set up by a friend and begins to feel some long-lost emotions. Halperin goes on 40 dates, which she finds through web sites like, professional services that cost up to $5000, blind dates, singles parties, and more. Each chapter is a short vignette - often funny and poignant, sometimes sad, and always candid - with a humorous caricature of the featured man. Though most of her dates can be considered calamities, with partners such as Moose Hat, Turkey Neck, and Rich Old Man, she also dates several younger "studmuffins," gets hit on by a woman, and even falls in love again. Rescue Me hits a nerve by shelling out the real deal on what being single again truly means. As Halperin continually revises her Perfect Man list, she is transformed from idealist to realist, eventually coming to terms with being single. Meanwhile, she's still tackling her inexhaustible dating options with gusto, humor, and an energy that outpaces any 20-year-old dating enthusiast. Among her dates are a lot of stock Jewish men, including a tax specialist who is a bagel intellectual, and an OB-GYN. She found love more at Starbucks than she did on Click to read more.

A Panorama in Facsimile of Five Centuries of the Printed Haggadah from the Collections of Harvard University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America

Jewish Publication Society of America (January 2006)
Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize when it was first published in 1975, Haggadah & History is much more than a history of the Passover story. It is also a mirror of the last five centuries in Jewish history as reflected in the haggadah itself. In an updated preface to the book, Yerushalmi recounts the story of the discovery of the Sarajevo Haggadah, which he says is "arguably the most renowned illuminated haggadah manuscript from the Middle Ages to have survived." Two hundred facsimile plates reproduce representative pages from rare printed haggadot in two of the world's outstanding Judaica collections: the libraries of Harvard University and The Jewish Theological Seminary. This visual history is complemented by Professor Yerushalmi's fascinating historical introduction and richly detailed place descriptions. The result is a rare blend of scholarship and art.


[book cover click here][book cover click here] The World to Come
A novel
by Dara Horn
January 2006, WW Norton
In 2005, a million-dollar painting, a sketch for "Over Vitebsk" by Marc Chagall, is stolen from a museum - during a singles' cocktail hour. The unlikely thief is Benjamin Ziskind, a lonely former child-prodigy who writes questions for quiz shows, and who believes the painting belongs to his family. Ben tries to evade the police while he seeks out the truth of how the painting got to the museum - whether the "original" is really a forgery - and whether his twin sister, an artist, can create a successful forgery to take its place. As the story unfolds - with the delicacy and complexity of origami - we are brought back to the 1920s in Soviet Russia, where Marc Chagall taught art to orphaned Jewish boys. There, Chagall befriended the great Yiddish novelist known by the pseudonym "Der Nister," the Hidden One. And there the story of the painting begins, carrying with it not only a hidden fable by the Hidden One, but also the story of the Ziskind family - from Russia to New Jersey and Vietnam. Dara Horn interweaves mystery, romance, folklore, theology, history, and scripture into a spellbinding modern tale. She brings us on a breathtaking collision course of past, present, and future - revealing both the ordinariness and the beauty of "the world to come." Nestling stories within stories, this is a novel of remarkable clarity and deep inner meaning. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Night (Oprah's Book Club version in Paperback)
by Elie Wiesel
January 2006, Hill and Wang
Less the $7
In Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel's memoir Night, a scholarly, pious teenager is wracked with guilt at having survived the horror of the Holocaust and the genocidal campaign that consumed his family. His memories of the nightmare world of the death camps present him with an intolerable question: how can the God he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life's essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel's lifelong project to bear witness for those who died. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
John Boyne
January 2006, David Fickling
This work was set in Berlin, 1942. When nine year old Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance. But, Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than what meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.
OK OK spoiler.. spoiler... the job that the father takes is.. he is Commander of Auschwitz
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[book cover click here] American Vertigo
Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville
by Bernard-Henri Levy
January 2006, Random House
One of France's most famous Jewish person and philsopher visits America in the footseps of Tocqueville. What does it mean to be an American, and what can America be today? To answer these questions, celebrated philosopher and journalist Bernard-Henri Lιvy spent a year traveling throughout the country in the footsteps of another great Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, whose Democracy in America remains the most influential book ever written about our country. The result is American Vertigo, a fascinating, wholly fresh look at a country we sometimes only think we know. From Rikers Island to Chicago mega-churches, from Muslim communities in Detroit to an Amish enclave in Iowa, Lιvy investigates issues at the heart of our democracy: the special nature of American patriotism, the coexistence of freedom and religion (including the religion of baseball), the prison system, the "return of ideology" and the health of our political institutions, and much more. He revisits and updates Tocqueville's most important beliefs, such as the dangers posed by "the tyranny of the majority," explores what Europe and America have to learn from each other, and interprets what he sees with a novelist's eye and a philosopher's depth. Through powerful interview-based portraits across the spectrum of the American people, from prison guards to clergymen, from Norman Mailer to Barack Obama, from Sharon Stone to Richard Holbrooke, Lιvy fills his book with a tapestry of American voices-some wise, some shocking. Both the grandeur and the hellish dimensions of American life are unflinchingly explored. And big themes emerge throughout, from the crucial choices America faces today to the underlying reality that, unlike the "Old World," America remains the fulfillment of the world's desire to worship, earn, and live as one wishes-a place, despite all, where inclusion remains not just an ideal but an actual practice. At a time when Americans are anxious about how the world perceives them and, indeed, keen to make sense of themselves, a brilliant and sympathetic foreign observer has arrived to help us begin a new conversation about the meaning of America. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] A Writer at War
Vasily Grossman with the Red Army, 1941-1945
by Vasily Grossman
January 2006, Pantheon
Edited and translated from the Russian by Antony Beevor and Luba Vinogradova Knopf Canada is proud to present a masterpiece of the Second World War, never before published in English, from one of the great Russian writers of the 20th century - a vivid eyewitness account of the Eastern Front and "the ruthless truth of war." When the Germans invaded Russia in 1941, Vasily Grossman became a special correspondent for the Red Star, the Red Army's newspaper. A Writer at War - based on the notebooks in which Grossman gathered raw material for his articles - depicts the crushing conditions on the Eastern Front, and the lives and deaths of soldiers and civilians alike. It also includes some of the earliest reportage on the Holocaust. In the three years he spent on assignment, Grossman witnessed some of the most savage fighting of the war: the appalling defeats of the Red Army, the brutal street fighting in Stalingrad, the Battle of Kursk (the largest tank engagement in history), the defense of Moscow, the battles in Ukraine and much more. Historian Antony Beevor has taken Grossman's raw notebooks, and fashioned them into a narrative providing one of the most even-handed descriptions - at once unflinching and sensitive - we have ever had of what he called "the ruthless truth of war." Click to read more.

[book cover click here] THE RABBI'S WIFE
January 2006, NYU PRESS
In 1973, Professor Schwartz, the daughter of a rabbi and rebbitzin, married a rabbi. It was the cusp of Jewish feminism. Marrying a rabbi, prior to the ordination of women, gave many women a congregation to teach and counsel and lead. Schwartz gives a much needed history of the role of these women in American Jewish culture and history, with special light on their roles in the period of The Great Depression.
Long the object of curiosity, admiration, and gossip, rabbis' wives have rarely been viewed seriously as American Jewish religious and communal leaders. We know a great deal about the important role played by rabbis in building American Jewish life in this country, but not much about the role that their wives played. The Rabbi's Wife redresses that imbalance by highlighting the unique contributions of rebbetzins to the development of American Jewry. Tracing the careers of rebbetzins from the beginning of the twentieth century until the present, Shuly Rubin Schwartz chronicles the evolution of the role from a few individual rabbis' wives who emerged as leaders to a cohort who worked together on behalf of American Judaism. The Rabbi's Wife reveals the ways these women succeeded in both building crucial leadership roles for themselves and becoming and important force in shaping Jewish life in America.
PW writes: Schwartz writes this book as a scholar-she is a professor and dean at Jewish Theological Seminary-but also as a rebbetzin herself; for nearly 25 years, she was a rabbi's wife. (Her husband died in 2004.) Here, she examines the complex rebbetzin role in America over the past century, demonstrating how marriage to a rabbi could sometimes provide women with an accepted ministerial identity when they could not be openly ordained themselves. Schwartz rescues important but heretofore unstudied rebbetzins from historical obscurity and assesses their contributions as educators, organizers, charitable fund-raisers, writers and public speakers. Overall, this well-written book successfully uses the rebbetzin as a window into larger issues: the evolution of Judaism in America, the opening of new possibilities for women in the late 20th century and the changing mores of the institution of marriage. Shuly Rubin Schwartz is the Irving Lehrman Research Assistant Professor of American Jewish History and Dean of the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies at The Jewish Theological Seminary, New York.... Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] [book cover click here] The Bird is a Raven
by Benjamin Lebert
January 2006, Random House
From Publishers Weekly: Lebert became a literary sensation in Germany when his Crazy was published in 2000, when he was 18. This follow-up is, in a word, sophomoric. Two young men meet on a train from Munich to Berlin when they're given adjacent sleeping compartments. Henry asks Paul if he can tell him an involved tale; Paul, in his 20s and more experienced with Berlin and much else, relents out of a kind of restless need for distraction. As Henry drones on about a pathetic love triangle involving an anorexic named Christine, an obese rich kid named Jens and his own problems with his bowels, Paul's attention wanders, and we get bits of his own banal backstory. There's nothing remarkable about Henry's telling-in fact, it's aggressively boring-and Paul's own ruminations are run-of-the-mill dour. The tension fails to rise as Henry narrates the denouement of his problems with Christine and Jens, and a completely unmotivated surprise ending doesn't do anything to redeem the proceedings. This book misses even the club kid readers it's aiming for. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] The Bomb in the Basement
How Israel Went Nuclear and What That Means for the World
by Michael Karpin
January 2006, Simon and Schuster
Publishers Weekly wrote (Lydia Millet): Until recently there were five declared nuclear powers in the world: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China. Israel has never admitted to possessing a nuclear arsenal, pursuing a policy of "ambiguity" and refusing to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but for decades it has been recognized internationally as a nuclear state.Israeli journalist Karpin's groundbreaking new book, following in the wake of a documentary of the same name he made in 2001, offers an in-depth look at Israel's acquisition of nuclear arms technology and at the ideology and politics driving it. The stories of the men who played major roles in bringing the bomb to Israel-longtime prime minister David Ben-Gurion, scientist Ernst Bergmann, diplomat and intelligence operative Shalhevet Freier, future Nobel laureate Shimon Peres-are compelling and finely drawn. That Israel's technical capacity to produce nuclear weapons should have come through backdoor negotiations with France, rather than from its richer and more powerful American ally, will come as a surprise to many readers not familiar with this complex and intriguing history.Karpin's strength lies in tracing material detail rather than in speculation of a more abstract kind. He avoids exploring the philosophical and moral dimensions of Israel's deployment of nuclear weapons or of its policy of official denial, tending to invoke the horrors of the Holocaust as inspiration for defense of the Jewish state rather than to examine the specific reverberations of the official choice to embrace and hide weapons of mass destruction. The irony that Israel-a state created with a very special mission as a utopian refuge for Jews escaping persecution and genocide-has chosen to base its security on a weapons system historically used exclusively for the mass killing of civilians is barely examined.This is hardly surprising, since such a discussion could amply fill a second volume; nonetheless, the author's conclusion that achieving the nuclear option, though possibly a "great mistake," did have a "certain justification," namely the threat of the destruction of Israel by neighboring Arabs, is conceptually underwhelming. Still, for all those interested in understanding how Israel's idealistic origins dovetail with its hawkish position in the game of nuclear deterrence and fraught relationship with other countries in the Middle East, this well-researched study is a must-read.
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[book cover click here] The Skills to Pay the Bills
The Story of the Beastie Boys
by Alan Light
In 1987, three white Jewish boys from New York City were the most fascinating phenomenon in the burgeoning rap music scene. No, really. The Beastie Boys, barely out of their teens, had just released Licensed to Ill, which quickly became the first hip-hop album to reach number one on the charts. Pairing vulgar and hilarious lyrics with heavy-metal-derived musical backing and a punk DIY attitude, the Beasties-MCA (Adam Yauch), King Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz), and Mike D (Michael Diamond)-changed the face of rap forever by bringing it into the mainstream. In the years that followed, they would change it again and again-musically, culturally, and politically. To create The Skills to Pay the Bills, Alan Light spent years taping conversations with the group, their friends, roommates, producers, engineers, collaborators, and other artists from Madonna to Chuck D. Here, as told from the inside, is the fascinating tale of three rump-shaking, innovative rappers whose albums still go platinum and whose tours continue to fill arenas after more than two decades of making music. The Skills to Pay the Bills chronicles the Beasties' unique journey from the hardcore New York underground to the top of the Billboard charts. It is a story of larger-than-life personalities, noble causes, funky beats, and truly one of the most influential and ambitious groups of all time. I said, Where'd you get your information from, huh? Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] I Married My Mother-In-Law
Edited by Ilena Silverman
In the tradition of The Bitch in the House, a provocative anthology of original essays about one of life's most complicated relationships. In-laws are the family members you inherit when you choose your spouse. They're the unavoidable human baggage attached to the person you love. It's a relationship that can be traumatic, harrowing, maddening, and hilarious-sometimes all at once. In I Married My Mother-in-law and Other Tales of In-laws We Can't Live With-and Can't Live Without, Ilena Silverman brings together seventeen writers who plumb their individual in-law experiences for extraordinary and unexpected wisdom about this uninvited and intense relationship. We hear from a variety of writers, including Michael Chabon, who writes movingly about what he learned from his ex-wife's father; Kathryn Harrison, whose relationship with her father-in-law was more rewarding and less complicated than the one she had with her own father; Martha McPhee, who explores the role that money plays in the in-law dynamic; Susan Straight, who recounts her experience as the first white woman who married into her husband's African-American family; and Ayelet Waldman, who ponders the competition between wives and mothers for the attention of their husbands/sons. By turns blunt and poignant, horrifying and touching, these essays are small mirrors that reflect some of the myriad aspects of this bewildering and complex relationship. Contributors: Matt Bai, Amy Bloom (Dead, Thank God), Michael Chabon (My Father in Law, Briefly), Ta-Nehisi Coates, Anthony Giardina (My So Called Jewish Life), Jonathan Goldstein (Her Father Under My Skin), Colin Harrison, Kathryn Harrison, Barbara Jones, Tom Junod, Karen Karbo, Martha McPhee, Peter Richmond, Dani Shapiro (My Mother's Four Rules of Family Life), Darcey Steinke, Susan Straight, Ayelet Waldman (Dividing a Man from his Mother).
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[book cover click here] Questions and Answers
Intellectual Foundations of Judaism
by Jacob Neusner
JANUARY 2006, Hendrickson
The FAQs of Judaism from a frequently-asked answerer What is rabbinic Judaism? Was Jesus a Jew by the definition of Judaism? What is Midrash? When and how did rabbinic Judaism recognize Christianity as a separate religion? What is Reform Judaism? Orthodox Judaism? Conservative Judaism? Jacob Neusner addresses the fundamental questions students of the Bible, Judaism, or World Religion often pose about the literature, history, religion, and theology of Rabbinic Judaism. Here are the recurring questions asked of this renowned Jewish scholar during forty years of lecturing to non-Jewish students at countless Protestant and Roman Catholic schools-plus a few questions he wished they had asked. His clear, succinct answers feature portions of rabbinic texts drawn from the rich tradition of Judaism, and include supplementary readings. Click the book cover above to read more.

JANUARY 15, 2006, Leapfrog
When Lev Raphael published "Dancing on Tisha B'av", he broke new ground in the publishing world. Never before in one book had an American writer dealt with the conflicts between homosexuality and traditional Judaism, linked the chilling mind diseases of antisemitism and homophobia, and borne witness not only to the legacy of Holocaust survivors but the suffering and conflicts of their children. Winner of the prestigious Lambda Literary Award, Raphael opened the door to a new kind of American Jewish fiction. Secret Anniversaries of the Heart unites the best stories from Dancing on Tisha B'av with 12 new stories, including one never before published. Here we encounter tales of antisemitism on the college campus, of self-hatred and body obsession, and of survivor parents whose only response to the Holocaust is to isolate themselves, unconsciously committing a kind of emotional suicide. In a collection that encompasses over 25 years of his award-winning stories, Lev Raphael proves himself a visionary like James Baldwin and shares Anita Brookner's gift for dramatizing the pain of seemingly quiet lives in stories that are both passionate and precise. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] The Poems Of Charles Reznikoff
by Charles Reznikoff. Edited by Seamus Cooney
2006, Godine/Black Sparrow
PW writes: Starred Review. Charles Reznikoff (1894-1976) is the quintessential poet of New York City and one of the key figures in Jewish-American poetry. A writer of astonishing insight and unsurpassable charm, his poems endeavor to make visible much that usually goes unnoticed, from the piecework of factory laborers to scraps of paper floating in air. Like my father, Reznikoff was born around the turn of the last century to Yiddish-speaking immigrants, grew up on the Lower East Side and lived all his life in the city. Reznikoff made a strong start on the immigrant's road to upward mobility, graduating from NYU law school. But he never practiced law, preferring to work at a variety of mostly editorial jobs in order take on the full-time task of creating a new urban American poetry. Though he lived a very quiet life, Reznikoff was an aesthetic radical: he rejected the conceits, symbolism and metrics of the verse of his time in favor of a direct engagement with the materials at hand, the stuff of everyday life, which he noted in a spare language that, against all odds, takes on mystical resonance. His disarming poems, some just a few lines long, present incident after incident, observation after observation, averting commentary or conclusion so as to leave space for the reader to come to terms with the experiences presented-an aesthetic he articulates in a poem from 1934: "Among the heaps of brick and plaster lies/ a girder, still itself among the rubbish."Like his comrades in poetry, George Oppen and Louis Zukofsky, Reznikoff moved American writing away from fixed moral and literary core values and toward a multiplication of perspective and condition. Reznikoff's is a poetry of listening and recognizing, of dialogue and difference, that holds up today with remarkable force. His platform as a writer of verse, as he once called it, can be summed up in a poem from the years immediately following WWII, in which he takes in the double loss of both his immigrant generation coming to a New World and the Jews left behind in the old one: "Not because of victories/ I sing,/ Having none,.../ but for the day's work done/ as well as I was able;/ not for a seat upon the dais/ but at the common table."Reznikoff's engaging, powerfully evocative poetry has been steadily gaining a passionate following. This definitive edition of his poems (which augments and supplants an earlier version) will be welcomed both by old and new readers of his work. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] A Good Place for the Night
Stories (Paperback)
by Savyon Liebrecht, Sondra Silverston (Translator)
January 2006, Persea.
Ms. Savyon Liebrecht, one of Israel's most distinguished and popular authors, has won an avid readership in the U. S. for her rich, believable fiction about affairs of the heart. Her newest collection includes seven long stories named for places-Munich, America, Tel Aviv, Hiroshima-and features Israelis abroad, women and men in love and in trouble far away from home. A woman living congenially in Hiroshima for nine years becomes involved in a love triangle with an American and a Japanese, and learns with chilling finality that she can never be at home in this city of the Japanese holocaust. The tables turn on an Israeli journalist, in Munich to cover the trial of a Nazi war criminal, when he becomes a witness to anti-Arab violence and to the murder of a beautiful Muslim woman he has secretly desired. In these searing stories setting becomes an accomplice to fate, and history intrudes into the heat of passion. In the end, A Good Place for the Night makes us realize that we are all wanderers, and the safe haven of "home" is only an idea. Click to read more.

[book] Confessions of a Jewish Priest:
From Secular Jewish War Refugee to Physicist to Episcopal Clergyman
by Gabriel Weinrich (son of famed Yiddishist Max Weinrich)
Pilgrim Press.
Confessions of a Jewish Priest comprises the reminiscences of Weinreich, a secular Jew who was born in Poland and moved to the U.S. as a young adolescent during World War II, thus narrowly escaping the Holocaust. The book follows Weinreich as he becomes an American, twice-husband, father, and an award-winning scientist, and shows how his subsequent journey toward Christianity and ordination to the Episcopal priesthood do nothing to impair his sense of Jewishness. In addition to telling a compelling story, the book discusses Christianity as perceived by a Jew who began as a complete atheist but realizes toward the end of his life that he never really was one. GABRIEL WEINREICH, born in Poland into a prominent Yiddish-speaking family, is a retired Episcopal priest and emeritus professor of physics at the University of Michigan. Confessions of a Jewish Priest, while steeped in love for the church, also shows a keen perspective about its historical persecution of the Jewish people. The book is especially rich in detailed sympathetic recollections of the family into which he was born and whose legacy he carries deep in his heart. Indeed, Weinreich's Jewishness is integral to his life as a Christian, and his first purpose in writing the book was to explain the seeming paradox that "my Jewishness" of this I am profoundly convinced "in no way departed from me when I acquired a clerical collar"(from the Prologue). Although his claim to being simultaneously Jewish and Christian may prove controversial, readers will see it as a memoir by an Episcopal priest who prays in his most personal moments by silently reciting the twenty-third psalm--in Yiddish. He is the retired rector of Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church in Hamburg, Michigan. He and his wife live in Chelsea, Michigan and attend Saint Clare's Episcopal Church in nearby Ann Arbor. Click to read more.

January 2006, Graywolf.
From Publishers Weekly: Experimental poet and novelist Braverman (The Incantation of Frida K.) proffers a brash, witty memoir comprising a dozen bubbling, occasionally repetitive essays chronicling her 1990s move from L.A. to an upstate New York farmhouse. After the last spate of riots and a major earthquake, the 40-something Braverman decides to quit the city of her birth and head to the Allegheny Mountains to live through brutal winters with her husband, an academic scientist, and teenage daughter. In the first and funniest essay, Braverman relates how a longtime denizen of L.A. like herself manages to leave, an ordeal in itself: "Such a departure requires magical intervention." Then she is prey to advice from others, such as Uncle Irving, who gives the lowdown on their Jewish family's desperate emigration from the Old World: "They couldn't even invent a past with a single exception to impoverishment." In six "Transmission" essays, Braverman delineates her thorny new eastern habitat, where she enjoys four bathrooms, gardening and "active correspondence necessitating pens and the postal service"; with snow falling for eight consecutive months, she even craves the crass fantasyland of L.A. malls. In fact, once removed from that city's crime and materialism, Braverman finds she can draw in sharp relief its "accumulated atrocities."
Click to read more.

[book] Terror Town
An Abe Lieberman Mystery
by Stuart M. Kaminsky
January 2006, Forge.
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Edgar-winner Kaminsky writes four ongoing mystery series, but his books about close-to-retirement Chicago police detective Abe Lieberman are the ones that get the least attention. With luck, this terrific ninth book (after 2004's The Last Dark Place) will change all that. Managing to be genuinely scary when he describes urban crime, Kaminsky is also blessed with a subtle irony about his hero: "His wife, Bess, thought he looked like Harry James. His grandchildren thought he looked like the dog in some cartoon they watched. Abe had watched the cartoon with them once and admitted the resemblance." The particular crimes that occupy the working hours of Lieberman and his partner, Bill Hanrahan, this time out include the savage murder of a young mother in a gangster-ridden South Side Chicago neighborhood; the sudden, unmotivated smack on the head with a Coke bottle suffered by a former Chicago Cubs player in his favorite hot dog establishment; and the truly frightening antics of a religious maniac who dabbles in extortion. In between, Abe finds time to eat everything in sight and to try very hard to be a devout Jew. The MWA recently named Kaminsky a Grand Master. Click to read more.

[book cover click here] Hedgehogging
by Barton Biggs
JANUARY 2006, Wiley
Hedgehogging is one of the most instructive, fascinating, and inherently entertaining investment books of this or any year. Written by legendary Wall Street investor and executive Barton Biggs, it provides an impressionistic view of professional investors as well as the agony and ecstasy that are endemic to this frenetic and highly competitive world. The book tells of the successes and the failures of these men and women. It unveils the moral code that they live by, and describes their different life styles and operating patterns. It also relates the adventures and travails of these incredibly intense and obsessed investment personalities, their peculiarities, and the stresses they experience. Hedgehogs are strange, insecure, but fascinating characters, preying on each other and other investors in the battle for investment survival. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] How to Marry a Mensch
The Love Coach's Guide to Finding Your Mate
by Robin Gorman Newman
JANUARY 2006, Fair Winds
Every woman secretly (or not-so-secretly) wants to marry a mensch-the all-around nice guy that Jewish grandmothers recommend-but where are we to find them? The Love Coach comes to the rescue in How to Marry a Mensch. Full of witty tips on where to find a mensch, how to woo him, and what to do when you have the ring on your finger, this book will help millions of women find their soul mates and live happily ever after. You'll learn where to go to maximize your chances of meeting a mensch, how to seduce a mensch without scaring him off, getting him to "close the deal" with a ring!, and the best way to deal with in-laws and other assorted obstacles. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] SOLD AS IS
by Kal Rosenberg
Behler Publications
It was summer, 1976, when a major psychotic episode ended Corey Doctoroff's successful career and also wrecks his marriage. He accepts a job selling used cars "until something else comes along," and becomes the unlikely denizen in a psychedelic world of rituals, easy money, fast women, Quaaludes, cocaine and Jamaican Gold. So begins Corey's descent and sojourn, mired in a bizarre subculture to which few are privy. By day, he lives an eat-or-be-eaten life on the car lot. By night, his inner self ponders universal mysteries. Corey's battle to reconstruct himself and reintegrate his two halves is a swirling landscape of extreme mood swings, youthful dalliances, venomous contempt for psychiatrists, a love affair with his social worker, his oddball buddies-Boychik, The Fish, Beach Ball, Half-Deal Harry, and Jaws-illuminating the metaphor for life that was found on stickers pasted to the windows of used cars: "Sold as is-with all faults-no warranty expressed or implied." /// Kal Rosenberg writes from first-hand experience. Nearly twenty years in the car business and forty years suffering from the still misunderstood malady of bipolar disorder offers the background for fearless honesty and literary brilliance. Mr. Rosenberg received his MFA from Goddard College at age sixty-six and went on to receive many literary awards such as Winner of the 2004 Ed Hirshberg Award for Excellence in Florida Fiction, and First Place in the Short Story category from Tallahassee Writers Association. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Chicken Soup to Warm the Neshama
101 Short Stories, Insights & Sayings Containing Life-Long Lessons
by Pesach Burston and Chana Burston
Dwelling Place, January 2006 is a publisher of mostly chassidic/Chabad books. Chicken Soup: the traditional, rich golden broth coveted by every generation. Like penicillin, it is a powerful remedy that cures all ailments. Several spoonfuls warm the body and the Neshama (soul). Similarly, to warm our neshamos, we go to teachers, parents, and friends. They share a rich, golden Torah thought - sometimes wrapped in a story. A concise statement packs a wealth of meaning into a few words and can, when internalized, warm the soul. These are not just stories that relate to everyone; these are stories to which everyone can relate. These are not just any stories, as chicken soup is not just any soup. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] How to Cure a Fanatic
by Amos Oz
January 2006, Princeton University press
Internationally acclaimed novelist Amos Oz grew up in war-torn Jerusalem, where as a boy he witnessed firsthand the poisonous consequences of fanaticism. In two concise, powerful essays, the award-winning author offers unique insight into the true nature of fanaticism and proposes a reasoned and respectful approach to resolving the Israeli Palestinian conflict. As an added feature, he comments on contemporary issues--the Gaza pullout, Yasser Arafat's death, and the war in Iraq--in an extended interview at the end of the book. Oz argues that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a war of religion or cultures or traditions, but rather a real estate dispute--one that will be resolved not by greater understanding, but by painful compromise. As he writes, "The seeds of fanaticism always lie in uncompromising righteousness, the plague of many centuries." The brilliant clarity of these essays, coupled with Oz's ironic sense of humor in illuminating the serious, breathes new life into this centuries-old debate. He emphasizes the importance of imagination in learning to define and respect other's space, and analyzes the twisted historical roots that have led to Middle East violence. In his interview, Oz sends a message to Americans. Why not, he proposes, advocate for a twenty-first-century equivalent of the Marshall Plan aimed at preventing poverty and despair in the region? "What is necessary is to work on the ground, for example, building homes for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who have been rotting in camps for almost sixty years now." Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] THE SPECTRAL JEW
Conversion and Embodiment in Medieval Europe
University of Minnesota Press, January 2006
. Medieval European culture encompassed Judaic, Christian, Muslim, and pagan societies, forming a complex matrix of religious belief, identity, and imagination. Through incisive readings of a broad range of medieval texts and informed by poststructuralist, queer, and feminist theories, The Spectral Jew traces the Jewish presence in Western Europe to show how the body, gender, and sexuality were at the root of the construction of medieval religious anxieties, inconsistencies, and instabilities. Looking closely at how medieval Jewish and Christian identities are distinguished from each other, yet intimately intertwined, Kruger demonstrates how Jews were often corporealized in ways that posited them as inferior to Christians-archaic and incapable of change-even as the two mutually shaped each other. But such attempts to differentiate Jews and Christians were inevitably haunted by the knowledge that Christianity had emerged out of Judaism and was, in its own self-understanding, a community of converts. Examining the points of contact between Christian and Jewish communities, Kruger discloses the profound paradox of the Jew as different in all ways, yet capable of converting to fully Christian status. He draws from central medieval authors and texts such as Peter Damian, Guibert of Nogent, the Barcelona Disputation, and the Hebrew chronicles of the First Crusade, as well as lesser known writings such as the disputations of Ceuta, Majorca, and Tortosa and the immensely popular Dialogues of Peter Alfonsi. By putting the conversion narrative at the center of this analysis, Kruger exposes it as a disruption of categories rather than a smooth passage and reveals the prominent role Judaism played in the medieval Christian imagination Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Two Covenants
Representations Of Southern Jewishness
(Southern Literary Studies)
by Eliza R. L. McGraw
Jews have long occupied visible roles in the South. Jewish families have owned establishments ranging from dry-goods stores to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, and some of the region's most important writers and scholars have been Jewish. Despite that, surveys of southern culture rarely assess the contributions of Jews, while histories of Jews in America virtually exclude those living in the South. Eliza R. L. McGraw's multifaceted study serves to fill both gaps and in doing so expands how we define the South. In Two Covenants, McGraw mines eclectic representations of southern Jewishness as varied as the Carolina Israelite newspaper, the Mardi Gras Krewe du Jieux, southern Baptist conversion-instruction pamphlets, and the film Driving Miss Daisy. She also considers literary representations of southern Jews in the works of both Jewish and non-Jewish writers, including Thomas Wolfe, Robert Penn Warren, Walker Percy, Lillian Hellman, David Cohn, Louis Rubin, Jr., Eli Evans, James Weldon Johnson, Jean Toomer, and Charles Chesnutt. While concerned with established concepts such as ethnicity and region, McGraw raises many questions that illustrate the complexity of southern Jewishness. Can one individual straddle two identities? How do race, class, and gender influence southern Jewishness? What are the differences between southern Jews and other southerners, or between southern Jews and other Jews? Does anti-Semitism manifest itself differently or with unique effects in the South? In suggesting answers to these and other questions, McGraw ranges widely over the southern cultural landscape and reveals that although southern Jewishness remains a marginal identity due to the small size of its constituency it nevertheless inhabits and helps to form the South at large. The very presence and vitality of southern Jewishness demonstrate that southern identity, like national identity, is a fluid cultural experience. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here][book cover click here] The Bill from My Father
A Memoir (Hardcover)
by Bernard Cooper
January 31, 2006, Simon and Schuster
Bernard Cooper's new memoir is searing, soulful, and filled with uncommon psychological nuance and laugh-out-loud humor. Like Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life, Cooper's account of growing up and coming to terms with a bewildering father is a triumph of contemporary autobiography. Edward Cooper is a pugnacious, slightly paranoid, hard man to know.Dour and exuberant by turns, his moods dictate the always uncertain climate of the Cooper household. Balding, octogenarian, and partial to a polyester jumpsuit, Edward Cooper makes an unlikely literary muse. But to his son he looms larger than life, an overwhelming and baffling presence. As The Bill from My Father begins, Bernard and his father find themselves the last remaining members of the family that once included his mother, Lillian, and three older brothers (who all died young). Now retired and living in a run-down trailer, Edward Cooper had once made a name for himself as a divorce attorney whose cases included "The Case of the Captive Bride" and "The Case of the Baking Newlywed," as they were dubbed by the Herald Examiner. An expert at "the dissolution of human relationships," the elder Cooper is slowly succumbing to dementia. As the author attempts, with his father's help, to forge a coherent picture of the Cooper family history, he discovers some peculiar documents involving lawsuits against other family members, and recalls a grim, not too funny bill his father once sent him (when he was 28) for the total cost of his upbringing, an itemized invoice adding up to 2 million dollars. Edward's ambivalent regard for his gay, Jewish, 50-something son is the springboard from which this deeply intelligent memoir takes flight. By the time the author receives his inheritance (which includes a message his father taped to the underside of a safe deposit box), and sees the surprising epitaph inscribed on his father's headstone, The Bill from My Father has become a penetrating meditation on both monetary and emotional indebtedness, and on the mysterious nature of memory and love.
Click the book cover above to read more.
Read an excerpt:

[book cover click here] Acting Jewish
Negotiating Ethnicity on the American Stage and Screen
by Henry Bial, University of New Mexico
2006, University of Michigan Press
The history of the American entertainment industry and the history of the Jewish people in the United States are inextricably intertwined. Jews have provided Broadway and Hollywood with some of their most enduring talent, from writers like Arthur Miller, Wendy Wasserstein, and Tony Kushner; to directors like Jerome Robbins and Woody Allen; to performers like Gertrude Berg, John Garfield, Lenny Bruce, and Barbra Streisand. Conversely, show business has provided Jews with a means of upward mobility, a model for how to "become American," and a source of cultural pride. Acting Jewish documents this history, looking at the work of Jewish writers, directors, and actors in the American entertainment industry with particular attention to the ways in which these artists offer behavioral models for Jewish-American audiences. The book spans the period from 1947 to the present and takes a close look at some of America's favorite plays (Death of a Salesman, Fiddler on the Roof, Angels in America), films (Gentleman's Agreement, Annie Hall), and television shows (The Goldbergs, Seinfeld), identifying a double-coding by which performers enact, and spectators read, Jewishness in contemporary performance-and, by extension, enact and read other minority identities. The book thus explores and illuminates the ever-changing relationship between Jews and mainstream American culture.

[book cover click here] Jews and Gentiles in Early America - 1654-1800
by William Pencak, Penn State University
2006, University of Michigan Press
Jews and Gentiles in Early America offers a uniquely detailed picture of Jewish life from the mid-seventeenth century through the opening decades of the new republic. Though the first national census in 1790 counted barely three thousand Jews, the Jewish community was nevertheless far more important in the history of early America than their numbers suggest, author William Pencak reveals in this fascinating chronicle of an often-overlooked aspect of American Jewish history. Pencak approaches his topic from the perspective of early American, rather than strictly Jewish, history. Rich in colorful narrative and animated with scenes of early American life, Jews and Gentiles in Early America tells the story of the five communities-New York, Newport, Charleston, Savannah, and Philadelphia-where most of colonial America's small Jewish population lived. How did these communities rise and fall? How did they interact with the larger gentile population? Pencak's exploration of popular anti-semitism in the pre-Revolutionary era describes the persistence of prejudices derived from traditional European society, and his abundantly detailed community studies explore the forms these prejudices took in colonial America, some of which continue to this day

[book cover click here] AN IMPERFECT LENS
A novel

by Anne Roiphe
2006, Shaye Areheart Books
From Publishers Weekly: Cholera arrives in Alexandria in 1883, followed by an intrepid French research team sent by Louis Pasteur to find and identify the "swimming monster." In this riveting account of a public health crisis and the (then) cutting-edge science that aimed to save countless lives, Roiphe (Secrets of the City) blends fact with fiction to bring historical scientists to life. The team includes Louis Thuillier, whose exacting professional persona belies a romantic side; compassionate veterinarian Edmond Nocard; Emile Roux, much respected, if a bit rough around the edges; and their fun-loving young assistant, Marcus. The Frenchmen race rampant death-and the German Dr. Robert Koch, who discovered the cause of tuberculosis-to find the cholera microbe. Roiphe weaves a love story within the urgent scientific mission, providing Thuillier with an object of affection in Este Malina, the intellectually curious daughter of a Jewish doctor. Este admires the medical passion of the French scientists, Thuillier in particular, and the two fall in love when she begins assisting in their lab. Against Alexandria's vibrant backdrop, Roiphe infuses her richly textured, propulsive story with a sense of doom brought by a microscopic enemy.


[book] Rabbi Jonathan Sacks's Haggadah
Hebrew And English Text With New Essays And Commentary by Jonathan Sacks
by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of Great Britain
February 2006.
Highly acclaimed author and theologian Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks brings his wisdom and unique insight to this version of the Haggadah, which features large, beautiful Hebrew typography side-by-side with an English translation, designed specifically to be easy to use at the Seder table, making this book an ideal companion for use at the Passover meal. It is Sacks's thoughtful annotations, however, which make this Haggadah so special. The qualities that make Rabbi Sacks one of the world's foremost religious leaders - keen intelligence, acute moral sensitivity, and a wide-ranging historical and literary imagination - are here put to the task of explaining in their full richness and scope the fundamental themes of the Pesach story: the concept of a free society, the role of memory in shaping Jewish identity, and the unique connection that exists in Judaism between spirituality and society, giving rise to what he has called a "politics of hope."
"The seder service on Pesach is the oldest surviving ritual in the Western world, dating back some 3,300 years....Through the Haggadah more than a hundred generations of Jews have handed on their story to their children....Few texts have received more attention than the Haggadah. There are thousands of commentaries, and more are published each year. Anyone who contemplates adding to this number must ask not 'Why is this night different?' But 'Why is this edition different?' My answer is that I wrote this commentary because, amongst all the many I have read, I could not find one that explained in their full richness and scope the fundamental themes of the Pesach story: the Jewish concept of a free society, the role of memory in shaping Jewish identity, and the unique connection that exists in Judaism between spirituality and society, giving rise to what I have called elsewhere 'the politics of hope.' Nor could I find a Haggada that told me in detail about the role of Pesach in shaping Jewish identity through the millennia, or its influence on Western thought as a whole." Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg
A collection of 26 essays to make your seder a meaningful diaplogue. Click through for sample chapters. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Intuition
A novel
by Allegra Goodman
Dial, February 26, 2006
One of my fave writers, Geraldine Brooks, wrote the following in the Washington Post: "I once spent Shabbat with an Orthodox family in Jerusalem's Kiryat Mattersdorf, a neighborhood where, on Friday evenings, a siren marks the beginning of a 24-hour pause in every human act of creation. Against that looming deadline, my unflappable hostess prepared dinner for 19 -- a tough order in any situation, but even more so when the cook is abiding by the rules of kashrut. Everyone knows that pork isn't kosher, but until that Friday I wasn't aware that "things that swarm" also are off the menu. To make sure that no tiny swarming insect found its way into the meal, she peeled apart and inspected every layer of two dozen onions. Allegra Goodman's new novel, Intuition, revived that memory. Not because Goodman is a famous Jewish-American writer, whose National Book Award finalist Kaaterskill Falls probed deep into a closed world much like Kiryat Mattersdorf. Not because Goodman herself is Orthodox. (She has described herself as "a fairly observant Jew, but a very observant writer.") What brought the memory back to me was the patient handling of the onions, their careful dissection, the attentive scrutiny of layer after layer until the very center had been reached and nothing more could be done. This is the way Goodman handles her characters in Intuition. Every character here -- even the relatively minor ones, even the relatives of minor ones -- is endowed by their creator with the fullest complements of flaws, tics, vices, strengths, virtues and moments of nobility. Just when we think we know her self-promoting, hard-charging oncologist Sandy Glass, just when we are smirking contemptuously at him, Goodman peels back another layer and invites us to peer harder. We find ourselves looking at a loyal chevalier whose capacity for devotion to a colleague wipes the smirk off our face. It works in reverse with another character, Jacob, husband to Glass's exacting scientific partner, Marion Mendelssohn. Jacob has put his own brilliance at the service of his wife's career and seems the model of modest self-sacrifice. Yet he's gradually revealed as a secret manipulator who, with a few careful words, will set in motion the events that threaten his wife's reputation and the existence of her research lab. But it is not a simple matter of "people are not what they seem." Goodman doesn't stop. Sandy Glass has many more layers, and so does Jacob Mendelssohn. So does everybody.... .. continued... ... click the book cover to read more
From Publishers Weekly. "In another quiet but powerful novel from Goodman (Kaaterskill Falls), a struggling cancer lab at Boston's Philpott Institute becomes the stage for its researchers' personalities and passions, and for the slippery definitions of freedom and responsibility in grant-driven American science. When the once-discredited R-7 virus, the project of playboy postdoc Cliff, seems to reduce cancerous tumors in mice, lab director Sandy Glass insists on publishing the preliminary results immediately, against the advice of his more cautious codirector, Marion Mendelssohn. The research team sees a glorious future ahead, but Robin, Cliff's resentful ex-girlfriend and co-researcher, suspects that the findings are too good to be true and attempts to prove Cliff's results are in error. The resulting inquiry spins out of control. With subtle but uncanny effectiveness, Goodman illuminates the inner lives of each character, depicting events from one point of view until another section suddenly throws that perspective into doubt. The result is an episodically paced but extremely engaging novel that reflects the stops and starts of the scientific process, as well as its dependence on the complicated individuals who do the work. In the meantime, she draws tender but unflinching portraits of the characters' personal lives for a truly humanist novel from the supposedly antiseptic halls of science." Click to read more reviews.

[book] Scars of War, Wounds of Peace
The Israeli-Arab Tragedy
by Shlomo Ben-Ami
Oxford University Press
One of the best books I have read on Israel in years. His analysis of the Israeli/US peace attempts with Ba'athist Syria are simply amazing.
An Oxford-trained historian who became Israeli Foreign Minister, Shlomo Ben-Ami was a key figure in the Camp David negotiations and many other rounds of peace talks, public and secret, with Palestinian and Arab officials. He offers here an unflinching account of the Arab-Israeli conflict, informed by his firsthand knowledge of the major characters and events. Clear-eyed and unsparing, Ben-Ami traces the twists and turns of the Middle East conflict and the many missteps of the Israelis and Palestinians. The author paints particularly trenchant portraits of key figures from Ben-Gurion to Bill Clinton, and gives us behind-the-scenes accounts of the meetings in Oslo, Madrid, and Camp David. He is highly critical of Ariel Sharon and the late Yasser Arafat ("the sad embodiment of an archaic political orthodoxy devoid of a vision for the future"). He sees Arafat's rejection of Clinton's peace plan as a crime against the Palestinian people. The author is also critical of President Bush's Middle East policy ("a presumptuous grand strategy"). And along the way, Ben-Ami highlights the many blunders on both sides, describing for instance how the great victory of the Six Day War launched many Israelis on a misbegotten "messianic" dream of controlling all the Biblical Jewish lands, actually making the Palestinian problem much worse. In contrast, it has only been when Israel has suffered setbacks that it has made moves towards peace. The best hope for the region, he concludes, is to create an international mandate in the Palestinian territories that would lead to the implementation of Clinton's two-state peace parameters. Scars of War, Wounds of Peace is a major work of history--with by far the most fair and balanced critique of Israel ever to come from one of its key officials. It is an absolute must-read for everyone who wants to understand the dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Click to read more reviews.

[book] Military Misfortunes
The Anatomy of Failure in War
by Eliot Cohen and John Gooch
Free Press reprint from 1991, now 2006
WHY DO COMPETENT ARMIES FAIL? Why did the American-led coalition in Iraq fail to wage a classic counter-insurgency campaign for so long after the fall of Baghdad? Why was the sophisticated Israeli intelligence service so thoroughly surprised by the onslaught of combined Arab armies during the Yom Kippur War of 1973? How did a dozen German U-boats manage to humiliate the U.S. Navy for nine months in 1942 -- sinking an average of 650,000 tons of shipping monthly? What made the 1915 British-led invasion of Gallipoli one of the bloodiest catastrophes of the First World War? Since it was first published in 1990, Military Misfortunes has become the classic analysis of the unexpected catastrophes that befall competent militaries. Now with a new Afterword discussing America's missteps in Iraq, Somalia, and the War on Terror, Eliot A. Cohen and John Gooch's gripping battlefield narratives and groundbreaking explanations of the hidden factors that undermine armies are brought thoroughly up to date. As recent events prove, Military Misfortunes will be required reading for as long as armies go to war. Click to read more reviews.

[book] Prince of Fire
A novel by Daniel Silva
Signet. Paperback edition. February 2006.
PW writes: Silva's latest novel to feature art restorer/Israeli agent Gabriel Allon (after 2004's A Death in Vienna) is a passionate, intelligently crafted entry that cements the series' place among today's top spy fiction. The structure is classic - the semireluctant spy, Gabriel, is pulled from his cover to hunt down terrorists who have committed a horrific crime, in this case the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Rome. The mastermind behind the bombing is French archeologist Paul Martineau, aka "Khaled, son of Sabri, grandson of Sheikh Asad. Khaled, avenger of past wrongs, sword of Palestine." Orphaned as a child after his father is killed by the Israelis, Khaled is also the adopted son of Yasir Arafat, who has now activated Khaled to wreak vengeance on his mortal enemies. Gabriel assembles a team of crack young agents and sets out to find when and where Khaled will strike next. The determined team tracks down the terrorist, but when Gabriel goes in for the kill the plot takes a stunning twist; the lives of all, plus hundreds of innocent bystanders, are threatened. Gabriel is a complex character with a rich past. His wife, Leah, is confined to a psychiatric hospital in London, mentally damaged and physically disfigured from the bombing that killed their son. He lives with the beautiful Chiara, whom he can't marry out of loyalty to Leah, even though she seems to barely know him. Silva hints at further entries in the series in which Gabriel must step up and assume new duties: "Gabriel, you are the mightiest," his former mentor tells the agent. "You're the one who defends Israel against its accusers. You're the angel of judgment - the Prince of Fire." Click to read more.

[book] Six Million Paper Clips
The Making Of A Children's Holocaust Memorial
by Peter W. Schroeder, Dagmar Schroeder-Hildebrand
Kar Ben.
Rachel Kamin writes: Grade 4-8 -With clear and concise language, color photographs, and an attractive layout, this book tells the inspiring and touching story of the teachers, students, and community of Whitwell Middle School in Tennessee, and their quest to understand and teach about the Holocaust. The authors, White House correspondents for a group of German newspapers, helped the school publicize the project to collect six million paper clips to show just how many people were murdered and obtained a German railcar to house them. The book includes a lot of quotes and behind-the-scenes information. Footnotes help to define unfamiliar terms. While the book mentions The Diary of Anne Frank, Livia Bitton-Jackson's I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust (S & S, 1997), and Hana Volavkova's I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children's Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp 1942-1944 (Schocken, 1993), there is no list for further reading. Regardless, Schroeder and Schroeder-Hildebrand's title will be a helpful and accessible resource for Holocaust educators and students, as well as independent readers. It is also a wonderful companion to the documentary film Paper Clips. Click to read more.

[book] Paper Clips (2004)
Actors: Linda Hooper, Dagmar Schroeder-Hildebrand, Tom Bosley, Sandra Roberts, David Smith (XLI)
Directors: Elliot Berlin, Joe Fab
Hart Sharp Video
Paper Clips is an inspiring 2004 documentary about a consciousness-raising project that blossomed into something beautiful at a rural Tennessee school. When the principal of Whitwell Middle School sought a program that would teach diversity to a predominantly white, Protestant student body, the notion of focusing on the Holocaust--specifically Hitler's extermination of six million Jews--seemed like an obvious way to go. But understanding what "six million" looks like became a challenge. Thus was born the idea of collecting that number of paper clips at Whitwell as a visual reference. But then it turned out paper clips actually have, in historical terms, symbolic value where the Holocaust is concerned. In this moving film, one sees Whitwell students dig into research on Germany's genocidal campaign, solicit clips from a variety of leaders and celebrities, and make a name for themselves on the national news. In time, the world comes to Whitwell's doorstep, via unsolicited donations of clips from people around the world, and in a tearful meeting of students and Holocaust survivors. The dimensions of the project, the lessons about prejudice and intolerance, are stunning to watch grow beyond anyone's wildest expectations. This is a great film for families and classrooms to watch together. Click to read more.

[book] Traces Of God
Connecting the Dots in Torah
Seeing God in Torah, History and Everyday Life
by Rabbi Neil Gillman, PhD (JTS)
February 28, 2006, Jewish Lights.
A probing and powerful look at the dynamics of the religious experience and the role we play in shaping our relationship with God. The Torah is replete with references to hearing God but very few references to seeing God. What we look for and see are traces of God's presence in the world and in history, but not God. Seeing is complicated. For those traces to become identified as reflections of God's presence requires a good deal of interpretation. It's a matter of connecting the dots. In this special book, Rabbi Neil Gillman guides us into a new way of seeing the complex patterns in Bible, history and our everyday experiences and helps us to interpret what those patterns mean to us. A theologian who writes as a great teacher, Gillman probes for clues that will help answer the deepest questions of our spiritual search: How can I know if God really exists? How do I know when God is present? How much control do I have over my own destiny? Why do I suffer and what part do I play in redemption-both human and divine? By encouraging us to address these questions, Gillman helps us develop and refine our own spiritual vision and our ability to discern the presence of God in unanticipated ways. Click to read more.

[book] A Book of Life
Embracing Judaism as a Spiritual Practice
By Rabbi Michael Strassfeld
February 10, 2006, Jewish Lights.
A book that charts a clear path to a more spiritually rich practice of Judaism-from the coauthor of the best-selling Jewish Catalogs. For all the cycles of life, best-selling author Rabbi Michael Strassfeld presents traditional Jewish teachings as a guide to behavior and values. Where the tradition is replete with rituals (for example, the Sabbath), he describes them and shows how they can enrich spiritual living. Where rituals are sparse or nonexistent (for example, returning home at the end of the workday), he suggests new ones gleaned from his own study and experience. Strassfeld also brings the principles of "insight meditation" to Jewish life, using this practice to recover and reconstruct Judaism's spiritual dimension. He describes a Judaism that encourages within us a spiritual awareness as we participate in both traditional Jewish practices and the mundane activities of daily life. By engaging with Jewish tradition in ways that recapture its original kavanah, or intention, we will, Strassfeld maintains, achieve the two fundamental goals of Judaism-to become better human beings and to be in God's presence. (Hardcover published in 2002 by Schocken Books). Click to read more.

[book] Enneagram and Kabbalah, 2nd Edition
Reading Your Soul
By Rabbi Howard A. Addison
February 2006, Jewish Lights.
Patterns in our lives may escape us; reasons for our behavior often confuse us. To help us better understand the interplay of these dynamics, Rabbi Howard A. Addison combines two of the most powerful maps of consciousness known to humanity: the Tree of Life (the sefirot) from the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah, and the nine-pointed Enneagram that was developed over several generations by mystics of several spiritual traditions. Individually, each offers guidance and wisdom; together, they show the forces that propel us and shape our personalities and behavior. Most important, the two suggest how we can live more harmoniously with ourselves and with others, minimize friction and tension and discover our own spiritual gateway to God. In this updated and expanded edition of his pioneering book, Rabbi Addison explores new understandings of the stages and pitfalls we experience along life's journey and the ways we can transcend the limits of our personalities in search of greater wholeness. He shows that, when brought together, the Enneagram and Kabbalah may enhance understanding of humanity's deepest motivations-both individually and collectively-thus opening wider the gate to personal growth. Click to read more.

[book] The Flame of the Heart
Prayers of a Chasidic Mystic
By Reb Noson of Breslov (1780-1844)
Translated and adapted by David Sears, with the Breslov Research Institute
February 2006, Jewish Lights.
Let the compelling words of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810) guide and inspire you to pray. This deeply personal book of prayers opens the profound teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov to all who seek enrichment in their own prayer practice. Captured in words by Reb Noson, Rebbe Nachman's closest disciple, this unique collection of Chasidic wisdom offers inspiring examples of how you can use spontaneous prayer as a powerful tool in your own spiritual life. Topics include: Finding God in Everything • Awakening the Soul • Living with Mindfulness • Midnight Meditation • Simplicity • Grasping the Infinite • Beginning Anew • Love of Humanity • Praying for the World • Hospitality • Spiritual Ups and Downs • Turning Darkness to Light • Unity in Diversity. Click to read more.

Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Faulkner, Morrison
by Arnold Weinstein
February 2006, Random House.
Brown Univ Professor of Comp Lit, Weinstein explores how the reader can understand themselves through the works of famous authors: A Remembrance of Things Past; Ulysses; Mrs. Dalloway; To The Lighthouse; The Sound and The Fury; Absalom, Absalom!; and Beloved. Click to read more.

[book] Irving Fine
An American Composer in His Time
(Lives in Music)
by Phillip Ramey
Pendragon Press.
Irving Fine - An American Composer in His Time is a study of the life and music of an artist of extraordinary refinement and distinction who was also an innovative educator. This book is partly based on the reminiscences of the composer's family, friends and colleagues. The portrait that emerges of Fine (1914-1962) is sketched only by those who spoke to the author from first-hand knowledge. Ramey, a composer and pianist, discusses Fine's brief teaching career in the 1940s at his alma mater, Harvard University'97 shadowed, Fine was convinced, by a malign tradition of tacit anti-Semitism and his subsequent years at the newly opened Brandeis University, where he flourished, founding the music department and introducing a landmark performing arts festival. Click to read more.

[book] Call It English: The Languages of Jewish American Literature (Hardcover) by Hana Wirth-Nesher (Tel Aviv University)
Princeton University Press.
(CALL IT ENGLISH is a pun on Roth's CALL IT SLEEP)
Call It English identifies the distinctive voice of Jewish American literature by recovering the multilingual Jewish culture that Jews brought to the United States in their creative encounter with English. In transnational readings of works from the late-nineteenth century to the present by both immigrant and postimmigrant generations, Hana Wirth-Nesher traces the evolution of Yiddish and Hebrew in modern Jewish American prose writing through dialect and accent, cross-cultural translations, and bilingual wordplay. Call It English tells a story of preoccupation with pronunciation, diction, translation, the figurality of Hebrew letters, and the linguistic dimension of home and exile in a culture constituted of sacred, secular, familial, and ancestral languages. Through readings of works by Abraham Cahan, Mary Antin, Henry Roth, Delmore Schwartz, Bernard Malamud, Saul Bellow, Cynthia Ozick, Grace Paley, Philip Roth, Aryeh Lev Stollman, and other writers, it demonstrates how inventive literary strategies are sites of loss and gain, evasion and invention. The first part of the book examines immigrant writing that enacts the drama of acquiring and relinquishing language in an America marked by language debates, local color writing, and nativism. The second part addresses multilingual writing by native-born authors in response to Jewish America's postwar social transformation and to the Holocaust. A profound and eloquently written exploration of bilingual aesthetics and cross-cultural translation, Call It English resounds also with pertinence to other minority and ethnic literatures in the United States. Click to read more.

Twisted Spoon Press.
The Forward's Foreign correspondent based in Prague has written this set of ten stories, a set of dreams, and a monologue, these are first-person rants of alienated individuals seeking a sympathetic hearing. The work questions identity, religion, reliable narration and the structure of the mind's ear, and includes: a review of a book about the Holocaust that is six-million blank pages, a suicide note from a young university student, a story narrated by three hundred concubines, a group of people who interchange appearances, habits, proclivities and talents. The Quorum is a tightly-written, sensitive, and inevitably absurd take on the individual's lifelong quest to get someone, anyone, to listen. Click to read more.
Read an excerpt at

[book] A Fire in Their Hearts :
Yiddish Socialists in New York
by Tony Michels, University of Wisconsin
Harvard University Press.
From Publishers Weekly: Socialism among Jewish immigrants to America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is usually seen as a passing phase of acculturation into American life. But this illuminating study puts socialism back on the map as a core aspect of the Jewish immigrant experience. As Michels shows, hundreds of thousands of immigrants didn't bring socialism to New York; rather, their experiences trying to adjust to life there, along with their contact with Socialist German immigrants in the Lower East Side, led them to socialism. At the same time, Russiain-speaking Jewish intellectuals in the community saw the importance of Yiddish as a tool in creating a flourishing world of leftist politics and a secular Yiddish culture. Michels, a professor of American Jewish history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, vividly depicts the lectures, unions and educational groups that taught Marxist and anarchist politics to the masses. He cites the numerous socialist politicians, both local and national, who were boosted by these immigrant votes. He also shows that many of these intellectuals then traveled back to Russia to spread socialism there. But Michels shows that, after 1920, in-fighting, along with rising economic fortunes, deradicalized Jewish immigrants. Click to read more.

[book] How to Be a Perfect Stranger, 4th Edition
The Essential Religious Etiquette Handbook
Edited by Stuart M. Matlins and Arthur J. Magida
February 2006, Skylight Paths Publishing; 4th edition.
The indispensable guidebook to help the well-meaning guest when visiting other people's religious ceremonies-updated, revised, expanded. We North Americans live in a remarkably diverse society, and it's increasingly common to be invited to a wedding, funeral or other religious service of a friend, relative or coworker whose faith is different from our own. These can be awkward situations.... • What will happen? • What do I do? What do I wear? What do I say? • What should I avoid doing, wearing, saying? • Is it okay to use a video camera? • How long will it last? What are their basic beliefs? • Will there be a reception? Will there be food? • Should I bring a gift? When is it okay to leave? These are just a few of the basic questions answered in How to Be a Perfect Stranger, winner of the Best Reference Book of the Year award. Completely revised, with an expanded glossary of common religious terms and names and a new section focusing on the meaning of popular religious symbols, this easy-to-read guidebook helps the well-meaning guest to feel comfortable, participate to the fullest extent possible, and avoid violating anyone's religious principles-while enriching their own spiritual understanding. Faith traditions addressed in this edition include: African American Methodist Churches • Assemblies of God • Bahα'ν • Baptist • Buddhist • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) • Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) • Churches of Christ • Episcopalian and Anglican • Hindu • Islam • Jehovah's Witnesses • Jewish • Lutheran • Mennonite/Amish • Methodist • Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) • Native American/First Nations • Orthodox Churches • Pentecostal Church of God • Presbyterian • Quaker (Religious Society of Friends) • Reformed Church in America/Canada • Roman Catholic • Seventh-day Adventist • Sikh • Unitarian Universalist • United Church of Canada • United Church of Christ Click to read more.

[book][book] COVERING
February 2006, Random House.
Yale Professor of Law, jandaaku, and Deputy Dean for Intellectual Life Kenji Yoshino discusses the concept of hiding our authentic selves, the identity that is disfavored by the mass of the community. The drive of conformity to "act white" in America, or "be a man", or DOWNPLAY YOUR FAITH, or butch it up is prevalent in America. FDR hid the wheelchair and Ramon Estevez is Martin Sheen. Ralph Lauren's father changed their surname from Lipshitz, as did many other celebs. How should civil rights law address it? Should courts only protect the immutable aspects of identity? Can the State of Florida demand that a muslim woman remove her face covering for her driver's license picture? If American Airlines bans cornrow hairstyles, does this infringe upon African Americans? No, since Bo Derek popularized the fad. Professor Yoshino writes that covering hurts all of society. Both an intellectual essay and a memoir. When Mr. Yoshino's parents would say "I Love You" he never believed them, since the YOU they knew was not really him, at least in his mind. Since he was covering. Click to read more.

[book] Writing a Jewish Life
by Lev Raphael
Carroll & Graf, February 2006
PW writes: "I grew up in a minefield," writes Raphael movingly in the title essay in this collection of 11 short memoirs, referring to being a child of Holocaust survivors who never knew when he might "say or do the wrong thing." In just over 20 pages, Raphael gives us a frightening and unsettling portrait of how the ravages of war and genocide can be passed from one generation to the next. In clear, concise sentences devoid of sentimentality, Raphael writes of how he learned to deal with his early trauma by writing about his life as a Jew and later as a gay man. Novelist Raphael (Winter Eyes) has a fluid and compelling style, and these essays-blending personal experiences with literary references and homespun psychological insights-are enjoyable to read. The author can write smartly about a number of topics-gay life in Israel; growing to love a pet dog-and can be extremely affecting, as when he writing about losing his mother to a slow terminal illness. Yet the emotional range of this collection is not broad or deep enough to sustain a reader's undivided interest." Writing a Jewish Life chronicles novelist Lev Raphael's struggle to claim both his religious and sexual identities, and the happiness he subsequently found. Until he reached his mid-20s, the author felt alienated from other Jews, ambivalent about his homosexuality; or as he puts it, "twice strange ... in each [community], different, lesser, ashamed." A son of Holocaust survivors, Raphael grew up in an unmistakably Jewish but nonreligious home. However, as an adult he initiated his own affiliations with Judaism: He had a bar mitzvah at age 30, went to Israel twice, and fell in love with a Jewish man. It was "coming out as a Jew,'' he writes, that "ultimately made it possible for me to come out as a gay man and then work at uniting the two identities." Attesting to his journey is the contrast between his confused childhood and the joyful domestic life he now shares with his lover, Gersh, and their two sons.
Click to read more.

[book cover click here] Jetlag
by Etgar Keret
From Publishers Weekly: First published as a limited edition in 1999, this anthology presents five short stories by popular Israeli author Keret adapted into comics by the five members of the Actus Tragicus collective. Keret's tales are brief, surreal fables that set up a witty premise and then end fairly abruptly. In the opening "HaTrick" (drawn by Batia Kolton), a children's magician, attempting to pull a rabbit out of his hat, pulls out the rabbit's severed head; when he tries it again, he withdraws a dead baby. Unfortunately for the artists, these stories are built more on suggestion than on action. In a few cases, literal representations of the story kill its mystique-particularly the title piece, drawn by Itzik Rennert, in which a man on an airplane (next to an evil dwarf disguised as a little girl) realizes that the flight attendant has fallen in love with him and plans to save him from a terrible fate. Only Mira Friedmann's visual elaboration on "Passage to Hell," which incorporates a good deal of pantomime that Keret doesn't mention in his text, adds much to its story. But the artwork is consistently terrific in its own right-the Actus group's stately compositions and calculated distortions owe more to modern art than to the comics tradition. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book cover click here] Without You
A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent
by Anthony Rapp
FEBRUARY 2006, SIMON AND SCHUSTERBR> Anthony Rapp has been in showbiz since he was a child. He appeared in ADVENTURE IN BABYSITTING and other films.. and then on Broadway in RENT as well as YOU'RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN. This is about RENT, the musical, but more. Rapp is blunt and honest and intimate. He tells the reader about Broadway, the biz, sex, Rent, AIDS, and his mother's cancer. He admits when he's been an asshole and when he has been nice; when he was depressed and when he was happy. Rapp also tells the story of the false starts and pain of giving birth to the musical that is now RENT, as well as the death of the musicals author, Jonathan Larsen. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Apples of the Earth
by Dina Elenbogen
February 2006, Spuyten Duyvil
A collection of poems. It grapples with the different worlds of America and Israel; social justice; equality. Should she go or should she stay?
In her poem, titled NO ANSWERS, she writes:
I want to know where the dead /
rest in such a small country //
and why with so many failed //
there is still room for apples. /
But in response she hears only this: //
the harsh rhythm //
of voices telling me //
even in this ancient language //
there are no answers.
Click to read more.

by Shlomo Ben-Ami
February 2006, Oxford University Press
An Oxford-trained historian who became Israeli Foreign Minister, Shlomo Ben-Ami was a key figure in the Camp David negotiations and many other rounds of peace talks, public and secret, with Palestinian and Arab officials. He offers here an unflinching account of the Arab-Israeli conflict, informed by his firsthand knowledge of the major characters and events. Clear-eyed and unsparing, Ben-Ami traces the twists and turns of the Middle East conflict and the many missteps of the Israelis and Palestinians. The author paints particularly trenchant portraits of key figures from Ben-Gurion to Bill Clinton, and gives us behind-the-scenes accounts of the meetings in Oslo, Madrid, and Camp David. He is highly critical of Ariel Sharon and the late Yasser Arafat ("the sad embodiment of an archaic political orthodoxy devoid of a vision for the future"). He sees Arafat's rejection of Clinton's peace plan as a crime against the Palestinian people. The author is also critical of President Bush's Middle East policy ("a presumptuous grand strategy"). And along the way, Ben-Ami highlights the many blunders on both sides, describing for instance how the great victory of the Six Day War launched many Israelis on a misbegotten "messianic" dream of controlling all the Biblical Jewish lands, actually making the Palestinian problem much worse. In contrast, it has only been when Israel has suffered setbacks that it has made moves towards peace. The best hope for the region, he concludes, is to create an international mandate in the Palestinian territories that would lead to the implementation of Clinton's two-state peace parameters. Scars of War, Wounds of Peace is a major work of history--with by far the most fair and balanced critique of Israel ever to come from one of its key officials. It is an absolute must-read for everyone who wants to understand the dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict.. Click to read more.

February 2006, Hyperion
In 1935, Heinrich Himmler established a Nazi research institute called The Ahnenerbe, whose mission was to send teams of scholars around the world to search for proof of Ancient Aryan conquests. But history was not their most important focus. Rather, the Ahnenerbe was an essential part of Himmler's master plan for the Final Solution. The findings of the institute were used to convince armies of SS men that they were entitled to slaughter Jews and other groups. And Himmler also hoped to use the research as a blueprint for the breeding of a new Europe in a racially purer mold. The Master Plan is a groundbreaking exposι of the work of German scientists and scholars who allowed their research to be warped to justify extermination, and who directly participated in the slaughter -- many of whom resumed their academic positions at war's end. It is based on Heather Pringle's extensive original research, including previously ignored archival material and unpublished photographs, and interviews with living members of the institute and their survivors. A sweeping history told with the drama of fiction, The Master Plan is at once horrifying, transfixing, and monumentally important to our comprehension of how something as unimaginable as the Holocaust could have progressed from fantasy to reality. Click to read more.

[book] David and Solomon
In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition
by Israel Finkelstein, Neil Asher Silberman
Free Press, February 2006
PW Writes: Lacking clear archeological evidence or extrabiblical testimony, biblical scholars are often challenged in persuading a skeptical world that the Bible's characters really existed and that their stories are actual historical records. The task of separating myth from history can be a daunting one. Finkelstein and Silberman, both renowned archaeologists (Finkelstein chairs the archaeology department [at Tel Aviv University; Silberman is a contributing editor to Archaeology magazine), take a different approach: integrating ancient heroic and warrior archetypes into the lives of the kings of Israel, thus synthesizing history and myth in support of the religious endeavor. The authors are careful to note that the absence of contemporary confirmation outside the Bible is no reason to believe that the characters did not actually exist. Rather, the biblical stories form the basis for a legend tradition in which the Davidic legacy gradually transforms "from a down-to-earth political program into the symbols of a transcendent religious faith that would spread throughout the world." Finkelstein and Silberman, who also had a winner with The Bible Unearthed, tell their story in a clear and easily understood manner, never boring but always challenging.
Remember.. in their earlier book, they proposed that: "the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land [of Canaan] in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the twelve tribes of Israel. The united kingdom of David and Solomon, described in the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom." The new theories envision this modest chiefdom as based in a Jerusalem that was essentially a cow town, not the glorious capital of an empire. Click to read more.

[book] The Man on Whom Nothing Was Lost
The Grand Strategy of Charles Hill
by Molly Worthen
February 15, 2006, Houghton Mifflin
A unique biography of the author's college teacher, a former pro-Israel, Pro-Begin, diplomat and confidant top Secretaries of State. As a college freshman, Molly Worthen wrote the words "Charles Hill Is God" on the inside cover of her history and politics notebook. Hill was her professor, a former diplomat and behind-the-scenes operator who shaped American foreign policy in his forty-year career as an adviser to Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, and Boutros Boutros-Ghali, among others. Hill"s Grand Strategy class (taught with John Lewis Gaddis and Paul Kennedy) developed a cult following at Yale, and Worthen soon found herself caught in his aura. She began in his classroom, recording his every word in her spiral notebook, allowing him to shape her. Years later, as his biographer, she found that she was shaping him. Surprisingly, Hill granted Worthen full access to his life, meticulously documented in over 25,000 pages of notes on everything from the Iran-Contra affair to the dissolution of his marriage. In the end, she was forced to reconcile the teacher she admired with the man she learned was brilliant, but fallible.She put Hill"s classroom lessons to the ultimate test: she applied them to his own life. Click to read more.

[book] Barney Ross
Jewish Encounters
by Douglas Century
Schocken (February 7, 2006)
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. A powerful account of the career of "one of the two greatest Jewish boxers of the twentieth century," this third volume in Schocken's Jewish Encounters series delivers a short but fascinating account of life in Chicago's Maxwell Street ghetto in the 1920s and '30s: "a riotous dream of Jewish gunmen and bookmakers, fighting furriers and smashed-nose boxers." Barney Ross (1909-1967) was the son of Eastern European immigrants; his father was killed in a robbery just before Ross's 14th birthday. The teenage Ross started boxing to earn money to free his siblings from an orphanage and went on to earn three world championship titles. Century (Street Kingdom) evokes the atmosphere of Ross's youth in a notorious neighborhood, as well as his later professional battles, especially a trio of now legendary 1930s bouts with Jimmy "The Babyfaced Assassin" McLarnin: "As the fighters made their entrances, pearl-grey fedoras bobbed expectantly and wisps of cigar smoke swirled into the night sky." Century also charts the "second narrative" of Ross's life, including heroism at Guadalcanal during WWII, a highly publicized struggle with morphine addiction and running guns to Palestine to aid the Jewish fight for a state-to show how Ross's life "was everything the Diaspora tradition had warned Jews not to become, but a fulfillment as well of its secret fantasy. Click to read more.

[book] Inheriting the Crown in Jewish Law
The Struggle for Rabbinic Compensation, Tenure, And Inheritance Rights
by Jeffrey I. Roth, Touro College
February 2006. University of South Carolina Press
Roth, a graduate of Yeshiva University, Columbia, and Yale Law School, has written this legal history of the rabbinic profession from biblical to modern times. He traces the development of principles governing compensation and related benefits for rabbis, scholars, teachers, and judges under Jewish law. Roth focuses on the disconnect that evolved as rabbis wished to serve God and their communities yet needed to provide for the material needs of their families. He charts the shift from the Talmudic ideal of uncompensated service and follows the development of four material advantages sought by the rabbinic profession-compensation, protection against competition, principles of tenure in office, and inheritance rights. Roth assesses how Jewish legal authorities dealt with seemingly conflicting material and spiritual requirements. Analyzing two millennia of legal and intellectual history, he depicts the struggle of rabbinical authorities and scholars of the Torah to answer questions about their profession in a way that allowed the rabbinate to survive while limiting compromises with received standards. Through vivid historical vignettes, Roth tells a story of legal ingenuity and religious courage, of flexibility in Jewish law, and of a responsiveness to changing circumstances that ultimately, although often hesitantly, laid the foundation for the modern rabbinate. In one of the few studies of the rabbinate cutting across countries and movements, Roth places rabbis in the social and economic contexts of their times and depicts them not just as religious leaders but as wage earners, providers for their dependents, and competitors in the provision of fee-based services for the more lucrative and prestigious positions. He also draws thoughtful parallels between rabbinic tenure and university academic tenure, noting that both protect the teacher and scholar from ever-changing political winds. Click to read more.

[book] The Sights Along the Harbor
New And Collected Poems (Wesleyan Poetry)
by Harvey Shapiro
February 2006. Wesleyan University Press
From Publishers Weekly: Bigger and more compelling than the 1997 Selected that it replaces, this volume offers a virtual tour Shapiro's New York City, his American Jewish identity and his experience in WWII. Beginning as a strict 1950s formalist, Shapiro discovered his mιtier in the early 1970s, with a free verse indebted to William Carlos Williams and George Oppen and a dedication to humility and descriptive clarity. In his mature poems, Shapiro pays comic and ecstatic attention to sex ("Eros, destroyer / of meaning and creator of song"); records his visits to Japan and to Jerusalem; translates poets from the Yiddish; and rebukes himself for the way he has lived his life: "Equipped with an imagination for disaster, / you never seem to anticipate the real disasters." Though he may not have invented a fully original style, Shapiro, who did a stint as editor of the New York Times Book Review has amassed a substantial body of work that presents a well-observed 20th century life, one that "keeps looking for language." Click to read more.
A sample:
Caught on a side street
In heavy traffic. I said
To the cabbie, I should
have walked. He replied,
I should have been a doctor.

When can I get the 11:33
I ask the guy in the information booth
At the Atlnatic Avenue Station.
When the open the door, he says.
I am home among my people.

Feb 2006, Simon and Schuster.
Ages 12 and up
Hazel Rochman writes: When the Nazis take her mother in the Jewish roundup in the Polish Norwogrodek ghetto, Halina, 13, escapes to the forest, where she struggles to survive with 300 other Jews who are being led by local partisans. Based on historical events, this eloquent first novel captures her exciting escape and survival adventure, while never denying the horror: Halina's friend, Batya, who also escapes the roundup, sees Halina's mother on the edge of a pit just before she's shot. Although Batya is religious, Halina and Reuven, a refugee who loses his three brothers, have never thought much about God or being Jewish. Yet the three young people come together, and though they suffer grim abuse from German soldiers, they are able to save each other. Friedman never idealizes the refugees or their rescuers, who fight among themselves in the struggle to survive as her first-person account brings teens close to a part of Holocaust history seldom told. Pair this with other Polish Holocaust escape stories, such as Anita Lobel's No Pretty Pictures (1998) and Uri Orlev's Man from the Other Side (1995). Click to read more.

[book] I Am Marc Chagall
Text Loosely Inspired by My Life by Marc Chagall
by Bimba Landmann
Feb 2006, Eerdmans.
Ages 7-10
From Booklist: Having illustrated Paolo Guarnieri's A Boy Named Giotto (1999) and Guido Visconti's The Genius of Leonardo (2000), Italian artist Landmann contributes text as well as pictures to a portrait of another influential painter. In a first-person narrative "loosely inspired by" Chagall's autobiography and typeset in dynamic curves,Landmann charts her subject's life from his childhood in the shtetl through his 1941 emigration to the U.S.; though poignant details lend immediacy to the story, the author never addresses whether the occasional quotation marks ("Painting . . . is my window so I can fly to another world") signify Chagall's own words or authorial interpretations. Landmann's remarkable shadowbox constructions underscore her subject's view of the fluid boundaries between the mystical and the mundane, representing literal biographical scenes interspersed with the artist's signature soaring farm animals or spiritual symbols. This will speak most powerfully to readers who have previously encountered Chagall's work--perhaps in Marc Chagall (2001), by Elisabeth Lemke and Thomas David. A time line and photo of the artist anchor the book's more interpretive aspects. Click to read more.

[book] What's Up with the Hard Core Jewish People?
A Guide for Coping with Newly Observant Jews
by Margery Isis Schwartz
Feb 2006.
The author writes: Four and a half years ago, our youngest son, Carter, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, blew off law school and decided to study in Israel to be an Orthodox rabbi. After I recovered from cognitive dissonance and finally acknowledged that he was for real, I realized that in order to stay on the same wavelength as Carter, I needed to learn about Judaism in a way that made sense to me. It's gotten to the point where I now feel like I know more about Judaism than some Orthodox Jews. I wrote this book (1) To share my story and provide the reader with consolation, guidance, entertainment, and suggestions on how to deal with a formerly non-religious Jew who has become Orthodox, and (2) To impart my Jewish knowledge in a user-friendly way, and help people understand what it means to be Jewish. From the Inside Flap: This is the first book about Observant Jews that is written from the perspective of a non-Observant person with a sassy attitude. It will capture the interest and entertain both Jews and non-Jews who want an easy way to learn more about Judaism. Click to read more.
To read an excerpt, click the bookcover above, or visit

MARCH 2006

A novel
March 2006, Toby Press.
Her many fans will welcome the publication of Naomi Ragen's first play, which premiered in July 2002 at Habima National Theater in Tel Aviv. It is based on a true story: a Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) woman, wife of a rabbi, mother of 12, leaves her home and stays with a friend. The community's "modesty squad" tries in vain to force her to go back. Her friend is physically attacked, her arm and leg broken. The rabbi's wife is punished: she is cut off from her children, against her will. Novelist Ragen learned of this tragic story several years ago from a newspaper article. "We've been together ever since then," she says. "They simply crushed this wonderful woman who never committed any crime. It's not a melodrama. It's a story of social truth, like Ibsen's A Doll's House. "I tried to write a play about the status of the Jewish woman in the strictly Orthodox world," continues Ragen. "The religious woman does not have any public place in which she can express her opinions in a natural fashion. Conversely, every man can say whatever he wants from the platform of the synagogue, on any subject, including current events; religious women have never had access to it. In synagogue, we pray upstairs in the women's section, while the men get up and say what they want to the entire congregation. Why shouldn't the woman have the same right? Is she less intelligent? Does she have fewer interesting things to say?" .... Click to read more.

[book] The Hadassah Jewish Family Book of Health and Wellness
by Robin E. Berman, Arthur Kurzweil, Dale L. Mintz
March 17, 2006, Jossey Bass.
A guide to physical and mental health issues unique to Jewish families This unique book offers an essential reference to Jewish family health, providing highly practical, user-friendly information and advice. Written by the top medical experts in the field, the book includes topics such as attitudes towards health in the Jewish tradition, the crucial issues of Jewish genetic diseases, healing and spirituality, marriage and family, sexuality, special Jewish women s issues, food and diet, emotional and mental health, exercise, and other issues. Dr. Robin E. Berman, MD (Washington, D.C.), is founder, President, CEO, and Medical Director of the National Gaucher Foundation. Arthur Kurzweil (New York, NY) is one of the most respected writers, teachers, and publishers in the field of Jewish interest. Dale L. Mintz, MPA, CHES (Rye, NY), is Hadassah s National Director of Women s Health. Click to read more.

By a Jewish new movement rabbi, and Tikkun editor:
[book] The Left Hand of God
Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right
by Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun
March 2006. HarperSF
From the book cover: The unholy alliance of the Political Right and the Religious Right threatens to destroy the America we love. It also threatens to generate a popular aversion to God and religion by identifying religious values with a pro-war, pro-business, pro-rich, anti-science, and anti-environmental stance. Over the past few decades, the Republicans have achieved political dominance by forging a union with the Religious Right. This marriage has provided a sanctimonious veneer for policies that have helped the rich get richer while ignoring the needs of the middle class and the poor, dismantling environmental and civil liberties protections, and seeking global domination. The Right champions the materialism and ruthless selfishness promoted by unrestrained capitalism and then laments the moral crises of family instability and loneliness experienced by people who bring these commercial values into their homes and personal lives. In response, the Religious Right offers insular communities for the faithful and a culture that blames liberals, activist judges, homosexuals, independent women, and all secular people for the moral and spiritual emptiness so many Americans experience. Yet, however distorted both the Right's analysis and its solutions to America's spiritual crisis may be, it wins allegiance by addressing the human hunger for a life with some higher purpose. The Left, by contrast, remains largely tone-deaf to the spiritual needs of the American people. It is the yearning for meaning in life, not just the desire for money or power, that lies at the core of American politics. Addressing the central mystery of contemporary politics -- why so many Americans vote against their own economic interests -- The Left Hand of God provides an invaluable, timely, and blunt critique of the current state of faith in government. Lerner challenges the Left to give up its deeply held fear of religion and to distinguish between a domination-oriented, Right-Hand-of-God tradition and a more compassionate and hope-oriented Left-Hand-of-God worldview. Further, Lerner describes the ways that Democrats have misunderstood and alienated significant parts of their potential constituency. To succeed again, Lerner argues, the Democratic Party must rethink its relationship to God, champion a progressive spiritual vision, reject the old bottom line that promotes the globalization of selfishness, and deal head-on with the very real spiritual crisis that many Americans experience every day. Lerner presents a vision that incorporates and then goes far beyond contemporary liberal and progressive politics. He argues for a new bottom line in our economy, schools, and government. This is a fundamentally fresh approach, one that takes spiritual needs seriously in our economic and political lives. Presenting an eight-point progressive spiritual covenant with America, Lerner provides a blueprint for how the Democratic Party can effectively challenge the Right and position itself to win the White House and Congress. By appealing to religious, secular, and spiritual but not necessarily religious people, The Left Hand of God blazes a trail that could change our world and reclaim America from the Religious Right. Click to read more.

[book][book] A Code of Jewish Ethics
Volume 1: You Shall Be Holy
by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
March 2006, Bell Tower.
See also
Did you know that hatred and lying are permissable in some cases?
Read more
Code of Jewish Ethics, Volume 1: You Shall Be Holy is the initial volume of the first major code of Jewish ethics to be written in the English language. It is a monumental work on the vital topic of personal character and integrity by one of the premier Jewish scholars and thinkers of our time. With the stated purpose of restoring ethics to its central role in Judaism, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin offers hundreds of examples from the Torah, the Talmud, rabbinic commentaries, and contemporary stories to illustrate how ethical teachings can affect our daily behavior. The subjects dealt with are ones we all encounter.
They include judging other people fairly;
knowing when forgiveness is obligatory, optional, or forbidden;
balancing humility and self-esteem;
avoiding speech that shames others;
restraining our impulses of envy, hatred, and revenge;
valuing truth but knowing when lying is permitted;
understanding why God is the ultimate basis of morality; and
appreciating the great benefits of Torah study.
Basic vices and virtues takes up 257 pages. :)
Telushkin has arranged the book in the traditional style of Jewish codes, with topical chapters and numbered paragraphs. Statements of law are almost invariably followed by anecdotes illustrating how these principles have been, or can be, practiced in daily life. The book can be read straight through to provide a solid grounding in Jewish values, consulted as a reference when facing ethical dilemmas, or studied in a group. Vast in scope, this volume distills more than three thousand years of Jewish laws and suggestions on how to improve one's character and become more honest, decent, and just. It is a landmark work of scholarship that is sure to influence the lives of Jews for generations to come, rich with questions to ponder and discuss, but primarily a book to live by. Click to read more.

[book] Reckless Rites
Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence
Jews, Christians, and Muslims from the Ancient to the Modern World
by Elliott Horowitz
March 2006, Princeton University Press.
Esther 9:1 tells how the Jews took matters into their own hands and took vengeance on those who would harm them or who hated them...
From Publishers Weekly: "Horowitz sets out to dispel distortions of Jewish violence and passivity in this combative tome, considering both the "feminized Jew incapable of violence" as well as the opposing description of the perverse, bloodthirsty Jew associated (by Christian scholars) with the book of Esther and the Jewish festival of Purim. Horowitz also takes issue with the manner in which instances of Jewish violence and celebrations of violence have been either ignored or distorted for anti-Semitic and political purposes. "One image that achieved considerable (and understandable) popularity among the Jews of late medieval Europe," he writes, "was that of Haman the villain of the book of Esther who was hanged for his murderous plot against Jews hanging from a tree with five of his sons." There is also the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in which it has been suggested as many as 90,000 Christians were killed by Persians invaders and their Jewish allies, an event alternately ignored or distorted depending on the political climate. Horowitz has marshaled an impressive body of material and keeps several subtle lines of argument at play throughout, but he fails to make ordered sense of the evidence or build toward a satisfying conclusion. Students of Jewish history and Jewish-Christian relations may have less trouble navigating this remarkably sourced volume, but casual readers should expect a demanding experience."
Leon Wieseltier writes that... "Elliott Horowitz's learned, humane, and exciting book will rattle many platitudes and disturb many pieties. Purim will never be quite the same; and the complications that Horowitz introduces into the history of Jewish self-representation will be ferociously debated for many years to come. Horowitz's lack of interest in edification is itself edifying; his love of truth is fully the match of his love of tradition. Reckless Rites is a model of the lost art of troublemaking scholarship." Click to read more.

March 2006, Times Books.
After Israeli troops defeated the armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in June 1967, the Jewish state seemed to have reached the pinnacle of success. But far from being a happy ending, the Six-Day War proved to be the opening act of a complex political drama, in which the central issue became: Should Jews build settlements in the territories taken in that war? The Accidental Empire is Gershom Gorenberg's masterful and gripping account of the strange birth of the settler movement, which was the child of both Labor Party socialism and religious extremism. It is a dramatic story featuring the giants of Israeli history-Moshe Dayan, Golda Meir, Levi Eshkol, Yigal Allon-as well as more contemporary figures like Ariel Sharon, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres. Gorenberg also shows how the Johnson, Nixon, and Ford administrations turned a blind eye to what was happening in the territories, and reveals their strategic reasons for doing so. Drawing on newly opened archives and extensive interviews, Gorenberg reconstructs what the top officials knew and when they knew it, while weaving in the dramatic first-person accounts of the settlers themselves. Fast-moving and penetrating, The Accidental Empire casts the entire enterprise in a new and controversial light, calling into question much of what we think we know about this issue that continues to haunt the Middle East. Click to read more.

[book] [book] The Boy Who Fell Out of the Sky
A True Story
by Ken Dornstein)
March 2006, Random House.
Ken Dornstein uses family history, notebooks, photos, and interviews to reconstruct and rediscover the life of his brother, who was killed on Pan Am 103 over Scotland, on his way back from Israel. Ken Dornstein interweaves the moving story of his own coming-of-age with the promise of greatness his brother never lived to fulfill. The Boy Who Fell Out of the Sky is a heartbreaking but profoundly hopeful book about finding beauty in the midst of tragedy and making sense of it. David Dornstein was 25, a handsome, charismatic young man on the verge of becoming an extraordinary writer, when he boarded Pan Am Flight 103 from London on the evening of December 21, 1988. Thirty-eight minutes after takeoff, he died, along with the 258 other passengers and crew, when a terrorist's plastic explosive ripped the plane apart over Lockerbie, Scotland. David's brother, Ken, was nineteen, a college sophomore home on winter break, when the call came. All his life Ken had looked up to David, confided in him, followed where he led. David's death left Ken with a void that both crushed and consumed him. What were his brother's plans when he died? Was David really carrying home a draft of the great novel everyone knew was in him? Was he in love with the woman he was living with overseas? Ken Dornstein needed to learn the truth about his brother's life and death. In this harrowing and affecting memoir, he records what he found out. It was years before Ken could bring himself to confront the stacks of notebooks and letters David left behind, but once he began to read he was drawn deep into his brother's world. From David's early obsession with writing down his every thought to his misadventures on the streets of New York, from an unraveling love affair in Israel to a devastating childhood secret, piece by piece Ken assembles a complex, disturbing portrait of an artist struggling to find a voice for passions that often threatened to tear him apart. Then, by chance, Ken runs into David's college girlfriend on a train and everything changes once again. He starts to question his motives and his memories, and finally sets off on a complicated journey to finish the book that his brother started. As haunting as a dream, as electrifying as the day's news, The Boy Who Fell Out of the Sky is an incandescent and unforgettable account of one man's struggle to find inspiration in his brother's life and create a life of his own. What begins as a tragedy turns into a love story of deeply affirming power.
The New York Times's William Grimes wrote: "...Among the 259 passengers on Pan Am Flight 103, blown to bits over Scotland in 1988, was a young writer named David Dornstein. He fell to earth in the yard of a Lockerbie resident named Ella Ramsden. He had carried with him, according to one newspaper report, the manuscript of a brilliant novel eagerly awaited by an American publisher. Its pages were now scattered across the Scottish countryside or the North Sea, lost, like its author, forever. The real story, painstakingly pieced together by David's brother, Ken, is even sadder. "The Boy Who Fell Out of the Sky" is a mesmerizing tale of family crisis, mental illness and unfulfilled promise. There was no great novel, and there was never going to be one. David Dornstein, attractive and precocious, should have been programmed for happiness and success. He had an Ivy League education and lofty ambitions. But by the time he died, at 25, his existence was so marginal and his mental state so unstable that several close friends, on learning of the Pan Am crash, feared that he might have had something to do with it. "I thought he'd gone too far this time," one told the author. "David was a writer," Mr. Dornstein states at the outset. That's not exactly true, although David, older by six years, certainly dreamed of being a great author. While still an adolescent, he filled countless spiral-bound notebooks with an unending torrent of words, many of them directed at an adoring future audience of critics, scholars and enraptured readers. ..." Click to read more.

[book] Cobra II
The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
by Michael R. Gordon, Bernard E. Trainor
March 2006, Pantheon.
The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq (HEY GUESS WHAT... IT WASN'T A JEWISH RUN CONSPRIACY RUN BY JEWISH NEO-CONS IN DC).
There have been many reports about the Iraq war and the vicissitudes of the American occupation, yet none heretofore has been informed by the inside story. Rendered fairly and documented impressively, it offers a galvanizing account of the strategy, the personalities, the actual battles, the diplomacy, the adversary, and the occupation. COBRA II is stunning work of investigative journalism by Michael Gordon, the chief military correspondent of The New York Times, winner of the George Polk Award for Investigative Reporting in 1989 and the one and only correspondent embedded in Allied land command; and General Bernard E. Trainor, former military correspondent for The New York Times and current military analyst for NBC. Brimming with new and compromising disclosures, the book promises to be a singularly authoritative and comprehensive account of the planning and prosecution of the Iraq war. Michael Gordon had unparallel access to top military brass and was in the war room with Tommy Franks, Donald Rumsfeld and the field generals who were key in the formulation and execution of the war strategy. He has interviewed an extraordinary range of officials, including Franks himself, Condoleezza Rice, Steve Hadley, Paul Wolfowitz, Marc Grossman (the third ranking State Department official), Jerry Bremer, General Meyers (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), as well as virtually every general, regimental commander and brigade commander. He has had access to classified military and diplomatic documents, military archives and internal after-action reports and oral histories not meant for public consumption. This book also discusses: When and how was the war strategy formed? What were the disputes among the generals and the differences between the field commanders and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld?; How did Rumsfeld seek to monopolize war planning, and what was his relationship to the rest of the Bush administration?; What was the basic strategic assumption of the war plan, and how was it flawed?; How wide off the mark was the CIA in its assessments? What were the principal battles, and what has so far not been revealed about them?; and more, Click to read more.

[book] Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes
by T. Cooper ( a Koret finalist in 2004)
Dutton Adult (March 16, 2006).
NOTE: When Ms. Cooper's grandparents arrived at Ellis Island, they actually DID lose a child, and never found him. They moved on. Part of his grandparents family ended up in Amarillo, Texas, part of the Galveston Movement of sending Jews to the hinterlands.
Epic, ambitious, heartbreaking, and wholly original, T Cooper's Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes is a literary tour de force that spans the twentieth century with one family's search for a lost son. In Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes, author T Cooper chronicles the unusual history of the Lipshitz family, Jewish refugees who narrowly escape the bloody Russian pogroms of 1903. Upon landing at Ellis Island, Esther and Hersh Lipshitz lose their uncharacteristically blond-haired, blue-eyed son Reuven. Circumstances eventually force them to give up their fruitless search for Reuven and to join a relative living in the Texas panhandle. However, Esther never stops pondering the fate of her lost son, and when she sees a picture of the blond, blue-eyed Charles Lindbergh after his 1927 transatlantic flight, she becomes convinced that the aviator is her grown son Reuven. Esther's obsession with Lindbergh (Reuven) slowly destroys those around her and will leave far-reaching effects on the entire Lipshitz family. In 2002 in New York City, we encounter the character T Cooper, the last living Lipshitz, who has received an unsolicited box from his estranged mother. In it, he finds clippings and letters to Charles Lindbergh and his family, all once carefully preserved by his great-grandmother Esther. When he is forced back to Texas to bury his suddenly and tragically deceased parents, T finds himself the inheritor of a family history filled with loose ends, factual errors, and maniacal behavior. An ex-literary golden boy who has quit writing to pursue a career as a bar mitzvah entertainer who impersonates the rapper Eminem, T struggles to make sense of all that came before him and-in light of his wife's desire to have a baby-what legacy he might leave behind as well. Click to read more.

[book cover click here] [book cover click here] LENNY BRUCE IS DEAD
by Jonathan Goldstein
MARCH 2006, Counterpoint
From Publishers Weekly: Goldstein's woeful, funny debut novel is a series of aphorism-capped vignettes, paced at the rate of approximately one scene per paragraph. As these snapshots flash past, protagonist Josh ages rapidly from child to onanistic teen to depressive adult, mourning the death of his mother and the loss of a series of vividly described girlfriends along the way. Throughout, descriptions of Josh's suburban-anytown Jewish upbringing and job at local fast-food franchise Burger Zoo, while peppered with scatological and Portnoy's Complaint-esque sordidly sexual details, often achieve a level of nuance that's poetic and almost profound. In the latter third of the book, Josh's preoccupation with a Hasidic neighbor and the "Rebbe's Kosher-style Love Lotion" that he begins to experiment with grow repetitive and confusing. But "This American Life" contributing editor Goldstein has a knack for imagery ("He was crying on the floor, pulling toilet paper off the spool with both hands like he was climbing a rope") and ear for hyper-realistic dialogue, making him a writer to watch. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The Last Jew
A Novel (Hardcover)
by Yoram Kaniuk, Barbara Harshav
Grove Press March 2006.
Innovative novelist Yoram Kaniuk takes us from the scorched earth of mid-century Europe, to the arid plains of the Holy Land, to the urban bustle of the American Diaspora, compressing the rise and fall of the Jews into the enigmatic character of one Ebenezer Schneerson. Following the ravages of World War II, Ebenezer finds that although he has no recollection of his family or childhood, he can, at will, recite Einstein's theory of relativity, the entire canon of Yiddish poetry, and the genealogical histories of any number of extinguished shtetls; he has somehow become the final repository for all of Jewish culture. Samuel Lipker, a fellow survivor and crass opportunist, makes money off of Ebenezer's macabre talents, trotting him around Europe to regale spooked cabaret audiences with his uncanny memory. Appearing in English for the first time, The Last Jew is an ingenious tapestry alive with narrative acrobatics and stylistic audacity. Alternately tragic, absurd, heartbreaking, and bitter - not unlike the Bible itself - it is a profound exploration of Jewish identity and the multitude of disparate, often contradictory shapes it has taken in the last century. Click to read more.

[book] The Mercy Room
A Novel
by Gilles Rozier
Little Brown, March 2006.
From Booklist: *Starred Review* This haunting and, at times, harrowing novel, set in France during the German occupation of the 1940s, is a variation of the Anne Frank story. The narrator lives in a small town, in the family house, where the mother and sister also live; the father is a prisoner of war in Germany. The narrator teaches German at the local school and regards the literature in that language to be the supreme passion of life. That is, until one day when the narrator, awaiting a translation assignment from the local Gestapo agency, lays eyes on an attractive young man--Jewish--who obviously is being taken off. The narrator whisks the young man away and stashes him in the wine cellar of the family home. There the young man lives, hidden away, for more than two years--during which the narrator and he fall in love and have a torrid sexual relationship. But as the end of the war approaches, the young man loses patience with his captivity, and an escape is planned, but things don't go as he and the narrator had outlined. Adding allure to the drama is that the gender of the narrator is never revealed; is this a heterosexual or homosexual affair? We never need to know, for this gripping story transcends such specifics. Click to read more.

[book] Seven Days to the Sea :
An Epic Novel of the Exodus
by Rebecca Kohn
Rugged Land (March 21, 2006)
As a child, Miryam foretells the birth of a leader who will save their people from oppression-a vision so vivid that she dedicates her life to seeing it fulfilled in her brother, Moses. But after many years, she wonders in the deepest confines of her heart if her sacrifices mean anything, if her calling is real. Tzipporah, a desert shepherdess who knows nothing of her husband's divine purpose, suffers as he is torn from her by a strange god, a foreign people, and an unforgiving sister. In her heart, she harbors terrible secrets that haunt the love she shares with Moses and threaten her tenuous peace with Miryam. Together, Miryam and Tzipporah weave a narrative that gives voice to the women of Exodus-their lives, their community, and ultimately, their sisterhood. Click to read more.

[book] Seinology
The Sociology of Seinfeld
by Tim Delaney, SUNY Oswego
Prometheus. March 2006.
No one was better at turning everyday social interactions into memorable comedy sketches than Seinfeld creators Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David. The show, still very current in syndication, is filled with astute social observations delivered with great comic effect. Sociologist, and avid Seinfeld fan, Tim Delaney explores the sociological implications of the famous comedy show in Seinology. Part sociology primer and part Seinfeld tribute, Delaney's book uses excerpts from many of the now-classic episodes to illustrate key facets of sociology. Along the way, readers are treated to an entertaining and educational tour of the whole Seinfeld series. In fifteen chapters, amusingly titled after some of the shows famous incidents, Delaney reviews the major contributions of sociology. Examples include: · "Tub is love." (socialization and personal relationships) · "Not that there is anything wrong with that." (sex and gender issues) · "You double-dipped the chip!" (social deviance) · "Happy Festivus: a festival for the rest of us." (religion) · "Look to the cookie, Elaine." (race and ethnicity) · "You don't have to help anybody. That's what this country's all about." (crime and social control) · "Yada, yada, yada." (and much, much more) .Click to read more.

Princeton University Press. March 2006.
Internationally acclaimed novelist Amos Oz grew up in war-torn Jerusalem, where as a boy he witnessed firsthand the poisonous consequences of fanaticism. In two concise, powerful essays, the award-winning author offers unique insight into the true nature of fanaticism and proposes a reasoned and respectful approach to resolving the Israeli Palestinian conflict. As an added feature, he comments on contemporary issues--the Gaza pullout, Yasser Arafat's death, and the war in Iraq--in an extended interview at the end of the book. Oz argues that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a war of religion or cultures or traditions, but rather a real estate dispute--one that will be resolved not by greater understanding, but by painful compromise. As he writes, "The seeds of fanaticism always lie in uncompromising righteousness, the plague of many centuries." The brilliant clarity of these essays, coupled with Oz's ironic sense of humor in illuminating the serious, breathes new life into this centuries-old debate. He emphasizes the importance of imagination in learning to define and respect other's space, and analyzes the twisted historical roots that have led to Middle East violence. In his interview, Oz sends a message to Americans. Why not, he proposes, advocate for a twenty-first-century equivalent of the Marshall Plan aimed at preventing poverty and despair in the region? "What is necessary is to work on the ground, for example, building homes for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who have been rotting in camps for almost sixty years now." Fresh, insightful, and inspiring, How to Cure a Fanatic brings a new voice of sanity to the cacophony on Israeli-Palestinian relations--a voice no one can afford to ignore. .Click to read more.

By ERIC L. GOLDSTEIN (Emory University)
Princeton University Press. March 2006.
What has it meant to be Jewish in a nation preoccupied with the categories of black and white? The Price of Whiteness documents the uneasy place Jews have held in America's racial culture since the late nineteenth century. The book traces Jews' often tumultuous encounter with race from the 1870s through World War II, when they became vested as part of America's white mainstream and abandoned the practice of describing themselves in racial terms. American Jewish history is often told as a story of quick and successful adaptation, but Goldstein demonstrates how the process of identifying as white Americans was an ambivalent one, filled with hard choices and conflicting emotions for Jewish immigrants and their children. Jews enjoyed a much greater level of social inclusion than African Americans, but their membership in white America was frequently made contingent on their conformity to prevailing racial mores and on the eradication of their perceived racial distinctiveness. While Jews consistently sought acceptance as whites, their tendency to express their own group bonds through the language of "race" led to deep misgivings about what was required of them. Today, despite the great success Jews enjoy in the United States, they still struggle with the constraints of America's black-white dichotomy. The Price of Whiteness concludes that while Jews' status as white has opened many doors for them, it has also placed limits on their ability to assert themselves as a group apart. Click to read more.

Foreword by former President Bill Clinton

Newmarket. March 2006.
A first-hand personal account of American businessman and Slim Fast founder Danny Abraham's more than 15 years of peacemaking efforts in the Middle East and the reasons he believes peace is possible. For more than fifteen years, entrepreneur Danny Abraham, founder and former chairman of Slim Fast, chose to utilize his considerable resources to facilitate Mideast peace. Together with Utah Congressman Wayne Owens, Abraham made more than sixty trips to the Middle East between 1988 to 2002, meeting with Arab leaders Hosni Mubarak, Hafez Assad, Crown Prince Abdullah, and Yasser Arafat, and Israeli prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, and Ariel Sharon. Using his business experience with difficult negotiations, Abraham took an active behind-the-scenes role, setting up critical one-on-one meetings between key figures. He urged these leaders to articulate not what they wanted, but what they needed, to make peace, fostering significant advances in the peace process. Since Owens' untimely death in 2002, Abraham has continued to arrange peacemaking meetings on his own. Drawing from meeting transcripts, diary entries, and extensive handwritten notes, Abraham writes in the first person about these extraordinary, often private meetings, giving us rare "you are there" insight into historically significant events. In his pragmatic and hopeful book, he writes, "I am a great optimist, particularly about a region of the world that usually brings out people's most pessimistic inclinations-Israel and its neighbors." Foreword by President Bill Clinton. Click to read more.

Pilgrim Press. March 2006.
PW writes: Asked why she helped save Jewish children during Germany's occupation of Holland in WWII while so many others stood by, Clara Dijkstra replies, "The heart has reasons." Klempner, a folklorist and oral historian, attempts to explore some of those reasons through interviews with 10 Dutch resisters who rescued Jews from the Nazis. Each of the chapters includes a short introduction, a first-person narrative from the rescuer, followed by a question and answer format and historical information. The result is often choppy; a straight and more integrated narrative throughout each chapter would serve these powerful stories better. As the son of a Holocaust survivor, the author uses the book to come to terms with his family's past and figure out what to do with his life. The dual objectives of profiling rescuers and wrestling with personal issues don't always work well together; the narrative often shifts uncomfortably between a focus on the rescuers and the author's focus on himself. But the summary chapter, which explores the lessons learned from the resisters and the application of those lessons for today's world is a highlight. Click to read more.

[book] Dying for Jerusalem
by Walter Laqueur
Sourcebooks. March 2006.
From Booklist: *Starred Review* Laqueur, a veteran historian and journalist, offers a fascinating look at Israel that is part memoir, part history, part commentary. As a 17-year-old in 1938, Laqueur fled Germany and found himself in Israel. Although he has lived elsewhere for much of his adult life, he has regularly traveled to Israel, sometimes spending a few weeks, sometimes working there for years. Perhaps because of this history of coming and going, he is able to look at Israel both objectively and intimately, as visitor and resident. He writes as if he's having a conversation with his reader, and the conversation is wide-ranging: the country's archaeological underpinnings, the evolution of kibbutz life, the lives of the ultraOrthodox, the influence of the Sephardic Jews. Because Laqueur talks with such familiarity on so many topics, readers get both facts and opinions. In the chapter on Jerusalem tourism, for example, Laqueur begins with what the first Baedeker guide (published in 1876) had to say about visiting the city (bring bribes) and goes on to write intriguingly about how tourism has evolved and how visitors react to the city's history, interweaving tensions between the locals and the tourists and examining the fervor that religiosity can evoke, including the Jerusalem syndrome, in which visitors imagine themselves to be people from the Bible. Readers interested in Israel and its history won't want to miss this one (Ilene Cooper). Click to read more.

[book] Seducing the Demon
Writing for My Life (Hardcover)
by Erica Jong
March 2006. Tarcher
Erica Jong began this book as a guide for aspiring writers. It was to be a book full of practical advice, inspiring examples, and sage wisdom ("Dare to dream," for instance). But she quickly realized that writing such a book would be dishonest, a way to veil the difficult nature of the writer's life with platitudes and encouragement. A demon out of an Isaac Singer story whispered in Jong's ear: "Tell the truth!" She knew she had no choice but to obey. Seducing the Demon is the sublime and salacious story of one writer's long and successful career as a poet, novelist, and feminist provocateur. Throughout, Jong is refreshingly direct-whether writing sex scenes, evoking the lure of alcohol and grass in the search for ecstasy, or conforming to the rigid narrative of AA. She tells us candidly about how she always lusted after Bill Clinton, and how she discovered the joys of tantric sex. Equally candid about the privileges of fame and the slaps of notoriety, Jong is above all loyal to the importance of telling the truth in an age of lies. . Click to read more.

[book] My Father is a Book
A Memoir of Bernard Malamud
by Janna Malamud Smith
Houghton Mifflin. March 2006.
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. No biography of Malamud, one of the great Jewish-American writers, has appeared since his death in 1986, at age 72, so his daughter's beautiful memoir offers the first intimate look at his life. And it is intimate, drawing on correspondence and early journals that describe Malamud's struggle to define himself as a writer and express the anguish that afflicted him all his life: insecurity about his talent, sadness and shame over his childhood as the son of an unsuccessful and unimaginative immigrant grocer and a mother who went mad. Smith (Private Matters) is herself an accomplished writer, bringing a keen and nuanced intelligence to explain her father's efforts to transcend these feelings and transmute them into fiction; she offers a fascinating look, for example, at how Malamud's discovery of Freud helped him grasp that "grand moral struggles belong to the common man as much as to the hero." Refreshingly, Smith is more interested in understanding than judging her father, even when relating his affair, in the early '60s, with one of his Bennington College students; she reserves her rage for the "louche" environment-ruled by "patriarchal harem entitlement"-in which such affairs were a matter of course. Smith offers a profound portrait of a loving father, a writer whose struggles with his own frailties fueled enduring works of literature.
The Washington Post wrote: "...Janna Malamud Smith leaves no doubt that her father was as flawed as any of the characters whom he created. His remarkable self-discipline at his writing table often proved a barrier between him and the people who loved him, and his longing for the consolations of love led him into an extramarital adventure that left more pain than pleasure in its aftermath. Yet at heart he was a decent man, kind and solicitous by instinct, generous to other writers. Having had a hard, painful childhood, "he taxed himself hard to provide his children with what he had not had: stability, comfort, protection from the worst emotional horror." The extent to which he succeeded is revealed in his daughter's book, which is at once loving and lovely, a book worthy of the man..." Click to read more.

My Father, a City, and The Conflict That Divided America
March 2006. Henry Holt
IN 1998, an anti abortion terrorist taregted Jewish doctors who performed abortions in Buffalo. Eyal Press, the son of an abortion doctor (Shalom Press) in Buffalo, New York, provides a lucid social history of the city's abortion wars in an effort to explain the murder of one of his father's colleagues, Barnett Slepian, who was killed in 1998 by an anti-abortion activist named James Charles Kopp. The story begins three years before Roe v. Wade, when the New York State legislature decriminalized abortion, making the state a haven; in 1971, more than two hundred thousand women sought safe abortions in its hospitals. Press traces the rise of the evangelical anti-abortion movement in the Rust Belt and, in fresh interviews, gives fair hearing to the activists who spent much of the eighties blockading his father's medical office. He also examines dispassionately the psychology that drove Kopp to commit murder in the name of unborn life. Click to read more.

APRIL 2006



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