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WINTER 2007 RECOMMENDED JEWISH BOOKS
WINTER 2007 BOOK READINGS
Dec 16-23, 2006: Hannukah
Dec 17, 2006: Judy Gold and Jackie Hoffman on What's So Funny About the Jews, NYC 92ndsty.org
Dec 18, 2006: Baila Shargel speaks on Henrietta Szold, NYC 92ndsty.org
Dec 19, 2006: Abigail Pogrebin and Aaron Brown speaks on Stars of David, NYC 92ndsty.org
Jan 02, 2007: Esther Jungreis rads from Life is a Test. B&N UWS NYC
Jan 07, 2007: The Sunshine Boys. One time performance in Yiddish starring Fyvush Finkel and Theodore Bikel, Symphony Space, NYC
Jan 09, 2007: Yael Chaver on Our Beloved Blended Tongue: Yiddish and Hebrew in the Poetry of Avraham Shlonsky and Rikuda Potash. UCLA
Jan 10, 2007: Novel Jews at KGB Bar features John Miller and David Evanier, NYC
Jan 11-15, 2007: Limmud NY. See www.LimmudNY.org and JewFusion
Jan 12, 2007: Romantic-Classic Cantorial Music.. of Russia. Park East NYC
Jan 12, 2007: God Grew Tired Of Us. Film Opens in USA
Jan 15, 2007: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Day
Jan 16, 2007: Galicia Mon Amour. Leon Wieseltier in conversation with Daniel Mendelsohn. YIVO NYC 7PM
Jan 18, 2007: Rabbi Gordon Tucker speaks on Rabbinic vs Prophetic voices, JTS NYC
Jan 19, 2007: Schmoozedance 2007 in Park City UT
Jan 24, 2007: Kinky Jews: Elisa Albert, Miriam Datskovsky, Allen Ellenzweig, Wayne Koestenbaum, Mindy Raf, and Rachel Shukert at KGB Bar, NYC
Jan 24, 2007: Dr. Michael Stanislawski (Columbia) discusses the 1848 murder of Rabbi Abraham Kohn, a Lemberg Reform rabbi, by an Orthodox Jew. NY Kollel, NYC, 7:30 PM at Huc-JIR visit HUC.edu
Jan 25, 2007: Gretchen Starr-LeBeau on Living Through the Inquisition. UCLA
Jan 25, 2007: Yael Goldstein reads from Overture, a novel. B&N Lincon Center NYC
Jan 30, 2007: Israel Philharmonic Orch at Carnegie Hall, NYC
Feb 01, 2007: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross reads from My Year Inside Radical Islam. B&N Chelsea NYC 7PM
Feb 03, 2007: Tu b'Shevat begins the night before
Feb 06, 2007: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross reads from My Year Inside Radical Islam. B&N Santa Monica CA 7PM
Feb 15, 2007: David Shneer on The Temples of American Identity: Jewish Museums in LA, the Newest Jewish City in the World. UCLA
Feb 18-23, 2007: 23rd JIBF. Jerusalem International Book Fair, expects 150,000 attendees. (Two-thirds of Jerusalemites read at least a book a week. 20% tries writing poetry or prose. 50% dream of becoming an author) Jerusalem.
Feb 21-26, 2007: Israeli Art on Display prior to sale at Sotheby's, NYC
Feb 23-Mar 1, 2007: Israel Non-stop at JCC Manhattan, NYC
Feb 25, 2007: Michael Steinlauf on "Purimshpil as the Roots of American Jewish Theater." UCLA
Mar 01, 2007: Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein on GONZO JUDAISM. HUC JIR, NYC 7PM
Mar 04, 2007: Purim begins the night before
March 11-13: Aipac.org Policy Conference in DC. Be on he lookout for a focus on Iran as a destabilizing force in the Near East
March 11-13, 2007: History as Reflected in Israeli Literature. An International Conference featuring Tom Segev, Yigal Schwartz, Gershon Shaked, A.B. Yehoshua, Gil Hochberg, Hannah Haveh, Anita Shapira, Nurith Gertz, Menachem Brinker, Yael Zeruvabel, Derek J. Penslar, Yael Feldman, and others. UCLA
Mar 17, 2007: Heeb Magazine and Jdub Records at the SxSW Event in Austin TX. Habana Calle 6 Annex
Mar 19, 2007: Happy 74th Birthday to Philip Roth
Mar 27, 2007: Iris Bahr reads from DORK WHORE. B&N Chelsea, NYC
Mar 27, 2007: Ambassador Dennis Ross lectures. 92Y.org NYC
Apr 02, 2007: First seder for Passover begins tonight
Apr 19 ,2007: Elie Wiesel on The Maiden of Ludmir. 92Y.org NYC
Apr 23-25, 2007: NJDC WASH DC CONFERENCE. American Jews and the 2008 Election: Israel and Domestic Issues
Apr 29 ,2007: NEXTBOOK.ORG Festival. What is He Doing Here? Jesus in Jewish Culture. Featuring Leon Wieseltier, James Carroll, Jonathan Wilson, Robin Cembalest, Stephen Greenblatt, Robert Pinsky, Ruth Franklin, Ivan Marcus, Judith Shulevitz, Susannah Heschel, Rome's Chief Rabbi, Riccardo Di Degni, Osvaldo Colijov, Alan Segal and more. Center for Jewish History 12 Noon - 7PM NYC
May 01, 2007: Michael Chabon reads from "THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION," 92ndSt Y, NYC
May 02, 2007: Michael Chabon reads from "THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION," B&N Union Sq, NYC
May 03, 2007: Michael Chabon reads, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge 6:30 PM
May 09, 2007: Michael Chabon reads at The Los Angeles Public Library
May 21, 2007: Michael Chabon reads at The Chicago Public Library w/ Nextbook
May 29, 2007: Michael Chabon reads at Title Wave Books, Anchorage, Alaska
May 30, 2007: Michael Chabon reads at Hearthside Books at the Nugget Mall Juneau, Alaska
May 14, 2007: Alan Morinis on EVERYDAY HOLINESS: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar. HUC JIR, NYC 7 PM
May 22, 2007: Tikkun Leil Shavuot.
May 27, 2007: Thane Rosenbaum with Daniel Goldhagen, John K. Roth and Michael Berebaum on "Holocaust Fatigue." 92Y.org NYC
HEY.. NOW YOUR CAN SEARCH OUR SITE, INSTEAD OF JUST SEARCHING AMAZON. TRY IT OUT...
I SMELL A BLOCKBUSTER:
A MURDER IN LEMBERG
THE ASSASSINATION OF THE REFORM RABBI ABRAHAM KOHN
BY MICHAEL STANLISLAWSKI (Columbia)
December 2006, Princeton University Press
In 1848 in Lemberg (Galicia), a Reform Rabbi was murdered by an Orthodox Jew. Was it for reasons of religion? Financial issues? Was it political? Professor Atanislawski, an Associate Professor of Jewish History and Human Rights scholar explores what was the first political assassination in modern Jewish history. Click the book cover to read more.
Yes.. Krav Maga.. Israel's answer to Tang Soo Du, Moo Du Kwan... :
COMPLETE KRAV MAGA
The Ultimate Guide to Over 200 Self-Defense and Combative Techniques
By Darren Levine and John Whitman
December 2006, Ulysses Press
Illustrates over 200 moves with hundreds of step by step photos. Darren is a 6th degree Black Belt and North America's chief instructor of Krav Maga. Plus he is good to his parents. Such nachas. Why? Cuz he is also a Deputy D.A. in Los Angeles. John is a 4th degree black belt. Not too shabby. All the moves, from yellow belt to black belt are described. Anyone, big or small, male or female, weak or strong, Reform or Orthodox, can practice self defense with Krav Maga techniques in order to protect, to exploit an assailant's weak vulnerabilities, and to turn an attcker's force against himself or herself. Click on the book cover to read more.
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION FOR CHRISTIANS
by Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky and Rabbi Daniel Judson
December 2006. Jewish Lights
From Publishers Weekly: In this sequel to Jewish Rituals, rabbis Olitzky and Judson aim for a very specific audience: Christians who want to learn more about Judaism. The authors lay out the basics of each major holiday, explaining why Jews blow a shofar (ram's horn) on Rosh Hashanah, fast on Yom Kippur, refrain from eating leaven during Passover and commemorate the agricultural calendar during Sukkot. The authors also point out parallels between Christian and Jewish observances, discussions that help distinguish this book from introductory guides to Jewish holidays written for a broader readership. They note, for example, that the carnival atmosphere of Purim is similar to Shrove Tuesday, and they point out the relationship between Pentecost and Shavuot. In the chapter on Passover, Olitzky and Judson thoughtfully and delicately address why "historically Christian-Jewish tensions were exacerbated around Passover and Easter, making this a time of heightened danger for Jews." Curiously, they overlook some obvious parallels (for example, they don't connect Simchat Torah with the first day of Advent, when liturgical Christians start a new year's lectionary readings). All in all, the book could be a little longer and more fully fleshed out. Still, it is a helpful guide, and will be especially useful for interfaith families. Click the book cover to read more.
BY CALVIN TRILLIN
82 pages. December 2006. Random House
From Booklist: Anyone who has devotedly followed Trillin's decades of writing in the New Yorker about matters contemporary knows intimately Trillin's affection for his wife, Alice, who succumbed to lung cancer in 2001. His readers had grown accustomed to Alice's illuminating presence in Trillin's poetry and prose, and they grieved, if more remotely, almost equally deeply, the loss of the writer's companion, lover, and inspiration. This succinct account of Alice's upbringing, their meeting, their romance, their family, and her career beyond that of Trillin's helpmeet, offers glimpses into a multifaceted character. The optimism Alice radiated reflected that of her father, who kept his family together despite business reverses, and her life bore witness to a profound and encompassing embrace of the meaning of love, which Trillin documents in vivid anecdotes. Consonant with the woman's strength and courage, her unaffected outreach to fellow victims of death-dealing disease sets a worthy standard for tender yet honest compassion.
By the way, why is this book on the list? Cuz Alice Trillin's mother was Jewish, as was Mr. Trillin's.
Or as Mr. Trilling wrote: "...Although Alice's father had grown up in rural North Carolina, in a Southern Baptist family named Stewart, her mother was Jewish-a fact that was to come as a great relief to my own Jewish mother, once I reminded her that, according to the ancient Hebraic belief in matrilineal descent, anyone whose mother was Jewish is herself Jewish. Although some people thought that Alice looked like the quintessential shiksa, I always claimed that when I spotted her across the room that night I asked Navasky, "Who's that cute little Jewish girl over by the punch bowl?" Alice always said that I'd made up that story and that, furthermore, there wasn't any punch bowl...." Click the book cover to read more.
THE MISUNDERSTOOD JEW
THE CHURCH AND THE SCANDAL OF THE JEWISH JESUS
BY AMY-JILL LEVINE, Ph.D. (Vanderbilt)
January 2007, Harper San Francisco.
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. It is a simple truth that Jews and Christians should be close friends, since they share common roots and a basic ethical system. But the gulf between the groups seems vast. Levine, professor of New Testament studies at Vanderbilt, presents a strong and convincing case for understanding Jesus as "a Jew speaking to Jews," and for viewing Christianity as a Jewish movement that ultimately swept the world in its influence and authority. But with this expansion came an insidious anti-Jewish sentiment, fed by some New Testament texts (wrongly understood, the author urges) and the emerging political power of the Christian church. Levine does a masterful job of describing the subtleties of anti-Semitism, across the years and across the religious spectrum, from the conservative evangelical mission to convert the Jews to the liberation theologians who picture Jews as adherents to an older, less merciful religion. In the end, Levine offers a prescription for healing and mutual understanding; a chapter titled "Quo Vadis?" outlines steps that can be taken by Jews and Christians alike to bridge the divide that has caused so much suffering over the centuries. Written for the general public, this is an outstanding addition to the literature of interfaith dialogue. Click the book cover to read more.
A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN
AMERICAN JEWS, CHRISTIAN ZIONISTS, AND ONE MAN'S EXPLORATION OF THE WEIRD AND WONDERFUL JUDEO-EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE
BT ZEV CHAFETS
January 2007, HarperCollins.
From Publishers Weekly: In this provocative study, Chafets, a journalist and former Menachem Begin press secretary, explores American evangelical support for Israel. Chafets interweaves reflections on the history of American Christians' embrace of Israel with contemporary reporting, visiting places like Jerry Falwell's Liberty University and tagging along on an evangelical tour of the Holy Land. Perhaps his most important point is that, despite American reporters' claims that only Israeli fanatics have accepted evangelical support, in fact "mainstream Israel" has welcomed the alliance. Chafets argues that especially in a time of war, American Jews need to realize that it is "Muslim fascists," not evangelical Christians, who are Israel's enemy. He acknowledges that much Christian Zionism includes belief in an end times scenario in which Jews don't fare well, but asks why Jews should care so much about their place in Christian eschatology, since Jews reject Christian accounts of the end times tout court . Altogether, Chafets's portrait suggests a great gulf between American Jewry and Israelis, and also points to great diversity of views among American Christians: liberal Protestants tend to be more equivocal in their support of Israel. This intensely readable book, which ends with a warning that evangelical enthusiasm for Israel ought not to be taken for granted and is sure to spark heated debate. Click the book cover to read more.
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF JEWISH MYTH, MAGIC & MYSTICISM
By Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis
January 2007, Llewellyn.
A one volume reference guide. Click the book cover to read more.
Speaking of myth and magic... (just kidding... )
The Secret History of the Mossad
Updated for 2007 - Paperback
by Gordon Thomas
January 2007, St. Martin's Griffin.
From Publishers Weekly: Among the world's most respected and feared intelligence services, the Israeli Mossad encompasses shadowy networks of katsas (case officers) often operating undercover, from Washington to Tehran to Beijing. The third update of this well-received book adds expanded sections on postinvasion Iraq, the black market in nuclear material, and other topics, tying up several loose ends from the earlier editions. Large portions remain unchanged, however, giving the book an uneven quality, as some chapters were written in 1994, some in 1999, some in 2004 and some last summer. Thomas's engrossing stories about assassinations, target surveillance and other skullduggery keep the pages turning, but the serious student of the Middle East may be put off by some purple prose, for example, about Saddam in incarceration: "His shaggy salt-and-pepper beard is trimmed once a week, enhancing his sharp, penetrating eyes.... But he will have an opportunity to state his case-more than he had ever allowed those he murdered." Skeptics will wonder what ulterior motives inspired Thomas's many tight-lipped sources to open up to him and will question their information, particularly regarding the more incredible conspiracy theories he writes about. Overall, however, Thomas provides a rare and valuable glimpse at the inner workings of a very secretive organization. Click the book cover to read more.
THE CASTLE IN THE FOREST
By Norman Mailer
January 2007, Random House.
From Booklist: In his first novel in more than a decade, Mailer continues to provoke. Only a writer with his temerity would attempt a novel interpreting perhaps the most notorious figure in modern history, Adolf Hitler. Obviously, this is not your usual historical novel (neither was the author's fictional foray into pharaonic Egypt, Ancient Evenings, 1983). Here the focus is on Hitler's childhood and youth and immediate forebears. This is less a psychological study of evil than a fanciful one: the story is narrated by a devil, one of the corps of devils working under Satan, who has chosen Hitler personally to do his "work." Mailer has worked out a whole system for (pardon the rhyme) levels of devils, which will strike the reader as corresponding to theological theories concerning the degrees of angels, and, like angels, the devils struggle within their "family" as family members do--that is, they struggle not only among themselves but also with Satan. Mailer is never an easy read; in this novel, as in all his fiction, subject matter, themes, and prose style make demands on readers' willingness or even ability to stay focused. Here he cannot be faulted for inadequate knowledge of late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century central European history, but many readers will find the Satan-and-army-of-devils conceit a gimmick, perhaps even an offensive one, in trying to reach an understanding of evil. Other readers will be, as always, excited by Mailer's intelligence and creativity Click the book cover to read more.
A Novel of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
by Jerzy Andrzejewski with Intro by Jan Gross and Oscar E. Swan
January 2007, Ohio University Press.
From Publishers Weekly: As armed battle rages in the Warsaw ghetto during the week preceding Easter of 1943, Jan Malecki, a Polish architect and cold, indecisive leftist, reluctantly takes in his Jewish old flame, Irena Lilien. Irena was a wealthy, bewitching beauty, but is now an embittered homeless fugitive with forged Aryan papers. Jan's pious and pregnant wife, Anna, is kind if condescending to Irena, and Jan's revolutionary brother identifies with the Jewish insurgents. But Irena, almost raped by a neighbor, is informed on by the neighbor's acidly anti-Semitic wife. Outside on the street, Polish children flush an emaciated Jewish boy out of hiding, chasing him into the grip of a German soldier who shoots him dead, and curious bystanders vie for a glimpse of the bloodletting inside the walls of the burning ghetto. Andrzejewski (1909-1983) writes blocky characters, and the translation, much of which was done by students of University of Pittsburgh professor Swan, is awkward. But the book, first published in 1945, remains a landmark for its scathing indictment of everyday Warsaw's savage indifference to the plight of Jews during WWII. Click the book cover to read more.
THE BOOK OF NAMES
by Jill Gregory, Karen Tintori
January 2007, ST. Martin's Griffin.
From Publishers Weekly: Even readers not yet sated with apocalyptic thrillers may be disappointed by Gregory and Tintori's first collaborative novel, which attempts to use the Jewish tradition of the Lamed-Vovniks, the 36 pure souls whose existence protects all of humanity, as the catalyst for a Da Vinci Code-like plot. Georgetown University professor David Shepherd, who routinely rubs elbows with the high and mighty, finds himself haunted by strange images of names. When an old friend's suggestion leads him to a rabbi in Brooklyn, Shepherd learns that the rabbi possesses an ancient biblical gemstone linked to the Lamed-Vovniks, and that a mysterious cabal has been systematically killing those righteous figures to usher in a new satanic age. Thin characterizations, rampant clichés and unlikely action sequences make for a less than satisfying read. Under the pseudonym Jillian Karr, the authors have written two suspense novels, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, which was made into a CBS-TV movie, and Catch Me if You Can. Click the book cover to read more.
A novel by Michael Lowenthal
January 2007, Houghton Mifflin.
When the author found out about how the US government incarcerated women who were assumed to have loose morals, he was intrigued by the history, but also thought that it was a great premise for a novel. And so... a few years later, we have:
From Booklist: "In 1918, thousands of U.S. women were detained on suspicion of having venereal diseases. It was thought that these women would infect U.S. soldiers and thus harm the war effort. Lowenthal's novel imagines the plight of one such woman, 17-year-old Frieda Mintz. Frieda has left her repressive mother and an arranged marriage to an older man for the glamour of the big city. One impulsive night with an infected soldier costs Frieda her job and eventually her freedom. Once imprisoned, she meets a somewhat stereotypical cast of women, including fast-talking prostitutes and a manipulative lesbian who misuses her authority in an attempted seduction. Although an appended author's note draws parallels between this little-known chapter in American history and the present wars on terror and AIDS, the connections are not implicit in the text. This is an interesting, if flawed, fictional introduction to a disturbing part of our history." Click the book cover to read more.
POWER, FAITH, AND FANTASY:
AMERICA IN THE MIDDLE EAST
1776 TO THE PRESENT
by MICHAEL B. OREN
January 2007, Norton.
The history of America's political, military, and intellectual involvement in the Middle East from George Washington to George W. Bush. From the first cannonballs fired by American warships at North African pirates to the conquest of Falluja by the Marines-from the early American explorers who probed the sources of the Nile to the diplomats who strove for Arab-Israeli peace-the United States has been dramatically involved in the Middle East. For well over two centuries, American statesmen, merchants, and missionaries, both men and women, have had a profound impact on the shaping of this crucial region. Yet their story has never been told until now. Drawing on thousands of government documents and personal letters, featuring original maps and over sixty photographs, this book reconstructs the diverse and remarkable ways in which Americans have interacted with this alluring yet often hostile land stretching from Morocco to Iran, from the Persian Gulf to the Bosporus. Covering over 230 years of history, Power, Faith, and Fantasy is an indispensable work for anyone interested in understanding the roots of America's Middle East involvement today. Click the book cover to read more.
MATTERS OF HONOR
By LOUIS BEGLEY
January 2007, Knopf.
From the acclaimed author of Wartime Lies and About Schmidt, a luminous story of a brilliant but haunted outsider driven to transcend his past. At Harvard in the early 1950s, three seemingly mismatched freshmen are thrown together: Sam, who fears that his fine New England name has been tarnished by his father's drinking and his mother's affairs; Archie, an affable army brat whose veneer of sophistication was acquired at an obscure Scottish boarding school; and Henry, fiercely intelligent but obstinate and unpolished, a refugee from Poland via a Brooklyn high school. As roommates they enter a world governed by arcane rules, where merit is everything except when trumped by pedigree and the inherited prerogatives of belonging. Each roommate's accommodation to this world will require self-reinvention, none more audacious than Henry's. Believing himself to be at last in the "land of the free," he is determined to see himself on a level playing field, playing a game he can win. The ante is high-virtual renunciation of his past-but the jackpot seems even higher-long dreamed-of esteem, success, and arrival. Henry will stay in the game almost to the last hand, even after it becomes clear he must stake his loyalty to his parents and even to himself.
Reserved and observant, Sam recounts the trio's Harvard years and the reckonings that follow: his own struggle with familial demons and his rise as a novelist; a coarsened Archie's descent into drink; and, most attentively, Henry's Faustian bargain and then his mysterious disappearance just as all his wildest ambitions seem to have been realized. Love and loyalty will impel Sam to discover the secret of Henry's final reinvention. An unforgettable portrait of friendship and a meditation on loyalty and honor-Louis Begley's finest achievement. Click the book cover to read more.
BEYOND ANNE FRANK
HIDDEN CHILDREN AND POSTWAR FAMILIES IN HOLLAND
BY DIANE L. WOLF
January 2007, University of California Press.
The image of the Jewish child hiding from the Nazis was shaped by Anne Frank, whose house--the most visited site in the Netherlands-- has become a shrine to the Holocaust. Yet while Anne Frank's story continues to be discussed and analyzed, her experience as a hidden child in wartime Holland is anomalous--as this book brilliantly demonstrates. Drawing on interviews with seventy Jewish men and women who, as children, were placed in non-Jewish families during the Nazi occupation of Holland, Diane L. Wolf paints a compelling portrait of Holocaust survivors whose experiences were often diametrically opposed to the experiences of those who suffered in concentration camps.
Although the war years were tolerable for most of these children, it was the end of the war that marked the beginning of a traumatic time, leading many of those interviewed here to remark, "My war began after the war." This first in-depth examination of hidden children vividly brings to life their experiences before, during, and after hiding and analyzes the shifting identities, memories, and family dynamics that marked their lives from childhood through advanced age. Wolf also uncovers anti-Semitism in the policies and practices of the Dutch state and the general population, which historically have been portrayed as relatively benevolent toward Jewish residents. The poignant family histories in Beyond Anne Frank demonstrate that we can understand the Holocaust more deeply by focusing on postwar lives.. Click the book cover to read more.
THE PERFECT BOOK FOR THIS WINTER.. GET IN TOUCH YOUR SOUL AND PERSONALITY AND JUDAISM. FOR ALL THOSE PEOPLE WHO STUDY KABBALA, THEY WOULD be smarter to study Mussar, and have a functional ego and perfect MIDDOT, and highly developed ethics, before embarking on mysticism.
A Responsible Life
The Spiritual Path of Mussar
by Rabbi Ira F. Stone, Temple Beth Zion Beth Israel, Philadephia
November 25, 2006, Aviv Press
Mussar, a late 19th century Jewish renewal movement, focused on a spirituality of ethics. This book explores how Mussar principles are relevant to contemporary life, discusses the challenges of making moral choices, and explains how to use Mussar principles to develop a meaningful spiritual practice that is based on the needs of others, rather than the self. The book will inform you how Mussar can transform the qualities of your soul; improve your personal behavior (patience, humiitym truth, gratitude, equanimity); lead to greater awareness of personality habits that obstruct you on your quest to higher holiness; and channel the destructive power of anger into positive or less negative behavior. Mussar insists that one can only begin piety when one discovers and transforms the worst qualities about oneself, and when one has an intact ego and personality. . Click the book cover to read more. Rabbi Stone's work is based on the writings of Rabbi Simcha Zissel, Elder of Kelm, who was one of the three students of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter (Rabbi Israel Lipkin of Salant).
RABBI GOLD'S FIRST BOOK!
The Inner Path to the Promised Land
by Rabbi Shefa Gold
New from Ben Yehuda Press
With blurbs from Rabbis Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Rami Shapiro, Tirzah Firestone, Arthur Waskow, and even Rev. Desmond Tutu... you know that this is going to be interesting... The Torah is the map. You are the territory. Each weekly Torah portion brings us a blessing, a challenge and an opportunity for spiritual transformation. An inspiring guide to finding your way through the landscape of the Torah... and finding the Torah in you. A stunning debut from the popular, innovative pioneer of Jewish chant. Click the book cover to read more.
Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State
by Gotz Aly
Metropolitan Books (January 9, 2007).
In this groundbreaking book, historian Götz Aly addresses one of modern history's greatest conundrums: How did Hitler win the allegiance of ordinary Germans? The answer is as shocking as it is persuasive: by engaging in a campaign of theft on an almost unimaginable scale-and by channeling the proceeds into generous social programs-Hitler literally "bought" his people's consent. Drawing on secret files and financial records, Aly shows that while Jews and citizens of occupied lands suffered crippling taxation, mass looting, enslavement, and destruction, most Germans enjoyed an improved standard of living. Buoyed by millions of packages soldiers sent from the front, Germans also benefited from the systematic plunder of conquered territory and the transfer of Jewish possessions into their homes and pockets. Any qualms were swept away by waves of government handouts, tax breaks, and preferential legislation.
Click the book cover to read more.
I SMELL A BLOCKBUSTER:
A MURDER IN LEMBERG
THE ASSASSINATION OF THE REFORM RABBI ABRAHAM KOHN
BY MICHAEL STANLISLAWSKI (Columbia)
December 2006, Princeton University Press
In 1848 in Lemberg (Galicia), a Reform Rabbi was murdered by an Orthodox Jew. Was it for reasons of religion? Financial issues? Was it political? Professor Atanislawski, an Associate Professor of Jewish History and Human Rights scholar explores what was the first political assassination in modern Jewish history.
From Publishers Weekly: Murder, intrigue, media spotlight, community in-fighting, police coverup, judicial malfeasance. O.J. Simpson? Jon-Benet Ramsey? No, it's the poisoning of Rabbi Abraham Kohn and his family by a fellow Jew, Abraham Ber Pilpel, in 1848, in the Ukrainian city of Lemberg (now Lviv). Stanislawski, professor of Jewish history at Columbia, uncovers a forgotten story as his fascinating book details the events surrounding the murder of the reformist (but not Reform) Rabbi Kohn and his four-year-old daughter (four other family members survived) after Pilpel sneaked into their kitchen and poured arsenic in the family's soup. While the twists and turns of the case make a compelling narrative, Stanislawski has a far more important story to tell. The assassination of Kohn was the result of roiling religious and political tensions between Lemberg's Orthodox community, which remained loyal to the Hapsburg empire, and Rabbi Kohn, allied with those demanding independence as revolution spread across Europe in 1848. While there is too much on Lemberg Jews' communal affairs for most readers, Stanislawski tells his story with a sharp eye for detail and plot, with the historical context and analysis that students of Jewish history will appreciate. Click the book cover to read more.
Should We Burn Babar?
Essays on Children's Literature and the Power of Stories
by Herbert Kohl
January 2007, The New Press
In "provocative and entertaining essays [that] will appeal to reflective readers, parents, and educators" (Library Journal), one of the country's foremost education writers looks at the stories we tell our children. Available now in a revised edition, including a new essay on the importance of "stoop-sitting" and storytelling, Should We Burn Babar? challenges some of the chestnuts of children's literature. Highlighting instances of racism, sexism, and condescension that detract from the tales being told, Kohl provides strategies for detecting bias in stories written for young people and suggests ways to teach kids to think critically about what they read. Beginning with the title essay on Babar the elephant, the book includes essays on Pinocchio, the history of progressive education, and a call for the writing of more radical children's literature. As the Hungry Mind Review concluded, "Kohl's prescriptions for renewing our schools through the use of stories and storytelling are impassioned, well-reasoned, and readable." Click the book cover to read more.
One Tough Mother
Taking Charge in Life, Business, and Apple Pies
By Gert Boyle, Chairman of Columbia Sportswear with Kerry Tymchuk
January 2007, Carroll and Graf
How the mother of three, the daughter of a Jewish man who fled Nazi Germany, turned a struggling ski-wear company into a billion dollar industry leader, Columbia Sportswear. . When a heart attack claimed Gert Boyle's husband in 1970, the forty-six-year-old housewife and mother of three found herself at the helm of Columbia Sportswear, a small outerwear manufacturer in Portland, Oregon, that was struggling financially. With no business experience whatsoever, Boyle was faced with the challenge of running Columbia, which had been founded in 1937 by her father - a Jewish immigrant who had fled Hitler's Germany. Boyle and her son Tim persevered, turning a company that in 1970 had forty employees and less than $800,000 in annual sales into the leading seller of skiwear in the United States, with more than 2000 employees and over a billion in annual sales. Along the way, thanks in part to a creative marketing campaign that billed her as "one tough mother," Boyle established herself as an industry icon, and the first woman ever inducted into the International Sporting Goods Hall of Fame. One Tough Mother presents an honest and often irreverent account of Boyle's journey from a childhood in Nazi Germany to incredible success in America. She offers insights into succeeding in business and in life, and shares many of the advertisements and strategies that have made her so recognizable. Click the book cover to read more.
The Fight for Jerusalem
Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City
by Dore Gold
January 2007. Regnery
Radical Islam has long desired to seize Jerusalem and cut it off to Christian and Jewish believers. In his revealing new book, The Fight for Jerusalem, bestselling author and former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold explains why the battle for Jerusalem is intensifying today. Gold shows why only Israel can preserve its holy places for Christians, Jews, and even Muslims, and why uncovering Jerusalem's past-and the truth of biblical history-can be the key to saving its future. Click the book cover to read more.
The Birthday Party
A Memoir of Survival
by Stanley N. Alpert
January 2007. Putnam
Alpert was a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn, the son of a cantor. He grew up poor after his parents divorced. As his neighborhood went from nice to drug infested, he got mugged sometimes. After college, he got into law school and became an Asst U.S. Attorney.. And then one day, nine years ago, he met a woman ona subway and on a whim invited her to join him on a cookie-buying mission. He got Entenmann's, she got a Nabisco chocolate chip cookie. He asked for coffee; she declined. They traded cards. He walked back to the subway when he felt a tug at his elbow. A gun was poked into his stomach. He was kidnapped. He told them it was his birthday. They offered hi a teeanage girl for sex. He declined. After 25 hours, he was released. He told the FBI and police. They did not believe him, since they though it incredulous that he would ask a woman for cookies on a subway. This is his story. (By the way.. the cookie lady came to his book reading... and Alpert, now 47, is single)
From Booklist: The view from inside the trunk of a car is delivered in this harrowing, first-person account of kidnapping, robbery, and revenge. Alpert, who now heads his own law firm, worked for 13 years as an assistant U. S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. On January 21, 1988, the eve of Alpert's thirty-eighth birthday, he was snatched from a Greenwich Village sidewalk by a car full of of thugs, blindfolded and held at gunpoint, and taken to a Brooklyn apartment where his captors tried to figure out how to profit from their big catch. This story is told in two parts, effectively giving a satisfying narrative arc to Alpert's complex ordeal: the first part is "Mouse," recounting Alpert's victimization; the second part is "Cat," in which Alpert pursues his former captors. A street-smart prosecutor, Alpert delivers an unflinching look at the humiliating, terrifying role of the victim, lacing his plight with commentary on contemporary crime and the creaking judicial system. The second part reads as compellingly as the first and with every bit as much suspense. An effective, one-two punch of a memoir. Click the book cover to read more.
Off the King's Road
Lost and Found in London
by Phyllis Raphael
January 2007. Other Press
From Booklist: In this immensely appealing memoir, Raphael shares an engaging story of self-discovery in 1960s London. After leaving Los Angeles to join her film producer husband in England, Raphael is shocked to find her 12-year marriage over. Confounded by her spouse's revelation of an affair with an 18-year-old actress, Raphael navigates the world as an expatriated single mother of three, finding solace in London's dazzling mazelike streets and libertine society. An "island of friends" (painters, writers, and lyricists) and distinctive menagerie of characters, including her "anti-psychiatry psychiatrist," encourage her to strip away the sacrosanct: "Experience will save you. Break out. The nuclear family is over. Try something new." Heeding their call, Raphael, the dutiful Jewish daughter (whose family owned a Brooklyn-based spice business), former off-Broadway actress, and self-described "person of small ambitions," finds herself swinging, developing her writing talents, and coming into her own. Ms. Raphael is a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award winner, a Pushcart Prize nominee and Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Columbia University.
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The Heirs of Muhammad
The Heirs of the Prophet Muhammad
Islam's First Century and the Origins of the Sunni-Shia Split
By Barnaby Rogerson
Feb 2007. Overlook Press
From Booklist: *Starred Review* "Dissensions," Muhammad presciently declared 10 days before his death, "come like waves of darkest night, the one following hard upon the other, each worse than the last." In this book, readers find sobering confirmation of the Prophet's words. Rogerson shows how deep disagreement sundered Islam into Shiite and Sunni factions almost at its birth. Probing the five decades after the Prophet's death, Rogerson limns a tale of military conquest undone by internal betrayal. Readers will marvel at the genius of the four caliphs who forcefully spread a small Arab religion across Africa and well into Asia. Through heroics on battlefields entirely unknown to Western readers, Muslim armies repeatedly defeat larger and better equipped Persian and Byzantine foes. But victories against external enemies do not prevent divisive intrigues. Among the principals in these intrigues, several striking figures emerge, including the generous nepotist Uthman and the versatile merchant Amr. But the tragedy that Rogerson unfolds centers on Muhammad's beloved young widow, Aisha, and his longtime confidant, Ali. Neither the caliphate nor a unified Muslim world can finally survive their prolonged dance of mutual enmity. Refreshingly accessible to nonspecialists, Rogerson's account of that tense dance will help American readers understand the passions on the streets of Baghdad
. Click the book cover to read more.
God, Israel, and Shiloh
by David Rubin
January 2007. Mazo Publisher of Jerusalem
"God, Israel, and Shiloh" is a gripping biblical and historical saga about the Land of Israel and the Jewish people. After reading this book, you will gain a new understanding of both the religious and political perspectives of the Jewish people who live in the Biblical heartland of Israel. Learn who the "settlers" are. Learn where and what is the "West Bank." Learn the truth about the people who are often referred to as "the chosen people" and how it is that Israel is a nation struggling with its destiny to be "a light unto the nations." "God, Israel, and Shiloh" is written with moving personal stories, psychological insights, and compelling political commentary. This book is about faith and struggle, Judaism and Zionism ¿ woven around the special sacred site of Shiloh, then and now. Shiloh was the home and spiritual center for many great biblical personalities, including Joshua, Hannah, and Samuel the Prophet, who appointed the first Kings of Israel, Saul and David. The author, David Rubin, writes about the heroic families living in and rebuilding the biblical heartland of Israel, despite the obstacles in their path and tells his personal story of a miraculous survival from the bullets of terrorism. Click the book cover to read more.
Every one of its pages is soaked with the blood and tears of daily sacrifice, but is imbued with the odyssey of love and faith - Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of Efrat
PURE BEST SELLER ALERT
PURE BEST SELLER ALERT
BY SUSAN ISAACS
February 2007, Scribner.
From Publishers Weekly: Isaacs's 11th novel has fewer sparks flying than nets dragging, but most fans won't mind a bit, given the amount of outside-the-bedroom adventure. Despite reinventing herself as the author of the novel Spy Guys and the creator of the resultant TV show, Katie Schottland remains wounded by her still-unexplained firing from the CIA, where she wrote intelligence briefs as the Cold War ended, 13 years earlier. When she gets a distress call from an old co-worker, Lisa Golding, who subsequently disappears, Katie plunges back into the notes she smuggled out of the office. She seeks help from an old flame and another ex-agent (now a log-cabin recluse) who helps her trace three of Lisa's former charges at the CIA, East German asylum seekers transported to America and given new names. When two of them turn up dead within weeks of each other, Katie decides to give chase to locate the third before the woman becomes the next casualty. And she still hopes she'll coerce her ex-employer to give up the truth about her termination. The operations stuff is well-done throughout. Katie's relationship with her sweet vet husband adds little, but TV show-based scenes are diverting, and her fixation on her last job is sharply funny and true-to-life
Schottland, the primary character, is a clever, East Side Manhattan Sushi eating, Jewish woman who is married to a WASP. When this novel opens, Schottland is getting ready to take her ten year old son to fat camp. .. Click to read more
CANON WITHOUT CLOSURE
By Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, JTS
February 2007, AvivPress.com, UCSJ.org
For nearly a decade, I have visited the JTSA.edu website to read Rabbi Schorch's weekly torah commentaries. I was also one of the 30,000 people who received his weekly email message (he started writing these messages for a newly married couple who sought a topic for discussion at the Shabbat meal discussions, and it continued for a decade). I cannot say that I understand all that he writes each week. It is not for a simple browsing, but must be studied. For example, I recall his commentary on Va'ear (Exodus), in which he wrote, "... the name MAKOM, meaning "place"... In flight from Esau, Jacob alights "upon a certain place," which the Rabbis take to be God, to express the astonishing idea "that God is the locus of the world rather than the opposite, that the world is the locus of God." It is a name rife with paradox. On the other hand, in its abractness it conforms elegantly to the lofty constraints of biblical monotheism. Our (expanding) universe is but a tiny corner of God's own being. On the other hand MAKON makes this infinitely grand God accessible and near..." As you can see, his commentaries are insightful, but not simple.
The former chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America has compiled many of these commentaries into this book. As the title hints, the Torah is a Canon that is open to interpretation, and an infinity of meanings for each age, it is not restrictive, but expansive. As Schorch writes, for him, the Torah is a repository of religious experience, a gripping record of divine-human encounters as understood and remembered by those who witnessed them and by later generations. Memory often trumped history.... And his design has tended to focus less on God than on what resulted from the encounter. While the Hebrews at Sinai signed onto Torah commitment without hesitation, modern secular Jews want comprehension before commitment. It is Rabbi Schorsch's hope that this set of selections brings the reader closer to such a life-enhancing decision to commit more to Jewish practice. Click the book cover to read more.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
by Andre Aciman
February 2007, FS&G
From Publishers Weekly: Egyptian-born Aciman is the author of the acclaimed memoir Out of Egypt and of the essay collection False Papers. His first novel poignantly probes a boy's erotic coming-of-age at his family's Italian Mediterranean home. Elio-17, extremely well-read, sensitive and the son of a prominent expatriate professor-finds himself troublingly attracted to this year's visiting resident scholar, recruited by his father from an American university. Oliver is 24, breezy and spontaneous, and at work on a book about Heraclitus. The young men loll about in bathing suits, play tennis, jog along the Italian Riviera and flirt. Both also flirt (and more) with women among their circle of friends, but Elio, who narrates, yearns for Oliver. Their shared literary interests and Jewishness help impart a sense of intimacy, and when they do consummate their passion in Oliver's room, they call each other by the other's name. A trip to Rome, sanctioned by Elio's prescient father, ushers Elio fully into first love's joy and pain, and his travails set up a well-managed look into Elio's future. Aciman overcomes an occasionally awkward structure with elegant writing in Elio's sweet and sanguine voice. Click the book cover to read more.
My Father, a City, and the Conflict that Divided America
by Eyal Press
February 2007, Henry Holt.
From The New Yorker: Press, the son of an abortion doctor 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.
WHY DID I ADD THIS BOOK? Because this is also the story of how the anti abortion movement chose to attack Dr. Slepian (a Jewish doctor) as well as Dr. Press (also a Jewish doctor). Click the book cover to read more.
Pesach for the Rest of Us
Making the Passover Seder Your Own
by Marge Piercy
February 2007, Schocken.
From Publishers Weekly: The traditional Passover seder is dissected, reinterpreted and given a contemporary and feminist bent in Piercy's guidebook to making the haggadah more readable and meaningful to today's unaffiliated Jews. Novelist Piercy confesses that her own Passover preparations are "heavy on the convenient"; for example, she will use the prohibited sunflower oil to make her dishes tasty. She wants to focus instead on what brings resonance to her observance of the holiday, like adding the Cup of Miriam to her seder table and including a Fifth Child in remembrance of those murdered during the Holocaust. Nearly every page reminds readers to change parts of the seder as they see fit, though traditionalists may feel that this approach belittles the traditional seder. Throughout are Piercy's poems recognizing many aspects of the seder; her own slightly sloppy rendition of traditional blessings into the feminine Hebrew; and ideas on how to create one's own English prayers. Memories of her Grandmother Hannah's Pesach segue into old-time recipes of the holiday's traditional foods, and an entire chapter is dedicated to mouthwatering recipes that can be used for the main meal. Some tangents in this conversational guide seem gratuitous, while others-including histories of the origins of wine, horseradish and other seder foods-are fascinating. Click the book cover to read more.
The Modern Jewish Mom's Guide to Shabbat
Connect and Celebrate
Bring Your Family Together with the Friday Night Meal
by Meredith L. Jacobs, Founder, ModernJewishMom.com
February 2007, Harper.
Shabbat is a wonderful place in time, space, and place. Written from one mom to another, this conversational, warm book helps you make Friday night a time for family, tradition, and Jewishness. It is inspirational, hands-on, and child-friendly. Chapters include: A Little Kabbalah to Go With Your Challah - The spiritual and mystical meaning of Shabbat; It's the Mood, Not the Meal: Your Shabbat Table - Why it's okay not to make chicken on Friday night; Wine, Not Whine: Creating Shalom Bayit Friday Night - A step-by-step guide through getting ready for Friday night. Everything you need to know about the Shabbat dinner; Talk the Talk - the weekly Torah portion and the d'var torah for all ages; After Dinner - How to continue making the evening special even after dinner is over. Includes suggestions for Saturday observance at all levels and Havdallah; Oy, Teens - Thoughtful advice and anecdotes from moms who have successfully met "the Shabbat teen challenge."; Challah Bake Girl! how to make challah dough, braid it, bless it, smell it baking and get addicted to eating it; and Recipes; Projects; Torah Portion Summaries; What's With All the Yiddish? (glassary); and a Resource Directory of Fave Books and Sites. Click the book cover to read more.
PERHAPS NOAM CHOMSKY'S FAVORITE BOOK FOR FEBRUARY 2007 ??
Israel-Palestine on Record
How the New York Times Misreports Conflict in the Middle East
By Howard Friel and Richard Falk
Feb 2007, Verso
An indictment of The New York Times for being much too pro-Israel
From the cover: In this scathing analysis of Israel-Palestine coverage in the US media, Howard Friel and Richard Falk reveal the persistent ways the New York Times has ignored principles of international law in order to shield its readers from Israel's lawlessness. While the Times publishes dozens of front-page stories and extensive commentary on the killings of Israelis, it publishes very few such stories on the killings of Palestinians, and mostly ignores the extensive documentation of massive violations of Palestinian human rights by the government of Israel. Furthermore, the Times regularly ignores or under-reports a multitude of critical legal issues pertaining to Israel's policies, including Israel's expropriation and settlement of Palestinian land, the two-tier system of laws based on national origin evocative of South Africa's apartheid regime, the demolition of Palestinian homes, and use of deadly force against Palestinians. These journalistic practices have not only shielded the extent of Israel's transgressions from the American electorate, which is Israel's main source of financial and military support, it has severely diminished our understanding of the Middle East and of US foreign policy in general. Howard Friel is founder and president of Differentiated Information, an information-services company. Richard Falk was Professor of International Law Emeritus at Princeton University and since 2002 is Visiting Professor of Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Click the book cover to read more.
ACT NOW, BY MIDNIGHT TONIGHT
AND GET THEIR OTHER BOOK...
The Record of the Paper
How the New York Times Misreports US Foreign Policy
Now in Paperback
by Howard Friel, Richard Falk
THE JEWS OF MUSSOLINI'S ITALY
FROM EQUALITY TO PERSECUTION
BY MICHELLE SARFATTI
FEB 2007. University of Wisconsin Press
From Booklist: In the first English edition of a history of the Italian Jews from the rise of Fascism to power in 1922 to its ultimate defeat in 1945, the author points out that from the second half of the nineteenth century to the first quarter of the twentieth, the Jews had been masters of their own destiny, having spread throughout the country, moving especially to the larger and more modern cities. They numbered 1 out of 1,000 in the total population. In 1938 Benito Mussolini deprived the Jews of their rights and livelihood and tried to drive them from the peninsula. In 1943, when the defeat of the Axis seemed certain, he began to arrest them and collaborated with his German ally in their near annihilation. Thus, the history of the Italian Jews between 1922 and 1945, Sarfatti writes, was progressively less the story of Jewish historical developments and increasingly an account of their treatment by society and the government. This rich and compassionate study of the plight of Italy's Jews combines vivid narrative with scrupulous historical accuracy. Click the book cover to read more.
Nixon and Mao
The Week That Changed the World
by Margaret MacMillan
FEB 2007. Random House
Is it when Nixon met Mao.. or when Kissinger met Chou. What do you expect when you off a Jewish New Yorker some Chinese food?
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to Beijing to open relations with Communist China was both a Cold War milestone and compelling political theater. Diplomatic historian MacMillan, author of the acclaimed Paris 1919, gives a lively account of the pomp and protocol surrounding the trip: the awkward banquets, the toasts to peace and friendship (punctuated by occasional anti-imperialist lectures), the Great Wall pilgrimages, the proletarian operas (Nixon attended The Red Detachment of Women, in which peasants and revolutionaries battle landlords). MacMillan's even better on the behind-the-scenes negotiations, as the two sides wrangle over every word of the climactic Shanghai communiqué. More than Nixon and the cloistered Mao, the central figures are Henry Kissinger and Chinese premier Chou En-Lai, tasked with finding common ground and finessing differences with subtle verbiage and winks and nods. The author fills in the background with colorful, incisive biographical sketches and a lucid history of Sino-American relations. The encounter seems to have had little impact on the issues discussed during the trip-the Vietnam war, the fate of Taiwan, relations with the Soviets. Still, MacMillan argues, it opened the door to today's necessary relationship between the two Pacific powers, and she turns a potentially dry diplomatic story into a fascinating study in high-wire diplomacy, full of intrigue and drama. Click the book cover to read more.
A History of the Resistance Movement by the Sole Survivor of Black September
By Abu Daoud with Gilles du Jonchay
Warner, Feb 2007
This is the terrifying, gripping-sometimes touching-firsthand account of the rise of the Palestinian resistance movement from its inception to the attack on the 1972 Munich Olympics, as told by the man who masterminded that plot. Abu Daoud chose to join the resistance after witnessing the murder of family members and neighbors by Israeli commandos. Now he emerges from a 30-year silence to take an unprecedented inside look at the history of the "other side," the Palestinian side, from the founding of Israel to Munich and beyond. He offers a detailed anatomy of the resistance movement in addition to astute portraits of the Palestinian leaders of his generation, from Arafat to Abu Nidal. He gives us an unvarnished story that is essential to understanding the Middle East and that will make many Americans rethink their views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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Germans, Jews, Trains
By Todd Presner.
(New York: Columbia University Press, 2007). 417 pp.
The Last Jew
by Yoram Kaniuk, Barbara Harshav (Translator)
February 2007, Grove Press paperback edition
Yoram Kaniuk has been hailed as "one of the most innovative, brilliant novelists in the Western World" (The New York Times), and The Last Jew is his exhilarating masterwork. Like Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Last Jew is a sweeping saga that captures the troubled history and culture of an entire people through the prism of one family. From the chilling opening scene of a soldier returning home in a fog of battle trauma, the novel moves backward through time and across continents until Kaniuk has succeeded in bringing to life the twentieth century's most unsettling legacy: the anxieties of modern Europe, which begat the Holocaust, and in turn the birth of Israel and the swirling cauldron that is the Middle East. With the unforgettable character of Ebenezer Schneerson-the eponymous last Jew-at its center, Kaniuk weaves an ingenious tapestry of Jewish identity that is alternately tragic, absurd, enigmatic, and heartbreaking. Click the book cover to read more.
The Collaborator of Bethlehem
by Matt Beynon Rees
February 2007, SOHO
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. This powerful first novel from British journalist Rees humanizes the struggle of the West Bank, where Omar Yussef, a modest 56-year-old schoolteacher in the Dehaisha Palestinian refugee camp, becomes an unlikely detective amid the uncertainties and violence of modern Bethlehem. Israeli gunfire peppers the area, the Muslims mistrust the minority Christian population, and the Martyrs Brigade instills terror in virtually every group. Yussef once taught in a Christian school and developed strong bonds with several of his students, among them George Saba, now a restorer of antiques. When Israeli snipers kill a member of the Palestinian resistance, the authorities accuse Saba of collaborating and throw him in jail for the crime. Yussef finds evidence that Hussein Tamari, the leader of the Martyrs Brigade, orchestrated the situation, but even the police chief, an old friend, seems unwilling to help Yussef save Saba. The characters and the setting are so richly textured and the politicized events so wrenching that the mystery story becomes incidental. Though the story's conclusion offers a gratifying payoff, for many readers the real reward will be a more immediate sense of a distant and bewildering conflict. Click the book cover to read more.
FIVE LITTLE GEFILTES
BY DAVE HOROWITZ
February 2007, PUTNAM
From Publishers Weekly: With this endearing if uneven parody of "Five Little Ducklings," Horowitz (The Ugly Pumpkin) initiates youngsters into the joys of Yiddish-just in time for Passover. After explaining what gefilte fish is (though non-Jewish readers may not be helped much by a definition that compares them to "matzo balls made out of fish"), the author sends the five title characters out of their jar to explore New York City. Mama Gefilte's cries of "Oy vey!" meeting with decreasing success as, one by one, the gefiltes are lured away: "One little gefilte went out one day./ A big yellow taxi schlepped him away./ Mama Gefilte cried out 'Oy vey!'/ but not a single gefilte came back that day." Comic asides abound, enabling Horowitz to stuff even more Yiddishisms into his story, including the always evocative "tuches" and "plotz." Of course, all the gefiltes do eventually come back to their meshugana Mama " 'cause each was a mensch!" Horowitz's gefiltes actually do look an awful lot like matzo balls, but their hats give them character, and his compositions play up the puns (e.g., a movie ad for Goldie Lox and the 3 Schmears). Simms Taback's Kibitzers and Fools this is not. Think of this as pretty tasty schmear. All ages. Click the book cover to read more.
THE MAN WHO DID FOR JEWISH MEN'S REPUTATIONS
WHAT EINSTEIN DID FOR JEWISH BRAINS
The Hardest (Working) Man in Showbiz
by Ron Jeremy with Eric Spitznagel
February 2007, Harper
From Publishers Weekly: With more than 1,750 porn films under his belt (and director of more than 135), Jeremy is still cranking them out two decades after most adult film performers have retired. His memoir (co-written by humorist Spitznagel, author of Fast Forward: Confessions of a Porn Screenwriter) details a life of relentless self-promotion that often borders on the excessive (who else would call himself "the biggest porn star on the planet" and attach an appendix of the mainstream projects he was almost cast in or was cut out of the final product?). Fans won't find much introspection, and the incessant celebrity name-dropping is daunting, but the book is like Jeremy: self-effacing, affably vulgar, eager-to-please and constantly on the run. The anecdotes fly by: trying to direct a performance out of John Wayne Bobbitt's reattached organ in Uncut; having sex with an 87-year-old co-star; battling the LAPD on pandering charges; offering instructions on autofellatio; and hanging with Sam Kinison and Rodney Dangerfield. "I've given confidence to millions of men across the world," Jeremy boasts. "They look at themselves in the mirror and think, Y'know, compared to Ron Jeremy, I'm not that bad looking at all. At least that's what I tell myself whenever I go back to the buffet for seconds. Click the book cover to read more.
My Year Inside Radical Islam
by Daveed Gartenstein-Rossby
February 2007, Tarcher Penguin
Daveed grew up in a hippie neighborhood of Ashland Oregon, a town filled with liberal bookstores and freedom. Daveed's parents were adherents of Judaism, The Infinite Way, Universalism and Buddhism. So it is quite unusual that during his foray with radical Islam, he had to pray for the subjugation of his Jewish parents each day on his prayer rug. This is his story...
My Year Inside Radical Islam is a memoir of first a spiritual and then a political seduction. Raised in liberal Ashland, Oregon, by parents who were Jewish by birth but dismissive of strict dogma, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross yearned for a religion that would suit all his ideals. At college in the late nineties he met a charismatic Muslim student who grounded his political activism with thoughtful religious conviction. Gartenstein-Ross reflects on his experience of converting to Islam-a process that began with a desire to connect with both a religious community and a spiritual practice, and eventually led him to sympathize with the most extreme interpretations of the faith, with the most radical political implications. In the year following graduation, Gartenstein-Ross went to work for the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, a charity dedicated to fostering Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia's austere form of Islam-a theological inspiration for many terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda. Shortly after he left al-Haramain - when his own fanaticism had waned - the foundation was charged by the U.S. government as being a source of funds for terrorist organizations. Gartenstein-Ross, by this time a lawyer at a prominent firm, volunteered to be questioned by the FBI. They already knew who he was. The story of how a good faith can be distorted and a decent soul can be seduced away from its principles, My Year Inside Radical Islam provides a rare glimpse into the personal interface between religion and politics. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, who has worked as a clerk on the Washington, D.C., Circuit Court of Appeals and as a litigator at a major New York law firm, is now a full-time counterterrorism consultant. Currently involved in several terrorist investigations, Gartenstein-Ross is frequently asked to give recommendations to law enforcement and senior federal officials. He often writes about terrorism, religious extremism, and the law. He is currently Christian, having converted in 2000. Click the book cover to read more.
The Untold Story of the Militant Islamic Movement
by Zaki Chehab, Al Hayat (London)
February 2007, Nation Books
The radical Islamist movement Hamas shocked the world when it won a landslide election victory in January 2006 in the Palestinian occupied territories. One of the few journalists not to be surprised by this outcome was Zaki Chehab who has developed an international reputation as a fearless reporter and was one of the first to interview members the Iraqi resistance in May 2003. Fluent in Arabic, he is a Palestinian refugee who grew up in UN refugee camps and has unique access to and understanding of Hamas. Like Hezbollah in neighboring Lebanon, Chehab shows how Hamas built a formidable social base in Palestine through its welfare programs. He also explains why, in the face of the endless complexities, disappointments and delays brought about by the signing of the Oslo Peace Accord, Hamas's strategy of armed struggle and terrorism offers the Palestinian people a seductive, simple and deadly alternative. Click the book cover to read more.
A PERSONAL HISTORY
By Karl Sabbagh
February 2007, Grove Press
The son of an English mother and Palestinian father, Karl is a British writer and TV producer. He was raised in south London. Using his family tree as a guide, Sabbagh tells the story of displacement to Gaza and Jordan (now the West bank of the Jordan River) and dispersion. Can a lasting peace be created? Click the book cover to read more.
Peace Be upon You
The Story of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Coexistence
by Zachary Karabell
February 2007. Knopf
The story of conflict and confrontation between Islam and the West has become daily news, but throughout the ages Muslims, Christians, and Jews have shared more than enmity and war: there is also a rich and textured history of coexistence that has all but disappeared from our collective memory. In this timely and revealing book, Zachary Karabell traces the legacy of tolerance and cooperation from the advent of Islam to the present day. In an extraordinary narrative spanning fourteen centuries, Karabell introduces us to the court of the caliphs in Baghdad, where scholars of various faiths engaged in spirited debate. He evokes the wonders of medieval Spain, where Jewish sages, Muslim philosophers, and Christian monks together deciphered the meaning of God and the universe. He offers a portrait of the Crusades that goes beyond the rivalry of Saladin and Richard the Lionheart, and shows how Christians and Muslims lived side by side. And he paints a vivid picture of religious autonomy in the Ottoman Empire. ...Today, while some Muslims, Christians, and Jews engage in confrontation, others-in Dubai, in Turkey, and around the globe-find common ground. Remembering the legacy of coexistence and recognizing its prevalence even today is a vital ingredient to a more stable, secure world. Click the book cover to read more.
by Michael Bar-Zohar
February 2007. Random House
Twice Israel's prime minister, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, bold leader in a war-torn region, Shimon Peres is one of the great statesmen of the modern world. Peres is also a fascinating, complex man-a brilliant intellectual who is entirely at home in the corridors of power; an individual revered by the world and yet highly controversial in his own country; at once a hero and a figure of tragedy. Now, in this definitive biography, Michael Bar-Zohar takes the full measure of a towering, enigmatic leader. Drawing on his decades-long association with Peres, as well as the full cooperation of the leader's family, friends, supporters, and political rivals, Bar-Zohar has crafted a vibrant, daring, richly textured portrait of a man whose life and career span the entire history of Israel. Born in Poland in 1923, Peres emigrated to the Holy Land at the age of twelve, already a fiercely idealistic Zionist. Peres joined a kibbutz and, while still in his teens, became the leader of a major youth movement. When the struggle for Israeli independence broke out, future prime minister David Ben-Gurion tapped him to join his inner circle. ..... Click the book cover to read more.
Gimpel the Fool and Other Stories
by Isaac Bashevis Singer with Theodore Bikel as the Narrator
When the Nobel Prize committee praised his "impassioned narrative art which, with roots in a Polish-Jewish cultural tradition, brings universal human conditions to life," Isaac Bashevis Singer modestly replied, "I never sit down to write to make a better world. I consider myself an entertainer." These four stories - "Gimpel the Fool," "Esther Kreindel the Second," "The Spinoza of Market Street," and "The Black Wedding" - radiate Singer's celebrated wit and imagination. Theodore Bikel reads these timeless tales of shtetl life in classic, Yiddish storyteller cadence, giving the author's "inspired madness" a special warmth. Click the book cover to read more.
FOR ALL YOU READERS WHO HAVE RELATIVES OR FAMILY MEMBERS OR FRIENDS WHO ARE JEW_HU's or BUDDHISTS.
Haggadah for Jews & Buddhists
by Elizabeth Pearce-Glassheim
Elizabeth Pearce-Glassheim, born and raised Catholic by parents who instilled their life-long fascination with Buddhism into her family life, married into Judaism some 20 years ago. In the past two decades she attended and co-hosted more than a dozen Seders attended by friends of all religious and spiritual beliefs. To make Passover meaningful to Seder guests at her home, she began creating version of the traditional Seder story to emphasize its universal themes meaningful to Traditional Jews, Buddhists and others. This Haggadah is a discussion provoking retelling of the traditional Passover ritual, linking its meaning with age-old Buddhist concepts. A traditional haggadah in format, this has been written for a mixed family. Haggadah for Jews & Buddhists illuminates the concepts embedded in the Biblical story of the sacred exodus from slavery to freedom. This journey applies to everyone as they face life's challenges and grow stronger through meeting them. This telling has meaning for all thoughtful adults: Buddhists, Traditional and Secular Jews and people of all beliefs and spiritualities. Click the book cover to read more.
FOR ALL YOU READERS have wondered about the mystical aspects of the Passover Seder.
THE MYSTICAL HAGGADAH
PASSOVER MEDITATIONS, TEACHINGS, AND TALES
By Eliahu Klein
February 2007. North Atlantic Books
Berkeley rabbi, Eliahu Klein, has written this to be aimed at Jews of all traditions. Despite the explosion in popularity of books about mysticism and meditative traditions, there is very little published about the rich and fascinating subject of the Jewish holy days. Passover, the first religious holiday of the Jewish people, particularly deserves to be reviewed from a mystical perspective. A Mystical Haggadah is the first book to provide just that. Featuring a spiritual interpretation of the Seder, the book includes an easy-to-read transliterated text new translations, and commentary. the book also uses a reader-friendly format to examine the Passover ritual through Kabbalistic meditations and affirmations. It includes many Hassidic teachings and stories that have never been presented to the English reading audience. This book explores the mystical, meditative, and empowering aspects of Jewish traditions through one of its most significant holy days. Click the book cover to read more.
American Jewish History
A Jps Guide
by Norman H. Finkelstein
February 2007. JPS
In 2003, with the release of Guide to Jewish Women, the Jewish Publication Society launched its paperback JPS Guide series, designed for the general reader as basic introductions to topics of Jewish interest. The second volume was Guide to Jewish Traditions (2004), and this book is the third effort to provide ready access to concise and fundamental information. American Jewish history has been addressed in a number of scholarly volumes. Unlike those erudite books and in keeping with the goal of the JPS Guides, this simple primer reviews the rudimentary elements of American Jewish history. Finkelstein, a former school librarian in Brookline, Mass., who won the National Jewish Book Award for Heeding the Call, includes photos, maps, feature boxes and brief biographies throughout the text. The material is divided into six chronological chapters, beginning in the mid-1300s, with the Sephardic predecessors of the 23 settlers from Brazil who landed in New Amsterdam in 1654, and ending with a chapter on 1948 to the present. At the end of each chapter, a page is devoted to a "Timeline," identifying important events and the year in which they occurred. For students and those with limited knowledge of the subject, this book is a useful introductory guide. Click the book cover to read more.
Cave of Reconciliation
An Abrahamic / Ibrahimic Tale
by Pecki Sherman Witonsky with Katie Scott (Illustrator)
February 2007. JPS
Three Faiths; Two Stories; One Beginning
In the Southern Judea region, 3,050 feet above sea level, lies a city; some know it as Hebron, others Al-Khalil. In this city there sits a cave with three names: the Tomb of the Patriarchs, Ma'arat Ha'Machpelah, and al-Haram al-Ibrahimi. The cave is said to house the remains of a man and his family. The name can be pronounced Abraham, Avraham, or Ibrahim, but the man is the same. The Cave of Reconciliation is a book with two sides. Read from one end, it tells the story of Abraham and his son Isaac, flip the book and it recounts the tale of Ibrahim and Ishmael. Told and illustrated in a simple style, The Cave of Reconciliation re-imagines the origins of one of the most complex conflicts of our time. Supplementary material includes maps, family trees, and a glossary of names. Click the book cover to read more.
NOW IN PAPERBACK (COMES WITH THE CD)
Discovering Jewish Music
by Marsha Bryan Edelman)
February 2007. JPS
Most of us have experienced "Jewish music," whether it's through synagogue attendance, a bar mitzvah celebration, a klezmer concert, or the playing of "Hava Nagila" at a baseball game. The many different kinds of Jewish music are reflected by the multitude of Jewish communities throughout the world, each having its own unique set of experiences and values. This book puts the music into a context of Jewish history, philosophy, and sociology. Edelman begins 3,000 years ago, with a discussion of music in the Bible, and then examines the nature of folk and liturgical music in the three major Diaspora communities that evolved over centuries, after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. From there she explores music of the 20th century, including the explosion of popular music in North America and Israel and its impact on Jews and their musical identities. Click the book cover to read more.
VOICES OF THE HOLOCAUST
A NEW HISTORY IN THE WORDS OF THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO SURVIVED
By LYN SMITH
Now in PAPERBACK
February 2007. Carroll and Graf
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review: Elie Wiesel's Night may be topping bestseller lists, thanks to Oprah's book club, but there is still a need for other testimonies to the horrors of the Holocaust. Smith, who has recorded the experiences of survivors for London's Imperial War Museum, weaves together more than 100 accounts to construct a narrative of Nazi persecutions from the first anti-Semitic measures in 1933 through the liberation of the concentration camps. Atrocities, cruelties and random acts of kindness are recounted, fueled by a fierce need to preserve the truth for future generations. The strength of this collection is deepened by the inclusion of the experiences of Jehovah's Witnesses, Gypsies, members of German police battalions and resistance fighters. The most horrific anecdotes evoke the suffering of German, Polish and Czech Jews in overcrowded ghettos and extermination centers, somehow managing to outwit and, against all odds, overcome the final solution by luck and their persistent will to live. This is an extraordinary work of scholarship and a reminder of the power of individual stories, which can bring home the horrors of WWII more forcefully than abstract numbers. Click the book cover to read more.
How to Tell If Your Boyfriend Is the Antichrist
And If He Is, Should You Break Up with Him?
by Patricia Carlin
February 2007. Quirk
When it comes to boyfriends, there's a fine line between quirks and severe personality disorders. Is he a pedophile or is he simply good with kids? How to Tell If Your Boyfriend Is the Antichrist teaches women to identify the warning signs associated with a spectrum of Mr. Wrongs, including: Cult leaders ("Does he have a problem with authority?")
Insufferable bores ("Does his dog wear a bandanna?") Steroid addicts ("Do you admire his cleavage?")
Narcoleptics ("Is his face often soiled?") Best of all, this irreverent illustrated "guide" advises whether it's best to hang onto these guys or to quickly and safely dump them. How to Tell If Your Boyfriend Is the Antichrist is a hilarious reference (and a super gift) for single girls with a sense of humor. Click the book cover to read more.
MARCH 2007 BOOKS
THE ORIGINS OF THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT
By AMY DOCKSER MARCUS (Wall Street Journal)
March 2007, VIKING
In 1913, before the post WWI, British Mandate of 1920-1948, Jerusalem and Palestine was in the hands of the Ottoman Empire. Zionism was growing, Arab nationalism was growing, and national movement of the interwar years was also on the rise. In 1913, the residents of Palestine helfd the First Arab Congress, and secret peace talks were started between the Jewish Zionists and the Arab Palestinains. WWI interrupted these talks. This is the story of 1913 and the principal players and their struggles.
From Publishers Weekly - In Ottoman Jerusalem, families of different religions picnicked together at popular shrines and vouched for each other at the bank; Muslims and Jews were business partners and neighbors; and Arab children dressed in costumes for the Jewish holiday of Purim. How then did this city of ethnic diversity become a crucible of sectarian conflict? Marcus (The View from Nebo), a Pulitzer-winning former Wall Street Journal correspondent, focuses on the year 1913 as a turning point, when leaders at the Zionist Congress argued for both cultural and demographic domination of Palestine, while at the same time Jews and Arabs were negotiating a possible peace. Marcus also highlights three men who helped shape the destiny of the future Israeli capital. Albert Antebi was a non-Zionist Syrian Jew who advocated for Jewish economic solvency and strong relationships with Muslims; ardent Zionist Arthur Ruppin directed the establishment of Jewish settlements; and Ruhi Khalidi, a prominent Muslim , although not an Arab nationalist, actively opposed Jewish immigration and land purchases. Marcus masterfully brings a Jerusalem of almost a century ago to pungent life, and her political dissection of the era is lucid and well-meaning although she never explains the gulf between moderate Muslims of 1913 and today's Islamist and radical movements. Click the book cover to read more.
DROPPED FROM HEAVEN
By Sophie Judah
March 2007, Schocken
From Publishers Weekly: The 19 stories in Judah's debut explore the little known Jewish community of Bene Israel in India over the course of more than a century. Though Judah touches on a wide array of topics in these vignette-like stories of life in the fictional town of Jwalangar-the fusion of Jewish and Indian (both Hindi and Muslim) customs, the India-Pakistan partition, the birth of Israel-the most prevalent theme is the underappreciated strength and wisdom of the community's women. In "Hannah and Benjamin," Hannah's parents refuse to allow her to marry a man from a lower class, but they eventually relent when she protests by remaining in her bedroom for a year. Bride-to-be Sunita in "Dreams" wants a life of more than domestic servitude. The pieces that finish tragically, such as "Monsoon" and "The Horoscope Never Lies," are the most memorable of the collection because Judah cracks open human weakness and depicts the resulting pain. But most stories are less successful and suffer from explanatory prose and clunky dialogue. The obscure intersection of India and Judaism provides Judah with rich material, though the finished products aren't always polished. Click the book cover to read more.
Vickie Cabot writes: The collection, comprising 19 tales grouped chronologically from 1890 to the present, is a retelling of an age-old Jewish story as the community struggles to confront modernity and reconcile past with present. It resonates with Judah's voice - she is a member of the Bene Israel community and immigrated to Israel in 1973 - and those of the host of sympathetic characters she creates and invests with emotional valence. Meet Joseph and his friend, in "My Friend Joseph," who conspire to marry two sisters, convincing the proud father that they are worthy of his daughters. Or meet the bride-to-be, with a sightless white-eye and pock-marked face, whose parents attempt to marry her off, sight unseen, to a hapless bridegroom in "Shame Under the Chuppah." Then there is Judah Saul Gonsalves, in "My Son, Jude," whose unwed mother abandons him at birth. He is taken in by priests who raise him, changing his name to Jude Paul as a purposeful affront to the Jewish father who refuses to acknowledge him. The writer deftly turns each of the stories on their heads with poignant retelling and surprising dramatic twists. Too, she uses the mythical village and cast of characters to capture the backdrop of upheaval of the mid-20th century, when India erupts in Hindu-Muslim conflict. As the Jewish community must confront the bloody violence, it, too, must confront the agonizing rift between the old generation and the new as most of the Bene Israel community immigrates to Israel.
NOT JEWISH AT ALL... BUT A NICE BOOK
The Spellman Files
A Novel (Izzy Spellman Mysteries)
by Lisa Lutz
March 2007. Simon and Schuster
Lutz writes: "Imagine being under twenty-four hour surveillance; your known acquaintances are routinely investigated; you are not surprised when you find a listening device planted in your room. In my debut novel, THE SPELLMAN FILES, a family of private investigators uses the tools of the trade to turn typical dysfunction into espionage. To be a Spellman means to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman. But it's all great fun! "
From Publishers Weekly Cracking the case can get complicated and outrageously wacky when a family of detectives is involved, but Lutz has a blast doing it in her delicious debut. Isabel "Izzy" Spellman, a San Francisco PI who began working for Spellman Investigations at age 12, could easily pass as Buffy or Veronica Mars's wiser but funnier older sister. Izzy digs TV, too, especially Get Smart (an ex-boyfriend's ownership of the complete bootlegged DVD set is his major selling point). Now 28, Izzy thinks she wants out, but elects to take on a cold case while dealing with 14-year-old sister Rae, a nightmarish Nancy Drew, and parents who have no qualms about bugging their children's bedrooms. At times the dialogue-heavy text reads like a script and the action flags, but these are quibbles. When Rae suddenly disappears, Izzy and her family must learn some serious lessons in order to find her. Can the family that snoops together stay together? Stay tuned as a dynamic new series unfolds. Click the book cover to read more.
AN AMAZING AMAZING BOOK
The Invisible Wall
A Love Story That Broke Barriers
by Harry Bernstein (a new author at the age of 95)
March 2007. Ballantine
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Bernstein writes, "There are few rules or unwritten laws that are not broken when circumstances demand, and few distances that are too great to be traveled," about the figurative divide ("geographically... only a few yards, socially... miles and miles") keeping Jews and Christians apart in the poor Lancashire mill town in England where he was raised. In his affecting debut memoir, the nonagenarian gives voice to a childhood version of himself who witnesses his older sister's love for a Christian boy break down the invisible wall that kept Jewish families from Christians across the street. With little self-conscious authorial intervention, young Harry serves as a wide-eyed guide to a world since dismantled-where "snot rags" are handkerchiefs, children enter the workforce at 12 and religion bifurcates everything, including industry. True to a child's experience, it is the details of domestic life that illuminate the tale-the tenderness of a mother's sacrifice, the nearly Dickensian angst of a drunken father, the violence of schoolyard anti-Semitism, the "strange odors" of "forbidden foods" in neighbor's homes. Yet when major world events touch the poverty-stricken block (the Russian revolution claims the rabbi's son, neighbors leave for WWI), the individual coming-of-age is intensified without being trivialized, and the conversational account takes on the heft of a historical novel with stirring success. Click the book cover to read more.
The Plots, The Assassins, and the Dictator Who Cheated Death
by Roger Moorhouse
March 2007. Bantam
From Publishers Weekly: Although Hitler took his own life, there was no shortage of people who wanted, and attempted, to do it for him throughout his political career. Drawing on newly opened archives in Germany and elsewhere, British historian Moorhouse (Microcosm: Portrait of a Central European City) casts a wide net, chronicling failed assassination attempts by disaffected individuals in the early days of Hitler's reign, such as radical university student Maurice Bavaud, whose three easily thwarted tries in November 1938 got him guillotined; the efforts of a British group of James Bond-like spies armed with, among other things, "exploding rats"; and the well-known attempts of German officers, such as Hitler's architect Albert Speer. Moorhouse also brings to light little-known would-be-assassins, such as members of the Polish underground. Most of the assassination attempts Moorhouse describes failed because of poor planning; others fell victim to circumstance, while some may simply have been rumors, making for a compelling web of research, intrigue and conspiracy theory. Accessible prose, suspenseful narration and ample historical context make this a page-turner for WWII buffs as well as anyone with a passion for the underbelly of political power in one of the last century's darkest regimes. Click the book cover to read more.
Houses of Study
A Jewish Woman among Books
by Ilana M. Blumberg
March 2007. Nebraska
To learn was to live, and to learn well was to live well. This was the lesson of both cultures of the Modern Orthodox Jewish world in which Ilana Blumberg was educated, with its commitment to traditional Jewish practice and ideas alongside an appreciation for modern, secular wisdom. But when the paths of Jewish tradition and secular wisdom inevitably diverge, applying this lesson can become extraordinarily tricky, especially for a woman. Blumberg's memoir of negotiating these two worlds is the story of how a Jewish woman's life was shaped by a passion for learning; it is also a rare look into the life of Modern Orthodoxy, the twentieth-century movement of Judaism that tries to reconcile modernity with tradition. Blumberg traces her own path from a childhood immersed in Hebrew and classical Judaic texts as well as Anglo-American novels and biographies, to a womanhood where the two literatures suddenly represent mutually exclusive possibilities for life. Set in "houses of study," from a Jewish grammar school and high school to a Jerusalem yeshiva for women to a secular American university, her memoir asks, in an intimate and poignant manner: what happens when the traditional Jewish ideal of learning asserts itself in a body that is female-a body directed by that same tradition toward a life of modesty, early marriage, and motherhood? Click the book cover to read more.
THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
March 2007. JPS Jewish Publication Society
Regarded throughout the English-speaking world as the standard English translation of the Holy Scriptures, the JPS TANAKH has been acclaimed by scholars, rabbis, lay leaders, Jews, and Christians alike. The JPS TANAKH is an entirely original translation of the Holy Scriptures into contemporary English, based on the Masoretic (the traditional Hebrew) text. It is the culmination of three decades of collaboration by academic scholars and rabbis, representing the three largest branches of organized Judaism in the United States. Not since the third century b.c.e., when 72 elders of the tribes of Israel created the Greek translation of Scriptures known as the Septuagint has such a broad-based committee of Jewish scholars produced a major Bible translation. In executing this monumental task, the translators made use of the entire range of biblical interpretation, ancient and modern, Jewish and non-Jewish. They drew upon the latest findings in linguistics and archaeology, as well as the work of early rabbinic and medieval commentators, grammarians, and philologians. The resulting text is a triumph of literary style and biblical scholarship, unsurpassed in accuracy and clarity. Click the book cover to read more.
The Cross and Other Jewish Stories
(New Yiddish Library Series)
by Lamed Shapiro, Edited by Leah Garrett
March 2007. Yale
Lamed Shapiro (1878-1948) was the author of groundbreaking and controversial short stories, novellas, and essays. Himself a tragic figure, Shapiro led a life marked by frequent ocean crossings, alcoholism, and failed ventures, yet his writings are models of precision, psychological insight, and daring.
Shapiro focuses intently on the nature of violence: the mob violence of pogroms committed against Jews; the traumatic aftereffects of rape, murder, and powerlessness; the murderous event that transforms the innocent child into witness and the rabbi's son into agitator. Within a society on the move, Shapiro's refugees from the shtetl and the traditional way of life are in desperate search of food, shelter, love, and things of beauty. Remarkably, and against all odds, they sometimes find what they are looking for. More often than not, the climax of their lives is an experience of ineffable terror. This collection also reveals Lamed Shapiro as an American master. His writings depict the Old World struggling with the New, extremes of human behavior combined with the pursuit of normal happiness. Through the perceptions of a remarkable gallery of men, women, children-of even animals and plants-Shapiro successfully reclaimed the lost world of the shtetl as he negotiated East Broadway and the Bronx, Union Square, and vaudeville.
Both in his life and in his unforgettable writings, Lamed Shapiro personifies the struggle of a modern Jewish artist in search of an always elusive home. Click the book cover to read more.
THE LIFE AND WORK OF LENI RIEFENSTAHL
By STEVEN BACH
March 2007. Knopf
The definitive biography of Leni Riefenstahl, the woman best known as "Hitler's filmmaker," one of the most fascinating and controversial personalities of the twentieth century. It is the story of huge talent and an even larger ambition, one that probes the sometimes blurred borders dividing art and beauty from truth and humanity.
Two of Riefenstahl's films, Olympia and Triumph of the Will, are universally regarded as the greatest and most innovative documentaries ever made, but they are also insidious glorifications of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Now, in this masterful new biography, Steven Bach reveals the truths and lies behind this gifted woman's lifelong self-vindication as an apolitical artist who claimed she knew nothing of the Holocaust and denied her complicity with the criminal regime she both used and sanctified. The facts and her actions, many unknown until now, bear chilling witness: her passionate enthusiasm for Hitler from her first reading of Mein Kampf; her involvements with Nazi leaders Joseph Goebbels, Martin Bormann, Albert Speer, and Julius Streicher, who advanced her career, and with Hitler, who personally helped finance it; her role as silent eyewitness to wartime atrocities against Jews; and her use of slave labor in the form of concentration camp Gypsies destined for Auschwitz. We see her after the war trying to sell footage to Hollywood under an alias, manipulating a sham "discovery" of the Nuba tribes of Sudan into a career comeback, fighting to disinherit her closest living relatives, and-to the end-unable to express remorse for the millions murdered by the Nazi regime made mythic by her work.
Click the book cover to read more.
The Kings of New York
A Year Among the Geeks, Oddballs, and
Genuises Who Make Up America's Top
Highschool Chess Team
by Michael Weinreb
March 2007. Gotham
From PW: Starred Review. Weinreb, whose work has appeared three times in The Best American Sports Writing, offers the story of a year spent with Brooklyn's Edward R. Murrow High School chess team as it strives for a national championship. Weinreb makes several choices that work well for a year-in-the-life account. For one, he eschews unnecessary speculation about the teen chess prodigies' psychology, a strategy that taken with his deft reporting of how they view themselves and one another renders them more accessible, more natural and consequently more interesting. Weinreb also expands his arena by investigating the cultural milieu of the modern chess world. He describes what it takes to be a successful high-level chess player, the difficulties women have in this world, the very nature of the game and the phenomenon of the chess prodigy, using the experience of Josh Waitzkin, who has now retired from competitive chess and was the subject of the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer. All this is supported by well-chosen detail, intelligence and terrific writing. Weinreb clearly develops an affection for the eclectic members of the team, and because of the skill he brings to his project, so will his readers. Click the book cover to read more.
The Kommandant's Girl
A novel (Paperback)
by Pam Jenoff
March 2007. Mira
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. With luminous simplicity, Jenoff's breathtaking debut chronicles the life of a young Jewish bride during the Nazi occupation of Kraków, Poland, in WWII. Emma Bau, a shy librarian, escapes the city's Jewish ghetto with the aid of the underground resistance movement that Jacob, her activist husband, has already joined. Emma assumes a new gentile identity as Anna Lipowski and goes to live with Jacob's elderly aunt, a wealthy Catholic widow who has also taken in Lukasz Izakowicz, the only surviving child of a famous rabbi and his murdered wife. As Anna, Emma catches the eye of Kommandant Georg Richwalder, second in charge of the General Government, at a dinner party. The handsome Nazi is so impressed by her German language skills (and her beauty) that he asks her to become his personal assistant. Emma accepts, hoping to secure valuable information for the resistance, but the chemistry between them presents challenges that test her loyalties to Jacob and her heart. This is historical romance at its finest. Click the book cover to read more.
YOU'VE SEEN ALL THOSE ISRAELI'S IN BKK
NOW READ WHAT THEY ACTUALLY DO ON KAOSAHN ROAD...
I LAUGHED OUT LOUD MANY TIMES ON THE SUBWAY READING IT
My Travels Through Asia as a Twenty-Year-Old Pseudo-Virgin
by Iris Bahr
March 2007. Bloomsbury
Move over David Sedaris, the Greco American who write of Paris. We now have a Jewish American who writes of Asia. Fresh out of the Israeli Army, twenty-year-old Iris Bahr decides to follow the footsteps of many before her and backpack through Asia. Only unlike the average traveler, she has more in mind than just seeing the sights: she is on a desperate mission to lose her virginity. Dork Whore is a fresh and funny memoir about a young woman whose quirky personality and embarrassing neuroses always seem to get in the way of her getting what she wants. As Iris lands in hotel rooms in Bangkok, rides scooters out of opium-fogged compounds hidden in the jungle, and antagonizes an impromptu tour group in Vietnam, she begins to realize that the greatest obstacle she'll have to overcome isn't losing her virginity, but coming to terms with the reasons for her need to be accepted. Poignant, hilarious, and always original, Dork Whore is a remarkable mix of bawdy humor and heartbreaking moments, witty intelligence and touching personal discoveries. Iris Bahr has given us an unforgettable coming-of-age tale about how a young woman finally learns how to trust others-and her own judgment. Click the book cover to read more.
by Enid Shomer
March 2007, Random House
A collection of short stories about women charting unfamiliar territory, whether in Brooklyn or the Cayman trench. In one, a Jewish woman travels to Tibet where she accepts, with hesitation, her birthright as the reincarnation of a saint. In another, a Radcliffe student, home for the summer, is attracted to her cousin. Click the book cover to read more.
SHALOM IN THE HOME
SAVVY ADVICE FOR A PEACEFUL HOME
By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
March 2007. Meredith paperback
Feeling overwhelmed by your family life? Whether you're in crisis or just wish you were closer, family and relationship counselor Rabbi Shmuley Boteach can help. Influenced by his own experience as a child of divorce, the host of the TLC series Shalom in the Home gets to the heart of family dynamics and individual personalities to help families build deeper, more loving relationships. His insights and encouragements help you cope with all the most common domestic issues: relationships, parenting, in-laws, neighbors and more. "I'm here to inspire people to be good people first, a good couple second, and good parents third," says Shmuley. He illustrates how families can strengthen their bonds with unforgettable stories of families in crisis who undergo intensive counseling to improve their relationships and bring peace, or "shalom," to their homes . Click the book cover to read more.
UNCOVERING THE HOLOCAUST
THE INTERNATIONAL RECEPTION of NIGHT AND FOG
EDITED BY EWOUT VAN DER KNAAP, Utrecht
March 2007. Columbia
Nuit et Brouillard (Night and Fog) was released in France in 1956 by Alain Resnais. Now, 50 years later, this book examines how it represented the Holocaust and how it was received worldwide. Click the book cover to read more.
TO BE AN ARAB IN ISRAEL
BY LAURENCE LOUER, Ceri-Paris
March 2007. Columbia
MS. LOUER is an Arabist and specializes in Middle East studies. From the cover... To Be an Arab in Israel fills a long-neglected gap in the study of Israel and the contemporary Arab world. Whether for ideological reasons or otherwise, both Israeli and Arab writers have yet to seriously consider Israel's significant minority of non-Jewish citizens, whose existence challenges common assumptions regarding Israel's exclusively Jewish character.
Arabs have been a presence at all levels of the Israeli government since the foundation of the state. Laurence Louër begins her history in the 1980s when the Israeli political system began to take the Arab nationalist parties into account for the political negotiations over coalition building. Political parties-especially Labour-sought the votes of Arab citizens by making unusual promises such as ownership and access to land. The continuing rise of nationalist sentiments among Palestinians, however, threw the relationship between the Jewish state and the Arab minority into chaos. But as Louër demonstrates, "Palestinization" did not prompt the Arab citizens of Israel to set aside their Israeli citizenship. Rather, Israel's Arabs have sought to insert themselves into Israeli society while simultaneously celebrating their difference, and these efforts have led to a confrontation between two conceptions of society and two visions of Israel. Louër's fascinating book embraces the complexity of this history, revealing the surprising collusions and compromises that have led to alliances between Arab nationalists and Israeli authorities. She also addresses the current role of Israel's Arab elites, who have been educated at Hebrew-speaking universities, and the continuing absorption of militant Islamists into Israel's bureaucracy. Click the book cover to read more.
THE STORY OF THE KLEZMORIM
BY HEIDI SMITH HYDE
ILLUS BY JOHANNA VAN DER STERRE
March 2007. Kar-Ben
Ages 5 - 9. Mendel, a musician comes to America. Years later, Mendel's great grandson finds the dusty accordion in an attic and starts a klezmer band, too. Click the book cover to read more.
Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jews Don't Believe In Jesus
by Asher Norman
Spring 2007. Feldheim
Rabbi Parry writes: This book is a Jewish answer to why Jews don't believe in Jesus. It is readable, well organized, and sometimes quite surprising. The author is candid yet very polite in his polemics. "Twenty-Six Reasons" shines the light of Torah on the theological issues. The author has found a creative way to present otherwise complex material in a simple manner that allows even a beginner to answer missionary challenges to Judaism. Click the book cover to read more.
Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible
by Karel van der Toorn
Spring 2007. Harvard University Press
Book Cover: We think of the Hebrew Bible as the Book--and yet it was produced by a largely nonliterate culture in which writing, editing, copying, interpretation, and public reading were the work of a professional elite. The scribes of ancient Israel are indeed the main figures behind the Hebrew Bible, and in this book Karel van der Toorn tells their story for the first time. His book considers the Bible in very specific historical terms, as the output of the scribal workshop of the Second Temple active in the period 500-200 BCE. Drawing comparisons with the scribal practices of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, van der Toorn clearly details the methods, the assumptions, and the material means of production that gave rise to biblical texts; then he brings his observations to bear on two important texts, Deuteronomy and Jeremiah. Traditionally seen as the copycats of antiquity, the scribes emerge here as the literate elite who held the key to the production as well as the transmission of texts. Van der Toorn's account of scribal culture opens a new perspective on the origins of the Hebrew Bible, revealing how the individual books of the Bible and the authors associated with them were products of the social and intellectual world of the scribes. By taking us inside that world, this book yields a new and arresting appreciation of the Hebrew Scriptures. Click the book cover to read more.
MUST READ ALERT!!
Knowing the Enemy
Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror
by Mary Habeck
March 2007. Yale
After September 11, Americans agonized over why nineteen men hated the United States enough to kill three thousand civilians in an unprovoked assault. Analysts have offered a wide variety of explanations for the attack, but the one voice missing is that of the terrorists themselves. This penetrating book is the first to present the inner logic of al-Qa'ida and like-minded extremist groups by which they justify September 11 and other terrorist attacks. Mary Habeck explains that these extremist groups belong to a new movement-known as jihadism-with a specific ideology based on the thought of Muhammad ibn Abd al- Wahhab, Hasan al-Banna, and Sayyid Qutb. Jihadist ideology contains new definitions of the unity of God and of jihad, which allow members to call for the destruction of democracy and the United States and to murder innocent men, women, and children. Habeck also suggests how the United States might defeat the jihadis, using their own ideology against them.
From Booklist: *Starred Review* Yale historian Habeck takes Muslim terrorists at their word. They aren't envious of liberal democracy or the consumer society. Religion drives them--specifically, an exclusivist, triumphalist vision of Islam that Habeck calls jihadism to point up its holy-war-like character rather than its orthodoxy. The latter is problematic, for while jihadism is based on universally accepted Muslim principles and traditions, what it has forged out of them is highly controversial, not least because jihadists consider Muslims who disagree with them to be unbelievers as worthy of destruction as non-Muslims. Habeck traces the current of Islamic thought that eventuated in jihadism from an early-fourteenth-century scholar and the eighteenth-century founder of the harshly restrictive Islam predominant in Saudi Arabia to four twentieth--century figures who inspired a host of radical reactionary organizations, including Hamas and al-Qaeda. Habeck repeatedly reminds us that jihadists constitute a small minority, but she doesn't expound moderate Islam, much less Christianity or Judaism, to answer or refute jihadism. Her purpose is to reveal jihadism. So doing, in considerable detail and with admirable clarity, she contributes one of the most valuable books on the ongoing Middle East--and world--crisis. Click the book cover to read more.
Since Judas plays such a large role in Christian theology and the popular imagination...
The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity
by Elaine Pagels and Karen L. King
March 2007. Viking
The two leading, bestselling experts on the Gnostic Gospels weigh in on the meaning of the controversial newly discovered Gospel of Judas When the Gospel of Judas was published by the National Geographic Society in April 2006, it received extraordinary media attention and was immediately heralded as a major biblical discovery that rocked the world of scholars and laypeople alike. Elaine Pagels and Karen King are the first to reflect on this newfound text and its ramifications for telling the story of early Christianity. In Reading Judas, the two celebrated scholars illustrate how the newly discovered text provides a window onto understanding how Jesus' followers understood his death, why Judas betrayed Jesus, and why God allowed it. Most contemporary readers will find passages in the ancient Gospel of Judas difficult to comprehend outside of its context in the ancient world. Reading Judas illuminates the intellectual assumptions behind Jesus' teaching to Judas and shows how conflict among the disciples was a tool frequently used by early Christian authors to explore matters of doubt and disagreement. Presented with the elegance, insight, and accessibility that has made Pagels and King the leading voices in this field, this is a book for academics and popular audience both. Pagels's five previous books, including The New York Times bestseller Beyond Belief, and King's The Gospel of Mary of Magdala prove that there is a considerable audience eager for this kind of informed and engaging writing. Click the book cover to read more.
Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad
by Matthew Levitt, with a foreword by Dennis Ross
March 2007. Yale
From Publishers Weekly Starred Review. Levitt, formerly a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and now a deputy assistant secretary in the Treasury Department, has completed a timely assessment of one of the world's most prolific terrorist organizations. As Hamas wields increasing power within the Palestinian Authority, Levitt offers a sobering analysis of the group's likely priorities and of the quickly dimming prospects for peace in this most intractable of conflicts. Probably the most comprehensive study of the tactics, finances and structures of the Islamic resistance movement ever published, many of the details will primarily interest the specialist. In nine heavily annotated chapters, Levitt explores Hamas's infrastructure, laying out detailed blueprints for indoctrination, money laundering, public outreach and militant activities, charting the anatomy of a typical attack down to the cost of each bullet. Levitt's well-documented assertion that there is essentially no separation between Hamas's military wing and its myriad charitable activities leaves him less sanguine than many commentators in the wake of the recent legislative elections. Levitt is likely to gain some enemies with evidence that, for instance, the Council on American-Islamic Relations is implicated in fund-raising for Hamas, but all his information is impeccably researched and compellingly presented. Click the book cover to read more.
Wash Post adds... In the spring of 1995 in Gaza City, I met Musa Ziyada, a 15-year-old boy with huge almond eyes. He had apparently been recruited by Hamas, the radical Islamist group, to carry out a suicide bombing in Israel -- a plot foiled at the last moment by Ziyada's alert uncle, an intelligence officer in the Palestinian Authority police force. Attracted to his local mosque from the age of 10, Ziyada was considered something of a prodigy in Koranic studies. He also played soccer on the mosque's Hamas-affiliated team, which refused to wear shorts. He was lured to his near-death -- or "martyrdom" -- with the promises that he would be rewarded with 70 virgins in Paradise and a free pass there for 70 relatives and friends. In those days, the Palestinian Authority was on to Hamas, eager to prove to Israel that it was fighting terror. But after the Islamists' surprise victory in the Palestinians' January 2006 parliamentary elections, Hamas is the Palestinian Authority -- a development that makes Matthew Levitt's revealing study both incredibly relevant and somewhat behind the times. Click book cover to read more of the review.
I DIDN'T KNOW THAT
By Joe Bobker
Spring 2007. Gefen
A humorous look at Jewish life. Is there a blessing for George Bush? Click the book cover to read more.
APRIL 2007 BOOKS
NATIONAL POETRY MONTH
One day I observed a grey hair in my head;
I plucked it right out, when it thus to me said:
"You may smile, if you wish, at your treatment of me,
But a score of my friends soon will make of you a mockery."
- Yehuda ha-Levi, Circa 1130 CE
Oh good... move over Mel Brooks.. a comic novel on the Holocaust... But seriously, this is a great book which is a satire on those who abuse the Holocaust and "Shoah Business" and the cult of competitive one up-man-ship of victimization
by Tova Reich
April 2007. HarperCollins
Maurice and Norman Messer, father-and-son business partners, know a good product when they see it. That product is the Holocaust, and Maurice, a Holocaust survivor with an inflated personal history, and Norman, enjoying vicarious victimhood as a participant in the second-generation movement, proceed to market it enthusiastically. Not even the disappearance of Nechama, Norman's daughter and Maurice's granddaughter, into the Carmelite convent at Auschwitz, where she is transformed into a nun, Sister Consolatia of the Cross, deters them from pushing their agenda.
Father and son embark on a tour of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, which Maurice-now the driving force behind the most powerful Holocaust memorialization institution in America-organizes to soften up a potential major donor, and which Norman takes advantage of to embark on a surrealistic search for his daughter. At the death camp they run into assorted groups and individuals all clamoring for a piece of the Holocaust, including Buddhist New Agers on a retreat, Israeli schoolchildren on a required heritage pilgrimage, a Holocaust artifact hustler, filmmakers, and an astonishing collection of others. All hell breaks loose when Maurice's museum is taken over by a coalition of self-styled victims seeking Holocaust status, bringing together a vivid cast of all-too-human characters, from Holocaust professionals to Holocaust wannabees of every persuasion, in the fevered competition to win the grand prize of owning the Holocaust. An inspiringly courageous and shockingly original tour-de-force, My Holocaust dares to penetrate territory until now considered sacrosanct in its brilliantly provocative and darkly comic exploration of the uses and abuses of memory and the meaning of human suffering. Click on the book cover to read more.
A Living Lens
Photographs of Jewish Life from the Pages of the Forward
by Alana Newhouse
April 2007. WW Norton
This extraordinary volume features classic photographs of the history one has learned to associate with the Forward-Lower East Side pushcarts, Yiddish theater, labor rallies-along with gems no one would expect. The premiere national Jewish newspaper has opened up its never-before-seen archives, revealing a photographic landscape of Jews in the twentieth century and beyond. From shtetl beauty contests and matchmakers caught mid-deal to the streets of the New World; from diaspora communities and mandate Palestine to the Holocaust, the Soviet Jewry movement, and the emergence of Jewish suburbia; from Paul Muni and Barbra Streisand to Woody Allen and Madonna-this book is a kaleidoscopic array of modern Jewish life. Original essays are included by leading intellectuals and historians, including Leon Wieseltier, J. Hoberman, Roger Kahn, and Deborah E. Lipstadt, plus an introduction by Pete Hamill. A great gift book in the tradition of Roman Vishniac's A Vanished World and Frederic Brenner's Diaspora: Homelands in Exile. 531 duotone photographs. Click the book cover to read more.
Einstein: His Life and Universe
by Walter Isaacson
April 2007. Simon and Schuster
From Publishers Weekly: Acclaimed biographer Isaacson examines the remarkable life of "science's preeminent poster boy" in this lucid account (after 2003's Benjamin Franklin and 1992's Kissinger). Contrary to popular myth, the German-Jewish schoolboy Albert Einstein not only excelled in math, he mastered calculus before he was 15. Young Albert's dislike for rote learning, however, led him to compare his teachers to "drill sergeants." That antipathy was symptomatic of Einstein's love of individual and intellectual freedom, beliefs the author revisits as he relates his subject's life and work in the context of world and political events that shaped both, from WWI and II and their aftermath through the Cold War. Isaacson presents Einstein's research-his efforts to understand space and time, resulting in four extraordinary papers in 1905 that introduced the world to special relativity, and his later work on unified field theory-without equations and for the general reader. Isaacson focuses more on Einstein the man: charismatic and passionate, often careless about personal affairs; outspoken and unapologetic about his belief that no one should have to give up personal freedoms to support a state. Fifty years after his death, Isaacson reminds us why Einstein (1879-1955) remains one of the most celebrated figures of the 20th century. Click the book cover to read more.
For those more into the DARK SIDE of Einstein's traits...
by Jurgen Neffe, Translated by Shelley Frisch
Spring 2007. Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Albert Einstein is an icon of the twentieth century. Born in Ulm, Germany, in 1879, he is most famous for his theory of relativity. He also made enormous contributions to quantum mechanics and cosmology, and for his work he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1921. A self-pronounced pacifist, humanist, and, late in his life, democratic socialist, Einstein was also deeply concerned with the social impact of his discoveries. Much of Einstein's life is shrouded in legend. From popular images and advertisements to various works of theater and fiction, he has come to signify so many things. In Einstein: A Biography, Jürgen Neffe presents a clear and probing portrait of the man behind the myth. Unearthing new documents, including a series of previously unknown letters from Einstein to his sons, which shed new light on his role as a father, Neffe paints a rich portrait of the tumultuous years in which Einstein lived and worked. And with a background in the sciences, he describes and contextualizes Einstein's enormous contributions to our scientific legacy.
DEATH RITES AND THE MAKING OF ISLAMIC SOCIETY
By Leor Helaevi, Texas A&M
April 2007. Columbia
Islamic funerary rites expressed new social and religious ideals in the cities of Arabia, Near East, and the eastern edge of the Mediterranean. Rites were elaborated into a code which shaped Muslim attitudes towards death and the body. These rites were different from those of Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians. The rites also affected gender interactions. This is a fresh perspective on the rise of Islam and the relationship between law and society. Click the book cover to read more.
The Diary of Petr Ginz
Edited by Chava Pressburger, Translated by Elena Lappin
APRIL 2007. Atlantic Monthly Press
Lost for sixty years in a Prague attic, this secret diary of a teenage prodigy killed at Auschwitz is an extraordinary literary discovery, an intimately candid, deeply affecting account of a childhood compromised by Nazi tyranny. As a fourteen-year old Jewish boy living in Prague in the early 1940s, Petr Ginz dutifully records the increasingly precarious texture of daily life. With a child's keen eye for the absurd and the tragic, he muses on the prank he played on his science class and then just pages later, reveals that his cousins have been called to relinquish all their possessions, having been summoned east in the next transport. The diary ends with Petr's own summons to Thereisenstadt, where he would become the driving force behind the secret newspaper Vedem, and where he would continue to draw, paint, write, and read, furiously educating himself for a future he would never see. Fortunately, Petr's voice lives on in his diary, a fresh, startling, and invaluable historical document and a testament to one remarkable child's insuppressible hunger for life. Click the book cover to read more.
I Can't Believe I'm Still Single
Sane, Slightly Neurotic (but in a Sane Way) Filmmaker into Good Yoga, Bad Reality TV, Too Much Chocolate, and a Little ... Point Anyone Who'll Let Me Watch Football
by Eric Schaeffer
APRIL 2007. Thunders Bay
Eric Schaeffer has always believed that when the time was right and he was ready that he would find the Big One (an intelligent, sexy, loving wife). But his last girlfriend said no to his proposal, and since then he hasn't met anyone he wanted to have a second date with. This is a wild, sometimes raunchy, sometimes poignant, and always honest account of a semi-famous man's attempts at love. See also: icantbelieveimstillsingle.com Click the book cover to read more.
PALESTINE, 1948, AND THE CLAIMS OF MEMORY
EDITYED BY AHMAD H. SA'DI and LILA ABU LUGHOD
April 2007. Columbia
For outside observers, current events in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank are seldom related to the collective memory of ordinary Palestinians. But for Palestinians themselves, the iniquities of the present are experienced as a continuous replay of the injustice of the past. By focusing on memories of the Nakba, or "catastrophe," of 1948, in which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were dispossessed to create the state of Israel, the contributors to this volume illuminate the contemporary Palestinian experience and clarify the moral claims they make for justice and redress. The book's essays consider the ways in which Palestinians have remembered and organized themselves around the Nakba, a central trauma that continues to be refracted through Palestinian personal and collective memory. Analyzing oral histories and written narratives, poetry and cinema, personal testimony and courtroom evidence, the authors show how the continuing experience of violence, displacement, and occupation have transformed the pre-Nakba past and the land of Palestine into symbols of what has been and continues to be lost. Nakba brings to light the different ways in which Palestinians experienced and retain in memory the events of 1948. It is the first book to examine in detail how memories of Palestine's cataclysmic past are shaped by differences of class, gender, generation, and geographical location. In exploring the power of the past, the authors show the urgency of the question of memory for understanding the contested history of the present. Click the book cover to read more.
KAFKA AND CULTURAL ZIONISM
DATES IN PALESTINE
BY IRIS BRUCE, McMaster University
April 2007. University of Wisconsin Press
A portrait of the life of Kafka by a top Kafka schaolr. This is an analysis of his Jewish identity. His interest in Zionism demonstrates the presence of Jewish themes and motifs in his literary works. Kafka was engaged with his cultural identity and his works must be read in light of this. Click the book cover to read more.
ONCE UPON A COUNTRY
A PALESTINIAN LIFE
By SARI NUSSEIBEH WITH ANTHONY DAVID
April 2007. Farrar, Straus & Giroux
A prominent Palestinian's searching, anguished, deeply affecting autobiography, in which his life story comes to be the story of the recent history of his country. Sari Nusseibeh's autobiography is a remarkable book-one in which his dramatic life story and that of his embattled country converge in a work of great passion, depth, and emotional power.
Nusseibeh was raised to represent his country. His family's roots in Palestine traced back to the Middle Ages, and his father was the governor of Jerusalem. Educated at Oxford, he was trained to build upon his father's support for coexistence and a negotiated solution to the problems of the region. But the wars of 1967 and 1973 spelled the beginning of the end for the vision of a unified Palestine-and Nusseibeh's response to these events, and to those that followed, gives us the recent history from a Palestinian point of view as no book has done. From his time teaching side by side with Israelis at Hebrew University through his appointment by Yassir Arafat to administer Arab Jerusalem, he holds fast to a two-state solution, even as the powers around him insist that it is impossible. As Palestine is torn apart by settlements and barricades, corruption and violence, Nusseibeh remains true to the ideals of his youth, determined to keep hold of some faint hope for the life of his country. Once Upon a Country is a book with the scope and vitality of an old-fashioned novel-one whose ending is still uncertain. Click the book cover to read more.
When the Grey Beetles Took Over Baghdad
by Mona Yahia
April 2007. Braziller
Winner of the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize for Fiction. In this vivid story of growing up in Baghdad, Mona Yahia tells a very personal story set against the backdrop of political upheaval and an increasingly fractured society. Lina clings to childhood and the security of her youth during the last peaceful period for the 2500-year-old Jewish community in Iraq. When that peace begins to crumble, the usual uncertainties of adolescence are augmented by growing fear following the increasingly anti-Semitic rhetoric from the government and outbreaks of violence which ultimately drive out nearly all of the remaining 150,000 Jews in Baghdad. As Lina struggles to understand these dark changes in Iraq, her first love is forced to flee, her father loses his job, her brother is arrested, and her young friend must search among the bodies of hanged Jews for his imprisoned father. As violent coups, arrests, and executions become everyday occurrences, Lina's family must leave the country they have called home for generations. In the dangerous flight to the border, they must evade the security police, traverse perilous mountains, and entrust their lives and safety to strangers. The book will resonate with audiences of all ages. Click the book cover to read more.
The Diary of Mary Berg
Growing Up in the Warsaw Ghetto
by Mary Berg
Edited by S L Schneiderman
Intro by Susan Lee Pentlin, trans by Norbert Gutterman and Sylvia Glass
April 2007. Oneworld-Publications.com
From Publishers Weekly Starred Review. Today I am fifteen years old. I feel very old and lonely.... Everyone is afraid to go out. The Germans are here." So begins this extraordinary memoir of Jewish life in Lodz, Poland, and the Warsaw ghetto as the Nazis began to liquidate its starving and disease-ridden inmates. In 1940 Berg fled Lodz with her parents and sister. They lived in the Warsaw ghetto, and in July 1942 were transferred to Pawiak prison within the ghetto. Originally published in the U.S. in February 1945, the memoir is based on notebooks that Mary Berg (née Wattenberg) smuggled out of Europe when she and her interned family were traded for German prisoners and sailed to America. This powerful testament documents Nazi brutalities, and the difference between those without means, who starved and died of typhus, and the more privileged, like Berg's family (her mother was American and her father relatively wealthy), who, for a time, were able to patronize ghetto cafes and attend the theater. Berg is a remarkably clear-eyed, skillful and heart-breaking recorder of those terrible years. Click the book cover to read more.
ISRAEL AND PALESTINE:
PEACE PLANS FROM OSLO TO DISENGAGEMENT
BY GALIA GOLAN, Herzliya and Darwin Professor Emerita of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
April 2007. Markus Wiener
The Oslo Accords, inaugurated with the historic Rabin-Arafat handshake on the White House lawn, marked a promising breakthrough for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These Accords, however, turned out to be but the first in a series of numerous proposals and plans over the next ten years, all designed to cope with repeated failures and disappointments as well as the major issues of the conflict itself. Golan explores these plans and proposals, concentrating on the key issues addressed by the parties directly involved, along with the contributions of the Americans, the Quartet as a whole, and the Arab League. This book is a valuable resource for understanding the conflict, the issues involved and the prospects for peaceful resolution. Click the book cover to read more.
Ten Approaches to Personalizing Prayer
by Aryeh Ben David
April 2007. Devora Press
Click the book cover to read more.
Understanding the Afterlife in this Life
By Bernie Kastner
April 2007. Devora Press
Click the book cover to read more.
A SHOUT IN THE SUNSHINE
By MARA W. COHEN IOANNIDES (Missouri State Univ)
April 2007. JPS Jewish Publication Society
Ages 10 and up.
Set in 15th-century Greece, this young adult novel tells the story of an extraordinary friendship between two boys from different cultural backgrounds. On the surface, Miguel, a refugee from post-Inquisition Spain, and David, the son of a wealthy Greek Jewish fabric merchant, have little in common. As they work together in David's family shop, they find they share a special connection that goes beyond the divide of rich and poor, Spanish and Greek. Will an argument over David's sister be more than their friendship can bear? A Shout in the Sunshine sheds light on an often forgotten part of Jewish history - the Greek Jewish experience. Set in tumultuous times for the Greek Jewish community, the book explores what happens when two distinct Jewish communities must learn to live together. In 1492 King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella expelled the Jewish community of Spain. Sultan Beyazit II invited these refugees to Thessalonika, a community already home to a diverse Jewish population with deep roots in Greece. The melding of these different Jewish groups created a vibrant Jewish community that was, tragically, almost entirely destroyed during World War II.
This book is a testimony to the remarkable nature of this once thriving world. Click the book cover to read more.
SAVING THE JEWS
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT AND THE HOLOCAUST
By ROBERT n. ROSEN, Forword by Gerhard Weinberg, Afterword by Alan M. Dershowitz
Now in PAPERBACK
April 2007. Thunders Mouth
From Publishers Weekly: Was FDR an indifferent or possibly anti-Semitic president who abandoned European Jews, or was he a pragmatic leader who understood that the key to saving the Jews was winning WWII as swiftly as possible? This bloated, repetitious volume reads like one long apology as it takes on the so-called "revisionist" historians who question FDR's good will; it concludes that he should be "honored for [his] actions during World War II, not defamed." According to Rosen (The Jewish Confederates), FDR may have told ethnic jokes about Jews, but he also surrounded himself with Jewish friends and advisers like Henry Morgenthau Jr. FDR didn't have the political clout to change American immigration laws, and two-thirds of the refugees on the SS St. Louis, who were refused entry to the U.S. in 1939, are believed to have survived the war. Roosevelt probably didn't know about requests by various Jewish leaders to bomb Auschwitz, an action that, Rosen says would have killed Anne Frank and other innocents. Although Rosen is able to debunk some of the more overheated claims put forth four decades ago by Arthur Morse in While Six Million Died, his often simplistic arguments don't undo landmark works like David Wyman's The Abandonment of the Jews.
Click the book cover to read more.
COMEDY BY THE NUMBER
Edited By Eric Hoffman and Gary Rudoren
April 2007. McSweeney's
Being funny is hard work: just ask Gary Rudoren and Eric Hoffman. Like many people, they once believed that comedy was simply a matter of coming up with "zingers" and "jokes." After countless hours of painstaking research, they've discovered that true creativity is derived from simple formulas and the memorization of data. Their groundbreaking new book makes the secrets of comedy accessible to all, not only to the naturally funny, but to those who lack the intrinsic ability or talent to be funny. With Comedy By The Numbers, readers no longer need worry about originality. They simply choose from the book's comedic blueprints - and hilarity ensues! A comprehensive list of comedy characters, bits, scenarios, sketches, skits, shtick, and more helps readers build a memory bank of funny material. Special hints, tips, comedy history, hilariously funny comedy facts, and inside secrets from Bob Odenkirk and other seriously funny people provide additional aid and amusement. Click the book cover to read more.
The Inheritance of Exile
Stories from South Philly
by Susan Muaddi Darraj
April 2007. Notre Dame
In The Inheritance of Exile, Susan Muaddi Darraj expertly weaves a tapestry of the events and struggles in the lives of four Arab-American women. Hanan, Nadia, Reema, and Aliyah search for a meaningful sense of home, caught in the cultural gap that exists between the Middle East and the United States. Daughters of Palestinian immigrants who have settled into South Philly, each struggles to reconcile her Arab identity with her American one. Muaddi Darraj adds the perspectives of the girls' mothers, presented in separate stories, which illuminate the often troubled relationship between first and second generations of immigrants. Click the book cover to read more.
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