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SOME WINTER 2008 BOOK READINGS

Dec 03, 2007: 10th Annual Asian American Literary Awards. Aaww.org NYC
Dec 09, 2007: Dr. Arnold Eisen speaks on Revitalizing American Judaism. 92nd St Y, NYC 92y.org
Dec 21, 2007: Jewmongous comedy act with Sean Altman. NYC
Dec 23, 2007: HEEB Storytelling presents Jon Kesselman (Hebrew Hammer) and Sam Levine (Fraks and Geeks). Joe's Pub NYC 7PM
Dec 23, 2007: Putting The HA in HANUKKAH, sponsored by HEEB MAGAZINE hits NYC
Dec 24, 2007: Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad. At The Zipper Factory NYC
Dec 24, 2007: Good For The Jews, a comedy music duo perform at The Knitting Factory NYC
Dec 25, 2007: Zamir Choral Fdtn open sing with M Lazar. JCC Manhattan NYC 1PM
Dec 25, 2007: Klez for Kids. Eldridge St Synagogue. NYC
Dec 25, 2007: Challah lujah. Concert with Joshua Nelson and the Kosher Gospel Choir. Museum of Jewish Heritage, NYC 1 and 3:30. NYC

Jan 06, 2008: Russian Sundays at the Y. 4PM. Judism, Science and God, with Fedor Bogomolov, Carl Feit, Marc Swelitz, and Sylvain Cappell. 92nd St Y, NYC 92y.org
Jan 13-14, 2008: From Past To Present: The State of Research in Polish-Jewish Relations. UCLA Center for Jewish Studies
Jan 13, 2008: Dr. Amy-Jill Levine speaks at the Everett Institute. 92nd St Y, NYC 92y.org
Jan 13, 2008: BASKETBALL TRYOUTS for the 26th Annual JCC Maccabi Games. To be held in Detroit, August 2008. Tryouts at 92y.org NYC
Jan 18, 2008: Schmoozedance Jewish Film Festival in Park City Utah.
Jan 17-21, 2008: LIMMUDny.ORG Jewish Learning Weekend at Nevele Grande Report, Ellenville NY. Visit the webpage for lectures and information
Jan 24, 2008: Do You Believe? Conversations with Jonathan Safran Foer, Mary Gordon, Daniel Libeskind, Gay Talese and Antonio Monda. Temple Emanu-El, NYC, 7PM.

Feb 13, 2008: EITAN FISHBANE speaks on Kabbalah and the Literary Form of the Zohar. UCLA 7:30PM
Feb 25, 2008: The Pilgrimage Poems of Judah Halevi. A lecture by Dr. Raymond Scheindlin. JTS NYC
Feb 26, 2008: STEVEN COHEN speaks on THE EMERGING IDENTITIES OF YOUNG ADULT AMERICAN JEWS. UCLA 7:30PM
Mar 03, 2008: Rabbi Lawrence Kushner speaks at the Everett Institute on the Jewish Mystical Imagination. 92nd St Y, NYC 92y.org
Mar 06, 2008: Jewish Views on Stem Cells, Univ HC, and Assisted Suice, with Dr. David Novak. JTS NYC
Mar 13, 2008: Jennifer 8. Lee reads at the aaww.org, NYC
May 27, 2008: Jews amd Political Power. Lecture by Dr. Ruth R. Wisse. JTS NYC
Apr 01, 2008: Aaron David Miller reads from THE MUCH TOO PROMISED LAND. B&N UWS NYC 7PM
Apr 02, 2008: Steve COLL reads from the BIN LADENS. B&N LINC CTR NYC 7PM
Apr 03, 2008: ELISA ALBERT reads from THE BOOK OF DAHLIA. B&N Tribeca NYC 7PM
Apr 03, 2008: Joed Coffin reads at the aaww.org, NYC
Apr 08, 2008: JENNIFER WEINER reads from CERTAIN GIRLS. B&N LINC CTR NYC 7PM
Apr 14, 2008: DAVID HOCHMAN reads from THE POTTY TRAIN. B&N Santa Monica 10AM
Apr 14, 2008: CYNTHIA OZICK reads from DICTATION. B&N UWS NYC 7PM
Apr 21, 2008: GERALDINE BROOKS reads from PEOPLE OF THE BOOK. B&N Minnetonka MN 7PM
Apr 23-25, 2008: Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, UCLA, Los Angeles
Apr 30, 2008: Arthur Schwartz reads from JEWISH HOME COOKING. B&N Park Slope 730 PM

May 06, 2008: MICHAEL CHABON reads from YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S.... B&N Union Sq NYC 7PM
May 09, 2008: AARON COHEN reads from BROTHERHOOD OF WARRIORS. B&N Farmers Mkt Los Angeles 7PM
May 18, 2008: Rabbi Phillip Lieberman, PhD speaks at the Everett Institute on the Judeo Muslim Connection. 92nd St Y, NYC 92y.org







HEY.. NOW YOUR CAN SEARCH OUR SITE, INSTEAD OF JUST SEARCHING AMAZON. TRY IT OUT...





[book] [book] First... a quick shout out to (Rabbi) Danny Siegel, poet, tzedakah leader, and founder of the ZIV Tzedakah Collective in Millburn NJ. We have heard that the fund is closing down, having succeeded in distributing over $12 Million in funds, and teaching thousands about how to do great exceptional charity and justice work. Siegel, 63, will focus on poetry now. Bravo. And so we at MyJewishBooks.com, Jewishfilm.com, JewFlix.Org, and Tzedaka.Org say to Mr. Siegel, MAZEL TOV.




DECEMBER 2007

[book] The Moscow Jewish Avant-Garde Theatre
by Benjamin Harshav with Barbara Harshav
December 2007. Yale
The Moscow Yiddish Theater (later called GOSET) was born in 1919 and almost immediately became one of the most remarkable avant-garde theaters in Europe. It flourished in the 1920s but under Bolshevik pressure soon lost much of the originality that had distinguished it. In 1948 Stalin's henchmen slaughtered GOSET's legendary actor and director Solomon Mikhoels, and the theater was liquidated. This book focuses not on how the theater was persecuted but on its ambitious beginnings as a revolutionary organization of passionate artistic exploration. The book brings to English readers for the first time selected writings that reflect the aesthetics and politics of the Yiddish revolutionary theater. The book also incorporates miraculously salvaged images of Marc Chagall's famous theater murals, as well as paintings of costumes and stage sets created by the best artists of the day. These illustrations, discovered only after the fall of the Soviet Union, have never been published before. With emphasis on the theater's early achievements and its centrality in Moscow's burgeoning theater world, the book makes a major contribution to the understanding of modern Jewish culture and the art of theater. Benjamin Harshav is professor of comparative literature, J. & H. Blaustein Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature, and professor of Slavic languages and literatures, Yale University.. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] [book] The Torah
A Women's Commentary
by Tamara Cohn Eskenazi
December 2007. URJ Press
With More than 10,000 pre-ordered, The Torah: A Women's Commentary is on track to become the most popular Torah Commentary of 2008. This Highly anticipated work is finally here after 14 years of planning, research, and fundraising. At the 39th Women of Reform Judaism Assembly in San Francisco, Cantor Sarah Sager challenged Women of Reform Judaism delegates to "imagine women feeling permitted, for the first time, feeling able, feeling legitimate in their study of Torah." WRJ accepted that challenge. The Torah: A Women's Commentary debuts at the Union for Reform Judaism 69th Biennial Convention in San Diego in December 2007. WRJ has commissioned the work of the world's leading Jewish female Bible scholars, rabbis, historians, philosophers and archaeologists. Their collective efforts will result in the first comprehensive commentary, authored only by women, on the Five Books of Moses, including individual Torah portions as well as the Hebrew and English translation.
"The Torah: A Women's Commentary" presents five forms of commentary for each Torah portion. The Central Commentary contains the Hebrew text and a gender-accurate English translation, along with a verse-by-verse explanation of the biblical text, highlighting female characters and issues involving women. A shorter, "Another View" essay focuses on a specific element in the parsha in a way that complements, supplements or sometimes challenges the Central Commentary. The Post-Biblical Interpretations section gathers teachings from rabbinic writings and classical Jewish commentaries, showing how traditional Jewish sources responded to texts pertaining to women.
Take one brief example from Naomi Steinberg's Central Commentary in the parsha Vayigash. Steinberg observes that the story of the reconciliation of Joseph and his brothers "presents a study in the human capacity for lasting change" and the importance of forgiveness. How can we explain the transformation we witness in Judah? Steinberg answers this question by speculating on the effect of Judah's earlier encounter with his daughter-in-law Tamar, who deceived Judah in order to become pregnant. Steinberg writes: "While not mentioned in this parashah, Tamar has been a pivotal figure in Judah's own growth. Their encounter in Genesis 38 best accounts for Judah's new capacity to sympathize with his father."
In another parsha, the five daughters of Zelophehad in the Book of Numbers approach Moses, the leaders of the people, and the entire community. They draw near because they see a problem that needs a solution: they have not been given an inheritance that they believe is due to them. They refuse to be left out and demand their rightful share. And so they dare speak to Moses, the priest Eleazar, all the other leaders, and the entire edah (congregation or formally constituted assembly). They say: 'Give us a holding among our father's kin. Give us a share of our heritage, why should we be left out?' They get what they want a share, a large share I should add. Moreover, as a result of their courage, a new Torah law is created, one that intends to benefit future generations long after them. Their story is the story of the WRJ's The Torah: A Women's Commentary. The Women of Reform Judaism said: 'Give us a share among our brothers. We are no longer willing to be left out.' Instead of land, WRJ asks for something even more enduring - 'Give us a share of our Torah.' The result is a Torah commentary that we trust will benefit all of us. With this commentary we will continue as sisters to empower the women - and men - who come after us for generations to come."
The Torah: A Women's Commentary will finally give dimension to the women's voices in our tradition. Under Editor Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi's skillful leadership, this commentary will provide insight and inspiration for all who study Torah: men and women, Jew and non-Jew. As Dr. Eskenazi has eloquently stated, "we want to bring the women of the Torah from the shadow into the limelight, from their silences into speech, from the margins to which they have often been relegated to the center of the page - for their sake, for our sake and for our children's sake." This is wonderful rendition of our most sacred text, the Women's Commentary will bring a fresh perspective to our people's story. It will be an extraordinary resource that will prove both useful and meaningful to all - men and women alike - who delve into its pages."
Click the book cover to read more.
See also:
[book] [book] [book]









DOUBLE TAKE. YIKES
YES, I KNOW
YOU THOUGHT IT SAID TORAH IS FOR DUMMIES
WHEW... WE WERE CONFUSED
[book] THE TORAH FOR DUMMIES
Edited by Arthur Kurzweil
December 2007. Wiley For Dummies Series
An easy-to-understand introduction to Judaism's most sacred text. The foundation of Hebrew and Jewish religion, thought, law, and society is the Torah-the parchment scroll containing the text of the Five Books of Moses that is located in every synagogue. This accessible guide explains the Torah in clear language, even to those who were not raised in the Jewish religious tradition. Christians who want to know more about the Jewish roots of Christianity need to understand the Torah, as do followers of Islamic tradition and those interested in the roots of Abrahamic faiths. The Torah For Dummies explains the history of the Torah, its structure and major principles, and how the Torah affects the daily lives of people who follow the Jewish way of life. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] An Ordinary Spy
A Novel
by Joseph Weisberg
December 2007. Bloomsbury USA
Joseph Weisberg captured 10th grade so well in his previous novel, TENTH GRADE. Now, as a former CIA case officer, he has written about what he knows again. This novel is about two embattled Enron-generation spies who go to extraordinary lengths to keep their informants out of harm's way, published as if it was vetted and redacted by the agency itself. Sure... the black marked omissions get irritating after the first chapter... but the novel is worth this minor inconvenience. Here is the story synopsis. Mark Ruttenberg may not be fit for the CIA. Early in his tenure with the agency, he learns about a former operative, Bobby Goldstein, and becomes curious about the case that led to his termination. Before he can get to the bottom of what happened, however, he's shipped off to [*** REDACTED*** ], where he hobnobs with foreign diplomats and informants, who have access to [*** REDACTED***] information and contacts like the powerful General [*** REDACTED***], in the hopes of recruiting them as agents. But, when he falls for the wrong woman, he's quickly sent back to [*** REDACTED***], with nothing to show for his secretive work but a mysterious postcard with an unknown address on it. Who sent the postcard, and where is it supposed to lead him? Could this all be an ops test, with Mark's future hanging in the balance? Soon, he'll have to decide if righting an old wrong is worth taking a terrible and very personal risk. Published with redacted material throughout the novel, An Ordinary Spy is a riveting and dramatic portrait of modern espionage, filled with suspense, intrigue, and betrayal. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] OUT OF LINE
GROWING UP SOVIET
By RABBI Tina Grimberg
2007, Tundra
Although the Iron Curtain is gone, the memory of the high drama, tragedy, and comedy that was life in the Soviet Union remains. It meant endless lineups in the cold - lineups enlivened by poetry and paranoia. It meant family life lived in two small rooms, but a family life that was rich in love and laughter. It meant trying to escape all-seeing eyes, especially those of the old ladies in their babushkas who guarded every courtyard. Tina Grimberg brings color and perception to a life we think of as gray, impersonal, and foreboding. She was born in Kiev and grew up feisty, bright, and funny in a tiny flat with her parents and her older sister. Her descriptions of life in that grand and beleaguered city are by turn hysterical and heartbreaking. When Tina turned fifteen, the government, desperate for foreign wheat, traded "undesireables" for food, and that meant that many Jewish families like Tina's could leave. Until they could leave on the hair-raising journey that would eventually bring them to Indiana, she was publicly shamed and cut off, but she never lost her affectionate and clear-eyed view of her homeland. This brilliant collection of memories is an unforgettable look behind what was the Iron Curtain; at a way of life that was reality for millions of people in the twentieth century. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] The Promise
by Jean-Marie Lustiger, Cardinal of the Catholic Church
December 2007. Eerdmans
The late Jewish born French Cardinal shares his thoughts. Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, who was born to Polish Jews, converted to Roman Catholicism at the age of 13, and rose to become leader of the French church and an adviser to Pope John Paul II, died on August 5, 2007, prior to the publication of this book. Cardinal Lustiger (pronounced Li sti ZHAY), whose mother died in a Nazi concentration camp and who always insisted that he had remained a Jew after his conversion, was 80 years old He led France's 45 million Catholics for almost a 25 years and there was talk that he would one day be a modern day Jewish-born Pope. Cardinal Lustiger was involved in efforts to close a divide between Jews and Christians over the presence of a convent at the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, where his mother had perished. His assertions that he had remained a Jew despite his conversion drew outcries from some Jewish leaders. He saw himself like an early Christian, a Jewish Christian, who as a child was made to wear a yellow Star of David during the Nazi occupation of Vichy Paris. His birth name was Aaron Lustiger. fter the German occupation of France in 1940, Aaron was sent with his sister, Arlette, to live with a Catholic woman in Orléans, where the children were exposed to Catholicism and where, against the wishes of his parents, he decided to convert. He was baptized in August 1940, adding the name Jean-Marie to Aaron. His sister was baptized later. In September 1942, their mother was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she died in 1943; the father survived the war, returning to Paris, where he died in 1982. Until 1959, Cardinal Lustiger was student chaplain at the Sorbonne, and for the next 10 years director of the Richelieu Center, which trained chaplains for French universities. In 1969, he was appointed pastor of Ste. Jeanne de Chantal, in the 16th Arrondissement, one of Paris's wealthier neighborhoods. He transformed the parish, perhaps a model of the complacency the pope feared, into one of the archdiocese's most active. Cardinal Lustiger appeared to have undergone a spiritual crisis in the late 1970s, when he considered leaving France for Israel. "I had started to learn Hebrew, by myself, with cassettes," he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 1981. "Does that seem absurd, making your aliyah?" he said, referring to a Jew's return to Israel. "I thought then that I had finished what I had to do here, that I was at a crossroads." Then, in a surprise appointment, he was made bishop of Orléans, the city where he had been baptized. The pope appointed him archbishop of Paris in January 1981, In an early interview as archbishop, he said: "I was born Jewish, and so I remain, even if that is unacceptable for many. For me, the vocation of Israel is bringing light to the goyim. That is my hope, and I believe that Christianity is the means for achieving it." Reactions to his appointment were sharp. A former chief rabbi of Paris, Meyer Jays, told an interviewer that "a Jew becoming a Christian does not take up authentic Judaism, but turns his back to it." In 1983, he was made a cardinal. Countering those who said that European youth were not receptive to religion, Cardinal Lustiger in 1997 organized a World Youth Day, which was held in Paris and attended by more than a million people, including John Paul.In 1984, Roman Catholic prelates, including Cardinal Lustiger, and representatives of Jewish organizations worked out an agreement to move the convent in Auschwitz, but the plan was thrown into doubt in 1989 when Cardinal Jozef Glemp of Poland ruled out a move. Cardinal Lustiger pressed John Paul to intervene, and in 1993 the pope ordered the Carmelites to move, resolving the crisis. In 1995, while he was visiting Israel, Yisrael Meir Lau, the Ashkenazic chief rabbi and a concentration camp survivor, said Cardinal Lustiger had "betrayed his people and his faith during the most difficult and darkest of periods" in the 1940s. The rabbi dismissed the assertion that the cardinal had remained a Jew. In response, the cardinal said: "To say that I am no longer a Jew is like denying my father and mother, my grandfathers and grandmothers. I am as Jewish as all the other members of my family who were butchered in Auschwitz or in the other camps." Asked by a Jewish friend over dinner whether he thought he might become pope, the cardinal responded in French-accented Yiddish, "From your mouth to God's ear." This is his memoir. Click the book cover to read more.




[book] You Don't Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right
Finding Faith Without Fanaticism
by Brad Hirschfield
December 2007. Random House
Joseph Telushkin says of this book: "'Through you all the families of the earth will be blessed,' God says to Abraham in the Bible. Yet, for so much of history, the different religions have often turned the hardest of hearts to those who don't accept all their teachings. Brad Hirschfield brings a unique understanding-forged in years of theological study and personal interreligious dialogues-of where so many great faiths have gone wrong, and what can be done to guarantee that the blessing God bestowed on Abraham can, after almost four thousand years, finally be achieved."
"We live in a world," says Brad Hirschfield, "where religion is killing more people than at any time since the Crusades." And when it comes to fanaticism, Hirschfield is not speaking abstractly; he once embraced it. As a young man in the early 1980s, he left his family's upscale North Shore Chicago neighborhood for the West Bank city of Hebron, where he joined a group of settlers who were committed to reconstituting the Jewish state within its biblical borders. He carried a gun and, on one occasion, used it. He still doesn't know if his bullets found their mark. Now, Hirschfield has renounced all such rigid delineations of people into categories of totally right and totally wrong, entirely good and entirely evil. He seeks to build bridges among people of different faiths-and those with no faith at all. He is devoted to teaching inclusiveness, celebrating diversity, and delivering a message of acceptance-not as feel-good pabulum but as forceful and indispensable antidotes to the blind passions and willful ignorance that threaten us all. Grounded in biblical scholarship and interwoven with personal stories, You Don't Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right provides a pragmatic path to peace, understanding, and hope that appeals to the common wisdom of all religions. Pointing the way through the continuum of conflict, Hirschfield addresses: the ways faith has many faces; how justice can coexist with forgiveness and mercy; how unity does not necessitate uniformity; the ways we can learn to disagree without disconnecting. Though conflict is an inevitable part of life-a function of being connected to one another-Hirschfield is a voice of peace and reconciliation, showing us that conflict is also an opportunity to learn and grow and often to grow closer. Click the book cover to read more.






FOR ALL THOSE WHO WANT TO MAKE A JEWISH DOCUMENTARY FILM...
[book] Making Documentary Films and Videos
A Practical Guide to Planning, Filming, and Editing Documentaries
by Barry Hampe
December 2007. Holt
The second edition of Making Documentary Films and Videos fully updates the popular guidebook that has given readers around the world the knowledge and confidence to produce their first documentary film. It traces two main approaches-recording behavior and re-creating past events-and shows you how to be successful at each. Covering all the steps from concept to completion, with chapters on visual evidence; documentary ethics; writing for documentaries; budgeting; assembling a crew; film and sound recording; casting and directing actors and nonactors; and editing for the audience, this book can help you successfully bring to life the documentary you want to make. The second edition includes a discussion of truth, "reality," and honesty in the current filmmaking environment; new advice on how to get started in documentary filmmaking; an expanded section on researching and writing the proposal, treatment, and script; and an exhaustive list of resources. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] The Jewish Connection to Israel, the Promised Land
A Brief Introduction for Christians
by Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn
Jewish Lights
From Publishers Weekly: Informative, factual and, sadly, ... dry ..., this newest installment of the Brief Introduction for Christians series has some fine qualities. It is filled with interesting tidbits and opinions of which even Jewish readers may not be aware-e.g., the Israeli view of Hanukkah as a symbol of political independence and precedent for Jewish cultural and military self-defense. Chock-full of history, dates and statistics, the overview of Jews' relationship to Israel is thorough. However, it feels more like required collegiate reading than the engaging dialogue it could be, and the more contemporary commentary, particularly regarding American Jews, fails to illustrate the breadth of diversity within the community. Though by definition the Diaspora has produced Jews of every background and opinion, Korn, professor of Jewish thought in the Department of Christian-Jewish studies at Seton Hall, generalizes the place in which American Jews hold Israel as a central focus of Jewish identity, as well as their connection to the Ethiopian, Russian, Yemenite, and Iraqi Jews... as brothers and sisters. Certainly, Zionists abound in the United States, yet Korn fails to develop the idea that opinions on Israel vary as much among Jews as among their Gentile counterparts.
Click the book cover to read more.






A GREAT HANUKAH GIFT...
[book] The Reverend Guppy's Aquarium
From Joseph Frisbie to Roy Jacuzzi,
How Everyday Items Were Named for Extraordinary People
by Philip Dodd
December 2007. Gotham
I truly enjoy these types of books. Here are the BEST stories on how certain items got their names. Some are so interesting, and entertaining. Twenty people who have been immortalised as objects - heroes of the English language like Adolphe Sax(ophone), Joseph P. Frisbie, László Biró (ballpoint pen), Mercédčs Jellinek and Etienne de Silhouette, as well as the aerial swinger Jules Leotard, Roy Jacuzzi, Reverend Guppy, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, Anton Mesmer (he was mesmerizing and a quack, I guess he was more like a Momser), Oscar and Tony(Antoinette) for whom statues are named, Bougainville, Dahl(ia), Freese, Fuchs(hia), Magnol(ia), and the Jewish OB-GYN Dr. Ernst Grafenberg (Grafenberg-Spot, or G-Spot), Alois Alzheimer, Georges Gilles de la Tourette, Hans Asperger; Harry Fox(trot); and more are discussed in this book. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] THE GEOGRAPHY OF BLISS
One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World
by Eric Weiner
December 2007. Twelve
Part foreign affairs discourse, part humor, and part twisted self-help guide, The Geography of Bliss takes the reader from America to Iceland to India in search of happiness, or, in the crabby author's case, moments of "un-unhappiness." The book uses a beguiling mixture of travel, psychology, science and humor to investigate not what happiness is, but where it is. Are people in Switzerland happier because it is the most democratic country in the world? Do citizens of Singapore benefit psychologically by having their options limited by the government? Is the King of Bhutan a visionary for his initiative to calculate Gross National Happiness? Why is Asheville, North Carolina so damn happy? With engaging wit and surprising insights, Eric Weiner (pronounced whiner) answers those questions and many others, offering travelers of all moods some interesting new ideas for sunnier destinations and dispositions. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] Beaufort by Ron Leshem with Evan Fallenberg (Translator)
December 2007. Delacorte
The Israeli novel which is now a controversial award winning Israeli film. By turns subversive and darkly comic, brutal and tender, Ron Leshem's debut novel is an international literary sensation, winner of Israel's top award for literature and the basis for a prizewinning film. Charged with brilliance and daring, hypnotic in its intensity, Beaufort is at once a searing coming-of-age story and a novel for our times-one of the most powerful, visceral portraits of the horror, camaraderie, and absurdity of war in modern fiction.
Beaufort. To the handful of Israeli soldiers occupying the ancient crusader fortress, it is a little slice of hell-a forbidding, fear-soaked enclave perched atop two acres of land in southern Lebanon, surrounded by an enemy they cannot see. And to the thirteen young men in his command, Twenty-one-year-old Lieutenant Liraz "Erez" Liberti is a taskmaster, confessor, and the only hope in the face of attacks that come out of nowhere and missions seemingly designed to get them all killed.
All around them, tension crackles in the air. Long stretches of boredom and black humor are punctuated by flashes of terror. And the threat of death is constant. But in their stony haven, Erez and his soldiers have created their own little world, their own rules, their own language. And here Erez listens to his men build castles out of words, telling stories, telling lies, talking incessantly of women, sex, and dead comrades. Until, in the final days of the occupation, Erez and his squad of fed-up, pissed-off, frightened young soldiers are given one last order: a mission that will shatter all remaining illusions-and stand as a testament to the universal, gut-wrenching futility of war. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] Light Fell
A novel by Evan Fallenberg
December 27, 2007. SOHO
Twenty years have passed since Joseph left behind his entire life-his wife Rebecca, his five sons, his father, and the religious Israeli farming community where he grew up (sde Hirsch)-when he fell in love with a man, the genius rabbi Yoel Rosenzweig. If only their love was like the symbiotic harmony of yowl and Torah, or a bee and an orchid's pollen. Their affair is long over, but its echoes continue to reverberate through the lives of Joseph, Rebecca, and their sons in ways that none of them could have predicted. Now, for his 50th birthday, Joseph is preparing to have his five sons and the daughter-in-law he has never met spend Shabbat with him in the Tel Aviv penthouse that he shares with a man (who is conveniently out of town that weekend.) This will be the first time Joseph and all his sons will be together in nearly two decades.
Some of his sons have become fervently religious, another is completely secular, and their feelings toward their father range from acceptance to bitter resentment. As they prepare for this reunion, Joseph, his sons, and even Rebecca, must confront what was, what is, and what could have been.
The author, Evan Fallenberg, the father of two, hails from Cleveland. A grad of the Walsh School at Georgetown, he has lived in Israel for over 20 years. He has translated the works of Batya Gur and Meir Shalev. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] Japan Ai
A Tall Girl's Adventures In Japan
by Aimee Major Steinberger
December 2007. Go!
Join Aimee Major Steinberger on the ultimate fangirl vacation in Japan! This rapid-fire adventure is full of everything fans dream of seeing: cosplay on the infamous Harajuku Street, fantasy restaurants, maid cafes, Tokyo's largest doll store, beautiful shrines, bookstores full of manga, outrageous all-female Takarazuka musicals, cherry festivals, hot springs, special ceremonies, and so much more. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] The Wagner Clan
The Saga of Germany's Most Illustrious and Infamous Family
by Jonathan Carr
December 2007. Atlantic Monthly
A family saga as riveting as any opera, and a matchless mirror of Germany's rise, fall, and resurrection. Richard Wagner was many things-composer, philosopher, philanderer, failed revolutionary, and virulent anti-Semite-and his descendants have carried on his complex legacy. Now, in The Wagner Clan, biographer Jonathan Carr retraces the path of the renowned composer and his descendants. Along the way, Carr offers glimpses of Franz Liszt (whose illegitimate daughter Cosima married Wagner) (Cosima was an even bigger Jew hater); Friedrich Nietzsche; Arthur Schopenhauer; Alberto Toscanini; Joseph Goebbels; Hermann Göring; and the "Wolf" himself, Adolf Hitler, a passionate fan of the Master's music and an adopted uncle to Wagner's grandchildren. Wagner's British-born daughter-in-law, Winifred, was a close friend of Hitler's and seemed momentarily positioned to marry him after the death of her husband. All through the war the Bayreuth Festival, begun by the Master himself, was supported by Hitler, who had to fill out the meager audience with fighting men and SS officers. After the war, the festival was dark for a decade until Wagner's offspring-with characteristic ambition and cunning-revived it. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] The Latest Answers to the Oldest Questions
A Philosophical Adventure with the World's Greatest Thinkers
by Nicholas Fearn
December 2007.
From Publishers Weekly: From Plato to Colin McGinn, thinkers have addressed the same set of core questions, making philosophy an enduring human science through imagination and debate. This book-concisely organized into three parts titled "Who Am I?" "What Do I Know?" and "What Should I Do?"-reviews not just the latest work on these age-old questions, but also the journey between ancient and modern philosophy. But where the title promises adventure, the broad overview obscures the quirky characters and theories that give life to today's great ideas. Further, Fearn seems unable to decide what kind of narrator he wants to be: he'll appear suddenly out of synthetic prose to interview-or to fail to interview-one of his more than 30 subjects. One of his stranger encounters is with Jacques Derrida: "Although he is renowned for his charm, I am unable to give a personal account of Derrida since he declined to be interviewed, and woke me up with a phone call at 7:30 a.m. to tell me so." In this way, the book certainly has its moments, especially in the later chapters, but too often loses momentum.






[book] COOKING JEWISH
532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family
by Judy Bart Kancigor
November 2007. Workman Publishing
Got kugel? Got Kugel with Toffee Walnuts? Now you do. Here's the real homemade Gefilte Fish - and also Salmon en Papillote. Grandma Sera Fritkin's Russian Brisket and Hazelnut-Crusted Rack of Lamb. Aunt Irene's traditional matzoh balls and Judy's contemporary version with shiitake mushrooms. Cooking Jewish gathers recipes from five generations of a food-obsessed family into a celebratory saga of cousins and kasha, Passover feasts - the holiday has its own chapter - and crossover dishes. And for all cooks who love to get together for coffee and a little something, dozens and dozens of desserts: pies, cakes, cookies, bars, and a multitude of cheesecakes; Rugelach and Hamantaschen, Mandelbrot and Sufganyot (Hanukkah jelly doughnuts). Not to mention Tanta Esther Gittel's Husband's Second Wife Lena's Nut Cake. Blending the recipes with over 160 stories from the Rabinowitz family-by the end of the book you'll have gotten to know the whole wacky clan-and illustrated throughout with more than 500 photographs reaching back to the 19th century, Cooking Jewish invites the reader not just into the kitchen, but into a vibrant world of family and friends. Written and recipe-tested by Judy Bart Kancigor, a food journalist with the Orange County Register, who self-published her first family cookbook as a gift and then went on to sell 11,000 copies, here are 532 recipes from her extended family of outstanding cooks, including the best chicken soup ever - really! - from her mother, Lillian. (Or as the author says, "When you write your cookbook, you can say your mother's is the best.") Every recipe, a joy in the belly. Click the book cover to read more.






JANUARY 2008


[book] The Jewish Messiah
A Novel
by Arnon Grunberg with a translation by Sam Garrett
January 2008. Penguin
Arnon Yasha Yves (Arnon) Grünberg (born 1971) is a Dutch Jewish writer. Some of his books were written using the heteronym Marek van der Jagt. Grünberg made his literary debut in 1994 with the novel Blauwe maandagen (Blue Mondays), which won the Dutch prize for the best debut novel that year. In 2000, under the heteronym Marek van der Jagt, he won the best debut prize again for his novel De geschiedenis van mijn kaalheid (The Story of My Baldness). The Jewish Messiah is not about Judaism, nor about the Messiah nor about any of the political or historical entities that may be hidden, or referred to, in the book. It is about a young individual, Basel-resident Xavier Radek, grandson of a late SS-member. He needs a mission and, wanting to know more about Jewish suffering, decides to "console the Jews." He converts, and falls in love with a Jew man, Awromele. Xavier's almost fatal circumcision, performed by a half-blind dealer of kosher cheese, is described in some of Grünberg's most hilarious scenes. This book, together with the Van der Jagt works, confirms Grünbergs unique position within Dutch literature. An illustration of the sense of humour employed in the book is the name "King David" given to the testicle Radek lost (during his circumcision), which is worshipped when Radek is PM of Israel. It is a farce and a love story. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] People of the Book
A Novel
by Geraldine Brooks
January 2008. Viking
In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding-an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair-she begins to unlock the book's mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book's journey from its salvation back to its creation. In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of fin-de-sičcle Vienna, the book becomes a pawn in the struggle against the city's rising anti-Semitism. In inquisition-era Venice, a Catholic priest saves it from burning. In Barcelona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text sees his family destroyed by the agonies of enforced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the Haggadah's extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed. Hanna's investigation unexpectedly plunges her into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics. Her experiences will test her belief in herself and the man she has come to love. Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is at once a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity, an ambitious, electrifying work by an acclaimed and beloved author. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] LIGHT FELL
A novel
By Evan Fallenberg
January 2008. Soho
Evan, a resident of Israel by way of Cleveland, is a graduate of the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown. But I have not held this against him, just because that school rejected me. And on to the book...
Twenty years have passed since Joseph left behind his entire life-his wife Rebecca, his five sons, his father, and the religious Israeli farming community where he grew up-when he fell in love with a man, the genius rabbi Yoel Rosenzweig. Their affair is long over, but its echoes continue to reverberate through the lives of Joseph, Rebecca, and their sons in ways that none of them could have predicted. Now, for his fiftieth birthday, Joseph is preparing to have his five sons and the daughter-in-law he has never met spend the Sabbath with him in the Tel Aviv penthouse that he shares with a man-who is conveniently out of town that weekend. This will be the first time Joseph and all his sons will be together in nearly two decades. The boys' lives have taken widely varying paths. While some have become extremely religious, another is completely cosmopolitan and secular, and their feelings toward their father range from acceptance to bitter resentment. As they prepare for this reunion, Joseph, his sons, and even Rebecca, must confront what was, what is, and what could have been. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] The Forger
by Cioma Schonhaus, translated by Alan Bance
January 2008. Del Capo
From Publishers Weekly: This memoir of a Jewish man's experience in wartime Berlin is less a tale of suffering than of courage. By 1942, Schönhaus's family had been deported; the 20-year-old was spared because he worked in an arms factory. In that year, he began using his graphics background to forge IDs for Jews in hiding, and eventually went underground himself. His efforts, aided by anti-Nazi Germans, saved the lives of hundreds of Jews. He maintains a determined tone about the war-At last, I didn't have to just look on helplessly at what they were doing to us, he writes about being asked to forge documents-but Schönhaus's account has all the elements of a thriller. (In fact, Schönhaus's story is being made into a film.) Despite the doom around him, he lives boldly, enjoying sailing escapades and sexual encounters with women, seemingly defying the Nazi authorities to find him until he flees over the border into Switzerland. While adding to our knowledge about wartime Berlin, this work also tells us something about how the human spirit can thrive amid destruction and tragedy. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] The Unknown Black Book
The Holocaust in the German-Occupied Soviet Territories
Edited by Joshua Rubenstein with Ilya Altman and Yitzhak Arad
January 2008. Indiana University Press
The Unknown Black Book provides, for the first time in English, a revelatory compilation of testimonies from Jews who survived open-air massacres and other atrocities carried out by the Germans and their allies in the occupied Soviet territories during World War II. These documents, from residents of cities, small towns, and rural areas, are first-hand accounts by survivors of work camps, ghettos, forced marches, beatings, starvation, and disease. Collected under the direction of two renowned Soviet Jewish journalists, Vasily Grossman and Ilya Ehrenburg, they tell of Jews who lived in pits, walled-off corners of apartments, attics, and basement dugouts, unable to emerge due to fear that their neighbors would betray them, which often occurred. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism
From Sacred Texts to Solemn History
by Andrew G. Bostom
January 2008. Prometheus
This comprehensive, meticulously documented collection of scholarly articles presents indisputable evidence that a readily discernible, uniquely Islamic antisemitism--a specific Muslim hatred of Jews--has been expressed continuously since the advent of Islam. Debunking the conventional wisdom, which continues to assert that Muslim animosity toward Jews is entirely a 20th-century phenomenon fueled mainly by the protracted Arab-Israeli conflict, leading scholars provide example after example of antisemitic motifs in Muslim documents reaching back to the beginnings of Islam. The contributors show that the Koran itself is a significant source of hostility toward Jews, as well as other foundational Muslim texts including the hadith (the words and deeds of Muhammad as recorded by pious Muslim transmitters) and the sira (the earliest Muslim biographies of Muhammad). Many other examples are adduced in the writings of influential Muslim jurists, theologians, and scholars, from the Middle Ages through the contemporary era. These primary sources, and seminal secondary analyses translated here for the first time into English--such as Hartwig Hirschfeld's mid-1880s essays on Muhammad's subjugation of the Jews of Medina and George Vajda's elegant, comprehensive 1937 study of the hadith--detail the sacralized rationale for Islam's anti-Jewish bigotry. Numerous complementary historical accounts illustrate the resulting plight of Jewish communities in the Muslim world across space and time, culminating in the genocidal threat posed to the Jews of Israel today. Scholars, educators, and interested lay readers will find this collection an invaluable resource for understanding the phenomenon of Muslim antisemitism, past and present.
"Stimulating and informative: a fascinating and disturbing voyage of historical discovery...It is magnificent." (-Martin Gilbert)
Click the book cover to read more.






[book][book] Glamour, Interrupted
How I Became the Best-Dressed Patient in Hollywood
by Steven Cojocaru
January 2008. Collins
Before Steven Cojocaru was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, he could never have imagined himself living anything other than a high-glam Hollywood lifestyle. A bon vivant on two coasts, he held jobs as both the red carpet guru for Entertainment Tonight and the fashion correspondent for the Today show, hauling his suitcase full of flat irons and designer boots from New York to Los Angeles and back again, every week. He was Cojo, professional glamour boy with a barbed tongue who went shopping with J.Lo and traded fashion tips with Gwyneth. But a painful and ironically unglamorous reality would begin to form itself around his life, and Cojo found himself with a new Rolodex of A-List friends: The kidney team at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. In a memoir that moves beyond the celebrity, Glamour, Interrupted is an inspiring and darkly humorous story about how, in the midst of a world obsessed with youth and beauty, Cojo survived what turned out to be the fight of his life. From drug-induced meltdowns to waking up in the hospital on life support, Cojo recounts his desperate hunt for a new kidney-after a failed transplant and months of dialysis-that ended with a twist of fate and forged an even stronger bond with his mother. With a bit of eye cream, a little concealer, and just a touch of bronzer, he found a strength he didn't know he had, and used his unfaltering sense of humor to help him survive.
Oh... why is this book on MyJewishBooks.com? Because of Cedars-Sinai?? No. Because Steven grew up in a Jewish family of Romanian and Israeli heritage. "Cojo", as Matt Lauer dubbed him, as effete as Liberace, Paul Lynde, and Richard Simmons, grew up in Montreal as an ostracized suburban kid who spent hours upon hours with fashion and celebrity magazines as a teenager. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] The Broken American Male
And How to Fix Him
by Shmuley Boteach, Rabbi
January 2008, St Martins
Boteach churns out another one
From the book flap: Why do American husbands come home from work too exhausted to interact with their families? When did a healthy quest for prosperity become a twisted game no one can win? How did BlackBerries and internet porn become more interesting to men than their flesh-and-blood spouses? .....[Boteach] discovered a disturbing common thread in the families he meets: men responding to the pressure of competition in their work lives by turning away from their loved ones.In a world that judges men by the size of their paychecks and the wattage of their fame, it's all too easy to lose sight of what is truly valuable in life.Men who consider themselves failures and don't love themselves turn into stressed-out dads, distracted husbands and miserable human beings. For these men, alcohol, the internet and sporting events serve as numbing stand-ins for reality. In THE BROKEN AMERICAN MALE, Boteach doesn't just outline the problems facing marriages and nuclear families.He also offers practical, inspiring solutions, showing how wives can reach out to their husbands, helping them become heroes again to their own families. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book









[book] If I Am Not For Myself
Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew
by Mike Marqusee
January 2008, Verso
If I Am Not For Myself is a passionate, thought-provoking exploration of what it means to be Jewish in the twenty-first century. It traces the author's upbringing in 1960s Jewish-American surburbia, his anti-war and pro-Palestinian activism on the British left, and life as a Jew among Muslims in Pakistan, Morocco, and Britain. Interwoven with this are the experiences of his grandfather's life in Jewish New York of the 1930s and 40s, his struggles with anti-Semitism and the twists and turns that led him from anti-fascism to militant Zionism. In the course of this deeply personal story, Marqusee refutes the claims of Israel and Zionism on Jewish loyalty and laments their impact on the Jewish diaspora. Rather, he argues for a richer, more multi-dimensional understanding of Jewish history and identity, and reclaims vital political and personal space for those castigated as "self-haters" by the Jewish establishment. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book









[book] My People's Passover Haggadah
Traditional Texts, Modern Commentaries Volume 1
Edited by Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman and David Arnow, PhD
January 2008, Jewish Lights Publishing
In two volumes, this empowering resource for the spiritual revival of our times enables us to find deeper meaning in one of Judaism's most beloved traditions, the Passover Seder. Rich Haggadah commentary adds layer upon layer of new insight to the age-old celebration of the journey from slavery to freedom--and makes its power accessible to all.
This diverse and exciting Passover resource features the traditional Haggadah Hebrew text with a new translation designed to let you know exactly what the Haggadah says. Introductory essays help you understand the historical roots of Passover, the development of the Haggadah, and how to make sense out of texts and customs that evolved from ancient times. Framed with beautifully designed Talmud-style pages, My People's Passover Haggadah features commentaries by scholars from all denominations of Judaism. You are treated to insights by experts in such fields as the Haggadah's history; its biblical roots; its confrontation with modernity; and its relationship to rabbinic midrash and Jewish law, feminism, Chasidism, theology, and kabbalah. No other resource provides such a wide-ranging exploration of the Haggadah, a reservoir of inspiration and information for creating meaningful Seders every year. Commentators include: David Arnow-The World of Midrash; Carole B. Balin-Modern Haggadot; Marc Brettler-Our Biblical Heritage; Neil Gillman-Theologically Speaking; Alyssa Gray-Medieval Commentators; Arthur Green-Personal Spirituality; Joel M. Hoffman-Translating the Haggadah; Lawrence A. Hoffman-History of the Haggadah; Lawrence Kushner and Nehemia Polen-Chasidic Voices; Daniel Landes-The Halakhah of the Seder; and Wendy I. Zierler-Feminist Voices. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book









[book] My People's Passover Haggadah
Traditional Texts, Modern Commentaries Volume 2
Edited by Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman and David Arnow, PhD
January 2008, Jewish Lights Publishing
In two volumes, this empowering resource for the spiritual revival of our times enables us to find deeper meaning in one of Judaism's most beloved traditions, the Passover Seder. Rich Haggadah commentary adds layer upon layer of new insight to the age-old celebration of the journey from slavery to freedom--and makes its power accessible to all.
This diverse and exciting Passover resource features the traditional Haggadah Hebrew text with a new translation designed to let you know exactly what the Haggadah says. Introductory essays help you understand the historical roots of Passover, the development of the Haggadah, and how to make sense out of texts and customs that evolved from ancient times. Framed with beautifully designed Talmud-style pages, My People's Passover Haggadah features commentaries by scholars from all denominations of Judaism. You are treated to insights by experts in such fields as the Haggadah's history; its biblical roots; its confrontation with modernity; and its relationship to rabbinic midrash and Jewish law, feminism, Chasidism, theology, and kabbalah. No other resource provides such a wide-ranging exploration of the Haggadah, a reservoir of inspiration and information for creating meaningful Seders every year. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book









[book] A Mystical Haggadah
Passover Meditations, Teachings, and Tales
by Eliahu Klein
March 2008, North Atlantic
In a generation that has seen an explosion in popularity of books about mystical and meditative traditions, very little has been published about the rich and fascinating mystical traditions of the Jewish holy days. Passover, the first religious holiday of the Jewish people, particularly rewards a re-viewing from a mystical perspective. A Mystical Haggadah takes readers through the Passover ritual with Kabbalistic meditations and affirmations in a friendly, accessible format. This Haggadah also includes many Hassidic teachings and stories that have never been presented to the English reading audience. The book is especially valuable for its transliterations of all the major prayers and rituals, and is refreshing in its creative and spiritually-based adaptation and translation of the primary Haggadah text. A Mystical Haggadah is for all spiritual seekers who wish to explore this root tradition of Judaism as a ritual of cosmic importance. The book is also for Jewish seekers of all denominations who wish to explore the mystical, meditative, and empowering aspects of Jewish traditions as seen through the rich and meaningful Passover eve Seder ritual. Rabbi Eliahu Klein has taught Kabbalah, Jewish Meditation, and Hassidism for over 30 years throughout the U.S., Great Britain, and Israel. The Jewish Chaplain for San Francisco County Jails and other prisons of the State of California Department of Rehabilitation, he lives in Berkeley. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book









[book] HAGGADAH FOR PASSOVER
WITH COMMENTARY BASED ON THE SHIURIM OF
RABBI JOSEPH B. SOLOVEITCHIK
By Rabbi Yosef Adler
2008, AVAILABLE FROM URIM
Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt"l, known as "The Rav," exemplified the value of studying in anticipation of Jewish holidays (chagim) through his lectures and study sessions. Every year, several weeks before Pesach, the Rav learned the laws of Pesach and the Haggadah text with his students at Yeshiva University and with the general public at Congregation Moriah in Manhattan. This Passover Haggadah compiles the Rav's commentary from those shiurim into an accessible resource for pre-Pesach studies and an insightful accompaniment to the Pesach Seder. Not only does the Rav illuminate the halachic basis of many of the mitzvot of the Seder, but he also expounds on the traditional text with universal and relevant interpretations. Includes the full Passover Haggadah text in Hebrew with an English translation plus commentary. Rabbi Yosef Adler was a student of the Rav and his personal shamash for two years. He received his rabbinical ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University, and is both the mara de-atra of Congregation Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck, New Jersey and the Rosh ha-Yeshiva of Torah Academy of Bergen County.
Using meticulous notes saved from the 1970s, Rabbi Yosef Adler compiled this while on sabbatical in the summer of 2006. In his introduction, Adler relates that he was a sophomore in high school the first time he heard Soloveitchik lecture (in Yiddish) at a Mizrachi convention. He would later become one of some 2,000 rabbis ordained by Soloveitchik during the latter's 45-year tenure as rosh yeshiva of YU's affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). In the four weeks spanning Purim and Passover, the Rav would focus his study sessions on the laws of Passover and on the Haggadic text. Although Soloveitchik's grandson Yitzchak Lichtenstein previously published a Haggadah incorporating material from his grandfather's lectures, and others have published works on Soloveitchik's insights into the holiday, Adler felt there was more to be mined. "The Lichtenstein Haggadah is purely halachic [dealing with Jewish laws] and does not explain the text of the Haggadah itself, so I felt I could make a contribution," said Adler. "Everything [in the book] I heard from the rav directly, and it has greatly enhanced my own understanding of the seder." This full Hebrew-English Haggadah includes seven pages of Adler's own commentaries, as well as his seven-page Hebrew summary of the laws of the seder. "Aside from the halachic section, I wrote it primarily in English for a broader audience without an extensive talmudic background," said Adler. Hebrew phrases do appear frequently within the text of the commentary; most are either translated or transliterated.
Soloveitchik, in keeping with the outlook of the Brisker rabbinic dynasty of which he was a scion, wrote several well-known philosophical volumes but was famously hesitant to commit his many oral lectures to book form. "...I was able to spend every single morning for three and a half months working on it uninterrupted while I was on sabbatical in Israel almost two years ago."
Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book





[book] Passover by Design
The Best of the Kosher by Design Series for the Holiday
by Susie Fishbein
February 2008, Mesorah
In this fifth cookbook in the celebrated Kosher by Design series, Susie Fishbein makes Passover preparations elegantly simple. Featuring a blend of Passover-adjusted Kosher by Design favorites, with over thirty brand-new recipes and full-color photos, this is one cookbook you'll love to use throughout the holiday. Passover by Design features: Over 30 brand-new recipes, many developed with kosher catering star, Moshe David; Over 130 Kosher by Design favorites reformulated and retested for Passover; Over 140 full-color images throughout, with over 40 brand-new photos; Quick and easy table decor and entertaining ideas; Useful, year-round healthy cooking techniques; Comprehensive index for easy cross-referencing; Also includes over 130 gluten-free recipes which makes this the perfect year-round cookbook for those on a gluten-free diet.
Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book

As this book is published, the author is approaching her first Passover since the death of her beloved mother in law, Myrna Fishbein, and so, the book is dedicated to her. Recipes are tagged if they are non-gebrokts. Not only are the Passover recipes splendid, but the presentation ideas are extremely helpful and creative. For example, each seder participant can pick a chore out of a bowl (serve the soup, clean the first course, pour the wine). Or consider serving the karpas and salt water in a Bento Box. Or check the wine labels at the seder. Tell a Jewish story about each of the countries that the wines are from (Israel, USA, Chile, New Zealand, etc.)
Recipes include APPETIZERS (14) - highlights are Salmon Tataki, Tri-color gefilte fish (3 layers, requires salon for one layer, dill and cucumbers for another, and a springform pan), Steamed Sea Bass and Savoy Cabbage. Idea: serve the horseradish in a scooped out zucchini slice.
SOUPS (over 18) include creamy peach, carrot coconut vichyssoise, chicken, broccoli and almond bisque, and a thick wild mushroom veloute. In terms of matzo balls, there are tomato, tumeric, and spinach versions.
There are over 20 SALADS. Including seared Ahi Tuna Nicoise, Cucumber dill, Grilled Beef and Radish, Fatoush, and Mango Tuna with Goat Cheese. The coolest is a Watermelon and Beet salad served in a martini glass with mint and basil sprigs. There are 27 POULTRY recipes. Includes Chicken Lollipops, Greek Garlic Chicken, Fiesta Turkey Burgers, Pastrami Stuffed Turkey Roast with a Pineapple Glaze, and Ratatouille Chicken Stew. The nineteen MEAT recipes include Lamb Chop with Parsley Pesto, Brisket with Shallots and Potatoes, Braised Rib Roast with Melted Tomatoes, Veal Scaloppini with Kumquats, and a Fig Marsala Sauce.
Of the over 20 FISH/DAIRY recipes, my faves were Tower of Snapper and Eggplant, Halibut with Zucchini Confit, Tuna Croquettes, Parmesan Crusted Grouper (yes Parmesan can be kosher), Matzo Brei, and Blintz Souffle. The 24 SIDE DISHES include Cauliflower Popcorn, Cauliflower Francaise (she loves cauliflower), Matzo Primavera, Meichel (her mother in law's farfal mushroom pilaf), Hasselback Potatoes (never has a potato looked so lovely), a cranberry pineapple kugel, Thai Quinoa, and Quinoa Timbales with Grapefruit Vinaigrette. As for Afikomens, or DESSERTS, there are 28, including Ebony and Ivory (mouse), Chocolate Mousse Pie, Melon Granitas, Best Ever Sponge Cake (the trick is in the egg white beatings), a compote that serves a mere 25 people, and bronies, cookies, and sorbet. Btay Avon








[book] A Blessing in Disguise
39 Life Lessons from Today's Greatest Teachers
by Andrea Joy Cohen< MD
2008
Luminaries generously share personal stories about their most challenging experience-and provide the healing wisdom that helped them emerge fortified with inner-peace, strengthened faith, and a deeper understanding of life. Features pieces by: Dean Ornish Rachel Naomi Remen Bernie Siegel Joan Borysenko Harriet Lerner Belleruth Naparstek Stephen Levine Martha Beck Dharma Singh Khalsa Daphne Rose Kingma David Whyte Anne Wilson Schaef And Others. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book









[book] The Song of The Distant Dove
Judah Halevi's Pilgramage
by Raymond Scheindlin, JTS
Oford
Judah Halevi (ca. 1075-1141) is the best known and most beloved of medieval Hebrew poets, partly because of his passionate poems of longing for the Land of Israel and partly because of the legend of his death as a martyr while reciting his Ode to Zion at the gates of Jerusalem. He was also one of the premier theologians of medieval Judaism, having written a treatise on the meaning of Judaism that is still studied and venerated by traditional Jews. As a member of the wealthy Jewish elite of medieval Spain, Halevi enjoyed the material pleasures available to the upper classes. Alongside his sacred poetry, he wrote verses about youthful romance, wine songs, and odes to his friends. In midlife, Halevi turned more seriously to religion, eventually abandoning his family and community with hopes of ending his life as a pilgrim in the land of Israel. Miraculously, a number of letters in Arabic were discovered about fifty years ago, some written by Halevi, some written to Halevi, and yet others written about Halevi by his friends in Egypt. These letters preserve a vivid record of Halevi's travels as a pilgrim and of the last months of his life. Raymond Scheindlin has written the first book-length treatment of Halevi's pilgrimage in any language. He tells the story of Halevi's journey through selections from these revealing sources and explores its meaning through discussions of his stirring poetry, presented here in new verse translations with full commentary. In Hebrew verse of unparalleled beauty, Halevi salutes the Holy Land; he argues with friends about his intentions; he sets out his fantasy of crossing the ocean, of walking the hills and valleys of the Land of Israel, and of dying and mingling his bones with its soil and stones. He even confides his secret fears and uncertainties, his longing for his family, and his fear of death at sea. With his consummate skill as a translator of Hebrew poetry and his mastery of Judeo-Arabic culture, Scheindlin provides fresh insights into the literary, religious, and historical facets of Halevi's captivating poetry and fateful journey.









[book] STIRRING IT UP
HOW TO MAKE MONEY AND SAVE THE WORLD
by Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield Farm
January 2008. Hyperion
Gary is the president and C.E.YO. of Stonyfield Farm, the largest manufacturer of organic yogurt. He was a trustee for an NGO maker of organic dairy and a training school, which morphed into the yogurt company to raise funds for the school. In this book, he shares his own creative business solutions, and also includes solutions from other cutting edge "green" companies, suc as Newman's Own, Timberland, Whole Foods, Clif Bar and Patagonia. Now you will probably say, "oh sure, those are all marketers of premium priced goods and services, so they have the liberty to be green." Well, he throws in Wal-Mart as well. He asserts that making a business green actually saves companies money in the long run-for instance, by measuring and reducing one's climate footprint, cutting down on trash and packaging, converting waste to energy, and building loyal and sustainable supplier relations, all while boosting consumer loyalty and thus reducing advertising costs. His company of 18 years has been carcon neutral in 1997. Hirshberg illustrates his points with practical information and advice, as well as engaging anecdotes from the early days of his yogurt company: how a power outage left them milking cows by hand, and how a fire in a Dumpster revealed the need for better packaging. He also describes numerous hands-on grassroots marketing strategies, such as using the yogurt lids for messages about the environment and giving out samples to thank subway commuters for using public transit, and explains how these approaches make a much more powerful impact on consumers than traditional advertising. Once his kid's school's nutritionist said that they served pizza and skittles to kids since they would never eat yogurt. That prompted him to start the MENU FOR CHANGE, for better health in school lunches. He thinks the businesses can change the world.. Gary lost two brothers to congenital heart ailments, they both died about four to five years ago, each within a month of their fortieth birthday. That experience changed him forever. He realized that we are all compost sooner or later and do not have long on this planet to do well by our children, so for him, he cannot imagine a more effective place to be than to be showing how profitable it can be to create a more sustainable society. I also think that with the limited amount of time any of us have we really have to invest it in the things that have the most impact.
Stirring It Up demonstrates how companies can work to save the planet, while achieving greater profits and satisfaction, as well Can business do both: make a profit for shareholders, and save the planet for stakeholders? This inspiring book is for business owners and managers as well as anyone interested in saving the environment
Click the book cover to read more.







FEBRUARY 2008

[book] THE CLOTHES ON THEIR BACKS
A NOVEL
BY LINDA GRANT
February 2008, Virago
A FINALIST FOR THE BOOKER MAN PRIZE IN THE UK
THE GUARDIAN.UK writes.... : "Vivien Kovaks comes from a family of 'mice-people', Jewish-Hungarian immigrants who arrived in 1938 and are simply grateful to England for giving them refuge. This is a novel about identity and belonging. There is nothing lightweight about its themes and yet it is so artfully constructed that you barely feel you're reading it at all, so fluid and addictive is the plot. But like all the best books, the serious ideas it raises stay with you for a long time afterwards. Vivien is the niece of Sandor Kovacs (note the different spelling), a rent baron who made his fortune from London's new Afro-Caribbean immigrants in the Fifties and Sixties. Kovacs acquired rent-controlled properties in London and evicted the unprofitable sitting tenants by violence and intimidation. (As Grant notes in her afterword, the character was inspired by Peter Rachman.).... Sandor is a distant figure in Vivien's childhood. She has a vivid memory of him appearing at the door of her family's London apartment in 1963 when she was 10, threatening the peace and quiet of their humdrum life. Her father Ervin forbade her to take the bar of Toblerone Sandor had brought for his niece and from her bedroom window Vivien watches her uncle's girlfriend eating it instead...... Ervin is convinced no good will come of his brother and sure enough eight months later, Sandor is sent to prison in a blaze of headlines. Ervin takes the view that it is just as well he changed the spelling of the family's name. But Vivien is intrigued and not convinced of her uncle's 'guilt'. The man she saw for a split-second seems a fascinating character. He might have his faults, but he appeared like someone with nothing to hide, unlike her parents, who are full of secrets.....
This is a wonderful, tightly written novel that charts one woman's emotional life while weaving in politics, history and morality. It does not come to any easy conclusions: the murderous Sandor is no less of a monster than his silently raging but impotent brother Ervin, who is sleepwalking through life. Ultimately, though, Sandor's defence does not wash; by choosing a path of violence and revenge, he descends to the depths of the fascists he hates. Grant does not hit you over the head with politics, though. She transports you to another era and into another woman's life so gently and effortlessly that it is not until the end of the book that you realise the points she is making are universal and timeless. This novel is above all a quiet masterclass in the perils of hypocrisy. No man is all good or all bad. And a decent suit can make you overlook a lot."
Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book









[book] THE GOOD RAT
A TRUE STORY
BY JIMMY BRESLIN
February 2008, Ecco
There was a man who when asked if he was in the mob replied that No, for he was Jewish. Had he ever committed a crime? Well yes, if you consider murder, kidnapping, fraud and manslaughter as crimes. He was Kaplan, the mobster who never talked, until the government made him an offer he could not refuse.
Jimmy Breslin recognized Burton Kaplan right away as the Mafia witness of the ages. Breslin comes from the same Queens streets as mob bosses John Gotti and Vito Genovese. But even they couldn't match Kaplan in crime-and neither could anybody else. In his inimitable New York voice, Breslin gives us a look through the keyhole at the people and places that define the mafia-characters like Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, Gaspipe Casso (named for his weapon of choice), Thomas "Three-Finger Brown" Lucchese, and Jimmy "The Clam" Eppolito, interwoven with the good rat himself, Burt Kaplan of Bensonhurst, the star witness in the recent trial of two New York City detectives indicted for acting as hit men in eight gangland executions. Breslin takes us to the old-time hangouts like Pep McGuire's, the legendary watering hole where reporters and gangsters (all hailing from the same working-class neighborhoods) rubbed elbows and traded stories; the dog-fight circles and body dumps at Ozone Park; and the back room at Midnight Rose's candy store, where Murder, Inc., hired and fired. Most compelling of all, Breslin captures the moments in which the Mafia was made and broken-Breslin was there the night John Gotti celebrated his acquittal at his Ravenite Social Club on Mulberry, having bribed his way to innocence only to incite the wrath of the FBI, who would later crush Gotti and others with the full force of the RICO laws.
Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book









[book] SIT, UBU, SIT
How I went from Brooklyn to Hollywood with the same woman, the same dog, and a lot less hair
by Gary David Goldberg
February 2008, Crown Publishing
A love story and look at the entertainment industry by the creator of FAMILY TIES; BROOKLYN BRIDGE; and SPIN CITY. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book









NOW IN PAPERBACK
[book] CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
A NOVEL
By ANDRE ACIMAN
February 2008, Picador
ALJ writes: Seventeen-year-old Elio faces yet another lazy summer at his parents' home on the Italian coast. As in years past, his family will host a young scholar for six weeks, someone to help Elio's father with his research. Oliver, the handsome American visitor, charms everyone he meets with his cavalier manner. Elio's narrative dwells on the minutiae of his meandering thoughts and growing desire for Oliver. What begins as a casual friendship develops into a passionate yet clandestine affair, and the last chapters fast-forward through Elio's life to a reunion with Oliver decades later. Elio recalls the events of that summer and the years that follow in a voice that is by turns impatient and tender. He expresses his feelings with utter candor, sharing with readers his most private hopes, urges, and insecurities. The intimacy Elio experiences with Oliver is unparalleled and awakens in the protagonist an intensity that dances on the brink of obsession. [...] His longing creates a tension that is present from the first sentence to the last. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book









NOW IN PAPERBACK!!
[book] How This Night Is Different
Stories
by Elisa Albert
February 2008, Free Press
From Publishers Weekly: Titled to reflect the customary question asked at Passover, these 10 stories by debut writer Albert explore traditional Jewish rituals with youthful, irreverent exuberance as her characters transition into marriage and child-rearing. In "Everything But," dutiful daughter Erin finds herself, after her mother's death, disturbed by the lovelessness of her marriage. In "So Long," Rachel has become "born again" as an Orthodox Jew and resolved to have her head shaved before her marriage, as per custom; the narrator, Rachel's maid of honor, struggles to suppress her sarcastic disbelief. "The Mother Is Always Upset" plays on the familial chaos of ritual circumcision (the bris): tearful mother Beth cowers in the bedroom, while exhausted new father Mark takes his cue from the sanguine mohel. And Albert, writing as nice Jewish girl Elisa Albert, becomes a cocksure writer determined to have the last word in the hilariously vulgar postmodern final story, "Etta or Bessie or Dora or Rose"-an unabashed autobiographical fan letter to Philip Roth, "the father of us all." Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book









COOL RESULTS FROM THE LISA STUDY (Longitudinal Immigrant Student Adaptation)
[book] Learning a New Land
Immigrant Students in American Society
by Carola Suárez-Orozco, Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco, Irina Todorova
February 2008, Harvard
20% of American children are the children of immigrants, and this percentage increases each year. Very few will return to the country they barely remember. Who are they, and what America do they know? Based on an extraordinary interdisciplinary study that followed 400 newly arrived children from the Caribbean, China, Central America, and Mexico for five years, this book provides a compelling account of the lives, dreams, and frustrations of these youngest immigrants. Richly told portraits of high and low achievers are packed with unexpected ironies. When they arrive, most children are full of optimism and a respect for education. But poor neighborhoods and dull--often dangerous--schools can corrode hopes. The vast majority learn English--but it is the English of video games and the neighborhood, not that of standardized tests. For some of these children, those heading off to college, America promises to be a land of dreams. These lucky ones have often benefited from caring mentors, supportive teachers, or savvy parents. For others, the first five years are marked by disappointments, frustrations, and disenchantment. How can we explain their varied academic journeys? The children of immigrants, here to stay, are the future--and how they adapt will determine the nature of America in the twenty-first century. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book









[book] My Mother, Your Mother
Embracing "Slow Medicine," the Compassionate Approach to Caring for Your Aging Loved Ones
by Dennis Mccullough, M.D.
February 2008, Harper
Noted geriatrician, Dr. McCullough discusses the advances in medicine that prolong lives, but what about the quality of the life that is preserved? He rails agaionst dealth by Intensive care, and the "care" which is more destructive than the actual illness. IN this book, he lays out a plan for gentle, slow, personal care, depending on the disease and case, and treating the family in addition to the patient. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book









JUST IN TIME FOR ISRAEL'S 60TH BIRTHDAY, a first hand account from deep inside the State Department
[book] A Calculated Risk
The U.S. Decision to Recognize Israel
by Evan M. Wilson, William B. Quandt (Foreword)
February 2008, Clerisy
In the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust, the Truman White House led the effort to establish the state of Israel. But, was it inevitable that the U.S. would endorse the concept of a Jewish state? Was U.S. policy entirely pro-Jewish? To what extent did the State Department influence Presidents Roosevelt and Truman in regard to Palestine? How aware were the two presidents of the probable consequences of their decisions about the Middle East? A Calculated Risk explores these questions and more. It examines the intricate international diplomacy that helped pave the way for the creation of the Jewish state and evaluates the conflicting pressures brought to bear on the U.S. with respect to the Palestine question, and specifically the recognition of Israel, from 1942-1948. Impartial, well researched, and highly readable, it tells the complete story of the balancing act that changed the geopolitical landscape in the Middle East. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book
Mr. Wilson (1910-1984) served in the State Dept.'s Palestine desk from 1943-1947








[book] Jewish Identities
Nationalism, Racism, and Utopianism in Twentieth-Century Music
by Klara Moricz
2008
Jewish Identities mounts a formidable challenge to prevailing essentialist assumptions about "Jewish music," which maintain that ethnic groups, nations, or religious communities possess an essence that must manifest itself in art created by members of that group. Klára Móricz scrutinizes concepts of Jewish identity and reorders ideas about twentieth-century "Jewish music" in three case studies: first, Russian Jewish composers of the first two decades of the twentieth century; second, the Swiss American Ernest Bloch; and third, Arnold Schoenberg. Examining these composers in the context of emerging Jewish nationalism, widespread racial theories, and utopian tendencies in modernist art and twentieth-century politics, Móricz describes a trajectory from paradigmatic nationalist techniques, through assumptions about the unintended presence of racial essences, to an abstract notion of Judaism








[book] The Ritual Bath
by Faye Kellerman
2007 with CD Version in 2008
Like the series it inspired, Kellerman's award-winning 1986 debut novel combines police procedure, via hard-boiled LAPD detective Peter Decker, with Judaic rites and rituals courtesy of its heroine Rina Lazarus, an ultra-Orthodox widowed mother of two. Decker and Lazarus are brought together by the brutal rape of a young bride-to-be at the mikvah (a bathhouse used in the purification ritual) that Rina manages in the Hollywood hills. Mitchell Greenberg nicely vocalizes the story from Decker's point of view, with the detective struggling to stick to his sleuthing in spite of his developing feelings for Rina. The novel continually rings true, from explaining various Orthodox beliefs and customs to Decker and his crew's no-nonsense unmasking of the villain. Greenberg moves in and out of the novel's elements smoothly and efficiently. He paces the police work with just the right sense of urgency and frustration; handles the romantic sequences with the proper emotion and without a hint of sentimentality; and breezes through the many Jewish-centric passages with the confidence and clarity of a yeshiva graduate.








[book] Sarah Laughs
by Jacqueline Jules Illustrated by Natascia Ugliano
2008, Kar-Ben
Ages 9 - 12.
This biblical story tells of the elderly Sarah who laughs in delight when she overhears three strangers tell her husband Abraham that he will soon become a father. When a son is born to her the following year she names him Isaac, which means laughter, and the world rejoices with her.. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] THE BAT-CHEN DIARIES
by Bat-Chen Shahak
2008, Kar-Ben
Ages 9 - 12.
In 1996, on her 15th birthday, Bat-Chen Shahak was killed by a suicide bomber in Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Center. But the gifted teenager left behind a rich legacy of diaries, letters, poems and drawings. Following her death, her parents gathered her writings and created The Bat-Chen Diaries ; this is the first English translation of her work.. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] It's Israel's Birthday!
by Ellen Dietrick, Tod Cohen
2008, Kar-Ben
Ages 9 - 12.
. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] Private Joel and the Sewell Mountain Seder
by Bryna J. Fireside with Shawn Costello
2008, Kar-Ben
Ages 4 - 8 .
With permission from their commander and matzah brought in on a train from Cincinnati, Jewish members of a Civil War regiment improvise a seder to remember. The participation of three former slaves, now members of their company, lends a special meaning to this celebration of freedom. Click the book cover to read more.







MARCH 2008

WEI SHEN MO JIN WEN BU TONG YU QI TA YIE WEN?
PURQUOI?
WAS?
KUANTO?
[book] Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights?
"The Four Questions" Around the World
by Ilana Kurshan
with a great introduction by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
March 2008. Schocken
Dear Ilana: If your read this, I think it would be great to create a podcast for this book or youtube, in which we do the four question in a dozen of the languages you select.
Dear Readers: I LOVE THIS PASSOVER BOOK... Ilana Kurshan provides insights into the Jewish dispersion around the Earth (well she did not include Vulcan or Klingon or other non human languages). Included in this book are the four questions in a variety of languages with a brief note on the Jewish communities in these countries or language regions. Languages that do not use the English alphabet are also transliterated. Languages include Afrikaans, Amharic, Chinese (Mandarin transliteration), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Ladino, Latin, Marathi, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, and even that obscure language, Yiddish. Rabbi Telushkin, has a hilarious introduction in which he throws in a few Ma Nishtana jokes, and the fact that although most American Jews do not know Hebrew, they all know Ma Nishtana without a need for a translation.
Seder attendees... I recommend that you purchase this book and bring it to your seders. First do the questions in Ivrit, and then, if a child at the table knows French, let them do the four questions in French. If grandma knows Ladino, let her do it in Ladino, and then tell a story of Ladino speaking Jews or a memory of seders of the past. Did you invite a friend from Taiwan or mainland China? Let them read a question in Mandarin (or Cantonese if from HK). Is there a doctor in the seder? Have them do a question in Latin. This can become an annual ritual in which a question is done in a language and the child or adult must tell a story of the Jews of that linguistic community.
Click the book cover to read more.






WAIT
MEA CULPA
ABOVE I MENTIONED KLINGON, AND THEN I FOUND THAT THERE ACTUALLY IS A BOOK THAT HAS MA NISHTANA IN KLINGON
HERE IT IS BELOW
[book] 300 Ways to Ask the Four Questions
by Murray Spiegel and Rickey Stein
2008
Two nuts in New Jersey pursued a hobby collecting the Four Questions in different languages since as far back as 1971. Then they met each other. The result (14 years later) is 300 Ways to Ask the Four Questions, a delightful trip round the world. Using languages (with unique alphabets, translations and transliterations) we travel to places Jews have lived, and places they ve never been heard of. We hear the questions in living languages spoken by hundreds of millions, and dying languages spoken by as few as half a dozen. We hear them in ancient languages, click languages, and made-up languages (Klingon, Pig Latin, Lawyerese and others). With over a hundred photos, a CD and a DVD, background on each speaker, language, and language groups, and with games and puzzles to use in the seder, and a lighthearted attitude that enjoys the diversity of our world, this book is a bet-you-did-not-know-you-needed-it but must-have resource for every family. Click the book cover to read more.








[book] You Never Call! You Never Write
A History of the Jewish Mother
by Joyce Antler
March 2008. Oxford
Click the book cover to watch a video of the author being interviewed
In You Never Call, You Never Write, Joyce Antler provides an illuminating and often amusing history of one of the best-known figures in popular culture--the Jewish Mother. Antler traces the odyssey of this compelling personality through decades of American culture. She reminds us of a time when Jewish mothers were admired for their tenacity and nurturance, as in the early twentieth-century image of the "Yiddishe Mama," a sentimental figure popularized by entertainers such as George Jessel, Al Jolson, and Sophie Tucker, and especially by Gertrude Berg, whose amazingly successful "Molly Goldberg" ruled American radio and television for over 25 years. Antler explains the transformation of this Jewish Mother into a "brassy-voiced, smothering, and shrewish" scourge (in Irving Howe's words), detailing many variations on this negative theme, from Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint and Woody Allen's Oedipus Wrecks to television shows such as "The Nanny" and Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm." But she also uncovers a new counter-narrative, leading feminist scholars and stand-up comediennes to see the Jewish Mother in positive terms. A joy to read, You Never Call, You Never Write will delight anyone who has ever known or been nurtured by a "Jewish Mother," and it will be a special source of insight for modern parents. As Antler suggests, in many ways, "we are all Jewish Mothers" today. "After reading this, you'll call, you'll write, and you'll say thank you!" --Judy Gold, comedian "More than a history of Jewish motherhood, this book offers a fresh perspective on Jewish history, women's history, and the history of popular culture that is both informative and entertaining.... Readers will finish the book with a fuller and more nuanced understanding of the history of the Jewish mother--and mothers in general." --Library Journal "As educational as it is riotous...go buy this book and call your mom." --The Jewish Magazine.
Click the book cover to read more.








[book] Abraham's Bind & Other Bible
Tales of Trickery, Folly, Mercy And Love
by Michael J. Caduto
Jewish Lights / Skylight Paths
With insight, thoughtfulness and wit, these provocative and entertaining re-imaginings of stories from the Bible highlight the ways God can work for and through us, even today: Barren and despairing Sarah becomes pregnant--learning that nothing is impossible; Jacob the trickster is, in turn, tricked into marrying the wrong wife--learning that what goes around comes around; Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers, only to rise to wield power of life and death over them--learning that patience and integrity will win out in the end. Through multifaceted characters, original stories and vivid natural imagery, Caduto brings this ancient world to life. He immerses you in a richly-textured experience of another time and place. Within these pages you will come to see these familiar tales through new eyes. Have you ever embarked on a new journey with trepidation and uncertainty? Questioned the paradox of deep family loyalties and bonds that are sometimes torn by rivalry? Fought to overcome powerful, destructive forces by freeing the love and mercy in your heart? From the intimate story of Abram and Sarai to the epic tale of Joseph, this compelling collection of re-imagined Bible stories reaches across generations of human striving to connect with the oneness of all. By sharing in the passionate struggles of these ancient biblical characters, you will find in them your own living prayer--your own hunger for love and longing to believe in, and remain faithful to, your relationships with others and with God. Click the book cover to read more.








[book] The Book of Dahlia
A Novel
by Elisa Albert
March 2008. Free Press
Note: The author's brother died of a brain tumor at the age of 29.
A novel written in omniscient third person
When Dahlia Finger-a 29-year-old, pot-smoking, chronically underachieving Jewish-American princess-learns that she has brain cancer, the results are hilarious and heartbreaking in Albert's superb first novel (following the story collection "How This Night Is Different.")
Opening in the Venice, CA cottage to which Dahlia (named for the kibbutz on which she was conceived) has retreated, at her father's expense, after unsuccessfully trying to forge a life in New York, chapter one begins with the omniscient narrator's scathingly Edith Wharton-worthy catalogue of Dahlia's symptoms and ends with her first grand mal seizure. As Dahlia endures blistering radiation, sits numbly through her support group, smokes medical marijuana (with her crisis-reunited divorced parents) and carries a condescending book called It's Up to You: Your Cancer To-Do List, Albert masterfully interweaves Dahlia's battle with flashbacks, most tellingly involving her complexly overbearing Israeli mother, Margalit ("who unceremoniously imploded the family decades earlier"), and contemptuous older brother, against whom Dahlia has never learned to defend herself. Danny, her brother, is her opposite. He is a rabbi who gives all to his congregation, but is cold and closed to his own sister and family. Dahlia is numb and at a loss, a destroyed human being without meaning before she even becomes ill. Her attitude to Jewishness is non commital, like many of the author's friends. Throughout, Albert delivers Dahlia's laissez-faire attitude toward other people (men especially) and lack of ambition with such exactness as to strip them of cliché and make them grimly vivid. Her brilliant style makes the novel's central question-should we mourn a wasted life?-shockingly poignant as Dahlia hurtles toward death. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] The Panic Years
A Guide to Surviving Smug Married Friends, Bad Taffeta, and Life on the Wrong Side of 25 without a Ring
by Doree Lewak
March 2008. Broadway
From Publishers Weekly: Reading lines like Sure, most couples are ill suited and unhappy, but so the hell what? At least they're married! it will be tough for enlightened readers of Newsday trend reporter Lewak's handbook not to go on the defensive. Lewak, self-described Potential Fiancé predator, tries to convince women over 25 that if they're not feeling alarmed about their unmarried state, they're living in la-la land. Still, the voice throughout is so breezy and fun that readers will cross their fingers that Lewak is kidding. And it seems that she is. She eventually puts aside all the usual and necessary jokes about smug married friends and hideous bridal wear, her final lesson apparently that you shouldn't lose yourself in that quest for a fairy tale ending. After chapters on mind games and subterfuge that will help women in their quest for the ring, the book develops a cautionary attitude, warning readers against settling for whatever comes along in their desperation, and asserting that one can be happy as a single, swingin' lady. This is fortunate, because it's hard to hate a book that provides so many laughs. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] THE TRIUMPH OF DEBORAH
A NoVEL
BY EVA ETZIONI-HALEVY, Bar Ilan
March 2008. Broadway
The richly imagined tale of Deborah, the courageous Biblical warrior who saved her people from certain destruction In ancient Israel, war is looming. Deborah, a highly respected leader, has coerced the warrior Barak into launching a strike against the neighboring Canaanites. Against all odds he succeeds, returning triumphantly with Asherah and Nogah, daughters of the Canaanite King, as his prisoners. But military victory is only the beginning of the turmoil, as a complex love triangle develops between Barak and the two princesses. Deborah, recently cast off by her husband, develops a surprising affinity for Barak. Yet she struggles to rebuild her existence on her own terms, while also groping her way toward the greatest triumph of her life. Filled with brilliantly vivid historical detail, The Triumph of Deborah is the absorbing and riveting tale of one of the most beloved figures in the Old Testament, and a tribute to feminine strength and independence. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] BABY LOVE
Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence
by Rebecca Walker
March 2008. Riverhead
Like many women her age, thirty-four-year-old Rebecca Walker was brought up to be skeptical of motherhood. As an adult she longed for a baby but feared losing her independence. In this very smart memoir, Walker explores some of the larger sociological trends of her generation while delivering her own story about the emotional and intellectual transformation that led her to motherhood. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] BABY LOVE
Things I've Learned from Women Who've Dumped Me
by Ben Karlin (Editor)
Winter 2008. Grand Central
Karlin, coauthor of Jon Stewart's America, establishes that if there is one thing men have in common, it is their lack of understanding and the misguided information they have acquired about women. With miniessays from famous comedians and writers, including Nick Hornby, Stephen Colbert and Bruce Jay Friedman, this book is organized into short chapters of truth, testimonies and realizations about the women that got away and, sadly, the women that they never had to begin with. Some of the essays offer advice, such as Bob Odenkirk's bitter nine-year plan, where he discusses why nine years is the perfect amount of time to be in a bad relationship (by year nine you [had] tried everything, including depression and deep boredom). Some of the men's experiences proved to be valuable lessons such as Dan Savage's essay I Am a Gay Man, where he finds that women can be detestable, and learns that he doesn't have to fake being straight or join the priesthood and can instead just be a gay man; or Patton Oswalt's realization that his crazy, stripper ex-girlfriend helped him appreciate his wife. Whether the men pathetically recall their failed dating attempts or are celebrating their record number of dumps as learned experiences, these witty, comical approaches to being dumped are sure to entertain anyone who has entered the world of dating. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] Last Last Chance
A Novel
by Fiona Maazel
March 2008. FS&G
A rollicking comic tale about (in no particular order) plague, narcotics recovery, and reincarnation. Lucy is a young drug addict. She works in a kosher chicken processing plants in NYC. A lethal strain of virus vanishes from a lab in Washington, D.C., unleashing an epidemic-and the world thinks Lucy Clark's dead father is to blame. Her father, a CDC leader has committed suicide. The plague may be the least of Lucy's problems. There's her mother, Isifrid, a peddler of high-end hatwear who's also a crackhead and pagan theologist. There's her twelve-year-old half sister, Hannah, obsessed with disease and Christian fundamentalism; and Lucy's lover, Stanley, who's hell-bent on finding a womb for his dead wife's frozen eggs. Lastly, there's her grandmother Agneth, who believes in reincarnation (and who turns out to be right). And then there is Lucy herself, whose wise, warped approach to life makes her an ideal guide to love among the ruins. Romping across the country, from Southern California to the Texas desert to rural Pennsylvania and New York City, Lucy tries to surmount her drug addiction and to keep her family intact-and tells us, uproariously, all about it. Last Last Chance is a novel about survival and recovery, opportunity and despair, and, finally, love and faith in an age of anxiety. It introduces Maazel as a new writer of phenomenal gifts. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] THE KOCH PAPERS
MY FIGHT AGAINST ANTI-SEMITISM
BY EDWARD I. KOCH with Rafael Medoff
March 2008. Palgrave USA
Ed Koch, pundit, U.S. Congressman (1969-1977), NYC Mayor (1978-1989), NY Gubernatorial candidate, author, restaurant critic and columnist led the U.S. Delegation to the 2004 Berlin Conference on Anti-Semitism. In this book, Koch has compiled decades of his writings and personal letters in which he has battled anti-Semitism. Interviews, speeches, new essays, never-before published personal correspondence, and more highlight his leadership--on campuses, in the media, on the streets of New York City, and in the halls of power in Washington, DC. Koch reveals the person who leaked James Baker's comments on Jews to him; he discusses Holocaust denial, and reveals more information on the Crown Heights riots/pogrom, as well as info on Jackson's initially denied Hymietown remarks, Mel Gibson's slurs, Amiri Baraka's comments, and other celebrity anti-Semitism. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] The Book of Names
A Novel / Paperback
by Jill Gregory and Karen Tintori
February 2008, St Martins
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 for more reviews or to purchase the book









A Book by a Jewish Bush
[book] Waiting for God
The Spiritual Reflections of a Reluctant Atheist
by Lawrence Bush
February 2008, Paperback. Ben Yehuda Press
Why are so many baby boomers tuned into a quest for spirituality? How did growing up with the Bomb influence a generation's view of science and spirit? What effects did psychedelic drugs have on American spirituality? What is the difference between open-mindedness and gullibility? Is God a necessary part of a religious life? Is atheism merely a negation of religious belief, or is it something more? Waiting for God challenges us to become the God we seek: Like Prometheus, Bush steals the Heavenly Fire, and treasures a vision of planting it in his own heart and the hearts of his fellow men. Waiting for God offers a probing look at the generational factors - growing up with the Bomb, psychedelic drugs, environmental crisis, and more - that led the Woodstock generation down the path of spirituality. Waiting for God grasps, from an atheist's perspective, the sense of human interconnection that defines contemporary spirituality and poses challenges for skeptics and humanists to provide spiritual leadership in a hungry age.
An intelligent and perceptive thinker and critic of popular culture, Lawrence Bush examines the widespread spiritual 'awakening' of the baby-boomers and subsequent generations through a very personal (and very Jewish) lens. How did the bomb, psychedelic drugs, the modern environmental crisis, and other factors influence a generation's thinking about metaphysics and consciousness? What does 'spirituality' really mean? Bush also turns a skeptical eye towards the atheism and humanism with which he was raised in this honest, funny memoir of religious attraction and repulsion.
An intelligent and perceptive thinker and critic of popular culture, Lawrence Bush examines the widespread spiritual 'awakening' of the baby-boomers and subsequent generations through a very personal (and very Jewish) lens. How did the bomb, psychedelic drugs, the modern environmental crisis, and other factors influence a generation's thinking about metaphysics and consciousness? What does 'spirituality' really mean? Bush also turns a skeptical eye towards the atheism and humanism with which he was raised in this honest, funny memoir of religious attraction and repulsion - Rabbi Arthur Waskow
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[book] A Delightful Compendium of Consolation
A Fabulous Tale of Romance, Adventure and Faith in the Medieval Mediterranean
By Burton L. Visotzky
2008, Ben Yehuda Press
A historical novel from the scholar whose popular Torah study group inspired Bill Moyer's Genesis series. The year is 1031. Karimah, a charming, headstrong 19-year-old, has left her Jewish family in Egypt to follow her heart on an adventure that will take her far from home. It is a story of adventure - full of caravans, pirates and brigands, a tale of love, loss, and friendship, of youth turning to maturity. It is a story conveyed through letters: those Karimah sends, those that she receives, and some of the most poignant from those whose lives she has changed forever. The voices of the correspondents - sister and brother, father and rabbi - echo with tales from the Arabian Nights and the Babylonian Talmud. Underlying this compelling story are the historical realities of the 11th century world as revealed through the Cairo Geniza, the synagogue storeroom whose millenium-old collection of manuscripts, letters and business documents have been a rich resource for Jewish scholars since its discovery a century ago. A professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, author Burton Visotzky has written monographs concerning Midrash manuscripts found in the Geniza. Now, with his first novel, he imagines that the Geniza letters which opened a window onto history, also granted us an intimate look at the human heart.
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[book] Life in the Present Tense
Reflections on Family and Faith
By Rifka Rosenwein
2008, Ben Yehuda Press
PW: "Before her life was cut short by cancer at age 42 in 2003, Modern Orthodox writer and editor Rosenwein had been a beloved columnist for seven years for the New York Jewish Week, reflecting once a month on child-rearing, careers, love, holiness and Jewish tradition. With equal parts humor and heartache leaping from the page in the columns written after her cancer diagnosis, Rosenwein deals with aging parents, challenging modern schedules, timeless holy days and the joys of raising her three children. The columns address the quotidian concerns of a suburban Jewish family as well as more global issues: the fear and sadness after 9/11 and the sense of anxiety that some American Jews have about Israel. Sometimes, the rough thematic order of the short essays is distracting, as readers are expected to jump forward and then backward in time-her daughter is four, then a newborn. Since the essays are so heavily autobiographical, a chronological order would have better suited the collection. Still, this is a treasure trove of wisdom from one of American Judaism's most beloved and lamented voices. Rosenwein's husband, Barry Lichtenberg, provides a touching afterword, and novelist Tova Mirvis (a former intern of hers) the foreword."
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[book] Come with Me to Babylon
A NOVEL
by Paul M. Levitt (former chair of University of Colorado's English department and longtime co-director writing program)
February 2008, University of New Mexico Press
In 1910 the Cohen family, Meyer and Esther, in search of the Golden Medina, undertakes a dangerous journey from Russia to the United States, where the new world exposes family secrets, cultural conflicts, the corruption of the American Dream, and love's divides. Traveling in steerage to Ellis Island, the family endures the poverty and dirt of New York City and retreats to a farm in southern New Jersey--to find not the agricultural Eden they were promised, but Babylon. Told in several voices, such as that of Ben Cohen, one of the sons, this tale bears witness to a new generation learning to find hope in a land that often sacrifices human decency for profit and greed. The saga of an early twentieth-century Russian Jewish family and how they learn to find hope amidst many disappointments in America. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book









[book] Dreams and Shadows
The Future of the Middle East
by Robin Wright
February 2008, Penguin
Robin Wright first landed in the Middle East on October 6, 1973, the day the fourth Middle East war erupted. She has covered every country and most major crises in the region since then, through to the rise of Al-Qaeda and the U.S. invasion of Iraq. For all the drama of the past, however, the region's most decisive traumas are unfolding today as the Middle East struggles to deal with trends that have already reshaped the rest of the world. And for all the darkness, there is also hope. Some of the emerging trends give cause for greater optimism about the future of the Middle East than at any time since the first Arab-Israeli War in 1948. Dreams and Shadows is an extraordinary tour d'horizon of the new Middle East, with on-the-ground reportage of the ideas and movements driving change across the region-and the obstacles they confront. Through the powerful storytelling for which the author is famous, Dreams and Shadows ties together the players and events in Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Turkey, the Gulf states, and the Palestinian territories into a coherent vision of what lies ahead. A marvelous field report from the center of the storm, the book is animated by the characters whose stories give the region's transformation its human immediacy and urgency. It is also rich with the history that brought us to this point. It is a masterpiece of the reporter's art and a work of profound and enduring insight. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book







[book] The Much Too Promised Land
America's Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace
by Aaron David Miller
March 2008, Bantam
For nearly twenty years, Aaron David Miller has played a central role in U.S. efforts to broker Arab-Israeli peace. His position as an advisor to presidents, secretaries of state, and national security advisors has given him a unique perspective on a problem that American leaders have wrestled with for more than half a century. Why has the world's greatest superpower failed to broker, or impose, a solution in the Middle East? If a solution is possible, what would it take? And why after so many years of struggle and failure, with the entire region even more unsettled than ever, should Americans even care? Is Israel/Palestine really the "much too promised land"? As a historian, analyst, and negotiator, perhaps no one is more qualified to answer these questions than Aaron David Miller. Without partisanship or finger-pointing, Miller lucidly and honestly records what went right, what went wrong, and how we got where we are today. Here is an insider's view of the peace process from a place at the negotiating table, filled with unforgettable stories and colorful behind-the-scenes anecdotes. Here, too, are new interviews with all the key players, including Presidents Carter, Ford, Bush forty-one, all nine U.S. secretaries of state, as well Arab and Israeli leaders, who disclose the inner thoughts and strategies that motivated them. The result is a book that shatters all preconceived notions to tackle the complicated issues of culture, religion, domestic politics, and national security that have defined-and often derailed-a half century of diplomacy. Honest, critical, and certain to be controversial, this insightful first-person account offers a brilliant new analysis of the problem of Arab-Israeli peace and how, against all odds, it still might be solved.
Read an excerpt on Amazon.com
Watch him interviewed on C-Span with former ambassador Sam Lewis, and Marvin Kalb
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[book] The Bush Tragedy
by Jacob Weisberg
2008, Random House
This is the book that cracks the code of the Bush presidency. Slate editor in chief Jacob Weisberg objectively examines the family and circle of advisers who played crucial parts in George W. Bush's historic downfall. Using in-depth research, revealing analysis, and keen psychological acuity, Weisberg explores the whole Bush story. According to the author, Bush chose to be the opposite of his upstanding, sober, hard working absent father and depressed angry neglected absent mother, and to be a rowdy drinking non-patrician, playboy. Is Jeb the Jacob, and George W. the Esau in the eyes of their parents?
Weisberg also anatomizes the replacement family Bush surrounded himself with in Washington, a group he thought could help him correct the mistakes he felt had destroyed his father's presidency: Karl Rove, who led Bush astray by pursuing his own historical ambitions and transforming the president into a deeply polarizing figure; Dick Cheney, whose obsessive quest to restore presidential power and protect the country after 9/11 caused Bush and America to lose the world's respect; and, finally, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice, who encouraged Bush's foreign policy illusions and abetted his flight from reality.
Delving as no other biography has into Bush's religious beliefs-which are presented as at once opportunistic and sincere-The Bush Tragedy is an essential work that is sure to become a standard reference for any future assessment.
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[book] Please Excuse My Daughter
A Memoir
By Julie Klam
March 2008, Riverhead
A woman's hilarious, bittersweet account of growing up in a family of career-shunning, dependence-seeking women and her journey to a state of twenty-first-century self-reliance. Julie Klam was raised as the only daughter of a Jewish family in the exclusive WASP stronghold of Bedford, New York. Her mother was sharp, glamorous, and funny, but did not think that work was a woman's responsibility. Her father was fully supportive, not just of his wife's staying at home, but also of her extravagant lifestyle. Her mother's offbeat parenting style-taking Julie out of school to go to lunch at Bloomingdale's, for example-made her feel well-cared-for (and well-dressed) but left her unprepared for graduating and entering the real world. She had been brought up to look pretty and wait for a rich man to sweep her off her feet. But what happened if he never showed up? When Julie gets married to a hardworking but not wealthy man-one who expects her to be part of a modern couple and contribute financially to the marriage-she realizes how ambivalent and ill-equipped she is for life. Once she gives birth to a daughter, she knows she must grow up, get to work, and teach her child the self-reliance that she never learned. Delivered in an uproariously funny, sweet, self-effacing, and utterly memorable voice, Please Excuse My Daughter is a bighearted memoir from an irresistible new writer. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book









[book] LET ME STAND ALONE
THE JOURNALS OF RACHEL CORRIE
March 2008. Norton
First there was a play and book, and now the publication of her journals, in another attempt to canonize and glorify a 23 year old American, Rachel Corrie, who was killed on March 16, 2003, as she tried to block the demolition of a Palestinian family's home in the Gaza Strip. The book contains poems, essays, diary-like entries and her earliest reflections and her final e-mails. Seriously, I tried to read several but it seemed like naďve adolescent drivel. She was quite prolific. Over 300 pages of poems and emails and essays, and she was only 23. In one entry she says that if she should die (page 43), her writing should be destroyed (if I die today: silence the birds if I die today / Let them only stare from the brass bars of their cages / and watch as my mother weeps. / Cover the flat faces of clocks with bloack cloth / and silence the alarms....... /.../....you must burn the papers under my bed / to charred leaves of ash / You must silence my dead voice / so it will not embarrass my memory....../// Her estate should have heeded that poem. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] FUNNY BOYS
A novel
By Warren Adler
March 2008, Overlook
Since the fame attending the publication and film of Warren Adler's The War of the Roses, Adler has been chronicling the American experience in novels and screenplays. Now, with Funny Boys, Adler takes on the New York of his childhood in a new novel with bestseller written all over it--a dark comedy of errors about success, the mob, and true love. Mickey Fine is a young man with a promising future in comedy. Attracted to the applause of the crowd at a lavish hotel casino in the Catskills, he gets a job as a tumler--part entertainer, part host, all funny boy. But he is naďve to the more sinister side of his audience. They are mobsters and power players of New York's scandalous underbelly--men with whom Mickey had run-ins during his childhood. When Mutzie Feder, a Jean Harlow-esque gangster girlfriend, gets into the act with dreams of escaping her brutal reality, sparks fly between her and Mickey. But as their circumstances start to catch up with them--and the body count starts mounting from the rough crowd they're running with--Mickey and Mutzie start angling for a way out. That, of course, isn't as easy as it sounds. With film rights already optioned to a major producer, Funny Boys is a timeless love story and a sweeping American tale told as only Warren Adler could tell it. Smart, wry, and beautifully written, it's as unforgettable and authentic as anything Damon Runyon or Ring Lardner ever wrote, from a writer with a keen eye, an acute ear, and a very big heart. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book









[book] Good Neighbors, Bad Times
Echoes of My Father's German Village
by Mimi Schwartz
March 2008, University of Nebraska Press
Mimi Schwartz grew up on milkshakes and hamburgers-and her father's boyhood stories. She rarely took the stories seriously. What was a modern American teenager supposed to make of these accounts of a village in Germany where, according to her father, "before Hitler, everyone got along"? It was only many years later, when she heard a remarkable story of the Torah from that very village being rescued by Christians on Kristallnacht, that Schwartz began to sense how much these stories might mean. Thus began a twelve-year quest that covered three continents as Schwartz sought answers in the historical records and among those who remembered that time. Welcomed into the homes of both the Jews who had fled the village fifty years earlier and the Christians who had remained, Schwartz peered into family albums, ate home-baked linzertorte (almost everyone served it!), and heard countless stories about life in one small village before, during, and after Nazi times. Sometimes stories overlapped, sometimes one memory challenged another, but always they seemed to muddy the waters of easy judgment. Small stories of decency are often overlooked in the wake of a larger historic narrative. Yet we need these stories to provide a moral compass, especially in times of political extremism, when fear and hatred strain the bonds of loyalty and neighborly compassion. How, this book asks, do neighbors maintain a modicum of decency in such times? How do we negotiate evil and remain humane when, as in the Nazi years, hate rules? Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book









[book] Living Carelessly in Tokyo and Elsewhere
A Memoir
by John Nathan
March 2008. Free Press
One fun part of this memoir is Chapter 10, "A More Jewish Neighborhood," which is the author's recounting of his travels to Southern California to pitch his screenplay. John Nathan, 67, is the translator of Japanese works written by Yukio Mishima and Kenzaburo Oe. He is also an Emmy-award winning director of several documentaries and author of numerous works on Japan. A Harvard grad, he is the Takashima Professor of Japanese Cultural Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] THE GERMAN BRIDE
A novel
By Joanna Hershon
March 2008. Ballantine
The life of Eva Frank, a Berlin born German Jewish woman, in post-Civil War Sante Fe, with her newly married husband Abraham Shein.
From Publishers Weekly: Hershon's third novel (Swimming; The Outside of August) is a stylish account of a German Jewish young woman's often brutal odyssey to the post-Civil War American Southwest. After a family tragedy in Berlin, Eva Frank flees in shame and guilt to Santa Fe with her new husband, Abraham Shein. Abraham and his older brother, Meyer, are successful dry goods merchants, and once Eva and Abraham arrive in Santa Fe, Eva's narrative becomes a fish-out-of-water story as the promises Abraham made to her fail to materialize. Abraham, an abusive philanderer with a gambling addiction, wants a child, and Eva wants Abraham to build them a proper house. Eva-hoarding her dowry-begins scheming ways to abandon Santa Fe and establish a better life in San Francisco, but fleeing from unstable Abraham is a dangerous proposition. Though sometimes stilted, the novel, with its colorful cast, setting and redemptive conclusion, eventually wins the reader over. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] Saving the Holy Sepulchre
How Rival Christians Came Together to Rescue Their Holiest Shrine
by Raymond Cohen, Hebrew University
March 2008. Oxford
From Publishers Weekly: Probably few of the pilgrims and tourists who visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem are aware that for much of the 20th century the building, revered as the location of Christ's crucifixion and burial, was in danger of collapsing. In this meticulous, evenhanded account, Cohen (professor of international relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) describes step-by-step how the three major faith communities in the church (Armenian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic) finally worked together to preserve this shrine in spite of doctrinal differences, property disputes, brawls, lack of funds and the complicated politics of the Middle East. Their goal, according to Cohen, was not interchurch reconciliation or conflict resolution but conflict management; most astonishing is the perseverance of all parties involved over a span of decades. While his concluding analysis of the project's eventual success in terms of international relations principles seems too brief, Cohen's chronological approach and strong writing maintain suspense in spite of the outcome promised in the book's title. His tale offers hope that ancient sites can be preserved in spite of seemingly impossible odds. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] The Man Who Pushed America to War
The Extraordinary Life, Adventures and Obsessions of Ahmad Chalabi
by Aram Roston
March 2008. Nation Books
From an Emmy award-winning investigative reporter--an explosive biography that tells the untold story of the man most responsible for the war in Iraq. Ahmad Chalabi literally changed the world. If anyone were to get the most credit for pushing the United States to war in Iraq, Chalabi, a wealthy exile who spent most of his life out of Iraq, would certainly be a leading contender. A convicted felon and a fugitive from justice in Jordan, Chalabi managed to charm and influence the top leaders of the United States. Those leaders gave him United States government money, which he would, in turn, use to lobby them. He then rode America's immense power, harnessing it to his interests. More so than President George W. Bush or Vice President Richard Cheney, Chalabi and his followers steered the United States toward its fateful position in Iraq. This is an extraordinary investigative biography, by a brilliant young Emmy award-winning journalist who works for NBC's Investigative Unit, telling the story of Chalabi as a gifted MIT mathematician, to his misadventures in the Middle East, to the invasion of Iraq, which he himself took part in the most theatrical way, posing in the desert with a rag-tag army of Iraqis. Click the book cover to read more.






Since 1981, Fletcher (aka Fleisher), 60, whose refugee parents fled Hitler and settled in the UK, has been the Tel Aviv Bureau Chief for NBC News. Before that he was covering Israel since Yom Kippur 1973. The book opens with a great story in which he gets a secret message call from the Al Aksa Brigade in which he is invited to film the execution of a Palestinian accused of collaborating with Israel...
[book] Breaking News:
A Stunning and Memorable Account of Reporting from Some of the Most Dangerous Places in the World
by Martin Fletcher
March 2008. Thomas Dunne
Currently NBC news bureau chief in Tel Aviv, Fletcher offers a vivid account of his 30-year career as a war correspondent in the hot spots of the globe. At age 25, in October 1973, Fletcher grew bored with his BBC desk job and grabbed a position as a cameraman with a video news agency. Five days after he arrived in Israel for his second assignment, Egypt and Syria invaded Israel. With no experience under fire, Fletcher found himself dodging bullets on the front lines-and loved it. He hung with a young Ariel Sharon after crossing the Suez into Egypt. Over the following decades, wherever there was a conflict-Rhodesia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Kosovo, South Africa, the killing fields of Rwanda, the first and second intifadas-Fletcher covered the scene. While documenting his adventures, Fletcher also gives a riveting portrayal of the suffering around him and of the macho adrenaline junkies who make up his profession. Fletcher has a clear understanding of the ambiguities of his position as a purveyor of misery and death-for one story, he finds a Somali refugee near death and films her until she stops breathing. Why? Because the press wanted to do a story on starvation and instead of interviewing a doctor, they decided to actually show someone die of it. Fletcher is NOT a parachute journalist that you find these days on CNN and elsewhere.
Fletcher's engagement with his own family's suffering in the Holocaust (his parents lost over 50 members of their families) adds complexity to a narrative that is both fast-paced and moving. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] The End of the Jews
A Novel
by Adam Mansbach
March 2008. Spiegel und Grau
Tristan Brodsky, sprung from the asphalt of the depression-era Bronx, goes on to become one of the swaggering Jewish geniuses who remakes American culture while slowly suffocating his poet wife, who harbors secrets of her own. Nina Hricek, a driven young Czech photographer escapes from behind the Iron Curtain with a group of black musicians only to find herself trapped yet again, this time in a doomed love affair. And finally, Tris Freedman, grandson of Tristan and lover of Nina, a graffiti artist and unanchored revolutionary, cannibalizes his family history to feed his muse. In the end, their stories converge and the survival of each requires the sacrifice of another.
PW: "The lives of a young Jewish man in the 1930s and a young Czech woman in the 1980s echo across generations in Mansbach's (Angry Black White Boy) continuing investigations into ethnic identity. Tristan Brodsky, the son of New York Jewish immigrant parents, is introduced to pre-WWII jazz and African-American culture by a City College professor who mentors him into a mostly successful, though often controversial, career as a novelist. Tristan's grandson and namesake, known as Tris, is a suburban teen in thrall to hip-hop culture who becomes a novelist himself. (Tris's writerly angst provides some of the funniest scenes in the book.) Then there's Nina Hricek, a talented young Czech photographer who is all but adopted by a touring American jazz group passing through Prague: the black band members affectionately dub her Pigfoot and insist that she must be part Creole. Nina becomes a sort of apprentice to the group's tour photographer. One night, when covering a gig at New York's Blue Note, she locks eyes with a man working at the club-Tris. Mansbach moves effortlessly between U.S. jazz clubs of different eras and Communist Prague, and his dialogue rings true. Believably eccentric characters and an inventive cross-generational plot make this novel of immigration's vicissitudes a delight."
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[book] Kasztner's Train
The True Story of an Unknown Hero of the Holocaust
by Anna Porter
March 2008. Walker and Company
Sadly, Tom Lantos will not be here for the book launch, but here is the tale of "Hungarian Oskar Schindler" who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from certain death at the hands of the Nazis, only to be accused of collaboration and assassinated in Israel twelve years after WWII ended. Rezso Kasztner is practically unknown, even though he may have been the greatest rescuer of Jews during World War II. He was also the most controversial, and that, along with the relative lack of focus on events in Hungary toward the end of the war, has no doubt led to his anonymity. When the Nazi army invaded its ally Hungary in March 1944, followed soon after by Adolf Eichmann and his SS, Rezso Kasztner and a small group of Zionist activists stood in the way of mass deportations. They had met the well-informed Schindler, providing him with funds for food and clothing, and had been involved in previous efforts to rescue Jews from Slovakia and Poland. Now, in meeting after meeting with Eichmann and other SS officers, Kasztner negotiated for freedom, exploiting the Nazi weaknesses of greed and need-"blood for goods," as the Nazis called it-organizing a train out of Hungary for almost 2,000 while several thousand more were protected in work camps in Austria. Inevitably he saved some and not others. After testifying at the Nuremberg trials, Kasztner emigrated to Israel where, in 1956, he was stunningly convicted of collaborating with the Nazis more than a decade before. As he awaited the appeal that would ultimately exonerate him, he was assassinated by right-wing activists in Tel Aviv on March 4, 1957.
Based on interviews with those who were on the train and with family members of those denied a place on it, as well as documents and correspondence not previously published, Anna Porter tells the dramatic full story of one of the heroes of the twentieth century.
From Publishers Weekly: Porter seeks to rehabilitate the reputation of Rezso Kasztner. This Hungarian Jew was branded a Nazi collaborator by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Ben Hecht in his 1961 book, Perfidy. But more recently Kasztner has been exonerated by Israel's Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem. After 400,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz in 1944, Kasztner, a point man in a goods-for-blood deal with Nazi henchman Adolf Eichmann, arranged for a train to carry 1,684 Jews from Hungary to Switzerland, wealthy Jews paying $1,500 per person while the poor paid nothing. For $100 a head, Eichmann kept an additional 20,000 Jews alive in Austrian labor camps. After the war Kasztner relocated to Israel, where in 1952 he was accused of being a Nazi collaborator who saved a privileged few at the expense of thousands of others. Kasztner sued for malicious libel and lost on most counts; the trial made international headlines; and Kasztner was assassinated in 1957 by right-wing extremists. Although a well-researched counterbalance to Hecht's account, Porter's defense may swing too much in favor of Kasztner, given that most of the participants are deceased and much of the evidence is anecdotal. Readers, however, will welcome the opportunity to debate the ever-relevant moral issues of doing business with the enemy.
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Her middle name is "8", Chinese for prosperity or, since Chinese and Jews are so closely related, "8" can be "wisdom."
[book] The Fortune Cookie Chronicles
Adventures in the World of Chinese Food
by Jennifer 8 Lee
March 2008. Hachette/12
If you think McDonald's is the most ubiquitous restaurant experience in America, consider that there are more Chinese restaurants in America than McDonalds, Burger Kings, and Wendys combined. New York Times reporter and Chinese-American (or American-born Chinese). In her search, Jennifer 8 Lee traces the history of Chinese-American experience through the lens of the food. In a compelling blend of sociology and history, Jenny Lee exposes the indentured servitude Chinese restaurants expect from illegal immigrant chefs, investigates the relationship between Jews and Chinese food, and weaves a personal narrative about her own relationship with Chinese food. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles speaks to the immigrant experience as a whole, and the way it has shaped our country. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] FEAR AND LOATHING IN NEW JERSEY
A Novel
By Debra Galant
March 2008. St Martin's Press
From Publishers Weekly: Galant follows up her colorful debut, Rattled, with another funny suburban family satire. Nina Gettleman's new yoga studio on the swank side of an old, unnamed Essex County town floods when her poorly placed waiting-room chakra-meditation fountain leaks. One of Nina's students threatens to sue, and she's unable to get solace from her husband, Michael, who has been laid off from his job as a meteorologist at Newark Airport. Meanwhile, puberty-age son Adam has decided he's tired of being a lapsed Jew and wants to have a platinum bar mitzvah. The straw that breaks the familial camel's back is the arrival of Nina's hypercritical mother and elderly father, who take refuge in the family's home to escape a Florida hurricane. And then Michael gets into some serious trouble with the law. Galant has a lock on upper-middle-class suburban skewerings and makes ribald fun of overbearing Jewish mothers and terrorism crackdowns gone awry. But loose ends, an overextended midsection, a rushed ending and a protagonist who never really evolves make this sophomore effort fall short of enlightenment. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] SPECIAL ORDERS
POEMS
BY EDWARD HIRSCH
March 2008. Knopf/12
In Special Orders, the renowned poet Edward Hirsch brings us a new series of tightly crafted poems, work that demonstrates a thrilling expansion of his tone and subject matter. It is with a mixture of grief and joy that Hirsch examines what he calls "the minor triumphs, the major failures" of his life so far, in lines that reveal a startling frankness in the man composing them, a fearlessness in confronting his own internal divisions: "I lived between my heart and my head, / like a married couple who can't get along," he writes in "Self-portrait." These poems constitute a profound, sometimes painful self-examination, by the end of which the poet marvels at the sense of expectancy and transformation he feels. His fifteen-year-old son walking on Broadway is a fledgling about to sail out over the treetops; he has a new love, passionately described in "I Wish I Could Paint You"; he is ready to live, he tells us, "solitary, bittersweet, and utterly free." More personal than any of his previous collections, Special Orders is Edward Hirsch's most significant book to date.
The highway signs pointed to our happiness;
the greasy spoons and gleaming truck stops
were the stations of our pilgrimage.

Wasn't that us staggering past the riverboats,
eating homemade fudge at the county fair
and devouring each other's body?

They come back to me now, delicious love,
the times my sad heart knew a little sweetness.

Click the book cover to read more.






[book] FEAR AND YOGA IN NEW JERSEY
BY DEBRA GALANT
March 2008. ST. Martin's Press
From Publishers Weekly: Galant follows up her colorful debut, Rattled, with another funny suburban family satire. Nina Gettleman's new yoga studio on the swank side of an old, unnamed Essex County town floods when her poorly placed waiting-room chakra-meditation fountain leaks. One of Nina's students threatens to sue, and she's unable to get solace from her husband, Michael, who has been laid off from his job as a meteorologist at Newark Airport. Meanwhile, puberty-age son Adam has decided he's tired of being a lapsed Jew and wants to have a platinum bar mitzvah. The straw that breaks the familial camel's back is the arrival of Nina's hypercritical mother and elderly father, who take refuge in the family's home to escape a Florida hurricane. And then Michael gets into some serious trouble with the law. Galant has a lock on upper-middle-class suburban skewerings and makes ribald fun of overbearing Jewish mothers and terrorism crackdowns gone awry. But loose ends, an overextended midsection, a rushed ending and a protagonist who never really evolves make this sophomore effort fall short of enlightenment. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] The Hungry Clothes and Other Jewish Folktales
Adapted by Peninnah Schram. Illus by Gianni De Conno
March 2008. Sterling
Ages 8 - 12
The stories we hear in childhood-usually from parents and grandparents, teachers and caregivers-teach us the values, faith, culture, and traditions of those we love most. They nourish our sense of wonder and curiosity about the world. That's what this brand-new series aims to achieve, and it is our hope that children and their families will explore these wonderful tales together. Each book, filled with evocative artwork and a cast of unforgettable characters, will bring a little magic into a child's world. The first volume, The Hungry Clothes & Other Jewish Folktales, presents a diverse selection of Ashkenazi and Sephardic fairytales, legends, parables, fables, tall tales, trickster and fool tales, and supernatural and mystical stories. They include The Pots of Honey, which teaches the importance of both justice and forgiveness; The Boy Who Prayed with the Alphabet, about an unlearned boy who finds a unique way to express his love for God; and The Wise Daughter Who Solves Riddles, one of the most beloved stories in the Jewish tradition. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] FIDELITY
Poems by Grace Paley
March 2008. FS&G
From Publishers Weekly: When she died this summer (Summer 2007) at age 84, Paley was widely and rightly remembered as a master of the American short story, an engagé raconteur who mixed earthly humor, Jewish-American heritage, outspoken feminism, antiwar activism and an understated postmodern self-awareness. Those facets did not all appear in Begin Again (2001), a collected poems praised more for honesty than craft; happily, Paley's many fans may find that her best poems were her last. The wry, friendly voices in this posthumous assemblage address her later years with equanimity and humor. As in her short stories, the apparent naďveté of tone plays off the earned wisdom the teller finally conveys. In I Met a Woman on the Plane, Paley listens to a mother of five living children explain that she cannot stop grieving for her sixth, who died. Other poems praise the territories Paley has known, with wit and kindness: Manhattan and Brooklyn streets and the hills of Vermont. Finally, though, this wise and patient collection focuses on old age, presented with an appealing combination of impatience and fortitude:
Anyone who gets to be /
eighty years old says thank you/
to the One in charge, Paley says, and then im-/
mediately begins to complain.

Click the book cover to read more.






[book] Leveling the Playing Field
Advancing Women in Jewish Organizational Life
by Shifra Bronznick, Didi Goldenhar, and Marty Linsky, with Beverly Joel (Illustrator)
March 2008.
This guidebook is about how to create a particular kind of organizational change in a particular kind of organization -- advancing women and creating gender equity in Jewish organizations. If you believe that gender equity is vital to the health of Jewish communities and want to turn your beliefs into productive action, then this guidebook is for you. The strategies and tools in this guidebook will be relevant wherever you are positioned in your organization. The goals and tactics may vary depending on your formal and informal roles, but the opportunity for exercising leadership on gender equity is available to you whether you are sitting in the corner office or just getting started in your career. Published by a group that has long sought to advance the cause of gender equity in Jewish life, "Leveling the Playing Field" provides a how-to guide to gender equity for Jewish professionals and the organizations where they work.
As the JTA.org commented, "...It's not that women are absent from Jewish life. They fill the pews of liberal synagogues and make up most of the staff at Jewish organizations. More than half the new non-Orthodox rabbis and most of the cantors are women. Jewish summer camps and youth groups are overwhelmingly female. In fact the liberal movements, particularly the Reform, are struggling to bring their boys and men back into religious life. But the top echelons of Jewish communal life -- the executives of major Jewish organizations and the leaders of the large federations -- are still male...... The book... provides concrete steps that women -- and men -- can take to move their own Jewish organizations onto a more gender-equal footing, from building alliances to setting up inhouse mentoring programs for promising young employees. In addition, Advancing Women Professionals will provide mentoring support and a conversation kit to help people trying to effect such organizational changes.... Shifra Bronznick, one of three authors of "Leveling the Playing Field," says the will to change is more prevalent now, but the change has to come from below -- the men and women coming up within these organizations. "People are ready to be part of a change initiative," she says. "This book is aimed at giving them the tools." Bronznick, who wrote the book with Didi Goldenhar and Marty Linsky, is the founding president of the 8-year-old advocacy group Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community. She has spent years working on gender inequity issues, devoting much of the early 2000s trying to convince Jewish CEOs and communal leaders to take the problem seriously. ..."
Many of the steps outlined in the new book have been piloted by key Jewish organizations, working together with Advancing Women Professionals. The group collaborated on a United Jewish Communities gender equity project involving 14 federations and worked with regional directors of the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism to create rabbinic search criteria aimed at hiring more women rabbis.
Click the book cover to read more.






[book] Disaster Spiritual Care:
Practical Clergy Responses to Community, Regional and National Tragedy
Edited by Rabbi Stephen B. Roberts and Willard W. C. Ashley
March 2008, Skylights
The first comprehensive resource for pastoral care in the face of disaster--a vital resource for clergy, seminarians, pastoral counselors and caregivers of all faith traditions. This essential resource for clergy and caregivers integrates the classic foundations of pastoral care with the unique challenges of disaster response on community, regional and national levels. Offering the latest theological perspectives and tools, along with basic theory and skills from the best disaster response texts, research and concepts, the contributors to this resource are innovators in their fields and represent Christianity, Judaism, Islam and more. Exploring how spiritual care changes following a disaster, and including a comprehensive explanation of a disaster's lifecycle, this is the definitive guidebook for counseling not only the victims of disaster but also the clergy and caregivers who are called to service in the wake of crisis. Contributors include Rev. Lloyd George Abrams, Imam Ummi Nur Allene Ali, Rev. Willard W. C. Ashley Sr., Chaplain Therese M. Becker, Rev. David Billings, Rabbi Zahara Davidowitz-Farkas, Imam Yusuf Hasan, Rabbi Myrna Matsa, Rabbi Stephen B. Roberts, Roberta L. Samet, and so many more. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] UNLOCKED
A JOURNEY FROM PRISON TO PROUST
By LOUIS FERRANTE
March 2008, Harper
From Publishers Weekly A former New York Mafia soldier, Ferrante was known for being a solid guy, a thug with a specialty in safecracking, truck heists and loan-sharking collections. With this book of his personal transformation, he writes accurately and sometimes comically of his rapid rise from petty crook to reliable criminal with a bungling and colorful crew: Tony the Twitch, Botz, Fuzzy, Rizzo, Slim, Vinnie Bo Peep, Augie, Tony Pork Chop and Artie the Hair Do. Sometimes his mob account reads like a Puzo novel on steroids, but the author takes his licks when he is busted on a federal credit card rap and sentenced to a maximum security prison even though famed attorney William Kunstler represents him. In the federal pen with all its mayhem, Ferrante confronts his personal demons, elevates himself through reading books and embraces a new faith as an Orthodox Jew. He befriends the prison rabbi. Ferrante produces a raw, brutal memoir with glimmers of hope and redemption, and in so doing, this true crime account does not resemble any of the cardboard wise guys of the tube or the silver screen. It definitely grabs the reader's attention. Click the book cover to read more.







APRIL 2008

[book] CERTAIN GIRLS
A NOVEL
BY JENNIFER WEINER
April 2008. Atria
From Publishers Weekly: "...Weiner turns in a hilarious sequel to her 2001 bestselling first novel, Good in Bed, revisiting the memorable and feisty Candace Cannie Shapiro. Flashing forward 13 years, the novel follows Cannie as she navigates the adolescent rebellion of her about-to-be bat mitzvahed daughter, Joy, and juggles her writing career; her relationship with her physician husband, Peter Krushelevansky; her ongoing weight struggles; and the occasional impasse with Joy's biological father, Bruce Guberman. Joy, whose premature birth resulted in her wearing hearing aids, has her own amusing take on her mother's overinvolvement in her life as the novel, with some contrivance, alternates perspectives. As her bat mitzvah approaches, Joy tries to make contact with her long absent maternal grandfather and seeks more time with Bruce. In addition, unbeknownst to Joy, Peter has expressed a desire to have a baby with Cannie, which means looking for a surrogate mother. Throughout, Weiner offers her signature snappy observations: (good looks function as a get-out-of-everything-free card) and spot-on insights into human nature, with a few twists thrown in for good measure. She expends some energy getting readers up to speed on Good, but readers already involved with Cannie will enjoy this, despite Joy's equally strong voice..."

As preparations for Joy's bat mitzvah begin, everything seems right in Cannie's world. Then Joy discovers the novel Cannie wrote years before and suddenly finds herself faced with what she thinks is the truth about her own conception -- the story her mother hid from her all her life. When Peter surprises his wife by saying he wants to have a baby, the family is forced to reconsider its history, its future, and what it means to be truly happy. Radiantly funny and disarmingly tender, with Weiner's whip-smart dialogue and sharp observations of modern life, Certain Girls is an unforgettable story about love, loss, and the enduring bonds of family. Click the book cover to read more.














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