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Welcome to our pages of Winter2009 and Fall 2008 Book Suggestions. For our Home Page, Please visit MyJewishBooks.com

SOME WINTER 2009 BOOK READINGS


November 23, 2008: Tenth Annual Jewish Children's Book Writers' Conference. 9AM-5PM. 92nd St Y, NYC
December 02, 2008: Esther Cohen reads from DON'T MIND ME AND OTHER JEWISH LIES. B&N UWS NYC
December 04, 2008: Nessa Rapoport at Skirball in NYC 7PM
December 07, 2008: Reflexions sue la question juive. The Jewish Question in French Philosophy After the Holocaust: Sartre, Derrida, Bodiou, Lyotard, Levinas. 314 Royce UCLA Center for Jewish Studies, LA
December 11, 2008: Ilana Trachtman at Skirball in NYC 7PM
December 21- 26, 2008: KlezKamp 24 and AshkeNosh. LivingTraditions.org in Kerhonkson NY.

January 2009: Limmud NY
January 21, 2009: The Mad Mad Mad World of Al Jaffee. Comics and the American Dream. A lecture on Al Jaffee and Mad Magazine. YIVO, NYC
January 29, 2009: Slovie Jungreis-Wolff reads from RAISING A CHILD WITH SOUL. B&N Manhasset NY
January 29, 2009: Comedian Joan Rivers reads from MEN ARE STUPID. AND THEY LIKE BIG BOOBS B&N Lincoln Center Triangle NYC

February 1 - 22, 2009: Sefroim Sales at Yeshiva University, NYC
February 3, 2009: Comics and the American Dream. Featuring Jules Feiffer. YIVO, NYC 7PM
February 8-9, 2009: UCLA Center for Jewish Studies presents "Jewish Urban History in the Americas: A Comparative Look at Jewish Buenos Aires and Jewish Los Angeles, featuring Janice Reiff, Ellen DuBois. Erik Greenberg, Alajendro Dujovne, Marcelo Dimentstein, Silvia Hansman, Stephen Aron, Ariel Svarch, Mir Yarfitz, Caroline Luce, and Mollie Lewis, with a performance by Klezmer Juice.
February 15-20, 2009: The 24th Jerusalem International Book Fair
February 17, 2009: Comics and the American Dream. Featuring Harvey Pekar. YIVO, NYC 7PM
February 23, 2009: Slovie Jungreis-Wolff reads from RAISING A CHILD WITH SOUL. B&N NYC UWS

March 16, 2009: Neal Bascomb reads from HUNTING EICHMANN... . B&N NYC UWS
March 16, 2009: Neal Bascomb reads from HUNTING EICHMANN... . B&N NYC UWS








SOME REPEATS FROM FALL 2008

[book] Why Faith Matters
by Rabbi David J. Wolpe
September 2008, HarperCollins
Named the #1 Rabbi in America by Newsweek magazine, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California, where he is a prolific leader, thinker, teacher, and author, but as a pulpit rabbi, he also has to remind congregants to not crowd the kiddush tables. He has also personally known illnesses. Previously he taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, The American Jewish University in Los Angeles, Hunter College, and he currently teaches at UCLA. Rabbi Wolpe writes for many publications, including regular columns for the New York Jewish Week, beliefnet.com, as well as periodic contributions to the Jerusalem Post, The Los Angeles Times, and many others. He is an ethics columnist for Campaigns and Elections Magazine and a monthly book columnist for L.A. Jewish Journal. He has been on television numerous times, featured in series on PBS, A&E, as well as serving as a commentator on CNN and CBS This Morning. Rabbi Wolpe is the author of seven books, including the national bestseller Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times.
Why Faith Matters is a personal faith journey and response to the new atheists. Faith traditions do not offer easy answers. It is not the opiate of simple minded people. Religion allows seekers and adherents to ask deeply challenging questions... Click the book cover to read more.






In the first exile, the Northern Israelites were carried away to Kurdistan. When Judea was conquered, those Judeans were carried away to Babylon and Southern Iraq. This is a story of reclaiming the Kurdish Jewish past. It is gripping.
[book][book][book] My Father's Paradise
by Ariel Sabar
September 2008, Algonquin
In a remote and dusty corner of the world, forgotten for nearly three thousand years, lived an ancient community of Kurdish Jews so isolated that they still spoke Aramaic-the language of Jesus. Mostly illiterate, they were self-made mystics and gifted storytellers, humble peddlers and rugged loggers who dwelt in harmony with their Muslim and Christian neighbors in the mountains of northern Iraq. To these descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, Yona Sabar was born. In the 1950s, after the founding of the state of Yona and his family emigrated there with the mass exodus of 120,000 Jews from Iraq-one of the world's largest and least-known diasporas. Almost overnight, the Jews' exotic culture and language were doomed to extinction. Yona (named for the prophet after his mother prays for a healthy child in Nineveh at the prophet's tomb), who became an esteemed professor at UCLA, dedicated his career to preserving his people's traditions. But to his first-generation American son, Ariel, Yona was a reminder of a strange immigrant heritage on which he had turned his back-until he had a son of his own. My Father's Paradise is Ariel Sabar's quest to reconcile present and past. As father and son travel together to today's postwar Iraq to find what's left of Yona's birthplace, Ariel brings to life the ancient town of Zakho (the center of Kurdish Jewish life in 1930, telling his family's story and discovering his own role in this sweeping saga. What he finds in the Sephardic Jews' millennia-long survival in Islamic lands is an improbable story of tolerance and hope. Populated by chieftains, trailblazing linguists, Arab nomads, devout believers-marvelous characters all- this intimate yet powerful book uncovers the vanished history of a place that is now at the very center of the world's attention. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] HURRY DOWN SUNSHINE
By Michael Greenberg
September 2008, Other Press / Random House
Greenberg, a columnist for the TLS: Times Literary Supplement, tells the story of the Summer when, at age 15, his daughter was struck mad and locked into a mental ward of a hospital. It was oppressively hot that Summer, and Greenberg was introduced to the world that is our mental health care system, which seemed arcane and filled with rules. This is a chronicle of that journey and the characters Greenberg meets, including a movie producer, a Classics professor, an unconventional psychiatrist, an Orthodox Jewish patient, a landlord and more. . Click the book cover to read more.






NOW IN PAPERBACK
[book] THE SATURDAY WIFE
A NOVEL
BY NAOMI RAGEN
OCTOBER 2008, St Martins
From Booklist: Delilah Goldgrab just wanted to be part of the in-crowd. Being blond, attractive, and saddled with the name of a biblical temptress did not make things easy at her Orthodox Jewish girls school. In college, she dreamed of meeting an exciting man who would provide the lifestyle to which she aspired, but that was not to be. In desperation, she marries Chaim, a sincere rabbinical student who is content to take over his grandfather's congregation in a crumbling Bronx neighborhood. The materialistic Delilah pushes Chaim to take a position in a wealthy Connecticut congregation, but once they arrive, she finds herself in way over her head. Trying to please the demanding, hypocritical members of the congregation is difficult. The adventures of Delilah and Chaim provide a cautionary tale about the difficulties faced by those attempting to maintain traditional values while struggling with the temptations of the outside world. Ragen tells this story with insight and humor, vividly illustrating the consequences of lashon hara (gossip). This is Jewish chick lit with a message. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] Yehuda Amichai
The Making of Israel's National Poet
by Nili Scharf Gold
2008, Brandeis
Yehuda Amichai is one of the twentieth century's (and Israel's) leading poets. In this remarkable book, Gold offers a profound reinterpretation of Amichai's early works, using two sets of untapped materials: notes and notebooks written by Amichai in Hebrew and German that are now preserved in the Beinecke archive at Yale, and a cache of ninety-eight as-yet unpublished letters written by Amichai in 1947 and 1948 to a woman identified in the book as Ruth Z., which were recently discovered by Gold. Gold found irrefutable evidence in the Yale archive and the letters to Ruth Z. that allows her to make two startling claims. First, she shows that in order to remake himself as an Israeli soldier-citizen and poet, Amichai suppressed ("camouflaged") his German past and German mother tongue both in reference to his biography and in his poetry. Yet, as her close readings of his published oeuvre as well as his unpublished German and Hebrew notes at the Beinecke show, these texts harbor the linguistic residue of his European origins. Gold, who knows both Hebrew and German, establishes that the poet's German past infused every area of his work, despite his attempts to conceal it in the process of adopting a completely Israeli identity. Gold's second claim is that Amichai somewhat disguised the story of his own development as a poet. According to Amichai's own accounts, Israel's war of independence was the impetus for his creative writing. Long accepted as fact, Gold proves that this poetic biography is far from complete. By analyzing Amichai's letters and reconstructing his relationship with Ruth Z., Gold reveals what was really happening in the poet's life and verse at the end of the 1940s. These letters demonstrate that the chronological order in which Amichai's works were published does not reflect the order in which they were written; rather, it was a product of the poet's literary and national motivations. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] MY JESUS YEAR
A RABBI's SON WANDERS THE BIBLE BELT IN SEARCH OF HIS OWN FAITH
By Benyamin Cohen
October 2008, HarperOne
Cohen is editor of Jewish Life in American magazine. Cohen was raised Orthodox in Atlanta. As a child, Cohen was curious and envious of the church across the street, Dud the sun shine brighter there?. Cohen, as an adult, married a Jew by choice (a woman who was raised Baptist, the daughter of a minister). Cohen, who had a faith crisis, decided that maybe an exploration of Christianity could lead him back to Judaism. He began by visiting churches each Sunday. This is his story of his crisis, his attempt to re-spark his Judaism, and his visits to oh so many churches of various styles and sizes. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] Plumes
Ostrich Feathers, Jews, and a Lost World of Global Commerce
by Sarah Abrevaya Stein
December 2008, Yale
Professor Stein holds the Maurice Amado Chair in Sephardic Studies, Department of History, University of California, Los Angeles, and she received the Salo Wittmayer Baron Prize for Best First Book in Jewish Studies in 2003. This book is based on an award winning article "Falling into Feathers: Jews and the Trans-Atlantic Ostrich Feather Trade", which she published in the Journal of Modern History. Plumes is about the bustling trade in ostrich feathers from the 1880s until the First World War, and the role of Jewish garment workers, ranchers, traders, and business people in the trade. Feathers had to be grown (by Yiddish speaking Litvak ostrich ranchers in South Africa and their Sephardic competitors in North Africa), plucked (or harvested), sorted, graded, shipped, imported, stored, sold, designed, manufactured (by Jewish immigrant women), and retailed. At its height a pound of feathers was as valuable as an equal weight of diamond carats. Ostrich feather for women's hats, gowns, capes, gloves and shoes peaked from 1905 to 1914. In just a few decades, feathers grew from a nascent business to a worldwide explosive bubble, only to come crashing down when the war, the growth of bird protection societies, and the advent of car travel changed women's fashions and attitudes. The book is a story of a forgotten Jewish trade, a trade that was swept under the community's carpet after so many lost their fortunes and livelihoods. Jewish traders, who people valued for their wise business practices and worldwide contacts, were re-cast as vulgar speculators and promoters of fashion in the face of wartime austerity. Gee, is this book talking about feathers, or the current economic situation? Click the book cover to read more.






[book] WE LOOK LIKE THE ENEMY
THE HIDDEN STORY OF ISRAEL'S JEWS FROM ARAB LANDS
BY RACEHL SHABI
December 2008
There is a class split," writes Rachel Shabi, "that runs on ethnic lines"-specifically, between Jews of European origin and those whose ancestral homes were Arab countries. Middle Eastern Jews from Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Yemen, and other Arab lands make up nearly half of Israel's population. Yet European or "Ashkenazi" Jews have historically disparaged them because the emigrants looked Arab, spoke Arabic, and brought with them what was viewed as a "backward" Middle Eastern culture. David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, called them "human dust with no Jewish or human culture." Such opinions permeated Israeli society. Middle Eastern or "Mizrahi" emigrants were kept in transit camp longer than Ashkenazi Jews and had poorer housing, educational, and occupational opportunities. Shabi returned to Israel for a year to investigate the tense relations that still exist between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews in Israel. She traces the history of this split, starting with the centuries-old story of the Jewish Diaspora, then discussing how Mizrahi figured in the founding and building of Israel, protests by the Mizrahi Black Panther Party in 1971-"the first clash of Jew against Jew in Israel"-and a successful campaign in the 1990s to get the Israeli Ministry of Education to remove negative stereotyping of Yemenites in a textbook. Internalizing such stereotypes led a Moroccan Israeli university professor to begin passing for Ashkenazi when she was only eight years old, even though it meant "destroying, down to the roots, the identity that my parents gave me...rejecting everything: their past, their language, their values." Israel's striving to be a European country and demeaning the culture of its Mizrahi citizens has dislocated those citizens from their own Judeo-Arab identities, and has helped make Israel a misfit state in the Middle East. Shabi combines historical research with intimate oral interviews to shed light on ethnic injustice within Israel, past and present. Her passionate, personal connection and the heartfelt stories told by other Mizrahis make "We Looked Like the Enemy" a stunning, unforgettable book. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] MAIMONIDES
The Life and World of One of Civilization's Greatest Minds
BY JOEL KRAEMER
Professor Emeritus, University of Chicago
October 2008, Doublebay
At 14, he started to study the RaMBaM, now he is 75.
There are 90 pages of footnotes!
This authoritative biography of Moses Maimonides, one of the most influential minds in all of human history, illuminates his life as a philosopher, physician, and lawgiver. A biography on a grand scale, it brilliantly explicates one man's life against the background of the social, religious, and political issues of his time. Maimonides was born in Córdoba, in Muslim-ruled Spain, in 1138 and died in Cairo in 1204. He lived in an Arab-Islamic environment from his early years in Spain and North Africa to his later years in Egypt, where he was immersed in its culture and society. His life, career, and writings are the highest expression of the intertwined worlds of Judaism and Islam.
Maimonides lived in tumultuous times, at the peak of the Reconquista in Spain and the Crusades in Palestine. His monumental compendium of Jewish law, the Mishneh Torah, became a basis of all subsequent Jewish legal codes and brought him recognition as one of the foremost lawgivers of humankind. In Egypt, his training as a physician earned him a place in the entourage of the great Sultan Saladin, and he wrote medical works in Arabic that were translated into Hebrew and Latin and studied for centuries in Europe. As a philosopher and scientist, he contributed to mathematics and astronomy, logic and ethics, politics and theology. His Guide of the Perplexed, a masterful interweaving of religious tradition and scientific and philosophic thought, influenced generations of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish thinkers.
Now, in a dazzling work of scholarship, Joel Kraemer tells the complete story of Maimonides' rich life. MAIMONIDES is at once a portrait of a great historical figure and an excursion into the Mediterranean world of the twelfth century. Joel Kraemer draws on a wealth of original sources to re-create a remarkable period in history when Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions clashed and mingled in a setting alive with intense intellectual exchange and religious conflict.
Click the book cover to read more.








[book] KOSHER BY DESIGN LIGHTENS UP
Fabulous food for a healthier lifestyle
by Susie Fishbein (Author)
November 17, 2008, Mesorah
This sixth volume in Susie Fishbein's celebrated Kosher by Design cookbook series was crafted with your good health in mind! Kosher by Design Lightens Up is a gorgeous culinary guide, bursting with easy-to-do ideas for eating and feeling better. This cookbook teaches healthy cooking and food combining techniques, with special commentary by certified nutritional expert Bonnie Taub-Dix, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Assn. Susie says, These nutritious recipes are easy to integrate into your everyday menus. Anyone looking to migrate into a better way of eating and living will find delicious options here. Over 145 brand new recipes, Over 160 full color photos, Creative entertaining ideas, including oil olive tasting, a party spritzer station and more! Simple, healthy approaches to: cooking oils, sweeteners, whole grains, superfoods, smarter shopping, and more efficient kitchen gadgets. And Comprehensive cross-reference index .
While traditional kosher cooking invokes images of heavy, fatty Eastern European fare, Fishbein's cookbooks are a cosmopolitan tour-de-force. Lightens Up showcases international influences that are varied and inspired, including: Argentinean Bison Steak, Korean Beef Kim Chee Skewers, Merquez Sausage on Whole Wheat Couscous, Chicken Tikka Masala, Lebanese Salad, Mexican Citrus Salad, Thai Chicken Soup, Moroccan Spiced Vegetables, a Greek Frittata Ring, and Tangy Mediterranean Vegetables. With 21 different desserts, such as Baklava Bites and a Frozen Pumpkin Pie, Lightens Up proves that sweet and healthy can be complementary adjectives. Fishbein advises, "Most people find that if eating healthier involves a drastic change - the dreaded diet syndrome - they will not stick with it long-term. My concept is simple. Take small steps." Her own positive experience comes through in Lightens Up as she admits, "I have noticed that as I eat more whole grains and cut back on fats, sugars, and oils, I've developed new taste buds! The new flavors are refreshingly pure and satisfying." Click the book cover to read more.






NOT CRAFTY JEWS... BUT CRAFTING JEWISH
[book] Crafting Jewish
Fun holiday crafts and party ideas for the whole family
by Rivky Koenig
November 2008, Mesorah
Crafting Jewish is a unique and beautiful book. It has been designed both for experienced crafters looking for creative and unusual ideas and For beginners just starting to discover the joys of crafts. This book has it all! Over 120 holiday and everyday projects, each with step-by-step instructions Stunning full-color photos of every craft Distinctive ideas for holiday get-togethers - many with delicious recipes Pictorial reference guide of crafting tools and product buying guide Full-size templates and comprehensive index
The entire family will love creating these marvelous, homemade crafts - and the warm and loving family traditions that you create at the same time, as you enjoy Crafting Jewish. Rivky Koenig is passionate about three things: family life, crafting, and preserving Jewish traditions. Not surprisingly, the upstate New York teacher, wife, and mother of five found a creative way to weave her enthusiasm into a single focus - Crafting Jewish: Fun holiday crafts and party ideas for the whole family. A delightful and visually appealing volume, Koenig's book appeals to novice and experienced crafters alike, offering more than 130 projects themed around Jewish holidays. A teacher of Literature, Language-Arts, and Social Studies, Koenig gained recognition for her tactile, hands-on approach to pedagogy, reinforcing subject matter through artistic and creative tasks. "It's well known that people learn more by doing than by hearing," she reflects.
Her foray into Jewish crafting began with a stint as director of a series of crafting workshops for a popular teens' summer camp in the Catskill Mountains. "I saw kids get turned on by the idea of handmade traditional crafts they could make at home with family and friends. As we created, we'd discuss the significance of the project to Jewish values and practices. These lessons stay with them for life." Click the book cover to read more.






[book] Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean
How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire
in the New World in Their Quest for Treasure, Religious Freedom
--and Revenge
by Edward Kritzler
November 2008, Doubleday
At the end of the fifteenth century, the Spanish Inquisition forced many Jews to flee the country. The most adventurous among them took to the high seas as freewheeling outlaws. In ships bearing names such as the Prophet Samuel, Queen Esther, and Shield of Abraham, they attacked and plundered the Spanish fleet while forming alliances with other European powers to ensure the safety of Jews living in hiding. JEWISH PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN is the entertaining saga of a hidden chapter in Jewish history and of the cruelty, terror, and greed that flourished during the Age of Discovery. Readers will meet such daring figures as "the Great Jewish Pirate" Sinan, Barbarossa's second-in-command; the pirate rabbi Samuel Palache, who founded Holland's Jewish community; Abraham Cohen Henriques, an arms dealer who used his cunning and economic muscle to find safe havens for other Jews; and his pirate brother Moses, who is credited with the capture of the Spanish silver fleet in 1628--the largest heist in pirate history. Filled with high-sea adventures-including encounters with Captain Morgan and other legendary pirates-and detailed portraits of cities stacked high with plunder, such as Port Royal, Jamaica, JEWISH PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN captures a gritty and glorious era of history from an unusual and eye-opening perspective. Click the book cover to read more.






WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU LOST ALL
YOUR ASSETS IN A PONZI SCHEME
BY Anonymous
Not written yet


[book] GREAT CHEFS OF AMERICA COOK KOSHER: OVER 175 RECIPES FROM AMERICA'S GREATEST RESTAURANTS
BY RUTH MADOFF (wife of Bernie Madoff) and
IDEE SCHOENHEIM and KAREN MACNEIL
1996, Vital Media Enterprises
Over 175 recipes of creative kosher dishes, Sales benefit the JNF. Includes Nectarine Blueberry blintzes, Dover Sole Poached in Vermouth, and Sweet Potato Salad. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] FRIENDLY FIRE
A NOVEL
BY A. B. YEHOSHUA. Transl by Stuart Schoffman
November 2008 Harcourt
A couple, long married, are spending an unaccustomed week apart. Amotz, an engineer, is busy juggling the day-to-day needs of his elderly father, his children, and his grandchildren. His wife, Daniella, flies from Tel Aviv to East Africa to mourn the death of her older sister. There she confronts her anguished seventy-year-old brother-in-law, Yirmiyahu, whose soldier son was killed six years earlier in the West Bank by "friendly fire." Yirmiyahu is now managing a team of African researchers digging for the bones of man's primate ancestors as he desperately strives to detach himself from every shred of his identity, Jewish and Israeli. With great artistry, A. B. Yehoshua has once again written a rich, compassionate, rewarding novel in which sharply rendered details of modern Israeli life and age-old mysteries of human existence echo one another in complex and surprising ways.
Click the book cover to read more.






THIS IS A RE-ISSUE OF THE EARLIER EDITION, JUST IN TIME FOR THE FILM
[book] Defiance
The Bielski Partisans
The Story of the Largest Armed Rescue of Jews by Jews During World War II
by Nechama Tec
November 2008, Oxford
From Kirkus Reviews - Powerful account by Holocaust survivor Tec (Sociology/Univ. of Connecticut; In the Lion's Den, 1989, etc.) of the operations of a Jewish partisan group in WW II Belorussia. Seeking to counteract the widespread conception of European Jews as victims who went meekly to their deaths, Tec researched the extraordinary story of the three Bielski brothers and their partisan group, using interviews with group survivors in Israel, the US, and elsewhere. Led by the oldest brother, Tuvia, the partisan group had grown to more than 1,200 Jews by the time Russian forces liberated them in 1944. The Bielski brothers, Tec explains, determined early on to save not only themselves and their families but every Jew who would join them. Resisting efforts to limit their group only to fighters, Tuvia accepted any Jew until more than 70% of the group was comprised of women, children, and middle-aged and elderly men. A charismatic leader of limited education but great intelligence and diplomatic ability, Tuvia maintained good relations with a variety of other partisan groups, some initially hostile. Putting his emphasis on saving lives rather than on killing Germans, he nonetheless acted ruthlessly against those collaborating with the Nazis, and in so doing saved many Jewish lives. At the end of the war, with Stalin's control of Belorussia becoming more oppressive, Tuvia and his brothers escaped to Romania, traveling on to Palestine and then the US--although Tuvia never again gained the recognition or prominence that his leadership qualities might have justified. A remarkable story of a great leader, as well as of a neglected aspect of WW II. Click the book cover to read more.






ANOTHER RE-ISSUE OF THE EARLIER EDITION, JUST IN TIME FOR THE FILM
[book] The Bielski Brothers
The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews
by Peter Duffy
2004, Harper
In 1941, three brothers witnessed their parents and two other siblings being led away to their eventual murders. It was a grim scene that would, of course, be repeated endlessly throughout the war. Instead of running or giving in to despair, these brothers -- Tuvia, Zus, and Asael Bielski -- fought back, waging a guerrilla war of wits against the Nazis. By using their intimate knowledge of the dense forests surrounding the Belarusan towns of Novogrudek and Lida, the Bielskis evaded the Nazis and established a hidden base camp, then set about convincing other Jews to join their ranks. As more and more Jews arrived each day, a robust community began to emerge, a "Jerusalem in the woods." After two and a half years in the woods, in July 1944, the Bielskis learned that the Germans, overrun by the Red Army, were retreating back toward Berlin. More than one thousand Bielski Jews emerged -- alive -- on that final, triumphant exit from the woods. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] WHERE THE SHOUTING BEGAN
BY STEVEN SHER
December 2008 MontemayorPress.com
Ages 9 - 12
A real village called Slawotich existed long ago. Now Steven Sher brings this shtetl back to life in five eloquent stories in which the mystical infuses every day. In the guise of a giant, Greed comes to Slawotich and menaces the villagers. A seller of mystical books inadvertently leaves plagues and destruction in his wake as he departs each town he visits. A young girl struggles to balance traditional observance with her compassion for a chicken. A peddler, weary of his wanderings, experiences a series of transformations, revealing the burdens that other creatures must carry. And in the title story, the village rabbi-modeled after the author's great grandfather-finds a divinely- inspired way to protect the villagers from a pogrom. Where the Shouting Began honors the past and speaks to the present with wisdom, insight, and humor. Click the book cover to read more.






DO YOU REMEMBER RAINDROPS KEEP FALLING ON MEIN KOPF IN YIDDISH?
HOW ABOUT LATIN MAMBO STYLE HAVA NAGILA?
[book] AND YOU SHALL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF VINYL
THE JEWISH PAST AS TOLD BY THE RECORDS WE HAVE LOVED AND LOST
BY ROGER BENNETT AND JOSH KUN
November 2008, Crown
This is the tale of two men in search of their past and how they found an unexpected narrative through the faded liner notes and technologically passe medium of vinyl records. It took them eight years of eBay, garage sales, generous seniors and friends, to compile all the treasures of Jewish vinyl. Here is Johnny Mathis singing Kol Nidre, Charlton Heston reads the Old Testament, Fiddler on the Roof goes Latin, Theodore Bikel is Silent No More. Here is Neil Sedaka, the Barry Sisters, Barry Manilow, and Barbra. Nat King Cole and Cantors galore. Eydie Gorme (nee Sephardic born Gormezano). The Brothers Zim and Topol, Jewish mambo, Jewish Catskills, Belle Barth, Totie Fields, and Pearl Williams.
YOU WILL DIE when you see the record album covers. I owned so many! Such as Silent No More, David Ben Gurion, Never Again. I had them all. Sammy Davis Junior sings Jewish; Folksy Nina and yiddish favorites, NoWstalgia, Fred Katz and his Jammers, Si Zentner, Larry Best, Batman and Rubin, Max Asnas recorded live at the Stage Deli, Dave Tarras, Haifa Hi Fi, El Al promotional albums, the Malavsky Family Passover, Orchestra Harlow. And all along the way, we glean what it meant to be Jewish in the age of vinyl in America, with guest commentaries from Anna Powers, Oliver Wang, Norman Lear, Aimee Bender, Michael Wex, Lamont Dozier and even Sandra Bernhard. Click the book cover to read more.






JANUARY 2009 BOOKS

NOW IN PAPERBACK
[book] PEOPLE OF THE BOOK
A NOVEL
BY GERALDINE BROOKS
January 2009, Penguin
GeraldineBrooks.com
A Jewish best seller, and a national bestseller for 11 weeks, and with over 250,000 hard cover copies floating around, Brooks comes out with the paperback edition of the book. Late one night in the city of Sydney, Hanna Heath, a rare book conservator, gets a phone call. The Sarajevo Haggadah, which disappeared during the siege in 1992, has been found, and Hanna has been invited by the U.N. to report on its condition. Missing documents and art works (as Dan Brown and Lev Grossman, among others, have demonstrated) are endlessly appealing, and from this inviting premise Brooks spins her story in two directions. In the present, we follow the resolutely independent Hanna through her thrilling first encounter with the beautifully illustrated codex and her discovery of the tiny signs-a white hair, an insect wing, missing clasps, a drop of salt, a wine stain-that will help her to discover its provenance. Along with the book she also meets its savior, a Muslim librarian named Karaman. Their romance offers both predictable pleasures and genuine surprises, as does the other main relationship in Hanna's life: her fraught connection with her mother. In the other strand of the narrative we learn, moving backward through time, how the codex came to be lost and found, and made. From the opening section, set in Sarajevo in 1940, to the final section, set in Seville in 1480, these narratives show Brooks writing at her very best. With equal authority she depicts the struggles of a young girl to escape the Nazis, a duel of wits between an inquisitor and a rabbi living in the Venice ghetto, and a girl's passionate relationship with her mistress in a harem. Like the illustrations in the Haggadah, each of these sections transports the reader to a fully realized, vividly peopled world. And each gives a glimpse of both the long history of anti-Semitism and of the struggle of women toward the independence that Hanna, despite her mother's lectures, tends to take for granted. Brooks is too good a novelist to belabor her political messages, but her depiction of the Haggadah bringing together Jews, Christians and Muslims could not be more timely. Her gift for storytelling, happily, is timeless. Click the book cover to read more.












Size Doesn't Matter?
Maybe When It Comes to Ego, this author has it cornered
[book] The Kosher Sutra:
Eight Sacred Secrets for Reigniting Desire and Restoring Passion for Life
by Shmuley Boteach
January 2009, HarperOne
America has a contradictory relationship with sex. Sex is everywhere-advertisements, the Internet, magazines, and television-yet one third of all marriages in America are utterly sexless. Our over-exposure to sex has diluted the most powerful form of intimacy to such an extent that most couples have forgotten what passion feels like. In The Kosher Sutra, Shmuley Boteach, the New York Times bestselling author, delivers a much-needed guide to reigniting desire in our relationships while at the same time creating renewed energy in every aspect of our lives. Boteach's Eight Secrets are the key to reawakening our dormant desires and releasing ourselves from the complacency that has taken hold of far too many of us. Honed from decades of counseling experience, the Secrets range from the role of innocence in physical attraction, to why we always want what we can't have, to urging couples to practice reckless abandon in the bedroom. With his trademark frank and conversational style, Boteach offers practical advice as well as sage guidance through stories of real-life struggles and triumphs of couples who he has counseled throughout his career. Boredom has ruined too many relationships and The Kosher Sutra provides all the tools necessary to restore the fire, power, and energy back into the bedroom and everyday life. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] REJECTED
TALES OF THE FAILED, DUMPED, AND CANCELED
EDITED BY JON FRIEDMAN
January 2009, V
A Compilation of rejected works by the writers frlom The Daily Show (the best Jewish writers money can buy), SNL, Kids in the Hall, and more. Click the book cover to read more.












MASTERPIECE
AN INSIDE LOOK AT 60 YEARS OF ISRAELI INTELLIGENCE
BY Dr. BARAK BEN-ZUR
January 2009, Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center
Dr. Ben-Zur writes of modern history of Israeli Intelligence, including a chapter on how the USA and others spy on Israel and its nuclear program. Ben-Zur was a Colonel in the IDF Military Intelligence group and an anti terror specialist. A former instructor at the National Security College, he was a department and division head at the ISA (Shin Bet). He holds a doctorate from Haifa U












[book] PSALMS OF THE JEWISH LITURGY
A GUIDE TO THEIR BEAUTY, POWER, AND MEANING
BY RABBI MIRIYAM GLAZER
January 2009, Aviv Press. AvivPress.org
In this study of the psalms of the Jewish liturgy, Rabbi Miriyam Glazer brings these well-known psalms alive. She focuses on each psalm's pathos, power, richness of imagery, and spiritual beauty. This work concentrates on the psalm-as-prayer, showing how lines are connected with one another and how each psalm can take its reader on an inner journey. The author also explains the role each psalm plays in its liturgical setting. This volume is essential for anyone seeking to understand Jewish prayer, and the liturgical role of the psalms.
Psalms are believed to have been completed around the 3rd century BCE, the 150 Psalms represent the final stage in a process that spanned centuries. Rabbi Miriyam Glazer, says the Psalms "draw for their power and rhythm on the vocabulary and literary techniques" of ancient Hebrew poetry, which was influenced by the hymns and poetry of neighboring cultures. "Every word of the Psalms, every image, every phrase can be translated in so many different ways," ... "The Psalms offer such a vividly variegated range of qualities for God that our whole understanding of godliness expands." For example, the God in the Psalms is simultaneously "royal, majestic, tender, compassionate, loving, healing, eternally just and capable of great rage," she writes. "The same God who hurls hailstones across the sky and 'hangs the heavens as if they were drapes' also 'protects the outsider' and 'helps widows and orphans stand on their feet.' The same God who makes sure the baby birds are fed also hitches a ride on the wings of the wind and frolics with Leviathan!" Glazer offers suggestions on how to use the Psalms in prayer. Pick one, she suggests, then "begin reading very slowly until you find a line that gets your attention, that puzzles you or entrances you or that seems to speak to you in a special way." Rest with that line, she suggests. Repeat, ponder and savor it - "roll it around" the mouth, heart, imagination. Memorize the line slowly. Glazer says the words even might inspire someone to draw or dance. Or continue to sit quietly, meditating. "And then, though perhaps you've never tried it before, speak, to the Holy One in your own words, sharing whatever you've discovered in the process of pondering the psalm," she writes.
The book closes with commentaries on Psalm 23, the most widely known and comforting psalm of David.
Rabbi Miriyam Glazer is professor of literature at American Jewish University in Los Angeles. She is the editor of Dreaming the Actual: Contemporary Fiction and Poetry by Israeli Women Writers, Dancing on the Edge of the World: Jewish Stories of Faith, Inspiration, and Love, and co-author of the bestselling book, The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] IS THE HOLOCAUST UNIQUE
PERSPECTIVES ON COMPARATIVE GENOCIDE
THIRD EDITION
BY ALAN S. ROSENBAUM
January 2009 Westview Press
Evaluating the Jewish Holocaust is by no means a simple matter, and one of the most controversial questions for academics is whether there have been any historical parallels for it. Have Armenians, Gypsies, American Indians, or others undergone a comparable genocide? In this fiercely controversial volume, distinguished scholars offer new discussions of this question. Presenting a wide range of strongly held views, they provide no easy consensus.Some critics contend that if the Holocaust is seen as fundamentally different in kind from other genocides or mass deaths, the suffering of other persecuted groups will be diminished. Others argue that denying the uniqueness of the Holocaust will trivialize it. Alan Rosenbaum's introduction provides a much-needed context for readers to come to terms with this multi-dimensional dispute, to help them understand why it has recently intensified, and to enable them to appreciate what universal lessons might be gleaned from studying the Holocaust.This volume makes an important contribution to our comprehension of one of the defining events of modern history. It should be essential reading for scholars, students, and general readers interested in the Holocaust and its relationship to other instances of politically inspired mass murder. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] A WORLD OF TROUBLE
THE WHITE HOUSE AND THE MIDDDLE EAST --
FROM THE COLD WAR TO THE WAR ON TERROR
BY PATRICK TYLER
January 2009, FS&G
The Middle East is the beginning and the end of U.S. foreign policy: events there influence our alliances, make or break presidencies, govern the price of oil, and draw us into war. But it was not always so-and as Patrick Tyler shows in this thrilling chronicle of American misadventures in the region, the story of American presidents' dealings there is one of mixed motives, skulduggery, deceit, and outright foolishness, as well as of policymaking and diplomacy. Tyler draws on newly opened presidential archives to dramatize the approach to the Middle East across U.S. presidencies from Eisenhower to George W. Bush. He takes us into the Oval Office and shows how our leaders made momentous decisions; at the same time, the sweep of this narrative-from the Suez crisis to the Iran hostage crisis to George W. Bush's catastrophe in Iraq-lets us see the big picture as never before. Tyler tells a story of presidents being drawn into the affairs of the region against their will, being kept in the dark by local potentates, being led astray by grasping subordinates, and making decisions about the internal affairs of countries they hardly understand. Above all, he shows how each president has managed to undo the policies of his predecessor, often fomenting both anger against America on the streets of the region and confusion at home. A World of Trouble is the Middle East book we need now: compulsively readable, free of cant and ideology, and rich in insight about the very human challenges a new president will face as he or she tries to restore America's standing in the region. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] MY FATHER'S ROSES
A FAMILY'S JOURNEY FROM WI TO TREBLINKA
BY the late NANCY KOHNER
January 2009, Norton Pegasus
One family's extraordinary history-from their heroic feats on the battlefields of WWI to the rise of Hitler and the tragic culmination at Treblinka. Nancy's father was not like the other fathers in their northern English town. Elegantly dressed after the Eastern European fashion, an impeccable violin player, and never without a rose in his lapel, her father's entire essence alluded to a hidden and haunting past. Delving into the endless boxes of letters and diaries her father carried with him when he fled Czechoslovakia in 1939, her father's past finally comes to life. There are times of joy-her grandparent's finding sanctuary in 1918 in a small town between Prague and the German border; their eldest son returning from the trenches of Verdune and Somme; the birth of their first grandchild; a growing family business. But there was also fear, as instability and danger was the permanent backdrop of their lives, and when Nazi Storm Troopers marched into Podersam, Nancy witness the disintegration of the family through their increasingly desperate letters.Some escape to England, others resort to suicide, while others make poignantly clear that this will be their last letter as they are marched toward Treblinka, in this intimate, heartbreaking, yet ultimately uplifting window into one family's heartache and legacy. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] RAISING A CHILD WITH SOUL
HOW TIME-TESTED JEWISH WISDOM CAN SHAPE YOUR CHILD'S CHARACTER
BY SLOVIE JUNGREIS-WOLFF
January 2009, St Martins Griffin Paperback
With the years of popularity of THE BLESSINGS OF THE SKINNED KNEE has perhaps given rise to this new book in the genre of Jewish inspired child raising advice. The author of this book is the daughter of the popular Jewish speaker and author, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis. For more than a decade, Slovie has taught a couples and parenting class at the Hineni Heritage Center. According to the author, many parents question whether nurturing their children's souls is even possible in the fast-paced materialistic culture in which they live. Slovie's knowledge of Torah and its commentaries and her personal experiences has inspired her to give advice on how to strengthen and nurture a child's morality and character. Parents will learn how to: Instill simchas hachayim, "true joy," in their children; Value chessed, kindness, in a self-absorbed world; Create a mikdash me'at, a home filled with calm and reflection; Teach children gratitude and appreciation; And much more. Some are a tad hard to follow. For example, the Channah and Samuel story and its relation to self esteem; sibling rivalry and the story of Cain and Abel; or how you can teach children to appreciate their possession through the Torah story of how you are prohibited from destroying the fruit trees of a besieged city. In the chapter on Communicaton, the author relates how her mother, a Holocaust survivor, told stories of family deaths and survival. I assume it ws age appropriate stories. From discipline to sibling rivalry to effective communication skills, this book offers ideas that can be understood and applied to both Jewish and non-Jewish households. As for discipline, she recommends: Do Avoid angry confrontations, Do treat children with dignity (never shame them), Do choose your battles, Don't play favorites, Don't use sarcasm, don't exaggerate misbehavior, Don't carry grudges, and more. See also www.raisingachildwithsoul.com. Click the book cover to read more.








[book] PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION
A NOVEL
BY SARA HOUGHTELING
January 2009, Knopf
A Sensuous debut novel set in Paris as the Nazis art looting its treasures. Set in a Paris darkened by World War II, Sara Houghteling's sensuous and bracing debut novel tells the story of a son's quest to recover his family's lost masterpieces, looted by the Nazis during the occupation. Born to an art dealer and his pianist wife, Max Berenzon is forbidden from entering the family's business for reasons he cannot understand. He reluctantly attends medical school, reserving his true passion for his father's beautiful gallery assistant, Rose. When Paris falls to the Nazis, the Berenzons survive in hiding, returning in 1944 to find that their priceless collection has vanished. Gone are the Matisses, the Picassos, and a Manet of mysterious importance. In Max's obsessive hunt to recover his father's paintings, he navigates a torn city of corrupt art dealers, black marketers, Résistants, and collaborators, uncovering not only paintings but the stories of Rose's heroism, the tragic disappearance of his closest friend, and the truth behind a devastating family secret. Written with luminous historical detail, and as haunting as the paintings that are reprinted on its pages, Houghteling's novel conjures a mesmerizing world of art and artists, the melancholy of the end of an era, and a timeless story of fathers and sons. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY?
REDISCOVERING A HIDDEN ARCHIVE FROM THE WARSAW GHETTO
BY SAMUEL D. KASSOW
January 2009, Vintage
An engrossing and brilliant achievement in historical scholarship based upon testimony preserved in thousands of recovered documents, hidden by Emanuel Ringelbaum in 1940, and unearthed in 1946. Click the book cover to read more.












WIN $1000 FROM NEXTBOOK.ORG IF YOU MAKE A VIDEO IN SUPPORT OF THIS BOOK:
[book][book] THE JEWISH BODY
BY MELVIN KONNER
January 2009, Schocken
From a well-known doctor and anthropologist, a history of the Jewish people from bris to burial, from "muscle Jews" to nose jobs. From birth to death, Melvin Konner takes the measure of the "Jewish body," stopping along the way to contemplate sex, circumcision, menstruation, and even those most elusive and controversial of microscopic markers--Jewish genes. But Konner, a distinguished anthropologist as well as a medical doctor, has written a far more ambitious book than a mere examination of the human body seen through the prism of Jewish culture. He looks as well at the views of Jewish physiology held by non-Jews and the way those views seeped into Jewish thought.
[book] [book] [book] He describes in detail the origins of the first nose job, and he writes about the Nazi ideology that saw Jews literally as a public health menace on par with rats or germs. A work of grand historical and philosophical sweep, he writes about the subtle relationship between the Jewish conception of the body and the Jewish conception of a bodiless God, about the relationship between a land--Israel--and the bodily sense not merely of individuals but of a people. And he writes about the revival of a concept of physical strength that helped generate, and that followed in the wake of, the creation of a Jewish homeland. With deep insight and great originality, Konner has written nothing less than an anatomical history of the Jewish People.
[book] [book] [book][book] Click the book cover to read more.










[book] PRESIDENTIAL COMMAND
POWER, LEADERSHIP AND THE MAKING OF FOREIGN POLICY FROM NIXON TO BUSH
BY PETER W. RODMAN AND HENRY KISSINGER
January 2009 Knopf
A revelatory account from a Washington insider of how modern presidents have succeeded-and failed-in making foreign policy. An important contribution in the wake of recent American experiences abroad, and an essential book for the new administration, here is a fascinating, in-depth look at what actually happens in the Oval Office from a respected expert who has held high-level positions in several governments. Illuminating the qualities of personal leadership-character, focus, determination, persuasiveness, and consistency-that determine a president's ability to guide his staff, Peter W. Rodman makes clear how these qualities shape policy and determine how this policy is implemented. With telling anecdotes and trenchant analysis, he reminds us of the importance of a president's vision for the world and of his ability to make this vision a reality. Rodman's tour through the past forty years recounts both high points and dismal lows. He shows how Nixon's deep knowledge of the world combined with his personal paranoia to produce great victories (China) and deep failures (the demoralization of State and other departments). He demonstrates how Carter suffered from his own indecisiveness, and how Reagan's determined focus in dealing with the Soviets contrasted with his lack of attention to the Middle East, which helped lead to the disastrous events in Beirut. And, finally, he illustrates how George W. Bush put too much stock in bureaucratic consensus and, until the surge, failed to push hard enough for new strategies in Iraq. Rodman offers an original and telling survey of modern presidential policy-making, challenging many conventional accounts of events as well as many standard remedies. This is a vivid story of larger-than-life Washington personalities in action, an invaluable guide for our new president, and a deeply insightful primer on executive leadership. Click the book cover to read more.










[book] AMERICAN JEWISH FICTION
A JPS GUIDE
Edited by Josh Lambert

January 2009, Jewish Publication Society
The newest volume in the series--a guide to great novels and short story collections This new volume in the JPS Guides series is a fiction reader's dream: a guide to 125 remarkable works of fiction. The selection includes a wide range of classic American Jewish novels and story collections, from 1867 to the present, selected by the author in consultation with a panel of literary scholars and book industry professionals. Roth, Mailer, Kellerman, Chabon, Ozick, Heller, and dozens of other celebrated writers are here, with their most notable works. Each entry includes a book summary, with historical context and background on the author. Suggestions for further reading point to other books that match readers' interests and favorite writers. And the introduction is a fascinating exploration of the history of and important themes in American Jewish Fiction, illustrating how Jewish writing in the U.S. has been in constant dialogue with popular entertainment and intellectual life. Included in this guide are lists of book award winners; recommended anthologies; title, author, and subject indexes; and more. Click the book cover to read more.








[book] CELEBRATING THE JEWISH YEAR
THE SPRING AND SUMMER HOLIDAYS: PASSOVER, SHAVUOT, THE OMER, TISHA B'AV
Paul Steinberg, Janet Greenstein Potter, Adam Rhine
January 2009, Jewish Publication Society
As we move from season to season, Paul Steinberg shares with us a rich collection of readings from many of the Jewish greats--Maimonides, Rashi, Nehama Leibowitz, Irving Greenberg, Shlomo Carlebach, Marge Piercy, Elie Wiesel, Martin Buber, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Arthur Green, and others--and he guides us in discovering for ourselves the many treasures within each text. Some of the readings teach us about the history of each holiday, as well as its theological, ethical, agricultural, and seasonal importance and interpretation; others give us inspiration and much food for thought. These stories, essays, poems, anecdotes, and rituals help us discover how deeply Jewish traditions are rooted in nature's yearly cycle, and how beautifully season and spirit are woven together throughout the Jewish year. [book] [book] Click the book cover to read more.












[book] MINEKEVET RIVKAH
A MANUAL OF WISDOM AND PIETY FOR JEWISH WOMEN
Original text by Rivkah bat Meir
With an introduction and commentary by Frauke von Rohden, PhD
Translated by Samuel Spinner and Maurice Tszorf.
January 2009, JPS
A book of manners by one of the first female Jewish writers. Written in Yiddish and translated into English. The first-known Yiddish book to be written by a woman, Menekes Rivke (Rivkah's Nurse) reveals a great deal about 16th- and 17th-century Jewish women's lives and religious practice. Like many books of manners, it includes Rivka bat Meir's sermons, her interpretations of the Bible, and other religious instructions on various topics to guide women in their familial relationships. Menekes Rivke pre-dates the work of Glueckel of Hamelin and makes a new contribution to the fields of Yiddish literature and Jewish women's literature. Von Rohden's translation and commentary serve to place the work within biblical and rabbinical literature, and within other Yiddish ethical works of Rivka bat Meir's time. This is the first book to include the original Yiddish text in English translation, as well as the original Yiddish manuscript of Rivka bat Meir's unpublished Simhas Toyre Lid. Click the book cover to read more.








[book] TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT ME
BY RONDA ABDEL-FATTAH
SCHOLASTIC / Orchard, 2009
"At school I'm Aussie-blonde Jamie -- one of the crowd. At home I'm Muslim Jamilah -- driven mad by my Stone Age dad. I should win an Oscar for my acting skills. But I can't keep it up for much longer..." Jamie just wants to fit in. She doesn't want to be seen as a stereotypical Muslim girl, so she does everything possible to hide that part of herself. Even if it means pushing her friends away because she's afraid to let them know her dad forbids her from hanging out with boys or that she secretly loves to play the darabuka (Arabic drums). But when the cutest boy in school asks her out and her friends start to wonder about Jamie's life outside of school, her secrets threaten to explode. Can Jamie figure out how to be both Jamie and Jamilah before she loses everything. Click the book cover to read more.








[book] INNOCENT ABROAD
AN INTIMATE ACCOUNT OF AMERICAN PEACE DIP{LOMACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST
BY MARTIN INDYK

Simon and Schuster
From Publishers Weekly: Missteps and missed opportunities proliferate in this gripping insider history of Middle Eastern diplomacy during the Clinton administration. Indyk, former ambassador to Israel, examines the contradictions inherent in Clintons Iraq policy with a remarkable level of self-criticism and brings a nuanced perspective to his analysis of Iraqs alleged WMD programs and the reasons for and against war. The book emphasizes Clintons initial strategic focus on Syrian-Israeli relations, and the authors discussion of Syria runs parallel to his central narrative about the Israel-Palestine conflict, which traces the tumultuous eight years from the hopeful handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat in 1993 through the beginning of the second intifada. The author achieves an impressive balance of scale, packing a tremendous amount of anecdotal information throughout, creating a portrait of diplomacy that reveals the influence of countless small details, from ceremonial gifts to friendly kisses, on world affairs. At the same time, the book surveys the enduring challenges that plagued the Clinton teams efforts to bring peace to the region, making insightful connections between the history in which the author participated and the present state of the region.
Product Description Making peace in the long-troubled Middle East is likely to be one of the top priorities of the next American president. He will need to take account of the important lessons from past attempts, which are described and analyzed here in a gripping book by a renowned expert who served twice as U.S. ambassador to Israel and as Middle East adviser to President Clinton. Martin Indyk draws on his many years of intense involvement in the region to provide the inside story of the last time the United States employed sustained diplomacy to end the Arab-Israeli conflict and change the behavior of rogue regimes in Iraq and Iran. Innocent Abroad is an insightful history and a poignant memoir. Indyk provides a fascinating examination of the ironic consequences when American naïveté meets Middle Eastern cynicism in the region's political bazaars. He dissects the very different strategies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to explain why they both faced such difficulties remaking the Middle East in their images of a more peaceful or democratic place. He provides new details of the breakdown of the Arab-Israeli peace talks at Camp David, of the CIA's failure to overthrow Saddam Hussein, and of Clinton's attempts to negotiate with Iran's president. Indyk takes us inside the Oval Office, the Situation Room, the palaces of Arab potentates, and the offices of Israeli prime ministers. He draws intimate portraits of the American, Israeli, and Arab leaders he worked with, including Israel's Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak, and Ariel Sharon; the PLO's Yasser Arafat; Egypt's Hosni Mubarak; and Syria's Hafez al-Asad. He describes in vivid detail high-level meetings, demonstrating how difficult it is for American presidents to understand the motives and intentions of Middle Eastern leaders and how easy it is for them to miss those rare moments when these leaders are willing to act in ways that can produce breakthroughs to peace. Innocent Abroad is an extraordinarily candid and enthralling account, crucially important in grasping the obstacles that have confounded the efforts of recent presidents. As a new administration takes power, this experienced diplomat distills the lessons of past failures to chart a new way forward that will be required reading.
Click the book cover to read more.








Jimmy never met a Hamas leader he didn't like?
[book] [book] We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land
A Plan That Will Work
by Jimmy Carter

January 20 2009 (inauguration day), Simon and Schuster
Jimmy likes to call it the Holy Land, since it can be shared by all religions. God forbid it should be called "Israel." Carter shows his true nature in his books. And it is not pretty to me.
Jimmy has a plan in just four word: Israel should give up
This is a long winded op-ed piece turned into a book

From the cover: In this "urgent, balanced, and passionate book," (quotation marks are mine) Nobel Peace Laureate and former President Jimmy Carter argues that the present moment is a unique time for achieving peace in the Middle East -- and he offers a bold and comprehensive plan to do just that. President Carter has been a student of the biblical Holy Land all his life. For the last three decades, as president of the United States and as founder of The Carter Center, he has studied the complex and interrelated issues of the region's conflicts and has been actively involved in reconciling them. He knows the leaders of all factions in the region who will need to play key roles, and he sees encouraging signs among them. Carter describes the history of previous peace efforts and why they fell short. He argues persuasively that the road to a peace agreement is now open and that it has broad international and regional support. Most of all, since there will be no progress without courageous and sustained U.S. leadership, he says the time for progress is now. President Barack Obama is committed to a personal effort to exert that leadership, starting early in his administration. This is President Carter's call for action, and he lays out a practical and doable path to peace.
Here is part of a NYT review by Gershom Gorenberg, whom I repsect: "...The goal, Carter says, should be reaching a two-state solution, with the borders between Israel and the Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 armistice lines, along with minor territorial exchanges... Carter implies that Obama must separate support for Israel from support for Israel's policies. In short, he should do what Carter says he did to bring peace between Israel and Egypt. Achieving peace, Carter argues, also requires reversing two elements of George W. Bush's policy: his coldness toward negotiations between Israel and Syria, and his effort to isolate Hamas. Again, he presents himself as a model for Obama, since he met with the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and with Hamas leaders during his Middle East tour last year. Carter describes, albeit altogether too briefly, Hamas's terror campaign against Israeli civilians. (In general, he has an easier time talking about Israeli obstacles to peace than Palestinian ones.) But without Hamas's involvement, he argues, there will be no agreement. And with no agreement in sight, even moderate Palestinians are beginning to consider the one-state alternative: demanding full political rights in Israel, which would lose its Jewish majority and become a binational state... ...Carter's counsel lacks a couple of critical elements. Nonetheless, it has much to recommend it. The Gaza crisis is a reminder, as if another were needed, that ignoring this conflict is equivalent to waiting for it to explode again, with shock waves felt across the entire region. While a peace initiative may look risky, it might actually be the most prudent course the new administration could pursue..." "...Unfortunately, Carter's book reads as if it had first been spoken into a recorder for a couple of weeks, with the author working mainly from memory and his diary. Much of "We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land" is a listing of events, usually meetings held by Carter with important people. It's strange that a former president of the United States feels such a need to name-drop. A beginning student of the Middle East should not learn diplomatic history from this text. In Carter's telling, the Egyptian president Anwar Sadat went to Jerusalem at his prodding. More objective accounts portray Sadat as making an end run around Carter's stubborn intent to reconvene the Geneva peace conference..."
Click the book cover to read more.








Now in paperback: [book] THE MUCH TOO PROMISED LAND
AMERICA'S ELUSIVE SEARCH FOR ARAB-ISRAELI PEACE
BY AARON DAVID MILLER
Winter 2009, Bantam
PW Starred Review. In this extraordinary account of 20 years on the front lines of Arab-Israeli peacemaking, career diplomat Miller provides an impressively candid appraisal of Middle East peace efforts. Drawing from his extensive experience and 160 interviews with presidents, advisers and negotiators, he apportions censure and praise with an even hand, sparing not even his failures or those of his colleagues. Miller evinces genuine compassion for both sides in the conflict (stressing that Americans cannot fully understand the life-and-death stakes in the struggle between Israelis and Palestinians), while maintaining a detachment that allows him to draw hard conclusions. Miller says that though the two sides hold ultimate responsibility for their shared fate, American involvement is imperative and calls for the tough-love approach of Kissinger and Carter, arguing compellingly that such engagement is now more vital to our national interests, and to our security, than at any time since the late 1940s. Although occasionally paternalistic, Miller's writing is both approachable and deeply smart; this and his absolute failure to take sides mean that this work will doubtlessly influence and enrage-and certainly inspire. Click the book cover to read more.








[book] The Holocaust Is Over
We Must Rise From its Ashes
by Avraham Burg
Winter 2009, Palgrave
"An Israeli-born son of Holocaust survivors, Burg addresses a heartfelt plea to his countrymen: remember the past, but do not be its slaves; pathology is neither patriotism nor statescraft. A compelling and eloquent cri de coeur from a veteran of Israel's wars and politics." -- Howard M. Sachar, bestselling author of A History of the Jews in the Modern World and A History of Israel
"Burg takes a blunt, loving, painful and desperately important look at the state of the Jewish soul today. Anyone who cares about the future of the Middle East and the fate of victimized peoples needs to read this book and think hard." -- J.J. Goldberg, Editorial Director of The Forward
Click the book cover to read more reviews.









FEBRUARY 2009

[book] A MAD DESIRE TO DANCE
A NOVEL
BY ELIE WIESEL, Nobel Prize Winner
February 2009, Knopf
Wiesel, novelist, memoirist, witness, human rights leader, and more must have seen The Mad Dancers by Yehuda Hyman, since the book's title makes me think of that acclaimed play. But nevertheless, here is a new novel by the author of NIGHT. DoriEl is an orphan living in NY. He has a profound sense of loss which he carries like baggage through his life. His mother was a WW2 resistance leader. She survived the war, but died afterwards with his father in a car crash. Doriel was just a child and remembers only what he has seen in newsreels from that period. He cannot be consoled and is haunted by memories and loss. For comfort he studies and practices Judaism intensely. He realizes that he is possessed by a dybbuk, and with the help of a therapist, he learns about a deeply buried truth about his mother and his birth. And that is that..... oh wait. You better read it find out more. Click the book cover to read more.












THE BOOK ABOVE IS BY ELIE WIESEL
THE BOOK BELOW HAS BEEN CANCELLED, SINCE THE AUTHOR HAS ANNOUNCED THAT IT IS FICTION AND NOT A TRUE STORY, AFTER THE NEW REPUBLIC researched the premise of the book and determined that it could not be true.
Sadly, this hurts all Holocaust memoirs, since it taints all stories with the smell of fiction


[book] Angel at the Fence
The True Story of a Love that Survived
by Herman Rosenblat
February 2009, Penguin
Mr. Rosenblatt, a friend of Oprah (not OFrah,) has written a memoir about how he and his brothers were sent to the Schlieben Labor Camp a part of Buchenwald, in Germany during WWII, and how a young nine year old Jewish girl, who was passing as Christian, would meet a teenage Herman at a fence and bring him food and an apple for 7 months. After the war, as the story goes, a miracle occurred on the streets of Brooklyn, when he was fixed up on a blind date with Roma Radzicki, a Polish immigrant (by way of Germany, I suppose). It turns out she is the girl who gave him the apples. They married and the rest is history. Problem is that The New Republic has published a story today that asserts that the story and memory are false. Gabriel Sherman writes that an increasing number of prominent Holocaust scholars say the story could not have happened. He writes, "Though archival records show that Herman was interned in concentration camps during the war, scholars who are investigating the story believe that the central premise of his narrative-that a girl met him at the fence and that very girl became his wife-is, at the very least, an embellishment, and at worst, a wholesale fabrication."
THE OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION: The true story of a Holocaust survivor whose prayers for hope and love were answered. During World War II, Herman Rosenblat's family was torn apart and he was forced into labor camps with his brothers. It was at Schlieben Labor Camp in Germany that Herman met his angel. Night after night, a young Jewish girl who lived outside of the camp-and was passing as a Christian-met Herman at the fence, bringing him food and, more importantly, hope. Herman never learned her name. It wasn't until after the horrors of war, when Herman was forging a new life for himself in New York City, that the most astounding miracle occurred. On a double date, he met a girl from Poland...a girl with an angelic face-and the memory of helping a young boy in a concentration camp survive... Now, Herman shares his stirring and uplifting account of the hope Roma gave him- and the love that saw him through the darkest days of his life. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] THE SHANGHAI MOON
A LYDIA CHIN / BILL SMITH MYSTERY NOVEL
BY S. J. ROZAN
February 2009, Minotaur
With The Shanghai Moon, S. J. Rozan returns to her award-winning, critically acclaimed, and much-loved characters Lydia Chin and Bill Smith in the first new novel in the series in seven years. Estranged for months from fellow P.I. Bill Smith, Chinese-American private investigator Lydia Chin is brought in by colleague and former mentor Joel Pilarsky to help with a case that crosses continents, cultures, and decades. In Shanghai, excavation has unearthed a cache of European jewelry dating back to World War II, when Shanghai was an open city providing safe haven for thousands of Jewish refugees. The jewelry, identifed as having belonged to one such refugee - Rosalie Gilder - was immediately stolen by a Chinese official who fled to New York City. Hired by a lawyer specializing in the recovery of Holocaust assets, Chin and Pilarsky are to find any and all leads to the missing jewels.However, Lydia soon learns that there is much more to the story than they've been told: The Shanghai Moon, one of the world's most sought after missing jewels, reputed to be worth millions, is believed to have been part of the same stash. Before Lydia can act on this new information, Joel Pilarsky is murdered, Lydia is fired from the case, and Bill Smith finally reappears on the scene. Now Lydia and Bill must unravel the truth about the Shanghai Moon and the events that surrounded its disappearance sixty years ago during the chaos of war and revolution, if they are to stop more killings and uncover the truth of what is going on today. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] BEAT THE REAPER
A NOVEL
BY JOSH BAZELL
February 2009, Little Brown
Making a hit man turned medical intern a sympathetic figure would be a tall order for most authors, but first-time novelist Bazell makes it look easy in this breezy and darkly comic suspense novel. The Locanos, a mob family, take in 14-year-old Pietro Brwna (pronounced Browna, who has been raised by his Jewish grandparents) after a couple of thugs gun down the grandparents (Holocaust survivors) who raised him in their New Jersey home (after his ashram living Jewish mother and the Italian man who got her pregnant give him up to his grandparents). Bent on revenge, Pietro pursues the killers and executes them a year later. Impressed by Pietros performance, David Locano recruits Pietro as a hit man. After more traumas, Pietro tries to make a break from his past by entering the witness protection program. Now known as Peter Brown, he eventually lands a position as a doctor at a decrepit Manhattan hospital, where by chance a former Mafia associate turns up as a patient and threatens to rat him out. The hero's wry narrative voice, coupled with Bazells artful use of flashbacks to sustain tension and fill in Pietro's past, are a winning combination. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] ANNE FRANK REMEMBERED
THE STORY OF THE WOMEN WHO HELPED TO HIDE THE FRANK FAMILY
MIEP GIES AND ALISON LESLIE GOLD
February 2009, Simon and Schuster
Miep Gies is turning 100 years old. She reflects on the war years in this reissued anniversary edition of Anne Frank Remembered..... She recalls how during WW II she, her husband and some of her coworkers sheltered her boss Otto Frank, his family and several other Jews in a secret annex of their Amsterdam office building. Unfortunately, California freelance writer Gold's lackluster rendition contrasts sharply with the spirited, penetrating journal kept by Anne Frank, which Gies secreted from the Nazis and which later was published as Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. In Gold's disappointing retelling, Gies proves to be an intensely private person and frugal with words, many of whose observations are hindsights ("I knew that . . . Anne's diary had become her life") or dwell on externals like Anne's blossoming figure. Nevertheless, Gies's sincerity, humility and courage emerge from this simple testimony and will not fail to inspire readers Click the book cover to read more.












[book] The Book of the Unknown
Tales of the Thirty-six
by Jonathon Keats
February 2009, Random House
23 years ago, Keats (or shall we say Katz) was in grad school when the remains of a local synagogue were found in a small German town. The landowner gave students one week, during which construction was stopped on a new apartment building, to descend on the spot and save what they could. They found a genizah of documents. Keats wrote his dissertation and became successful, and academically famous. His mother passed away in 1998 and then his father, who was superstitious and filled with stories of demons and amulets, passed away in 2004. Keats had held onto one document from the genizah, one that was to frightening to publish. The names of the 36, upon whom the world exists. Yes, the documents was from Yaakov ben Eliezer who figured out how to pronounce Hebrew with the real vowels and sounds, and not the ones we know of today. These are the tales of 12 of the 36...
(by the way, the author's foreword and afterword are.. um.. fictional (there was no thesis or found document, or was there?) Keats is a grad of Yaddo and MacDowell among other retreats
Click the book cover to read more.






[book] Sima's Undergarmets for Women
by Ilana Stranger-Ross
February 2009, Overlook
There is a bra shop in an Orthodox Jewish area of Brooklyn. It is located below street level, underground. A 40 year secret is about to be revealed. It is here were women get together, quietly, in every shape and belief, to share their desires for a bra that does not leave marks, as well as their experiences with loss, love, and laughter. They search for a perfect fit, if not a perfect life. Sima Goldner teaches the women to appreciate their bodies. But then an Israeli seamstress arrives at the store. Timna is young and buxom. Sima finds herself awakened to love and possibilities.
* Stranger-Ross, a Barnard and Temple grad, is studying to be a midwife. Her work has appeared in Lilith, The Globe and Mail, and many other places. Click the book cover to read more.












VOLUME 2 OF A PROPOSED THREE VOLUME SET
[book][book] A CODE OF JEWISH ETHICS
VOLUME 2
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF
BY RABBI JOSEPH TELUSHKIN
February 2009, Bell Tower
Amazing.. simply a must read. I first became curious when I saw that the book was dedicated to the late Zalman (Sanford C) Bernstein, at whose firm everyone received a free lunch. ... Written in a numbered style of Yosef Caro's Shulhan Aruch.. Written for everyone... I had a good chuckle when I was sitting in a subway station waiting for atrain with a copy of this book, and the author walked by me. (He didn't notice that I was reading his book, but hopefully the whole UWS will be reading it)
In YOU SHALL BE HOLY (Vol 1), the focus was character development. This volume is on love and interpersonal developments. He considers hospitality, obligations to the dead, giving advice, comforting mourners, visiting those who are ill, relations between Jews and Jews, and Jews and non-Jews, charity, caring for animals (suggested by his son), self-defense, tolerance, and justice. You will return to it over and over, and like a sponge you will try to soak it up
"Love your neighbor as yourself" is the best-known commandment in the Bible. Yet we rarely hear anyone talk about how to apply these words in daily life. In this landmark work, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, one of the premier scholars and thinkers of our time, gives both Jews and non-Jews an extraordinary summation of what Jewish tradition teaches about putting these words into practice. Writing with great clarity and simplicity as well as with deep wisdom, Telushkin covers topics such as love and kindness, hospitality, visiting the sick, comforting mourners, charity, relations between Jews and non-Jews, compassion for animals, tolerance, self-defense, and end-of-life issues. This second volume of the first major code of Jewish ethics written in the English language is breathtaking in its scope and will undoubtedly influence readers for generations to come. It offers hundreds of practical examples from the Torah, the Talmud, the Midrash, and both ancient and modern rabbinic commentaries-as well as contemporary anecdotes-all teaching us how to care for one another each and every day. A Code of Jewish Ethics, Volume 2: Love Your Neighbor as Yourself is a consummate work of scholarship. Like its acclaimed predecessor, which received the National Jewish Book Award, it is rich with ideas to contemplate and discuss, while being primarily a book to live by. Nothing could be more important in these strife-torn times than learning how to love our neighbors as ourselves. The message of this book is as vital and timely now as it has been since time immemorial.









N O W I N P A P E R B A C K
IS THIS a new turning point in Israeli Literature? A post Patriotic novel?
[book] A PIGEON AND A BOY
A NOVEL
BY MEIR SHALEV
February 2009, Schocken
Meir Shalev is one of Israel's most celebrated novelists. Although less well known in the United States, the critically acclaimed A Pigeon and a Boy, which won Israel's prestigious Brenner Prize, should introduce Shalev to a much wider audience. Intertwining two love stories with Israel's fight for independence, the novel offers a compelling portrait of Israel's period before statehood to the present day. With homing pigeons as a recurring motif, Shalev explores themes of home, memory, and survival-for the birds, a people, and a nation. Despite critics' overall praise, some faulted the characterizations of Baby and Yair and the obvious connections between the two tales......
Click the book cover to read more.
BOOK READING GROUPS:
1) We enter "A Pigeon and a Boy" in the middle of a story. First we hear the words of the old Palmach fighter, who speaks as a witness to a historical moment, and then Yair, the narrator, adds to the story the emotional experience of the pigeon. Did you find this an effective opening? How did it draw you into the story, or keep you distanced from it?
2) What is the importance of occupations in the novel: Liora's business, Tirzah's contractor work, Yordad's doctoring, Yair's role as a tour guide and driver? What does their work say about how each character approaches his or her life?
3) The act of naming is essential to how we see one another and to the relationships we claim for ourselves. Yair's family calls Yaacov "Yordad"; Yordad calls Yair "Yairi," meaning "my Yair"; Tirzah calls her father "Meshulam"; Meshulam calls Yair and Tirzah "Iraleh and Tiraleh." How do you think these choices affect both those who are named and those who are naming?
4) What do you make of Meshulam's role in the novel? How is his presence like and unlike that of Dr. Laufer, whose actions help direct the fate of the Girl and the Baby-as Meshulam attempts to encourage Tirzah and Yair to have a life together?
5) The necessity of a house that responds and belongs to the person inside it is essential to Raya and, in turn, to Yair. How important is the idea of home to the other character-to Benjamin, Yordad, Tirzah, Meshulam, Dr. Laufer? What is your own definition of home?
6) There are elements of magical realism in the novel, specifically when the pigeons speak-once to Raya and once to Yair. What is the effect of these conversations? What is the significance of the pigeons' words? Why do you think Raya and Yair react in such dramatically different ways? Yair's experiences of the world are so tied to his mother's-when she is pregnant, he gets sick as well-yet he cannot bear to have pigeons in his house or to deal with them in any way. What does his violence against the pigeon in the end suggest about his connection to his mother?
7) The presence of cranes creates a contrast to the homing pigeons. For Yair, cranes mark the beginning and the return of Liora to his life; while for Raya, pigeons define the beginning and the end of the Baby's life. What do you make of the role of the different birds in the novel, and what do they symbolize?
8) To make decisions, Raya and Yair both compile lists FOR and AGAINST. Yordad classifies the world, dividing it up into parts and working to fix what is broken. What does this difference suggest about the divide between Raya and Yordad? Do you recognize your own way of making decisions in either approach?
9) Why do you think Raya chose to marry Yordad, and why do you think she chose to leave him when she did?
10) The novel explores in intricate and moving passages the ways in which faith and destiny determine our lives-from the pigeon landing on the Girl's balcony to Meshulam bringing his sick son to Yordad's offices. Yair speaks often about fate and how others predict his story, and also speaks of his own passive character traits: "I am a kite whose string has severed. . . . I settle for hopes and wishes, in the manner of the devout in prayer; like a hammer that pounds again and again on the same spot." What do you think the novel suggests about the role of destiny, and about the importance of our own choices to determine our fate?
11) Speaking to Yordad after he returns from medical school, and after the Baby's death, Raya says to him: "Funny, how Dr. Laufer determined all of our fates. Yours, mine, my baby that lives, and my Baby who died." Dr. Laufer, like Meshulam, is a figure of utmost importance, yet one who remains in the background of the story. What do you make of his character, and of his role in the fate of Raya, her love, and her family?
12) Yair often remarks on how different he is from his brother, though both were raised by Yordad as his sons. What does the novel suggest about what is inherited and what can be given? 13) How does the novel explore the ways in which we mourn our dead? Is Yair's narration a way of mourning his mother? What do you make of Meshulam sleeping in his son, Gershon's, bed after his death?
14) When Yordad returns to Raya, he states that he believes souls can be fixed. What does the novel suggest about the ability of people to fix their souls and their lives? Do you think Raya is ever able to love Yordad?
15) At the heart of the novel is the idea of story: that we exist as part of a story, both our own and that of others. Raya asks her son, "Do you understand what every person needs?" and Yair replies, "A story." What do you think the novel says about why stories are essential to our existence and about what it means to claim a story as your own-and, additionally, that every story we tell is more about us than it can be about any other person figuring in the story? 16) This question of story relates very intimately to the act of writing and reading. In creating this novel, the author had an array of narrative choices. What do you think of Shalev's choice of a first-person narrator who speaks to "you" (his mother), as well as to us, the readers? Is Yair a trustworthy narrator? And how do our own personal experiences-of love, family, loss-affect our reaction to the novel?
17) Yair remarks frequently how his mother greets houses: "Hello, house." Liora, lying with Yair at his house, says, "Hello, you," and Yair's "body breathes and responds." What do you think is similar and different about Yair's love and connection to the women and houses in his life: his mother and their home; Tirzah and the house she builds for him; and Liora and the apartment they own? Why do you think Yair chooses to go back to Liora in the end, to show her the house that has been created wholly without her?
18) Only the last chapter in the novel is named, instead of numbered. Why do you think the author chose to name it, and to include a summary of what happens to the characters after Yair's narration ends? How does the inclusion of this final chapter relate to your experience of the novel as a whole? Do you appreciate hearing what happens to the characters, or is it disruptive to the narrative voice?




[book] Foundations of Sephardic Spirituality
The Inner Life of Jews of the Ottoman Empire
by Rabbi Marc Angel
February 2009, Jewish Lights
From Publishers Weekly: Despite the esoteric title, this exploration of Judeo-Spanish communities is more than a scholarly treatise. Angel, rabbi of Shearith Israel, the Spanish-Portuguese synagogue in New York, grew up in Seattle with Turkish-born grandparents who spoke Ladino (a form of medieval Spanish). He documents the historical foundations, cultural values and religious underpinnings of his own Sephardic roots. In the early 20th century, the Ottoman Empire was home to more than 400,000 Jews, making it the fifth-largest Jewish community in the world. Because these Sephardim felt little need to integrate into the larger culture, they maintained a language that dated back to the expulsion from Spain in 1492. They suffered abject poverty, discrimination, humiliation and political weakness. However, because of both internal attitudes and external factors, their self-perception was bolstered with faith in God, a belief in their own rich heritage and in their place in the world to come. Angel sprinkles his readable narratives with scholarly citations as well as superstitions, rituals, Ladino folklore, songs and sayings. This valuable historic journey demonstrates the "triumph of the human spirit," resolute in its optimism and dignity . Click the book cover to read more.










NOW IN PAPERBACK
[book] THE BLOODY WHITE BARON
THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF THE RUSSIAN NOBLEMAN WHO BECAME THE LAST KHAN OF MONGOLIA
BY JAMES PALMER
February 2009, Basic Books
Baron Ungern Sternberg was a demented, sinister, sadistic, fanatically anti-Seminitic commie hater Russian. In 1920, he took over Mongolia. He planned to retake Russia from the Communists. This is the story. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] LEVITTOWN
TWO FAMILIES, ONE TYCOON, AND THE FIGHT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS IN AMERICA'S LEGENDARY SUBURB
BY DAVID KUSHNER
February 2009, Walker
The dark side of the American dream: the true story of the first African-American family to move into the iconic suburb, Levittown, PA . In the decade after World War II , one entrepreneurial family helped thousands of people buy into the American dream of owning a home. T he Levitts-William, Alfred, and their father, Abe-pooled their talents to create storybook towns with affordable little houses. T hey laid out the welcome mat, but not to everyone. Levittown had a whites-only policy. The events that unfolded in Levittown, PA, in the unseasonably hot summer of 1957 would rock the community. There, a white Jewish Communist family named Wechsler secretly arranged for a black family, the Myerses, to buy the pink house next door. T he explosive reaction would transform their lives, and the nation, leading to the downfall of a titan and the integration of the most famous suburb in the world. Levittown is a story of hope and fear, invention and rebellion, and the power that comes when ordinary people take an extraordinary stand. And it is as relevant today, more than fifty years later, as it was then. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] Variety's The Movie That Changed My Life
120 Celebrities Pick the Films That Made a Difference For Better or Worse)
By Robert Holfler
February 2009, Variety
.The responses fro film stars, politicians, athletes, captains of industry, and others on what films changed their lives. Candace Bushnell picks Annie Hall' Senator John McCain picked Viva Zapata!, Tom Brokaw picked His Gal Friday. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] Keepers of the Keys of Heaven
A History of the Papacy
By Roger Collins
February 2009, Basic Books
From Saint Peter to Pope John Paul II, this book is a history of the papacy and popes. An interesting book for those interested in the structure of Catholicism and its history. Click the book cover to read more.










High hopes on this novel. Worth taking a deeper look at it
[book] THE DISAPPEARANCE
A NOVEL
BY EFREM SIGEL
February 2009, Permanent
When Joshua and Nathalie Sandler's only child, 14-year-old Daniel, disappears one flawless summer day in a tiny hamlet in western Massachusetts, their world changes in an instant. Over the next year, Joshua neglects everything else to search ceaselessly for their son, while Nathalie, a beautiful and gifted cellist, withdraws into herself, unable to play even a note of music. Sigel's novel immerses us in the Sandlers' world. We see the various townspeople who might be involved in this disappearance and its aftermath: the mean-spirited president of the Board of Selectmen, neighbors who either come forward to help or who hide evidence, a deeply human police chief, half a dozen troubled teenagers, and a dark-haired, passionate young woman with secrets of her own, who is drawn to Joshua and his plight. With lyrical prose and suspense that builds inexorably toward a resolution, Sigel portrays the anguish of parents, who, despite their crushing burden of uncertainty and grief, must continue to live their lives. While the mystery of Dan's appearance deepens, Joshua and Nathalie struggle to find a new meaning to their existence and to discover, finally, whether a marriage that has come apart piece by piece can ever be made whole again. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] MACY'S
THE STORE. THE STAR. THE STORY.
By Robert Grippo
Winter 2009, Square One (squareonepublishers.com)
The well researched history of Macy's, from its founding by Mr Rowland Macy, to its fight with other merchant kings, the parade, xmas, the film, the flower show and more. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] Anne Frank Remembered
The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family
by Miep Gies and Alison Leslie Gold
2009
From Publishers Weekly: Gies, now 78, recalls how during WW II she, her husband and some of her coworkers sheltered her boss Otto Frank, his family and several other Jews in a secret annex of their Amsterdam office building. Unfortunately, California freelance writer Gold's lackluster rendition contrasts sharply with the spirited, penetrating journal kept by Anne Frank, which Gies secreted from the Nazis and which later was published as Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. In Gold's disappointing retelling, Gies proves to be an intensely private person and frugal with words, many of whose observations are hindsights ("I knew that . . . Anne's diary had become her life") or dwell on externals like Anne's blossoming figure. Nevertheless, Gies's sincerity, humility and courage emerge from this simple testimony and will not fail to inspire readers. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] MAPS AND LEGENDS
READING AND WRITING ALONG THE BORDERLANDS
BY MICHAEL CHABON
Winter 2009, Harper
Michael Chabon's sparkling first book of nonfiction is a love song in 16 parts-a series of linked essays in praise of reading and writing, with subjects running from ghost stories to comic books, Sherlock Holmes to Cormac McCarthy. Throughout, Chabon energetically argues for a return to the thrilling, chilling origins of storytelling, rejecting the false walls around "serious" literature in favor of a wide-ranging affection. His own fiction, meanwhile, is explored from the perspective of personal history: post-collegiate desperation sparks his debut, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh; procrastination and doubt reveal the way toward Wonder Boys; a love of comics and a basement golem combine to create the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay; and an enigmatic Yiddish phrasebook unfurls into The Yiddish Policemen's Union. He is an exacting cartographer of those speculative spaces where only the genre of nurse romances (like Cynthia Ozick's Ruth Puttermesser, R.N.) was allowed to flourish or where one might catch a glimpse of a zeppelin ("that colophon of alternate-world fiction from Ada to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen") screaming across the sky. In an essay on Sherlock Holmes, Chabon writes: "And yet there is a degree to which, just as all criticism is in essence Sherlockian, all literature, highbrow or low, from the Aeneid onward, is fan fiction. That is why Harold Bloom's notion of the anxiety of influence has always rung so hollow to me. Through parody and pastiche, allusion and homage, retelling and reimagining the stories that were told before us and that we have come of age loving-amateurs-we proceed, seeking out the blank places in the map that our favorite writers, in their greatness and negligence, have left for us, hoping to pass on to our own readers-should we be lucky enough to find any-some of the pleasure that we ourselves have taken in the stuff we love: to get in on the game. All novels are sequels; influence is bliss." As he roams across literary and cultural borderlands, Chabon investigates comic-book deity Will Eisner, Road warrior Cormac McCarthy, the urban sprawls of Howard Chaykin's American Flagg! and Ben Katchor's Julius Knipl, the supernatural tales of M.R. James, and the contrarian cosmology of Philip Pullman. Sadly, there is only brief mention of August Van Zorn, the little-known acolyte of H.P. Lovecraft so beloved of Chabon that he includes him in Wonder Boys. Chabon also provides observations on his own literary endeavors, from the Sherlock Holmes story he wrote at age 10 and the place where he penned his first novel to his problematic second novel, Fountain City, which, although uncompleted, provided essential inspiration for the runaway magnum opus Grady Tripp toils on in Wonder Boys. His final two essays contemplate artistic approaches to questions of exile and faith. The last essay is the text of a public talk Chabon delivered in 2003 and 2004 about the author's stumbling upon a writer and Holocaust survivor named C.B. Colby resulting in a peculiar inquiry into history and storytelling. Maps and Legends is swathed in a marvelous Jordan Crane dust jacket with three blue, green, and yellow-gold layers, populated with storybook characters scattered within the scenery, each of which can be peeled back to reveal-what else?-the letter x to mark the title. Maps and Legends is a treasure trove of intriguing and revealing looks at where Chabon goes to make up his worlds and how he tells his fables of the reconstruction. Click the book cover to read more.




[book][book][book] WALTZ WITH BASHIR
A LEBANON WAR STORY
BY ARI FOLMAN AND DAVID POLONSKY
February 19, 2009, Metropolitan
One night in Beirut in September 1982, while Israeli soldiers secured the area, Christian militia members entered the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila and began to massacre hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians. Ari Folman was one of those Israeli soldiers, but for more than twenty years he remembered nothing of that night or of the weeks leading up to it. Then came a friend's disturbing dream, and with it Folman's need to excavate the truth of the war in Lebanon and answer the crucial question: what was he doing during the hours of slaughter? Challenging the collective amnesia of friends and fellow soldiers, Folman painfully, candidly pieces together the war and his place in it. Gradually, the blankness of his mind is filled in by scenes of combat and patrol, misery and carnage, as well as dreams and hallucinations. Soldiers are haunted by inexplicable nightmares and flashbacks-snapping, growling dogs with teeth bared and eyes glowing orange; a recurring image of three young men rising naked out of the sea to drift into the Beirut battlefield. Tanks crush cars and buildings with lethal indifference; snipers pick off men on donkeys, men in cars, men drinking coffee; a soldier waltzes through a storm of bullets; rock songs fill the air, and then yellow flares. The recollections accumulate until Ari Folman arrives at Sabra and Shatila and his investigation reaches its terrible end. The result is a gripping reconstruction, a probing inquiry into the unreliable quality of memory, and, above all, a powerful denunciation of the senselessness of all wars. Profoundly original in form and approach, Waltz with Bashir will take its place as one of the great works of wartime testimony. . Click the book cover to read more.












[book] THE HOUSE OF WITTGENSTEIN
A FAMILY AT WAR
BY ALEXANDER WAUGH
February 2009, Doubleday
The Wittgenstein family was one of the richest, most talented, and most eccentric in European history. Born to Jewish parents, both husband and wife converted to Christianity when they moved from Saxony to Vienna in the 1850s. Karl Wittgenstein, who ran away from home as a wayward and rebellious youth, returned to his native Vienna to make a fortune in the iron and steel industries. He bought factories and paintings and palaces, but the domineering and overbearing influence he exerted over his eight children resulted in a generation of siblings fraught by inner antagonisms and nervous tension. Three of his sons committed suicide; Paul, the fourth, became a world-famous concert pianist, using only his left hand and playing compositions commissioned from Ravel and Prokofiev; while Ludwig, the youngest, is now regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. In this dramatic historical and psychological epic, Alexander Waugh traces the triumphs and vicissitudes of a family held together by a fanatical love of music yet torn apart by money, madness, conflicts of loyalty, and the cataclysmic upheaval of two world wars. Through the bleak despair of a Siberian prison camp and the terror of a Gestapo interrogation room, one courageous and unlikely hero emerges from the rubble of the house of Wittgenstein in the figure of Paul, an extraordinary testament to the indomitable spirit of human survival. Alexander Waugh tells this saga of baroque family unhappiness and perseverance against incredible odds with a novelistic richness to rival Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] Nachshon, Who Was Afraid to Swim
A Passover Story
by Deborah Bodin Cohen
February 2009, Kar-Ben
Ages 4 - 8
Nachshon and his family have been enslaved for generations in Egypt. When they flee from bondage and are at the shore of the Sea with Moses, Nachshon must overcome his fear of water in order to reach freedom. Click the book cover to read more.







MARCH 2009

[book] THE BELIEVERS
A NOVEL
BY ZOE HELLER
March 2009, Harper
Heller (What Was She Thinking?; Notes on a Scandal) puts to pointed use her acute observations of human nature in her third novel, a satire of 1960s idealism soured in the early 21st century. Audrey and Joel Litvinoff have attempted to pass on to their children their lefty passions-despite Audrey's decidedly bourgeois attitude and attorney Joel's self-satisfied heroism, including the defense of a suspected terrorist in 2002 New York City. When Joel has a stroke and falls into a coma, Audrey grows increasingly nasty as his secrets surface. The children, meanwhile, wander off on their own adventures: Rosa's inherited principles are beleaguered by the unpleasant realities of her work with troubled adolescents; Karla, her self-image crushed by Audrey, has settled into an uncomfortable marriage and the accompanying pressure to have children; and adopted Lenny, the best metaphor for the family's troubles, dawdles along as a drug addict and master manipulator. Though some may be initially put off by the characters' coldness-the Litvinoffs are a severely screwed-up crew-readers with a certain mindset will have a blast watching things get worse Click the book cover to read more.












[book] PRAYING WITH LIOR
A film by Ilana Trachtman
DVD Release Date March 2009, First Run Features
A New York Times Critic's Pick, 5 Audience Awards-- Boston Jewish Film Festival, Washington Jewish Film Festival, San Diego Jewish Film Festival, Vancouver Jewish Film Festival, WINNER! 2008 Media Award AAIDD--American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; WINNER! 2008 Media Award National Down Syndrome Congress. Starring Lior Liebling. Winner of multiple awards and acclaimed by audiences around the world, Praying with Lior asks whether someone with Down syndrome can be a "spiritual genius." Many believe Lior is close to God-- at least that's what his family and community believe-- though he's also a burden, a best friend, an inspiration and an embarrassment, depending on who is asked and when. As this moving and entertaining documentary moves to its climax, Lior must pass through the gateway to manhood-- his Bar Mitzvah. Click the book cover to read more. If you already saw this in a theater, get the DVD, since it includes bonus scenes, dleted scenes, and the filmmaker's biography.








[book] House of Life (2007)
The Old Jewish Cemetery of Prague
Starring: Claire Bloom
Director: Allan Miller and Mark Podwal
DVD Release Date March 2009, First Run Features
This poignant evocation moves the viewer to appreciate a very special memory - that of ancient stones. --Elie Wiesel, Nobel Laureate and Author of NIGHT. This solemn yet joyous documentary tells the story of The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague, the site of layer upon layer of buried members of the once-vibrant Jewish community. Almost a million people from all over the world now visit the cemetery each year, and House of Life chronicles its history, which is rich in lore, mysticism, tradition and philosophy. Tales of great rabbis and philanthropists and the story of the giant golem, created from clay to protect the Jewish people, are narrated by Claire Bloom. The 12,000 stones may be covering as many as 100,000 members of Prague's historic Jewish community. Under the German occupation in World War II, the cemetery was the only place where Jewish children were allowed to play. Later, under the communists, lovers met there for trysts. The cemetery--and film-- serve as a powerful reminder of the indomitable spirit of a people compelled to honor their past and preserve the lessons of history. .








[book] THE KITE (2003)
Starring: Flavia B'chara, Ziad Rahbani
Director: Randa Chahal Sabbag
DVD Release Date March 2009, First Run Features
In director Randa Chahal Sabbag's fairytale for troubled times, sixteen year old Lamia must cross a border checkpoint between Lebanon and Israel to marry a man she has never met. Neither she nor her betrothed are eager to consummate a marriage to a stranger-- a matter further complicated by Lamia's surprising admission that she is in love with the Israeli soldier guarding the border. Sabbag's enchanting drama about marriage and tradition is underscored by delicate symbolism and artful references to politics in Lebanon








[book] MY FATHER, MY LORD (2007)
Starring: Assi Dayan
Director: David Volach
Kino International
WINNER: BEST FILM OF 2007 (TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL) A heartbreakingly tender (New York Times) new entry into Israel s ongoing filmmaking renaissance, My Father My Lord is an anguished, mordant sigh of a fable (New York Sun) set in the ultra-orthodox Israeli community in which writer-director Volach was raised. This astonishing debut feature (Variety) is a beautifully made film (Newsday) portraying childhood at its most transcendent and fundamentalism at its most intimately corrosive. We do everything in the Torah without asking why, Rabbi Eidelman (Assi Dayan), a pious, respected elder in a cloistered Hasidic enclave tells his wonderstruck only son Menahem (Ilan Grif). But at an age where life prompts questions increasingly outside the confines of doctrine, Menahem unwittingly runs afoul of his father s inflexibility. Mindful of her marriage vows but accepting of her son s boyish curiosity, Rabbi Eidelman s wife Esther (Sharon Hacohen Bar) is caught in the middle. A holiday at the seashore meant to reconnect the family brings the ideological rift between pre-teen boy and middle-aged man to a biblically and dramatically tragic climax. Lifting equally from the secular religiosity of Krzysztof Kieslowski s The Decalogue and the aesthetics of Jewish ritual itself (Village Voice), and profoundly compassionate toward its characters (NY Times), My Father My Lord shines with a radiance and grave grace. (Entertainment Weekly)








[book] THE BAND'S VISIT (2007)
Starring: Ahuva Keren, Ronit Elkabetz, Sasson Gabai, Khalifa Natour, Eyad Sheety Directed by Eran Kolirin

Sony Pictures
Can movies change the world? In a word, no. But Israeli writer and director Eran Kolirin's utterly charming and engaging The Band's Visit suggests that if we could somehow put aside the politics and the religion, stifle the governments and the rhetoric, and mix in a little Gershwin, maybe even people with a history of cross-cultural suspicion and hostility really can get along. Not that the film has such pretensions--far from it. This is a simple tale involving a group of Egyptian musicians, the Alexandria Police Ceremonial Orchestra, who arrive in Israel for a concert. Things don't go well; there's no one to meet them at the airport, and they mistakenly end up in a small, drab desert town called Bet Hatikva, a place whose own residents refer to it as "bloody nowhere." But the people, especially café owner Dina (a marvelous performance by Ronit Elkabetz), are friendly and welcoming, and when they urge the band members to stay overnight before heading to their proper destination the next day, strait-laced leader Tewfiq (Sasson Gabai) finally relents. What follows is a series of plain but lovely scenes, as the Egyptians and Israelis (speaking English, their common language) tentatively search for common ground. Khaled (Saleh Bakri), the ladies man of the group ("Do you like Chet Baker?" is his favorite pick-up line), accompanies two young couples to a roller rink, where he comically helps the painfully timid Papi (Shlomi Avraham) connect with his date; meanwhile, the dignified but taciturn Tewfiq gradually warms to Dina's manifest charms, and the other musicians share a rousing chorus of "Summertime" with their Israeli hosts. The Band's Visit is filled with moments of humor, tenderness, tension, sadness, regret, and, as one character puts it, "tons of loneliness," every one of them delivered without the slightest bit of pretension or manipulation (not to mention political or religious overtones). And when, at the end, we finally hear the Orchestra perform, we only wish we could spend more time with all of these delightful characters. -








[book] BEAUFORT (2007)
Starring: Alon Aboutboul, Ohad Knoller, Itay Turgeman, Eli Eltonyo, Oshri Cohen
Directors: Joseph Cedar
Kino International
2007 ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE: BEST FOREIGN FILM; WINNER: BEST DIRECTOR (BERLIN FILM FESTIVAL); After 18 years dug into a heavily fortified mountain deep in occupied Lebanon, the last Israeli soldiers enduring constant bombardment at the site of the ancient crusader stronghold called Beaufort receive orders to abandon their posts, detonate the warren of bunkers in which they ve tenuously clung to life and victory, and come home. Amid redoubled shelling from Hezbollah, the fort s brash, impossibly young commander Liraz (Oshri Cohen) struggles to keep himself and his men safe from a faceless enemy that would turn withdrawal into massacre, and transform a just cause into a lost cause. An unusually dexterous ensemble cast and director Joseph Cedar s (Time of Favor) visionary combination of gritty objectivity, lucid sudden violence, and keen sensitivity to the tangle of terror, duty, and sacrifice common to soldiers of any era, results in a film so realistic, so intense, it verges on the surreal. (LA Times). Suspenseful, poetic, and heartbreakingly transcendent, the Oscar (r) nominated Beaufort is a movie of tremendous power (Entertainment Weekly) and one of those once-in-a-decade war pictures that reminds us what's worthwhile about putting the ritualized barbarism of combat onscreen in the first place. (New York Sun) SPECIAL FEATURES: The Making of Beaufort; - 10 Deleted Scenes; - Trailers





[book] JELLYFISH (2007)
Starring: Zharira Charifai, Sarah Adler, Nikol Leidman, Gera Sandler, Noa Knoller
Directors: Shira Geffen;Etgar Keret
Zeitgeist Films
Winner of the Caméra d'or at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, Jellyfish (Meduzot) is a richly imaginative portrait of three very different women emotionally adrift in Tel Aviv. Co-directed by acclaimed Israeli author Etgar Keret (The Nimrod Flipout, The Girl on the Fridge) and his wife Shira Geffen, the film explores Israeli frames of mind in a unique fashion--remarkably apolitical and boldly atmospheric, buoyed by charming touches of magical realism. While Batya (Sarah Adler, Godard's Notre Musique), a struggling waitress, cares for a mysterious child that appeared to her out of the sea, newlywed Keren nurses a broken leg and a ruined honeymoon, and Filipino migrant worker Joy tries to support her son back home. With striking cinematography and moving performances, Jellyfish is a witty and warm reflection on making connections and confronting destiny in a deconstructed urban landscape. SPECIAL FEATURES: New anamorphic master, enhanced for widescreen televisions; Video interview with filmmakers Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen; U.S. Theatrical Trailer; Optional English subtitles; Filmmaker Statement








[book] MY MEXICAN SHIVA
A film by Alejandro Springall
Spingall Pictures
A surprisingly universal and often hilarious story. Director Alejandro Springall's feature provides loads of insight on its ensemble of characters who are unmistakably human. Mr. Springall and screenwriter Jorge Goldenberg have skillfully infused the film with an intriguing story, convincing performances and a breezy pace. MY MEXICAN SHIVAH is a film that rings utterly true. - NEW YORK SUN . An earthbound spectacle. The sight of a silver-studded, sombrero-topped mariachi band breaking into a rousing rendition of "Hava Nagila" transports diversity into the realm of the surreal. - VARIETY
Set in Polanco, a Jewish quarter of Mexico City, and spoken in Spanish, Yiddish and Hebrew, "My Mexican Shivah" is a dramatic comedy about how the death of a man results in the celebration of his life. According to Jewish belief, from the moment a Jew is born, he or she is accompanied by two angels: the angel of light and the angel of darkness. With the passing of Moishe (75), his family and friends gather to sit shivah, the 7-day Jewish mourning ritual. The spirit angels Aleph and Bet, divine accountants, watch over the mourners actions and what's been said about the deceased to calculate which angel will accompany Moishe's soul to the afterlife. The odds are against Moishe from the beginning. Family dysfunction aside, Moishe's friends are attending for their own motives. And to make matters worse, while performing his duties, a Chevreman, who is a member of the Chevra Kadisha (sacred funeral society) is milking the family for all they're worth, charging for kosher food, slippers and other shivah goods. Emotionally unstable and obsessed with staying young, Moishe's daughter Esther falls apart, crying over a lost tooth and announcing that she is going to have plastic surgery to fix her entire body immediately after the shivah. Meanwhile, Moishe's son, Ricardo, is attempting to convince a doctor attending the shivah to give his girlfriend an abortion, while his wandering eye leads him to his dead father's lover, Julia Palafox, the notorious Catholic mistress for whom Moishe left his family many years earlier. Also present are Moishe's grandchildren, Galia (23) Esther's daughter, a student at NYU, and her cousin Nicolas (28), a yeshivah student who lives in Israel, hiding from Mexican justice. They can't ignore their mutual attraction exacerbated by their confinement and motivated by the polarity of their values. They are surprised by the passion which leaves behind feelings of guilt for Nicolas, and satisfies Galia's love of defiance. Which angel will win the battle for Moishe's soul? If the shivah reveals anything, it's that Moishe's family and friends loved him with all his flaws and mystery- and most of all his spirit








[book] THE PENGUIN DICTIONARY OF JUDAISM
BY NICHOLAS DE LANGE
March 2009, Penguin
De Lange, Professor of Hebrew and Jewish studies at Cambridge has compiled this remarkable reference with an A to Z format. Includes a timetable chronology of Judaism and a Jewish calendar cross reference. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] 20TH CENTURY JEWISH RELIGIOUS THOUGHT
EDITED BY ARTHUR A. COHEN AND PAUL MENDES-FLOHR
March 2009, JPS
JPS is proud to reissue Cohen and Mendes-Flohr's classic work, perhaps the most important, comprehensive anthology available on 20th century Jewish thought. This outstanding volume presents 140 concise yet authoritative essays by renowned Jewish figures Eugene Borowitz, Emil Fackenheim, Blu Greenberg, Susannah Heschel, Jacob Neusner, Gershom Scholem, Adin Steinsaltz, and many others. They define and reflect upon such central ideas as charity, chosen people, death, family, love, myth, suffering, Torah, tradition and more. With entries from Aesthetics to Zionism, this book provides striking insights into both the Jewish experience and the Judeo-Christian tradition. Cohen and Mendes-Flohr's classic work has been hailed by many as the most important comprehensive anthology ever published on topics central to Judaism from a modern perspective. Originally published as Contemporary Jewish Religious Thought, JPS is proud to bring the book in its entirety back into print. In 140 essays by renowned Jewish figures such as Eugene Borowitz, Blu Greenberg, Jacob Neusner, Gershom Scholem, and Adin Steinsaltz, this volume presents striking insights into a provocative range of topics--charity, chosen people, death, family, love, myth, suffering, tradition, Torah, and many more. Every one will bring readers closer to an understanding of what Judaism is all about. "A major achievement." --The New York Times "Excellent ... Not only scholars, but general readers will profit from this superb anthology." --Library Journal "The best that contemporary Jewry has to offer." --Hadassah. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] NAOMI'S SONG
By Selma Kritzer Silverberg
March 2009, JPS
Ages 12 and Up, Contains a mature topic
A modern midrash for young women. Set in the fortified city of Bethlehem and the mountainous towns of Moab, this young adult novel imagines the life of the biblical Naomi and her deep friendship with her daughter-in-law Ruth. It traces Naomi's suffering at the hands of warring tribes; her struggles as a woman of low rank in the ancient world; and Ruth's and Naomi's perseverance, both individually and together. Filled with adventure and romance, this modern midrash is a story of personal growth, female friendship, and the power of inner strength.
Click the book cover to read more.








[book] ELVINA'S MIRROR
By Sylvie Weil
March 2009, JPS
Ages 10 and Up. Translated from French
The tale of a Rashi's granddaughter, a young girl who defies her community to help a friend in need In this sequel to My Guardian Angel, Sylvie Weil continues the story of Elvina, the 14-year-old granddaughter of Rashi, the famous 11th-century French Bible and Talmud commentator. It is the spring of 1097 in the town of Troyes, in France. The Crusaders have been marauding their way through Europe, attacking Jewish communities. One evening, a mysterious family arrives in Troyes--German Jews forced by the Crusaders to submit to baptism. The townspeople shun the family, but Elvina befriends 11-year-old Columba. Columba's mad cousin, Ephraim, steals a mirror from a member of the Jewish community, believing it will let him see his family killed in the recent attacks. Elvina tries to help Ephraim rid his mind of the terrible images by bringing him her own mirror, in which she claims to see a positive future. Elvina's story brings the often-ignored world of Medieval European Jewry to life for young readers
Click the book cover to read more.








[book] WISE AND NOT SO WISE
TEN TAKES FROM THE RABBIS
By Phillis Gershator abd Alexa Ginsburg
March 2009, JPS
Ages 6 and Up
Grade 2-5 - An appealing collection of tales derived from traditional Jewish texts. Filled with seekers and sages, angels and the Almighty, these talmudic and midrashic stories are written in simple yet effective language that preserves their richness and charm without becoming didactic. Magic and miracles are laced throughout, including twigs that bake into bread, a cow that keeps the Sabbath, and five strong men who appear out of nowhere to help a humble stonecutter carry his offering to Jerusalem. Each selection ends with a commentary designed to engage readers in the great talmudic tradition of asking and answering questions such as "How can everything [God does] be for the best?" and "Can wisdom be measured with a test?" The pleasingly flat grayscale illustrations featuring simple graphic themes have a gentle quality that complements and frames the text. This successful offering can be used in a variety of worthwhile ways and is well-suited to Judaic collections large and small. Click the book cover to read more.












EAT PRAY FART
LIFE LESSONS FRM THE SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM
BY SARAH SILVERMAN
March 2009, Running Press
Her crass and narcisstic advice and unique outlook on life.
Click the book cover to read more.












[book] MY HOPE FOR PEACE
BY JEHAN SADAT
March 2009, Free Press
The widow of Anwar es Sadat, makes this plea in eight essays for peace and understanding, misconceptions that Muslims are extremists and anti-democratic and anti feminist. And, oh yes, please remember that Israel is intransigent, and the cause for problems. Thanks Jehan. Keep up the good work for social justice .. Click the book cover to read more.












EVERYONE IS HOLLYWOOD IS JEWISH.. RIGHT?
[book] ME, CHEETAH:
MY LIFE IN HOLLYWOOD
Cheetah the Chimp
March 2009, Ecco Press
Cheetah (aka Jiggs) was taken from Liberia in 1932, and starred in 11 Tarzan films and then after a forced retirement for being too old, he came back for Dr Doolittle with Rex Harrison. He is now about 76 and not a member of the AARP. He resides in Palm Springs at CHEETAH (Creative Habitats and Enrichment for Endangered and Threatened Apes (and primates I guess). A history of animal performers. NO SEX, KISS AND TELL TALES Click the book cover to read more.












[book] HUNTING EICHMANN
HOW A BAND OF SURVIVORS AND A YOUNG SPY AGENCY CHASED DOWN THE WORLD'S MOST NORTORIOUS NAZI WAR CRIMINAL
BY NEIL BASCOMB
March 2009, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The first complete narrative of the pursuit and capture of Adolf Eichmann, based on groundbreaking new information and interviews and featuring rare, neverpublished Mossad surveillance photographs When the Allies stormed Berlin in the last days of the Third Reich, the operational manager of the mass murder of Europe's Jews shed his SS uniform and vanished. Bringing Adolf Eichmann to justice would require a harrowing fifteen-year chase stretching from war-ravaged Europe to the shores of Argentina. Alternating from a criminal on the run to his pursuers closing in on his trail,Hunting Eichmann follows the Nazi as he escapes two American POW camps, hides in the mountains, slips out of Europe on the ratlines, and builds an anonymous life in Buenos Aires.Meanwhile, a persistent search for Eichmann gradually evolves into an international manhunt that includes a bulldog West German prosecutor, a blind Argentinean Jew and his beautiful daughter, and a budding, ragtag spy agency called the Mossad, whose operatives have their own scores to settle. Presented in a pulse-pounding, hour-by-hour account, the capture of Eichmann and the efforts by Israeli agents to secret him out of Argentina and fly him to Israel to stand trial bring the narrative to a stunning conclusion. Hunting Eichmann is a fully documented, finely nuanced history that offers the intrigue of a detective story and the thrill of great spy fiction. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] WHEN SKATEBOARDS WILL BE FREE
A MEMOIR OF A POLITICAL CHILDHOOD
BY SAID SAYRAFIEZADEH
March 2009, Bantam Dell Dial Press
"The revolution is not only inevitable, it is imminent. It is not only imminent, it is quite imminent. And when the time comes, my father will lead it." With a profound gift for capturing the absurd in life, and a deadpan wisdom that comes from surviving a surreal childhood in the Socialist Workers Party, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh has crafted an unsentimental, funny, heartbreaking memoir. Saïd's Iranian-born father and American Jewish mother had one thing in common: their unshakable conviction that the workers' revolution was coming. Separated since their son was nine months old, they each pursued a dream of the perfect socialist society. Pinballing with his mother between makeshift Pittsburgh apartments, falling asleep at party meetings, longing for the luxuries he's taught to despise, Said waits for the revolution that never, ever arrives. "Soon," his mother assures him, while his long-absent father quixotically runs as a socialist candidate for president in an Iran about to fall under the ayatollahs. Then comes the hostage crisis. The uproar that follows is the first time Saïd hears the word "Iran" in school. There he is suddenly forced to confront the combustible stew of his identity: as an American, an Iranian, a Jew, a socialist... and a middle-school kid who loves football and video games. Poised perfectly between tragedy and farce, here is a story by a brilliant young writer struggling to break away from the powerful mythologies of his upbringing and create a life-and a voice-of his own. Saïd Sayrafiezadeh's memoir is unforgettable. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] JEWISH CHOICES, JEWISH VOICES
POWER
Edited by Rabbi Ellior N. Dorff and Louis E. Newman
March 2009, JPS Jewish Publication Society
How do we use power once we've gained it? Is it completely for our individual benefit, or do we use it to help our neighborhoods, or society at-large? What kinds of decisions must CEOs and business owners make regarding suppliers and customers? How should bosses treat workers? Teachers treat students? Parents treat children? Government treats citizens? Power dynamics affect people on a political level, a social level, and a deeply personal level as well. The newest volume in the Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices series examines these dynamics and includes essays by such fine contributors as U.S. Representative Henry Waxman, NBC Universal Television-West Coast President Marc Graboff, and author and scholar James. Click the book cover to read more.
Also part of the series are books on Money and Body
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From the co founder of Elat Chaim
[book] Jewish Meditation Practices for Everday Life
Awakening Your Heart, Connecting with God
by Rabbi Jeff Roth
March 2009, Jewish Lights
Awaken your heart and mind to see your own capacity for wisdom, compassion, and kindness. "When we awaken to our own light, it becomes possible to develop real wisdom about our life. As wisdom allows us to see clearly, our hearts break open with compassion for the struggles of our own lives and the lives of all beings. Awakened with wisdom and compassion, we are impelled to live our lives with kindness, and we are led to do whatever we can to repair the brokenness of our world." -from the Introduction
At last, a fresh take on meditation that draws on life experience and living life with greater clarity rather than the traditional method of rigorous study. Based on twenty-five years of bringing meaningful spiritual practice to the Jewish community, well-known meditation teacher and practitioner Rabbi Jeff Roth presents Jewish contemplative techniques that foster the development of a heart of wisdom and compassion. This contemporary approach to meditation-accessible to both beginners and experts alike-focuses on using the distilled wisdom of Buddhism and Judaism as a way to learn from life experience. By combining these two traditions, he presents a model that allows westerners-both Jews and non-Jews-to embrace timeless Eastern teachings without sacrificing their birth traditions. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] The Modern Men's Torah Commentary
New Insights from Jewish Men on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions
by Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin (Editor)
March 2009, Jewish Lights
A first-of-its-kind collection that will remind Jewish men of the power and promise of engagement with Torah and Jewish life. This major contribution to modern biblical commentary addresses the most important concerns of modern men-issues like relationships, sexuality, ambition, work and career, body image, aging, and life passages-by opening them up to the life of Torah. It includes commentaries by the most creative and influential rabbis, leaders, and teachers in contemporary Jewish life, and represents all denominations in Judaism. Featuring poignant and probing reflections on the weekly Torah portions, this collection teaches readers how the life of Torah intersects with their own lives by focusing on men's issues that can be found within the text. Ideal for anyone wanting a new, exciting view of Torah, this rich resource offers new perspectives to inspire all of us to gain deeper meaning from the Torah and a heightened appreciation of Judaism.
Click the book cover to read more.












IN PAPERBACK
[book] THE END OF THE JEWS
A NOVEL
BY ADAM MANSBACH
March 2009, Spiegel & Grau
From Publishers Weekly: 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. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] HOW GOD CHANGES YOUR BRAIN
BY ANDREW NEWBERG, MD AND MARK ROBERT WALDMAN
March 2009, V
God is great-for your mental, physical, and spiritual health. That's the finding of this startling, authoritative, and controversial book by the bestselling authors of Born to Believe. Based on new evidence culled from their brain-scan studies on memory patients and meditators, their Web-based survey of people's religious and spiritual experiences, and their analyses of adult drawings of God, neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, therapist Mark Robert Waldman, and their research team have concluded that active and positive spiritual belief changes the human brain for the better. What's more, actual faith isn't always necessary: atheists who meditate on positive imagery can obtain similar neurological benefits. Written in an accessible style-with illustrations highlighting how spiritual experiences affect the mind-How God Changes Your Brain offers the following breakthrough discoveries:
Not only do prayer and spiritual practice reduce stress and anxiety, but just twelve minutes of meditation per day may slow down the aging process. Contemplating a loving God rather than a punitive God reduces anxiety, depression, and stress and increases feelings of security, compassion, and love. Fundamentalism, in and of itself, is benign and can be personally beneficial, but the anger and prejudice generated by extreme beliefs can permanently damage your brain. Intense prayer and meditation permanently change numerous structures and functions in the brain-altering your values and the way you perceive reality.
How God Changes Your Brain is both a revelatory work of modern science and a practical guide for readers to enhance their physical and emotional health and to avoid mental decline. Newberg and Waldman explain the eight best ways to "exercise" your brain and guide readers through specific routines derived from a wide variety of Eastern and Western spiritual practices that improve personal awareness and empathy. They explain why yawning heightens consciousness and relaxation, and they teach "Compassionate Communication," a new mediation technique that builds intimacy with family and friends in less than fifteen minutes of practice. Unique in its conclusions and innovative in its methods, How God Changes Your Brain is a first-of-a-kind book about faith that is as credible as it is inspiring. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] THE MURMURING DEEP
REFLECTIONS ON THE BIBLICAL UNCONSCIOUS
BY AVIVAH GOTTLIEB ZORNBERG
March 2009, Schocken
From one of the most innovative and acclaimed biblical commentators at work today: a revolutionary analysis of the intersection between religion and psychoanalysis in the stories of the men and women of the Bible. For centuries scholars and rabbis have wrestled with the biblical narrative, attempting to answer the questions that arise from a plain reading of the text. In The Murmuring Deep, Avivah Zornberg informs her literary analysis of the text with concepts drawn from Freud, Winnicott, Laplanche, and other psychoanalytic thinkers to give us a new understanding of the desires and motivations of the men and women whose stories form the basis of the Bible. Through close readings of the biblical and midrashic texts, Zornberg makes a powerful argument for the idea that the creators of the midrashic commentary, the medieval rabbinic commentators, and the Hassidic commentators were themselves on some level aware of the complex interplay between conscious and unconscious levels of experience, and used this knowledge in their interpretations. In her analysis of the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Jonah, Abraham, Rebecca, Isaac, Joseph and his brothers, Ruth, and Esther-how they communicate with the world around them, with God, and with the various parts of their selves-Zornberg offers fascinating insights into the interaction between consciousness and unconsciousness. In discussing why God has to "seduce" Adam into entering the Garden of Eden or why Jonah thinks he can hide from God by getting on a ship, Zornberg enhances our appreciation of the Bible as the foundational text in our quest to understand what it means to be human.
NOTE: Publishes' Weekly's review of this book said it was "hard to read" and makes use of odd English words that may cuase you to run for a dictionary (or clikc for one). But you can decide for yourself..
Click the book cover to read more.












[book] THE SABBATH WORLD
GLIMPSES OF A DIFFERENT ORDER OF TIME
BY JUDITH SHULEVITZ
March 2009, Random House
Perhaps not since Heschel's The Sabbath, has an author presented a simple deeply informative narrative on the meaning of rest and the Sabbath. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] THE KINDLY ONES
A NOVEL
BY JONATHAN LITTELL, translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell
March 2009, Harper
A literary prize-winning epic novel that has been a record-breaking bestseller in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, and is keenly anticipated in the English-speaking world. The Kindly Ones won the Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary award, as well as the Académie Française's Prix de Littérature. It has sold more than one million copies in Europe alone. The Kindly Ones is the fictional memoir of Dr. Max Aue, a former Nazi officer who survived the war and has reinvented himself, many years later, as a middle-class entrepreneur and family man in northern France. Max is an intellectual steeped in philosophy, literature, and classical music. He is also a cold-blooded assassin and the consummate bureaucrat. Through the eyes of this cultivated yet monstrous man, we experience the horrors of the Second World War and the Nazi genocide of the Jews in graphic, disturbingly precise detail. During the period from June 1941 through April 1945, Max is posted to Poland, the Ukraine, and the Caucasus; he is present at the Battle of Stalingrad, at Auschwitz and Cracow; he visits occupied Paris and lives through the chaos of the final days of the Nazi regime in Berlin. Although Max is a totally imagined character, his world is peopled by real historical figures, such as Eichmann, Himmler, Göring, Speer, Heydrich, Höss, and Hitler himself. Massive in scope, horrific in subject matter, and shocking in its protagonist, Littell's masterpiece is intense, hallucinatory, and utterly original. Critics abroad have compared this provocative and controversial work of literature to Tolstoy's War and Peace, a classic epic of war that, like The Kindly Ones, is a morally challenging read. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] LIES WILL TAKE YOU SOMEWHERE
A NOVEL
BY SHEILA SCHWARTZ
March 2009, Etruscan Paperback
In a voice reminiscent of Cynthia Ozick, this Jewish/Gothic novel renders the fracture and healing of the Rosen family. Jane Rosen leaves her three daughters and husband Saul, a rabbi, to care for her mother in Florida. In Jane's absence, Saul cares for the daughters, especially Malkah, who is troubled, and Saul discovers-through the deathbed confession of a man in his congregation-that his wife had an affair ten years earlier. Enraged, he ostracizes Jane from the family and strands her in Florida with her grief. At the same time, Jane is discovering more about her mother which was never known. As Malkah falls into depression, and Saul festers with anger, Jane gets deeper in a trap of problems and lies with the gardener.
Click the book cover to read more.






NOW IN PAPERBACK
[book] DREAMS AND SHADOWS
THE FUTURE OF THE MIDDLE EAST
BY ROBIN WRIGHT
March 2009, Penguin
Wright explains the history and future of the Middle East from her perspective as a reporter for the LA Times and Washington Post and other media. Journalist Robin Wright has witnessed and reported on thirty years of Middle East politics and events. Her knowledge and personal contacts are woven into a substantial text that does not translate easily into an audio experience. Narrator Laural Merlington keeps her reading carefully neutral and changes her delivery style to distinguish dialogue from narrative. But Merlington's delivery doesn't quite match Wright's scholarly tone or savvy political analysis. Wright is sending a clear message about the United States' current occupation of Iraq, but Merlington doesn't deliver the message with the same force. Furthermore, the number of countries covered and sources quoted requires access to a map and to the extensive footnotes in order to make sense of the political picture Wright describes. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] PROMISED VIRGINS
A NOVEL OF JIHAD
BY JEFFREY FLEISHMAN
March 2009, Little Brown
Click the book cover to read more.








WELL... I WOULD NOT CALL IT THE HOLIEST UNIVERSITY....
A liberal Quaker among the Baptists
[book] The Unlikely Disciple
A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University
by Kevin Roose
April 2009, Grand Central
No drinking. No smoking. No cursing. No dancing. No R-rated movies.
Kevin Roose wasn't used to rules like these. As a sophomore at Brown University, he spent his days drinking fair-trade coffee, singing in an a cappella group, and fitting right in with Brown's free-spirited, ultra-liberal student body. But when Roose leaves his Ivy League confines to spend a semester at Liberty University, a conservative Baptist school in Lynchburg, Virginia, obedience is no longer optional. Liberty is the late Reverend Jerry Falwell's "Bible Boot Camp" for young evangelicals, his training ground for the next generation of America's Religious Right. Liberty's ten thousand undergraduates take courses like Evangelism 101, hear from guest speakers like Sean Hannity and Karl Rove, and follow a forty-six-page code of conduct that regulates every aspect of their social lives. Hoping to connect with his evangelical peers, Roose decides to enroll at Liberty as a new transfer student, leaping across the God Divide and chronicling his adventures in this daring report from the front lines of America's culture war. His journey takes him from an evangelical hip-hop concert to choir practice at Falwell's legendary Thomas Road Baptist Church. He experiments with prayer, participates in a spring break mission trip to Daytona Beach (where he learns to preach the gospel to partying coeds), and pays a visit to Every Man's Battle, an on-campus support group for chronic masturbators. He meets pastors' kids, closet doubters, Christian rebels, and conducts what would be the last print interview of Rev. Falwell's life. Funny, respectful, and thought-provoking, THE UNLIKELY DISCIPLE will inspire and entertain believers and nonbelievers alike.
Click the book cover to read more.






[book] JUDAS
A BIOGRAPHY
BY SUSAN GUBAR
March 2009, Norton
Comprehensive exploration of how Christ's betrayer has been portrayed throughout history. There are only 22 references to Judas Iscariot in the New Testament, notes Gubar (English and Women's Studies/Indiana Univ.). Despite this paucity of material, artists and writers over the centuries have repeatedly redefined and reinvented him. The author sets out to explore these many facets of Judas's identity by sketching his "evolving incarnations" during the course of 2,000 years. The range of attitudes is at times mind-boggling: Judas, Gubar shows, has been portrayed as everything from a dung-eating monster to the moral superior to Jesus himself. In an overly lengthy introduction, the author explains that she has identified five personae of Judas: "anomaly, pariah, lover, hero, savior." Each chapter explores one of these characterizations. During the Middle Ages, portrayals of Judas became increasingly demonic and disturbing; he is shown in art and poetry as a subhuman prone to vile and disgusting habits, or punished by eternal ailments and abuse of the most horrific kind. The Renaissance began to redeem Judas by focusing on his closeness to Christ in art depicting the kiss of betrayal and his inclusion at the Last Supper. Some modern writers and artists have offered even more favorable views; a few dubbed him the true savior of humanity. This was sparked in part by revulsion against Nazi propaganda, which Aryanized Christ and depicted Judas as the quintessential money-grubbing, hypocritical and untrustworthy Jew. Gubar compares her subject to figures as diverse as Oedipus and German anti-Hitler activist Dietrich Bonhoeffer, spotlighting imagery that reimagined Judas over the centuries as everything from a tormented sinner to a heroic rebel. The text's vast scope at times blurs its focus. Presenting "a kaleidoscope of perspectives," the author draws them together in a hasty summing-up ("Judas is our mirror") not adequate to the richness of her material.Impressive and wide-ranging, if somewhat scattershot. (Kirkus Reviews) Click the book cover to read more.








NOW IN PAPERBACK
[book] THE JEWISH MESSIAH
A NOVEL
BY ARNON GRUNBERG
March 2009, Penguin
Mockingly irreverent and verging on the fantastical, Grunberg's satirical comedy featuring a contemporary messiah will amuse some readers and offend others. When Swiss teenager Xavier Radek meets Awromele Michalowitz, a rabbi's son, decides it is his life's mission to comfort the Jews to atone for their suffering. Idealistic and naïve to the point of foolishness, Xavier is a contemporary version of the Jewish folkloric character Gimpel the Fool. Never mind that his grandfather was a superzealous Nazi, and his mother thinks that You-Know-Who had the right idea in exterminating the Jews. Both young men acknowledge the erotic bond between them, first evidenced when Xavier undergoes a botched circumcision. As the action moves from Basel to Amsterdam to Tel Aviv in a series of farcical adventures involving violence, brutality, lust and jealousy, the novel reveals a world made up of bigots and complacent hypocrites. Grunberg's iconoclastic novels are bestsellers in Europe, where they have won numerous literary awards. He has a fine touch for the ridiculous and the macabre, but by the time Xavier becomes the corrupt prime minister of Israel and metamorphoses into a modern Hitler, this abrasive satire becomes an open wound. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] NASTY BRUTISH AND LONG
ADVENTURES IN OLD AGE OF THE WORLD OF ELDERCARE
BY IRA ROSOFSKY
March 2009, Avery
In nursing homes across the country, members of the Greatest Generation are living out their last days. No matter how exciting or mundane their lives, they're now occupying a hospital-style room-a public space where you can't lock your door and strangers come and go. Life is a succession of pokes and prods, medications, TV, bingo, and, possibly, talking to Ira Rosofsky. Nasty, Brutish, and Long is a candid, humane, and improbably humorous look at the world of eldercare. With a compassionate eye but mordant wit, Rosofsky, a psychologist charged with gauging the mental health of his elders, reveals a culture based not in the empathy of caretaking, but rather in the coolly detached bureaucracy of Medicare and Medicaid. A portrayal of what is increasingly becoming the last slice of life for many, Nasty, Brutish, and Long is also a baby boomer's poignant meditation on mortality, a reflection on his caregiving for his parents' final days, and an examination of the choices that we, as a society, have made about healthcare for the elderly who are no longer of sound mind and body. Click the book cover to read more.








[book] LIVES OF HITLER'S JEWISH SOLDIERS
UNTOLD TALES OF MEN OF JEWISH DESCENT WHO FOUGHT FOR THE THIRD REICH
BY BRYAN MARK RIGG
March 2009, Kansas
Didn't he already write this book twice before??
Well this is an update with more tales
They were foot soldiers and officers. They served in the regular army and the Waffen-SS. And, remarkably, they were also Jewish, at least as defined by Hitler's infamous race laws. Pursuing the thread he first unraveled in Hitler's Jewish Soldiers, Bryan Rigg takes a closer look at the experiences of Wehrmacht soldiers who were classified as Jewish. In this long-awaited companion volume, he presents interviews with twenty-one of these men, whose stories are both fascinating and disturbing. As many as 150,000 Jews and partial-Jews (or Mischlinge) served, often with distinction, in the German military during World War II. The men interviewed for this volume portray a wide range of experiences--some came from military families, some had been raised Christian--revealing in vivid detail how they fought for a government that robbed them of their rights and sent their relatives to extermination camps. Yet most continued to serve, since resistance would have cost them their lives and they mistakenly hoped that by their service they could protect themselves and their families. The interviews recount the nature and extent of their dilemma, the divided loyalties under which many toiled during the Nazi years and afterward, and their sobering reflections on religion and the Holocaust, including what they knew about it at the time. Rigg relates each individual's experiences following the establishment of Hitler's race laws, shifting between vivid scenes of combat and the increasingly threatening situation on the home front for these men and their family members. Their stories reveal the constant tension in their lives: how some tried to hide their identities, and how a few were even "Aryanized" as part of Hitler's effort to retain reliable soldiers--including Field Marshal Erhard Milch, three-star general Helmut Wilberg, and naval commander Bernhard Rogge. Chilling, compelling, almost beyond belief, these stories depict crises of conscience under the most stressful circumstances. Lives of Hitler's Jewish Soldiers deepens our understanding of the complex intersection of Nazi race laws and German military service both before and during World War II. Click the book cover to read more.








[book] KILL KHALID
THE FAILED MOSSAD ASSASSINATION OF KHALID MIShAL AND THE RISE OF HAMAS
BY PAUL MCGEOUGH
March 2009, New Press
Little public notice was taken of a 1997 attempt on the life of the Hamas leader Khalid Mishal by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency-even though the audacious hit took place in broad daylight in the streets of Amman, and even though the bungled poisoning immediately set into motion a flurry of international diplomacy, culminating in the direct intervention of then-U.S. President Bill Clinton and the Jordanian King with PM Netanyahu. A series of tense, high-level negotiations saved Mishal's life, as the Israelis reluctantly handed over the antidote. But Hamas was saved as well. With his new lease on life, Khalid Mishal became the architect of the Hamas organization's phenomenal ascendancy in the intervening decade. Israel, by attempting to kill him, helped Hamas gain credibility and win its war against Fatah for control of Gaza
Mishal orchestrated the deadly bombings on targets in Israel and, from his bunker in exile in the Syrian capital of Damascus, continues to pull in donations and support from the Islamic world while directing Hamas's vital social welfare programs. In a headlong narrative-with high-speed car chases, negotiated prisoner exchanges, and an international scandal that threatened to destabilize the entire region-acclaimed reporter Paul McGeough uses unprecedented, extensive interviews with Khalid Mishal himself and the key players in Amman, Jerusalem, and Washington to tell the definitive, inside story of the rise of Hamas. Paul McGeough is the former executive editor of Australia's Sydney Morning Herald and the author of three books on the Middle East. He has twice been named Australian Journalist of the Year and in 2002 was awarded the Johns Hopkins University-based SAIS Novartis Prize for excellence in international journalism. He lives in Sydney, Australia. Click the book cover to read more.









APRIL 2009

[book] INVISIBLE SISTERS
BY JESSICA HANDLER
April 2009, PublicAffairs
When Jessica Handler was eight years old, her younger sister Susie was diagnosed with leukemia. To any family, the diagnosis would have been upending, but to the Handlers, whose youngest daughter Sarah had been born with a rare congenital blood disorder, it was an unimaginable verdict. By the time Jessica Handler turned nine, she had begun to introduce herself as the "well sibling;" and her family had begun to come apart. Invisible Sisters is Handler's powerfully told story of coming of age-as the daughter of progressive Jewish parents who move south to participate in the social-justice movement of the 1960s; as a healthy sister living in the shadow of her siblings' illness; and as a young woman struggling to step out of the shadow of her sisters' deaths, to find and redefine herself anew. With keen-eyed sensitivity, Handler's brave account explores family love and loss, and what it takes not just to survive, but to keep living.
Click the book cover to read more.












[book] HOW TO WIN A COSMIC WAR
CONFRONTING RADICAL ISLAM
BY REZA ASLAN
April 2009,
Click the book cover to read more.












[book] Rosenfeld's Lives
Fame, Oblivion, and the Furies of Writing
by Steven J. Zipperstein, Stanford
April 2009, Yale
Born in Chicago in 1918, the prodigiously gifted and erudite Isaac Rosenfeld was anointed a "genius" upon the publication of his "luminescent" novel, Passage from Home and was expected to surpass even his closest friend and rival, Saul Bellow. Yet when felled by a heart attack at the age of thirty-eight, Rosenfeld had published relatively little, his life reduced to a metaphor for literary failure. In this deeply contemplative book, Steven J. Zipperstein seeks to reclaim Rosenfeld's legacy by "opening up" his work. Zipperstein examines for the first time the "small mountain" of unfinished manuscripts the writer left behind, as well as his fiercely candid journals and letters. In the process, Zipperstein unearths a turbulent life that was obsessively grounded in a profound commitment to the ideals of the writing life. Rosenfeld's Lives is a fascinating exploration of literary genius and aspiration and the paradoxical power of literature to elevate and to enslave. It illuminates the cultural and political tensions of post-war America, Jewish intellectual life of the era, and-most poignantly-the struggle at the heart of any writer's life. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] My Germany
A Jewish Writer Returns to the World His Parents Escaped
By Lev Raphael
April 2009, Wisconsin
Lev Raphael grew up loathing everything German. A son of Holocaust survivors, haunted by his parents' suffering and traumatic losses under Nazi rule, he was certain that Germany was one place in the world he would never visit. Those feelings shaped his Jewish and gay identity, his life, and his career. Then the barriers of a lifetime began to come down, as revealed in this moving memoir. After his mother's death, while researching her war years, Raphael found a distant relative living in the very city where she had been a slave laborer. What would he learn if he actually traveled to the place where his mother had found freedom and met his father? Not long after that epochal trip, a German publisher bought several of his books for translation. Raphael was launched on book tours in Germany, discovering not so much a new Germany, but a new self: someone unafraid to face the past and transcend it. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] WHY HE DIDN'T CALL YOU BACK
BY RACHEL GREENWALD
April 2009,
. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] JUDAISM DOES NOT EQUAL ISRAEL
THE REBIRTH OF THE JEWISH PROPHETIC
BY MARC H. ELLIS, Baylor University
April 2009, New Press
Edward Said said that Ellis is a brilliant, deeply thoughtful mind.
Noam Chomsky says he demonstrates great courage and integrity
This book is a challenge to Jewish support of Israel
Click the book cover to read more.






[book] JERUSALEM'S TRAITOR
JOSEPHUS, MASADA, AND THE FALL OF JUDEA
BY Desmond Seward
April 2009,
In 66 CE, The Jewish revolted against Roman rule. Jospehus, a Jewish Jerusalem resident was made a general in the Judean army. He was captured by the Romans, and he endeared himself to emperor Vespasian. He was not killed, and became an advisor to his Roman captors. He believed that the Jews could only survive if they surrendered to Rome, and he ran a network of spies inside Jerusalem. He was the Jewish eyewitness to the Roman campaigns against the Jews. He is our only source of information on the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Here is his story. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] THE MEDIA RELATION DEPARTMENT OF HIZBOLLAH WISHES YOU A HAPPY BIRTHDAY
UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTERS IN THE CHNAGING MIDDLE EAST
BY NEIL MACFARQUHAR
May 2009, Public Affairs
The New York Times report's affectionate, irreverent portrait of the Middle East he has known since his childhood. Neil grew up in Libya. Despite all the bloodshed, he has sought out the warmth, generosity, and eccentricity of the Middle East. In this book, we meet the unsung pioneers. For example, a Kuwaiti sex therapist clad in leather, or a Syrian engineer who wants the Koran reinterpreted. Or a chef who is trying to reinterpret Arab cuisine. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] A HEART AFIRE
STORIES AND TEACHINGS OF THE EARLY HASIDIC MASTERS
BY RABBI ZALMAN SCHACHTER_SHALOMI and NETANEL MILES-YEPEZ
May 2009, JPS
The latest book from the founder of the Jewish Renewal movement. The interpretations in A Heart Afire are as rich and meaningful as the teachings and tales themselves in this intimate guided tour of Hasidism and Hasidic storytelling led by Reb Zalman, an old-world Hasidic elder who is also profoundly connected to modern culture. As a bridge between both worlds, Reb Zalman, and his student Netanel Miles-Yepez, introduce the reader to rare and unique translations of Hasidism with their own personal reflections on their meaning. This book gives the readers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of Hasidic wisdom and narrative and in the teachings of a modern Hasidic master. Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, known as Reb Zalman, is the father of the neo-Hasidic Jewish Renewal movement. He was ordained by HaBaD-Lubavitch in1947, and later received his MA from Boston University and DHL from Hebrew Union College. He is professor emeritus of Psychology of Religion and Jewish Mysticism at Temple University and is World Wisdom Chair holder emeritus at Naropa University. He is the author of Spiritual Intimacy and collaborated with Miles-Yepez on Wrapped in a Holy Flame: Tales and Teachings of the Hasidic Masters. Netanel Miles-Yepez is a teacher of Sufism and Hasidism and, with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, is the co-founder of the Sufi-Hasidic, Inayati-Maimuni Tariqat, the only Jewish order of Sufis in the world. He collaborated with Reb Zalman on Wrapped in a Holy Flame: Teachings and Tales of the Hasidic Masters and is the editor of The Common Heart: An Experience of Interreligious Dialogue. He is also the executive director of the Reb Zalman Legacy Project. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] The Ramen King and I
How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life
by Andy Raskin
May 2009 Gotham
Andy Raskin's uncle ran a Jewish deli in Brooklyn. Raskin grew up in Brooklyn and Long Island, and currently lives in San Francisco. In 1994, he got an MBA from the Wharton School and landed a job as a management consultant. He had lived in Japan in his mid-20s, studying Japanese and then producing whacky Japanese TV game shows, so his consulting firm sent him to Japan a lot, and on the side he would write stories for US business magazinesL Business 2.0 and Inc. In 1999, he founded a software company in San Francisco, and he was its CEO. In January 2007, MoMoFuKu Ando, age 96, passed away. He was the inventor of the instant ramen noodle. It was world news. Andy tried for three years to meet Mr. Ando; Andy was seeking advice for his love life. (How many Penn grads write to CEO's about cheating on girlfriends) The book tells the story of Raskin's struggle to confront the truth of his dating life, and how the inventor of ramen was his spiritual guru and guide. The story unfolds partly through honest, revealing letters that Raskin mailed to Ando. Raskin suffered from a Fundamental Misunderstanding of Humanity. He was a slave to his desires, and needed to learn to break free. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] KISSINGER 1973
THE CRUCIAL YEAR
BY ALISTAIR HORNE
April 2009, Simon and Schuster
Sir Alistair Horne of Oxford acclaim brings readers back to 1973, the year of the Yom Kippur War, Nixon going on nuclear alert, a year of détente and becoming Secretary of State, the year that Watergate exploded and the year of the Nobel Prize. Plus, did I mention that Horne had full access to Kissinger and his papers and his archivist. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] BLUE BOY
A NOVEL
BY RAKESH SATYAL
April 2009, Kensington
Jhumpa Lahiri meets David Sedris. A 12 year old boy, Kiran Sharma, is in Cincinnati. He likes to wear his mother's makeup. He then realizes that maybe he is the reincarnation of Krishna, the gender bending Hindu god. He decides to model his life in junior high school after the life of Krishna. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] THE JUMP ARTIST
A NOVEL
BY AUSTIN RATNER
May 2009, Bellevue Literary Press
"A beautifully scrupulous, intricately detailed novel about joy and despair, anti-Semitism and assimilation, and like a great photograph, it seems to miss nothing, and to catch its subject in all his complexity."-Charles Baxter Evocative psychological fiction based on the true story of renowned photographer Philippe Halsman, a man Adolph Hitler knew by name, who Sigmund Freud wrote about in 1931, and who put Marilyn Monroe on the cover of Life magazine. Surviving an episode that presages the horrors of WWII, Halsman transforms himself from a victim of rampant anti-Semitism into a purveyor of the marvelous. Click the book cover to read more.












[book] REPEAT AFTER ME
A NOVEL
BY RACHEL DeWOSKIN
June 2009, Overlook Press
Rachel DeWoskin is a writer who has been lauded for her "razor-sharp descriptions" (The Wall Street Journal), her considerable cultural and linguistic resources" (The New Yorker), and her rare ability to offer a "real insider's look at life in modern China" (The Economist). Now DeWoskin, author of the laughout-loud funny and poignant Foreign Babes in Beijing, returns with a new novel about modern China and one American girl's struggle to find herself there. Aysha is a twenty-two-year-old New Yorker putting the pieces of her life back in place after her parents' divorce and her own nervous breakdown when a young Chinese student named Da Ge flips her world upside-down. In a love story that spans decades and continents, from the Tiananmen Square incident to 9/11, New York City's Upper West Side to the terraced mountains of South China, Repeat After Me gives readers an alternately funny and painful glimpse of life and loss in between languages. Click the book cover to read more.












NOW IN PAPERBACK [book] LORDS OF THE LAND
THE WAR OVER ISRAEL'S SETTLEMENTS IN THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES, 1967-2007
BY IDITH ZERTAIL and AKIVA ELDAR
June 2009, Nation Books
Zertal will work at NYU in 2009, and Eldar writes for Ha'aretz. A bestseller in Israel and translated into over half-a-dozen languages, this highly-acclaimed book is the definitive history of the settlements in Israel. The 1967 Arab-Israeli War, a brief battle whose effects was a devastating triumph for Israel, which immediately began to establish settlements in the newly conquered territories. These settlements and the movement that made them possible, have utterly transformed Israel, and yet until now the full history of the occupation has never been told. An international bestseller, "Lords of the Land" is the first book to tell that tragic story, revealing what a catastrophe it has been for both Israel and the Palestinians.Based on years of research, and written by one of Israel's leading historians and one of its best-known journalists, this compelling narrative focuses on the settlers themselves - their messianic religious zeal, their politics and their cult of death. It shows also how they were inspired and empowered by the earlier, secular Zionist movement, and it demonstrates the deep involvement of the State of Israel and its most sacred institutions in this illegal endeavour. . Click the book cover to read more.






[book] A CHOICE OF ENEMIES
AMERICA CONFRONTS THE MIDDLE EAST
BY LAWRENCE FREEDMAN
July 2009, Public Affairs
It is in the Middle East that the U.S. has been made to confront its attitudes on the use of force, the role of allies, and international law. The history of the U.S. in the Middle East, then, becomes an especially revealing mirror on America's view of its role in the wider world. In this wise, objective, and illuminating history, Lawrence Freedman shows how three key events in 1978-79 helped establish the foundations for U.S. involvement in the Middle East that would last for thirty years, without offering any straightforward or bloodless exit options: the Camp David summit leading to the Israel-Egypt Treaty; the Iranian Islamic revolution leading to the Shah's departure followed by the hostage crisis; and the socialist revolution in Afghanistan, resulting in the doomed Soviet intervention. Freedman makes clear how America's strategic choices in those and subsequent crises led us to where we are today. A Choice of Enemies is essential reading for anyone concerned with the complex politics of the region or with the future of American foreign policy. . Click the book cover to read more.














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