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Welcome to our pages of Summer 2011, Spring 2011, Winter 2011, Fall 2010, and oh so many more Book Suggestions. For our Home Page, Please visit MyJewishBooks.com
SOME WINTER 2012 BOOK READINGS
December 04, 2011: Dr. Neil Gillman speaks on the Biblical Jacob, The Dubious Patriarch - Skirball Center Seminar, NYC
December 07, 2011: Arthur Magoda reads from Nazi Séance: The Strange Story of the Jewish Psychic in Hitler's Circle. B&N Baltimore Pikesville
December 07, 2011: Stephen Sondheim reads from his newest book, B&N, Union Square NYC 7PM (get there 2 hours before if u expect a seat)
January 08, 2012: Rabbi Sid Schwartz on Reaching the Jewish Community of the 21st Century, NYC 92StY
January 10, 2012: Michael Freund and Jan Kirschenbaum on the Hidden Jews of the Holocaust, NYC 92StY
January 11, 2012: Jodi Kantor (NYT) reads from THE OBAMAS. B&N UWS NYC
January 18, 2012: Shalom Auslander reads from HOPE: A TRAGEDY. B&N UWS NYC
January 19, 2012: YA author Barnabas Miller reads from Rock God The Legend of BJ Levine (a 13 yr old voted mopst likely to be an accountant who goes for rock) B&N UES 86th and Lexington NYC
January 23, 2012: Famed Broadway actor singer triple threat, piano player, Sirius radio celebrity, youtube star, Broadway Musicals game show host / savant, and MTV “Made” specialist Seth Rudetsky reads from his newest book, My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan. B&N UES 86th and Lexington NYC
January 23, 2012: TEDxBroadway at New World Stages, NYC
January 23, 2012: Shalom Hartman Institute Webinar. http://www.iengage.org.il 1 PM USA EST with Dr. Tal Becker and Yossi Klein Halevi. What The ‘Goyim’ Say
January 24, 2012: Jews Writing Jews - Henry Goldschmidt (Race and Religion Among the Chosen Peoples), Theodore Ross (Am I a Jew?), and Matthew Shaer (Among Righteous Men) NYU - Carter Journalism Institute 20 Cooper Square, New York New York 6 PM
January 29, 2012: Tiger Mom Amy Chua speaks with Dr. Gail Saltz, NYC 92StY
January 30, 2012: Actress Piper Laurie (aka Rosetta Jacobs) reads from Learning to Live Out Loud: A Memoir by Piper Laurie and Foster Hirsch. B&N UWS NYC
February 02, 2012: Lawrence Summers speaks with Thane Rosenbaum about the Economy, life, and tennis players, NYC 92StY
February 05, 2012: Using Skype, a conversation with Haaretz editor Aluf Benn and Miri Eisen and Eyal Naveh, NYC 92StY
February 08, 2012: Kosher Jesus (Gefeen). Shmuley Boteach discusses his newest book with Corey Booker (Jesus scholar and Mayor of Newark NJ), Noah Feldman (Harvard professor of International Law and author of Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Justices, and expert on US Church State relations); and Bret Stephens (WSJ columnist, op-ed editor, and Eruopean specialist) Parish Hall, NYC $25 8PM
February 12, 2012: UCLA Center for Jewish Studies. Looking for Judaism in (UN)conventional Places. Trans and Post Denomiationalism in American Judaism with Sylvia Barack Fishman (Brandeis), Rabbi Naomi Levy (Nashuva), Stephen Warner (Illinois), and Steven Cohen (HUC, From Peoplehood to Purposefulness, Generational Shifts). Royce Hall LA CA
February 12, 2012: UCLA Center for Jewish Studies. Looking for Judaism in (UN)conventional Places. Are Jews Still In The pews. Jack Wertheimer moderates Rabbis Ed Feinstein (Valley Beth Shalom), Daniel Bouskila (Sephardic Ed Center), Laura geller (Temple EmanuEl of Beverly Hills), and David Eliezrie (Cong, Beth Meir haCohen. Royce Hall LA CA
February 13, 2012: UCLA Center for Jewish Studies. Looking for Judaism in (UN)conventional Places. Judaism in Los Angeles. Sarah Benor (HUC LA; Guardians, Rebooters, and JConnecters); Gerardo Marti (Davidson; Spiritual Entrepreneuship), Shawn Landres (Jumpstart LA; Cactus Flowers and Innovations in LA vs Future of Organized Jewish Life); and Ari Kelman (Stanford, Pre-History of the Independent Minyan Movement). Royce Hall LA CA
February 13, 2012: UCLA Center for Jewish Studies. Looking for Judaism in (UN)conventional Places. New Trends in Jewish Religious Life with Shaul Magid (Indiana; (re)constructing jewish Identity in Postethnic America), Jack Wertheimer (JTS; The Impact of Orthodox Outreach), Bruce Phillips (HUC-LA, Over The Rainbow and Under The Radar, non Formal Jewish Engagement in California), and David N. Myers (UCLA; Kiryas Joel, NY, A Shtetl at Home in America) Royce Hall LA CA
February 13, 2012: UCLA Center for Jewish Studies. Looking for Judaism in (UN)conventional Places. Carol Bakhos (UCLA) with Jonathan Sarna (Brandeis), William McKinney (Pacific School of Religion), Diane Winston (USC), and Dana Evan Kaplan. UNiv of West Indies) Royce Hall LA CA
February 21, 2012: Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold reads from While America Sleeps A Wake-up Call for the Post-9/11 Era. B&N NYC UWS 82nd Street
February 22, 2012: Famed cardiologist, plaque specialist and shortlisted for the FDA Dr Steven Nissen reads from Heart 411: The Only Guide to Heart Health You'll Ever Need by Dr. Marc Gillinov and Dr. Steven Nissen. B&N Woodmere Ohio (Cleveland Clinic)
February 25-26, 2012 – Jewlicious Fest – Long Beach, CA
February 27, 2012: Food Karma Projects presents the BRISKET KING OF NYC event at Santos Party House 96 Lafayette in NYC. Over 10 chefs will compete for the title including Will Horowitz, Chef Joe Dobias, Chef Emma Feigenbaum, Chef Ben Granger, Robbie Richter, and more. Shots of vodka with brisket juice will be available. Visit MeatWeekNYC.com
February 29, 2012: Marni Davis lectures on JEWS AND BOOZE. King Juan Carlos of Spain I Center at NYU, 3PM rsvp (212) 998-8980
March 05, 2012: Actesss, Author, and former Hillel leader Mayim Bialik reads from Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way JCC OF UWS Manhattan, 730 PM $10 NYC
March 06, 2012: Actesss, Author, and former Hillel leader Mayim Bialik reads from Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way B&N TriBeCa, NYC
March 11, 2012: Shalom Hartman Inst Rabbinic Fellow, Rabbi Aigen, launches a new Haggadah, Wellspring of Freedom. Congregation Dorshei Emet, Hampstead, Quebec, Canada
March 14, 2012: Andrew Nagorski reads from HITLERLAND. American Eyewitnesses to the rise of Nazi Power. B&N UES 86th and Lexington NYC
March 15, 2012: Concert – Noa & Mira. Abraham Fund Initiatives NYC
March 19, 2012: Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold reads from While America Sleeps A Wake-up Call for the Post-9/11 Era. B&N Madison Wisconsin West Towne Mall
March 21, 2012: The New Yiderati: Redefining the Jewish Experience in Literature. Housing Works Books Café, NYC SoHo 7PM
March 24-27, 2012: J Street Conference, Washington DC
March 27, 2012: Deborah Feldman reads from UNORTHODOX: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots. B&N UES 86th and Lexington NYC (expect fireworks as people accuse her of being truth-challenged)
March 28, 2012: MOSHE KASHER reads from Kasher in the Rye The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16. B&N The Grove at the Farmer’s Market, Los Angeles
April 10, 2012: Carole King reads from CAROLE KING: A NATURAL WOMAN. B&N NYC Union Square
April 19, 2012: Ricki Lake reads from NEVER SAY NEVER – FIND A LIFE THAT FITS. B&N UWS NYC
April 23, 2012: Ricki Lake reads from NEVER SAY NEVER – FIND A LIFE THAT FITS. B&N The Grove at the Farmer’s Market, Los Angeles
April 23, 2012: World Books Night and World Book Night US – Distribution of 30 free titles in the USA. Anna Quindlen is Honorary Chair in the US. One of the thirty titles is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
April 26, 2012: Zach Wahls reads from MY TWO MOMS: Lessons of Love, Strength and What Makes a Family. B&N UWS NYC
May 04, 2012: Singer Neil Sedaka reads from his children’s book, DINOSAUR PET. 3:30 PM, B&N NYC UWS
May 09, 2012: Actor Steve Guttenberg reads from THE GUTTENBERG BIBLE, A MEMOIR, B&N NYC UWS
May 17, 2012: Dr. Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg speaks on Women and Redemption. Skirball NYC
May 20, 2012: Rabbi David Ingber speaks on Kabbalah of Jerusalem. Skirball NYC
JANUARY 2012 BOOKS
FOR JEWISH FANS OF DOWNTON ABBEY
THE JEWISH ASPECTS OF THE CASTLE USED IN THE SHOW
AND THE ILLEGITIMATE DUAGHTER OF ALFRED DE ROTHSCHILD who was “Lady Cora”
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey
The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle
By The Countess of Carnarvon
January 2012, Broadway Books
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration and setting for Julian Fellowes’s Emmy Award-winning PBS show, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon. Drawing on a rich store of materials from the archives of Highclere Castle, including diaries, letters, and photographs, the current Lady Carnarvon has written a transporting story of this fabled home on the brink of war.
Much like her Masterpiece Classic counterpart Lady Cora Crawley, Lady Almina was the biological daughter of a wealthy industrialist, Alfred de Rothschild, who married his daughter off at a young age, her dowry serving as the crucial link in the effort to preserve the Earl of Carnarvon's ancestral home. Throwing open the doors of Highclere Castle to tend to the wounded of World War I, Lady Almina distinguished herself as a brave and remarkable woman.
This rich tale contrasts the splendor of Edwardian life in a great house against the backdrop of the First World War and offers an inspiring and revealing picture of the woman at the center of the history of Highclere Castle.
BY LEONARD COHEN
January 31, 2012, Columbia Music
From our master Canadian Jewish singer-songwriter, Leonard Cohen, here are ten new songs that mine the heart, shake the body and break the boundaries as everybody knows only Leonard can do. A signature of our time, Leonard's baritone holds us like the voices of Hank, Frank and Ray. These are songs that nobody knows and everyone will treasure.
Fans were given a hint of what to expect when Cohen made remarks as the recipient of the Principe de Asturias Prize for literature in Spain in October 2011.
"As I grew older, I understood that instructions came with this voice. And the instructions were these...Never to lament casually. And if one is to express the great inevitable defeat that awaits us all, it must be done within the strict confines of dignity & beauty."
The album was produced with Patrick Leonard, Anjani Thomas, Ed Sanders and Dino Soldo. Complementing Cohen's signature baritone on Old Ideas are the exceptional vocalists Dana Glover, Sharon Robinson, The Webb Sisters (Hattie and Charley Webb) and Jennifer Warnes. The album's cover design and drawings are Cohen's own.
The cut, AMEN, a slow shuffle with a hint of banjo, includes “Tell me again/ When I’ve been to the river/ And I’ve taken the edge off my thirst/ Tell me Again/ We’re alone and I’m listening/ I’m listening so hard that it hurts.” A lot of biblical references. Click the album cover to read more
How the Bible embraces those with Special Needs
By Ora Horn Prouser, PhD
January 1, 2012, Ben Yehuda Press
A fresh look at Biblical characters through the lens of disability. Ora Horn Prouser of the Academy of Jewish Religion in Riverdale, The Bronx, NY, shows how the symptoms of ADHD, depression, mental retardation, speech impediments, gifted learning, and physical disabilities appear in the Bible, and shows how the Bible teaches us how to respond with acceptance and compassion, but NOT give a blank check forgiveness of bad actions blamed on pathology
Did Esau have ADHD? What if you read the story of Esau through the lens of ADHD? What if I told you that Esau had Diabetes and needed to eat badly after his hunting, and that it was Jacob who was withholding food from his ill brother for the sake of the birthright? Did Jonah have a learning disability? Why was he unable, after repeated teachings, to learn what god was doing in the world? Dr. Pprouser presents a very serious analysis of biblical text, using a clear methodological reading. The readings are peshat, or contextual readings of the biblical text, but at the same time, the book provides a level of meaning and inspiration for those dealing with, or who think about, issues of special needs.
It takes a sensitivity to both the words of Torah and the lives of its major characters to describe familiar figures like Isaac and Joseph, Moses and Samson, in current clinical terms, as people with disabilities and personality disorders. That’s what Ora Horn Prouser does in “Esau’s Blessing: How the Bible Embraces Those with Special Needs” (Ben Yehuda Press). The executive vice president of The Academy for Jewish Religion in Riverdale, Prouser, who has served as an educational consultant on Bible curricula for more than 20 years, writes of attention disorders, mental retardation and depression in an ancient setting, descriptions that are certain to upset some readers of the Torah. Focusing on “individuals who somehow did not seem to fit the mold,” she explains the acts of the Torah’s major characters “through the lens of disability awareness.” – Steve Lipman, The NY Jewish Week
"Few books make one a significantly more sensitive reader of the Bible. Few books on the Bible make one a more sensitive person. Ora Horn Prouser's book does both, with the insight and grace of a scholar, a teacher, and a parent. Prouser's interpretations of Biblical stories and characters draw on what professionals have learned about special needs and challenges and provide new and humanizing perspectives on mostly familiar Biblical stories. Readers will be moved by the book and moved as they never were before by the Bible. They will never read the Bible-or anything else-the same way again. The book is essential reading for educators, parents, and students of Bible. -Edward L. Greenstein, director of the Institute for Jewish Biblical Interpretation of Bar-Ilan University
"There is infinite wisdom and abiding compassion in the Bible when approached with a wise heart. Ora Horn Prouser is that sage-resilient, loving, courageous. She opens our eyes to the special needs figures of old whom we come to know and love in the Bible, helping us to embrace and to see with clearer vision the special needs children and adults who deserve our respect and our attention today." - Bradley Shavit Artson, author, The Everyday Torah
"A well-researched, respectful, fresh perspective on disabilities in Biblical narratives." - Judith Z. Abrams, author, Judaism and Disability: Portrayals in Ancient Texts from the Tanach through the Bavli
Click the book cover to read more or to purchase the book
OUT OF PALESTINE
THE MAKING OF MODERN ISRAEL
By HADARA LAZAR
Winter 2012, Atlas and Company Press
At first I was struck by the title. Did OUT OF PALESTINE, mean how Israel was carved out of the British Mandate in Palestine, or was it an imperative to get OUT OF PALESTINE.
It is the former.
Lazar, who was born and raised in Haifa, is the author of five novels and two non fiction books about British Mandate era Palestine. A resident of Tel Aviv, she is a lauded French to Hebrew translator. This book is a series of interviews with Jews, Palestinians, Arabs, and English political figures who were central to the creation of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948.
Hadara Lazar has been interviewing witnesses to the historic events of 1948 for a quarter of a century in an effort to understand the sources of this intractable enmity. Her book, a series of in-depth conversations with Israelis, Arabs, and British political figures who lived through the end of the British Mandate and the founding of the Jewish state is less a work of history than a chorus of distinctive voices: among Hadara's subjects are lawyers, policemen, intellectuals, soldiers, teachers, and housewives. She visits her subjects in their offices and homes, evokes their personalities, and brings them alive as characters in a drama with no last act. She ushers the reader into hotels, clubs, and homes in London, Zurich, and Tel Aviv, and describes them in detail to set the scenes. Out of Palestine is a vivid, comprehensive account of how Israel became Israel.
Click the book cover to read more or to purchase the book
BY AYAD AKHTAR
January 2012, Little Brown
Hayat Shah was captivated by Mina long before he met her: his mother's beautiful, brilliant, and soulfully devout friend is a family legend. When he learns that Mina is leaving Pakistan to live with the Shahs in America, Hayat is thrilled. Hayat's father is less enthusiastic. He left the fundamentalist world behind with reason. What no one expects is that when Mina shows Hayat the beauty and power of the Quran, it will utterly transform the boy. Mina's real magic may be that the Shah household, always contentious and sad, becomes a happy one. It an interesting twist, Hayat, a pretween stays home from school on Yom Kippur. Is he Jewish? Or are Muslims akin to Jews, asks his school techer. No, it is because his mother keeps him home from school since she has a great affection for Jews and Judaism. So, when Mina finds her own path to happiness blocked, the ember of jealousy in Hayat's heart is enflamed by the community's anti-Semitism, and he acts with catastrophic consequences for those he loves most.
Ayad Akhtar is an American-born, first generation Pakistani-American from Milwaukee. He holds degrees in Theater from Brown University and in Directing from the Columbia University, where he won multiple awards for his work. American Dervish is his first novel. Maybe it will be a film and win a Spirit Award??
PW adds: “Poor Hayat Shah: his father drinks and sleeps around; his mother constantly tells him how awful Muslim men are (especially his father, with his “white prostitutes”); he doesn’t seem to have any friends; and he’s in love with his mother’s best friend, the beautiful Mina who’s his mother’s age and something of an aunt to him. Unlike his parents, Mina, who came to Milwaukee from a bad marriage in Pakistan, is devout, which makes sexual stirrings and the Qur’an go hand in hand for the young Hayat (aside from a framing device, the story mostly takes place when he’s between 10 and 12). His rival for Mina’s love isn’t just a grown man, he’s Jewish, so along with the roil of conflicting ideas about gender, sexuality, and Islamic constraint vs. Western looseness, first-time novelist Akhtar also takes on anti-Semitism. Though set well before 9/11, the book is clearly affected by it, with Akhtar determined to traffic in big themes and illustrate the range of Muslim thought and practice. This would be fine if the book didn’t so often feel contrived, stocked with caricatures rather than people. Ultimately, Akhtar’s debut reads like a melodramatic YA novel, not because of the age of its narrator but because of the abundance of lessons to be learned.”
Masking and Unmasking Ourselves
Interpreting Biblical Texts on Clothing & Identity
Dr. Norman J. Cohen
January 2012 Jewish Lights
Whatever the context in which it is worn, our clothing is often our most powerful form of communication. As in any great literature, the language of putting on and taking off clothing in the Bible--especially the narratives that turn on the symbolic use of clothes--can provide us with a sense of the overarching worldview of the biblical writers. Yet, by immersing ourselves in the symbolic language and stories of the Bible, we can also gain insight into ourselves and our own lives.
In this engaging look at interpretations of clothing in the Bible, renowned Torah scholar and midrashist Norman Cohen presents ten paradigmatic Bible stories that involve clothing in an essential way, as a means of learning about the text, its characters and their interactions. But he also shows us how these stories help us confront our own life dramas, our own stories. In doing so, he presents Torah as a mirror, reflecting back to us our own personalities, ambivalences, struggles and potential for growth. By helping us uncover the "garments of Torah," Cohen shows us how to shed our own layers of insulation to reveal our authentic selves.
Dr. Norman J. Cohen, renowned for his expertise in Torah study and midrash, lectures frequently to audiences of many faiths. He is a rabbi, former provost of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and professor of midrash. He is the author of Self, Struggle & Change: Family Conflict Stories in Genesis and Their Healing Insights for Our Lives; Moses and the Journey to Leadership: Timeless Lessons of Effective Management from the Bible and Today's Leaders
By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (rhymes with Rokeach)
January 2012 Gefen
You’ve seen him on tv, You’ve seen him on the book circuit, you heard him shouting at Libyans in NJ, you saw him years ago at Oxford, and you’ve seen him with his buddy, the late Michael Jackson. Now he is taking a look at another savior, Rabbi Jesus.
Kosher Jesus is a project of more than six years research and writing. The book seeks to offer to Jews and Christians Boteach’s “real story” of Jesus, a wholly observant, Pharisaic Rabbi who fought Roman paganism and oppression and was killed for it.
The book asserts that Jesus never claimed divinity and not only did not abrogate the Torah but observed every letter of the Law. Boteach traces Jesus’ teachings back to Jewish sources; and he states that later writers of the Testaments stripped Jesus of his Jewishness.
A sampling: Jesus: (Matt 5:5) Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Hebrew Bible: (Psalms 37) The meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
Jesus: (Matt 5:8) Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see G-d. Hebrew Bible: (Psalms 24) Who shall ascend the mount of the Lord the pure-hearted.
Jesus: (Matt 5:39) But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Hebrew Bible: (Lamentations 3:30) Let him offer his cheek to him who smites him....
Jesus: (Matt 6:33) But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Hebrew Bible: (Psalms 37:4) Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Jesus: (Matt 7:7) Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. Hebrew Bible: (Jer 29:13) When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.
Jesus: (Matt 7:23) Then I will declare to them, I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers. Hebrew Bible: (Psalms 6:9) Depart from me, all you workers of evil.
Boteach writes that this book is for all readers and for Jews who remain deeply uncomfortable with Jesus because of the Church s long history of anti-Semitism, the deification of Jesus, and the Jewish rejection of any Messiah who has not fulfilled the Messianic prophecies.
He adds that as Christians and Jews come together to love and support the majestic and humane State of Israel as a Jewish state, it is goodly that Christians rediscover the deep Jewishness and religious Jewish commitment of Jesus, while Jews reexamine a lost son who was murdered by a brutal Roman state who sought to impose Roman culture and rule upon a tiny yet stubborn nation who will never be severed from their eternal covenant with the G-d of Israel.
Nazis after Hitler
How Perpetrators of the Holocaust Cheated
Justice and Truth
By Donald M. McKale, Prof Emeritus, Clemson
January 2012, Rowman and Littlefield
This deeply researched and informative book traces the biographies of thirty "typical" perpetrators of the Holocaust—some well known, some obscure—who survived World War II. Donald M. McKale reveals the shocking reality that the overwhelming majority of perpetrators were only rarely, if ever, tried or punished for their crimes, and nearly all alleged their innocence in Germany's extermination during the war of nearly six million European Jews. He highlights the bitter contrasts between the comfortable postwar lives of many war criminals with the enduring suffering of their victims.
The author shows how immediately after the war's end in 1945, Hitler's minions, whether the few placed on trial or the many living in freedom, carried on what amounted to a massive and relentless postwar ideological, even propaganda, campaign against Jews. To be sure, the perpetrators didn't challenge the fact that the Holocaust happened. But in the face of massive evidence showing their culpability, nearly all declared they had done nothing wrong, they had not known about the Jewish persecution until the war's end, and they had little or no responsibility or guilt for what had happened. But in making these and other claims denying their involvement in the Holocaust, they defended the Nazi atrocities and anti-Semitism. Nearly every fabrication of these war criminals found its way into the mythology of postwar Holocaust deniers, who have used, in one form or another, the numerous falsehoods of the perpetrators to buttress the deniers' biggest lie—that the Holocaust did not happen. The perpetrators, therefore, helped advance Holocaust denial without having denied the Holocaust happened.
Written in a compelling narrative style, this book is the first to provide an overview of the lives of Nazis who escaped justice. The author provides a unique and accessible synthesis of the massive research on the Holocaust and Nazi war criminals that will be invaluable for all readers interested in World War II.
Kafka's Jewish Languages
The Hidden Openness of Tradition
Haney Foundation Series
By David Suchoff Colby College
December 2011, Columbia
After Franz Kafka died in 1924, his novels and short stories were published in ways that downplayed both his roots in Prague and his engagement with Jewish tradition and language, so as to secure their place in the German literary canon. Now, nearly a century after Kafka began to create his fictions, Germany, Israel, and the Czech Republic lay claim to the writer's legacy. Kafka's Jewish Languages brings Kafka's stature as a specifically Jewish author into focus. David Suchoff explores the Yiddish and modern Hebrew that inspired Kafka's vision of tradition. Citing the Jewish sources crucial to the development of Kafka's style, the book demonstrates the intimate relationship between the author's Jewish modes of expression and the larger literary significance of his works. Suchoff shows how "The Judgment" evokes Yiddish as a language of comic curse and examines how Yiddish, African American, and culturally Zionist voices appear in the unfinished novel, Amerika. Reading The Trial Suchoff highlights the black humor Kafka learned from the Yiddish theater and he interprets The Castle in light of Kafka's involvement with the renewal of the Hebrew language. Finally, Suchoff uncovers the Yiddish and Hebrew meanings behind Kafka's "Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse-Folk," and considers the recent law case in Tel Aviv over the possession of Kafka's missing manuscripts as a parable of the transnational meanings of his writing.
SHADOWS IN WINTER
A MEMOIR OF LOVE AND LOSS
BY EITAN FISHBANE
December 2011, Syracuse
In late February 2007, Leah Fishbane's life was flourishing. A promising young graduate student in Jewish history, she was an adoring mother to her nearly four-year-old daughter and two months into a new pregnancy. In an instant, all this was gone: Leah was struck down suddenly with a previously undiagnosed brain tumor--her life ended quickly in the ICU, her family was left in despair.
In this deeply evocative memoir, written during the dark time of the first year following Leah's death, her husband Eitan gives voice to the overwhelming nature of mourning, and to the uplifting power of memory. He tells the story of his efforts to be a good father to his grieving child and of his self-discovery as a parent in ways he had not known before. Along this path, Fishbane asks fundamental questions about the meaning of death and life, about the place of God and faith in the experience of tragedy, about what it means to live with loss. The result is a poetic testament that will resonate with anyone who has known the depths of grief, anyone who seeks to console a loved one in pain. In giving honest expression to emotions that are at once particular and universal, Shadows in Winter offers a luminous window of comfort and hope to those battling the devastation of loss.
A Prophetic Peace
Judaism, Religion, and Politics
By Alick Isaacs
Challenging deeply held convictions about Judaism, Zionism, war, and peace, Alick Isaacs's combat experience in the second Lebanon war provoked him to search for a way of reconciling the belligerence of religion with its messages of peace. In his insightful readings of the texts of Biblical prophecy and rabbinic law, Isaacs draws on the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Jacques Derrida, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Martin Buber, among others, to propose an ambitious vision of religiously inspired peace. Rejecting the notion of Jewish theology as partial to war and vengeance, this eloquent and moving work points to the ways in which Judaism can be a path to peace. A Prophetic Peace describes an educational project called Talking Peace whose aim is to bring individuals of different views together to share varying understandings of peace.
WINNING INVESTORS OVER
Surprising Truths About Honesty, Earnings Guidance,
and Other Ways To Boost Your Stock Price
By Baruch Lev, NYU Stern
December 2011, HBR
Pleasing Wall Street used to be easy for executives. Not anymore. The stock market is an uncertain place, and every day executives have to figure out what investors really want. There are right ways and wrong ways to do this. Get it wrong, and you risk alienating investors as well as employees, consumers, and suppliers—which can erode your earnings and stock price. In Winning Investors Over, Baruch Lev draws on his own and other finance scholars’ research to present authoritative, often surprising instructions for dealing intelligently with Wall Street—and boosting your company’s earnings and stock price. Through rigorous data analysis and real-life cases, Lev shows how to:
Understand and address investors’ concerns to secure ongoing funding and support from the capital markets; Deliver disappointing news effectively to investors; Build, rebuild, and maintain credibility on Wall Street; Buy time for your company’s recovery from activist shareholders and hedge fund raiders; and Structure your compensation to win shareholders’ support
Winning Investors Over demonstrates that despite the uncertainty that characterizes Wall Street today, you can still craft a mutually beneficial, long-term partnership with investors.
IS IT TRUE THAT THE ROOF LEAKS??
BETH SHOLOM SYNAGOGUE
FRANK LLOYD WIRGHT AND MODERN RELIGIOUS ARCHITECTURE
Joseph M. Siry
December 2011, University of Chicago Press
The tent that carries the Torah should radiate light, an eternal flame
In a suburb just north of Philadelphia stands Beth Sholom Synagogue, Frank Lloyd Wright’s only synagogue and among his finest religious buildings. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 2007, Beth Sholom was one of Wright’s last completed projects, and for years it has been considered one of his greatest masterpieces.
But its full story has never been told. Beth Sholom Synagogue provides the first in-depth look at the synagogue’s conception and realization in relation to Wright’s other religious architecture. Beginning with his early career at Adler and Sullivan’s architectural firm in Chicago and his design for Unity Temple and ending with the larger works completed just before or soon after his death, Joseph M. Siry skillfully depicts Wright’s exploration of geometric forms and structural techniques in creating architecture for worshipping communities. Siry also examines Wright’s engagement with his clients, whose priorities stemmed from their denominational identity, and the effect this had on his designs—his client for Beth Sholom, Rabbi Mortimer Cohen, worked with Wright to anchor the building in the traditions of Judaism even as it symbolized the faith’s continuing life in postwar America. With each of his religious projects, Wright considered questions of social history and cultural identity as he advanced his program for an expressive, modern American architecture. His search to combine these agendas culminated in Beth Sholom, where the interplay of light, form, and space create a stunning and inspiring place of worship.
Filled with over 300, yes, three hundred, illustrations, this remarkable book takes us deep inside the synagogue’s design, construction, and reception to bring us an illuminating portrait of the crowning achievement of this important aspect of Wright’s career.
The Legend of BJ Levine
By Barnabas Miller
January 2012, Sourcebooks
Ages 10 and up
ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?
The truth is that the first 13 years of my lif ebefore I met you-have been SUPER BORING. My life didn't really start until two Weeks ago. That Was the day I decided to become a full-on, fire-breathing MEGALORD OF RRRRROCK.
I mean, just because I have absolutely no musical ability is no reason to give up on my destiny. You see, I found this book that's going to turn me into a ROCK GOD-no talent required! Now all I have to do is survive long enough to read it.
Yours in Rock,
The Other Talmud
Unlocking the Secrets of "The Talmud of Israel for Judaism Today"
By Rabbi Judith Z. Abrams, PhD
January 2012 Jewish Lights
Today's Judaism is based on the Babylonian Talmud, the Bavli. All the law codes we have are based on this Talmud. But what if the other Talmud, the Yerushalmi-- the "Talmud of the Land of Israel"--had won? What would that mean for the practice of Judaism today?
This engaging look at the Judaism that might have been breaks open the Talmud of the Land of Israel, which is growing in popularity. It examines what the Yerushalmi is, how it differs from the Bavli, and how and why the Bavli is used today. It reveals how the Yerushalmi's vision of Jewish practice resembles today's liberal Judaism. You'll explore the many ways this Talmud would have influenced all aspects of Jewish life:
* What kind of mysticism would you practice?
* How would you meditate?
* How would holiday celebrations differ from those we have today?
* How would you pray?
* What would be your greatest virtues? Your most terrible sins?
* What kind of karma would you believe in?
Like Barry W. Holtz's Back to the Sources, The Other Talmud--The Yerushalmi provides a broad but accessible overview of all the essential aspects of the Talmud of Israel, equipping you for further study and exploration.
Did PROHIBITION help to acculturate American Jews to America? Did t make them more American?
JEWS AND BOOZE
Becoming American in the Age of Prohibition
By Marni Davis, Phd
January 2012, NYU Press
If you can’t wait til 2012, you can read Professor Davis’ earlier paper on Jews and Whisky: at http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/american_jewish_history/summary/v094/94.3.davis.html (No Whisky Amazons in the Tents of Israel": American Jews and the Gilded Age Temperance Movement (September 2008))
At the turn of the century, American Jews and prohibitionists viewed one another with growing suspicion. Jews believed that all Americans had the right to sell and consume alcohol, while prohibitionists insisted that alcohol commerce and consumption posed a threat to the nation’s morality and security. The two groups possessed incompatible visions of what it meant to be a productive and patriotic American--and in 1920, when the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution made alcohol commerce illegal, Jews discovered that anti-Semitic sentiments had mixed with anti-alcohol ideology, threatening their reputation and their standing in American society.
In Jews and Booze, Marni Davis (teaches at Georgia State, doctorate from Emory) examines American Jews’ long and complicated relationship to alcohol during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the years of the national prohibition movement’s rise and fall. Bringing to bear an extensive range of archival materials, Davis offers a novel perspective on a previously unstudied area of American Jewish economic activity--the making and selling of liquor, wine, and beer--and reveals that alcohol commerce played a crucial role in Jewish immigrant acculturation and the growth of Jewish communities in the United States. But prohibition’s triumph cast a pall on American Jews’ history in the alcohol trade, forcing them to revise, clarify, and defend their communal and civic identities, both to their fellow Americans and to themselves.
The Modern Jewish Experience in World Cinema
By Lawrence Baron
Winter 2012, Brandies University Press
Most people have seen Exodus, Fiddler on the Roof, Yentl, and Schindler's List--well-known films with obvious Jewish subjects. But the Jewish experience in film is far richer than this. Over the past century, Jewish-themed films have emerged from the Americas, Europe, Israel, and North Africa. This remarkable anthology brings together 54 new and classic essays by 49 scholars in 8 countries to analyze the Jewish presence in world cinema.
Opening with a survey of the approaches employed to study historical films and how they have been applied to Jewish cinema, the book then moves on to several thematic sections containing essays on films grouped by period and region or organized around a central event or issue. These include European Jewry's acculturation; responses to oppression and belated emancipation; the American Jewish immigrant experience; the Zionist experiment; the Holocaust; postwar American Jewish life; Jewish international films; and contemporary Israeli and American Jewish cinema. An appendix offers a supplementary listing of films. Designed for classroom use, as well as for programming at film festivals, JCCs, and synagogues, the volume provides resources to help teachers and program organizers select from a broad range of movies. It includes chapter-based bibliographies of additional readings and links to appropriate web resources.
Beyond Our Means
Why America Spends While the World Saves
By Sheldon Garon
Princeton University Press
But Americans Spend
Across the world, saving is a virtue; in America, Spending is a holy virtue
If the financial crisis has taught us anything, it is that Americans save too little, spend too much, and borrow excessively. What can we learn from East Asian and European countries that have fostered enduring cultures of thrift over the past two centuries? Beyond Our Means tells for the first time how other nations aggressively encouraged their citizens to save by means of special savings institutions and savings campaigns. The U.S. government, meanwhile, promoted mass consumption and reliance on credit, culminating in the global financial meltdown.
Many economists believe people save according to universally rational calculations, saving the most in their middle years as they plan for retirement, and saving the least in welfare states. In reality, Europeans save at high rates despite generous welfare programs and aging populations. Americans save little, despite weaker social safety nets and a younger population. Tracing the development of such behaviors across three continents from the nineteenth century to today, this book highlights the role of institutions and moral suasion in shaping habits of saving and spending. It shows how the encouragement of thrift was not a relic of indigenous traditions but a modern movement to confront rising consumption. Around the world, messages to save and spend wisely confronted citizens everywhere--in schools, magazines, and novels. At the same time, in America, businesses and government normalized practices of living beyond one's means.
Transnational history at its most compelling, Beyond Our Means reveals why some nations save so much and others so little.
My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan
By Seth Rudetsky
January 2012, Random House
Ages 12 and up
Justin is Jewish, a biology genius, unpopular, bullied, has a Jew-Fro, has a 35 inch waist, and is gay. In Chemistry, a classmate calls him Fag-nesium. When he answers questions, the same bully coughs “Feg” in his hand so that the class hears, but not the teacher. Justin has two goals for sophomore year in high school: to date Chuck, the hottest boy in school, and to become the king of Cool U, the table in the cafeteria where the "in" crowd sits.
Unfortunately, he has the wrong look (short, plump, Brillo-pad jew-fro), he has the wrong interests (Broadway, chorus violin), and he has the wrong friends (Spencer, into Eastern religions, and Mary Ann, who doesn't shave her armpits). Spencer tells Justin that he should not let himself be called FAG, it is as bad as being called KIKE> Justin tries to understand this concept. Justin believes that the morning of the Tony Award nominations should be a school holiday. And Chuck the football star who has moved to town? Well, he's definitely not gay; and he's dating Becky, a girl in chorus with whom Justin is friendly. (Justin and Becky are both the children of physicians)
But Justin is determined. He wants to be popular, yet seriously, he isn’t that nice to the school nerds, but he does calculate that he has to make 8.3 friends a day and he can become popular. (He can strive for maybe even 8.6)
After detention one day (because he saw Chuck get it first), having just eaves “dropped” on Chuck and Becky, Justin comes up with a perfect plan: to allow Becky to continue dating Chuck, whom Becky's dad hates. They will pretend that Becky is dating Justin (they both practice stage kisses from drama club), whom Becky's dad loves (cuz he is smat and the son of a doctor). And when Becky and Justin go out on a fake date, Chuck will meet up with them for a real date with Becky. Chuck's bound to find Justin irresistable, right? Right? RIGHT? What could go wrong?
Seth Rudetsky's first novel for young adults is endearingly human, and laugh-out-loud funny, and any kid who ever aspired to Cool U will find Justin a welcome ally in the fight for popularity.
THE BALFOUR DECLARATION
THE ORIGINS OF THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT
BY JONATHAN SCHNEER
January 2012, Random House Paperback edition
Issued in London in 1917, the Balfour Declaration was one of the key documents of the twentieth century. It committed Britain to supporting the establishment in Palestine of “a National Home for the Jewish people,” and its reverberations continue to be felt to this day. Now the entire fascinating story of the document is revealed in this impressive work of modern history. With new material retrieved from historical archives, Jonathan Schneer recounts in dramatic detail the public and private fight for a small strip of land in the Middle East, a battle that started when the Ottoman Empire took Germany’s side in World War I. The key players in this conflict are rendered in nuanced and detailed relief: Sharif Hussein, the Arab leader who secretly sought British support; Chaim Weizmann, the Zionist folks-mensch who charmed British high society; T. E. Lawrence, the legendary British officer who “set the desert on fire” for the Arabs; and the other generals and prime ministers, soldiers and negotiators, who shed blood and cut deals to grab or give away the precious land. A book crucial to understanding the Middle East as it is today, The Balfour Declaration is a riveting volume about the ancient faiths and timeless treacheries that continue to drive global events.
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THE LIMITS oF SUCCESS
Jewish Lives Series
By SHULAMIT VOLKOV
January 2012, Yale
This deeply informed biography of Walther Rathenau (1867–1922) tells of a man who—both thoroughly German and unabashedly Jewish—rose to leadership in the German War-Ministry Department during the First World War, and later to the exalted position of foreign minister in the early days of the Weimar Republic. His achievement was unprecedented—no Jew in Germany had ever attained such high political rank. But Rathenau’s success was marked by tragedy: within months he was assassinated by right-wing extremists seeking to destroy the newly formed Republic. Drawing on Rathenau’s papers and on a depth of knowledge of both modern German and German-Jewish history, Shulamit Volkov creates a finely drawn portrait of this complex man who struggled with his Jewish identity yet treasured his “otherness.” Volkov also places Rathenau in the dual context of Weimar Germany and of Berlin’s financial and intellectual elite. Above all, she illuminates the complex social and psychological milieu of German Jewry in the period before Hitler’s rise to power
AMERICA AND THE CRISIS OF GLOBAL POWER
BY ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI
January 2012, basic
By 1991, following the disintegration first of the Soviet bloc and then of the Soviet Union itself, the United States was left standing tall as the only global super-power. Not only the 20th but even the 21st century seemed destined to be the American centuries. But that super-optimism did not last long. During the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century, the stock market bubble and the costly foreign unilateralism of the younger Bush presidency, as well as the financial catastrophe of 2008 jolted America – and much of the West – into a sudden recognition of its systemic vulnerability to unregulated greed. Moreover, the East was demonstrating a surprising capacity for economic growth and technological innovation. That prompted new anxiety about the future, including even about America’s status as the leading world power. This book is a response to a challenge. It argues that without an America that is economically vital, socially appealing, responsibly powerful, and capable of sustaining an intelligent foreign engagement, the geopolitical prospects for the West could become increasingly grave. The ongoing changes in the distribution of global power and mounting global strife make it all the more essential that America does not retreat into an ignorant garrison-state mentality or wallow in cultural hedonism but rather becomes more strategically deliberate and historically enlightened in its global engagement with the new East. This book seeks to answer four major questions:
1. What are the implications of the changing distribution of global power from West to East, and how is it being affected by the new reality of a politically awakened humanity?
2. Why is America’s global appeal waning, how ominous are the symptoms of America’s domestic and international decline, and how did America waste the unique global opportunity offered by the peaceful end of the Cold War?
3. What would be the likely geopolitical consequences if America did decline by 2025, and could China then assume America’s central role in world affairs?
4. What ought to be a resurgent America’s major long-term geopolitical goals in order to shape a more vital and larger West and to engage cooperatively the emerging and dynamic new East?
5. If America declines and the Israeli-Palestine conflict remains unresolved, there will be no resolution. Regional animosity to Israel will intensify. Iran and Israel will attack each other directly or through proxies and civilian deaths will grow in the region, Palestine and Lebanon. The US participation in attacks on Iran and probably Pakistan will inflame hatred of America and its interests. Israel will be isolated and seen as an apartheid state and American support of Israel will decline
America, Brzezinski argues, must define and pursue a comprehensive and long-term a geopolitical vision, a vision that is responsive to the challenges of the changing historical context. This book seeks to provide the strategic blueprint for that vision.
FREEING YOURSELF FROM ANXIETY
4 SIMPLE STEPS TO OVERCOME WORRY
AND CREATE THE LIFE YOU WANT
BY TAMAR CHANSKY, PhD
January 2012, Da Capo
We all know what is healthy to think and what is not, much like we know that eating an apple is better than gorging on donuts. But once we start thinking anxious thoughts, it is tough to move from disaster to reality. Our brain can ruin our day. The roadmap to happiness can be found in Freeing Yourself from Anxiety. Unlike most guides, Dr. Tamar Chansky’s book explains that the solution is not positive thinking, but possible thinking. Armed with her strategies, readers can achieve accurate perceptions of their lives that can liberate them from fear and perfectionism. For the 25 percent of Americans who have an anxiety problem, Freeing Yourself from Anxiety provides the step-by-step tools for living stress free, without medications.
Chansky came across this quote while writing the book that said, “It’s not that the news has gotten worse; it’s that the reporting has gotten so much better.” Our general anxiety level has risen as a culture, in part due to recent events in history. For example, the recession, the events of 9/11, and the news- and media-saturated lives we lead keep our pulse running a little higher as we practice imagining disaster on a daily basis. Therefore, it is important to learn how to reduce our baseline stress
We tend to focus all of our attention on the most extreme or unlikely scenarios, leaving us feeling helpless to take any steps to help ourselves. So especially when readers are facing actual challenges, they need these strategies more so that they can stop wasting precious time and emotional energy rehearsing some future disaster that won’t likely occur. Dr. Chansky distinguishes between the “worry story” and the “story of your life.” The WORRY STORY is the story we create, the narrative, of our lives, triumphs, struggles, conditions, deadends. So just as you dont buy the first car a dealer offers you, you should not accept the first version of your narrative, or the first gut reaction, the first “worry story” version of the situation. The Four Steps are (1) Using Your Caller ID, means relabeling or stamping the thought with the appropriate tag — determining if it’s 1-800-Worry-Me talking to you or your trusted Voice of Reason. (2) Step two, Getting Specific, means taking the overwhelming first impression of the problem and narrowing it down to the real risk or matter at hand. (3) Step three, Optimizing, means not giving up but backing up and getting perspective; now that you’ve narrowed down the problem, call in experts or other perspectives to give their take on the situation. And (4) Step four, Mobilizing, means getting moving; you’ve defined the problem and see your options—and now you can go from theory to practice and start making changes in your life.
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Money and Power
How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World
By William D. Cohan
January 2012, Anchor paperback
The bestselling author of the acclaimed House of Cards and The Last Tycoons turns his spotlight on to Goldman Sachs and the controversy behind its success. From the outside, Goldman Sachs is a perfect company. The Goldman PR machine loudly declares it to be smarter, more ethical, and more profitable than all of its competitors. Behind closed doors, however, the firm constantly straddles the line between conflict of interest and legitimate deal making, wields significant influence over all levels of government, and upholds a culture of power struggles and toxic paranoia. And its clever bet against the mortgage market in 2007—unknown to its clients—may have made the financial ruin of the Great Recession worse. Money and Power reveals the internal schemes that have guided the bank from its founding through its remarkable windfall during the 2008 financial crisis. Through extensive research and interviews with the inside players, including current CEO Lloyd Blankfein, William Cohan constructs a nuanced, timely portrait of Goldman Sachs, the company that was too big—and too ruthless—to fail.
A Life in Letters
By Joseph Roth
Translated by Michael Hofmann
January 2012, Norton
The monumentality of this biographical work further establishes Joseph Roth—with Kafka, Mann, and Musil—in the twentieth-century literary canon. Who would have thought that seventy-three years after Joseph Roth’s lonely death in Paris, new editions of his translations would be appearing regularly? Roth, a transcendent novelist who also produced some of the most breathtakingly lyrical journalism ever written, is now being discovered by a new generation. Nine years in the making, this life through letters provides us with our most extensive portrait of Roth’s calamitous life—his father’s madness, his wife’s schizophrenia, his parade of mistresses (each more exotic than the next), and his classic westward journey from a virtual Hapsburg shtetl to Vienna, Berlin, Frankfurt, and finally Paris. Containing 457 newly translated letters, along with eloquent introductions that richly frame Roth’s life, this book brilliantly evokes the crumbling specters of the Weimar Republic and 1930s France. Displaying Roth’s ceaselessly inventive powers, it finally charts his descent into despair at a time when “the word had died, [and] men bark like dogs.”
Conversations with Kafka
By the late Gustav Janouch (1903 – 1968)
Translated by Goronwy Rees, Francine Prose (Introduction), Maira Kalman (cover)
January 2012, New Directions
A literary gem – a portrait from life of Franz Kafka – now with an ardent preface by Francine Prose, avowed “fan of Janouch’s odd and beautiful book.”
Gustav Janouch met Franz Kafka, the celebrated author of The Metamorphosis, as a seventeen-year-old fledgling poet. As Francine Prose notes in her wonderful preface, “they fell into the habit of taking long strolls through the city, strolls on which Kafka seems to have said many amazing, incisive, literary, and per- things to his companion and interlocutor, the teenage Boswell of Prague. Crossing a windswept square, apropos of something or other, Kafka tells Janouch, ‘Life is infinitely great and profound as the immensity of the stars above us. One can only look at it through the narrow keyhole of one’s personal experience. But through it one perceives more than one can see. So above all one must keep the keyhole clean.’”
They talk about writing (Kafka’s own, but also that of his favorite writers: Poe, Kleist, and Rimbaud, who “transforms vowels into colors”) as well as technology, film, crime, Darwinism, Chinese philosophy, carpentry, insomnia, street fights, Hindu scripture, art, suicide, and prayer. “Prayer,” Kafka notes, brings “its infinite radiance to bed in the frail little cradle of one’s own existence.”
By Albert Goldbarth
January 2012, Graywolf Press
Golddbarth finds “pain” in a “piano”
The not-at-all-everyday new poetry collection by Albert Goldbarth, twice winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
I brought a book of many words
to an emptiness in my heart,
and I shook them out in there, to fill it.
In my time I wrote this very thing.
In your time you read it.
—from “What We Were Like”
Virtuoso poet Albert Goldbarth returns with a new collection that describes the wonders of everyday people—overprotective parents, online gamblers, newlyweds, Hercules, and Jesus. In Goldbarth’s poetry—expansive, wild, and hilarious—he argues that our ordinary failures, heroics, joy, and grief are worth giving voice to, giving thanks for. Everyday People is an extraordinary new book by a poet who “in thirty-five years of writing has amassed a body of work as substantial and intelligent as that of anyone in his generation” (William Doreski, The Harvard Review).
The Ritual Word
a poem of psalms
BY Courtney Druz
This book contains a poem, a “song of”, a psalm of psalms. "It is not permissible to discuss this phenomenon." It is a scroll written for you, not for you, a path that will open when you take a step. Courtney Druz is the author of Complex Natural Processes. She lives in Israel, and her poems have appeared in a variety of literary journals and anthologies. CourtneyDruz.com holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Brown University and a M.Arch. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also studied at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem.
Nine Algorithms That Changed the Future
The Ingenious Ideas That Drive Today's Computers
By John MacCormick with Foreword by Chris Bishop
January 2012, Princeton
Every day, we use our computers to perform remarkable feats. A simple web search picks out a handful of relevant needles from the world's biggest haystack: the billions of pages on the World Wide Web. Uploading a photo to Facebook transmits millions of pieces of information over numerous error-prone network links, yet somehow a perfect copy of the photo arrives intact. Without even knowing it, we use public-key cryptography to transmit secret information like credit card numbers; and we use digital signatures to verify the identity of the websites we visit. How do our computers perform these tasks with such ease? This is the first book to answer that question in language anyone can understand, revealing the extraordinary ideas that power our PCs, laptops, and smartphones. Using vivid examples, John MacCormick explains the fundamental "tricks" behind nine types of computer algorithms, including artificial intelligence (where we learn about the "nearest neighbor trick" and "twenty questions trick"), Google's famous PageRank algorithm (which uses the "random surfer trick"), data compression, error correction, and much more.
These revolutionary algorithms have changed our world: this book unlocks their secrets, and lays bare the incredible ideas that our computers use every day.
Launching a Successful Fashion Line
A Trendsetters Guide Launching a Successful Fashion Line
A Trendsetters Guide
By Ralinda Harvey
If only Isaac Mizrahi, Ralph Lauren, and Calvin Klein had this book, they could have scored it big in fashion
This innovative book on setting up your own fashion business contains everything you need to know, from finances to websites, branding to pattern makers - this book has it all! It is written in a blog-post style, making it direct and straightforward in its message which will resonate with the modern reader. The book is remarkably comprehensive and is a great tool for either the fashion student or fashion enthusiast to assemble all the knowledge they need for setting up a successful business, whether it is an ebay store or a fashion boutique.
THE JEwISH GOSPELS
THE STORY OF THE JEWISH CHRIST
BY DANIEL BOYARIN (Berkeley)
January 2012, The New Press
In July 2008 a front-page story in the New York Times reported on the discovery of an ancient Hebrew tablet, dating from before the birth of Jesus, which predicted a Messiah who would rise from the dead after three days. Commenting on this startling discovery at the time, noted Talmud scholar Daniel Boyarin argued that “some Christians will find it shocking—a challenge to the uniqueness of their theology.”
Guiding us through a rich tapestry of new discoveries and ancient scriptures, The Jewish Gospels makes the powerful case that our conventional understandings of Jesus and of the origins of Christianity are wrong. In Boyarin’s scrupulously illustrated account, the coming of the Messiah was fully imagined in the ancient Jewish texts. Jesus, moreover, was embraced by many Jews as this person, and his core teachings were not at all a break from Jewish beliefs and teachings. Jesus and his followers, Boyarin shows, were simply Jewish. What came to be known as Christianity came much later, as religious and political leaders sought to impose a new religious orthodoxy that was not present at the time of Jesus’s life. In the vein of Elaine Pagels’s The Gnostic Gospels, here is a brilliant new work that will break open some of our culture’s most cherished assumptions.
TOURS THAT BIND
DIASPORA, PILGRIMAGE, AND ISRAELI BIRTHRIGHT TOURISM
Now in Papaerback
By Shaul Kelner, Vanderbilt University
2012, NYU Press
Since 1999 hundreds of thousands of young American Jews have visited Israel on an all-expense-paid 10-day pilgrimage-tour known as Birthright Israel. The most elaborate of the state-supported homeland tours that are cropping up all over the world, this tour seeks to foster in the American Jewish diaspora a lifelong sense of attachment to Israel based on ethnic and political solidarity. Over a half-billion dollars (and counting) has been spent cultivating this attachment, and despite 9/11 and the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict the tours are still going strong. Based on over seven years of first-hand observation in modern day Israel, Shaul Kelner provides an on-the-ground look at this hotly debated and widely emulated use of tourism to forge transnational ties. We ride the bus, attend speeches with the Prime Minister, hang out in the hotel bar, and get a fresh feel for young American Jewish identity and contemporary Israel. We see how tourism's dynamism coupled with the vibrant human agency of the individual tourists inevitably complicate tour leaders' efforts to rein tourism in and bring it under control. By looking at the broader meaning of tourism, Kelner brings to light the contradictions inherent in the tours and the ways that people understandtheir relationship to place both materially and symbolically. Rich in detail, engagingly written, and sensitive to the complexities of modern travel and modern diaspora Jewishness, Tours that Bind offers a new way of thinking about tourism as a way through which people develop understandings of place, society, and self.
SEPHARDIC JEWS IN AMERICA
A DISPORIC HISTORY
BY AVIVA BEN-UR, Umass Amherst
January 2012, NYU Press
Now in Paperback
A significant number of Sephardic Jews, who trace their remote origins to Spain and Portugal, immigrated to the United States from Turkey, Greece, and the Balkans from 1880 through the 1920s, joined by a smaller number of Mizrahi Jews arriving from Arab lands. Most Sephardim settled in New York, establishing the leading Judeo-Spanish community outside the Ottoman Empire. With their distinct languages, cultures, and rituals, Sephardim and Arab-speaking Mizrahim were not readily recognized as Jews by their Ashkenazic coreligionists. At the same time, they forged alliances outside Jewish circles with Hispanics and Arabs, with whom they shared significant cultural and linguistic ties. The failure among Ashkenazic Jews to acknowledge Sephardim and Mizrahim continues today. More often than not, these Jewish communities are simply absent from portrayals of American Jewry. Drawing on primary sources such as the Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) press, archival documents, and oral histories, Sephardic Jews in America offers the first book-length academic treatment of their history in the United States, from 1654 to the present, focusing on the age of mass immigration. Aviva Ben-Ur is Associate Professor of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she also serves as Adjunct Associate Professor in the History Department and the Department of Language, Literatures, and Cultures. She is the co-author of Remnant Stones: The Jewish Cemeteries of Suriname: Epitaphs and Remnant Stones: The Jewish Cemeteries and Synagogues of Suriname: Essays.
THE RESCUER’S PATH
A Novel BY PAULA FRIEDMAN
Paperback, Plain View Press
When Malca Bernovski rides a horse off-trail in Nixon-era Washington DC, she discovers the wounded antiwar leader Gavin Hareen, prime suspect in the lethal bombing of an army truck. The budding love between the sheltered Malca, daughter of a Holocaust survivor, and the anguished, half-Syrian fugitive becomes a desperate struggle against injustice. From the White House to the Rockies, from the Warsaw Ghetto to the post-9/11 search of the lovers’ child for her origins, this tale spans generations to delve urgent, timeless questions.
A HISTORY OF WOMEN AND INTERMARRIAGE IN AMERICA
BY KAREN R. McGINITY, Brandeis
2012, NYU Press
Now In Paperback
Over the last century, American Jews married outside their religion at increasing rates. By closely examining the intersection of intermarriage and gender across the twentieth century, Keren R. McGinity describes the lives of Jewish women who intermarried while placing their decisions in historical context. The first comprehensive history of these intermarried women, Still Jewish is a multigenerational study combining in-depth personal interviews and an astute analysis of how interfaith relationships and intermarriage were portrayed in the mass media, advice manuals, and religious community-generated literature.
Still Jewish dismantles assumptions that once a Jew intermarries, she becomes fully assimilated into the majority Christian population, religion, and culture. Rather than becoming "lost" to the Jewish community, women who intermarried later in the century were more likely to raise their children with strong ties to Judaism than women who intermarried earlier in the century. Bringing perennially controversial questions of Jewish identity, continuity, and survival to the forefront of the discussion, Still Jewish addresses topics of great resonance in the modern Jewish community and beyond.
ISLAM THROUGH WESTERN EYES
FROM THE CRUSADES TO THE WAR ON TERRORISM
BY JONATHAN LYONS
January 2012, Columbia
Despite the West's growing involvement in Muslim societies, conflicts, and cultures, its inability to understand or analyze the Islamic world threatens to curb any prospect of East-West rapprochement. Impelled by one thousand years of anti-Muslim ideas and images, the West has failed to engage in any meaningful or productive way with the world of Islam. Formulated in the medieval halls of the Roman Curia and courts of the European Crusaders and perfected in the newsrooms of Fox and CNN, this anti-Islamic discourse determines what can and cannot be said about Muslims and their religion, trapping the West in a dangerous, dead-end politics that it cannot afford in a rapidly globalizing world.
The Torah Commentary of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
Genesis, Part I
By Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
Edited by Rabbi Shlomo Katz
January 2012, urim
The Torah Commentary of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach provides a glimpse into the unusual way in which the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach received and transmitted Torah. It also aids the reader in bridging Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach the great composer/singer and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach the great scholar/teacher. Those who sing his songs, but do not learn his Torah, only sing half a song. When Reb Shlomo speaks of Abraham and Sara, you are sure he is speaking about his own grandparents. When delving into the lives of Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, Rachel and Leah, it is as if he is speaking of his own parents. The teachings in this book of commentary are not just meant to be read they are intended to be enjoyed and experienced as holy music. Ultimately, they are intended as a lesson in living a holy life. Wherever Reb Shlomo traveled in the world, he brought several suitcases of holy books with him. This book makes Reb Shlomo's teachings accessible to help us carry on our journey through life.
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We Are All Equally Far from Love
By Adania Shibli
Translated from the Arabic by Paul Starkey
January 2012, Interlink
A new award-winning novel from the acclaimed author of Touch. A young woman, asked at work to write a letter to an older man, does as she is told. So begins an enigmatic but passionate love affair conducted entirely in letters. A love affair? Maybe. Until his letters stop coming. Or... maybe the letters do not reach their intended recipient? Only the teenage Afaf, who works at the local post office, would know. Her favorite duty is to open the mail and inform her collaborator father of the contents until she finds a mysterious set of love letters, apparently returned to their sender. In the hands of Adania Shibli, the discovery of these letters makes for a wrenching meditation on lives lived ensnared within the dictates of others.
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The Boston Globe called it “Shoah: the Comedy”
What if Anne Frank survived Bergen Belsen and was an elderly woman living in an attic in upstate New York?
By Shalom Auslander
The rural town of Stockton, New York, is famous for nothing: No one was born there, no one died there, nothing of any historical import at all has ever happened there, which is why Solomon Kugel, like other urbanites fleeing their pasts and histories, decided to move his wife, Bree, and young son, Jonah, there. To begin again. To start anew. But it isn't quite working out that way.
His ailing mother stubbornly holds on to life, and won't stop reminiscing about the Nazi concentration camps she never actually suffered through. She is a survivor wannabee. To complicate matters further, some lunatic is burning down farmhouses just like the one he bought. And when, one night, Kugel discovers history - a living, breathing, thought-to-be-dead specimen of history - hiding upstairs in his attic, bad quickly becomes worse. She is foul mouthed, vomits, and demands daily deliveries of matzo. She is also working on a novel
It is a novel inspired by Kafka, by Beckett, and by the Book of Job (biblical Job, not Steve Job(s)). Sometimes HOPE makes things worse. Things are bad, you pray, and they get worse. There is also a thread of Holocaust humor in the novel, its use by some people, and its misuse by others.
The critically acclaimed writer Shalom Auslander's debut novel is a hilarious and disquieting examination of the burdens and abuse of history, propelled with unstoppable rhythm and filled with existential musings and mordant wit. It is a comic and compelling story of the hopeless longing to be free of those pasts that haunt our every present.
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Haiti Since the Earthquake
Edited by Mark Schuller aand Pablo Morales
January 2012, Kumarian
So many Jewishp eople and Israelis are involved with Haitian relief.
They texted money there. Do you think it ended up doing good
Here is a book that tells an inside story of the aftermath and relief
Schuller, a NY anthropologist and professor at University of Haiti tells that the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti’s capital on January 12, 2010 will be remembered as one of the world’s deadliest disasters. It killed and also magnified the social ills that have beset this island nation. The quake exposed centuries of underdevelopment, misguided economic policies, and foreign aid interventions that have contributed to rampant inequality and social exclusion in Haiti.
Tectonic Shifts offers a diverse on-the-ground set of perspectives about Haiti’s cataclysmic earthquake and the aftermath that left 250,000 dead and more than 1.5 million homeless. Following a critical analysis of Haiti’s heightened vulnerability as a result of centuries of foreign policy and most recently neoliberal economic policies, this book addresses a range of contemporary realities, foreign impositions, and political changes that occurred during the relief and reconstruction periods.
Half of the 46 chapters are written by Haitians in Haiti and translated into English.
Analysis of these realities offers tools for engaged, principled reflection and action. Essays by scholars, journalists, activists, and Haitians still on the island and those in the Diaspora highlight the many struggles that the Haitian people face today, providing lessons not only for those impacted and involved in relief, but for people engaged in struggles for justice and transformation in other parts of the world. Click to read more
Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?
Trick Questions, Zen-like Riddles, Insanely Difficult Puzzles
and Other Devious Interviewing Techniques You
Know to Get a Job Anywhere in the New Economy
By William Poundstone
January 2012, Little Brown
FROM THE AUTHOR OF HOW WOULD YOU MOVE MOUNT FUJI (Microsoft interview questions)..
You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and thrown in a blender. The blades start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do? If you want to work at Google, or any of America's best companies, you need to have an answer to this and other puzzling questions. ARE YOU SMART ENOUGH TO WORK AT GOOGLE? guides readers through the surprising solutions to dozens of the most challenging interview questions. The book covers the importance of creative thinking, ways to get a leg up on the competition, what your Facebook page says about you, and much more. ARE YOU SMART ENOUGH TO WORK AT GOOGLE? is a must read for anyone who wants to succeed in today's job market.
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IF YOU LIKED THE FILM, PI…
THE FLAME ALPHABET
By Ben Marcus
January 2012, Knopf
In The Flame Alphabet, the most maniacally gifted writer of our generation delivers a work of heartbreak and horror, a novel about how far we will go, and the sorrows we will endure, in order to protect our families. A terrible epidemic has struck the country and the sound of children’s speech has become lethal. Radio transmissions from strange sources indicate that people are going into hiding. All Sam and Claire need to do is look around the neighborhood: In the park, parents wither beneath the powerful screams of their children. At night, suburban side streets become routes of shameful escape for fathers trying to get outside the radius of affliction.
With Claire nearing collapse, it seems their only means of survival is to flee from their daughter, Esther, who laughs at her parents’ sickness, unaware that in just a few years she, too, will be susceptible to the language toxicity. But Sam and Claire find it isn’t so easy to leave the daughter they still love, even as they waste away from her malevolent speech. On the eve of their departure, Claire mysteriously disappears, and Sam, determined to find a cure for this new toxic language, presses on alone into a world beyond recognition.
The Flame Alphabet invites the question: What is left of civilization when we lose the ability to communicate with those we love? Both morally engaged and wickedly entertaining, a gripping page-turner as strange as it is moving, this intellectual horror story ensures Ben Marcus’s position in the first rank of American novelists.
Escape into Danger
The True Story of a Kievan Girl in World War II
By Sophia Orlovsky Williams
Rowman and Littlefield
Escape into Danger tells the remarkable story of a young girl’s perilous adventures and coming of age during World War II. Born in Kiev to a Catholic mother and a Jewish father, Sophia Williams chose to be identified as Jewish when she was eligible for a Soviet passport, mandatory at the age of sixteen, little realizing the life-changing consequences of her decision. Only seventeen when Germany invaded Russia in 1941, Sophia left Kiev, unwittingly escaping the Babi Yar massacre. On her journey into Russia, she fled from flooding, dodged fires and bombs, and fell in love. At Stalingrad, Sophia turned back in a futile attempt to return home to her mother. Stranded in a Nazi-occupied town, accepted as a Russian, she found work with a sympathetic German officer and felt secure until a local girl recognized her as a Jew. Within days, Sophia’s boss spirited her to safety with his family in Poland. Soon, though, Sophia was on the run again, this time to Nazi Germany, where, befriended by Germans and Hungarians, she somehow escaped detection through the rest of the war. She met and married a like-minded German soldier and started a family and business. The business thrived in post-war Germany, but the marriage deteriorated. She divorced her adulterous husband, but the vindictive, even homicidal Guido continued to dog her steps. Throughout, Sophia maintained her grit, charm, and optimism, the qualities that saved her as she time and again made her “escape into danger.”
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You Need a Schoolhouse
Booker T. Washington, Julius Rosenwald,
and the Building of Schools for the Segregated South
By Stephanie Deutsch
Northwestern University Press
Booker T. Washington, the founder of Tuskegee Institute, and Julius Rosenwald, the president of Sears, Roebuck, and Company, first met in 1911 at a Chicago luncheon. By charting the lives of these two men both before and after the meeting, Stephanie Deutsch offers a fascinating glimpse into the partnership that would bring thousands of modern schoolhouses to African American communities in the rural South in the era leading up to the civil rights movement. Trim and vital at just shy of fifty, Rosenwald was the extraordinarily rich chairman of one of the nation’s largest businesses, interested in using his fortune to do good not just in his own Jewish community but also to promote the well-being of African Americans.
Washington, though widely admired, had weathered severe crises both public and private in his fifty-six years. He had dined with President Theodore Roosevelt and drunk tea with Queen Victoria, but he had also been assaulted on a street in New York City. He had suffered personal heartbreak, years of overwork, and the discouraging knowledge that, despite his optimism and considerable success, conditions for African Americans were not improving as he had assumed they would. From within his own community, Washington faced the bitter charge of accommodationism that haunts his legacy to this day. Despite their differences, the two men would work together well and their collaboration would lead to the building of five thousand schoolhouses. By the time segregation ended, the “Rosenwald Schools” that sprang from this unlikely partnership were educating one third of the South’s African American children. These schoolhouses represent a significant step in the ongoing endeavor to bring high quality education to every child in the United States—an ideal that remains to be realized even today.
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The Lady in Gold
The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece,
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer
By Anne-Marie O'Connor (Washington Post)
January 2012, Knopf
The spellbinding story, part fairy tale, part suspense, of Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, one of the most emblematic portraits of its time; of the beautiful, seductive Viennese Jewish salon hostess who sat for it; the notorious artist who painted it; the now vanished turn-of-the-century Vienna that shaped it; and the strange twisted fate that befell it.
The Lady in Gold, considered an unforgettable masterpiece, one of the twentieth century’s most recognizable paintings, made headlines all over the world when Ronald Lauder bought it for $135 million a century after Klimt, the most famous Austrian painter of his time, completed the society portrait.
Anne-Marie O’Connor, writer for The Washington Post, formerly of the Los Angeles Times, tells the galvanizing story of the Lady in Gold, Adele Bloch-Bauer, a dazzling Viennese Jewish society figure; daughter of the head of one of the largest banks in the Hapsburg Empire, head of the Oriental Railway, whose Orient Express went from Berlin to Constantinople; wife of Ferdinand Bauer, sugar-beet baron.
The Bloch-Bauers were art patrons, and Adele herself was considered a rebel of fin de siècle Vienna (she wanted to be educated, a notion considered “degenerate” in a society that believed women being out in the world went against their feminine “nature”). The author describes how Adele inspired the portrait and how Klimt made more than a hundred sketches of her—simple pencil drawings on thin manila paper. And O’Connor writes of Klimt himself, son of a failed gold engraver, shunned by arts bureaucrats, called an artistic heretic in his time, a genius in ours.
She writes of the Nazis confiscating the portrait of Adele from the Bloch-Bauers’ grand palais; of the Austrian government putting the painting on display, stripping Adele’s Jewish surname from it so that no clues to her identity (nor any hint of her Jewish origins) would be revealed. Nazi officials called the painting, The Lady in Gold and proudly exhibited it in Vienna’s Baroque Belvedere Palace, consecrated in the 1930s as a Nazi institution. We see how, sixty years after it was stolen by the Nazis, the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer became the subject of a decade-long litigation between the Austrian government and the Bloch-Bauer heirs, how and why the U.S. Supreme Court became involved in the case, and how the Court’s decision had profound ramifications in the art world.
A riveting social history; an illuminating and haunting look at turn-of-the-century Vienna; a brilliant portrait of the evolution of a painter; a masterfully told tale of suspense. And at the heart of it, the Lady in Gold—the shimmering painting, and its equally irresistible subject, the fate of each forever intertwined.
A Single Roll of the Dice
Obama's Diplomacy with Iran
By Trita Parsi
JANUARY 2012, YALE
Iranian activist and scholar, Parsi, writes that Obama made an effort with Iran but failed. And he explains why he think the U.S. failed. If you are going to go around saying the Iran is a problem and that the U.S. should bomb Iran, you should read this book first so that at least you can discuss the issue with some intelligence. Paris lays out the issues and explains why the nuclear issue is only a SYMPTOM of the deeper dysfunction.
Have the diplomatic efforts of the Obama administration toward Iran failed? Was the Bush administration's emphasis on military intervention, refusal to negotiate, and pursuit of regime change a better approach? How can the United States best address the ongoing turmoil in Tehran? This book provides a definitive and comprehensive analysis of the Obama administration's early diplomatic outreach to Iran and discusses the best way to move toward more positive relations between the two discordant states.
Trita Parsi, a Middle East foreign policy expert with extensive Capitol Hill and United Nations experience, interviewed 70 high-ranking officials from the U.S., Iran, Europe, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Brazil—including the top American and Iranian negotiators—for this book. Parsi uncovers the previously unknown story of American and Iranian negotiations during Obama's early years as president, the calculations behind the two nations' dealings, and the real reasons for their current stalemate. Contrary to prevailing opinion, Parsi contends that diplomacy has not been fully tried. For various reasons, Obama's diplomacy ended up being a single roll of the dice. It had to work either immediately—or not at all. Persistence and perseverance are keys to any negotiation. Neither Iran nor the U.S. had them in 2009.
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DON’T FORGET THESE “SELECTED” DECEMBER BOOKS
MAN SEEKS GOD
My Flirtations with the Divine
By Eric Weiner
December 2011 Hachette
After a health scare leaves him reeling, Eric Weiner-an atheist by default-sets out on a worldwide search for an experience of the divine. Propelled by the confrontation with his own mortality and questions about the best way to raise his daughter, Weiner travels to Nepal, where he meditates with Tibetan lamas and a guy named Wayne; to Turkey, where he whirls (poorly) with Sufi dervishes; to China where he attempts to unblock his chi; to Israel where he studies Kabbalah, sans Madonna; and to Las Vegas, where he has a close encounter with Raelians (followers of the world's largest UFO-based religion). Weiner's journey takes place at a time when more Americans than ever-nearly one in three-are choosing a new faith. At each stop along the way, Weiner tackles our most pressing spiritual questions: Where do we come from? What happens when we die? How should we live our lives? Why do socks abscond? With his trademark wit and warmth, Weiner leaves no stone unturned.
Fly Fishing--The Sacred Art
Casting a Fly, a Spiritual Practice
By Rabbi Eric Eisenkramer and Rev Michael Attas MD
December 2011 Jewish Lights
We go fly fishing to catch fish, to experience the rush of adrenaline when a trout rises to the surface, grabs the fly, and the line goes taut. But the fly line is more than a way to connect human beings to fish. Each cast of the fly line connects us to nature, to others and to the Divine Presence.
In this unique exploration of fly fishing as a spiritual practice, a rabbi and an Episcopal priest illuminate what each step on a fly-fishing trip has to teach us about reflection, awe and wonder of the natural world, the benefits of solitude, the blessing of community and the search for the Divine. Tapping the wisdom in the Christian and Jewish traditions, they outline seven steps of a typical fly-fishing trip and the lessons found within: The Off-Season and Fly Tying: Anticipation and Preparation; The Drive to the River: Unplugging from the World; Wading into the Stream: Finding Our Place in Nature; Fly Casting: Searching for God at the End of the Line; Setting the Hook: Life and Death on the Stream; The Drive Home: Contemplation and Reflection, "It Was This Big": Sharing Our Stories
Rabbi Eric Eisenkramer is creator of The Fly Fishing Rabbi: A Blog about Trout,God and Religion, and a contributor to Trout magazine and Reform Judaism magazine. He is the spiritual leader of Temple Shearith Israel in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Rev. Michael Attas, MD, an avid fly fisher for over forty years, is assisting priest at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Waco, Texas, a practicing cardiologist, professor of medical humanities at Baylor University and columnist for the Waco Tribune Herald. During the summer months, he works as a volunteer fly-fishing guide in Colorado.
I Found This Funny
My Favorite Pieces of Humor and Some That May Not Be Funny At All
Edited By Judd Apatow
Fall 2011 McSweeneys paperback edition
I Found This Funny is a compilation of work by some of Judd Apatow's favorite authors. The book showcases many different styles of writing, from fiction to short humor to essays to comedy sketches to poetry. Featured writers include F. Scott Fitzgerald, Conan O'Brien, Lorrie Moore, Paul Feig, Jonathan Franzen, Alice Munro, and many more. Proceeds from the book will go to 826 National, a nonprofit tutoring, writing, and publishing organization with locations in eight cities across the country.
Kishka for Koppel
By Aubrey Davis and Sheldon Cohen
Ages 4 – 8
In this fresh take on a classic tale, a magic meat grinder helps a poor Jewish couple learn a little gratitude after the three wishes it grants them go awry. A cautionary story that questions today's consumerism and excessiveness, Kishka for Koppel, like the best folktales, can help children and adults alike to look both beyond and within.
Koppel plunked the meat grinder down on the table.
"Tell her what you told me," he said.
Yetta rolled her eyes. "Oy vey, he's talking to a meat grinder."
"Tell her!" shouted Koppel.
The meat grinder was silent.
"Does it know any chicken jokes?" Yetta giggled. "It sings 'My Yiddishe Mama' maybe?"
The Golem's Latkes
By Eric A. Kimmel and Aaron Jasinski
Ages 4 – 8
On the first night of Hanukkah, Rabbi Judah has too much to do and too little time to do it. Before the rabbi leaves to visit the emperor, he tells his housemaid Basha that she can ask the golem to help. While the golem makes latkes, Basha decides to visit a friend. Basha is having so much fun with her friend, she doesn't realize that latkes are pouring out of the rabbi's house, sending people running! Will Rabbi Judah come up with a solution to control the golem before it's too late? Illustrated with lively acrylic on wood, the book includes an Author's Note about the tale's origins.
Why We Broke Up
By Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman
December 2011. Little, Brown
Young Adult (or adults)
I'm telling you why we broke up, Ed. I'm writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.
Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.
DANIEL HANDLER eats latkas and writes under the name of Lemony Snicket for some books. He was dumped at least three times in high school. MAIRA KALMAN has her emotional-heart broken in high school by a boy who looked like Bob Dylan (the young Bob Dylan, not the old version).
WE ARE BROTHERS
(Beck’s trip to Israel – A Coffeetable book)
BY GLENN BECK
December 2011 Mercury Ink
Glenn Beck writes, “I went to Israel not as a tourist, but as a seeker. I went to seek an example of courage in the face of unspeakable evil. I went because I knew that Israel is a place where the largest daily struggle is just to live normally without fear, without rockets, without terror. In Israel, you see what it really means to choose life, to choose goodness, to choose to follow the light against incredible odds.
That's why the title of this book is WE ARE BROTHERS; Every free man and woman on the planet today is a brother or a sister of Israel; it's a single family of freedom and life. Israel, and all that she stands for, has a place in all of our lives. Evil is not based on geography and cannot be contained by borders or religion. Moral choices come at us every day. No one is perfect. But some of us have set a wise and noble example for making moral choices and we must learn from them. I came to Israel because I wanted to learn from her example of courage in building a prosperous and joyous nation in a tiny strip of land surrounded by enemies. Because, in this world, at this time, our future a future of freedom, prosperity and life itself can never be taken for granted. Unless we are willing to do the hard work of choosing right over wrong, no matter the consequences, we are assured nothing but the fact that, when put to the test, man s depravity knows no bounds. It's time for all of us to decide which side we are on; to know what we really stand for and what we believe in before we are put to the ultimate test. I know where I stand: with freedom, with goodness, with courage. I stand with Israel. I hope you will join me.”
Click the cover above to read more about the book
The Men Who Lost the Race but Changed the Nation
As the 2012 presidential campaign begins, Almost President profiles a dozen men who have run for the American presidency and lost—but who, even in defeat, have had a greater impact on American history than many of those who have served as president. Scott Farris tells us the stories of legendary figures from Henry Clay to Stephen Douglas, William Jennings Bryan to Thomas Dewey. He also includes mini-profiles on every major candidate nominated for president who never reached the White House but who helped ensure the success of American democracy. Farris explains how Barry Goldwater achieved the party realignment that had eluded FDR, how George McGovern paved the way for Barack Obama, and how Ross Perot changed the way all presidential candidates campaign. There is Al Smith, the first Catholic nominee for president; and Adlai Stevenson, the candidate of the “eggheads” who remains the beau ideal of a liberal statesman. Others covered by this book include Al Gore, John Kerry, and John McCain. The mini profiles also include evocative portraits of such men as John C. Fremont, the first Republican Party presidential candidate; and General Winfield Scott, whose loss helped guarantee the Union victory in the Civil War.
Azazel and Satanael in Early Jewish Demonology
By Andrei A. Orlov
December 2011, State University of New York Press
Dark Mirrors is a wide-ranging study of two central figures in early Jewish demonology--the fallen angels Azazel and Satanael. Andrei A. Orlov, an Assoicate Professor at Marquette, explores the mediating role of these paradigmatic celestial rebels in the development of Jewish demonological traditions from Second Temple apocalypticism to later Jewish mysticism, such as that of the Hekhalot and Shi`ur Qomah materials. Throughout, Orlov makes use of Jewish pseudepigraphical materials in Slavonic that are not widely known. Orlov traces the origins of Azazel and Satanael to different and competing mythologies of evil, one to the Fall in the Garden of Eden, the other to the revolt of angels in the antediluvian period. Although Azazel and Satanael are initially representatives of rival etiologies of corruption, in later Jewish and Christian demonological lore each is able to enter the other's stories in new conceptual capacities. Dark Mirrors also examines the symmetrical patterns of early Jewish demonology that are often manifested in these fallen angels' imitation of the attributes of various heavenly beings, including principal angels and even God himself.
AND NOW FOR, FEBRUARY 2012 BOOKS
THE SCANDALOUS REJECTION OF MY HASIDIC ROOTS
BY DEBORAH FELDMAN
February 2012, S&S
Deborah grew up in Williamsburg as a member of the Satmar Hasidic movement. At the age of 23, she left the community with her son. Her mother also left many years prior, but did not take Deborah with her. Deborah's mother grew up in England in a religious, but not Hasidic, family. She married a Satmar man and came to America. Feldman writes that her father had a personality disorder and, after several years, her mother and father divorced. Deborah was placed with her paternal grandparents and sent to the matchmaker at 17.
This is her story of life in Williamsburg and her rejection of its rules and expectations. But, to me, it is more than a rejection. It is a loud, angry, cry that goes to great lengths to publicize her rejection.
Her interview in the NY Post seemed to be filled with fiction. It is a tad too over the top, but that is what sells books. I have to say that at times it seems as if her book is filled with lurid themes that are outlandish, and I wonder about her own mental stability.
More from the book flap: Married at age 17 to a man she had only met for thirty minutes, and denied a traditional education — sexual or otherwise — she was unable to consummate the relationship for an entire year. Her resultant debilitating anxiety went undiagnosed and was exacerbated by the public shame of having failed to serve her husband. In exceptional prose, Feldman recalls how stolen moments reading about the empowered literary characters of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott helped her to see an alternative way of life — one she knew she had to seize when, at the age of nineteen, she gave birth to a son and realized that more than just her own future was at stake.
Click here to read a review of the book by other ex-Satmar Hasidim
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While America Sleeps
A Wake-up Call for the Post-9/11 Era
Russ Feingold, Former U.S. Senator (D, Wisconsin)
February 2012, Crown
Former Senator Russ Feingold, 58, the politician who was the one NAY ni the 96-1 vote on the PATRIOT ACT on October 11, 2011, had written a book on America. He was the architect of the campaign finance law, and he lost his seat due to the rise of the Tea Party. He writes that aftr the 9/11 attack in 2001, Senators knew that the experts who testified on Capitol Hill about Iraq were unsure of their statements, but they voted for the war in Iraq for political (re-election) reasons. The voice of the loner.
Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold represented Wisconsin in the United States Senate from 1993 to 2011. A graduate of Wisconsin, Harvard Law, and Oxford, he was Rhodes Scholar and a successful attorney prior to being elected to the Senate. Since leaving the Senate, he has been teaching Law and the Senate at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, visiting Stanford University, and being a grandfather to his daughter’s son, Izzy. He has also been writing this book, updating it after Osama bin Laden’s assassination, and founding “Progressives United,” an organization devoted to challenging the dominance of corporate money in the political decision making process.
In this book, Feingold looks at institutional failures, both domestic and abroad, since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and proposes steps to be taken—by the government and by individuals—to ensure that the next ten years are focused on solving the international problems that threaten America. He rejects Peter Beinart’s notion that terror is not an issue, and that complacency is America’s fallback comfort position.
Feingold details our nation’s collective failure to respond properly to the challenges posed by the post-9/11 era. Oversimplification of complicated new problems as well as the cynical exploitation of the fears generated by 9/11 have undermined our ability to adjust effectively to America’s new place in the world. Feingold writes that this has weakened our efforts to protect American lives, our national security, and our constitutional values. Ranging from institutional failures to “get it right” by Congress, the executive branch, and the media to the way we have spoken of the war on terror, the nature of Islam, and American exceptionalism, too often we have not made the best choices in confronting, in Churchill’s words, the “new conditions under which we now have to dwell.”
Feingold explores the way in which the American public has been fed inadequate information or mere slogans to explain 9/11, Al Qaeda, and related events. This compares unfavorably with the candor often associated with, for example, FDR’s fireside chats during World War II. Lumping Al Qaeda into a catch-all category known as “bad guys,” failing to make it clear that Islam itself is not a threat to our way of life, and underestimating the extreme difficulty of fully invading individual countries as a way to root out international terrorism are examples of this misdirection. Moreover, our general inability to keep our eyes on the international ball seems to have grown even worse in the years following 9/11.
More than ten years after one of the greatest wake-up calls in human history, our nation seems to have again grown complacent about the issues that suddenly seemed so urgent immediately after 9/11. While America Sleeps suggests ways in which we can awaken a new national commitment to engage with the rest of the world and one another in a less simplistic and more thoughtful way. Feingold’s hope is that when the history of this era is written, it will be said that our country was taken off guard at the height of its power at the turn of the century and stumbled for a decade in an unfamiliar environment, but in the following decade America found a new national commitment of unity and resolve to adapt to its new status and leadership in the world.
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The Money Class
How to Stand in Your Truth and Create the Future You Deserve
2012, Spiegel and Grau
WHAT WILL YOU LEARN IN THE MONEY CLASS?
How to find the courage to stand in your truth and why it is a place of power. What daily actions will restore the word “hope” to your vocabulary.
Everything you need to know about taking care of your family, your home, your career, and planning for retirement—no matter where you are in your life or where the economy is heading.
In nine electrifying, empowering classes, Suze Orman teaches us how to navigate these unprecedented financial times. With her trademark directness, she shows us how to tackle the complicated mix of money and family, how to avoid making costly mistakes in real estate, and how to get traction in your career or rebuild after a professional setback. And in what is the most comprehensive retirement resource available today, Suze presents an attainable strategy, for every reader, at every age. The Money Class is filled with tools and advice that can take you from a place of financial fear to a place of financial security. In The Money Class you will learn what you need to know in order to feel hopeful, once again, about your future.
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THE MIDWIFE OF VENICE
BY ROBERTA RICH
February 2012, Gallery
From the cover: Hannah Levi is renowned throughout Venice for her gift at coaxing reluctant babies from their mothers—a gift aided by the secret “birthing spoons” she designed. But when a count implores her to attend to his wife, who has been laboring for days to give birth to their firstborn son, Hannah is torn. A Papal edict forbids Jews from rendering medical treatment to Christians, but the payment he offers is enough to ransom her beloved husband, Isaac, who has been captured at sea. Can Hannah refuse her duty to a suffering woman? Hannah’s choice entangles her in a treacherous family rivalry that endangers the baby and threatens her voyage to Malta, where Isaac, believing her dead in the plague, is preparing to buy his passage to a new life. Not since The Red Tent or People of the Book has a novel transported readers so intimately into the complex lives of women centuries ago or so richly into a story of intrigue that transcends the boundaries of history.
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An Exclusive Love
By Johanna Adorján
Translated by Anthea Bell
From Booklist: Johanna Adorján’s grandparents, Vera and Pista, were Holocaust survivors who fled their native Hungary during the revolt of 1956, subsequently finding refuge in Denmark. Many years later, with Pista’s health terminally declining, the two decided to take their own lives, leaving little explanation behind their final act beyond a small handwritten note. Shifting between myth and reality, past and present, Adorján’s compelling debut attempts to piece together the layered story of her grandparents’ lives. The book’s focal point is Adorján’s imagined account of their last day alive, with their final hours spent taking care of seemingly menial tasks; Vera bakes a cake, Pista listens to music. Intertwined with this vision is Adorján’s journey to uncover the details of her grandparents’ past, for which she relies on the fading recollections of surviving friends and family, along with her own childhood memories. As Adorján tries to understand her grandparents’ death, she also confronts her own feelings about her sense of heritage and identity. Blending history, memoir, and imaginative writing, Adorján’s nonlinear procedure creates a poignant narrative of unwavering love.
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The State of White America, 1960-2010
By Charles Murray
Winter 2012, Crown Forum
I come to this book with an attitude. First, he calls his fiction working class white area, FISHTOWN, and as an undergrad I did research in the FISHTOWN neighborhood of Philadelphia. Second, he is the author of Thee BELL CURVE, with which I disagree. And third, I am not keen on the way he does “research” and makes broad conclusions from a single observation.
Nevertheless, it is a book to read since even the McLaughlin Group discussed it in February 2012. Professor MURRAY writes that America is coming apart at the seams. He explores the formation of American classes that are different in kind from anything we have ever known, focusing on whites as a way of driving home the fact that the trends he describes do not break along lines of race or ethnicity. Muray opines that a new upper class and new lower class have diverged, and it is not due to income inequality and that has grown during good economic times and bad. The classes are separate and unequal and do not converge, the live differently. That divergence puts the success of the American project at risk. Murray argues that the upper class vote for Obama and eat expensive cheese and they FAIL TO PREACH FOR BETTER BEHAVIOR BY THE POOR> They believe in ecumenical niceness, and they don’t get involved. Murray wants PAPA TO PREACH, he wants the upper class to preach better behavior. Click to book cover to read more
A Line in the Sand
The Anglo-French Struggle for the Middle East
By James Barr – Oxford
Winter 2012, Norton
The untold history of the French-British rivalry that shaped the Middle East, from Lawrence of Arabia to the violent birth of Israel.
It was the middle of World War I. Two men—one, a visionary British politician (Mark Sykes), the other, a veteran French diplomat (François Georges-Picot)—secretly agreed to divide the Middle East. Britain would have “mandates” in newly created Palestine, Transjordan, and Iraq; France in Lebanon and Syria. For the next thirty years, this divide would make uneasy neighbors of two great powers and irreparably shape the Middle East. James Barr combs recently declassified French and British government archives and unearths a shocking secret war and its powerful effect on the local Arabs and Jews. He follows politicians, diplomats, and spies through intrigue and espionage to show us T. E. Lawrence’s stealth guerrilla terror campaigns, and he journeys behind closed doors to discover why Britain courted the Zionist movement. Meticulously well researched and character-driven, A Line in the Sand crescendos with the violent birth of Israel, all along the way brimming with insight into a historically volatile region. 30 black-and-white photographs and maps
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New York Diaries
1609 to 2009
Edited by Teresa Carpenter
Winter 2012, Modern Library
New York is a city like no other. Through the centuries, she’s been embraced and reviled, worshipped and feared, praised and battered—all the while standing at the crossroads of American politics, business, society, and culture. Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestselling author Teresa Carpenter, a lifelong diary enthusiast, scoured the archives of libraries, historical societies, and private estates to assemble here an almost holographic view of this iconic metropolis. Starting on January 1 and traveling day by day through the year, these journal entries are selected from four centuries of writing—from the early 1600s to the present—allowing New York natives and visitors, writers and artists, thinkers and bloggers, to reach across time and share vivid and compelling snapshots of life in the Capital of the World.
New York Diaries reveals intimate, whimsical, profound, sobering, and indelible reflections on such historical moments as President Washington’s first State of the Union address, the death of Abraham Lincoln, the sinking of the Titanic, the end of World War II—even the first incursion of Europeans into the city’s Upper Bay on September 11, 1609, a presage to our country’s greatest catastrophe nearly four hundred years later. Featuring familiar faces and fascinating unknowns, these pages provide a rich mosaic that is uniquely New York. With excerpts from the writing of Albert Camus, Noël Coward, Allen Ginsberg, William B. Gould, H. L. Mencken, Alexis de Tocqueville, Mark Twain, and more. Click to book cover to read more
An Oldie but Goody, we are throwing in this book, since the NYT profiled Rabbi Shais Taub upon his visit to some staff members at Boys Town in Nebraska. Addiction, he argues, is less a mental illness or dependency on chemicals, and more a consequence of an individual’s absence from God… (note: he has no formal training in addiction treatment)
God of Our Understanding
Jewish Spirituality and Recovery from Addiction
By Rabbi Shais Taub
Twelve-step recovery is not just for goys. Taub, a rabbi in the Chabad-Lubavitch movement and cofounder of a Jewish recovery community in Milwaukee, brings a lens of Jewish spirituality to the 12 steps and finds them not only kosher but also helpful in deepening Jewish spiritual life. Citing Carl Jung, he first analyzes addiction as a spiritual problem of longing for God but substituting alcohol (spirits) for spiritual relationship. From there he goes on to trace and emphasize the God consciousness that the 12 steps advocate, and he then offers a careful theological analysis that finds much consistency between recovery and Jewish teachings about God, prayer, forgiveness, and relationships. The œGod of our understanding? that recovery talks about is also the œGod of our fathers,? he argues. A glossary of rabbinic sources buttresses his own gloss on the 12 steps. This is a thoughtful counter to one criticism occasionally heard—that the 12 steps are implicitly Christian—and a singular and valuable resource for those in need.
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Too Big to Fail?
Too Big to Mail?
Too Big to Sail?
Or too big to know..
Too Big to Know
Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room
February 2012, Basic
We used to know how to know. We got our answers from books or experts. We’d nail down the facts and move on. But in the Internet age, knowledge has moved onto networks. There’s more knowledge than ever, of course, but it’s different. Topics have no boundaries, and nobody agrees on anything.
Yet this is the greatest time in history to be a knowledge seeker . . . if you know how. In Too Big to Know, Internet philosopher David Weinberger shows how business, science, education, and the government are learning to use networked knowledge to understand more than ever and to make smarter decisions than they could when they had to rely on mere books and experts. This groundbreaking book shakes the foundations of our concept of knowledge—from the role of facts to the value of books and the authority of experts—providing a compelling vision of the future of knowledge in a connected world.
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The Daily You
How the New Advertising Industry Is Defining Your Identity and Your Worth
By Joseph Turow
Winter 2012, YALE
The Internet is often hyped as a means to enhanced consumer power: a hypercustomized media world where individuals exercise unprecedented control over what they see and do. That is the scenario media guru Nicholas Negroponte predicted in the 1990s, with his hypothetical online newspaper The Daily Me—and it is one we experience now in daily ways. But, as media expert Joseph Turow shows, the customized media environment we inhabit today reflects diminished consumer power. Not only ads and discounts but even news and entertainment are being customized by newly powerful media agencies on the basis of data we don’t know they are collecting and individualized profiles we don’t know we have. Little is known about this new industry: how is this data being collected and analyzed? And how are our profiles created and used? How do you know if you have been identified as a “target” or “waste” or placed in one of the industry’s finer-grained marketing niches? Are you, for example, a Socially Liberal Organic Eater, a Diabetic Individual in the Household, or Single City Struggler? And, if so, how does that affect what you see and do online? Drawing on groundbreaking research, including interviews with industry insiders, this important book shows how advertisers have come to wield such power over individuals and media outlets—and what can be done to stop it.Click to read more
THE MAN IN THE EMPTY BOAT
(A story of stress)
By Mark Salzman
February 2012, Open Road
From our POV, Salzman is a great success. Everything he toched at Yale was a success, martial arts, Asian Studies, cello and music. His Iron and Silk was a big hit when published over two decades ago, as were his follow up books. He was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. But he would lie awake with stress. His family was one of nervousness. Anxiety has always been part of Mark Salzman’s life: He was born into a family as nervous as rabbits, people with extra angst coded into their genes. As a young man he found solace through martial arts, meditation, tai chi, and rigorous writing schedules, but as he approaches midlife, he confronted a year of catastrophe. First, Salzman suffers a crippling case of writer’s block; then a sudden family tragedy throws his life into chaos (his sister gets ill, very ill, and he decides to care for his nieces as she remains in the hospital). Overwhelmed by terrifying panic attacks, even those over the adoption of a family dog, the author begins a search for equanimity that ultimately leads to an epiphany from a most unexpected source.
The Man in the Empty Boat is a witty and touching account of a skeptic’s spiritual quest, a story of one man’s journey to find peace as a father, a writer, and an individual.
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By Kelly Terwilliger and Barbara Johansen Newman
Winter 2012, Kar Ben
Ages 5 – 9
When Farmer Max bids his barnyard animals goodnight as he heads off to a Purim play, the animals gets moving on a plan: they’ll put on their own Purim play. Horse won’t say nay to his role as King Ahashuerus, and sheep is set to play bad Haman, until another animal sneaks into the barnyard, and Esther doesn’t duck an opportunity for barnyard heroism. Youngest readers who don’t know the story may be slightly confused, but those familiar with the holiday tale will enjoy its barnyard reimagining. The story by Terwilliger (Bubbe Isabella and the Sukkot Cake) economically endows its characters with distinctive personalities. Johansen Newman renders a Purim-lively setting crowded with animals in her full-bleed spreads.
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No One is Here Except All of Us
By Ramona Ausubel
February 2012, Riverhead
In 1939, the families in a remote Jewish village in Romania feel the war close in on them. Their tribe has moved and escaped for thousands of years- across oceans, deserts, and mountains-but now, it seems, there is nowhere else to go. Danger is imminent in every direction, yet the territory of imagination and belief is limitless. At the suggestion of an eleven-year-old girl and a mysterious stranger who has washed up on the riverbank, the villagers decide to reinvent the world: deny any relationship with the known and start over from scratch. Destiny is unwritten. Time and history are forgotten. Jobs, husbands, a child, are reassigned. And for years, there is boundless hope. But the real world continues to unfold alongside the imagined one, eventually overtaking it, and soon our narrator-the girl, grown into a young mother-must flee her village, move from one world to the next, to find her husband and save her children, and propel them toward a real and hopeful future. A beguiling, imaginative, inspiring story about the bigness of being alive as an individual, as a member of a tribe, and as a participant in history, No One Is Here Except All Of Us explores how we use storytelling to survive and shape our own truths. It marks the arrival of a major new literary talent.
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What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank
By Nathan Englander
February 7, 2012, Knopf
Deeply felt and presses all the buttons you do not want pressed
These eight new stories from the celebrated novelist and short-story writer Nathan Englander display a gifted young author grappling with the great questions of modern life, with a command of language and the imagination that place Englander at the very forefront of contemporary American fiction.
The title story, inspired by Raymond Carver’s masterpiece, is a provocative portrait of two marriages in which the Holocaust is played out as a devastating parlor game. In the outlandishly dark “Camp Sundown” vigilante justice is undertaken by a group of geriatric campers in a bucolic summer enclave. “Free Fruit for Young Widows” is a small, sharp study in evil, lovingly told by a father to a son. “Sister Hills” chronicles the history of Israel’s settlements from the eve of the Yom Kippur War through the present, a political fable constructed around the tale of two mothers who strike a terrible bargain to save a child. Marking a return to two of Englander’s classic themes, “Peep Show” and “How We Avenged the Blums” wrestle with sexual longing and ingenuity in the face of adversity and peril.
And “Everything I Know About My Family on My Mother’s Side” is suffused with an intimacy and tenderness that break new ground for a writer who seems constantly to be expanding the parameters of what he can achieve in the short form.
Beautiful and courageous, funny and achingly sad, Englander’s work is a revelation.
Although Englander garnered superlative reviews, even from the three Jonathans (Safran Foer, Franzen, Lathem), Robert Alter, in The New Republic, was highly critical of this collection of stories and the continuation of fictionalization of stories about Jewish victimhood. He is even more critical of reviewers that find this book brave. Alter finds it bizarre. His dislikes Englander’s recurrent subject is Jewish victimhood, and stories about self-victimizers, people who have a gift for turning their personal lives into a desperate shambles.
You can read it here http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/magazine/101711/enough-already-anne-frank-englander
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Children of Wrath
By Paul Grossman
February 2012, St. Martin’s Press
Willi Kraus, the celebrated WWI and detective, returns in this prequel story about how he became the most famous Jewish Detective in Germany in the days of the Weimar Republic.
In Children of Wrath Willi Kraus tackles the case of the Kinderfresser, the vicious Child-Eater of Berlin. Turning the clock back two years from The Sleepwalkers, the story starts out in the fall of 1929, the last days of prosperity. Berlin is deep in the throes of a giddy rush to forget its troubled past. But the same day the stock market crashes in New York, the dark underside of the German capital flushes to the surface in the form of a burlap sack spewed by floodwaters from the city sewer system. When Willi is called to investigate and discovers the sack is full of children’s bones with teeth marks on them--and a bible with a single phrase circled in red: children of wrath--he fears he’s run into “something darker than he’s ever known.”
A Chinese Basketball Team, An American Coach,
And Two Cultures Passing in the Night
By Jim Yardley (NYT)
February 2012, Knopf
The wonderfully original story of a struggling Chinese basketball team and its quixotic, often comical attempt to right its fortunes by copying the American stars of the NBA—a season of cultural misunderstanding that transcends sports and reveals China’s ambivalent relationship with the West.
When the Shanxi Brave Dragons, one of China’s worst professional basketball teams, hired former NBA coach Bob Weiss, the team’s owner, Boss Wang, promised that Weiss would be allowed to Americanize his players by teaching them “advanced basketball culture.” That promise would be broken from the moment Weiss landed in China. Desperate for his team to play like Americans, Wang—a peasant turned steel tycoon—nevertheless refused to allow his players the freedom and individual expression necessary to truly change their games.
Former New York Times Beijing bureau chief Jim Yardley tells the story of the resulting culture clash with sensitivity and a keen comic sensibility. Readers meet the Brave Dragons, a cast of colorful, sometimes heartbreaking oddballs from around the world: the ambitious Chinese assistant coach, Liu Tie, who believes that Chinese players are genetically inferior and can improve only through the repetitious drilling once advocated by ancient kung fu masters; the moody and selfish American import, Bonzi Wells, a former NBA star so unnerved by China that initially he locks himself in his apartment; the Taiwanese point guard, Little Sun, who is demonized by his mainland Chinese coaches; and the other Chinese players, whose lives sometimes seem little different from those of factory workers.
As readers follow the team on a fascinating road trip through modern China—from glamorous Shanghai and bureaucratic Beijing to the booming port city Tianjin and the polluted coal capital of Taiyuan—we see Weiss learn firsthand what so many other foreigners in China have discovered: China changes only when and how it wants to change.
Not Jewish, but…
THE FAT YEARS
By CHAN KOONchung
Banned in China, this controversial and politically charged novel tells the story of the search for an entire month erased from official Chinese history.
Beijing, sometime in the near future: a month has gone missing from official records. No one has any memory of it, and no one could care less—except for a small circle of friends, who will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of the sinister cheerfulness and amnesia that have possessed the Chinese nation. When they kidnap a high-ranking official and force him to reveal all, what they learn—not only about their leaders, but also about their own people—stuns them to the core. It is a message that will astound the world.
A kind of Brave New World reflecting the China of our times, The Fat Years is a complex novel of ideas that reveals all too chillingly the machinations of the postmodern totalitarian state, and sets in sharp relief the importance of remembering the past to protect the future.
Martha C. Nussbaum, Chicago
Winter 2012, Oxford University Press
This volume collects the notable published book reviews of Martha C. Nussbaum, an acclaimed philosopher who is also a professor of law and a public intellectual. Her academic work focuses on questions of moral and political philosophy and on the nature of the emotions. But over the past 25 years she has also written many book reviews for a general public, in periodicals such as The New Republic and The New York Review of Books. Dating from 1986 to the present, these essays engage, constructively and also critically, with authors like Roger Scruton, Allan Bloom, Charles Taylor, Judith Butler, Richard Posner, Catharine MacKinnon, Susan Moller Okin, and other prominent intellectuals of our time. Throughout, her views defy ideological predictability, heralding valuable work from little-known sources, deftly criticizing where criticism is due, and generally providing a compelling picture of how philosophy in the Socratic tradition can engage with broad social concerns. For this volume, Nussbaum provides an intriguing introduction that explains her selection and provides her view of the role of the public philosopher.
How to Win an Election
An Ancient Guide for Modern Politicians
By Quintus Tullius Cicero
Traslated from Latin by Philip Freeman
Winter 2012, Princeton University Press
How to Win an Election is an ancient Roman guide for campaigning that is as up-to-date as tomorrow's headlines. In 64 BC when idealist Marcus Cicero, Rome's greatest orator, ran for consul (the highest office in the Republic), his practical brother Quintus decided he needed some no-nonsense advice on running a successful campaign. What follows in his short letter are timeless bits of political wisdom, from the importance of promising everything to everybody and reminding voters about the sexual scandals of your opponents to being a chameleon, putting on a good show for the masses, and constantly surrounding yourself with rabid supporters. Presented here in a lively and colorful new translation, with the Latin text on facing pages, this unashamedly pragmatic primer on the humble art of personal politicking is dead-on (Cicero won)--and as relevant today as when it was written.
A little-known classic in the spirit of Machiavelli's Prince, How to Win an Election is required reading for politicians and everyone who enjoys watching them try to manipulate their way into office.
"In his election advice to his brother Marcus, Quintus Cicero shows himself to be a master political strategist with a clear understanding of opposition research, organization, and turnout (though a little weak on message). Fresh, lively, and sharp, this primer provides timeless counsel and a great read for the modern political practitioner."--Karl Rove
No Cheating, No Dying
I Had a Good Marriage.
Then I Tried To Make It Better.
By Elizabeth Weil
February 2012, Scribner
Liz and Dan did not have a perfect marriage. Who does? So what if he saws a pigs head off in the basement? So what if she never mentioned her ex bf’s prior to the wedding? So what if she likes to visit her parents who live in a gated suburb that he detests? Their marriage was GOOD. Really Good. Then, ten years after the wedding, Liz tried to make it better. And her story of what happened was one of the most discussed stories after it appeared in the NYT Sunday magazine. What does a BETTER marriage mean anyway?
Written with charm and wit, No Cheating, No Dying investigates one of the most universal human institutions--marriage. Elizabeth Weil believes that you don’t get married in a white dress, in front of all your future in-laws and ex-boyfriends but gradually, over time, through all the road rage incidents and pre-colonoscopy enemas, good and bad dinners, and all the small moments you never expected to happen or much less endure.
In this book, Weil examines the major universal marriage issues — sex, money, mental health (he comes from a family that gives lots of praise, she is stingy with compliments), in-laws, religion (she is Jewish, he is not), children, fidelity (no cheating) — through bravely recounting her own hilarious, messy, and sometimes difficult relationship. She seeks out the advice of financial planners, psychoanalysts, therapists, household management consultants, priests, rabbis, and the United States government. How much should one give up? What is faithfulness? How much of one’s personalities should one keep private ? Woven into this funny and forthright narrative is Weil's extensive research on marriage and marriage improvement. The result is an illuminating and entertaining read that is a fresh addition to the body of literature about marriage
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His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg
By Louise Borden
Winter 2012, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Ages 12 and up
Louise Borden is the highly regarded author of many books, including Good Luck, Mrs. K!, Sleds on Boston Common, Good-bye, Charles Lindbergh and The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk in WW II--all published by Margaret McElderry Books. Across the Blue Pacific is based on the true story of her uncle, Theodore Taylor Walker, who served aboard the USS Albacore (SS-218) during World War II. She lives with her husband, Pete, in Terrace Park, Ohio, and has three grown children. Her website can be found at www.louiseborden.com.
THE EIGHTH VEIL
A JERUSALEM MYSTERY
By FREDERICK RAMSEY
February 2012, Poisoned Pen Press
A mystery by a retired Episcopal priest that is set in Jerusalem
The Eighth Veil is a mystery set in the year 28 CE in Jerusalem during the feast of Tabernacles. A murdered servant girl is found in the palace of King Herod Antipas. The Prefect, Pontius Pilate is in attendance. The populace is still buzzing over the brutal death of one of their Prophets, John, known familiarly as the Baptizer, and scandal is in the air.
Pilate does wants no trouble and insists an independent investigation into the murder be made. Antipas will have none of Pilate’s men in the palace and Pilate doesn’t trust Antipas. Gamaliel, the chief rabbi and head of the Sanhedrin is coerced by Pilate to do the detective work.
Gamaliel is a Talmudic scholar, not a sleuth and at first struggles. But as he learns more of the dead girl’s background and that of the other major players in the drama, particularly Menahem, Antipas’ foster brother, he soon becomes eon over to the process and, Sherlockian-like, begins to fit the pieces together. Or, as his “Watson” Loukas says, strips the veils from his personal Salome.
The girl turns out not to be the mere servant everyone assumed, in spite of his impatience with the pace and direction of the investigation Pilate is rewarded and the fascinating, little told but critically entwined, histories of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Herod the Great, Anthony and Augustus Caesar, and the Battle of Actium suddenly seems more relevant to the Gospel narratives than anyone might have previously imagined.
Meanwhile, the figure of Jesus, the rabbi from Nazareth, with his ragged band of enthusiasts and his habit of annoying Caiaphas, the High Priest, moves enigmatically in the background.
BY HOWARD SHRIER
Winter 2012, Vintage Canada
Publisher’s Weekly gives it a starred review
Canada's top private eye is back as Jonah Geller resumes his vagabond ways in Boston Cream, the Vintage World of Crime trade paperback original and sequel to the Arthur Ellis-winning novels Buffalo Jump and High Chicago.
David Fine is not the kind of guy to go missing. Or so his father tells Toronto PI Jonah Geller. A brilliant young surgeon-in-training, devoutly Jewish, devoted to his parents--last seen 2 weeks ago leaving the Boston Sinai hospital where he worked. Still recovering from a concussion, Jonah and partner Jenn Raudsepp soon find out that David fled for his life after a vicious Irish crime boss tried to abduct him. And that he's more likely dead than alive. Then Jenn joins the ranks of the missing, and Jonah needs help from former hit man Dante Ryan and two local wise guys as he races the clock to save her life, one step ahead of the Boston law.
OPERA BUFFA WITH LEIB GOLDDKORN
A novel by Mr. Leslie Epstein
February 2012, Norton
A multilayered masterpiece of fevered imagination and eroticism, Liebestod soars as the consummate work by one of America's greatest comic geniuses. As hilarious as it is heartbreaking, Liebestod returns us to Leslie Epstein’s most compelling literary character, that European émigré and meagerly successful musician, Leib Goldkorn, whose final years as a randy centenarian in New York City end in one of the most memorable swan songs in recent fiction. Invited back to his hometown in Moravia, Leib discovers that his father is not a hops magnate but actually one of the twentieth century’s greatest composers, Gustav Mahler. Returning to New York with a bevy of rabbinical cousins, Leib, now besotted by a world-famed diva, is determined to bring to the Metropolitan Opera Rubezahl, the only opera his real father ever wrote. Yet the much-heralded premiere turns into a fiasco of unimaginable proportions, all breathtakingly relayed by a stunned newspaper correspondent who survives to report on this monumental disaster. With Liebestod, Epstein once again “illuminates the mystery of our common humanity and mortality”
Epstein is director of the Creative Writing Program, at BU
A Memoir of Sisters, Survivors and Skokie
By Linda Pressman
2011 – Self Published
Written by a child of two Holocaust Survivors, Looking Up: A Memoir of Sisters, Survivors and Skokie, tells the story of growing up with parents who have survived the unsurvivable, who land in an idyllic northern suburb of Chicago, Skokie, where they're suddenly free to live their lives, yet find their past has arrived with them. In a book that's both funny and somber, and a story universal in its scope, Linda Pressman creates an unforgettable world of adolescent angst and traumatized parents amid the suburban world of the 60s and 70s, ultimately finding that her parents' stories are her own.
Bringing Up Bebe
One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
By Pamela Druckerman
Also known as “French Children Don’t Throw Food.”
Pamela Druckerman has written for many publications including The Wall Street Journal. She knows a lot about sex, worldwide lust, standup comedy, Argentina, Brazil, Japanese and some Hebrew. But when she had a child in Paris, France, she saw that French babies acted differently from those of English speaking families. The French children Druckerman knows sleep through the night at two or three months old while those of her American friends take a year or more. French kids eat well-rounded meals that are more likely to include braised leeks than chicken nuggets. And while her American friends spend their visits resolving spats between their kids, her French friends sip coffee while the kids play. What was the secret?
Are they putting wine in the bottles of babies and cups of mothers?
Motherhood itself is a whole different experience in France. There's no role model, as there is in America, for the harried new mom with no life of her own. French mothers assume that even good parents aren't at the constant service of their children and that there's no need to feel guilty about this. They have an easy, calm authority with their kids that Druckerman can only envy.
Of course, French parenting wouldn't be worth talking about if it produced robotic, joyless children. In fact, French kids are just as boisterous, curious, and creative as Americans. They're just far better behaved and more in command of themselves. While some American toddlers are getting Mandarin tutors and pre-literacy training, French kids are- by design-toddling around and discovering the world at their own pace.
With a notebook stashed in her diaper bag, Druckerman sets out to learn the secrets to raising a society of good little sleepers, gourmet eaters, and reasonably relaxed parents. She discovers that French parents are extremely strict about some things and strikingly permissive about others. And she realizes that to be a different kind of parent, you don't just need a different parenting philosophy. You need a very different view of what a child actually is.
Discoveries and Triumphs in the Newborn ICU
By Adam Wolfberg, MD
February 2012, Beacon Press
The first chapter is intense. You feel as if you are there with him in the hospital as his daughter is born
Half a million babies are born prematurely in the United States every year. In this gripping medical narrative, Dr. Adam Wolfberg brings readers into the complex world of newborn intensive care, where brilliant but imperfect doctors do all they can to coax life into their tiny, injured patients. As a specialist in high-risk obstetrics and the father of a child born prematurely, Wolfberg explores the profound questions raised by such fragile beginnings, both from the front lines of the NICU and from his daughter’s bedside.
His daughter Larissa was born weighing under two pounds, and he describes the precipitous birth at six months that left her tenuously hanging on to life in an incubator. Ultrasound had diagnosed a devastating hemorrhage in her brain that doctors reasoned would give her only a 50 percent chance of having a normal IQ. Through Larissa’s early hospital course, Wolfberg examines the limitations of newborn intensive care medicine, the science of “neuroplasticity,” and the dilemmas that surround decision making at the beginning of life.
Wolfberg also takes us into the lab where researchers are working to improve the futures of children born too soon. He follows a young scientist, Jason Carmel, who was inspired to study how the brain adapts to injury when his twin brother was paralyzed in an accident. Through lucid medical reporting, Wolfberg details current scientific practices and discoveries, and explores the profound emotional and ethical issues raised by the advancing technology that allows us to save the lives of increasingly undeveloped preemies.
As they make decisions about life-saving care in the first hours of a premature infant’s life, doctors and parents must grapple with profound moral and medical questions: How aggressively should doctors try to save the life of a premature baby, who will be severely neurologically and physically impaired? What might that child’s quality of life be like after millions of dollars are spent on her care? Wolfberg traces the fits and starts of the physicians, government policy makers, and lawyers who have struggled over the years to find the best way to make these wrenching decisions. Written from Adam Wolfberg’s unique experience as a reporter, as a medical specialist and researcher, and as the father of a prematurely born daughter, Fragile Beginnings lays bare the struggles, discoveries, and triumphs of the newborn intensive care unit.
BY ELLEN ULLMAN
February 2012, FS&G
The award-winning writer returns with a major, absorbing, atmospheric novel that takes on the most dramatic and profoundly personal subject matter
San Francisco in the 1970s.
Free love has given way to radical feminism, psychedelic ecstasy to hard-edged gloom.
The Zodiac Killer stalks the streets.
A disgraced professor takes an office in a downtown tower to plot his return. But the walls are thin and he’s distracted by voices from next door—his neighbor is a psychologist, and one of her patients dislikes the hum of the white-noise machine. And so he begins to hear about the patient’s troubles with her female lover, her conflicts with her adoptive, avowedly WASP family, and her quest to track down her birth mother. The professor is not just absorbed but enraptured. And the further he is pulled into the patient’s recounting of her dramas—and the most profound questions of her own identity—the more he needs the story to move forward. The patient’s questions about her birth family have led her to a Catholic charity that trafficked freshly baptized orphans out of Germany after World War II. But confronted with this new self— “I have no idea what it means to say ‘I’m a Jew’”—the patient finds her search stalled. Armed with the few details he’s gleaned, the professor takes up the quest and quickly finds the patient’s mother in records from a German displaced-persons camp. But he can’t let on that he’s been eavesdropping, so he mocks up a reply from an adoption agency the patient has contacted and drops it in the mail. Through the wall, he hears how his dear patient is energized by the news, and so is he. He unearths more clues and invests more and more in this secret, fraught, triangular relationship: himself, the patient, and her therapist, who is herself German. His research leads them deep into the history of displaced-persons camps, of postwar Zionism, and—most troubling of all—of the Nazi Lebensborn program.
With ferocious intelligence and an enthralling, magnetic prose, Ellen Ullman weaves a dark and brilliant, intensely personal novel that feels as big and timeless as it is sharp and timely. It is an ambitious work that establishes her as a major writer.
Saying No, Breaking Ranks,
and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times
By Eyal Press
February 2012, FS&G
On the Swiss border with Austria in 1938, a police captain refuses to enforce a law barring Jewish refugees from entering his country. In the Balkans half a century later, a Serb from the war-blasted city of Vukovar defies his superiors in order to save the lives of Croats. At the height of the Second Intifada, a member of Israel’s most elite military unit informs his commander he doesn’t want to serve in the occupied territories.
Fifty years after Hannah Arendt examined the dynamics of conformity in her seminal account of the Eichmann trial, Beautiful Souls explores the flipside of the banality of evil, mapping out what impels ordinary people to defy the sway of authority and convention. Through the dramatic stories of unlikely resisters who feel the flicker of conscience when thrust into morally compromising situations, Eyal Press shows that the boldest acts of dissent are often carried out not by radicals seeking to overthrow the system but by true believers who cling with unusual fierceness to their convictions. Drawing on groundbreaking research by moral psychologists and neuroscientists, Beautiful Souls culminates with the story of a financial industry whistleblower who loses her job after refusing to sell a toxic product she rightly suspects is being misleadingly advertised. At a time of economic calamity and political unrest, this deeply reported work of narrative journalism examines the choices and dilemmas we all face when our principles collide with the loyalties we harbor and the duties we are expected to fulfill.
PW writes: “In his latest, journalist Press explores what compels people to act according to their conscience when faced with a moral dilemma in dangerous circumstances. In 1938, a Swiss police captain allows Jewish refugees to cross into “neutral” Switzerland, defying orders that the border be closed. During the Balkan conflict, in 1991, a Serb disobeys his superiors to save the lives of Croats from his hometown, the war-torn city of Vukovar. A financial adviser in Houston loses her job when she refuses to sell a toxic product she rightly suspects of being a Ponzi scheme. In a particularly compelling vignette, an Israeli soldier in an elite military unit refuses to serve in the occupied territories during the second intifada. Drawing on research by psychologists, sociologists, political activists and theorists (such as Susan Sontag and Hannah Arendt), and neuroscientists, Press reveals that the boldest acts of defiance are often made by ordinary people who regard the ideals and values of their societies to be inviolable. This thought-provoking and moving narrative highlights the different ways people react to moral quandaries and, at its best, makes us question the role our own passivity or acquiescence plays in allowing unconscionable acts to happen on our watch.” (starred review)
Pioneers of the Possible
Celebrating Visionary Women of the World
How to Become a Visionary In Your Own Life
By Angella M. Nazarian
February 2012, Assouline
“Every single one of us has something special to do in this world. Our greatest challenge is become who we are at our very core and honor it.” — Angella Nazarian
Nazarian writes, “All writers write because, through writing, they are coming up with their own answers to questions. What set me off writing Pioneers of the Possible was a train ride from Washington, DC to NY in the dead of winter at the end of my book tour 2 years ago.
I had just read this research that cited “personal example” as being one of the most important mediums of social transformation. What this means is that other people’s lives are a vehicle for inspiration and change in others. If we look back at our growth, there have been people, family members, or mentors that lead and encouraged us in our growth; and truthfully, I think we need a wider spectrum of women that hold the mirror before us and urge us to find our own personal source of genius and dedicate ourselves to it.”
WWD adds, “I wanted to make sure I was looking at women from all different parts of the world — the Far East, South America — and to be sure that the stories I’m putting into the book are those of women who overcame odds or who were the first,” says Angella M. Nazarian of her choices for the 20 women she writes about in “Pioneers of the Possible: Celebrating Visionary Women of the World” (Assouline). “It’s that element of surprise for the reader, to be able to read biographies of women nobody’s heard about.” Among those selected for the book, some, to be sure, were very well known, among them Golda Meir, Martha Graham, Ella Fitzgerald and Anaïs Nin. But Nazarian also included a number who are less famous in the U.S.: Cambodian anti-human-trafficking activist Somaly Mam, bullfighter Conchita Cintron, Guatemalan human-rights advocate Rigoberta Menchú Tum and Moroccan runner Nawal El Moutawakel.
Of artist Frida Kahlo, who appears on the cover of the book, Nazarian says, “She never wanted to be just [Mexican muralist] Diego Rivera’s wife. She made sure that there was something that always remained Frida in their relationship. One reason she’s photographed so much is there’s something so beautifully exotic about her. She has the unibrow, she has the little bit of a mustache, she has steely eyes and traditional costumes; I think she never really wanted to not be Mexican.” Because Kahlo was badly injured in a bus accident when she was a teenager, and required numerous surgeries, Nazarian says,“She could have succumbed to being in her house, cutting herself off from everyone else, but she didn’t.” André Breton called Kahlo’s art, which was relatively small in scale and featured self-portraits, often showing her bloodied from an operation or a miscarriage, “a ribbon about a bomb.”
… Nazarian, 43, a brunette beauty who is Iranian-American and Jewish, has an interesting story of her own. When she was 11, she, her sister Lida and their mother, Maryam Maddahi, came to the U.S. to visit her two brothers, Kourosh and Jamshid, who were studying here. Their stay was only supposed to last two weeks, but the political situation exploded after the fall of the Shah and her mother decided that they should stay, while she returned to Iran to help her husband, Nasser, settle the family’s affairs. The elder Maddahis, however, were trapped there for five years by the Iran-Iraq war. Nazarian earned a graduate degree in industrial-organizational psychology from California State University Long Beach and became a psychology professor at three colleges in the area. She married David Nazarian, a venture capitalist, and they have two children, Phillip and Eli. She also began running workshops on personal development for women and wrote her memoir, “Life as a Visitor,” published in 2009, which was a New York Times bestseller. She writes for The Huffington Post, takes photographs and has recently developed a passion for dancing the tango.
Many of the women she writes about, she notes, including Kahlo and Amazon environmental activist Marina Silva, were strongly encouraged by their fathers. This was also the case with Simone de Beauvoir, whose father, Nazarian says, “would take her into his library and read to her; they would have these regular meeting times. He really took pride in her mind, and he would always tell his family, ‘This daughter of mine has the mind of a man.’?”
… Another remarkable person she uncovered is Dharma Master Cheng Yen, who founded the Tzu Chi Foundation, which has an endowment of $800 million and annual donations of $300 million and who has founded a hospital, medical school and nursing college in a poor area of Taiwan. “She wants to make it like the Mayo Clinic,” Nazarian says. As a young woman, Cheng Yen was a beauty, and her parents wanted to marry her off, but she ran away from home several times hoping to become a nun. She met the renowned Buddhist scholar, Master Yin Shun, and became only the fifth disciple he had ever accepted. Eventually, she took on five female disciples herself, then decided to set up her own foundation, which has become the biggest in Taiwan.
One insight that has come to her, Nazarian notes, is that the most impressive women are not striving for balance but for fullness in their lives. “They pack their lives with things that are really meaningful,” she says. “They concentrate on their strengths; they know what their talents are, so they aren’t so bothered by their weaknesses.”
As Estée Lauder, one of her visionary women, put it, “?‘If you want to succeed, make the best of what you have. That’s a secret to beauty, as well.’
Hunting Down the Jews
Vichy, the Nazis and Mafia Collaborators in Provence, 1942-1944
By Isaac Levendel and Bernard Weisz
Intro by Serge Klarsfeld
February 2012, Enigma
Sarah Lewendel, a Jewish woman originally from Poland, disappeared in the vortex of the Nazi extermination machine on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Her son has lived with this tragedy for over sixty-five years and has carefully reconstructed the history of the Holocaust in Provence, the Vaucluse, and its main city, Avignon. Germany invaded southern France in November 1942 and the German police made abundant use of freelance Jew hunters, who eagerly seized the opportunity. The details of Nazi and Vichy anti-Semitic policy and the mechanisms of collaboration with its Mafia component have never been analyzed with such accuracy.
MARCH 2012 BOOK SELECTIONS
We have been waiting for this since 2007.. And now it has arrived
New American Haggadah
By Jonathan Safran Foer
With translations by Nathan Englander
March 2012, Little Brown
Several year’s ago, Foer said that most Haggadot out there lack the imaginative punch to inspire people toward a greater commitment for social change. He said, “We talk about slavery every year, we talk about the movement toward freedom every year. But when was the last time a Seder made you really feel those things in a deep way — when you said, ‘I want to become more active, … in stopping what’s going on in Darfur’? Because if that’s not an example of a situation that needs this movement toward freedom, nothing is. Or, ‘I need to work harder to make my life more energy independent,’ because we are slaves to energy right now. Passover is the jewel in the crown of Judaism arguing that we don’t hold “capital J” Jewish books like the Haggadah to the same literary standards as “lowercase j” books, like a Philip Roth novel, when we should.”
He continued, that “The Haggadah begs us to make it new… I’m doing it because I think it’s an incredible piece of art and [because] of all the issues in our world that can be seen through the lens of slavery and this movement toward freedom. The holiday is unimportant unless people end it thinking, ‘I need to bring the story into my life.’… Why would he harden his heart, especially when all the Egyptians are going to have to suffer for what the Pharaoh decides? Or, that we have a God that is so vengeful he kills all the firstborn Egyptians. All of the firstborn? Were there no good Egyptians? And do we really want to kill babies? You’re constantly coming up against these things that challenge your sense of what’s right and what’s wrong — but that’s good, having to talk about them, having to make sense of them.”
And so began Foer’s quest to create a new American Haggadah, “American” because Haggadot are usually named for the place they were published. Seders have been celebrated for over 100 generations, and perhaps there have been over 7000 known versions of the haggadah, whether it is from a religious movement, a kibbutz, Maxwell House, Mesorah, commune, Cokey Roberts, or your own family. As Foer writes, a new haggadah does not imply that earlier ones are failed, he just saw a need for one that looks at current issues in today’s idiom
This haggadah is an exciting new one and will prompt many seder table discussions for years to come; the “hyper-literal” translations into English will fascinate.
But first some information on the style. The Haggadah flows from right to left. On each page are illustrations or Hebrew with English translations. There are NO transliterations, not even for a Kiddush or Had Gadya. The Hebrew has vowels. It is a hardcover and delivered with a removable red paper wrapper (bellyband); when removed, you are left with a cover with Hebrew printing on a white background. The spine has the Haggadah’s title and editors’ names. The Hebrew printing on the front begins “B’chol dor v’dor (In every generation, a person is obligated to view her/himself as if s/he were the one who went out from Mitzrayim… interesting choice, no?). I am sure some enterprising young or old scholar at a seder can derive a drash on why the words with the largest fonts sizes are B’chol, Zeh, and M’Mitzrayim. There are a few blank pages at the end where you can write comments, thoughts, or record who was present at your seder over the years. I highly recommend using it, since decades later, you can open it and recall family members, friends, or guests who are still present, older, moved on, or passed on.
The paper stock makes the Haggadah feel a tiny itty bitty warped, but with use, it will probably flatten out. Across the top of each page is a progressing timeline (by Mia Sara Buch), flowing like wine, from 1250 BCE to 2007 CE. The timeline is in a smaller font and gives a running history: for 1387 CE, for example, the timeline mention Chaucer’s publication of “The Canterbury Tales,” and his story of a blood libel against the Jews, even though Jews were expelled England 100 years earlier. You can add to the timeline as years go by. I can imagine each participant adding their own to their copy each year, and seeing how attitudes and comments change over the decades. A keepsake.
The Haggadah opens with the removal of Hametz and Prepping for the seder. It flows through the seder, the cups of wine, the Hallel and Nirtzah, and closes with Counting the Omer, and a few songs. There are also several discussion sections designed in a neo-Talmud style. The four sections are: Library, Nation, House of Study, and Playground. They are authored by Lemony Snicket, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Jeffrey Goldberg, and Nathaniel Deutsch. Deutsch, a Guggenheim Fellow and S An-sky specialist, is currently a professor at UC, Santa Cruz and Co-Director of the Center for Jewish Studies. Goldberg is a journalist at The Atlantic. Newberger Goldstein is a novelist, professor, and mother of two authors; and Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) is author of a books on quotations that are bitter like horseradish; on a latka that screamed a lot; and a series on unfortunate events (like slavery?)
The design is by Oded Ezer, a master of inventive Hebrew lettering (Beit Hillel), typography and design, who wrote that the notion behind this book’s design was to visually merge the history of the Jewish nation with the traditional Haggadah text. The letterforms on each page therefore “reflect” the timeline’s period at the top of the page. The book becomes a graphic record of Jewish history. Plus it seems to have ready-made wine stains, albeit of ink.
But now for the meal... the translation by Nathan Englander. This, the translation, is primarily what attracted me to this new American Haggadah. Englander thought this would be an easy translation, like it was going to be hip and sassy, but he soon realized the project’s scope and intensity, and entered a havruta style, multi-year process with Baruch Thaler to debate and decide on the translations. The authors call it a hyper-literal translation.
Nathan Englander was an interesting choice. An acclaimed novelist and short story author, he moved to Israel as a young man and he quickly gave up on organized religion. (He may not have a mezuzah on his door, but now he has dozens of Jewish Haggadot and texts.) For Pesach, Englander used the Hebrew side of the traditional Maxwell House coffee haggadah. He never really looked at the English pages. He found that the Hebrew is so moving yet the English translations he saw did not communicate this beauty well enough. The line that clinched it for him was “HaMavdil Bein Kodesh l’Kodesh.” In English, many Haggadot translated it as “to differentiate between the Sabbath and the holiday.” But in Hebrew what it says is, “to differentiate between holy and holy.” To him, the English was missing the poetry and the metaphysical space between “holy” and “holy.” This is his chance to convey meaning -- meaning that informs future action.
For example, in “Nishmas kol chai,” he translates it as “Were our mouths were filled with a singing like the sea, and our tongues awash with song, as waves-countless, and our lips to lauding, as the skies are wide, and our eyes illumined like the sun and the moon, and our hands spread out like the eagles of heaven, and our feet as fleet as fawns. Still, we would not suffice in thanking you, lord God of us and God of our fathers, in blessing your name for even one of a thousand, thousand, from the thousands of thousands and the ten thousands of ten thousands of times you did good turns for our fathers and for us”
While most haggadot translate blessings as “Blessed (Praised) art Thou, O Lord Our God, King of the Universe…”, Englander writes “You are blessed, Lord God-of-Us, King of the Cosmos …” His translations are unique and will wake the reader up, and make them really think about what they are reciting. He uses “God of us” instead of “our God” because It’s not “our God” like “our cellphone” or “our Lexus” that we own , rather it is “the God over us.” “Ha Lachma Anya” is not the Berad of Affliction, but becomes “This is the poor man’s bread that our fathers ate in the land of Egypt... Just as You lifted nation from the belly of nation, and piloted Your people through the deep, may it be desirous before You…” The translations are male, as in He, King, Father and Sons. The Four Sons are sons. The ten plagues are “Blood, frogs, lice, a maelstrom of beasts, pestilence, boils, and hail-full-of-fire, locusts, a C-L-O-T-T-E-D darkness -- too thick to pass. The killing of the firstborn.”
Need to know more?
I am turning to an interview Nathan Englander gave to Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air.
Nathan Englander said that as a young man, he moved to Israel, where he quickly gave up on organized religion, so he surprised himself that he has worked on a Haggadah for the past few years. When asked by Terry why we need a new haggadah, Englander replied that, “We need new Haggados and they’ll be endless. It’s sort of, I think out all the traditional Jewish documents, it’s the one that’s most living. People – there’s, you know, there’s an Armed Forces Haggadah and an Alcoholics Anonymous Haggadah and an LGBT Haggadah. There are Haggadahs for everything. Some families make them new every year. People, it’s a really wonderful living document. And, you know, even Jonathan’s choice of the New American Haggadah, they’re always have a place. A very legendary one is the Sarajevo Haggadah. They’re just constantly made throughout time and he felt it was time for a new one…, you know I’ve always used the Hebrew side of the Maxwell House, which is a really great liturgy, that is a very traditional great liturgy.
…The point is, I had never really looked at the English and, what committed me to it is that back to loving texts, which is, the Haggadah, you should literally read it and weep. It is so beautiful. It is just such a moving document to me…. it turned it from this what I thought would be a six-week project into me working with a study partner head-to-head. It’s called Havrusa style, face-to-face, we studied. I don’t even want, my girlfriend says we can’t have a Mezuzah on the door but I have to come home to you with the Talmuds and haggados piled to the ceiling arguing. You know, it was like living in a study hall for her.
Gross asked why Englander used the king of the cosmos instead of the king of the universe. Englander replied, “…Those choices were the most wrestled over… it’s maybe that one and also God of us for “Elokeinu.”… So it’s always this idea, I think back to language, the things we don’t hear anymore… it’s something like “friendly fire”.., these things that are very loaded and they have meaning and you know the meaning, that’s how we get through life in a speedy fashion. …words have meanings and we already have them at the ready and we move through them. And I thought people say these things in English and I think they’re forgetting what they’re saying and it, you know, it means the world to me that you asked that question because that’s the point. Because you say, you read past it. But that’s what it’s saying, “of the cosmos” and it makes you think and that’s it. And that was really it. I think maybe the most dangerous choice in the whole book was “God of us” instead of “our God”… means “the God over us” and I really thought about that a ton, and I think that’s, …, I’ll see how people respond. But to me, I wanted people to be thinking about what they’re saying.
… I thought we were going to be ironical and sassy, you know, sassy guys. But the point is we ended up taking it so deeply seriously and I, you know, and I just felt people are going to be – because I speak the Hebrew I just always assumed have people the same knowledge base as me. I suddenly thought my God, people are going to be praying from this sincerely and I owe, you know, I owe them a debt. I better think.
…I can’t even tell you how many hours of arguing for things like [cosmos or universe]… But again, I think because it did make you think, …And I think because to me just really looking at the Hebrew and thinking about what that word means and just thinking it encompassed the cosmos. And also even that, the biggest point of translation is choice. Every word you’re choosing rhythm, clarity, communication, meaning, intent. And I think maybe, even that one can be feel of king of the cosmos does it justice.”
Gross asked, “Now one of the times you used “king of the cosmos.” I’m going to do the larger reading there. Like “you are blessed, lord God of us, king of the cosmos, God, our father, our kind, our majesty, our creator, our redeemer, our shepherd, shepherd of Israel, the good king who makes good for all.” You know, when you read something like that – when I read something like that, part of me wonders does God need to be praised that much? Like, why is there so much praise for God? Is it just a kind of thanksgiving for life, thanksgiving for, you know, whatever it is, that animating force that we call God? Or is God like this egotist and we need to say, hey, man, you’re number one. You are great. You are the God of all – do you know what I mean?”
ENGLANDER replied, “Yes. I was going to say I am going to answer that question for you now but I’m sure you’ll get a bunch of emails answering it for you. But I guess this is the point of doing a translation of what you hear in Hebrew, exactly that it’s not cloying – that’s the point of wanting to make it sound the way it sounds in my head which to me is very beautiful. Right? There can be over-cloying thanks. Nobody wants that. Nobody even enjoys it when they get it. It’s often just acknowledging a power structure. I know what you’re saying where someone gives you a job. Oh, thank you. You saved my life. This is the best. You know, it’s over the top and trust me, I’m an over the top thanker. So I know what you’re saying. But I guess I find this – you know what? This is about freedom from slavery. This is about being redeemed. This is about getting your homeland that was promised to you. This is about return. It’s actually – it is a deeply sincere text. I think it is truly thanking God for the food that we are eating, for the freedom that we have, for the family around us. You know what I can tell you? This is so personal and will, you know, probably make my family cry but, I remember – my brother-in-law – as I said, I’m like fourth or fifth generation and sitting there with my sister’s husband, his father is an Auschwitz survivor. And, he is sitting there with him, I remember one Seder with his family. I don’t know if they’ll remember it but this is when we all became one family. But all of us sitting together and just seeing this guy. That’s what makes it a living document. He sat there and he looked at the table and he started to cry. And he said I have been a slave. And I thought about it. I said this man was in Auschwitz. I don’t know if I’ve ever met – he literally had been a slave and that freedom, there’s a lot of thanks for survival and freedom that goes into that.
Englander added, “I was – Jonathan and I were joking about this. We’re like if we don’t find our Haggados at the Seder people are going to be in trouble. But, you know, at least our families can use them. But, yeah, I have to say of all the holidays, I really don’t do anything. I really do go to – if I can get to my family I get there or I’ve been going to a friend’s the last few years. But, yeah, I do the Seder every year. I really – I was going to say I don’t know if I’m softening or finding comfort or some different – my point is, it’s OK to live in conflict with yourself. That’s a nice thing that I’ve discovered. It’s OK for me to be really secular. That’s the idea, you know, people can just, you know, I’m trying to calm down. The point is I really enjoy that holiday and, yes, I go to a Seder every year and I, you know, drive there and a keep a house full of bread and all that stuff. But I really do enjoy that meal and this book.
NOTE: I WILL REPEAT.. This is not New American as in Egalitarian… is is American because it was published in America. The language and translations are male centric. If you need a Haggadah that is going to have Four Children instead of Sons, and gender neutral, then you should use this only as a reference.
CLICK THE COVER TO READ MORE
Through the Door of Life
A Jewish Journey between Genders
(Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiography)
By Professor Joy Ladin (Yeshiva Univ Stern College)
March 2012, Univ of Wisconsin Press
Professor Jay Ladin made headlines around the world when, after years of teaching literature at Yeshiva University, he returned to the Orthodox Jewish campus as a woman—Joy Ladin. In Through the Door of Life, Joy Ladin takes readers inside her transition as she changed genders and, in the process, created a new self. With unsparing honesty and surprising humor, Ladin wrestles with both the practical problems of gender transition and the larger moral, spiritual, and philosophical questions that arise. Ladin recounts her struggle to reconcile the pain of her experience living as the “wrong” gender with the pain of her children in losing the father they love. We eavesdrop on her lifelong conversations with the God whom she sees both as the source of her agony and as her hope for transcending it. We look over her shoulder as she learns to walk and talk as a woman after forty-plus years of walking and talking as a man. We stare with her into the mirror as she asks herself how the new self she is creating will ever become real. Ladin’s poignant memoir takes us from the death of living as the man she knew she wasn’t, to the shattering of family and career that accompanied her transition, to the new self, relationships, and love she finds when she opens the door of life. .
“In this eloquent, bittersweet memoir, professor and poet Ladin leavens with literary artistry the often incredibly painful story of her gender transition from male to female. . . Readers will be rewarded not only with an expanded understanding of a complicated choice but also a compelling and moving story of a person transitioning, not only from male to female but from a numb, suicidal ‘nonexistence’ to opening the ‘door of life.’” Publishers Weekly
FRESH FROM HER SEMINAR at JEWLICIOUS FEST 8.0 and the set of BIG BANG, Dr. Mayim Bialik has some advice on parenting and attachment theories
Beyond the Sling
A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way
By Mayim Bialik, PhD
March 2012, Touchstone
Mayim Bialik was the child star of the popular 1990s TV sitcom Blossom, but she definitely didn’t follow the typical child-star trajectory. Instead, Mayim got her PhD in neuroscience from UCLA, married her college sweetheart, and had two kids. She currently appears on BIG BANG, and had a reality show on her apparel.
Mayim did what many new moms do — she read a lot of books, talked with other parents, and she soon started questioning a lot of the conventional wisdom she heard about the “right” way to raise a child.
That’s when she turned to attachment parenting, a philosophy and lifestyle popularized by well-known physicians like Dr. William Sears and Dr. Jay Gordon. To Mayim, attachment parenting’s natural, child-led approach not only felt right emotionally, it made sense intellectually and instinctually. She found that when she followed her intuition and relaxed into her role as a mother instead of following some rigid parenting script, both she and her children thrived. Drawing on both her experience as a mother and her scientific background, Mayim presents the major tenets of attachment parenting, including:
CO-SLEEPING - How to avoid “sleep training” and get a great night’s sleep for the whole family.
BREASTFEEDING - Learn how to listen to your baby’s cues rather than sticking to a rigid schedule—and why people on airplanes love a nursing mother.
BABY WEARING - How to “wear” your baby in a sling or a wrap to develop a closer bond with your child—it’s possible even for mamas with bad backs (and with big babies)!
GENTLE DISCIPLINE How to get your child to behave without yelling, threats, or time-outs—it really can be done.
Mayim doesn’t preach.
Sure unschools her kids (different from home schooling). Like her husband, her oldest son did not talk for many years. But she did not freak out. Her oldest son might be hard for those not in her house or synagogue to understand, but she doesn’t hire a speech or occupational therapist. Her son will progress naturally. She nursed her kids longer than others. She works and her husband stays home with the kids. She did not teach her kids shapes and colours until they were ready to learn it (HORRORS!). It turns out one child is color blind, so trying to teach him would have been frustrating or frightening.
Mayim describes the beauty, simplicity, and purposefulness of attachment parenting, and how it has become the guiding principle for her family. Much more than a simple how-to parenting guide, Beyond the Sling shows us that the core principles underlying attachment parenting are universal and can be appreciated no matter how you decide to raise your child.
Talking with My Mouth Full
My Life as a Professional Eater
By Gail Simmons
When Top Chef judge Gail Simmons first graduated from college in Canada, she felt lost. Her friends were headed to grad school, and she had no plans. A family friend said, PLASTICS. No, I am kidding. A Friend asked her to write down what she enjoyed, so she wrote: “Eat. Write. Travel. Cook.” Now she gets to do all four. What started as a stint writing in college became her career. She is a professional eater, cook, food critic, magazine editor, and television celebrity. A host of Top Chef: Just Desserts; a judge on Top Chef; and a Special Projects Director at Food & Wine magazine, Simmons travels all over the world, and eats
Talking with My Mouth Full follows her unusual and inspiring path to success, step-by-step and bite-by-bite. It takes the reader from her early years, growing up in a Jewish Canadian household where her mother ran a small cooking school, her father made his own wine, and family vacation destinations included Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. She tells of her Summer of Love on a Kibbutz… love of killing chickens, and her semester in Spain where she fell for Wine in a Box.
After culinary school, she was an apprentice in two of New York's most acclaimed kitchens; and on to her time spent assisting Vogue's legendary food critic Jeffrey Steingarten, working for renowned chef Daniel Boulud, and ultimately landing her current jobs at Food & Wine and on Top Chef. The book is a tribute to the incredible meals and mentors she's had along the way, examining the somewhat unconventional but always satisfying journey she has taken in order to create a career that didn't even exist when she first started working toward it.
With memorable stories about the greatest (and worst) dishes she's eaten, childhood and behind-the-scenes photos, and recipes from Gail's family and her own kitchen, Talking with My Mouth Full is a true treat.
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WELLSPRINGS OF FREEDOM
The Renew Our Day Haggadah
Edited by Rabbi Ronald Aigen
March 11, 2012
Wellsprings of Freedom: The Renew Our Days Haggadah— Offers commentaries based on a previously untranslated collection of ?asidic insights into the Haggadah for the contemporary seeker. It links each of the traditional simanim or “guideposts” of the Seder to a theme that explores a facet of freedom in our lives today. (E.g., Kaddesh—freedom in relation to our use of time; Karpas—freedom and our relationship to nature and the environment.) It provides user-friendly cues for a fail-safe Seder, as well as for navigating a briefer, child-oriented Seder. It creates a stunning visual midrash (commentary) on the Passover Haggadah with colour artwork by J.W. Stewart. With high praises from Rabbi David Ellenson, President Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion; Rabbi Naomi Levy, spiritual leader of Nashuva: The Jewish Spiritual Outreach Center and author of Hope Will Find You and Talking to God; Rabbi Laura Geller, Senior Rabbi of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills; and Rabbi Arthur Green, Rector of the Rabbinical School at Hebrew College and author of Radical Judaism
Rabbi Rachel Cowan wrote, “Dayyenu! If Ron Aigen had created an artistically beautiful and graphically elegant Haggadah, that would be enough. If he had laid it out with great respect for the leader - clear, sophisticated instructions on how to proceed, that would be enough. If he had included wonderful discussion questions that appeal to a wide variety of people, that would be enough. But, in addition, he has included the most interesting, powerful interpretations of the text from deeply spiritual writings of the great classical Hasidic masters to light up the whole Seder. Dayyenu! And Hallelujah!”
"Wellsprings of Freedom is a delight to the eyes, the heart, the mind and the soul. People, using this beautiful work at their Seder, will have the shared experience of a current day Exodus." Rabbi Zalman Schachter–Shalomi, co-author of Jewish With Feeling
Rabbi Ron Aigen, is the spiritual leader of Congregation Dorshei Emet in Montreal where he directs the EMET Centre for Spirituality, Ethics and Culture. A native of Brooklyn, he is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He is a fellow of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, and a Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.
The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer
By Melissa Mueller and Reinhard Piechocki with a foreword by Alice Herz-Sommer
March 2012, St, Martin’s Press
How music provided hope in one of the world's darkest times—the inspirational life story of Alice Herz-Sommer, the oldest living Holocaust survivor. Alice Herz-Sommer was born in Prague in 1903. A talented pianist from a very early age, she became famous throughout Europe; but, as the Nazis rose to power, her world crumbled. In 1942, her mother was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp and vanished. In 1943, Alice, her husband and their six-year-old son were sent there, too. In the midst of horror, music, especially Chopin's Etudes, was Alice's salvation. Theresienstadt was a "show camp", a living slice of Nazi propaganda created to convince outsiders that the Jews were being treated humanely. In more than a hundred concerts, Alice gave her fellow prisoners hope in a time of suffering. Written with the cooperation of Alice Herz-Sommer, Alice's Piano is the first time her story has been told. At 107 years old, she continues to play her piano in London and bring hope to many.
For Better or For Work
A Survival Guide for Entrepreneurs and Their Families
By Meg Cadoux Hirshberg, Stonyfield Farms
March 2012, Inc.
Discover how to build a successful business and follow your passions without sacrificing healthy family relationships to the financial and emotional rollercoaster that is entrepreneurship.
How does someone who is obsessed live peacefully with others who are not? That question summarizes the quandary faced by company founders and their families. To answer it, author Meg Cadoux Hirshberg examines the impact for better and for worse of entrepreneurial businesses on families and relationships, and vice versa.
Practically, this is a vital guide to navigating the emotional and logistical terrain of business-building while simultaneously enjoying a fulfilling family life. From the trials of co-habiting with a home-based business to the queasy necessity of borrowing money from family and friends to the complexities of intergenerational succession, no topic is taboo.
Psychologically, this book is a reminder that no entrepreneurial family trudges the hard trail of company-building alone. If you have embarked on such an enterprise, you and your spouse will find comfort and guidance in the experiences of others like you. Meg draws on the struggles and triumphs she and husband Gary Hirshberg experienced as he built Stonyfield Yogurt, and also shares powerful stories and insights from other families, gathered through hundreds of interviews.
For Better or For Work will remind you that the long hours and late nights spent on the business or with the family are worth the effort and will give you tools for making both endeavors successful.
Lights Out Shabbat
By Sarene Shulimson and Jeff Ebbeler
March 2012, Kar Ben
A little boy spends Shabbat with his grandparents in Georgia and gets a snowy surprise.
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Damn Good Advice
(For People with Talent!)
How To Unleash Your Creative Potential by
America's Master Communicator, George Lois
By George Lois
March 2012, Phaidon Paperback
A look into the mind of one of America's most legendary creative thinkers, George Lois. Offering indispensible lessons, practical advice, facts, anecdotes and inspiration, this book is a timeless creative bible for all those looking to succeed in life, business and creativity. These are key lessons derived from the incomparable life of 'Master Communicator' George Lois, the original Mad Man of Madison Avenue. Written and compiled by the man The Wall Street Journal called "prodigy, enfant terrible, founder of agencies, creator of legends," each step is borne from a passion to succeed and a disdain for the status quo.
Organized into inspirational, bite-sized pointers, each page offers fresh insight into the sources of success, from identifying your heroes to identifying yourself. The ideas, images and illustrations presented in this book are fresh, witty and in-your-face. Whether it's communicating your point in nanosecond, creating an explosive portfolio or making your presence felt, no one is better placed than George Lois to teach you the process of creativity.
Poignant, punchy and to-the-point, Damn Good Advice (For People With Talent!) is a must have for anyone on a quest for success.
Grandma Rose's Magic
By Linda Elovitz Marshall and Ag Jatkowska
Kar Ben, 2012
Ages 3 – 8
Every day Grandma Rose sews and every day she saves – for a set of beautiful dishes with pink and red roses and blue trim. And whenever she sews, something magical happens. A tale of generosity rewarded.
Izzy The Wiz
And Passover Mclean
By Yael Mermelstein and Carrie Hartman
Kar Ben, 2012
Ages 3 – 8
Izzy the Whiz is an amateur inventor who, right before Passover, creates a super duper machine that whirs and purrs and munches and crunches and miraculously cleans the entire house just in time for the holiday – but not without creating havoc along the way. A fun, crazy, rhyming tale a la Dr. Seuss.
A Sweet Passover
By Leslea Newman and David Slonim
Ages 4 and up
In this charming and humorous story, Miriam discovers—with the help of her family and a little matzah bread—the true meaning and importance of Passover. Miriam loves spending time with her family during Passover, and all week long she is happy to eat lots of matzah. But when she wakes up on the last day of the holiday, she is sick of matzah and refuses to eat it ever again. Then Grandpa makes his special matzah brei for the whole family, and Miriam learns there’s more to Passover than just the matzah. Award-winning illustrator and jewish book award winner David Slonim brings to life this story by celebrated author Lesléa Newman. The book includes a recipe for matzah brei, a brief summary of the Passover holiday, and a glossary of terms
a female hero
a nuclear family
A FAVORITE PASSOVER SONG
By Miriam Latimer
This joyous board book is perfect for any Passover celebration!
Combining the festive cheer of the beloved Passover song with a melodic recounting of the Jews' exodus from Egypt to Israel, this board book will be the perfect addition to any family tradition. With Miriam Latimer's charming illustrations, children and parents alike will be even more inspired to shout, "Dayenu!"
The Elijah Door:
A Passover Tale
By Linda Leopold Strauss and Alexi Natchev
Holiday House, 2012
Ages 4 - 8
Think Romeo and Juliet, but Jewish
For years the Galinskys and Lippas have shared Seder, the special Passover dinner. But no more! Mama Lippa shuts her windows tight against the Galinsky voices. Papa Galinsky cuts a new side door to avoid seeing the Lippas. But David Lippa and Rachel Galinsky love each other, and fortunately, they have a trick up their sleeves. This charming folktale and stunning woodcuts celebrate the joys of love, freedom, and family.
It's a ... It's a ... It's a Mitzvah
By Liz Suneby and Diane Heiman
2012, Jewish Lights
Ages 3 – 7
A fun-filled introduction to the joys of doing mitzvot. This lively picture book for children ages 3 6 is filled with amiable animals who, through their actions, demonstrate age-appropriate mitzvot, including welcoming new friends, forgiving mistakes, respecting elders and sharing food with the hungry. It engages children through playful illustrations; likeable animal characters, including Mitzvah Meerkat, the narrator; humor and the repetition of the fun-to-say phrase It s a ... it s a ... it s a mitzvah! that encourages children to chime in as the words are repeated throughout the book. Side notes on each spread explain the specific mitzvah in every vignette. With this aside, parents and teachers have an opportunity to ask the child or group of children, What is the good deed here? and spark a conversation without preaching. Children will see how everyday kindness is the beginning of a Jewish journey and a lifetime commitment to tikkun olam (repairing the world).
By Linda Glaser and Adam Gustavson
Kar Ben, 2012
After Papa loses his job during the Depression, Hannah’s family moves to rural Minnesota, where she is the only Jewish child in her class. When her teacher tries to arrange carpools for a Saturday class picnic, Hannah is upset. Her Jewish family is observant, and she knows she cannot ride on the Sabbath. What will she do? A lovely story of friendship and community.
Josie’s Passover Adventure
By Anna Levine aand Ksenia Topaz
Kar Ben, 2012
Young amateur archeologist Jodie invites her cousin Zach on a Passover adventure to explore Hezekiah's Tunnel in Jerusalem, the famous secret water tunnel. Sloshing through the long, creepy, dark, wet passage, they solve the riddle in the middle and find a shiny treasure!
Sadie and the Big Mountain
By Jamie S. Korngold and Julie Fortenberry
Kar Ben, 2012
When her preschool plans a Shavuot hike just like Moses took up Mt. Sinai, Sadie is afraid she is too little to make it to the top, and tries to think of ways to be absent. But when the day comes, she learns that anyone can climb high enough to reach God.
THE SCIENCE OF SIN
The Psychology of the Seven Deadlies
And Why They Are So Good For You
The Joy of Sin (title in the UK)
By Simon M. Laham, Phd (Melbourne)
March 2012, ThreeRiversPress.com
Pride, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Envy, Sloth, and Anger
They’re considered “deadly” because of their capacity to generate other evils. The truth is, we all sin and we do it all the time—in fact, usually several times over before breakfast! But human behavior, argues social psychologist Simon Laham, is more complex than “good” or “evil.” In psychology, these sins aren’t considered morally wrong or even uniformly bad, but are treated rather as complex and interesting psychological states that if, indulged wisely, can be functional, adaptive, and lead to a range of positive effects.
The Science of Sin takes on these so-called sins one by one and through psychological research shows that being bad can be oh-so-good for you. Did you know that: Being slow and lazy can help you win the race?; Anger makes you more open-minded?; Coveting what others have not only makes you more creative but bolsters self- esteem?
So go ahead, eat that last cookie and kick back on the couch for a day of TV with your neighbor’s boyfriend—from gluttony to greed, envy to lust, Laham shows how even the deadliest, most decadent of vices can make you smart, successful, and happy.
Dr. Laham writes: One might not be tempted to call anger the most open-minded of the deadly sins; it strikes one more as the most pig-headed and self-righteous of the seven. However, recent work by Maia Young of UCLA, presents anger in a much more complimentary light. In one study, Young explored what psychologists call the confirmation bias – the tendency we all have to search for information that confirms our pre-existing beliefs. Much research shows that when given a choice between reading arguments that firm-up their most cherished beliefs versus those that challenges them, people often opt for the latter; this is why Democrats watch The Daily Show and Republicans watch Fox News. Young was interested in what anger would do to the confirmation bias. Although, at first glance, anger may strike you as likely to amplify the confirmation bias – guiding the self-righteous, anger-fuelled individual to selectively process belief-consistent information – Young speculated that this complex emotion might actually have the opposite effect.
To test this hypothesis, Young had participants recall an event that had made them angry and then make a choice between belief-confirming and belief- undermining information. What she found was that anger reversed the conformation bias – making people more likely to seek out disconfirming information. Moreover, she found that angry people were subsequently more likely to be persuaded to change their beliefs than controls. This reversal is likely linked to the confrontational mindset often associated with anger. Anger tends to trigger an antagonistic frame of mind, which may put one in the position of seeking out information that stands in opposition to the status quo.
The Spanish Holocaust
Inquisition and Extermination in TWENTIETH-Century Spain
By Paul Preston
March 2012, Norton
Long neglected by European historians, the unspeakable atrocities of Franco’s Spain are finally brought to tragic light in this definitive work. The remains of General Francisco Franco lie in an immense mausoleum near Madrid, built with the blood and sweat of twenty thousand slave laborers. His enemies, however, met less-exalted fates. Besides those killed on the battlefield, tens of thousands were officially executed between 1936 and 1945, and as many again became "non-persons." As Spain finally reclaims its historical memory, a full picture can now be given of the Spanish Holocaust-ranging from judicial murders to the abuse of women and children. The story of the victims of Franco's reign of terror is framed by the activities of four key men-General Mola, Quiepo de Llano, Major Vallejo Najera, and Captain Don Gonzalo Aguilera-whose dogma of eugenics, terrorization, domination, and mind control horrifyingly mirror the fascism of Italy and Germany. Evoking such classics as Gulag and The Great Terror, The Spanish Holocaust sheds crucial light on one of the darkest and most unexamined eras of modern European history. 16 pages of black-and-white illustrations
When General Grant Expelled the Jews
By Jonathan D. Sarna, PhD
March 2012, Schocken / Nextbook
A riveting account of General Ulysses S. Grant's decision, in the middle of the Civil War, to order the expulsion of all Jews from the territory under his command, and the reverberations of that decision on Grant's political career, on the nascent American Jewish community, and on the American political process.
In December 1862, Genneral Ulysses Grant suspected that Jews were smuggling goods into Confederate areas. On December 17, 1862, just weeks before Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation, General Grant issued General Orders Number 11, the most notorious anti-Jewish order by a U.S. government official in American history. His attempt to eliminate “black marketers” by targeting for expulsion all Jews "as a class" from Tennessee (Memphis) unleashed a firestorm of controversy that made newspaper headlines and terrified and enraged the approximately 150,000 Jews then living in the United States, who feared the importation of European anti-Semitism onto American soil.
Although the order was quickly rescinded by a horrified Abraham Lincoln (at the request of Cesar Kaskel, a Jewish merchant, and others), the scandal came back to haunt Grant when he ran for president in 1868. Never before had Jews become an issue in a presidential contest, and never before had they been confronted so publicly with the question of how to balance their "American" and "Jewish" interests.
Award-winning historian Jonathan D. Sarna gives us the first complete account of this episode — including Grant's subsequent apology, his philo-Semitism, his groundbreaking appointment of over four dozen Jews to prominent positions in his administration (including Benjamin Franklin Peixotto), and his unprecedented visit to the Land of Israel. The book sheds new light on one of our most enigmatic presidents, on the Jews of his day, and on America itself.
RETHINKING A LOT
The Design and Culture of Parking
By Eran Ben-Joseph
March 2012, MIT
There are an estimated 600,000,000 passenger cars in the world, and that number is increasing every day. So too is Earth's supply of parking spaces. In some cities, parking lots cover more than one-third of the metropolitan footprint. It's official: we have paved paradise and put up a parking lot. In ReThinking a Lot, Eran Ben-Joseph shares a different vision for parking's future. Parking lots, he writes, are ripe for transformation. After all, as he points out, their design and function has not been rethought since the 1950s. With this book, Ben-Joseph pushes the parking lot into the twenty-first century.
Can't parking lots be aesthetically pleasing, environmentally and architecturally responsible? Used for something other than car storage? Ben-Joseph shows us that they can. He provides a visual history of this often ignored urban space, introducing us to some of the many alternative and nonparking purposes that parking lots have served--from RV campgrounds to stages for "Shakespeare in the Parking Lot." He shows us parking lots that are not concrete wastelands but lushly planted with trees and flowers and beautifully integrated with the rest of the built environment. With purposeful design, Ben-Joseph argues, parking lots could be significant public places, contributing as much to their communities as great boulevards, parks, or plazas. For all the acreage they cover, parking lots have received scant attention. It's time to change that; it's time to rethink the lot.
From the writer than many people love to dislike
The Crisis of Zionism
By Peter Beinart
Click here for Gary Rosenblatt's review of the book here
Based on Beinart's famed piece in June 10 issue of The NY Review of Books, the book will examine the growing gap between liberal American Jews and the State of Israel. The book will lay bare the fissures in the American Jewish community, trace the history of this divide with Israel, and how it will manifest itself in American as well as Israeli politics.
Israel's next great crisis may come not with the Palestinians or Iran but with young American Jews
A dramatic shift is taking place in Israel and America. In Israel, the deepening occupation of the West Bank is putting Israeli democracy at risk. In the United States, the refusal of major Jewish organizations to defend democracy in the Jewish state is alienating many young liberal Jews from Zionism itself. In the next generation, the liberal Zionist dream—the dream of a state that safeguards the Jewish people and cherishes democratic ideals—may die.
In The Crisis of Zionism, Peter Beinart lays out in chilling detail the looming danger to Israeli democracy and the American Jewish establishment's refusal to confront it. And he offers a fascinating, groundbreaking portrait of the two leaders at the center of the crisis: Barack Obama, America's first "Jewish president," a man steeped in the liberalism he learned from his many Jewish friends and mentors in Chicago; and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister who considers liberalism the Jewish people's special curse. These two men embody fundamentally different visions not just of American and Israeli national interests but of the mission of the Jewish people itself.
Beinart concludes with provocative proposals for how the relationship between American Jews and Israel must change
HALBMAN STEALS HOME
By B. GLEN ROTCHIN
March 2012, Durdin
Rotchin's debut novel, The Rent Collector (Vehicule, 2005), was a finalist for the Books in Canada First Novel Award. The novel has a Mordecai Richler feel to it, a la Barney's Version (Montreal-centric, featuring a crusty protagonist and his loopy family). Rotchin has won two national Jewish Book Awards for co-editing two poetry anthologies, and is a well-respected literary figure. MORT HALBMAN, 65, is the prime suspect in an arson investigation when his family home, which he built 35 years ago, burns down. Juggling complicated family matters, like his ex-wife, Mona, whom he divorced after 7 years of marriage; or Jacob, his gay son in search of a rabbi who can officiate at his same sex wedding, he feels compelled to continually return to the ruin of his former home, and to the memories the place still holds for him (which therefore makes him a suspect in the arson investigation). This is the story of Mort's daring attempt to risk everything for a last shot at redemption.
Through the Door of Life
A Jewish Journey between Genders
Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiographies
By Joy Ladin
March 2012, Wisconsin
Professor Jay Ladin made headlines around the world when, after years of teaching literature at Yeshiva University, he returned to the Orthodox Jewish campus as a woman—Joy Ladin. In Through the Door of Life, Joy Ladin takes readers inside her transition as she changed genders and, in the process, created a new self. With unsparing honesty and surprising humor, Ladin wrestles with both the practical problems of gender transition and the larger moral, spiritual, and philosophical questions that arise. Ladin recounts her struggle to reconcile the pain of her experience living as the “wrong” gender with the pain of her children in losing the father they love. We eavesdrop on her lifelong conversations with the God whom she sees both as the source of her agony and as her hope for transcending it. We look over her shoulder as she learns to walk and talk as a woman after forty-plus years of walking and talking as a man. We stare with her into the mirror as she asks herself how the new self she is creating will ever become real. Ladin’s poignant memoir takes us from the death of living as the man she knew she wasn’t, to the shattering of family and career that accompanied her transition, to the new self, relationships, and love she finds when she opens the door of life
Judgment Before Nuremberg
The Holocaust in the Ukraine
and the First Nazi War Crimes Trial
The story of the forgotten Kharkov Trials
By Greg Dawson (The Orlando Sentinel)
March 2012, Pegasus
The story of the forgotten Kharkov Trials, which sought justice for the thousands of Jews killed in the Ukraine two years prior to the infamous Nuremberg Trails. When people think of the Holocaust, they think of Auschwitz, Dachau; and when they think of justice for this terrible chapter in history, they think of Nuremberg. Not of Russia or the Ukraine, and certainly not of a city called Kharkov. But in reality, the first war-crimes trial against the Nazis was in this idyllic, peaceful Ukrainian city, which is fitting, because it is also where the Holocaust actually began.
Revealing a lost chapter in Holocaust historiography, Judgment Before Nuremberg tells the story of Dawson’s journey to this place, to the scene of the crime, and the discovery of the trial which began the tortuous process of avenging the murder of his grandparents, his great-grandparents, and tens of thousands of fellow Ukrainians consumed at the dawn of the Shoah, a moment and crime now largely cloaked in darkness.
Eighteen months before the end of World War II — two full years before the opening statement by the prosecution at Nuremberg — three Nazi officers and a Ukrainian collaborator were tried and convicted of war crimes and hanged in Kharkov’s public square.
The trial is symbolic of the larger omission of the Ukraine from the popular history of the Holocaust—another deep irony, as most of the first of the six million perished in the Ukraine long before Hitler and his lieutenants even decided on the formalities of the Final Solution.
THE BOOK CLUB COOK BOOK
Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's FavoriteBooks and Authors
By Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp
Revised and Updated for 2012
March 2012 Penguin
Whether it's Roman Punch for The Age of Innocence, or Sabzi Challow (spinach and rice) with Lamb for The Kite Runner, or Swedish Meatballs and Glögg for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, nothing spices up a book club meeting like great eats. Featuring recipes and discussion ideas from bestselling authors and book clubs across the country, this fully revised and updated edition of the classic book guides readers in selecting and preparing culinary masterpieces that blend perfectly with the literary masterpieces their club is reading. This edition features new contributions from a host of today's bestselling authors including: Kathryn Stockett, The Help (Demetrie's Chocolate Pie and Caramel Cake)
Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants (Oyster Brie Soup)
Jodi Picoult, My Sister's Keeper (Brian Fitzgerald's Firehouse Marinara Sauce)
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone (Almaz's Ethiopian Doro Wot and Sister Mary Joseph Praise's Cari de Dal)
Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Annie Barrows's Potato Peel Pie and Non-Occupied Potato Peel Pie)
Lisa See, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Lisa See's Deep-Fried Sugared Taro)
Glogg, inspired by The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (wines, brown sugar, sinn, cloves)
Cocoa Cinnamon Babka from Michael Chabon for his Kavalier and Clay novel
Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies from Myla Goldberg and Bee Season
Vanilla Kipferls (crescent cookies) from Markus Zusaks and The Book Thief
Dotties's Famous Peter Butter Pie from James McBride, author of The Color of Water
Sun Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Pizza from Lauren Weisberger and The Devil Wears Prada
Chicken Shwarma from Jonathan Lethem and Mother less Brooklyn
Mozarella Sticks from Barbara Ehrenreich
Shibazai Salad (Tomato Cucumber) from Geraldine Brooks
Fig Spread and Goat Cheese Toasts from Anita Diamant and The Red Tent
New York Style Cheesecake from Tatiana de Rosnay and Sarah's Key
and much much more
The Book Club Cookbook will add real flavor to your book club meetings!
The Spinoza Problem
By Irvin D. Yalom
March 2012, Basic Books
When sixteen-year-old Alfred Rosenberg is called into his headmaster’s office for anti-Semitic remarks he made during a school speech, he is forced, as punishment, to memorize passages about Spinoza from the autobiography of the German poet Goethe. Rosenberg is stunned to discover that Goethe, his idol, was a great admirer of the Jewish seventeenth-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza. Long after graduation, Rosenberg remains haunted by this “Spinoza problem”: how could the German genius Goethe have been inspired by a member of a race Rosenberg considers so inferior to his own, a race he was determined to destroy?
Spinoza himself was no stranger to punishment during his lifetime. Because of his unorthodox religious views, he was excommunicated from the Amsterdam Jewish community in 1656, at the age of twenty-four, and banished from the only world he had ever known. Though his life was short and he lived without means in great isolation, he nonetheless produced works that changed the course of history.
Over the years, Rosenberg rose through the ranks to become an outspoken Nazi ideologue, a faithful servant of Hitler, and the main author of racial policy for the Third Reich. Still, his Spinoza obsession lingered. By imagining the unexpected intersection of Spinoza’s life with Rosenberg’s, internationally bestselling novelist Irvin D. Yalom explores the mindsets of two men separated by 300 years. Using his skills as a psychiatrist, he explores the inner lives of Spinoza, the saintly secular philosopher, and of Rosenberg, the godless mass murderer.
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FROM THE SON OF JOSEPH HELLER:
By Ted Heller
March 2012, Basic Books
In this dead-on satire of online obsessions, a novelist with writer’s block finds a new—and very lucrative—stream of income in a virtual world that appears to give him everything he lacks in the real world.
When frank Dixon, a frustrated writer who has seen his career crash and burn, decides to dabble in online poker, he discovers he has a knack for winning. In this newfound realm, populated by alluring characters—each of them elusive, mysterious, and glamorous—he becomes a smash success: popular, rich, and loved. Going by the name Chip Zero, he sees his fortunes and romantic liaisons thrive in cyberspace while he remains blind to the fact that his real life is sinking. His online success, however, does not come without complications, as he comes to realize that his “virtual” friends and lovers are, in fact, very real, and one rival player is not at all happy that Mr. Zero has taken all his money.
Heller’s cautionary tale is continually surprising and startlingly real, a tour de force of satirical storytelling in the vein of Jonathan Tropper and Sam Lipsyte.
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Martin Buber's Spirituality
Hasidic Wisdom for Everyday Life
By Kenneth Paul Kramer
Rowman and Littlefield
How do we find meaning in our life? This book explores how Martin Buber, one of the 20th century’s greatest religious thinkers, answers this timeless question. Author Kenneth Paul Kramer explains Buber’s Hasidic spirituality—a living connection between the human and the divine—and how it is relevant to all spiritual seekers.
According to Buber, we find meaning in life through wholeheartedly “letting God in." He developed this theme through six thought-provoking talks originally published as The Way of Man. In Martin Buber’s Spirituality, Kramer explains the accessible practices Buber outlined in these talks, shares the stories Buber used to illustrate each point, and explores how these teachings might apply in everyday life today. The book features questions for personal or group reflection to help readers more fully explore Martin Buber’s approach to spirituality, along with a glossary of key terms.
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Israel's Silent Defender
An Inside Look at Sixty Years of Israeli Intelligence
By Ephraim Lapid and Amos Gilboa
Through its professionalism, daring, and creativity, the Israeli Intelligence community has made important contributions to intelligence services around the world in the struggle against global terrorism. But how much is known about it? How does it work, and how was it built? Who were the leaders and driving forces of the community? What were the defining events in its history? What are its areas of activity what are the secrets of its success? Israel's Silent Defender is the first book of its kind an inside look at the Israeli intelligence community over the last sixty years. It is a compilation of the writings of those officers who served and some who still do in the highest positions of the Israeli intelligence community.
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The Last Bright Days
A Young Woman's Life in a Lithuanian Shtetl on the Eve of the Holocaust
Edited by Frank Buonagurio with Beile Delechky
March 2012, Jewish Heritage
PW writes, Starred review: In the 1930s, Beile Delechky was a young woman growing up in the Jewish shtetl of Kavarsk, Lithuania, where she and her brother Moishe were the unofficial town photographers. Just three years before the city's Jewish inhabitants were destroyed by the Nazis in 1941, Delechky left Kavarsk for America, bringing with her hundreds of photographs. Compiled by Buonagurio, and supplemented with his own commentary as well as passages of Delechky's journals and poetry (both photocopied and translated), these photographs show a vibrant Kavarsk, "a typical Lithuanian market town and...microcosm of Jewish life" as it was between the two World Wars. Given that most of her friends and family would die at the hands of the Nazis, the excerpts of her writings are often portentously chilling: "There is hope that the snow will come to an end," she writes, "There is hope that once again we will behold the green grasses on which we can lie down and rest." Many photographs depict Delechky's friends and family engaged in quotidian activities, like swimming in the Sventa River, posing in the snow, putting on plays, and harvesting apples. The final pages tell the story of Delechky's journey to America, including her passage through Nazi Germany on Kristallnacht. She eventually settled in San Francisco, but never returned to Lithuania. This collection is a beautiful preservation of Jewish life.
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American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power
By Andrew Nagorski (EastWest Inst, formerly Newsweek)
March 13, 2012, Simon & Schuster
Hitler’s rise to power, Germany’s march to the abyss, as seen through the eyes of Americans—diplomats, military, expats, visiting authors, Olympic athletes—who watched horrified and up close. By tapping a rich vein of personal testimonies, Hitlerland offers a gripping narrative full of surprising twists—and a startlingly fresh perspective on this heavily dissected era.
Some of the Americans in Weimar and then Hitler’s Germany were merely casual observers, others deliberately blind; a few were Nazi apologists. But most slowly began to understand the horror of what was unfolding, even when they found it difficult to grasp the breadth of the catastrophe.
Among the journalists, William Shirer, Edgar Mowrer, and Dorothy Thompson were increasingly alarmed. Consul General George Messersmith stood out among the American diplomats because of his passion and courage. Truman Smith, the first American official to meet Hitler, was an astute political observer and a remarkably resourceful military attaché.
Historian William Dodd, whom FDR tapped as ambassador in Hitler’s Berlin, left disillusioned; his daughter Martha scandalized the embassy with her procession of lovers from her initial infatuation with Nazis she took up with. She ended as a Soviet spy.
On the scene were George Kennan, who would become famous as the architect of containment; Richard Helms, who rose to the top of the CIA; Howard K. Smith, who would coanchor the ABC Evening News. The list of prominent visitors included writers Sinclair Lewis and Thomas Wolfe, famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, the great athlete Jesse Owens, newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, and black sociologist and historian W.E.B. Dubois.
Observing Hitler and his movement up close, the most perceptive of these Americans helped their reluctant countrymen begin to understand the nature of Nazi Germany as it ruthlessly eliminated political opponents, instilled hatred of Jews and anyone deemed a member of an inferior race, and readied its military and its people for a war for global domination. They helped prepare Americans for the years of struggle ahead.
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The Father of Modern Anthropology
NOW IN PAPERBACK
By Patrick Wilcken
March 13, 2012, Penguin
The first biography in English of the intellectual giant who founded modern anthropology is now in paperback
One of the defining intellectuals of the twentieth century and public intellectuals of post War France, Claude Levi-Strauss, revolutionized anthropology, transforming it from the colonial-era study of "exotic" tribes to one consumed with fundamental questions about the nature of humanity and civilization itself.
A scion of Alsatian Jews in France, Levi-Strauss visited the world, but avoided post 1948 Israel until late in life. He once said that if a future biographer wanted to understand him, they should look to his attempt to understand his roots,
This acclaimed biography not only follows the anthropologist's peripatetic career, from the depths of Amazonia in the 1930s to postwar Paris, but also offers an invaluable guide to his most influential theories. The result seamlessly blends a portrait of an extraordinary life with a primer on twentieth-century anthropology.
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The Age of Insight
The Quest to Understand the Unconscious
in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present
Eric Kandel, Phd, Nobel Laureate (
March 27, 2012, Random House
You might know the esteemed Columbia University Professor Emeritus from the Charlie Rose Show, or from the time when he won the Nobel and Austria, from which he escaped at age 9, tried to take credit for his prize and he said, “No, this is an American Jewish Nobel.” Austria, however, did agree to host a symposium on Nazism in Austria that Kandel organized with Fritz Stern.
But I digress...
This is a brilliant book by Nobel Prize winner Eric R. Kandel, The Age of Insight takes us to Vienna 1900, where leaders in science, medicine, and art began a revolution that changed forever how we think about the human mind—our conscious and unconscious thoughts and emotions—and how mind and brain relate to art.
At the turn of the century, Vienna was the cultural capital of Europe. Artists and scientists met in glittering salons, where they freely exchanged ideas that led to revolutionary breakthroughs in psychology, brain science, literature, and art. Kandel takes us into the world of Vienna to trace, in rich and rewarding detail, the ideas and advances made then, and their enduring influence today.
The Vienna School of Medicine led the way with its realization that truth lies hidden beneath the surface. That principle infused Viennese culture and strongly influenced the other pioneers of Vienna 1900. Sigmund Freud shocked the world with his insights into how our everyday unconscious aggressive and erotic desires are repressed and disguised in symbols, dreams, and behavior. Arthur Schnitzler revealed women’s unconscious sexuality in his novels through his innovative use of the interior monologue. Gustav Klimt, Oscar Kokoschka, and Egon Schiele created startlingly evocative and honest portraits that expressed unconscious lust, desire, anxiety, and the fear of death.
Kandel tells the story of how these pioneers—Freud, Schnitzler, Klimt, Kokoschka, and Schiele—inspired by the Vienna School of Medicine, in turn influenced the founders of the Vienna School of Art History to ask pivotal questions such as What does the viewer bring to a work of art? How does the beholder respond to it? These questions prompted new and ongoing discoveries in psychology and brain biology, leading to revelations about how we see and perceive, how we think and feel, and how we respond to and create works of art. Kandel, one of the leading scientific thinkers of our time, places these five innovators in the context of today’s cutting-edge science and gives us a new understanding of the modernist art of Klimt, Kokoschka, and Schiele, as well as the school of thought of Freud and Schnitzler. Reinvigorating the intellectual enquiry that began in Vienna 1900, The Age of Insight is a wonderfully written, superbly researched, and beautifully illustrated book that also provides a foundation for future work in neuroscience and the humanities. It is an extraordinary book from an international leader in neuroscience and intellectual history.
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Life Among the Cannibals
A Political Career, a Tea Party Uprising,
and the End of Governing As We Know It
By Senator Arlen Specter with Charles Robbins
March 27, 2012, Thomas Dunne
A revealing memoir of how Washington is changing---and not for the better During a storied thirty-year career in the U.S. Senate, Arlen Specter rose to Judiciary Committee chairman, saved and defeated Supreme Court nominees, championed NIH funding, wrote watershed crime laws, always staying defiantly independent, “The Contrarian,” as Time magazine billed him in a package of the nation’s ten-best Senators. It all ended with one vote, for President Obama’s stimulus, when Specter broke with Republicans to provide the margin of victory to prevent another Depression.
Shunned by the GOP faithful, Specter changed parties, giving Democrats a sixty-vote supermajority and throwing Washington into a tailspin. He kept charging, taking the first bursts of Tea Party fire at public meetings on Obama’s health care--reform plan. Undaunted, Specter cast the key vote for the health plan. In Life Among the Cannibals, Specter candidly describes the battles that led to his party switch, his tough transition, the unexpected struggles and duplicity that he faced, and his tumultuous campaign and eventual defeat in the 2010 Pennsylvania Democratic primary. Taking us behind the scenes in the Capitol, the White House, and on the campaign trail, he shows how the rise of extremists---in both parties---has displaced tolerance with purity tests, purging centrists, and precluding moderate, bipartisan consensus.
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If I Could Tell You
by Hannah Brown (Jerusalem Post)
Spring 2012, Vantage Point
Anne. Talia. Ruthie. Brett. Four very different New York women. But when their children are diagnosed with autism, they all find themselves struggling with the same problem. Suddenly, these women – an ex-model who owns a downtown bar, a high-powered magazine editor, an English professor, and a physical therapist – find that they need each other, as they face the ultimate challenge for any parent: How to help their autistic children get the care they need. But as women, they struggle with another daunting task: How to keep their marriages alive and not find themselves on the wrong side of a frightening statistic --Eighty percent of the parents of autistic children divorce. They join together in a support group, and each chapter follows a month in their lives and ends with a meeting.
It's a rocky road, as they contend with other problems: Quacks peddling expensive alternative therapies – and hope; husbands impatient with their children's disability; other women only too happy to take advantage of the pressures on their marriages; older children diagnosed with autism years ago; newborn babies who have a one-in-five chance of suffering from the disorder; scheming co-workers who try to turn this problem to their advantage; grandparents who are anything but helpful; and resentful teens who run wild while their mothers cope with the crisis. And through it all, they help each other – with strength, humor, love and wisdom.
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The Right Side of Forty
The Complete Guide to Happiness for Gay Men at Midlife and Beyond
By Bob Bergeron, MSW
Bergeron, a popular psychotherapist in Manhattan, works out everyday at 7 AM, has friends, is successful, owns an apartment in Chelsea, and is 49. He was on the verge of even greater success with the publication of this book on Happiness for men, many of them Jewish. Except that he killed himself a dozen weeks before it was published... (btw, gay Jewish men are said to have a three times greater likelihood of contemplating suicide than the national average). In January 2012, he felt that this book was wrong, he doubted his conclusions, and was inconsolable.
Here is the book. Aging, with its accompanying sense of loss and the passage of time, has the potential to be psychologically painful for everyone, but it can be particularly complicated for gay men. Our early life is often marked by an inability to relate to other males in childhood and adolescence. Once we identify ourselves as openly gay in young adulthood, we may achieve a new sense of fulfillment, but the ways we connect to other gay men may also make us feel particularly vulnerable as we age. And gay men now reaching forty may find themselves without appropriate role models for successful aging just when we need them most, having lost a significant number of older gay men in the first decades of the AIDS epidemic who might otherwise now be exemplars of adapting, even thriving, as they face the prospect of getting older.
Connecting to the Right Side of Forty follows a step-by-step program that the author has developed working for over two decades with clients. The book draws upon the insights of clinical practice, the life-stories of gay men, and the practical benefit of cognitive therapy in a work tailored specifically to the unique needs of gay men in the twenty-first century who are now struggling with aging without the example of older mentors. Instead of viewing our adventure of interacting with gay men as coming to an end at mid-life, Bergeon's method reveals how much we have yet to accomplish in learning about ourselves and how to connect differently with others. Through his book gay men will see mid-life as an exciting and transformational voyage to embark upon in our years after forty. Click the book cover to read more
Being Open to the World and Pain, and Not Fear
That's Funny, You Don't Look Buddhist
On Being a Faithful Jew and a Passionate Buddhist
Boorstein, the grandmother of seven, says that her Jewish grandmother the first Buddhist she knew. Buddhist? Well sort of. Her grandmother would say to her, “Who said that you were supposed to be happy?” Boorstein thinks her GPS is Buddhist. It is always saying “recalculating.” Maybe you made a wrong turn or a right turn or you just are not on the path you planned, you can always recalculate, and nurture yourself.
An oldie and goodie, as Boorstein is being spoke about a lot in 2012.
Boorstein, author of It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness (1995), is a wonderfully commonsensical Buddhist teacher and an observant Jew. This combination of faiths is not uncommon; in fact, so many Jews are drawn to Buddhism, it is becoming a genuine spiritual movement. Rodger Kamenetz examined this phenomena in The Jew and the Lotus (1994), and now Boorstein devotes her newest book to answering the question, "How is it possible to be both a Jew and a Buddhist?" Warm and direct, she expresses her gratitude for knowing "two vocabularies" of faith: Buddhism is her "voice of understanding," and Judaism is the voice of her heart. Uneasy, at first, about this unsought "dual citizenship," Boorstein slowly realized that she became a more observant Jew because she has a meditation practice, that meditation brought her closer to her spiritual essence, which is, by birth, Jewish. Boorstein's mindful elucidation of her balance of faiths is inspiring and enriching. When it comes to spirituality, more is more. Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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A Story of Love and War
by Millie Werber and Eve Keller
Judged only as a World War Two survivor’s chronicle, Millie Werber’s story would be remarkable enough. Born in central Poland in the town of Radom, she found herself trapped in the ghetto at the age of fourteen, a slave laborer in an armaments factory in the summer of 1942, transported to Auschwitz in the summer of 1944, before being marched to a second armaments factory. She faced death many times; indeed she was certain that she would not survive. But she did. Many years later, when she began to share her past with Eve Keller, the two women rediscovered the world of the teenage girl Millie had been during the war. Most important, Millie revealed her most precious private memory: of a man to whom she was married for a few brief months. He was—if not the love of her life—her first great unconditional passion. He died, leaving Millie with a single photograph taken on their wedding day, and two rings of gold that affirm the presence of a great passion in the bleakest imaginable time.
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APRIL 2012 BOOKS
A Natural Woman:
By Carole King
2012, Grand Central Publishing
Carole King takes us from her early beginnings in Brooklyn, to her remarkable success as one of the world's most acclaimed songwriting and performing talents of all time. A NATURAL WOMAN chronicles King's extraordinary life, drawing readers into her musical world, including her phenomenally successful #1 album Tapestry, and into her journey as a performer, mother, wife and present-day activist. Deeply personal, King's long-awaited memoir offers readers a front-row seat to the woman behind the legend.
The book will include dozens of photos from King's childhood, her own family, and behind-the-scenes images from her performances.
The Illuminated Kaddish
Interpretations of the Mourner’s Prayer
Hyla Shifra Bolsta
April 2012, KTAV
The Illuminated Kaddish: Interpretations of the Jewish Mourner’s Prayer is a contemporary, illuminated manuscript that deepens contemplation and appeals to the spirit through visual beauty. This book is a modern meditation with images that reflect the spirit of the Kaddish, replete with illustrations, illuminated calligraphy, exploration of the powerful text and its invocations, Biblical quotes and sages thoughts on Death and Prayer. It contains about 104 embellished pages in a 10 x 10 format.
From Defender to Critic
The Search for a New Jewish Self
By David Hartman
April 2012, Jewish Lights
How the world s leading modern Orthodox theologian s struggles with halakhic spirituality reshaped and renewed his foundation of faith. He is the founder and head of the Shalom Hartman Inst in Jerusalem. This is an extraordinary look into David Hartman s spiritual quest to reframe the traditional halakhic system of formalism and authority into one with a greater emphasis on the individual and his or her subjective, experiential role in creating meaningful Judaism. It traces his painful spiritual evolution from defender of the rule-based system of Jewish law shaped by his teacher Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik to a revolutionary proponent of a theology of empowerment, one that encourages individuals and communities to take greater levels of responsibility for their religious lives. It shows how his goals were not to strip halakha or the past of its authority but to create a space for questioning and critique that allows for the traditionally religious Jew to act out a moral life in tune with modern experience.
In achieving this synthesis of tradition with the sensibilities of contemporary Jewry, Hartman captures precisely what creates vitality in living Judaism and charts the path to nurture its vitality forever.
Our Religious Brains
What Cognitive Science Reveals
About Belief, Morality, Community
And Our Relationship With God
By Rabbi Ralph D. Mecklenburger with Dr. Neil Gillman and Dr Howard Klefer
2012, Jewish Lights
The first accessible examination of the implications of cognitive studies for theology intended especially for lay people. In the last several decades, scientific research on the way the brain functions has revolutionized more than clinical psychology and medicine. Our brains do not simply process information. They create what each of us knows as reality and how we construe its meaning. This has dramatic implications not only for psychology, but for virtually every field, including religion.
This groundbreaking, accessible book examines the implications of cognitive study for theology. It reviews current theory on how our brains construct our world in order to guide us safely through life, creating
and appreciating meaning as we go. It explores what religious experience is as it plays out in our brains and how modern science challenges historic ideas about free will and undermines the religious concept of the soul as a metaphysical entity separable from the body. Finally, it examines what cognitive science reveals about community and asks why we should be loyal to one faith if, in fact, all major religious traditions deal effectively with universal human needs.
Avoiding neurological jargon and respectful to all faiths, this is the first comprehensive look at the insights and challenges of cognitive studies for religion.
Fat, Drunk, and Stupid
The Inside Story Behind the Making of Animal House
By Matty Simmons
April 2012, St Martin’s Press
A wild, uncensored, behind-the-scenes account of America's favorite film comedy. In 1976, National Lampoon, the nation’s most popular humor magazine, decided to create a movie under the Lampoon banner. It would be set on a college campus in the 60s, very loosely based on the fraternity experiences of Lampoon contributor Chris Miller, and it would be called “Animal House.” A cast of mostly unknowns was hired, and for four weeks in late 1977, the actors and crew invaded the town of Eugene, Oregon. Reluctantly produced by Universal Studios on a budget of less than $3 million, the film wound up with revenues of over $600 million. Drawing from exclusive new interviews with director John Landis, fellow producer Ivan Reitman, Karen Allen, Kevin Bacon and other key players, as well as never-before-seen photos, this book traces the film’s outrageous history, from its birth in the offices of the National Lampoon, to scripting, casting, filming, and, ultimately, the film’s mega success. This is a hilarious romp through one of the biggest grossing, most memorable, most frequently quoted, and most celebrated comedies of all time.
Jews Welcome Coffee:
Tradition and Innovation in Early Modern Germany
Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry
By Robert Liberles (Ben Gurion)
Tracing the introduction of coffee into Europe, Robert Liberles challenges long-held assumptions about early modern Jewish history and shows how the Jews harnessed an innovation that enriched their personal, religious, social, and economic lives. Focusing on Jewish society in Germany in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and using coffee as a key to understanding social change, Liberles analyzes German rabbinic rulings on coffee, Jewish consumption patterns, the commercial importance of coffee for various social strata, differences based on gender, and the efforts of German authorities to restrict Jewish trade in coffee, as well as the integration of Jews into society.
Some chapters are: Introduction: What Should One Drink?; Coffee’s Social Dimensions; Coffee and Controversies in Germany; The Rabbis Welcome Coffee; Coffee in Everyday Life: Consumption, Petty Trade, and Religious Life; It Is Not Permitted, Therefore It Is Forbidden: Controversies over the Jewish Coffee Trade; If Only They Had Worn Their Cocardes: Jews, Coffeehouses, and Social Integration; and Epilogue: Tradition and Innovation
THE FIRST CRUSADE
THE CALL FROM THE EAST
BY PETER FRANKOPAN (Oxford)
April 2012, Harvard University Press / Belknap
According to tradition, the First Crusade began at Pope Urban II’s instigation and culminated in July 1099, when western European knights liberated Jerusalem. But what if the First Crusade’s real catalyst lay far to the east of Rome? Countering nearly a millennium of scholarship, Peter Frankopan reveals the First Crusade’s untold history. What if the First Crusade’s real catalyst lay far to the east of Rome? Countering nearly a millennium of scholarship, Peter Frankopan reveals the First Crusade’s untold history.
Professor Frankopan shows that the standard history that Pope Urban II gave a speech in 1095 at Clermont might not be the whole story. While Pope Urban had tests and oaths, Peter the Hermit recruited what one contemporary called the feces of Europe to take up arms. Constantinople is where we should look. The Byzantine Empire and its ruler Alexios (I Komnenos) is central to the story of the First Crusade. The Crusade began with Alexios and not Urban II. Alexios was no fool. He had taken power in a coup and saw that the pope was weakened after the Great Schism of 1054. The Turks were threatening Alexios' rule, and he thought that by linking his rule to the freeing of Jerusalem would get him the military support he needed to fend off the Turks. Thus he was the architect of the First Crusade
As for the Jews... Towards the end of the 11th century, there were reports in Europe of atrocities by Muslims in the Holy Land. O 1077, a synagogue was burned in Jerusalem, and in the 1090's pilgrims were reportedly kidnapped and tortured. The Crusaders in the German lands practiced killing Jews on their way to Jerusalem. The Jewish population of Cologne and Mainz were violently attacked; some committed suicide rather than face the mobs. In Regensburg, Jews were pushed into the Danube to be forcibly baptised. Godfrey and Bouillon vowed to eradicate the Jews in 1096, but was stopped by Henry IV. Even the threat of excommunication did not stop the crusaders from killing Jews in Europe. When sacking Jerusalem, the Crusaders cut open Muslims and Jews, thinking that they had swallowed gold and treasures. Click the book cover to read more
Second Person Singular
By Sayed Kashua
Translated from Hebrew by Mitch
April 2012, Grove Press
Fascinating and satirical... addresses the split identity of the Arab Israeli
Acclaimed novelist Sayed Kashua, the creator of the groundbreaking Israeli sitcom, “Arab Labor,” has been widely praised for his literary eye and deadpan wit. His new novel is considered internationally to be his most accomplished and entertaining work yet.
Winner of the prestigious Bernstein Award, Second Person Singular centers on an ambitious lawyer who is considered one of the best Arab criminal attorneys in Jerusalem. He has a thriving practice in the Jewish part of town, a large house, speaks perfect Hebrew, and is in love with his wife and two young children. One day at a used bookstore, he picks up a copy of Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata, and inside finds a love letter, in Arabic, in his wife’s handwriting. Consumed with suspicion and jealousy, the lawyer hunts for the book’s previous owner—a man named Yonatan—pulling at the strings that hold all their lives together.
With enormous emotional power, and a keen sense of the absurd, Kashua spins a tale of love and betrayal, honesty and artifice, and questions whether it is possible to truly reinvent ourselves. Second Person Singular is a deliciously complex psychological mystery and a searing dissection of the individuals that comprise a divided society.
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America's Soul In the Balance
The Holocaust, FDR's State Department, And The Moral Disgrace Of An American Aristocracy
By Attorney Gregory J. Wallance
April 2012, Green Leaf
Documentary producer, author, tv host, and Kaye Scholer partner Wallance, reports on the often forgotten story of the 70,000 Romanian Jews who were deported to death camps during WWII and the US State Department’s reactions, failure to act, and suppression of facts
Conversations at the American Film Institute with the Great Moviemakers
The Next Generation
By George Stevens Jr.
April 2012, Knopf
The Next Generation brings together AFI's conversations with moviemakers at work from the 1950s--during the studios' decline--to today's Hollywood. Directors, producers, writers, actors, cinematographers, composers, film editors, and independent filmmakers. Among them: Steven Spielberg, Nora Ephron, George Lucas, Sidney Poitier, and Darren Aronofsky.
By Leela Corman
April 2012, Schocken
A mesmerizing, heartbreaking graphic novel of immigrant life on New York’s Lower East Side at the turn of the twentieth century, as seen through the eyes of twin sisters whose lives take radically and tragically different paths.
For six-year-old Esther and Fanya, the teeming streets of New York’s Lower East Side circa 1910 are both a fascinating playground and a place where life’s lessons are learned quickly and often cruelly. In drawings that capture both the tumult and the telling details of that street life, Unterzakhn (Yiddish for "Underthings") tells the story of these sisters: as wide-eyed little girls absorbing the sights and sounds of a neighborhood of struggling immigrants; as teenagers taking their own tentative steps into the wider world (Esther working for a woman who runs both a burlesque theater and a whorehouse, Fanya for an obstetrician who also performs illegal abortions); and, finally, as adults battling for their own piece of the "golden land," where the difference between just barely surviving and triumphantly succeeding involves, for each of them, painful decisions that will have unavoidably tragic repercussions.
FROM THE LATE ANTHONY SHADID. HE DIED IN FEB 2012, A MONTH BEFORE THE BOOK’S PUBLICATION, WHILE COVERING SYRIA FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES. THE RECIPIENT OF MULTIPLE PULITZER PRIZES, I can tell you that after reading 3 pages, you will see what language and writing can be like in the hands of an artisan. I admit that I re-read some paragraphs, just to see how Shadid constructed them to make them so descriptive and powerful.
Some of the readers of this website might find the early chapters irritating as Shadid describes Israel’s IDF and the war in Southern Lebanon, the destruction, bombs, wanton destruction and defecation, etc., but war is war. And Leebanese will find the way that Shadid’s neighbors try to rip him off and steal.
House of Stone
A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East
By Anthony Shadid
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Last spring, when Anthony Shadid—one of four New York Times reporters captured in Libya as the region erupted—was freed, he went home. Not to Boston, Beirut, or Oklahoma where he was raised by his Lebanese-American family, but to an ancient estate built by his great-grandfather, a place filled with memories of a lost era when the Middle East was a world of grace, grandeur, and unexpected departures. For two years previous, Shadid had worked to reconstruct the house and restore his spirit after both had weathered war. Now the author of the award-winning Night Draws Near (National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, Los Angeles Times Book Prize) tells the story of the house’s re-creation, revealing its mysteries and recovering the lives that have passed through it. Shadid juxtaposes past and present as he traces the house’s renewal along with his family’s flight from Lebanon and resettlement in America. House of Stone is an unforgettable memoir of the world’s most volatile landscape and the universal yearning for home.
Reviewing the book in The New York Times, Steve Coll of The New Yorker, wrote, “The pain and allure of departure, more than the satisfaction of arrival, run through the stories told in “House of Stone,” Anthony Shadid’s elegiac, heartbreaking memoir of the year he spent restoring a long-abandoned family home in southern Lebanon. The book’s searching characters and mournful tone would be moving even if a reader had no knowledge that Mr. Shadid, a correspondent for The New York Times and perhaps his generation’s finest chronicler of the Middle East, died on Feb. 16 at 43 while on assignment in Syria. As it is, a book conceived as an introspective project of personal recovery — as well as a meditation on politics, identity, craft and beauty in the Levant — now stands as a memorial. It is a fitting one because of the writing skill and deep feeling Mr. Shadid unobtrusively displays. “House of Stone” is an elegant narrative that creates unity from diverse elements, much like the Ottoman-era cemento tiles over which Mr. Shadid obsesses and bargains during one stage of his beguiling restoration work. The book tells the story of his family’s migration from Lebanon to Oklahoma early in the 20th century, and along the way it illuminates the consequences of the Ottoman Empire’s fall; the binding ties of bayt, or home and belonging, in Arab families; the workplace ethics of Mr. Shadid’s small construction site in Lebanon; and the flavors of that battered society’s bitterness and resilience. At the heart of the book, Mr. Shadid’s third, lies the strong, open voice of its author. He is drawn to his family’s origins at a time when, after years of hard travel and conflict reporting at The Washington Post, he finds himself “stunned by war, and shockingly, no longer young, or married, or with my daughter.” He arrives as an emotional refugee in Jedeidet Marjayoun, a town not far from the Israeli frontier, where his great-grandfather left an empty house that Mr. Shadid partly owns by inheritance. His new Lebanese neighbors quickly disabuse him of any fantasy that they will bathe him a restorative embrace. They make a sport of fleecing him and regard his desire to rebuild the home as “reckless, dangerous, and altogether ‘American.’” Yet Mr. Shadid is too much in need of a project that will calm and repair his injured self to care very much what they think. His motivation, he writes, is “bayt and the desire to resurrect what once stood for something…
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KASHER IN THE RYE
The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16
BY MOSHE KASHER
Grand Central Publishing
A Delightful Romp Through Childhood Tragedy, Institutional Living, and Teenage Drug Addiction
Moshe Kasher is a stand up comedian and lives in Los Angeles. He has been featured on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central's Live at Gotham, and Chelsea Lately. He has performed at many international comedy festivals including the prestigious "Just For Laughs" festival in Montreal, Jamie Foxx's "Laffapalooza" festival and "South By Southwest." Moshe just finished shooting an MTV show, and he recently sold a show to Comedy Central, which he wrote and will star in.
PLEASE GOD LET IT BE HERPES
A HEArTFELT QUEST FOR LOVE AND COMPANIONSHIP
By Carlos Kotkin
New American Library
Humorist-writer-mammal Carlos Kotkin is lucky in love-if lucky in love means he's had enough horrible, pathetic, and downright bizarre dating experiences to write a book. His trouble with females usually begins upon opening his mouth. Here, Carlos shares his ups and mostly downs of bachelorhood, including romantic conquests with a slew of childhood crushes, insane yogis, a Playboy vixen, a STD host, the flaky, the deaf, and the just plain dumb. His unique mating style is not to be duplicated, but it will definitely make readers laugh-and want to get tested ASAP.
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Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948
By Madeleine Albright, Former U.S. Secretary of State
April 2012, Harper
Before she turned twelve, Madeleine Albright's life was shaken by the Nazi invasion of her native Prague, the Battle of Britain, the attempted destruction of European Jewry, the allied victory in World War II, the rise of communism, and the onset of the Cold War. Albright's experiences, and those of her family, provide a lens through which to view the most tumultuous dozen years in modern history. Drawing on her memory, her parents' written reflections, interviews with contemporaries, and newly-available documents, she recounts a tale that is by turns harrowing and inspiring. "Prague Winter" is an exploration of the past with timeless dilemmas in mind, a journey with universal lessons that is, simultaneously, intensely personal. The book takes readers from the Bohemian capital's thousand-year-old castle to the bomb shelters of London, from the desolate prison ghetto of Terezin to the highest councils of European and American government.
Albright reflects on her discovery of her family's Jewish heritage many decades after the war, on her Czech homeland's tangled history, and on the stark moral choices faced by her parents and their generation. Often relying on eyewitness descriptions, she tells the story of how millions of ordinary citizens were ripped from familiar surroundings and forced into new roles as exile leaders and freedom fighters, resistance organizers and collaborators, victims and killers. These events of enormous complexity are nevertheless shaped by concepts familiar to any growing child: fear, trust, adaptation, the search for identity, the pressure to conform, the quest for independence, and the difference between right and wrong. At once a deeply personal memoir and an incisive work of history, "Prague Winter" serves as a guide to the future through the lessons of the past - as seen through the eyes of one of the international community's most respected and fascinating figures.
A Century of Wisdom
Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the World's Oldest Living Holocaust Survivor
By Caroline Stoessinger
Intro by the late Vaclav Havel
2012, Spiegel and Grau
An inspiring story of resilience and the power of optimism—the true story of Alice Herz-Sommer, the world’s oldest living Holocaust survivor.
At 108 years old, the pianist Alice Herz-Sommer is an eyewitness to the entire last century and the first decade of this one. She has seen it all, surviving the Theresienstadt concentration camp, attending the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, and along the way coming into contact with some of the most fascinating historical figures of our time. As a child in Prague, she spent weekends and holidays in the company of Franz Kafka (whom she knew as “Uncle Franz”), and Gustav Mahler, Sigmund Freud, and Rainer Maria Rilke were friendly with her mother. When Alice moved to Israel after the war, Golda Meir attended her house concerts, as did Arthur Rubinstein, Leonard Bernstein, and Isaac Stern. Today Alice lives in London, where she still practices piano for hours every day.
Despite her imprisonment in Theresienstadt and the murders of her mother, husband, and friends by the Nazis, and much later the premature death of her son, Alice has been victorious in her ability to live a life without bitterness. She credits music as the key to her survival, as well as her ability to acknowledge the humanity in each person, even her enemies. A Century of Wisdom is the remarkable and inspiring story of one woman’s lifelong determination—in the face of some of the worst evils known to man—to find goodness in life. It is a testament to the bonds of friendship, the power of music, and the importance of leading a life of material simplicity, intellectual curiosity, and never-ending optimism.
The Future of the Jewish Past
By Yehuda Kurtzer (Shalom Hartman Inst of North America)
Modern Jews tend to relate to the past through "history," which relies on empirical demonstration and rational thought, rather than through "memory," which relies on the non-rational architectures of mythology. By now "history" has surpassed "memory" as a means of relating to the past--a development that falls short in building identity and creates disconnection between Jews and their collective history. Kurtzer seeks to mend this breach. Drawing on key classical texts, he shows that "history" and "memory" are not exclusive and that the perceived dissonance between them can be healed by a selective reclamation of the past and a translation of that past into purposefulness.
The Red Book
By Deborah Copaken Kogan
April 2012, Voice/Hyperion
The Big Chill meets The Group and Facebook in Deborah Copaken Kogan’s wry, lively, and irresistible new novel about a once-close circle of friends at their twentieth college reunion. Clover, Addison, Mia, and Jane were roommates at Harvard until their graduation in 1989. Clover, homeschooled on a commune by mixed-race parents, felt woefully out of place. Addison yearned to shed the burden of her Mayflower heritage. Mia mined the depths of her suburban ennui to enact brilliant performances on the Harvard stage. Jane, an adopted Vietnamese war orphan, made sense of her fractured world through words.
Twenty years later, their lives are in free fall. Clover, once a securities broker with Lehman, is out of a job and struggling to reproduce before her fertility window slams shut. Addison’s marriage to a writer’s-blocked novelist is as stale as her so-called career as a painter. Hollywood shut its gold-plated gates to Mia, who now stays home with her four children, renovating and acquiring faster than her director husband can pay the bills. Jane, the Paris bureau chief for a newspaper whose foreign bureaus are now shuttered, is caught in a vortex of loss.
Like all Harvard grads, they’ve kept abreast of one another via the red book, a class report published every five years, containing brief autobiographical essays by fellow alumni. But there’s the story we tell the world, and then there’s the real story, as these former classmates will learn during their twentieth reunion weekend, when they arrive with their families, their histories, their dashed dreams, and their secret yearnings to a relationship-changing, score-settling, unforgettable weekend.
With cover blurbs from Adam Gopnik, Dani Shapiro, Ayelet Waldman, and
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Islamism and Islam
By Bassam Tibi
Koret Foundation Senior Fellow, Stanford University
April 2012, YALE
Professor Emeritus Tibi (University of Gottingen) writes that despite the intense media focus on Muslims and their religion since the tragedy of 9/11, few Western scholars or policymakers today have a clear idea of the distinctions between Islam and the politically based fundamentalist movement known as Islamism. In this important and illuminating book, Bassam Tibi, a senior scholar of Islamic politics, provides a corrective to this dangerous gap in our understanding. He explores the true nature of contemporary Islamism and the essential ways in which it differs from the religious faith of Islam. Drawing on research in twenty Islamic countries over three decades, Tibi describes Islamism as a political ideology based on a reinvented version of Islamic law. In separate chapters devoted to the major features of Islamism, he discusses the Islamist vision of state order, the centrality of antisemitism in Islamist ideology, Islamism's incompatibility with democracy, the reinvention of jihadism as terrorism, the invented tradition of shari'a law as constitutional order, and the Islamists' confusion of the concepts of authenticity and cultural purity. Tibi's concluding chapter applies elements of Hannah Arendt's theory to identify Islamism as a totalitarian ideology.
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"Portnoy's Complaint" and Our Doomed
Pursuit of Happiness
By Bernard Avishai (Hebrew University)
April 2012, YALE
Avishai, a resident of Jerusalem and New Hampshire, and author of The Tragedy of Zionism and The Hebrew Republic, take a look at the classic work of Roth. The publication of “Portnoy’s Complaint” in 1969 provoked instant, powerful reactions. It blasted Philip Roth into international fame, subjected him to unrelenting personal scrutiny and conjecture, and shocked legions of readers — some delighted, others appalled.
Portnoy and other main characters became instant archetypes, and Roth himself became a touchstone for conflicting attitudes toward sexual liberation, Jewish power, political correctness, Freudian language, and bourgeois disgust.
Bernard Avishai explores Roth’s satiric masterpiece, based on the prolific novelist's own writings, teaching notes, and personal interviews. In addition to discussing the book’s timing, rhetorical gambit, and sheer virtuosity, Avishai includes a chapter on the Jewish community’s outrage over the book and how Roth survived it, and another on the author’s scorching treatment of psychoanalysis.
Avishai shows that Roth’s irreverent novel left us questioning who, or what, was the object of the satire. Hilariously, it proved the serious ways we construct fictions about ourselves and others.
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The Poetry of Kabbalah
Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition
(The Margellos World Republic of Letters)
Edited by Peter Cole
Afterword by Aminadav Dykman
April 2012, YALE
"A groundbreaking work. Cole reveals and explores a subject that has hardly been noticed in previous scholarship or popular writing: the poetic aspect of Jewish mysticism. His translations are superb, his introductions to each section are clear and stimulating, and his notes are learned yet not intimidating, clarifying what would otherwise remain obscure. In short, he brings this material alive for a contemporary reader. This is a marvelous book."—Daniel Matt, author of The Essential Kabbalah and translator of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition
A collection of poetry that emerges directly from Jewish mysticism. Taking up Gershom Scholem’s call to plumb the “tremendous poetic potential” concealed in the Kabbalistic tradition, Peter Cole provides dazzling renderings of work composed on three continents over a period of some fifteen hundred years. In addition to the translations and the texts in their original languages, Cole supplies a lively and insightful introduction, along with accessible commentaries to the poems. Aminadav Dykman adds an elegant afterword that places the work in the context of world literature. As a whole, the collection brings readers into the fascinating force field of Kabbalistic verse, where the building blocks of both language and existence itself are unveiled. Excerpts from The Poetry of Kabbalah have been featured in the Paris Review, Poetry, and Conjunctions.
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Five Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life
(While Fully Clothed & Totally Sober)
By Harlan Cohen
April 2012, St Martins
From Harlan Cohen, the bestselling author of THE NAKED ROOMMATE: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run into in College, comes NAKED DATING, an honest, hopeful guide to getting a date, falling in love—or lust—and finding happiness in love (and in life). With a simple 5-step approach to finding the love of your life, Harlan answers the most commonly asked questions from his syndicated advice column, his college tours, his website, and his newest book for Gen Y. He helped a generation make the most of college life, now he’ll help them find the love of their lives.
Harlan's writing career began at Indiana University's school newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student. He shifted his path toward advice after interning at The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in the summer of 1995. Harlan was inspired to begin writing his column after meeting a writer who had penned a similar column while in college. When he returned to campus, Harlan immediately launched his "Help Me, Harlan!" advice column. At first he wrote questions and answers to himself. When he started to help himself, he knew he was good. Then real letters started rolling in. Harlan's balance of honest advice, helpful resources, and sharp humor turned the column into an instant success on and off campus. As the column
spread, Harlan began writing books, speaking on college campuses, and creating original music to bring the topics addressed in his writing to life.
By Laurent Binet
Laurent Binet’s HHhH, winner of the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman, is “a work of breadth, and absolute originality” (Claude Lanzmann)
Everyone has heard of Reinhard Heydrich, “the Butcher of Prague.” And most have heard stories of his spectacular assassination at the hands of two Czechoslovakian partisans. But who exactly were the forgotten heroes who killed one of history’s most notorious men? In Laurent Binet’s captivating debut novel, HHhH (Himmlers Hirn heiBt Heydrich, or Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich), we follow the lives of Jozef Gabcik and Jan Kubiš, the Slovak and the Czech responsible for Heydrich’s death. From their heroic escape from Nazi-occupied Prague to their recruitment by the British secret services; from their meticulous preparation and training to their harrowing parachute drop into a war zone; from their stealth attack on Heydrich’s car to their own brutal deaths in the basement of a Prague church, Binet narrates the compelling story of these two incredible men, rescuing their heroic acts from obscurity. The winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman, Binet’s HHhH is a novel unlike anything else. A seemingly effortless blend of historical truth, personal memory, and Binet’s remarkable imagination, HHhH is a work at once thrilling and deeply engrossing—a historical novel and a profound meditation on the nature of writing and the debt we owe to history.
By Jeffrey Lewis
A novel from one of the Emmy Award winning writers of Hill Street Blues. A city that has lost one of its limbs and is receiving a miraculous gift, a little bump under the flesh, where the limb is just beginning to grow back." Thus does the American girl in Jeffrey Lewis' remarkable polyphonic novel describe Berlin and the "remnant Jews, secret GDR Jews . . . Soviet Jews . . . Jews who'd fled and come back with the victors, Jews who were lost mandarins now, Jews who'd believed in the universality of man and maybe still did" she finds at a gathering in the eastern city soon after the Wall fell. At the center of Berlin Cantata is a house owned successively by Jews, Nazis, and Communists. In the house, the American girl seeks her hidden past. In the girl, a local reporter seeks redemption. In the reporter, a false hero of the past seeks exposure. In the false hero, the American girl seeks a guide. And so it goes, a round of conspiracy and desire. Berlin Cantata deploys thirteen voices to tell a story of atonement, discovery, loss, identity, intrigue, mystery, insanity, sadomasochism, and lies.
LOTS OF CANDLES
PLENTY OF CAKE
(Life in the 50's (your fifties))
By Anna Quindlen
April 2012, Random House
I admit that over two decades agom when I saw her column in the NYT, titled Life in the 30's, I thought it meant the 1930's.
LIFE MUST BE LIVED FORWARD BUT UNDERSTOOD BACKWARD (Kierkegaard)
She's back. Her daughter is over 21 now.
She writes: It’s odd when I think of the arc of my life, from child to young woman to aging adult. First I was who I was. Then I didn’t know who I was. Then I invented someone, and became her. Then I began to like what I’d invented. And finally I was what I was again. It turned out I wasn’t alone in that particular progression.
From Anna Quindlen, #1 New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, comes this irresistible memoir about her life and the lives of women today. Candid, funny, moving, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is filled with the sharp insights and revealing observations that have long confirmed Quindlen’s status as America’s laureate of real life. As she did in her beloved New York Times columns, and in A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen says for us here what we may wish we could have said ourselves. Using her past, present, and future to explore what matters most to women at different ages, Quindlen talks about
Marriage: “A safety net of small white lies can be the bedrock of a successful marriage. You wouldn’t believe how cheaply I can do a kitchen renovation.”
Girlfriends: “Real friends offer both hard truths and soft landings and realize that it’s sometimes more important to be nice than to be honest.”
Our bodies: “I’ve finally recognized my body for what it is, a personality-delivery system, designed expressly to carry my character from place to place, now and in the years to come. It’s like a car, and while I like a red convertible or even a Bentley as well as the next person, what I really need are four tires and an engine.”
Parenting: “Being a parent is not transactional. We do not get what we give. It is the ultimate pay-it-forward: We are good parents, not so they will be loving enough to stay with us, but so they will be strong enough to leave us.”
From childhood memories to manic motherhood to middle age, Quindlen uses the events of her own life to illuminate our own. Along with the downsides of age, she says, can come wisdom, a perspective on life that makes it both satisfying and even joyful. So here’s to lots of candles, plenty of cake.
New and Selected Poems
By Jane Shore
Since Robert Fitzgerald praised Eye Level, Jane Shore’s 1977 Juniper Prize–winning first collection, for its “cool but venturesome eye,” her work has continued to receive the highest accolades and attention from critics and fellow poets. That Said: New and Selected Poems extends Shore’s lifelong, vivid exploration of memory—her childhood in New Jersey, her Jewish heritage, her adult years in Vermont. Shore’s devotion to her familiar coterie of departed parents, aunts, uncles, and friends passionately subscribes to Sholem Aleichem’s dictum that “eternity resides in the past.”
United States Poet Laureate W. S. Merwin wrote, “Shore’s characters emerge with an etched clarity . . . She performs this summoning with a language of quiet directness, grace and exactness, clear and without affectations.” And while there is no “typical” Jane Shore poem, what unifies them is her bittersweet introspection, elegant restraint, provocative autobiography, and on every page a magnetic readability.
Jane Shore was born and grew up in North Bergen, New Jersey. She studied at Goddard College, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and Radcliffe College and was a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in poetry at Harvard. She has received a Guggenheim fellowship and two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Currently a professor at George Washington University, she lives in Washington, D.C., and in Vermont.
A Yes-or-No Answer
Have you read The Story of O? / Will Buffalo sink under all that snow? /
Do you double-dip your Oreo? / Please answer the question yes or no.
The surgery—was it touch-and-go? / Does a corpse’s hair continue to grow? / Remember when we were simpatico? / Answer my question: yes or no.
Do you want another cup of joe? / If I touch you, is it apropos? /
Are you certain that you’re hetero? / Is your answer yes or no?
…. For better or for worse? Ergo, / shall we play it over, in slow mo? /
Do you love me? Do you know? / Maybe yes. Maybe no.
The Perfect Gentleman
A Muslim Boy Meets the West
By Imran Ahmad
It isn’t a Jewish Book, but I like to know more about the lives of Muslims in Western countries. Plus it is funny.
Both deliciously funny and deeply insightful, THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN is a beguiling multi-layered memoir that has touched the hearts of readers all over the world. At the age of one, Imran Ahmad moved from Pakistan to London, growing up torn between his Islamic identity and his desire to embrace the West. Join Imran in his lifelong struggle against corruption and injustice, and as he grapples with some of Life's most profound questions. What does God do exactly? Do you automatically go to Hell for following the wrong religion? How do you persuade a beautiful woman to become your girlfriend (and would driving a Jaguar XJS help?) Can you maintain a James Bond persona without the vodka, cigarettes and women - even whilst your parents are trying to arrange your marriage? Imran's unimagined journey makes thoughtful, compelling, and downright delightful reading. With a unique style and unflinching honesty, THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN addresses serious issues in an extraordinarily light way, and will leave readers both thinking deeply and laughing out loud.
Never Say Never
Finding a Life That Fits
By Ricki Lake
Actress, mother of two sons, talk-show host, and personality Ricki Lake has written a positive memoir on turning forty, losing weight, and reinventing oneself. In this intimate memoir, Ricki takes readers into her childhood home in Westchester County, where her parents — once liberal Jews — became born-again Christians.
She’ll reveal the sexual abuse she endured, and the subsequent food issues and weight problems spawned from that trauma.
She’ll pull back the curtain on her life as a celebrity, from Hairspray through her decade-long talk show to the reinvention of herself as an author and filmmaker on the subject of alternative childbirth. Along the way, Ricki has weathered near bankruptcy, a brutal divorce, and a string of broken romances, while also giving birth to two sons and raising them as a single mother—circumstances that would knock some of the strongest off their feet. The book’s release will coincide with Lake’s return to the television screen with a brand-new talk show.
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