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[beachball] SUMMER 2000 JEWISH BOOKS
Don't forget to check out OFrah's Jewish Book.


By Ben Katchor

Panels from the famed, unusual cartoon strip 1994-1997. Join Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, on a leisurely stroll past The Institute for Soup-Nut Research and The Municipal Birthmark Registry. Savor the smell of a phone booth, circa 1961. Sign up for a guided tour of the oldest continually vacant storefront in America. Attend a championship grave-digging competition, or, should you feel you've wasted yet another day, you can check in for help at a local Misspent Youth Center. Also includes the story of the demise of Sensum's Symmetry Shop. I am drawn to the strip because of its beauty, and the quirkiness of the utopia-chasing, getting-by characters. Plus, how can u not love a book by a guy who eat egfilte fish at the greatest NYC diner, the B&H Dairy Restaurant (go for the soup, stay for the challah). Congrats to Katchor, who received a MacArthur genius grant in June 2000.
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[book] My Love Affair With America : The Cautionary Tale of a Cheerful Patriot by Norman Podhoretz
Hardcover - 256 pages (July 2000) Free Press. The book opens with a rendition of American the Beautiful. Norman Podhoretz, Commentary Mag bigwig and Dean of America's Jewish Conservatives recollects his life and fight against Marxists and the ACLU. Born in Brownsville, the son of Jewish immigrants (Julius/Joel and Helen/Henya), Norman (Naphtali) attended public schools and sang Catholic hymns taught by Irish spinsters. He fills this ode to America with fabulous stories and anecdotes, as he recounts his youth and Liberalism and maturation as a Conservative. Along the way he continues his ode to those peddlers who helped create the America we know today. The book is a ringing Bell that counters what William F Buckley refers to as the keening sound of complaints against the USA. I enjoyed his story about his graduation from Columbia, and receipt of a Fellowship to Oxbridge. The other recipient turned out to the son of the woman from Norman's mother's village. They both had shared the trip from Europe to Ellis Island and had lost touch over the decades. Another great story was a recollection of Daniel Bell poking fun at his future brother-in-law Alfred Kazin. Kazin, writing "On Native Ground", spoke of OUR forests. Bell found it weird to refer to OUR as if working class Jews were Americans. Or when famed Professor of Philosophy Sidney Morgenbesser, a lapsed rabbi, found it bizarre that he was teaching undergrads about Saint Augustine. I was shocked by these quaint attitudes til I was even more shocked that thirty years later, Podhoretz recounts, Gore Vidal still writes about Jews as being not "us" or dual loyalists. Part 4 of the book, titled "Dayyenu American-style," recounts Podhoretz's points of gratitude and his love of country. I suggest that the diligent reader pair this book with Dershowitz's "Chutzpah." Now if only Norman's son, John, would take the spirit of this book, and stop bashing New Yorkers who choose to pronounce their Hispanic surnames with an accent. Click to read more.
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[book] We Were in Auschwitz
by Janusz Nel Siedlecki, Krystyn Olszewski, Tadeusz Borowski. Translated from Polish by Alicia Nitecki

Hardcover - 212 pages (June 2000). Survivors did not triumph, they were just lucky or resourceful... Since there is no description at this time for this book, let me add one. In 1945, three Polish survivors of Auschwitz (non-Jewish political prisoners) wrote their memories. These are graphic, unsparing memories that are fresh, since they were written right after liberation. They honestly discuss the inhumane, unspeakable conditions of starvation and daily deaths, and even murders among prisoners (kapos). This is the first time this book has ever been translated into English. in 1951, Tadeusz Borowski (#119198) previously authored a collection of memories in "This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman". He then committed suicide. This is an essential addition to anyone interested in Holocaust studies, but be warned that it is devastating. By the way, Janusz Nel Siedlecki was Number 6643, and Krystyn Olszewski was Number 7587
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Hardcover - 272 pages (June 2000) William Morrow. Why do Jews enter the screen trade? Is it cuz of their parents' expectations? Dori Carter's funny, first novel is about a disillusioned Jewish Hollywood ex-screenwriter looking back over her experiences. Ms Frankie Jordan (previously Francine Fingerman, which sounds a lot like Zelda Zuckerman, the author's grandma) is approaching 40, facing a divorce, and finding it hard to finish her screenplay. It is about a Jewish woman and her gay best friend/cousin. But god forbid that a Jew should be portrayed on the screen (gee, maybe Meg Ryan is available?) Then she meets Jonathan Prince. Prince, who is Frankie's agent's secretary, is Jewish, handsome, a Harvahd grad from Long Island who hates JAPS, intelligent, 24, eager to make something of himself in the movie industry, and apparently Frankie's devoted fan (he is not named Prince, as in JAP, for nothing). Or so Frankie believes, until, after a painful betrayal, she realizes that to him, she is only a small step on his way to the top. There's no particularly happy ending here, except that Frankie comes to understand herself and her fellow Hollywood Jews better as a result of her experience with Jonathan. Beneath the humor is an analysis of why Jews have always played such a major role in the movie industry. By the way... the author hnows about that which she writes. Dori Carter, wrote the script for "Big Business", a 1988 film that starred Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin. The studio execs were uncomfortable cuz the characters were too Jewish. In the words of the ALA, "The author paints a Hollywood that is filled with self absorbed, self-hating Jews, who ALL talk EXACTLY like this, and who all have EXTREMELY neurotic parents whose expectations for their children left them NO choice but to become pushy and determinedly upwardly mobile, at WHATEVER cost, NEVER realizing that no matter how successful they MIGHT become, they CAN NEVER do enough to make up for the PAIN of the past." Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[bookcover] Nine and Counting: The Women of the Senate by Barbara Mikulski (Editor), Kay Bailey Hutchison, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray, Olympia Snowe, Susan M. Collins, Mary L. Landrieu, Blanche Lambert Lincoln, Catherine Whitney
Hardcover - 288 pages (July 25, 2000) William Morrow. The inspiring stories of America's women U.S. Senators. A great bat mitzvah gift. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[bookcover] The Faustian Bargain : The Art World of Nazi Germany by Jonathan Petropoulos
Hardcover - 320 pages (2000) Getty Ctr. An invaluable account of Nazi plundering of art assets, and how many artists, dealers, and curators profited from the Nazi System. If this doesn't win a prize, I do not know what can. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[bookcover] Torah of the Earth: Exploring 4,000 Years of Ecology in Jewish Thought
by Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow (Editor)
Paperback (June 2000) Jewish Lights Publishing. Exhaustive Eco-Judaism in 2 volumes. Jewish Renewal leader and rabbi, Arthur O Waskow, edits 39 articles by 32 scholars (including Heschel, Norman Lamm (YU), Erich Fromm) in this comprehensive anthology on Torah and Environmental Ecology. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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by James Shapiro

370 years of Jew hatred and still going strong? A portrait of a quaint German village and the millennial production of its controversial Passion play, which has been staged once in each decade since 1634. Half the town takes part in the play, and Oberammergau is seen as an untouched area of primitive Christianity. In the summer of 2000, a half-million spectators from around the world will once again descend upon the small Bavarian village of Oberammergau, which despite wars, military occupation, religious censorship, and threats of boycott, has continued to honor its ancestral vow to stage the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus once every ten years. In this wide-ranging cultural history, James Shapiro discusses the traditions and troubles of Oberammergau, from the legendary origins of its Passion play in the seventeenth century to the villagers' current--and AMBIVALENT--efforts to rid their play of anti-Semitism, a charge that has stuck ever since Adolf Hitler praised its portrayal of "the whole muck and mire of Jewry." (Jews have been criticizing the play for the past 34 years . Click to read more.
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[book] Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Hardcover - 224 pages (June 2000). More stories from one half of the Sedaris creative team, and author of "Naked" and "Barrel Fever." What's Jewish about it? Ummmm, well it is very funny, and he probably has dated some Jewish guys in the past. Click to read more.
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[bookcover] Entering the Temple of Dreams : Jewish Prayers, Movements and Meditations for the End of the Day by Tamar Frankiel, Judy Greenfeld
Paperback - 180 pages (July 2000) Jewish Lights Pub. The authors who brought you Minding the Temple of the Soul: Balancing Body, Mind, and Spirit Through Traditional Jewish Prayer, Movement, and Meditation, have written this guide to Jewish nighttime rituals that enhance Jewish spirituality. Includes illustrations, mediatation, and exercise suggestions for hashkivenu (freeing ourselves from spiritual impediments), Hareni Mochel (praying for forgiveness prior to sleep), Shema (asking for acceptance and understanding), Bircat Kohanim (finding comfort in protection), and Hamapil (thanking god for sleep and illumination). Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[book] The Women's Torah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions by Rabbi Elyse Goldstein
JULY 2000. Jewish Lights Publishing. Just as every young woman got a copy of The Jewish Catalog as a bat mitzvah gift in the 1970's, I predict that this will be the bat mitzvah gift book of choice in this decade
Over fifty, YES FIFTY, women rabbi's teach the reader with inspiring commentaries, and NOT JUST feminist commentaries on the parsha's that "deal with women and the matriarchs." The week by week format is an asset. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Rabbi Goldstein, she is the leader of the Kolel Adult Center for Liberal Jewish Learning program in Toronto (kolel.ORG), a program that is so successful that they are building their own building.
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[bookcover] SUMMER'S HOUSE by Eric Gabriel Lehman.
Hardcover 384 Pages, St Martins (June 8, 2000). A Summer novel. Raymond, a cerebral 17 year old, decides to fall in love or at least the idea of being in love over the Summer, as his parent's marriage fails (his father cheats, but his mother doesn't think good Jews get divorced), and his mother flies off to Israel for a six week vacation. His Uncle Lester (the wise-son of passover, as opposed to Uncle Alfred, the wise-assed son) is tormented by a failing gourmet foods business and his wife's obscene caller. Jerome, 25, a struggling poet, is obsessed with the woman he met in a mental hospital, Agatha, who threw him out when he discovered her past and recorded her life in journals which Raymond reads. These three lives collide and intersect one hot New York City summer in the disco era. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[bookcover] Driving Mr. Albert : A Trip Across America With Einstein's Brain by Michael Paterniti
Hardcover - 224 pages (July 11, 2000) Dial. In 1955, Thomas Harvey, a pathologist removed Albert Einstein's brain for future study. Now 42 years later, in his 80's, never having published a study of Einstein's brain, Harvey is ready to drive cross country with the brain, and deliver it to Evelyn Einstein, Albert's granddaughter. Paterniti went along for the ride. Along the way, they muse about obsessions, religion, the Simpsons, pop culture, Hemingway, road trips, the Beats, and science. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[bookcover] A Mind in Prison : The Memoir of a Son Soldier of the Third Reich by Bruno Manz
Hardcover - 288 pages (June 2000) Brasseys. The memoir of a former Hitler Youth member and soldier in the Luftwaffe in Northern Finland, who looked the other way to the Nazi racial laws and the regime of the Third Reich. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[book] Ordinary German Lives During the Holocaust by Heidi Scriba, Janet Barton Speer
Heidi Scriba with Janet Barton Speer. Scriba's account of life in Germany during the War and her attempt to understand why her neighbors were silent or active participants. (her ballerina body was raped daily by gangs of Russian soldiers after Berlin fell).
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[book] Beyond the Synagogue Gallery: Finding a Place for Women in American Judaism (Religion/Gender Studies) by Karla Goldman
Harvard University press. Summer 2000. Beyond the Synagogue Gallery recounts the emergence of new roles for American Jewish women in public worship and synagogue life. Karla Goldman's study of changing patterns of female religiosity is a story of acculturation, of adjustments made to fit Jewish worship into American society. Goldman focuses on the nineteenth century. This was an era in which immigrant communities strove for middle-class respectability for themselves and their religion, even while fearing a loss of traditions and identity. For acculturating Jews some practices, like the ritual bath, quickly disappeared. Women's traditional segregation from the service in screened women's galleries was gradually replaced by family pews and mixed choirs. By the end of the century, with the rising tide of Jewish immigration from Russia and Eastern Europe, the spread of women's social and religious activism within a network of organizations brought collective strength to the nation's established Jewish community. Throughout these changing times, though, Goldman notes persistent ambiguous feelings about the appropriate place of women in Judaism, even among reformers.
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[book] Saving Elijah by Fran Dorf
Hardcover - 384 pages (June 1, 2000) Putnam. A chilling, Faust-like, Jewish tale of suspense. Dinah Rosenberg Galligan's 5-year-old son Elijah (whose young body is a cacophony of neurological glitches, learning disabilities, obsessive-compulsive disorder, a heart defect, and more) lies in a coma, and his parents must face the possibility of losing their beloved youngest chil. But then a ghost appears. Click to read more.
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[book] To See You Again : A True Story of Love in a Time of War by Betty Schimmel, Joyce Gabriel (Contributor)
Hardcover - 288 pages (October 99). Baby (Betty) was captured more than once. The first time, she hid in a partially full gasoline barrel on the back of a German transport truck to escape her captors. She marched in snow hundreds of miles toward a death camp, losing friends and relatives on the way. Her best friend gave in to a Nazi officer's trade - sex for freedom... and watched her brutally shot in the face the next morning. My 16 year old mother, along with her sister and Mother dug their own graves along with hundreds of others... stood in front of the massive pit and watched officers fire machine guns at all who stood there -- luckily running out of ammunition just before the gun fire reached them. She was a silly and spoiled 15 year old Jewish girl was madly in love with Richie just prior to Nazi occupation. They were separated and she kept the memories of her love alive during the war and for years after. Richie's memory and that of a future life together possibly kept her alive, but she knew nothing of his whereabouts. A mixture of her most horrible experiences and her lost love haunted her through her early years as an unwilling bride and colored her life for 30 years. On a trip baby took to Europe in 1975, she accidentally ran into the man (Richie) she never stopped loving. Her experiences were recorded in a book this book. Steven Spielberg bought the rights to her story and it is currently "optioned" at Dreamworks.
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[bookcover] Without Bounds : The Life and Death of Rabbi Ya'Aqov Wazana (Raphael Patai Series) by Yoram Bilu
Paperback - 192 pages (July 2000) Wayne State Univ Press. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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