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May 04, 2003: The Bimah and The Bine. Spirituality, Performance and The Jewish Stage. University of Maryland, College Park, Meyerhoff Center
May 22, 2003: Leslie Epstein reads from SAN REMO DRIVE. B&N, Framingham 7 PM
May 22, 2003: Tod Giltin reads from LETTERS TO A YOUNG ACTIVIST. B&N, NYC 82nd 7 PM
May 22, 2003: Arthur Magida reads from THE RABBI AND THE HIT MAN. B&N Philadelphia 18th Walnut. 7 PM

Jun 03, 2003: Joel Siegel reads from LESSONS FOR DYLAN. A Clean Well Lighted Place. SF. 7PM
Jun 08, 2003: Danny, Gidi & Friends concert (Gidi Gov, Danny Sanderson, etc.) NYC 7 PM
Jun 08, 2003: Oy Vay 10K. a run and walk for everyone. at the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington DC
Jun 11, 2003: Alix Strauss (The Joy of Funerals) and Elise Miller (Celebrified)) read at JCC Rough Cut. KGB Bar, 85 e 4th St, NYC. 7:30 PM
Jun 12, 2003: Robin Green (Sopranos), Marilyn Suzanne Miller (SNL), and Terri Minsky (Lizzie McGuire) at Jewish Museum. NYC. 6:30 PM
Jun 16, 2003: Bloomsday for Leo Bloom (James Joyce’s Ulysses) NYC
Jun 17, 2003: Yiddishfest 2003 in Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center NYC 7 PM
Jun 19 2003: Esther Jungreis reads from THE COMMITTED MARRIAGE B&N W 82ND 7:30 PM
Jun 23 2003: Marshall Berman and David Roskies read from their works. Scribblers on The Roof. Ansche Chesed. 110th/WEA. NYC 8 PM
Jun 22-24, 2003: Kavod v’Nichum. Exploring Jewish Traditions Surrounding Dying and Death ( a Plenary on Chevra Kaddish groups, with Neil Gillman, Laurie Zoloth, David Wachtel, Hasia Diner, Jack Reimer, Arnold Goodman and other. Washington DC Rockville MD, with workshops on Tahara, Cemeteries, Shmira after 9/11, Bikkur Cholim, and Funerals.
Jun 23-27, 2003: 21st Jerusalem International Book Fair. International Convention Center. Jerusalem, Israel (Zev Birger, Chairman; Yoel Makov, Deputy Director). See you at Kaffit, Masaryk, or Aroma in the German Colony.
Jun 30 2003: Michael Skakun and Ann Birstein read from their works. Scribblers on The Roof. Ansche Chesed. 110th/WEA. NYC 8 PM

Jul 07 2003: Nicolas Delbanco and Joan Leegant read from their works. Scribblers on The Roof. Ansche Chesed. 110th/WEA. NYC 8 PM
Jul 07 2003: Cheryl Mendelson reads from Morningside Heights. B&N UWS. NYC 7:30 PM
Jul 08, 2003: Joseph Epstein reads from FABULOUS SMALL JEWS. B&N, Evanston. 7PM
Jul 08, 2003: Beyle Schaecter-Gottesman reads Yiddish poetry from Perpl Shlengt Zikh der Veg. Workmen’s Circle NYC
Jul 09, 2003: Arthur Magida reads from THE RABBI AND THE HIT MAN. B&N Baltimore. 7 PM
Jul 10, 2003: Peter Duffy reads from THE BIELSKI BROTHERS. B&N UWS. NYC 7:30 PM
Jul 14, 2003: Erica Jong (Sappho’s Leap, fear of flying) and Molly Jong (Normal Girl) read from their works. Scribblers on The Roof. Ansche Chesed. 110th/WEA. NYC 8 PM
Jul 15, 2003: Joseph Epstein reads from FABULOUS SMALL JEWS. B&N, NYC 82nd St. 7:30PM
Jul 16, 2003: David Lipsky reads from ABSOLUTELY AMERICAN. B&N, NYC 82nd St. 7:30PM
Jul 17, 2003: Ted Solotaroff reads from FIRST LOVES. B&N, NYC 82nd St. 7:30PM
Jul 21, 2003: Ken Kalfus and Gary Shteyngart read from their works. Scribblers on The Roof. Ansche Chesed. 110th/WEA. NYC 8 PM
Jul 28, 2003: Francine Klagsbrun and Jonathan Tel (Arafat’s Elephant) read from their works. Scribblers on The Roof. Ansche Chesed. 110th/WEA. NYC 8 PM

Aug 12, 2003: Cindy Chupack reads from BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS BOOK. B&N Chelsea, NYC.
Aug 13, 2003: Ruchama King reads from SEVEN BLESSINGS. B&N NYC UWS 7:30 PM.
Aug 16, 2003: Cindy Chupack reads from BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS BOOK. B&N Ft Lauderdale.
Aug 20, 2003: Jon Papernick, Nelly Reifler and Ellen Umansky read from LOST TRIBE. Eldridge Street Synagogue, 12 Eldridge Street, NYC.
Aug 21, 2003: Joan Leegant and Rachel Kadish discuss themes from LOST TRIBE. The Jewish Center of the Hamptons, 44 Woods Lane, East Hampton, NY.

Sep 08 2003: Tova Mirvis, Ellen Miller and Ben Schrank read from LOST TRIBE, B&N-Chelsea (Sixth Ave@22nd).



Beach Reads new in paperback (and some hardbacks, too)
Click on a cover for a larger picture and reviews

[leopard hat] [strangers in the house] [peace to end all peace] [six days of war]

[dreamland] [shteyngart] [illuminated] [revenge] [nowhere in africa]

[ornament of the world  How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain] [the brother sam roberts] [yentls revenge] [lake devine]

[jewish cooking for dummies faye levy] [bielski] [Hebrew for dummies] [ absolutely american]

[coffee trader liss] [book of salt] [great neck cantor] [ trillin]

[elvis in jerusalem] [dressing station] [pianist] [ hester among the ruins in paperback]

A novel
By Jonathan Wilson
May 20, 2003. This swift and sensual novel of passion and politics transports us to British mandate Palestine, where the Arabs, Jews and Brits mingle. It is 1924, and Mark Bloomberg, a disillusioned London painter, arrives in Jerusalem to take up a propaganda commission for the government. When he and his American wife, Joyce, accidentally witness the murder of a prominent red haired Orthodox Jew near their cottage, they become embroiled in an investigation that will test their marriage and their characters. The contradictory man, Jacob De Groot (modeled after Jacob Israel de Haan??), dies in Bloomberg’s arms, when Bloomberg goes outside, post coitus, naked, to investigate the noises he hears. Is the murderer his teenage Arab lover? Joyce, a non Jew is a dilettante and ardent Zionist, is pulled into an affair with Robert Kirsch, the British policeman investigating the case, while Bloomberg, transfixed by the glare of the Middle Eastern sun and desert light, attempts to capture on canvas the complex, shifting truths of the region. He is an artist, and therefore does not commit. Like Kirsch, whose brother was killed in France in 1918, all of the characters here have come to Palestine to escape the grief of the First World War, and are forced to confront their principles and their hearts in the midst of a culture in the throes of painful emergence. Writing in the Washington Post, Gershom Gorenberg wrote, “For both Kirsh and Bloomberg, not belonging is apparently the heart of Jewishness, and the passins of Palestine threaten that identity. Or perhaps I am judging them only as an impatient Israeli is inclined to judge present-day visitors. Like the best historial fiction, Wilson’s story is placed in an imagined past, but it is really happening right now.” Click to read more.

[book] REAL JEWS
Secular Versus Ultra-Orthodox
The Struggle for Jewish Identity in Israel
by Noah Efron (Bar Ilan University)
May 27, 2003. Basic Books. Virulent anti-Semitism is alive and thriving in Israel. The Israeli brand of anti-Semitism pits secular Jews against fervently Orthodox Jews. Writing from his unique vantage as a Tel Aviv resident, Noah Efron examines the discomfiture and spleen that some secular Jews feel when confronted with their ultra-Orthodox brethren. He recounts the difficult history of the ultra-Orthodox in Europe and Palestine, and examines their role in Israel, a country obsessed with and conflicted about what it means to be a Jew. Despite political, economic, cultural, and religious reasons for the tension between the two groups, little can explain the ferocity with which the Orthodox are loathed today, or the shocking rhetoric that many secular Jews use to denounce and ridicule them. This chilling and disturbing book documents the terrible details of an animosity based partly on fact and partly on a fantasy that threatens the future of Israel. Click to read more.

[book] Secrets of the Young & Successful
How to Get Everything You Want Without Waiting a Lifetime
by Jennifer Kushell (Author),
June 2003. paperback edition. Fireside.
From "the guru" of her generation come a practical book for achieving success regardless of your age or experience. What does it take to go for the gold and get it? She explains how youth and inexperience can actually work for you even if you don't have a dazzling résumé or major league connections. She explains how to make important connections that will lead to access and power, Position your offbeat skills and interests as irresistible talents and strengths, Gain critical insight on how to survive and thrive in any career, Weather life's storms with safety nets that mitigate mistakes, Balance work and the rest of your life. Packed with profiles, anecdotes, and key ideas for strategizing. Click to read more.

[book] They Can't Take That Away from Me
The Odyssey of an American POW
by Ralph M. Rentz, with Peter Hrisko
June 2003. Michigan State University Press.
A lot of books from WWII focus on the War in Europe. They forget about the Pacific Theatre This is the story of a Jewish man who survived Japanese captivity for three and a half years. Ralph Rentz grew up in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, with one dream: to be a professional musician. Playing clarinet, saxophone, and flute in 1930s big bands, Rentz wanted no part of the looming shadow of war. At age 21, he joined the National Guard to avoid being drafted. Ten days later, he was called up for active duty. Fearful of friendly fire, Rentz then signed up with the Army Air Corps, where he trained to be a radio operator. While on a secret mission in the Pacific, Rentz’s B- 17 was shot down over Malang, Java, where he and the rest of the crew became Japanese POWs. Surviving dysentery, pleurisy, dry beri-beri, tuberculosis, and slave labor, Rentz held on to his dreams of returning to music and waited for a U.S. invasion that never came. What does it take to survive as a POW? Guts? Prayer? Luck? Or could it be hate?” Rich with the music of his youth, the book conjures up the losses, longing, sacrifices, and stolen dreams of Rentz’s imprisonment and his return to the United States. Bittersweet and evocative, They Can’t Take That Away From Me explores the irony of human resilience amidst the atrocity of war, and in that survival the unconquerable loss of a man’s most cherished dream. Click to read more.

Thou Shalt Not Kill
A True Tale of Murder, Passion, and the Shattered Faith of a Congregation
by Arthur J. Magida
May 13, 2003. HarperCollins. Paraphrasing PW: A charismatic rabbi hired a nebbish to kill his wife so he can live happily with his favorite mistress (of four). Rabbi Fred Neulander grabbed headlines from New York City to Philadelphia until he was convicted after one mistrial, in 2002. Magida tries not too convincingly to give this luridly fascinating story a larger significance by examining the loneliness that afflicts longtime rabbis and citing a study of clergymen who engage in affairs with congregants. Magida is more successful in considering the painful and divisive impact of Neulander's crime on the South Jersey congregants who had adored their brilliant, ebullient rabbi. Neulander's outsize personality, rooted in ambition and ego, does come through. But Magida doesn't seem to have had access to the rabbi; sometimes tells readers what Neulander thought or felt; other times, he relies on "maybe" and "apparently." Carol, Neulander's murdered wife, remains a cipher, and there are frustrating gaps-two of Neulander's mistresses are virtually absent here, as are two of his three grown children, whose anguish one can only imagine Click to read more.

The Reign of Lew Wasserman, Who Leveraged Talent into Power and Influence
by Connie Bruck
June 2003. Random House.
You would be hard pressed to name a better business writer than Connie Bruck (wife of former politico Mel Levine). We enjoy her books and pieces in The New Yorker. She wrote acclaimed books on Warner’s Steve Ross, and Drexel’s Milken. In When Hollywood Had a King, she tells the story of MCA and its brilliant, perceptive leader, Lew Wasserman. Wasserman sat for about 16 hours of interviews with Bruck, and told his friends that they could speak with her. But he took most of his secrets to the grave. That was his way, let stars take the credit, keep their secrets secret. The Music Corporation of America was founded in Chicago in 1924 by Dr. Jules Stein, an ophthalmologist with a gift for booking bands. Twelve years later, Stein moved his operations west to Beverly Hills and hired Lew Wasserman. From his meager beginnings as a movie-theater usher in Cleveland, Wasserman ultimately ascended to the post of president of MCA, and the company became the most powerful force in Hollywood, regarded with a mixture of fear and awe. In his signature black suit and black knit tie, Wasserman took Hollywood by storm. He shifted the balance of power from the studios—which had seven-year contractual strangleholds on the stars—to the talent, who became profit partners. He embraced tv while others tried to kill it. Wasserman quietly brokered alliances with federal Administrations as well, and befriended Teamsters and gangsters (Moe Dalitz and mob lawyer, Sidney Korshak). Wasserman reportedly spoke with Korshak several times per day. Wasserman produced Psycho, and The Birds, and he took a chance on George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. He was rumoured to have been offered a cabinet post by LBJ, but this book proves that story false. Jack valenti however still asserts that it is true. The story of Lew Wasserman’s rise to power takes on an almost Shakespearean scope: how a stealthy, enterprising power broker became, for a time, Hollywood’s absolute monarch. Wasserman, a quiet sphinx, confessed that his greatest mistake was selling MCA to a Japanese firm. Click to read more.

[book] Portraits of Israelis and Palestinians
For My Parents
by Seth Tobocman, Eric Drooker (Introduction)
May 2003. During the summer of 2002, Seth Tobocman taught art to children in a village outside of Ramallah. He had contradictions to resolve over his celebration of the Six Day War as a kid. To explain his purpose to his parents, lifelong Zionists, he sent them 20 pages from his sketchbook of the trip. These charcoal drawings, as presented in this book, strip away the historical, religious, and political complexities to reveal the stark humanity of both sides, and pare the dialogue to its essence: How to recognize and respect each other's humanity. Tobocman serves of slices of life of Palestinians and Israelis, not bombing victims, bombers, or shrapnel hit victims, but riding buses, visiting doctors, shopping, playing and praying. Click to read more.

[book] Kosher by Design
Picture Perfect Food for the Holidays & Every Day
by Susie Fishbein
May 2003. Fishbein, editor of the highly popular and successful Kosher Palette, has produced a cookbook focusing on elegant kosher cuisine that is easy to produce by the modern at-home cook. She precedes each section with a description of a festival and its customs, and includes a suggested menu and kosher wine list. Interspersed with vibrant color photographs, the recipes make full use of the growing range of kosher ingredients available, and she has no compunction in saving time and effort by using store-bought sauces in some dishes, such as Tarragon Chicken. Traditional recipes also appear, but are usually given a new twist-the visually pleasing Tri-color Gefilte Fish once again utilizes a store-bought item but enhances both it and the conventional presentation by layering to make a terrine. Useful tips are added where needed, and Fishbein indicates when a recipe is parve (neutral) or dairy. She also offers a comprehensive Passover section that includes a chart of all the recipes that can be used for this festival, with its additional dietary requirements, as well as the steps needed to adapt many others. Click to read more.

By Carl Reiner
June 2003. Reiner has collected here some memories of his long career. In short takes, he revisits his first jobs running entertainment programs at senior camps, his first breaks into show business, his favorite dinner parties, his most memorable faux pas and his great times with other grand old men of comedy, from George Jessel to Mel Brooks. He intersperses career tales with family vignettes: short but touching accounts of his father's inventions, his mother's illiteracy and his brother's final illness. Click to read more.

[book] Something Ain't Kosher Here
The Rise of the "Jewish" Sitcom
by Vincent Brook
June 2003. Rutgers. From 1989 through 2002 there was an unprecedented surge in American sitcoms featuring explicitly Jewish protagonists, thirty-three compared to seven in the previous forty years. Several of these—Seinfeld, Mad About You, The Nanny, and Friends—were among the most popular and influential of all television shows over this period. Viewers also saw a rising number of "Jewish" dramatic series and Jewish supporting characters overall. Vincent Brook asks two key questions: Why has this trend appeared at this particular historical moment and what is the significance of this phenomenon for Jews and for non-Jews? Interviews with key writers, producers, and "showrunners" such as David Kohan (Will and Grace), Marta Kauffman (Friends), Peter Mehlman and Carol Leifer (Seinfeld) and close readings of individual series provoke the inescapable conclusion that we have entered uncharted "post-Jewish" territory. Brook contends that the acceptance of Jews in mainstream white America threatens the historically unique insider/outsider status of Jews in society. Every reader will learn about dead-centrism, and no reader of this book will ever be able to watch these television programs in quite the same way again. Click the book cover to read more.

by David Zurawik
March 2003. Brandeis. This is the dissertation you wish YOU wrote.
An examination of Jewish television characters from the last fifty years, along with a backstage look at the Jewish insiders who created the strange history of Jewish identity in prime time television. How did it happen that in a time when networks were run by Jewish men, and many television shows were written by Jewish writers, there were so few identifiably Jewish characters on television? In his provocative book, David Zurawik marshalls compelling evidence to suggest that, during television’s first thirty-five years, its primarily Jewish power brokers actively suppressed Jewish characters and Jewish themes from appearing on the small screen. Beginning his investigation in the early days of television with Gertrude Berg and The Goldbergs, Zurawik, an award-winning Baltimore Sun journalist and PhD, shows how the Jewish founders of the three major networks—William S. Paley (CBS), David Sarnoff (NBC), and Leonard Goldenson (ABC)—dictated the kinds of shows Americans would watch from the late 1940s until they sold their broadcast empires in the mid-1980s. Under the auspices of these incredibly powerful men, the television industry either distorted or eliminated entirely images of Jews from prime time at the very moment when television came to hold center stage in mainstream American life. In fact, creating a cookie-cutter image of American life was so important to the top Jewish executives that they fabricated a brief, which circulated among the networks and became legendary in the industry. It claimed that CBS had “research” that indicated Americans were not interested in seeing Jews (or divorced people, people from New York, and men with mustaches) on the small screen. Zurawik convincingly argues that Paley and the others were ambivalent about their own Jewishness, and fearful, in the post-Holocaust, pro-assimilation, red-baiting 1950s, that their shows not appear “too Jewish.” The ironic result: with few exceptions, shows like Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver came to represent American family life, while Jewish identity was presented as something that had to be obscured or hidden away.

Only when the moguls sold their interest in the networks and moved on did things begin to change in a sustained way. Serious shows with leading Jewish characters began to appear in series like thirtysomething and Northern Exposure, which dealt with issues of tolerance, intermarriage, and assimilation. But in many of the programs that followed, particularly the sitcoms of the 1990s, Jewish men and especially Jewish women fell into stereotypical roles that Zurawik describes as “nebbishy boyfriends lusting after non-Jewish women” or “Jewish-American princesses and smothering mothers.” And, although Jewish characters are now plentiful on television, many are very nominally Jewish, or Jewish in name only. Despite the best efforts of the successors of Paley, Sarnoff, and Goldenson, the culture of Jewish self-consciousness and censorship lives on in network television today. Includes critical studies of The Goldbergs; Dick Van Dyke; Mrs. G; Bridget Loves Bernie; thirtysomething; Northern Exposure; shiksa goddesses transforming Jewish men on Anything But Love, Flying Blind, Mad About You, and Brooklyn Bridge; Jewish women and non-Jewish men on Rhoda, The Nanny, Dharma & Greg, Friends, and Will & Grace; the idea of Too Jewish and non–Jewish on Seinfeld; as well as 100 Centre Street; The Education of Max Bickford; and State of Grace. Click the book cover to read more.

Selected poems: In the historic fight to obtain equal rights for Jews in 19th Century Norway
By Henrik Wergeland (1808-1845)
May 2003. University of Wisconsin. Timeless poetry. Click to read more.

[link to] The works of Matthue Roth
Go to or

Look at this segment of one of his poems:
Of all the people I don't think about anymore / you're the one i miss the most / The last night we spoke / I knew the combination of words / I could have said to make things better again,
but I didn't.
Autumn in DC, the only season there that showed / the leaves were every color of the rainbow / against the steel grey buildings, / but then they fell / and everyone started feeling as naked as the trees.

… I think about Yom Kippur and you, / the way I stop some friends on the street these days / to ask forgiveness, / and the others I pass by, / like people at a party that you don't talk to, / breezing by them like last season's fashion faux-pas / like you've said everything that needs to be said / or like you've never met them in the first place / and you'd rather not, anyway, / pretending they’re not / even there.
Click to his site to read more.

An Artist’s Coming of Age in the Third Reich
By Irene Awret.
June 2003. University of Wisconsin. A founder of the Artists Colony in Tzfat Israel, and now a Virginia resident, this is her memoir of Berlin in 1939, when, as Irene Spicker, she escaped to Belgium, ended up in prison, was freed, hid, worked, was arrested by the Gestapo, and “luckily” ended up in Mechlin instead of Auschwitz. Click to read more.

[book] The Pursuit of Alice Thrift
A novel
by Elinor Lipman.
June 17, 2003. Random House. Yes, they are written as Unitarians, but they are actually Jewish characters. Meet poor Alice Thrift, surgical intern in a Boston hospital, high of I.Q. but low in social graces. She doesn’t mean to be acerbic, clinical, or painfully precise, but where was she the day they taught Bedside Manner 101? Into Alice’s workaholic and romantically challenged life comes Ray Russo, a purveyor of fairground fudge, in need of rhinoplasty and well-heeled companionship, not necessarily in that order. Is he a con man or a sincere suitor? Good guy or bad? His well-engineered cruise into carnal waters introduces Alice to a new and baffling concept, chemistry—and not of the organic kind. Is it possible for a woman of science to cure her own loneliness in the unsuitable arms of a parental nightmare? Luckily, Leo Frawley, R.N., who has a high threshold for Alice’s left-footed people skills, and Sylvie Schwartz, M.D., fellow resident and woman of the world, take on the task of guiding Alice through the narrow straits of her own no-rapport zone. Click to read more.

by Ellis Shuman.
April 2003. Ellis Shuman, a native of Sioux City, Iowa, immigrated to Israel in 1972, served in the IDF and was a founding member of Kibbutz Yahel. He is now Editor in Chief of the online daily newsmagazine Israel Insider. Ellis lives with his wife and three children on Moshav Neve Ilan (DN Harei Yehuda, in the Arava Valey, 60 km north of Eilat. Gee I wonder if it is near my favorite place, Ein Yahav?). Pioneers created a kibbutzim filled with idealism 94 years ago. Decades later, the 268 kibbutz communities are not the same. Many of the 120,000 kibbutz members have a different sort of idealism. Can the community still be considered a kibbutz? In this debut collection of stories, the author introduces you to kibbutz residents challenged with adapting to new realities. Along the way you'll see how kibbutzniks face up to the violence of the Intifada, cope with the Internet, and struggle to have more control over their lives. Meet a clown who uses magic to heal the wounds of terror victims, a veteran dairy worker who has difficulties bidding farewell to an albino cow, a farmer who must decide what to do with the prize money of a lottery, and a reporter who is researching comedian Jerry Seinfeld's kibbutz past. These are the stories of Israel's unique society, of the changes and dilemmas it faces, and of the hopes, challenges and dreams of those who continue to call the kibbutz their home. Includes a three page glossary. Click to read more.

A novel
By Cheryl Mendelson
June 10, 2003. Random House. It is 1999, and Morningside Heights on Manhattan’s Upper West Side is becoming rapidly gentrified. Anne and Charles Braithwaite, musicians, have spent their entire married life in a sedate old apartment building, among Columbia professors and intellectuals. As the novel opens, their comfortable life is being threatened as a buoyant economy sends newly rich Wall Street types scurrying northward in search of good investments and more space. At the same time, the Braithwaites weather the difficult love lives of their friends, and all of the characters confront their fears that the institutions and social values that have until now provided them with meaning and stability—science, religion, the arts—are in increasing decline. Click to read more.

June 2003. University of Wisconsin. The story of the Heugenot paster who saved Jews and other refugees in Nazi France. This is the story of him and his network of other righteous pastors and congregants. Click to read more.

[book] An Execution in the Family
One Son's Journey
by Robert Meeropol
June 2003. St Martins. Robert Meeropol was six years old when his parents Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed for conspiracy to commit espionage in 1953. Though this was certainly a significant event in his life, it was not the single defining moment as one might assume. It is also not the central theme of his memoir, though it does play a strong supporting role. In fact, Meeropol has only vague memories of his parents. What he does remember are years spent in orphanages and foster homes before he and his brother were adopted by Abel and Anne Meeropol. While the event did cause some childhood trauma, he reflects that "I can't help feeling that I gained as much as I lost during those years." An Execution in the Family is hardly the work of a bitter man fuming at the establishment for the loss of his parents. Rather, it is the story of a thoughtful person and his struggle to find his purpose in the world. Reared on left-wing politics and social activism, he knew he wanted to help others, but he was unsure of the route to take, and his writes of his confusion and troubles with engaging frankness. Click to read more.

by Matt Bernstein Sycamore
Suspect Thoughts Press.
Sycamore, who grew up on Sycamore Street, debuts this collection of stories with keen humor. Somewhere between autobio and fiction, the narrator moves from Boston to post grunge Seattle to Manhattan in the 1990s. Of this book, Michael Lowenthal (The Same Embrace) wrote, “when the senses were first spanked by Sycamore’s shamelessly frank, hilariously deadpan, flamboyantly raunchy stories, I felt as though I was being woken frlom a literary slumber. His voice is fresh in both senses of the word: new and impudent.” Annie Sprinkle (famous Jews porn star, author, sexologist) adds: “Each chapter reads like a stack on Nan Goldin color photos come to life.” Click to read more.

[book] AMERICAN REFORM JUDAISM: An Introduction
by Dana Evan Kaplan
June 2003. Rutgers Univ Press. A provocative look at its history and future. Click to read more.

by Aviva Cytryn
2003. Targum Press. Go to
With war imminent, Polish-born Rachel is sent by herself on a transport to England. The Road Home is a poignant and beautifully written novel of choices and challenges, of a girl coming of age under the clouds of war — with the promise of a wonderful new life in store for her.

By Michael Wieck (Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra), translated by Penny Milbouer
June 2003. University of Wisconsin. A bestseller in Germany, tis is the account of Wieck’s childhood in Konigsberg Germany, the son of a Jewish mother and Christian father. Under the nazis, he was a certified Jew, under the Russians, he was a German, and he was interned in the Rothenstein labor camp. Click to read more.

[book] Ancient Israelites and Their Neighbors
An Activity Guide
by Marian Broida, Scott Noegel
June 2003. Chicago Review Press. Children can try their hand at re-creating ancient Israelite culture-along with the cultures of their neighbors, the Philistines and Phoenicians-in a way that will provide perspective on current events. The book covers a key period from the Israelites' settlement in Canaan in 1200 B.C.E. to their return from exile in Babylonia in 538 B.C.E. This part of the Middle East-no larger than modern-day Michigan-was the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. More than 35 projects include stomping grapes into juice, building a model Phoenician trading ship, making a Philistine headdress, and writing on a broken clay pot. Israelites', Phoenicians', and Philistines' writing and languages, the way they built their homes, the food they ate, the clothes they wore, and the work they did, and of course, their many interesting stories, are all explored. Click to read more.

by Andre de Guillaume
2003. Chicago Review Press. Everyone wants to rule the world, but only a precious few have the skills to create an ironclad plan of attack. Simple, direct, and delightfully unprincipled, this guide to ruling the world contains tales of global power mongering from every age and endeavors to show dilettante dictators and tyrants-to-be just how it's done. Tips are provided on creating a personal flag, what type of puppet government to establish, how to squelch free speech, and, most important, how to handle enemies. Also included are humorous full-color illustrations, sidebars on admirable despots, and self-quizzes that allow readers to see if they have what it takes to conquer the world. This fun college graduation or father's day gift is perfect for those who have their hearts set on world domination. André de Guillaume attended the Royal Military College at Sandhurst in England, where he learned to march with authority, tell people what to do, and appreciate fine wines. Click to read more.

[book] Off With Their Heads
Traitors, Crooks & Obstructionists in American Politics, Media & Business
by Dick Morris
June 2003. Dick Morris, the DC insider with a gourmet taste for prostitutes, rails against liberals, the media, The New York Times, and Streisand. Click to read more.

by Joyce Carol Oates
June 17, 2003. Joshua Seigl, 38, a celebrated, self absorbed, reclusive author, is forced for reasons of failing, decaying health (a nerve disorder) to surrender his much-prized bachelor's independence. Advertising for an assistant, he unwittingly embarks upon the most dangerous adventure of his privileged life. Alma Busch, a sensuous, physically attractive young woman with bizarre burned tattoos covering much of her eyes and body, stirs in Seigl a complex of emotions: pity? desire? responsibility? guilt? She is nearly illiterate. Unaware of her painful past and her troubled personality, Seigl hires her as his assistant. As the novel alternates between Seigl's and Alma's points of view, the naïve altruism of the one and the virulent anti-Semitism of the other clash in a tragedy of thwarted erotic desire. She steals from Joshua, and shower her anti Jewish boyfriend with the stolen trinkets. With her masterful balance of dark suspense and surprising tenderness, Joyce Carol Oates probes the contemporary tragedy of ethnic hatred and challenges our accepted limits of desire. The Tattooed Girl may be her most controversial novel. It is dedicated to Philip Roth (author of The Human Stain). Click to read more.

[book] Execution in the Family
One Son's Journey
by Robert Meeropol
June 19, 2003. One June 19, 1953, the parents of 6 year old Robert Meeropol were executed as spies. They were Ethel and Julius Rosenberg; it was the height of the McCarthy era (They were sentenced to death by Judge Irving Kaufman in April 1951). It was 8:02 pm, the Jewish chaplain read Psalm 23, and within 20 minutes, both were electrocuted to death. Just before they were put to death, the Rosenbergs wrote a letter to their two sons saying they were “secure in the knowledge that others would carry on after them.” The Rosenbergs left their young sons a legacy that was both a burden and a gift, as well as an aching emotional void. They were adopted by the Meeropol’s, since none of the kids’ relatives wanted to adopt them, fearing that they would be tainted by Communism. Robert Meeropol grew up torn between the need to pursue his political values and his intense fear that personal exposure might subject him and his family to violence or even death. An Execution in the Family details Robert Meeropol’s political odyssey from being the Rosenbergs’son to becoming a prominent political activist in his own right, and it chronicles a very personal journey of self-discovery. This is the story of how he tried to balance a strong desire to live a normal life and raise a family with a growing need to create something useful out of his childhood nightmare. It is also a poignant account of how, at age forty-three, he finally found a way to honor his parents and be true to himself. Click to read more.

JULY 2003

JULY 4, 2003. Houghton Mifflin.
I first became interested in Lipsky’s stories from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point when pieces first appeared in Rolling Stone magazine. Lipsky’s West Point stories profiled a cross section of cadets, from Plebes to Yuks, Cows, and “Seniors,” their frustrations, their attitudes, their machismo, their failures, and yes, also, there was Rash, George Rash, the tuba playing, Jewish cadet from down South, the son of two Sargeants in Georgia (now Arizona). But Lipsky came for the chow, but stayed for the story, rented a room in Highland Falls, off post, and stayed four years. Now we have the whole four years in book form and we learn about the choices and outcomes of the cadet’s young lives. Drawing on complete, unprecedented access to West Point and its cadets, David Lipsky explores the academy’s rich history, describes the demanding regimen that swallows students’ days, and examines the Point as a reflection of our society. Huah! Is it a quaint anachronism, or does it still embody the ideals of equality, honesty, and loyalty that moved Theodore Roosevelt to proclaim it the most “absolutely American” institution? Lipsky tackles these questions through superbly crafted portraits of cadets and the elite officers who mold them, following them into classrooms, marches, barracks, mess halls, rainy marches, and more military exercises. His reportage extends from 1998 through 2002, arguably the most eventful four years in West Point history. He witnesses the end of hazing, the arrival of TV and telephones to students’ dorm rooms, the ability to order in pizza and Chinese takeout (on beer battered cod fish night), the purchases of condoms, the exposure and concealment of several scandals (US Air Force Academy, listen up), and the dramatic aftermath of 9/11 on student attitudes. He depicts young people of every race, mixed race, and class, and details the rigorous training program that erases their preconceptions and makes them a tight-knit community. We witness the failure of some Plebes who are unable to pass the Phys. Ed. requirements, even though one would, from the scripts of popular films, expect that all the Plebes would rally together and help their errant classmates to practice and overcome the Phys Ed requirement. Lipsky’s extensive experience covering college students for Rolling Stone helped him gain an astonishing degree of trust and truth from both cadets and administrators. Click to read more.

A novel
by Richard Zimler
July 2003. Delacorte Press. Zimler, a university teacher near Lisbon, was lauded for his last novel, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon. In this new novel, which spans 2 continents and 3 generations, we encounter a child, an African slave, and secret Jews in 19th Century Portugal. He has created another historical mystery. In 1798, John Zarco Stewart, a 7 year old half Scottish boy in the city of Porto befriends Midnight, an freed slave, African magician and healer. As an adult, when Napoleon’s armies invade Portugal, violence again intrudes on John’s fragile peace, and seals his passage into adulthood with another devastating loss. But from the wreckage comes revelation as he uncovers truths and lies hidden by the people he loved and trusted most, and discovers the act of unspeakable betrayal that destroyed his family--and his faith. And so his shattering quest begins as he travels to America, to hunt for hope in a land shackled by unforgivable sin. Click to read more.

[book] Confederacy of Silence
A True Tale of the New Old South
by Richard Rubin
July 2003. Atria Books.
A confederacy of silence allowed the author to thrive in Mississippi, but also forced him to leave it. In the Summer of 1998, 21 year old Richard Rubin was a nice Jewish Ivy League grad who moved from NYC to a small Mississippi town to become a newspaper reporter at The Greenwood Commonwealth. He was a fish out of water, a bagel out of the comfort of the bakery (he meets his fellow Jews in Greenwood, however). He lives as a NY Jew in Mississippi for a year. He writes local stories, gets experience as a journalist, and starts to follow the story of a local high school ball player who may be destined for greatness. Six years later, Rubin, now ensconced in New York City, hears that the local football player never made it to the NBA. He is instead in jail, charged with the murder of a mutual friend of his and the author’s. What went wrong? Is it an unsettling tale of the modern Southern justice? Does the legacy of Emmett Till still haunt Mississippi? The author returns to cover the trial and try to figure out how a football player with a chance screwed it all up. Click to read more.

July 2003.
Fans of his best-selling Snobbery: The American Version will recognize the wit, insight, and incisive social examination in Epstein’s new collection of stories, Fabulous Small Jews. In these pages are artists, writers, a commodities trader, a concert pianist, all at various crossroads and turning points in their lives. These are classic stories with universal themes: the rights of talent, the attempt to shake one’s identity, the desperation of strangled impulses, the complexities of family love. But as always with Epstein, the magic, the charm, and the humor are in his lavish details. The stories in Fabulous Small Jews are small worlds writ large, and Epstein’s observant eye and witty voice bring them alive on the page. PW writes, “..What distinguishes them as Jews in this universal situation is a certain wry outlook, a vernacular turn of phrase that carries the tang of its Yiddish origin, and a tendency to philosophize about the deeper questions of existence. "Coming In with Their Hands Up" is a touching tale of a bloodthirsty divorce lawyer who encounters heartbreak in his own marriage. In "Postcards," Seymour Hefferman, an acidulous and malicious failed poet, anonymously castigates cultural eminences when they offend his sensibilities, signing a Jewish name instead of his own; he finally gets his comeuppance. The eponymous Felix Emeritus, a cautious Buchenwald survivor who has never asked much of life, meets in an old-age home a bitter man who can't surmount his dark view of human nature. Mostly settled in Chicago, these 17 characters are no heroes, only reflective personalities-little people with big opinions-who have made their share of sacrifices. Like his emotionally candid, low-key protagonists, Epstein is intrinsically honest...” Click to read more.

[book] When the Chickens Went on Strike
by Erica Silverman, Sholem Aleichem, and Matthew Trueman (Illustrator)

Dutton, July 2003
One Rosh Hashanah, a boy overhears some chickens planning a strike. They are sick of being used for Kapores, the New Year custom in which people swing a live chicken over their heads, hoping to erase their bad deeds. When all of the chickens run away, the women try to coax them back with grain, the men try to get them back with force, and the rabbi tries to negotiate. Finally the boy pleads, "Without Kapores, I will never be able to make my papa proud." A chicken responds, "Boychick, for this you need a chicken?" This amusing and telling story about wise chickens and foolish villagers will be enjoyed by anyone who has ever wanted to be a better person

In the Woods, We Were Free: The True Story of the Bielskis, Three Brothers Who Defied the Nazis, Saved 1,200 Jews, and Built a Village in the Forest
July 2003. HarperCollins. In New York City, Queens County, there lived two brothers. They were uncelebrated, unassuming, and one had a grocery supply route. What their neighbors and co-workers did not know was that these brothers, with another brother, led 1200 Jews into the forests during WWII, saved more Jewish lives than Oskar Schindler, created a town, and formed platoons of armed resistance to kill Nazi soldiers. For two and a half years, they hid and fought. They made their refuge a place open to all types of Jews, young or old, healthy or infirmed, Betar, Zionist, or Socialist. The author writes a documentary portrait of the family prior to WWI, between the wars, and during the war. After witnessing the murder of their parents and 2 siblings, Asael, Tuvia, and Zus Bielski fled into the forest and spread the word that there was a haven in the woods. Over time, 1200 Jews were saved by living with them in the forest. There was a temple, a bathhouse, a store, and even a theater in the woods. For 2 and a half years they eluded the Nazis and death. This is their story. Click to read more.

[book] Resplendent Synagogue:
Architecture and Worship in an Eighteenth-Century Polish Community
(Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry Series)
by Thomas C. Hubka
July 2003. Brandeis University Press. A provocative interpretation of the art and architecture of a pre-modern wooden synagogue illuminates the social, historical, and religious context of an Eastern-European Jewish community. Click to read more.

[book cover, click me] POLITICIDE
Ariel Sharon's War Against the Palestinians
by Baruch Kimmerling, (Univ of Toronto, and Hebrew University)
July 2003. Verso Books. Kimmlering’s (a famous left wing academician in Israel who call’s the Sharon administration a semi-fascist Regime) indictment of Sharon and his attempt to destroy Palestinian peoplehood and self determination, reshape the Middle East, and a portrayal of Sharon’s leadership as brutal and his junta's "solutions." He constructs a devastating indictment of a man whose cruelty and ruthlessness have resulted in widespread and indiscriminate slaughter. Click to read more.

[book] The New Anti-Semitism
The Current Crisis and What We Must Do About It
by Phyllis Chesler
July 2003. Jossey Bass.
In this intensely passionate and compelling book, the best-selling feminist and Jewish writer Phyllis Chesler demonstrates how old-fashioned anti-Semitism has become newly fashionable, even politically correct, and how this plague threatens the Jews of the world, America, and Western civilization. A dangerous, worldwide coalition of Islamic terrorists, well-intentioned but profoundly misinformed students, right wing fascists, left-wing ideologues, pious academics, feminists, opportunistic European politicians, and sensation-seeking international media have joined together to once again blame the Jews and the Jewish state for the current world crisis. Today, lethal activism against the Jews often takes the form of anti-Zionism. Osama Bin Laden, for example, blamed the 9/11 World Trade Center attack on U.S. government support for Israel. Since then, hundreds of synagogues have been burned, cemeteries and destroyed, and Jews threatened, boycotted, beaten, and killed. Jews have been blamed for huge stock market losses and for the decline of the world economy. The long-ago disproven Protocols of Zion, which accuse the Jews of an alleged world-conspiracy to conquer and control the world, have been revived and promulgated in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. So what must we do? "Fight against the Big Lies," Chesler says. (No, the Jews do not control the world's money and media, and the Jews did not kill Christ.) Avoid rigid, dogmatic ideologies. Focus on the world's real problems (disease, poverty, illiteracy, violence) instead of scapegoating the Jews and demonizing the Jewish state. Be fair to Israel. Form Jewish-Christian, Jewish-Muslim, and Jewish-Palestinian alliances. Restore campus civility and above all, Jews must stop fighting among themselves. Click to read more.

[book cover click here] Writing the Book of Ester
by Louise Domaratius
July 2003. Celia Davis, 29 years old & recently divorced, has secured a good position teaching English in the beautiful Loire Valley. Among her students is a mysterious, mature young man who in time, tells her of his family--a Muslim father & a Jewish mother. His twin sister, Zahra, is also at the same school, wanting to assimilate, pretending to be Italian & hanging out with some of the least tolerant students. She has dyed her long hair blonde & developed a sharp tongue, edged with shame, envy & rebellion. When Medhi & Zahra were infants their father was killed while walking home during a bombing in the Iraq/Iran war. To support her family his mother returned to journalism & became a voice for women in a male dominated nation. Now she has been incarcerated in a Tehran prison, for all manner of incontestible treason, most of which seem to revolve around her not being a good Muslim. As Mehdi's stories unfold, Celia learns more about this brave woman whom she refers as Ester, paying homage to the Biblical Jewish wife of the King of Persia who pled for her people's freedom.Click to read more.

By OR ROSE, Ph.D. (Brandeis University)
July 2003. Jewish Publication Society. A biography of Heschel for young adults. Click to read more.


[book][book] LOST TRIBE
Edited by PAUL ZAKRZEWSKI (pronounced Zak-shef-ski)
August 2003. Harperperennial.
A collection of writings from 25 great new funny, dark, raw writers, including Nathan Englander (“The Last One Way”), Ellen Miller (“In Memory of Chanveasna Chan, Who Is Still Alive”, a dark satire on the persecution image), Myla Goldberg, Jonathan Safran Foer, Steve Almond, Dara Horn, Jon Papernick, Aimee Bender, Rachel Kadish, Nelly Reifler (Julian, a sexual coming of age story), Gabriel Brownstein, Gloria Kirchheimer, Ben Schrank, Judy Budnitz, Binnie Kirshenbaum (“Who Knows Kaddish”) Suzan Sherman, Joan Leegant, Gary Shteyngart (“Several Anecdotes About My Wife”), Michael Lowenthal, Aryeh Lev Stollman, Ellen Umansky, Ehud Havazelet, Tova Mirvis, Simone Zelitch, and Peter Orner. Issues are flirted with (sex, intolerance, the Holocaust’s legacy). Call them the "post Roth" generation. Just as Philip Roth unleashed his irreverent wit in “Portnoy's Complaint” to depict the shortcomings of his 1950s urban Jewish upbringing, these writers flirt with controversial topics-such as sex, materialism, religious intolerance, and the contentious legacy of the Holocaust-to create a stirring mirror of Jewish life today. With their evocative storytelling abilities, exquisite attention to language, and profound compassion for the complex lives of their characters, these 25 authors are creating an exciting new direction for contemporary Jewish fiction. Click to read more.

[book] Heritage - Civilization and the Jews (2001)

WOW. NOT ONLY does this include 540 minutes of the whole series by Abba Eban, but it includes a world atlas of Jewish and other history, an encyclopedia, Excerpts From the Encyclopedia Judaica; Over 650 translated and annotated historical documents; 541 map views with over 2250 explanatory essays; 33 expert scholar advisors/ consultants from 21 universities and academic institutions; Over 3600 encyclopedia articles; Over 4000 captions for 9 hours of original video; Over 100 interactive multimedia presentations containing over 800 historical images; Built in help documentation; and Fully word- and category- searchable index of over 7000 multimedia elements. Click to read more.

By Rabbi Lawrence Kushner
and Playwright David Mamet
August 26, 2003. Schocken Books.
From Schocken Books or from Shocking Books? Wait. Time Out. I thought that Moses requested that six cities of refuge be created when the Israelites crossed the Jordan. But this book’s title says five. Why? Because the five areas of refuge for us today are the five books of Moses. Kushner and Mamet have been Torah study partners (in Johnny’s Deli outside of Boston) for years. This book grows from the tradition of kavannah, or intention, a short message of intentional focus at the beginning of prayer or study. For each of the weekly portions of Torah study in the Jewish calendar, they select a sentence or two from the portion, show it in Hebrew characters with an English translation, and provide a short kavannah. Rabbi Kushner and Playwrite Mamet look at Torah in new ways, and they interpret the passages from their varied backgrounds, whether that be from law, history, Freud, Hasidism, mysticism, the theater, or life. In the words of Mamet, “The struggle with the angel, Judaism’s struggle, is this: not that we will wrest more information from him – we will not – but that we learn to live with the information we possess- to cease seeking information and to pursue wisdom.”
This book helps you to find that wisdom and develop your own. Examples: For the first chapter of Bereshit, David Mamet (DM) writes that there is no closure in Judaism. Creation is an ongoing process. One should celebrate that there is no completion to creation. For the story of Noach, Lawrence Kushner (LK) asks how righteous Noach was; he allowed everyone else to be destroyed. He was a tzaddik in a fur coat, who pulled his coat tighter to stay warm, rather than building a fire to help others. DM compares the story to Tolstoy. For Lech Lecha, LK discusses the idea of “going forth”, while DM rails against anti-Semitism which may have its roots in Abraham’s choice to “stand apart.” Did this create the perception that poor, rich, impertinent, and intransigent Jews are clannish? Or that they “try to pass.” For Exodus 6:2-5, a witty DM asks whether God changed His name because El Shaddai sounded “too Jewish.” For the crossing of the Red Sea, LK discusses the commentaries of Dov Baer of Mezritch on the idea of being in the midst of the Sea but simultaneously being on dry land; while DM talks of Freud and the need to “remember in order to forget.” For Vayakhael-Pekude, LK discusses the need for the tabernacle, or mini-Sinai, in light of the Golden Calf incident; DM talks of the cloud resting on Moses instead of on the tent, and how the community views leaders as “servants or good for nothings.” For Aharemot-Kedoshim, DM talks of individual holiness, even if your name is not Levy or Horowitz; and LK writes of how IF each of us is holy, then we must act differently towards one another. For Ki Tisa, where God says, “You cannot see my face… and live”, LK explains that face might mean present and future, while God’s back is the temporal afterward; and DM writes that God has no face, but can comfort people with goodness if not the greater plan. Click to read more.

A Young Guy, an Old Car, and the Search for God in America
by Tom Levinson
August 8, 2003. Wiley.
Tom is a grad of Harvard Divinity, where he studied with Harvey Cox. If memory serves me, I think he was also a Fellow a few years ago with the Jewish Organizing Initiative in Boston, and the Nicwj in Chicagoland. As a child, Tom saw the word of God as no more than a figure of speech, yet he noted that to some, it meant more. Tom Levinson is a fourth-generation Jewish New Yorker who grew up a Christmas-tree-decorating, Judaism-heckling, "doubting Thomas." As he got older he noticed that other people had different views, and he hungered to understand why. This book recounts a road trip he took, a quest for spiritual identity, and the people he met along the way. Look for him this Fall (2003) at a JCC near you. Click to read more.

[book] The Lord Is My Shepherd
The Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm
Harold S. Kushner
August 26, 2003. Knopf
PW WRITES, “Many people regard the 23rd Psalm as one of the most familiar and comforting passages in the Bible. Rabbi Kushner, bestselling author of the spiritual classic When Bad Things Happen to Good People, looks to the psalm as a microcosmic statement about God-its 57 Hebrew words, he says, present "an entire theology" about life and loss. The psalm begins in a place of perfect peace-the psalmist lacks for nothing, and is tended perfectly by God the shepherd-but that peace is shattered by "the shadow of death." Going phrase by phrase through the psalm, Kushner tackles serious questions: what does it mean to lack for nothing? Where is God when we suffer? Some of his interpretations are quite fresh and interesting; for example, "the straight paths" in which God leads the psalmist are anything but straight, he claims, noting that the Hebrew is more accurately rendered "roundabout ways that end up in the right direction." Ultimately, that phrase's message is about trusting God when the way does not seem straightforward. The psalm is not Pollyannaish, but realistic: as Kushner points out, the psalmist has enemies, has known failure and has probably lost a loved one. He draws heavily on rabbinic Judaism, but also references popular culture (including Woody Allen films), Freud, Michelangelo and other diverse sources. Kushner writes well and engagingly, and his tone will make readers feel personally welcomed into the rabbi's study for a comforting one-on-one chat.” Click to read more.

[book insert][book cover] THE CAT IN THE HAT IN YIDDISH
Di Kats der Payats
a Yiddish translation of Dr. Seuss's world-famous children's book
The book features the illustrations, colors, rhyme scheme, and production values of the original, but in Yiddish -- both in Yiddish letters and in YIVO transliteration, with an alef-beys [alphabet] chart in the back. Sold online by Click to read more.

by Joan Leegant (Harvard)
August 2003. WW NORTON.
A wonderful new voice combining the offbeat sensibility of Nathan Englander and the compassionate eye of Allegra Goodman. In settings from Jerusalem to Queens, from Hollywood's outskirts to Sarasota, Florida, the characters in this mesmerizing debut collection are drawn to the seductions of religion, soldiering on in search of divine and human connection. A former drug dealer turned yeshiva student faces his past with a dying AIDS patient. A disaffected American in the ancient city of Safed ventures into Kabbalist mysticism and gets more than he bargained for. A rabbi whose morning minyan is visited by a pair of Siamese twins considers the possibility that his guests are not mere mortals. An aging Jerusalemite chronicles his country's changes during the biblical year of rest. By turns poignant and comic, unflinching and compassionate—with a dose of fabulist daring—An Hour in Paradise explores the dangers and unforeseen rewards of our most fundamental longings. The book has recently been selected by Barnes & Noble for their Discover Great New Writers program for this fall. You may recall her winning pieces in Moment Magazine. "The Lament of the Rabbi's Daughters" and "Seekers in the Holy Land", as well as her writings in Shma ( Click to read more.

[book][book] SEVEN BLESSINGS (Sheva Brachot)
A novel
by Ruchama King
August 2003. St Martins Press.
This is going to be the Jewish blockbuster of 2003. At least that is what I think. What Bee Season and The Red Tent to years past, this will be to 2003. It already has blurbs from Stephen Dubner, Naomi Ragen, Thane Rosenbaum, and Alice Elliott Dark. In 7th grade in Silver Spring, the author’s teacher read an essay of her’s aloud, and said Ms. King would be an author. And behold. The author lived in the yeshivish world of Jerusalem and resided with matchmakers. After her dates, she would debrief with the matchmakers. Using this as experience, she has set out to write a transformative novel, a novel about searching for a bashert in life, in romance, and in the spiritual realm. At the start of the novel, we meet two Jerusalem matchmakers. Judy is a Rebbitzen with half a dozen kids. She studies at a women’s yeshiva shere she is learning to have more confidence in her own opinions. She is taking Torah (NOT TALMUD) classes, looking for deeper meaning in life. She interprets the story of the creation of Eve in light of her own role as a matchmaker. Another matchmaker is Tsippi. Her own marriage is not the best; asked a question about love, her husband is more focused on the Talmudic quote on love than on answering the question directly. As her husband studies in the back, she works the counter at their makolet grocery store, keeping an eye out for single customers. Into both their lives come Beth (Yenta Shprinza). Beth is a 39 year old American virgin, never even been kissed, an independent Orthodox woman from Pittsburgh, the daughter of a man who sells vibrating furniture. If only there would be some vibration in Beth’s life. Having dated everyone in NYC, she has come to Jerusalem. She lives among Mizrahi Jews, yet doesn’t eat over their homes for fear that their standards of kashrut are not hers. She volunteers to help hospitalized schizophrenics who believe they are biblical characters (in Jerusalem you either become an author of a prophet), and she has dropped out of her own bible study classes due to her anguish over the laws of sacrifice and other uncomfortable biblical practices. Judy and Tsippi see Beth (or Bet) as a unique project. When Tsippi sends her on a date with Akiva, a painter of houses (not canvases) and student of the Torah, Beth is hopeful. They have good dates, have a Sabbath walk in the forest, but Akiva is afflicted by a disconcerting twitch. Well twitch is polite. It is an affliction that twitches his whole body like an earthquake; it is more like a seizure than a hic-cup filled sneeze. Judy sets Beth up with handsome, American Binyamin, an artist, an arrogant Ba’al Teshuva. While no woman is pretty enough for him, he is unaware that as the French say, there are no ugly women, only lazy ones. He paints landscapes, but adds a kitschy Hebrew letter or Torah scroll so that the painting will sell. And, brother, let me tell you, the tourists gobble them up. King writes about the dates between Beth, Akiva, and Binyamin; what will she decide? She also writes about Jerusalem’s foods, forests, windmills, and bus shelter arsons, the power of love in a nursing home among the near dead, a rabbi who visits widows to brighten their pre-Shabbat spirits, the lives of women who date afflicted men, and the spiritual journeys of all the characters.
PW adds: “King tracks the dating fates of Beth, Akiva and Binyamin, but pays equal attention to their spiritual searching. Her attention to minor variations in levels of orthodoxy makes the book a sociological study of sorts ("he went to a very religious black-hat hareidi yeshiva, yet from the look of him he seemed two steps removed from that world"), but her richly detailed descriptions of Jerusalem (the reader can almost smell the falafel frying) and her sympathetic characters make this a fully realized novel.”
Click the bookcover to read more. Picture above is Ms. King singing her book for :-)

[book] Opening the Tanya
Discovering the Moral and Mystical Teachings of a Classic Work of Kabbalah
by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
August 2003. Wiley Jossey Bass.
Written by the great Hasidic master Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi in the late eighteenth century, the Tanya is considered to be one of the most extraordinary books of moral teachings ever written. A seminal document in the study of Kabbalah, the Tanya explores and solves the dilemmas of the human soul by arriving at the root causes of its struggles. Though it is a classic Jewish spiritual text, the Tanya and its present commentary take a broad and comprehensive approach that is not specific to Judaism nor tied to a particular personality type or time or point of view. Opening the Tanya is a groundbreaking book that offers a definitive introduction, explanation, and commentary upon the Tanya. As relevant today as it was when it was first written more than two hundred years ago, the Tanya helps us to see the many thousands of complexities, doubts, and drives within us as expressions of a single basic problem, the struggle between our Godly Soul and our Animal Soul. The internationally celebrated Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, who has dedicated his life to the study, teaching, and writing of books that explain Jewish scripture, religious practice, spirituality, and mysticism to Jews and non-Jews throughout the world, is the author of this explanation and line-by-line commentary on the Tanya. Opening the Tanya guides us to achieve harmony of body and soul, of earthliness and transcendence. This remarkable book helps us to learn how we can each elevate our soul to a higher level of awareness and understanding, until our objectives and aspirations are synonymous with our Godly potential. Click to read more.

[book] Values, Prosperity and the Talmud
Business Lessons from the Ancient Rabbis
by Larry Kahaner
August 2003. Wiley Jossey Bass
A value-based guide to good business based on the timeless lessons of the Talmud. Here is an accessible and timely guide to one of the most successful business philosophies in history–the Jewish way of doing business. Regarded by the Jews as a high authority, the Talmud is in fact a comprehensive manual for life, containing guidance for virtually every situation, including business and money matters, where our moral mettle is so often tested. With scandal rocking the business world, companies and individuals are seeking a new values-based code by which to do business and the Talmud is full of business lessons as applicable today as they were thousands of years ago. Larry Kahaner shows how businesspeople can apply this ethical wisdom to both their professional and personal lives–and find prosperity as well as a deeper sense of satisfaction. Larry Kahaner (McLean, VA) is a former Washington staff correspondent for BusinessWeek, a reporter for Knight-Ridder newspapers, and a founding editor of Communications Daily. He is the author of seven books and has appeared on Larry King Live! and NPR. Click to read more.

by Alan Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School
August 2003. Wiley
Written in Alan Dershowitz's characteristic hard-hitting style, The Case for Israel defends Israel and its basic right to exist, to protect its citizens from terrorism, and to protect its borders from hostile enemies. This timely, impassioned, closely argued, and controversial analysis sets the record straight, addressing the accusations leveled against Israel (even by liberal Jewish critics) by responding with hard facts and documentation. Click to read more.

[book] Living a Year of Kaddish
A Memoir
by Ari Goldman
August 26, 2003. Schocken. When Ari Goldman was six, his parents divorced. They were as different as the North and South poles (wink wink); one was extroverted, the other introverted. Goldman kept a part of each of their lives through his commitment to 1950’s-style Orthodox Judaism. In September 1999, Ari Goldman turned fifty. He had a party. The next morning he got a call. His father, 77, was dead in Jerusalem. The funeral would be in a few hours, since Shabbat would soon begin in Israel. Goldman tore his shirt and began to mourn. He sat shiva for his father only one day, since Sukkot started the next day. (For his mother, he mourned a full shiva at the CPW apartment of Rabbi Norman Lamm). He went on to mourn for his father 30 days, and then the full year. Ari inherited his father’s tallit (which he wore and made his own), while his brothers split their father’s tefillin and handwritten Scroll of Esther. He tells the reader about the people he touched and those who touched him during his year of saying kaddish. While the kaddish will not bring back the dead, it will bind one to the community horizontally, and redeem a death vertically. Ari finds that so many people have their own kaddish stories to share with him. In this book, he weaves his story of mourning and loss, about being an “avel,” and its effects on mentoring and on modeling an upright life to his kids. There are also asides on the various people he meets when seeking out shuls in which to say kaddish. He explores his daughter’s conflicts when she had to move to the women’s side of the mechiza at the age 12. He reflects upon the power of the kaddish and how the passage of time changes his approach to the prayer and the process. He honestly asks himself why he tells people he is mourning. Is it a badge on his lapel? Is he seeking some sort of status? Comfort? Honor? In this story, Goldman tells us about shiva, mourning, loss (from the loss of one’s normal synagogue seat to the loss of both parents). But he also tells the fascinating story of how his neighborhood shul became resurrected. Click to read more.

[book cover] BURN
A novel
by Jennifer Natalya Fink
August 2003. Suspect Thoughts Press. It is 1953, a time of repression both political and sexual. It is Sylvan Lake, a Jewish communist enclave utopian experiment in Westchester County NY. A mute naked boy appears in the garden of Sylvia Edelman, a menopausal Jewish immigrant. A dogtag on his neck says Simon. Is he a robot here to attack her prize tomatoes, a government agent, or a teenage runaway? A tale of McCarthyism, Jewish utopias, and tangled love. Click to read more.

[book cover][cindy in nyc] THE BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS BOOK
A Collection of Cautiously Hopeful Essays
by Cindy Chupack
St. Martin's Press. August 2003
I bought two copies. The Between Boyfriends Book is an honest, hilarious look at the world of dating--and not dating--that will have you rushing back for multiple copies to apply to the psychic wounds of your afflicted friends. Chupack not only puts voice to the cheerful brutality that shapes young women's love lives, but creates bonus coinages to describe instantly recognizable dating tropes, such as: "sexual sorbet": the first person you sleep with after a breakup to remove the taste of a bad relationship; "lone rangered": to have had a relationship end with no goodbye, no answers, just the vague feelings you have no idea who that man was; "premature 'we'jaculation": a common dating dysfunction where one member of the couple starts using "we" before the other is ready. What happens when you are a relationship, but you aren’t in a relationship? Or when a major magainze asks you to write about how to juggle men, when you aren’t even juggling one? When you count the number of men you have been with, do you have top count the men from drunken frat parties in college? There is the story about the guy who had his doorman break up with her; there is the story of the guy who broke up with a woman on the account of her nose, or the story of each of her 17 awful dates that she went on (3 per week) in order to have one good 18th date. She decided to ask her dates to bring a CD to trade, so at least if it is a bad date, you might get a bonus of a good CD. When her date brought her ABBA, she dropped him and that idea fast. Cindy tells about her 10 day fast in order to lose weight, well not really to lose weight, but well, who knows why she went on it. You have to read it as if the character of Carrie from “Sex And The City” is reading it to you. It is much funnier that way. Each story is less than 4 pages, so it is great for subway reading. In addition to the stories and dating advice, we learn about her ex-husband and his own bf troubles, and her father’s obsession with “how’s the car?” While some women write about the frustration of being chosen to be a bridesmaid, bi-coastal Chupack writes about the other side: not being chosen.
The picture above is from her first book reading of the book in NYC. Chupack is a Jewess from Oklahoma who produces and writes for Sex and The City (and with her writing team, had WASPy Charlotte convert to Judaism and marry a husky bald Jewish man), and she used to write for Everybody Loves Raymond. Click the bookcover to read more.
Note to file… Dear Cindy, I would be happy to be one of your 17 bad dates in the future. Let’s swap a CD. I think I would bring a Rami Kleinstein CD, or Bible Women (Elizabeth Swados), or a classic Sinatra, or “the Music from VX commercials”, or I would make a compilation a la Nick Hornby including some Nufatale Brandwein. We can go to A Salt and Battery, or a sushi place in Tribeca for dinner, and then get a cupcake at the Magnolia Bakery. Email me at

[book] Judaism in America
(Columbia Contemporary American Religion Series)
by Marc Lee Raphael
August 2003. Columbia University Press. Exploration of history and tradition. PW writes, “Raphael, the chair of the religion department at the College of William and Mary, explores the history, theology and practices of American Jews in this accessible and absorbing survey. After a brief introductory chapter outlining Jewish diversity, Raphael discusses festivals and life-cycle events, which are the building blocks of Judaism in practice. Other chapters consider the history of Judaism in America, the changing role of the synagogue and the rise of the many para-synagogue organizations and institutions that help define Jewish life. Raphael's study is greatly enriched by his primary ethnographic research; he attended more than 100 services in the four major branches of Judaism, and also interviewed people formally and informally about their beliefs and practices. While he acknowledges the usual grim statistics (declining numbers, increasing intermarriage and a low birth rate), he doesn't dwell on them, insisting instead that "what strikes the contemporary observer of the synagogue is its vitality." One particularly fascinating chapter explores the increase of interest in spirituality and Jewish renewal, the emergence of homosexual congregations, the "surge" in Jewish day schools and the gradual decline of identification with Israel compared to 50 years ago. Another chapter examines the return to traditional observance that has marked all sectors of Judaism in recent years. Newcomers will find this an engaging introduction to American Judaism, and even experts may learn something new.” Click to read more.

by Mary Blye Howe (Author), Rabbi Lawrence Kushner (Author), John Wilson (Author)
August 2003. Jossey-Bass. A Baptist’s journey to spiritual wholeness. Click to read more.

by Lisa Marsh
Wiley. August 2003. Marsh of the NY Post writes the inside story on this fashion biz. Who is the man behind the brand. Click to read more.

[book] New Jewish Baby Memory Album
A Jewish Lights Album for Celebrating and Creating the Beginning of a Spiritual Life
by Jewish Lights Publishing, with Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Summer 2003. Jewish Lights. Let me tell you this. I saw the galley at the Book Expo, and you kind of would like to have a baby, just so that you can buy and use the book. This one acknowledges birth as a spiritual celebration. The New Jewish Baby Album shows you how--and why it's important--to create a Jewish home and a Jewish life. It includes a section to describe the naming ceremony, space to write encouragements, and pages for writing original blessings and creating original prayers, as well as meaningful quotes throughout. Other highlights include a section for the parents to express personal prayers for the baby; pages for each of the major Jewish holidays; a family tree; room for photos; space to commemorate baby's first Shabbat at home; and much more. Click to read more.

[book] People Really Like You
by Maria Peevey, Megan Weinerman,
Do your friends a favor and give them an instant pick me up by sending them this savvy affirmation card from this spoof of self love. 15 card ad envelopes. Click to read more.

[book] Thank you for not letting me eat that
Thank you Cards
by Maria Peevey, Megan Weinerman,
Friendship thank you cards. 15 card ad envelopes. Click to read more.

[book] Thank you for giving me a gift I in fact like
Thank you Cards
by Maria Peevey, Megan Weinerman,
Friendship thank you cards. 15 card ad envelopes. Click to read more.

[book] Jewish Dream Book
The Key to Opening the Inner Meaning of Your Dreams
by Vanessa L. Ochs and Elizabeth Ochs
Summer 2003. Jewish Lights. Dream interpretation is so Jewish. Just ask Hagar and Yosef, or King Solomon and Yakov. With lovely images and engaging insights, here’s the key to opening the inner meanings of dreams. Click to read more.

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Attention New York City residents
The residents of The City of New York will, one day, be asked to read Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee or The Color of Water (A Black Mans Tribute to His White Jewish Mother) by James McBride. Or Maybe Time and Again by Jack Finney. Why not get a head start by clicking one of the book covers and reading them

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