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Welcome to our pages of Summer Book Suggestions. For our Home Page, Please visit MyJewishBooks.com
SOME SUMMER 2008 BOOK READINGS
May 06, 2008: MICHAEL CHABON reads from YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S.... B&N Union Sq NYC 7PM
May 09, 2008: AARON COHEN reads from BROTHERHOOD OF WARRIORS. B&N Farmers Mkt Los Angeles 7PM
May 18, 2008: Jews and Power. A Festival of Ideas. Nextbook.Org The Times Center, NYC $20 featuring Avivah Zornberg, Leon Botstein, Stephen Greenblatt, Paul Berman, Aaron David Miller, Dagmar Herzog, Stuart Klawans, Shalom Auslander, Rebecca Goldtsein, Sara Ivry, Cynthia Ozick, Ruth Wisse, and more. 11Am - 5 PM
May 18, 2008: Rabbi Phillip Lieberman, PhD speaks at the Everett Institute on the Judeo Muslim Connection. 92nd St Y, NYC 92y.org
June 03, 2008: Lisa Loeb performs from her CD, Camp Lisa. BN, Tribeca NYC 2PM
June 04, 2008: Nathan Englander reads at BN, Tribeca NYC 7PM
June 11, 2008: Tania Grossinger reads from Growing Up at Grossinger's at BN, Greenwich Village NYC 730PM
June 16, 2008: Nam Le reads at BN, UWS 82nd NYC 7PM
July 02, 2008: Joshua Rubenstein reads from The Unknown Black Book, BN, Tribeca, NYC 7PM
July 07, 2008: Robert Thurman, PhD reads from Why The Dali Lama Matters, BN, Tribeca, NYC 7PM
July 09, 2008: New York's Best Emerging Jewish Artists. Museum of Jewish Heritage NYC
July 23, 2008: Daniel Silva reads from Moscow Rules, BN, Lincoln Center, NYC 7PM
July 29, 2008: Congressman Robert Wexler reads from Fire Breathing Liberal. At the Sixth & Eye Synagogue. Wash DC. Sixthandi.org
July 30, 2008: Congress House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, grandmother to Jewish kids, reads from Know Your Power. At the Sixth & Eye Synagogue. Wash DC. Sixthandi.org
August 01, 2008: Marwan Muasher speaks on The Arab Center. Politics and Prose. Wash DC
August 13, 2008: Daniel Mendelsohn reads at BN, Lincoln Center NYC 7PM
August 20, 2008: Ariel Sabar reads from My Father's Paradise. A Son's Search for his Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq. Cong Rodeph Shalom. NYC 7PM
August 20, 2008: Sadia Shepard reads from The Girl From Foreign: A Search for Shipwrecked Ancestors, Forgotten Histories, and a Sense of Home. The Jewish Week Literary Summer: Family Secrets Unveiled. Congregation Rodeph Shalom. NYC 7PM
September 23-24, 2008: NJDC Washington Conference. NJDC.org, Wash DC
September 27, 2008: National Book Festival, Washington DC
If you want to contribute to help the people of Myanmar / Burma, please visit the Joint Distribution Committee or American Jewish World Service, at jdc.org and ajws.org Thanks
SOME REPEATS FROM MAY 2008
by Elinor Burkett
May 2008, HarperCollins
The first female head of state in the Western world and one of the most influential women in modern history, Golda Meir was a member of the tiny coterie of founders of the State of Israel, the architect of its socialist infrastructure, and its most tenacious international defender. Her uncompromising devotion to shaping and defending a Jewish homeland against dogged enemies and skittish allies stunned political contemporaries skeptical about the stamina of an elderly leader, and transformed Middle Eastern politics for decades to follow.
A blend of Emma Goldman and Martin Luther King Jr. in the guise of a cookie-serving grandmother, Meir was a tough-as-nails politician who issued the first prescient warnings about the rise of international terrorism, out-maneuvered Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger at their own game of realpolitik, and led Israel through a bloody war even as she eloquently pleaded for peace. A prodigious fundraiser and persuasive international voice, Golda carried the nation through its most perilous hours while she herself battled cancer.
In this masterful biography, critically acclaimed author and Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist Elinor Burkett looks beyond Meir's well-known accomplishments to the complex motivations and ideals, personal victories and disappointments, of her charismatic public persona. Beginning with Meir's childhood in virulently anti-Semitic Russia and her family's subsequent relocation to the United States, Burkett places Meir within the framework of the American immigrant experience, the Holocaust, and the single-mindedness of a generation that carved a nation out of its own nightmares and dreams. She paints a vivid portrait of a legendary woman defined by contradictions: an iron resolve coupled with magnetic charm, an utter ordinariness of appearance matched to extraordinary achievements, a kindly demeanor that disguised a stunning hard-heartedness, and a complete dedication to her country that often overwhelmed her personal relationships.
To produce this definitive account of Meir's life, Burkett mined historical records never before examined by any researcher, and interviewed members of Meir's inner circle, many going on record for the first time. The result is an astounding portrait of one of the most commanding political presences of the twentieth century-a woman whose uncompromising commitment to the creation and preservation of a Jewish state fueled and framed the ideological conflicts that still define Middle Eastern relations today.
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N O W I N P A P E R B A C K
The Yiddish Policemen's Union
by Michael Chabon
Spring 2008, Harper
From Publishers Weekly. Starred Review. Chabon's storytelling, in this alternate history of a world where Jews were settled in Alaska after World War II, is vivid enough, with inventive metaphors packed in like tapestry threads, but Peter Riegert's versatile voice makes the invented society even more tangible. Told through the eyes of Meyer Landsman, a police detective investigating a murder, the novel occurs in a strange time to be a Jew, as several characters ruefully put it: the special Jewish district will soon be controlled by Alaska again. In a bonus interview on the last disc, Chabon relates his desire to write about a place where Yiddish was an official language. The book is shot through with Yiddish phrases and names, which melodically roll off Riegert's tongue. He gives Landsman and his tough but warmhearted partner Berko similar yet distinct gruff voices that contrast well with the effeminate-sounding sect leader and the Southern-accented Americans who come to start the land reversion process. Riegert's pacing increases the enjoyment of this expertly spun mystery. Click the book cover to read more.
CITY OF THIEVES
by David Benioff
May 2008, Viking
David Beniott (Friedman), novelist and screenwriter, Dartmouth grad and husband to Amanda Peet, has written the Russia based novel based on the stories of his grandfather. Or so he says... but this is ALL PART OF THE FICTION
Lev Beniov, 17, is arrested during WW2 in Leningrad for looting a dead German soldier. Rather than execute Lev, Colonel Grechko sends him on a quest to find a dozen eggs which will be used to make a wedding cake for the colonel's daughter. And so the adventure begins.
Lev Beniov considers himself "built for deprivation." He's small, smart, and insecure, a Jewish virgin too young for the army, who spends his nights working as a volunteer firefighter with friends from his building. When a dead German paratrooper lands in his street, Lev is caught looting the body and dragged to jail, fearing for his life. He shares his cell with the charismatic and grandiose Kolya, a handsome young soldier arrested on desertion charges. Instead of the standard bullet in the back of the head, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful colonel to use in his daughter's wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt to find the impossible. A search that takes them through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and the devastated surrounding countryside creates an unlikely bond between this earnest, lust-filled teenager and an endearing lothario with the gifts of a conman. Set within the monumental events of history, City of Thieves is an intimate coming-of-age tale with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men. Click the book cover to read more.
THE STORY OF A VERY JEWISH HOSPITAL
Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God and Diversity on Steroids
by Julie Salamon
May 2008. Penguin
Most people agree that there are complicated issues at play in the delivery of health care today, but those issues may not always be what we think they are. In 2005, 700-bed Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, unveiled a new state-of-the-art, multimillion-dollar cancer center. Determined to understand the whole spectrum of factors that determine what kind of medical care people receive in this country, bestselling author Julie Salamon spent one year tracking the progress of the center and getting to know the characters who make the hospital run. Located in a community where sixty-seven different languages are spoken, Maimonides is a case study for the particular kinds of concerns that arise in institutions that serve an increasingly multicultural American demographic. Granted an astonishing "warts and all" level of access by the hospital higher-ups, Salamon followed the doctors, patients, administrators, nurses, ambulance drivers, cooks, and cleaning staff. She explored not just the action on the ground-what happens between doctors and patients-but also the financial, ethical, technological, sociological, and cultural matters that the hospital community encounters every day.
She draws out the internal and external political machinations that exist between doctors and staff as well as between hospital and community. And she grounds the science and emotion of medical drama in the financial realities of operating a huge, private institution that must contend with issues like adapting to the specific needs of immigrant groups that make up a large and growing portion of our society.
Salamon exposes struggles of both the profound and humdrum variety. There are bitter internal feuds, warm personal connections, comedy, egoism, greed, love, and loss.
There are rabbinic edicts to contend with as well as imams and herbalists and local politicians. 25% of the patients are Orthodox Jews. All-male Hatzolah ambulance drivers try to cajole doctors to see their patients first and thus provide a more profitable service to their ambulance patients. At times it seems as if the hospital works for Hatzolah and not the other way around. Other patients speak more than 67 immigrant languages, including Spanish and Urdu, Chinese and Russian. One undocumented Chinese immigrant patient stayed in the hospital for eight months with cancer, racked up $1 Million in uninsured bills, and was able to block every attempt by the hospital to discharge/move him.
There are system foul-ups that keep blood test results from being delivered on time, careless record keepers, shortages of everything except forms to fill, recalcitrant and greedy insurance reimbursement systems, and the surprising difficulty of getting doctors to wash their hands.
This is the dynamic universe of small and large concerns and personalities that, taken together, determine the nature of our care and assume the utmost importance. As Martin Payson-chairman of the board at Maimonides and ex-Time-Warner vice chairman-puts it: "Hospitals have a lot in common with the movie business. You've got your talent, entrepreneurs, ambition, ego stroking, the business versus the creative part. The big difference is that in the hospital you don't get second takes. Movies are make-believe. This is real life." And don't forget the "Mitzvah Man".. the extremely powerful state assemblyman with power over allocations. Click the book cover to read more.
When a Crocodile Eats the Sun
A Memoir of Africa
by Peter Godwin
Spring 2008, Back Bay
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. In this exquisitely written, deeply moving account of the death of a father played out against the backdrop of the collapse of the southern African nation of Zimbabwe, seasoned journalist Godwin has produced a memoir that effortlessly manages to be almost unbearably personal while simultaneously laying bare the cruel regime of longstanding president Robert Mugabe. In 1996 when his father suffers a heart attack, Godwin returns to Africa and sparks the central revelation of the book-the father is Jewish and has hidden it from Godwin and his siblings. As his father's health deteriorates, so does Zimbabwe. Mugabe, self-proclaimed president for life, institutes a series of ill-conceived land reforms that throw the white farmers off the land they've cultivated for generations and consequently throws the country's economy into free fall. There's sadness throughout-for the death of the father, for the suffering of everyone in Zimbabwe (black and white alike) and for the way that human beings invariably treat each other with casual disregard. Godwin's narrative flows seamlessly across the decades, creating a searing portrait of a family and a nation collectively coming to terms with death. This is a tour de force of personal journalism and not to be missed.
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The Red Leather Diary
Reclaiming a Life through the Pages of a Lost Journal (Hardcover)
by Lily Koppel
Spring 2008, Back Bay
The author, Lily Koppel, a 22 year old Barnard graduate, was on her way to work as a Metro section clerk and evening celebrity reporter at The New York Times one morning when she saw a Dumpster filled with steamer trunks and other early 20th Century detritus from the Riverside Drive, Upper West Side of Manhattan apartment building.
She stopped and started looking through the items on the way to the dump. She excavated and rescued from the Dumpster a discarded diary that brought to life the glamorous, forgotten world of an extraordinary young woman. For more than half a century, the red leather diary lay silent, languishing inside a steamer trunk, its worn cover crumbling into little flakes. Koppel rebirths the life of this young Jewish teenager (from ages 14 to 19). The journal paints a vivid picture of 1930s New York--horseback riding in Central Park, summer excursions to the Catskills, an obsession with a famous avant-garde actress, an affair with a non Jewish Italian count, and poetry. From 1929 to 1934, not a single day's entry is skipped. Opening the tarnished brass lock, Koppel embarks on a journey into the past, traveling to a New York in which women of privilege meet for tea at Schrafft's, dance at the Hotel Pennsylvania, and toast the night at El Morocco. As she turns the diary's brittle pages, Koppel was captivated by the headstrong young woman whose intimate thoughts and emotions fill the pale blue lines. Who was this lovely ingénue who adored the works of Baudelaire and Jane Austen, who was sexually curious beyond her years, who traveled to Rome, Paris, and London?
But wait. This is not all. Koppel hired a PI to find out what happened to the diary's owner: Florence Wolfson. And she is ALIVE! Florence is found to be a ninety-year-old woman living with her husband of sixty-seven years. Reunited with her diary, Florence ventures back to the girl she once was, rediscovering a lost self that burned with artistic fervor.
Joining intimate interviews with original diary entries, Koppel reveals the world of a New York teenager obsessed with the state of her soul and her appearance, and muses on the serendipitous chain of events that returned the lost journal to its owner. Evocative and entrancing, The Red Leather Diary re-creates the romance and glitter, sophistication and promise, of 1930s New York, bringing to life the true story of a precocious young woman who dared to follow her dreams. Click the book cover to read more.
True Tales of Double Dating with My Dad
by Bob Morris
May 2008, Harpers
What would you do if your eighty-year-old father dragged you into his hell-bent hunt for new love? Bob Morris, a seriously single son, tells you all about it in this warm, witty, and wacky chronicle of a year of dating dangerously. A few months after the death of his wife, Joe Morris, an affable, eccentric, bridge-obsessed octogenarian, starts flapping about for a replacement. If he can get a new hip, he figures, why not a new wife? At first, his son Bob is appalled, but suspicion quickly turns to enthusiasm as he finds himself trolling the personals, screening prospects, and offering etiquette tips, chaperoning services, and post-date assessments to his needy father. Bob hopes that Joe will find a well-heeled lady-or at least one who is very patient-to get him out of his hair. But soon they discover that finding a new mate will not be as easy as they think: one date is too morose, another too liberal; one's a three-timer, another just needs an escort until Mr. Right comes along. Dad persists and son assists. Am I pimping for my father? he begins to wonder. Meanwhile, Bob suffers similar frustrations; trying to find love isn't easy in a big-city market that has little use for a middle-aged gay man with an attitude and a paunch. But with the encouragement of his father (his biggest fan and the world's "most democratic Republican") he prevails. In the end, this memoir becomes a twin love story and a soulful lesson about giving and receiving affection with an open heart. With wicked humor and a dollop of compassion, Bob Morris gleefully explores the impact of senior parents on their boomer kids and the perils of dating at any age. Click the book cover to read more.
A Tale of Impossible Love
(Jewish Women Writers)
by Judith Katzir.
Translated by Dalya Bilu
May 2008. Feminist Press CUNY
Written by best-selling Israeli author Judith Katzir, Dearest Anne is a stirring record of an artist's coming-of-age during the 1970s and the story of a hidden, erotic love affair between a teenaged girl and her married teacher, Michaela.
After reading Anne Frank's diary, young Rivi starts a series of writing notebooks that document the angst of growing up in rural Israel. The entries reveal how her crush on her literature teacher develops into a poignant and turbulent love affair that lasts for years before its scandalous end. Decades later, the grown Rivi, now a mother, wife, and established author, comes to terms with the forbidden love that shaped her future. Click the book cover to read more.
i before e (except after c)
by Judy Parkinson
Here is an amusing collection of ingenious mnemonics devised to help us learn and understand hundreds of important fact as children and can continue to resonate with us as adults. Featuring all the mnemonics you'll ever need to know, this fun little book will bring back all the simple, easy-to-remember rhymes from your childhood-once learned, fix the information in the brain forever-such as learning to count by reciting "One, Two, buckle my shoe, Three, Four, knock at the door." Packed with clever verses, engaging acronyms, curious-and sometimes hilarious-sayings that can be used to solve a problem or cap an argument.
Take a trip back to the classroom, and rediscover the assortment of practical memory aids covering a range of different subjects, including spelling, time, mathematics, history, general trivia, and much more. The information is organized in short snippets by category such as:
Remember North East South West by reciting Never Eat Slimy Worms or Naughty Elephants Squirt Water. Time and the Calendar: "Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November; All the rest have 31 excepting February alone; And that has 28 days clear; With 29 in each leap year" * Think of a Number: Know the Roman numerals by remembering "I Value Xylophones Like Cows Dig Milk" World History: "In fourteen hundred, ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, And found this land, land of the Free, beloved by you, beloved by me"
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The author's father who died in 1994, was a meteorologist named Gal-Chen
BY RIVKA GALCHEN
Spring 2008. FS&G
PW: Starred Review. In this enthralling debut, psychiatrist Dr. Leo Liebenstein sets off to find his wife, Rema, who he believes has been replaced by a simulacrum. Also missing is one of Leo's patients, Harvey, who is convinced he receives coded messages (via Page Six in the New York Post) from the Royal Academy of Meteorology to control the weather. At Rema's urging, Leo pretends during his sessions with Harvey to be a Royal Academy agent (she thinks the fib could help break through to Harvey), and once Re- ma and Leo disappear, Leo turns to actual Royal Academy member Tzvi Gal-Chen's meteorological work to guide him in his search for his wife. Leo's quest takes him through Buenos Aires and Patagonia, and as he becomes increasingly delusional and erratic, Galchen adeptly reveals the actual situation to readers, including Rema's anguish and anger at her husband. Leo's devotion to the real Rema is heartbreaking and maddening; he cannot see that the woman he seeks has been with him all along.
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SOME HOT BEACH READS FROM THIS SPRING
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FLOWERS OF PERHAPS
By Rahel Bluwstein /
BY RA'HEL. Translated by Robert Friend.
May 2008, Toby Press
What may be most remarkable about the poetry of Rachel is that it has remained fresh in its simplicity and inspiration for more than 70 years. Now, because of Robert Friend's own ability as a poet and a temperment congenial with hers, his translations allow English readers to understand why Rachel is so highly esteemed. This classic is now reissued in a new bilingual edition, the original Hebrew poems appearing next to Friend's superlative translations. Click the book cover to read more.
JUNE 2008 BOOKS
How I Learned to Survive (and Thrive) in the Contact Sport of Congress
by Congressman Robert Wexler with David Fisher
June 2008, Thomas Dunne
Born in Queens in 1961, 6 term Florida Democrat Congressman Wexler provides an inside look at Congress, as well as a memoir and civics lesson. Lots of funny stories, too, about the campaign trail and what to do when the car emblazoned with your campaign posters runs over a dog. Click the book cover to read more.
Had ELOISE been Jewish and in the Grossinger's lobby and playhouse
GROWING UP AT GROSSINGER'S
BY TANIA GROSSINGER
June 2008, Skyhorse
First published in the mid 1970s, here is the reissue
From 1919 to 1986, Grossinger's Catskill Resort Hotel provided a summer retreat from the city heat for New York's Jews, and entertained the great, the near-great, and the not so great, Jews and Gentiles alike. A melting pot of the Borscht Belt, sports, and show-biz worlds, loyal visitors included Red Buttons, Rocky Marciano, Eddie Fisher, and Jackie Robinson. Tania Grossinger grew up there from 1945 to 1960. Tania moved to Grossinger at age 8, two weeks before Passover began in 1945. She was born in Chicago, but after her father died when Tania was still in diapers, her mother moved to LA where she raised Tania as a single parent. Her mother was a psychic to the stars in Hollywood, and Mrs. Grossinger, in an effort to internationalize the aura of the hotel, brought her cousin-in-law East with Tania in tow. Tania hung out with the bands and knew everything that was happening. In her fascinating insider's account of life in the hospitality industry, she sheds light on how hotel children keep up with the frenetic pace of life, and how they come to grips with the outside world (which intrudes now and again), sex (happening in every room), and, occasionally, their intellectual interests. Growing Up at Grossinger's is both a wonderful coming-of-age story and a sentimental reading of a chapter of the Jewish experience in America that has now closed. It also includes a fascinating account about what the stars were like offstage, for example, Jackie Robinson's ping pong date with the pre-teen Tania. 25 b/w photographs.
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The Arab Center
The Promise of Moderation
by Marwan Muasher
June 2008, Yale
Marwan Muasher, a prominent Jordanian diplomat, has participated in high-level Middle East peace efforts for nearly twenty years. He served as Jordan's first ambassador to Israel and was also ambassador to the United States, spokesperson at peace talks in Madrid and Washington, minister of foreign affairs, and deputy prime minister in charge of reform. In this enlightening book he recounts the behind-the-scenes details of diplomatic ventures over the past two decades, including such recent undertakings as the Arab Peace Initiative and the Middle East Road Map. Muasher's insights into internal Arab politics and the successes and failures of the Arab Center (Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia) are uniquely informed and deeply felt. He assesses how the middle road approach to reform is faring and explains why current tactics used by the West to deal with Islamic groups are doomed to failure. He examines why the Arab Center has made so little progress and which Arab, Israeli, and American policies need rethinking. Part memoir and part analysis, this book reveals the human side of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is an essential volume for all who share the hope that moderate, pragmatic Arab voices will be heard in today's vitriolic debates over how to achieve an enduring peace in the Middle East. Click the book cover to read more.
by Allegra Stratton
June 2008, Melville
66% of the residents of the Middle East are under the age of 26. Many are college educated. Many are overeducated and under employed. The author, 25, a BBC Producer, travels the area to interview these young adults and report on youth culture from Cairo to Beirut to Kuwait, Amman, and Dubai. She interviews pop stars, filmmakers, DJ's. gays, straights, members of the Muslim Brotherhood, sports people, veiled and unveiled, and more. What is up with the Islamic revival? Click the book cover to read more.
Icon of Evil
Hitler's Mufti and the Rise of Radical Islam
by David G. Dalin and John F. Rothmann
June 24, 2008, Random House
A chilling, fascinating, and nearly forgotten historical figure is resurrected in a riveting work that links the fascism of the last century with the terrorism of our own. Written with verve and extraordinary access to primary sources in several languages, Icon of Evil is the definitive account of the man who during World War II was called "the führer of the Arab world" and whose ugly legacy lives on today. In 1921, the beneficiary of an appointment the British would live to regret, Haj Amin al-Husseini became the mufti of Jerusalem, the most eminent and influential Islamic leader in the Middle East. For years, al-Husseini fomented violence in the region against the Jews he loathed and wished to destroy. Forced out in 1937, he eventually found his way to the country whose legions he desperately wished to join: Nazi Germany. Here, with new and disturbing details, David G. Dalin and John F. Rothmann show how al-Husseini ingratiated himself with his hero, Adolf Hitler, becoming, with his blonde hair and blue eyes, an "honorary Aryan," while dreaming of being installed Nazi leader of the Middle East. Al-Husseini would later recruit more than 100,000 Muslims in Europe to fight in divisions of the Waffen-SS, and obstruct negotiations with the Allies that might have allowed four thousand Jewish children to escape to Palestine. Some believe that al-Husseini even inspired Hitler to implement the Final Solution. At war's end, al-Husseini escaped indictment at Nuremberg and was harbored in France before being given a hero's welcome in Egypt. Icon of Evil chronicles al-Husseini's postwar relationships with such influential Islamic figures as the radical theoretician Sayyid Qutb and Saddam Hussein's powerful uncle, General Khairallah Talfah, and his crucial mentoring of the young Yasser Arafat. Finally, it provides compelling evidence that al-Husseini's actions and writings serve as inspirations today to the leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist organizations pledged to destroy Israel and the United States. Revelatory and unsettling, Icon of Evil reveals an essential character in the worst crimes of the modern era. It is an important addition to our understanding of the past, present, and future of radical Islam. Click the book cover to read more.
Forays into a Vanishing Landscape
by Raja Shehadeh
June 2008, Scribner
This exquisitely written book records a sensitive Palestinian writer's love for the landscape of his country, over which he has hiked for many years. It reflects not only the intense beauty of that landscape, but also some of the terrible dangers that threaten it and its occupants. This is a book that is hard to put down because of the profound natural beauty that Shehadeh describes, and his manifest passion for his homeland." -- Rashid Khalidi.
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THE LAST JEWS OF KERALA
THE 2,000 YEAR HISTORY OF INDIA'S FORGOTTEN JEWISH COMMUNITY
BY EDNA FERNANDES
June 2008, Skyhorse
When a people die out, can their story survive? Two thousand years ago, trade routes and the fall of Jerusalem took Jewish settlers seeking sanctuary across Europe and Asia. One little-known group settled in Kerala, in tropical southwestern India. Eventually numbering in the thousands, with eight synagogues, they prospered. Some came to possess vast estates and plantations, and many enjoyed economic privilege and political influence. Their comfortable lives, however, were haunted by a feud between the Black Jews of Ernakulam and the White Jews of Mattancherry. Separated by a narrow stretch of swamp and the color of their skin, they locked in a rancorous feud for centuries, divided by racism and claims and counterclaims over who arrived first in their adopted land. Today, this once-illustrious people is in its dying days. Centuries of interbreeding and a latter-day Exodus from Kerala after Israel's creation in 1948 have shrunk the population. The Black and White Jews combined now number less than fifty, and only one synagogue remains. On the threshold of extinction, the two remaining Jewish communities of Kerala have come to realize that their destiny, and their undoing, is the same. The Last Jews of Kerala narrates the rise and fall of the Black Jews and the White Jews over the centuries and within the context of the grand history of the Jewish people. It is the story of the twilight days of a people whose community will, within the next generation, cease to exist. Yet it is also a rich tale of weddings and funerals, of loyalty to family and fierce individualism, of desperation and hope. Click the book cover to read more.
Serial No. 3817131
by Rachel Papo (Photographer)
Spring 2008, powerHouse Books
Brooklyn based photographer Rachel Papo gets to shoot for Israeli papers and others and has covered the top Israelis when they visit the USA, An SVA graduate she was a finalist for the Santa Fe Prize for Photography and a 2006 NYFA Fellowship. In this book of photos, we see Israeli women at age 18, At an age when sexual, educational, and family values are at their highest exploration point, the lives of Israeli teenage girls are interrupted. Trained to become soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces, a rigorous institution where individuality comes second to nationalism, these new recruits pledge, "I solemnly swear...to devote all of my strength and to sacrifice my life to protect the land and the liberty of Israel." They then enter a two-year period in which they will change from girls to women, from adolescents to adults under a militaristic, masculine environment engaged in daily war and conflict.
Photographer Rachel Papo, who was Serial No. 3817131 during her service in the Israeli Air Force from 1988-1990, reveals these young girls caught in transient moments of self-reflection and uncertainty, as if stuck in a state of contradiction. Rather than portraying the soldier as heroic, confident, or proud, Papo's photographs reveal the soldier and the teenage girl in constant negotiation, caught between two extremes: a soldier lives on an army base surrounded by hundreds just like her, but underneath her uniform, there is an individual who wishes to be noticed. Serial No. 3817131, Papo's first book, explores the personal, complex, and delicate spectrum of emotions inherent in all adolescents, showing the vulnerable side of the righteous soldier.
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Ten Days of Birthright Israel
A Journey in Young Adult Identity
by Leonard Saxe and Barry Chazan
June 2008. New England
Since 2000, nearly one hundred fifty thousand young adult Jews have participated in Birthright Israel, conceived to curb assimilation by shifting an entire generation of Diaspora Jews from a trajectory of noninvolvement with the Jewish community to one of identity and engagement. birthright israel is a free ten-day educational experience available to any young adult Jew between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six. Most of those who have received the "gift" to reconnect with their heritage have been from North America and demand for the program has far exceeded available slots. Dozens of organizations served as trip sponsors, from campus-based Hillels, to youth movements, to private educational tour companies. Each group implemented a carefully planned model of experiential education that involved exposure to ancient and modern history, as well as to the people of Israel. Key to the program is participation of Israeli peers who spend half or more of the trip with their Diaspora counterparts. Although Birthright Israel's focus is parochial, with an emphasis on Jewish identity, the program provides a fascinating social laboratory in which to understand young adults' religious/ethnic identity and the impact of educational experiences. As a study of ethnic identity formation in postmodern society, it illuminates important lessons about how intensive exposure to one's heritage can be a catalyst for identity formation, as well as how educational programs can be made more engaging and effective. With Leonard Saxe and Barry Chazan serving as tour guides and interpreters, this story and analysis of Birthright Israel unfolds in ten chapters that parallel the ten days of the trip. This structure showcases the experiences of the participants, bringing them vividly to life, and shows how the program's effects may well last far beyond the time they spend together in Israel. Click the book cover to read more.
by Rivka Galchen
June 2008, FS&G
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. In this enthralling debut, psychiatrist Dr. Leo Liebenstein sets off to find his wife, Rema, who he believes has been replaced by a simulacrum. Also missing is one of Leo's patients, Harvey, who is convinced he receives coded messages (via Page Six in the New York Post) from the Royal Academy of Meteorology to control the weather. At Rema's urging, Leo pretends during his sessions with Harvey to be a Royal Academy agent (she thinks the fib could help break through to Harvey), and once Re- ma and Leo disappear, Leo turns to actual Royal Academy member Tzvi Gal-Chen's meteorological work to guide him in his search for his wife. Leo's quest takes him through Buenos Aires and Patagonia, and as he becomes increasingly delusional and erratic, Galchen adeptly reveals the actual situation to readers, including Rema's anguish and anger at her husband. Leo's devotion to the real Rema is heartbreaking and maddening; he cannot see that the woman he seeks has been with him all along. Don't be surprised if this gives you a Crying of Lot 49 nostalgia hit.
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Modern Jews Engage the New Testament
Enhancing Jewish Well-being in a Christian Environment
by Michael J. Cook, Hebrew Union College
June 2008, Jewish Lights
An honest, probing look at the dynamics of the New Testament-in relation to problems that disconcert Jews and Christians today. Despite the New Testament's impact on Jewish history, virtually all Jews avoid knowledge of its underlying dynamics. Jewish families and communities thus remain needlessly stymied when responding to a deeply Christian culture. Their Christian friends, meanwhile, are left perplexed as to why Jews are wary of the Gospel's "good news." This long-awaited volume offers an unprecedented solution-oriented introduction to Jesus and Paul, the Gospels and Revelation, leading Jews out of anxieties that plague them, and clarifying for Christians why Jews draw back from Christians' sacred writings. Accessible to laypeople, scholars and clergy of all faiths, innovative teaching aids make this valuable resource ideal for rabbis, ministers and other educators. Topics include: The Gospels, Romans and Revelation- the Key Concerns for Jews; Misusing the Talmud in Gospel Study; Jesus' Trial, the "Virgin Birth" and Empty Tomb Enigmas; Millennialist Scenarios and Missionary Encroachment; The Last Supper and Church Seders; Is the New Testament Antisemitic?
While written primarily with Jews in mind, this groundbreaking volume will also help Christians understand issues involved in the origin of the New Testament, the portrayal of Judaism in it, and why for centuries their "good news" has been a source of fear and mistrust among Jews. Click the book cover to read more.
How Would God Vote?
Why the Bible Commands You to Be a Conservative
by David Klinghoffer
June 2008, Doubleday
The latest political book from thrice circumcised Klinghoffer.
With liberals and conservatives alike claiming the authority of the Bible as support for their views on social and moral issues, the need to understand what the Bible actually says has never been more pressing. In How Would God Vote?, ... David Klinghoffer illuminates the worldview set forth in his interpretation of the Bible and argues that, with some exceptions, the God of his reading of the Bible would support traditionally conservative principles and policies.
Klinghoffer considers the ethical and moral heart of contemporary political debates-questions like immigration, gay marriage, abortion, care for the poor, war and peace, censorship, privacy, the place of religion in schools and the community, and much more. ......He believes that the Bible would welcome immigrants, be for gun control, and for affirmative action, but on other topics, he uses the Bible to support conservative attitudes.
As for me, I will stick to my own reading of the Bible and rabbinical responsa and commentaries, but feel free to read this book for yourself.
Click the book cover to read more.
By Marilyn Singer and Hiroe Nakata
June 2008, Dutton
Ages 4 - 8.
A visit to the shoe store sets a young shopaholic dreaming in this read-aloud.
How to choose just one pair of shoes? When a girl goes shoe shopping with Mom, there's no limit to her funky style, funny wordplay, and delightful daydreams. Will our heroine don cowgirl boots and ride off into the sunset? Or slip on glittery sandals to become the princess at a fancy ball? What about those snazzy sneakers, destined for a basketball star? This winning read aloud offers adorable, candy-colored illustrations and splendidly catchy poems, from odes to haikus to rhyming couplets, celebrating all of the exciting adventures-and fabulous fashion-of our confident, fun-loving girls. Click the book cover to read more.
DICTIONARY OF JEWISH TERMS
A GUIDE TO THE LANGUAGE OF JUDAISM
BY RONALD L. EISENBERG, JD
June 2008, Schreiber
From the author of Streets of Jerusalem and The Jewish World in Stamps and The 613 Mitzvot, this dictionary provides a source of terms, concepts, expressions, and beliefs. Language is the cement that binds people together, gives them an identity, shapes their hopes and dreams and enables them to transmit their values and lore to future generations. This dictionary fills an overdue need. Click the book cover to read more.
The 613 Mitzvot
A Contemporary Guide to the Commandments of Judaism
BY RONALD L. EISENBERG, JD
June 2008, Schreiber
The 613 commandments embodied in the Torah are presented in layman's language, easy to look up. Commentaries from the Mishnah and the Talmud to present day interpretations are included. A handy source for studying the mitzvot, and also an easy reference tool for looking up a specific mitzvah. Click the book cover to read more.
ENDORSED by the Cantors' Assembly???
The Jews of Sing Sing
by Ron Arons
June 2008, Barricade
Sing-Sing prison opened in 1828, and since then, more than 7,000 Jews have served time in the famous correctional facility. The Jews of Sing-Sing is the first book to fully expose the scope of Jewish criminality over the past 150 years. Besides famous gangsters like Lepke Buchalter, thousands of Jews committed all types of crimes--from incest to arson to selling air rights over Manhattan--and found themselves doing time in Sing-Sing. Click the book cover to read more.
Where Fantasy Island Meets Lord of the Flies
by Roger Bennett and Jules Shell
Dear Former Campers, Do you recall your glory days at summer camp as some of the best months of your life? When you think about camp, what are your best memories? singing "If I Had a Hammer" around the campfire? winning color war two years in a row? getting to first base with your camp crush? Open Camp Camp and head back to the one place on earth where appropriated Native American terminology, competitive sports, social heirarchy, and libido-soaked nights lived in wholesome harmony. Here is your trip down memory lane, a trip so beautifully illustrated and fully remembered that you can almost smell the pine of the cabins when you open the pages. Camp Camp is a love letter to camp, a chance to relive every Champion sweatshirt-wearing, accidental-bed-wetting, sky-hook-wedgie-receiving, tie-dye-making golden moment via hundreds of photographs and stories straight from the source, including tall tales from AJ Jacobs, Rachel Sklar, Paul Feig, David Wain, Jamie Denbo, and Rodney Rothman. Camp Camp is your one-way ticket back to this magical world in which Fantasy Island met Lord of the Flies. Click the book cover to read more.
MORE THAN IT HURST YOU
by Darin Strauss
June 2008 Dutton
From Publishers Weekly The third novel from the author of Chang and Eng and The Real McCoy is an often satiric page-turner that tracks a Long Island family crisis. Josh Goldin is a happily married TV airtime salesman with an eight-month-old son. When baby Zack is treated twice for mysterious and life-threatening symptoms, the head of a pediatric ICU, Dr. Darlene Stokes, tells Child Protective Services that she thinks Josh's wife, Dori, suffers from Munchausen syndrome, whereby the afflicted injure their children deliberately to draw attention to themselves. The Goldins' ensuing battle to keep Zack provides grist for public debate about issues ranging from parents' rights to race (Dr. Stokes is black, the Goldins Jewish). Strauss takes delight in skewering a world in which everything (news coverage, legal representation, hospital beds) is for sale, sometimes digressively, always amusingly. The stereotypes are intentionally heavy-handed: Josh's perceptions almost always register through race and class-related fear and disgust. But the heart of the story-the unraveling of Josh's life and the steady erosion of his faith that ignorance can be a virtue and happiness a choice-is riveting. Click the book cover to read more.
NOW IN PAPERBACK
Last Days in Babylon
The Exile of Iraq's Jews, the Story of My Family
by Marina Benjamin
June 2008, Free Press
Marina Benjamin grew up in London feeling estranged from her family's exotic Middle Eastern ways. She refused to speak the Arabic her mother and grandmother spoke at home. She rejected the peculiar food they ate in favor of hamburgers and beer. But when Benjamin had her own child a few years ago, she realized that she was losing her link to the past. In Last Days in Babylon, Benjamin delves into the story of her family's life among the Jews of Iraq in the first half of the twentieth century. When Iraq gained independence in 1932, Jews were the largest and most prosperous ethnic group in Baghdad. They dominated trade and finance, hobnobbed with Iraqi dignitaries, and lived in grandiose villas on the banks of the Tigris. Just twenty years later the community had been utterly ravaged, its members effectively expelled from the country by a hostile Iraqi government. Benjamin's grandmother Regina Sehayek lived through it all. Born in 1905, when Baghdad was still under Ottoman control, her childhood was a virtual idyll. This privileged existence was barely touched when the British marched into Iraq. But with the rise of Arab nationalism and the first stirrings of anti-Zionism, Regina, then a young mother, began to have dark premonitions of what was to come. By the time Iraq was galvanized by war, revolution, and regicide, Regina was already gone, her hair-raising escape a tragic exodus from a land she loved -- and a permanent departure from the husband whose gentle guiding hand had made her the woman she was. Benjamin's keen ear and fluid writing bring to life Regina's Baghdad, both good and bad. More than a stirring story of survival, Last Days in Babylon is a bittersweet portrait of Old World Baghdad and its colorful Jewish community, whose roots predate the birth of Islam by a thousand years and whose culture did much to make Iraq the peaceful desert paradise that has since become a distant memory. In 2004 Benjamin visited Baghdad for the first time, searching for the remains of its once vital Jewish community. What she discovered will haunt anyone who seeks to understand a country that continues to command the world's attention, just as it did when Regina Sehayek proudly walked through Baghdad's streets. By turns moving and funny, Last Days in Babylon is an adventure story, a riveting history, and a timely reminder that behind today's headlines are real people whose lives are caught -- too often tragically -- in the crossfire of misunderstanding, age-old prejudice, and geopolitical ambition. Click the book cover to read more.
JULY 2008 BOOKS
HOLD ON TO YOUR SEAT FOR THIS ONE
The Girl from Foreign
A Search for Shipwrecked Ancestors, Lost Loves, and Forgotten Histories
by Sadia Shepard
July 31, 2008, Penguin
In this beautifully crafted memoir, a young Muslim-Christian woman travels to an insular Jewish community in India to unlock her family's secret history. Sadia Shepard grew up in a happily complicated family just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, her father a white Protestant from Colorado and her mother a Muslim from Pakistan. It was always a joyful home, full of stories and storytellers, where the cultures and religions of both her parents were celebrated and cherished with equal enthusiasm throughout her childhood. But Sadia's cultural legacy grew more complex when she discovered that there was one story she had never been told. Her beloved maternal grandmother was not the Muslim woman, Rahat Quraeshi, Sadia had always known her to be, but in fact was born Rachel Jacobs, a descendant of the Bene Israel, a tiny Jewish community whose members believe they are one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, shipwrecked in India two thousand years ago.
What was complicated had become downright confusing; Sadia was now intimately linked to the faiths of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity and the customs of Pakistan, India, and the United States. At her grandmother's deathbed, Sadia promised to begin the process of filling in the missing pieces of her family's fractured mosaic, and with the help of a Fulbright scholarship, she set off for Bombay. Sadia's search to connect with the Bene Israel community led her to discover more about India's tumultuous history and the haunting legacy of Partition, and she was forced to examine what it means to lose one's place, one's homelands, and one's history.
Weaving together humorous tales from her crosscultural childhood with an evocative account of a small Jewish community in transition, The Girl from Foreign is Sadia's poetic and touching attempt to reconcile with her past and help determine her future-when offered the choice, will she be able to decide between the religious and cultural identities that have shaped her? It is the stunningly written and unforgettably evocative story of family secrets, forgotten roots, forbidden love, and, above all, eye-opening self-discovery. Sadia
Sadia Shepard is a documentary filmmaker whose work on the Bene Israel community of Western India includes a photo-essay and documentary film, made possible by a Fulbright Scholarship and grants from the Jeremiah Kaplan Foundation and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. Click the book cover to read more.
My Incredibly Wonderful, Miserable Life: An Anti-Memoir
by Adam Nimoy
July 2008, Pocket
Last week, Adam Nimoy woke up in his beautiful house with his wife and kids in West Los Angeles. Today, he's waking up in a sleeping bag on an air mattress in a two-bedroom apartment with no furniture thinking, "How the hell did I get here?" A thirty-year battle with drug addiction, three career changes, one divorce, a major mid-life crisis, and countless AA meetings later, he tells his cautionary -- and very funny -- tale. In this frankly humble and hilarious anti-memoir, Adam Nimoy shares the incredibly wonderful, miserable truth about life as a newly divorced father, a forty-something on the L.A. dating scene, a recovering user, and a former lawyer turned director turned substitute teacher...in search of his true self. And, oh yeah, the wonderful, miserable truth about growing up the son of a former Yiddish theater actor (and pop culture Vulcan). In a city where appearing perfect is a way of life, Adam Nimoy doesn't mince words. He's been rushed by crazed Star Trek fans at a carnival, propositioned by his father's leading ladies, promised by his own teenage daughter that she never wants to see him again, and fired by famous television producers for his temper. Click the book cover to read more.
A Puerto Rican Sex Freak
by Edgardo Yunque
July 2008, Overlook
What happens when a beautiful young Jewish girl from Manhattan falls helplessly in love with a Latino Casanova whose mother insists that before the two can be married the bride-to-be must first convert to Puerto Rican? This is the story of how Rebecca Horowitz becomes Zoraida Delgado; and how, under the influence of that bastard boyfriend of hers, Charlie Maisonet, she manages to dismantle--and to discover surprising facets of--her own identity. Edgardo Vega Yunqué's newest novel is a delicious tribute to the foibles of ethnic love.
. Click the book cover to read more.
For your favorite JEW-BU
Why The Dali Lama Matters
His Act of Truth as the Solution for China, Tibet, and the World
By Robert Thurman, PhD (Columbia)
July 2008, Pocket
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is an extraordinary example of a life dedicated to peace, communication, and unity. What he represents, and what he has accomplished, heals and transcends the current tensions between Tibet and China. Why the Dalai Lama Matters explores just why he has earned the world's love and respect, and how restoring Tibet's autonomy within China is not only possible, but highly reasonable, and absolutely necessary for all of us together to have a peaceful future as a global community. In the few decades since the illegal Chinese invasion of Tibet, Tibetans have seen their ecosystem destroyed, their religion, language, and culture repressed, and systematic oppression and violence against anyone who dares acknowledge Tibetan sovereignty. Yet, above it all, the Dalai Lama has been a consistent voice for peace, sharing a "Middle-Way" approach that has gathered accolades from the Nobel Peace Prize to the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal. Modeling this peaceful resistance shows the world that nobody is free unless everybody is free -- and that a solution exists that can benefit all parties, not just one. And more than just his nation have taken notice. His inter-religious dialogues, honest, humble demeanor, and sense of compassionate justice sets him apart in a world at war with itself. When China changes policy and lets Tibetans be who they are, Tibet can, in turn, join with China in peaceful coexistence. Why the Dalai Lama Matters is not merely a book about Tibet or the Dalai Lama. It is a revealing, provocative solution for a world in conflict, dealing with the very fundamentals of human rights and freedoms. By showing the work that the Dalai Lama has done on behalf of his people, Thurman illuminates a worldwide call to action, showing that power gained by might means nothing in the face of a determined act of truth. Click the book cover to read more.
by Daniel Silva
July 2008, Putnam
The extraordinary new Gabriel Allon novel from the "gold standard" (The Dallas Morning News) of thriller writers. Over the course of ten previous novels, Daniel Silva has established himself as one of the world's finest writers of international intrigue and espionage- "a worthy successor to such legends as Frederick Forsyth and John le Carré" (Chicago Sun-Times)-and Gabriel Allon as "one of the most intriguing heroes of any thriller series" (The Philadelphia Inquirer). Now the death of a journalist leads Allon to Russia, where he finds that, in terms of spycraft, even he has something to learn. He's playing by Moscow rules now. This is not the grim, gray Moscow of Soviet times but a new Moscow, awash in oil wealth and choked with bulletproof Bentleys. A Moscow where power resides once more behind the walls of the Kremlin and where critics of the ruling class are ruthlessly silenced. A Moscow where a new generation of Stalinists is plotting to reclaim an empire lost and to challenge the global dominance of its old enemy, the United States. One such man is Ivan Kharkov, a former KGB colonel who built a global investment empire on the rubble of the Soviet Union. Hidden within that empire, however, is a more lucrative and deadly business: Kharkov is an arms dealer-and he is about to deliver Russia's most sophisticated weapons to al- Qaeda. Unless Allon can learn the time and place of the delivery, the world will see the deadliest terror attacks since 9/11-and the clock is ticking fast.
Filled with rich prose and breathtaking turns of plot, Moscow Rules is at once superior entertainment and a searing cautionary tale about the new threats rising to the East-and Silva's finest novel yet.
Click the book cover to read more.
Searching for Interfaith Understanding in America
by Gustav Niebuhr
July 2008, Viking
A bracing rejoinder both to religious fanaticism and to recent books decrying religion. The United States is the most religiously diverse nation in the world and the most religiously diverse collection of people in history. And even in this age of increasing religious violence, there is a growing movement of cooperation: thousands of devout worshippers who are willing to take a gamble on people of radically different faiths. In this insightful, deeply felt examination of the nature of community and religion, former New York Times religion reporter Gustav Niebuhr traces the roots of religious freedom in America and the setbacks and triumphs it has encountered along the way. From Hindus and Quakers in Queens to Catholics and Jews in Baltimore, to black Baptists and Catholics in Louisville, to Catholics and Buddhists in Los Angeles (and Congregationalists in Cape Cod who gave money and land to build a sysnagogue), Niebuhr focuses on the ways people build ties between groups. He looks at why this movement is a particularly American endeavor and how it can save us all. Beyond Tolerance is a handbook for religious cooperation in our fractured times. Click the book cover to read more.
Close to Jedenew
by Kevin Vennemann . Translated by Ross Benjamin
July 2008, Melville
It begins like a classic German fable: Children from the rural village of Jedenew, Poland, get together late at night to play together in the dark woods. But their game is to pretend they live in the imaginary world of the Jedenew that came before them-when it wasn't occupied by the Nazis, and their Jewish friends weren't mysteriously disappearing one by one. Kevin Vennemann's writing-already a sensation with the major publishing houses of Europe-is evocative of W.G. Sebald for its lyrical style and bold intelligence. The innovative simultaneous plot-consisting of the real and imaginative world of the children-has earned comparison to the piercing analogies of Kafka. But the accessible and absorbing narrative of Near Jedenew, as well as its beautifully lush prose, signals the emergence of one of the most original and masterful young writers to appear in decades. Click the book cover to read more.
A PATH OUT OF THE DESERT
A Grand Strategy for America in the Middle East
by Kenneth Pollack, Brookings Institute Saban Center
July 2008, Random House
The greatest danger to America's peace and prosperity, notes leading Middle East policy analyst Kenneth M. Pollack, lies in the political repression, economic stagnation, and cultural conflict running rampant in Arab and Muslim nations. By inflaming political unrest and empowering terrorists, these forces pose a direct threat to America's economy and national security. The impulse for America might be to turn its back on the Middle East in frustration over the George W. Bush administration's mishandling of the Iraq War and other engagements with Arab and Muslim countries. But such a move, Pollack asserts, will only exacerbate problems. He counters with the idea that we must continue to make the Middle East a priority in our policy, but in a humbler, more humane, more realistic, and more cohesive way.
Pollack argues that Washington's greatest sin in its relations with the Middle East has been its persistent unwillingness to make the sustained and patient effort needed to help the people of the Middle East overcome the crippling societal problems facing their governments and societies. As a result, the United States has never had a workable comprehensive policy in the region, just a skein of half-measures intended either to avoid entanglement or to contain the influence of the Soviet Union. Beyond identifying the stagnation of civic life in Arab and Muslim states and the cumulative effect of our misguided policies, Pollack offers a long-term strategy to ameliorate the political, economic, and social problems that underlie the region's many crises. Through his suggested policies, America can engage directly with the governments of the Middle East and indirectly with its people by means of cultural exchange, commerce, and other "soft" approaches. He carefully examines each of the region's most contested areas, including Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and explains how the United States can address each through mutually reinforcing policies.
At a time when the nation will be facing critical decisions about our continued presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, A Path Out of the Desert is guaranteed to stimulate debate about America's humanitarian, diplomatic, and military involvement in the Middle East.
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WILL ISRAEL SURVIVE?
BY MITCHELL G. BARD
July 2008, Palgrave Macmillan
Since it first declared independence six decades ago, Israel has endured constant threats to its existence. Though the Palestinian conflict continues to hold the world's attention, it is in fact only one of the nation's long-term concerns. Aside from terrorists seeking to destroy it, Israel must contend with tensions between secular and religious Jews, the demographic challenges posed by a quickly growing Arab population, internal political divisions, and disputes over the water sources that are critical to its survival. In the face of these many challenges, the country's future can seem precarious indeed. Mitchell G. Bard is a former editor of The Near East Report, the pre-eminent newsletter on US Middle East policy. He is Executive Director of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise and the director of the Jewish Virtual Library. He has written and edited 17 nonfiction books, including The Complete History of the Holocaust and Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Click the book cover to read more.
A Tale of How Liberals Created Neo-Conservatism
by Ben J. Wattenberg
July 2008, Thomas Dunne
How did a nice, liberal Jewish boy from the Bronx come to be called a conservative? Ben J. Wattenberg has been at the center of American ideas and events since 1966, when he became a speechwriter for and aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson. Recruited out of the blue, Wattenberg worked closely with press secretary Bill Moyers and immersed himself in the world of high-powered Democratic strategy making. Eventually he served as an adviser to two Democratic presidential candidates and in the 1970s helped write the Democratic National Platform.
But something funny happened on the way to the Great Society: Key players in the Democratic Party moved to the far left. Wattenberg was not happy with this situation, so he helped establish the Coalition for a Democratic Majority (CDM) and became one of the most outspoken voices in the so-called neo-con movement. Neo-conservatism, with its signature cause of promoting liberty around the world, is a philosophy often misunderstood, and the phrase neo-con is used frequently as an insult by those who fail to understand the concept. Wattenberg traces the emergence of the movement from its earliest roots among Cold War thinkers such as Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz and from among the ashes of pre-radical liberalism of the early 1960s, to ideological giants Scoop Jackson and Pat Moynihan, to Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Ronald Reagan. The author also discusses the proliferation of neo-con "think tanks," such as the American Enterprise Institute, as well as the surprising appearance of a neo-conservative platform in George W. Bush's administration, in which a number of Wattenberg's protégés have played key roles. With his characteristic wit and on-target observations, the author recounts personal anecdotes featuring a rich cast of characters from Johnson to Reverend Jesse Jackson to Rudolph Giulani, as well as many others. Never lacking for opinions---he calls himself the "immoderator" of PBS's Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg---the author is here to set the record straight, and as the New York Times has said, "Wattenberg has the annoying habit of being right." Replete with stories never told before, Fighting Words is Wattenberg's firsthand account of the remarkable transformation of American politics over the last four decades. Click the book cover to read more.
AUGUST 2008 BOOKS
ASK FOR A CONVERTIBLE
BY DANIT BROWN
August 2008, Pantheon
It is not easy for 13 year old Osnat Greenberg to fit in. Ann Arbor is nothing like Tel Aviv, and mid-eighties America is not what was expected. This is a collection of interconnected stories in which we first meet Osnat in middle school, when she moves to Michigan with her American father, Marvin, and Israeli mother, Efi. The book follows her for 20 years as she gets pulled to Israel and America. We meet Harriet, who holds her breath to practice for the next gas chamber; we meet people at temple lunches; there is Jeannie, who is ready to move to Israel to prove that sabra men are better at sex; and sven a second Marvin Greenberg. Click the book cover to read more.
THIS BOOK IS A MUST FOR ALL READING GROUPS AND MEMBERS OF HADASSAH. NO. SERIOUSLY
BY ANNE ROIPHE
August 2008, Harper Collins
From the author of 1185 Park Avenue and Up The Sandbox, 13 other books, as well as all the great pieces in The Jerusalem Report. Comes a post widowhood memoir after 40 yrs of marriage. Wil she ever know another man so well as she did her husband? Will she ever hold hands at a movie or feel an arm across her banck? Will she remain untouched? Should she take a bottle of wine to her dinner date, a bottle that was purchased by her late husband? Why is she growing irritated by her self-absorbed friends? "Grief is in two parts," she writes. "First is loss. Then second is the remaking of life... This is a book about the second." Weaving between heartbreaking memories of her marriage and the pressing needs of her new day-to-day routine, Roiphe constructs an elegant literary pastiche, not of grief but of renewal. She begins her memoir just as the shock of her husband's death has begun to wear off and writes her way into the then unknown world of life after love. In beautifully wrought vignettes, Roiphe captures the infinite number of 'firsts' that lie ahead, from hailing a cab to locking and unlocking the door at night, to answering responses to a "singles ad" placed by her daughter. Click the book cover to read more.
A Time to Every Purpose
Letters to a Young Jew
by JONATHAN D SARNA
August 2008, Basic
At the turn of the twenty-first century, the central question confronting Jewish leaders in America is simple:
Why be Jewish? Jonathan D. Sarna, acclaimed scholar of American Judaism, believes that "Why be Jewish?" is the wrong question. Judaism, he believes, is not so much a "why" as a way-a way of life, a way of marking time, a way of relating to the environment, to human beings, to family, and to God. Judaism is experienced through doing-doing things Jewish, doing things for fellow Jews in need, doing things as a Jew to improve the state of the world. The more Judaism one does, the more one comes to appreciate what Judaism is. Using the Jewish calendar as his starting point (as in Jewish "Sacred Time", similar to the way George Wiegel wrote about Sacred Space), Sarna reflects on the major themes of Jewish life as expressed in a full year of holidays-from Passover in the spring to Purim eleven months later. Passover, for instance, yields a discussion of freedom; Shavuot, a discussion of Torah; Yom Kippur, the role of the individual within the Jewish community; Chanukah, issues of assimilation and anti-assimilation. An essential brief introduction-or reintroduction-to the major practices of Jewish life as well as the many complexities of the American Jewish experience, this book will be essential reading for American Jews and the perfect gift for the holiday season.
It actually should be a letter to an AMERICAN JEW, since so many of the holidays take on special meanings in America. Passover is more poignant in America after the civil rights movement and ideas of American freedom, just as Hanukka has special meaning since Christmas is so big in North America. Sarna stresses how one must do Jewish and not just be Jewish, since Judaism is a religion of ACTION.
Click the book cover to read more.
How Beautiful It Is And How Easily It Can Be Broken
by Daniel Mendelsohn
August 2008, Harper
The title is from a stage direction in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, a drama about a fragile girl who is tragically in love with lovely breakable items. Like Greek theater, it combines beauty and tragedy, it is the potential for being broken, that illness and death will occur, that gives meaning to our lives. Mendelsohn is about confrontation and pain and not meldramatic, Hallmark-like mush. Mendelsohn opens with the Greek word "krino," which means to judge or arbitrate, or make judgements, or the power to judge and distinguish, and from which the words criterion, critic, criticize and even crisis are derived. This book is Fifteen years of essays or judgements by Mendelsohn, who easily mixes scholarship, erudition, tart wit, depth, and a conversational style as he discusses Pedro Almodovar, United 93, Troy, Brokeback Mountain, The Producers, Euripedes, Nathan Lane, Thucydides, 9/11 Movies, Pinter, Kill Bill, Angels in America, Lucia at the Met, Truman Capote, Middlesex by Eugenides and more. Segmented into 5 parts: Heroines, Heroics, Closets, Theater, and War. Click the book cover to read more.
From Schlub to Stud
How to Embrace Your Inner Mensch and Conquer the Big City
by Max Gross
August 2008, Skyhorse
Knocked Up revealed that schlubs really can become studs-here's how! For years after college, Max Gross was a schlubby ne'er-do-well sporting an unwieldy Jewfro. He fought off double-chins and man-boobs. His style of dress was reminiscent of a stoned urban slacker. Young Max Gross truly was hapless in a big city. He was seemingly without luck or hope. He had bedbugs, a bad break-up, and an audit by the IRS that threatened to break his soul. But he had heart (as well as two nagging parents). When Gross saw the smash comedy Knocked Up, he realized his day might have arrived. All these years of being a world-class schlub would finally pay off. Thinking quickly, Gross wrote an article about the phenomenon and soon found true love. In this hilarious memoir-cum-guidebook, our curly-headed hero shares his story and offers suggestions on leaving home (the bedbugs and consequent breakup forced a move back to his parents' loving arms), losing weight (but not too much), dressing well, playing poker to fulfill the typical schlub obsession with being good at sports, and much more. Naturally, the quest to find the right woman is of critical importance, and Gross expounds on this thoroughly. Readers will come away from the book enlightened, informed, and laughing hysterically. Click the book cover to read more.
Healing from Despair
Choosing Wholeness in a Broken World
by Elie Kaplan Spitz
August 2008, Jewish Lights
The suffering that brings you to despair and even desperation can-with healing-become a source of hope, purpose and blessing. Are you: Feeling anxious? Feeling depressed because of the loss of health, a relationship or a job?
Grieving the loss of a loved one? Grieving loss by a suicide? Feeling hopeless? Concerned about a friend who has suicidal thoughts? This wise and helpful guide explores the nature of personal suffering and brokenness and the potential for personal crisis as a source of strength and renewal instead of despair and death. Examining the personal journeys of biblical and historical figures such as Moses, Maimonides, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Buber-as well as the author's own personal experience with despair-it looks at brokenness as an inescapable element of the human condition. It traces the path of suffering from despair to depression to desperation to the turning point-healing-when first-hand knowledge of suffering can be transformed into blessing. Click the book cover to read more.
Einstein Knew Physics, but he didn't know fashion. And as for politics... well...
EINSTEIN ON ISRAEL
His Provocative Ideas About The Middle East Crisis
By Fred Jerome, Syracuse University
August 2008, theeinsteinfile.com
A collection of Einstein's essays, letters, and interviews on the Middle East, Zionism, and Israel. The CONTRADICT his image as a Pro-Zionist He was offered the Presidency of Israel, but Einstein was actually for a non religious state that would welcome Arabs and Jews. Click the book cover to read more.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE A PROBLEM?
BEING YOUNG AND ARAB IN AMERICA
BY Dr. MOUSTAFA BAYOUMI, Brooklyn College
August 2008, Penguin
How are young Arabs making it in America, a country which sometimes views them as the enemy. The book introduces us to seven young Arab Americans living in Brooklyn: Rasha, Sami, Lina, Akram, Yasmin, Omar, and Rami. We meet Sami, an Arab American Christian, who navigates the minefield of associations the public has of Arabs as well as the expectations that Muslim Arab Americans have of him as a marine who fought in the Iraq war. And Rasha, who, along with her parents, sister, and brothers, was detained by the FBI in a New Jersey jail in early 2002. Without explanation, she and her family were released several months later. As drama of all kinds swirls around them, these young men and women strive for the very things the majority of young adults desire: opportunity, marriage, happiness, and the chance to fulfill their potential. But what they have now are lives that are less certain, and more difficult, than they ever could have imagined: workplace discrimination, warfare in their countries of origin, government surveillance, the disappearance of friends or family, threats of vigilante violence, and a host of other problems that thrive in the age of terror. And yet How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? takes the raw material of their struggle and weaves it into an unforgettable, and very American, story of promise and hope. In prose that is at once blunt and lyrical, Moustafa Bayoumi allows us to see the world as these men and women do, revealing a set of characters and a place that indelibly change the way we see the turbulent past and yet still hopeful future of this country.. Click the book cover to read more.
Small Miracles of the Holocaust
Extraordinary Coincidences of Faith, Hope, and Survival
by Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal
August 2008, The Lyons Press
The Holocaust-perhaps the darkest period in human history-conjures up horrific images: death camps, torture, starvation, genocide on a grand scale. Yet there were some rays of light during this nightmarish time: inexplicable events in which human lives were spared, families were brought back together, and the human spirit and faith somehow endured-due to a chance occurrence at just the right moment. These uplifting twists of fate or "extraordinary coincidences," as they are known, have become the hallmark of the bestselling Small Miracles series, which has sold one and a half million copies over the last decade. In Small Miracles of the Holocaust-a magnificent hardcover work timed with the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht ("night of the broken glass")-authors Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal have collected over 50 remarkable Holocaust and post-Holocaust coincidences that defy the imagination and challenge credulity. Click the book cover to read more.
The Holocaust by Bullets
A Priest's Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews
by Father Patrick Desbois with a foreword by Paul A. Shapiro
August 2008, Palgrave
This modest Roman Catholic priest from Paris, without using much more than his calm voice and Roman collar, has shattered the silence surrounding a largely untold chapter of the Holocaust when Nazis killed 1.5 million Jews in Ukraine from 1941 to 1944."
In this heart-wrenching book, Father Patrick Desbois documents the daunting task of identifying and examining all the sites where Jews were exterminated by Nazi mobile units in the Ukraine in WWII. Using innovative methodology, interviews, and ballistic evidence, he has determined the location of many mass gravesites with the goal of providing proper burials for the victims of the forgotten Ukrainian Holocaust. Compiling new archival material and many eye-witness accounts, Desbois has put together the first definitive account of one of history's bloodiest chapters.
Deborah Lipstadt said of this book: "In Jewish tradition the greatest category of acts one can perform are those of 'loving kindness,' including taking care of the sick, welcoming the stranger, and sheltering the needy. The most treasured of these acts is taking care of the dead because, unlike the others, it cannot be reciprocated. Jewish tradition posits that it is then that the individual most closely emulates God's kindness to humans, which also cannot be reciprocated. Father Patrick Desbois has performed this act of loving kindness not for one person but for hundreds of thousands of people who were murdered in cold blood. He has done so despite the fact that many people would have preferred this story never to be uncovered and others doubted that it ever could be done. His contribution to history and to human memory, as chronicled in this important book, is immeasurable."
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Adventures in Israel and Palestine
by Jonathan Garfinkel
August 2008, Norton
A memoir. With lofty ideals, spectacular ambivalence, and endearing naiveté, Canadian Jonathan Garfinkel explores Israel and Palestine by talking to ordinary people. Jonathan Garfinkel can't make up his mind-not about his girlfriend, or Judaism, or Israel. After hearing about a house in Jerusalem where Jews and Arabs coexist in peace, he decides it's time to venture there. In Israel, nothing is as he imagined it, and nothing is as he was taught. Garfinkel gives us the people behind the headlines: from secret assignations with Palestinian activists and an uninvited visit at an Arab refugee camp to Passover with Orthodox Jewish friends and finding the truth about the mythic coexistence house, Ambivalence is the provocative, surreal, and often hilarious chronicle of his travels. In this part memoir and part quest, Garfinkel struggles with the growing divisions in a troubled region and with the divide in his soul. Click the book cover to read more.
Israel, Palestine and Terror
Edited by Stephen Law
August 2008, Continuum
This book brings together the thoughts of 15 philosophers on one the Middle East. As we begin to realize the extent to which terrorism and the Israel/Palestine conflict--and the ways in which we handle them--are likely to determine the shaping of the West of the future, this short and accessible book introduces all the key issues from a philosophical perspective. Introduced by Stephen Law, Israel, Palestine and Terror presents an overview of a topical debate. It presents a range of political and philosophical views and perspectives to illuminate this contentious issue.
Contributors include such leading Israel lovers as Noam Chomsky. Click the book cover to read more.
The Wedding That Saved a Town
by Yale Strom. Illustrated by Jenya Prosmitsky
August 2008, Kar-Ben
A folktale based on an obscure Jewish custom of holding a wedding at a cemetery to ward off the Evil Eye. The klezmer musicians search for a groom for the wedding to save the town from a plague.
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The Golem and the Wondrous Deeds of the Maharal of Prague
Now in PAPERBACK
by Yudl Rosenberg (Author), Curt Leviant (Translator)
August 2008, Yale
This collection of interrelated stories about a sixteenth-century Prague rabbi and the golem he created became an immediate bestseller upon its publication in 1909. So widely popular and influential was Yudl Rosenberg's book, it is no exaggeration to claim that the author transformed the centuries-old understanding of the creature of clay and single-handedly created the myth of the golem as protector of the Jewish people during times of persecution.
In addition to translating Rosenberg's classic golem story into English for the first time, Curt Leviant also offers an introduction in which he sets Rosenberg's writing in historical context and discusses the golem legend before and after Rosenberg's contributions. Generous annotations are provided for the curious reader. The book is full of adventures, surprises, romance, suspense, mysticism, Jewish pride, and storytelling at its best. The Chief Rabbi of Prague, known as the Maharal, brings the golem Yossele to life to help the Jews fight false accusations of ritual murder-the infamous blood libel. More human, more capable, and more reliable as a protector than any golem imagined before, Rosenberg's Golem irrevocably changed one of the most widely influential icons of Jewish folklore.
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THE SURPRISE HISTORY OF A MODEST BREAD
BY AMRIA BALINSKA
August 2008, Yale
A charming history of the Bagel, from 17th Century Poland's defeat of the Turks (1683) to Yiddish revivals to the Bagel Bakers Local union in NYC to American freezers. Click the book cover to read more.
Surprised by God
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion
by Danya Ruttenberg
August 2008, Beacon
A combat-booted religious awakening and a look at what it takes to develop a spiritual practice. At thirteen, Danya Ruttenberg decided that she was an atheist. Watching the sea of adults standing up and sitting down at Rosh Hashanah services, and apparently giving credence to the patently absurd truth-claims of the prayer book, she came to a conclusion: Marx was right. But as a young adult immersed in the rhinestone-bedazzled wonderland of late-1990s San Francisco, she found herself yearning for something she would eventually call God. And taking that yearning seriously, she came to find, would require much of her. Surprised by God is the memoir of a young woman's spiritual awakening and eventual path to the rabbinate. It's a post-dotcom, third-wave, punk-rock Seven Storey Mountain-the story of integrating life on the edge of the twenty-first century into the discipline of traditional Judaism without sacrificing either. It's also a map through the hostile territory of the inner life, an unflinchingly honest guide to the kind of work that goes into developing a spiritual practice in today's world-and why, perhaps, doing this in today's world requires more work than it ever has. Click the book cover to read more.
This Must Be the Place
by Anna Winger
August 2008, Riverhead
Winger, the daughter of Harvard anthropology teachers, grew up in Cambridge, Mexico, NY, Kenya, and has lived in Berlin for the past 5 years. Here is her debut novel
From Publishers Weekly: In Winger's touching and emotionally turbulent debut, the fantasy of new beginnings gives way to a persistent sense of haunted-but oddly comforting-history. Set in Berlin in the late fall of 2001, the novel focuses on the overlapping stories of grieving American expat Hope and has-been minor German celebrity Walter, who's dreaming of a new career in Hollywood. Hope recently suffered a late-term miscarriage and has reluctantly joined her economist husband in Berlin despite a widening gulf between them and her crippling depression. Walter's teenage heartthrob status has withered with age, and now he dubs American films into German. The friendship that blooms between them raises issues about personal and national identity, though their coming together is a bit too neat, as are the many oversimplifications of Americans and Germans that pepper the narrative. The real drama arises between the cities of New York and Berlin; both cities, like Hope and Walter, bear a profound survivor's guilt: the war, the wall and the towers overwhelm individual sorrows. There are a few clunky moments, but the elegant ending and confident storytelling are redeeming.. Click the book cover to read more.
How Free People Move Mountains
A Male Christian Conservative and a Female Jewish Liberal on a Quest for Common Purpose and Meaning
by Kathy Roth-douquet and Frank Schaeffer
August 2008, Collins
From Publishers Weekly: Mired in self-indulgence and consumerism, Americans have lost their way, argues this passionate appeal for a return to traditional values. Framed as a dialogue between the coauthors of AWOL-Schaeffer, a founder of the modern evangelical movement, and Roth-Douquet, a Jewish liberal and former Clinton aide-the book asserts that obsession with materialism has produced a citizenry more unfulfilled, depressed and alienated from government and community than at any time in history. Their solution requires understanding that our lives have meaning and purpose derived either from God (Schaeffer) or from the self-evident laws of nature and teachings of great men (Roth-Douquet). Their conclusion is neither trite nor simplistic; it comes with the obligation to live a moral life, respect others (not simply those who share our beliefs) and sacrifice for the common good. Readers who get beyond the authors' early liberal-conservative sniping will discover that they set a fine example by curbing their ideological differences in their effort to unite and heal a deeply divided nation. Click the book cover to read more.
SEPTEMBER 2008 BOOKS
by PHILIP ROTH
September 16, 2008, Houghton Mifflin
Against the backdrop of the Korean War, a young man faces life's unimagined chances and terrifying consequences.
It is 1951 in America, the second year of the Korean War. A studious, law-abiding, intense youngster from Newark, New Jersey, Marcus Messner, is beginning his sophomore year on the pastoral, conservative campus of Ohio's Winesburg College. And why is he there and not at the local college in Newark where he originally enrolled? Because his father, the sturdy, hard-working neighborhood butcher, seems to have gone mad -- mad with fear and apprehension of the dangers of adult life, the dangers of the world, the dangers he sees in every corner for his beloved boy. As the long-suffering, desperately harassed mother tells her son, the father's fear arises from love and pride. Perhaps, but it produces too much anger in Marcus for him to endure living with his parents any longer. He leaves them and, far from Newark, in the midwestern college, has to find his way amid the customs and constrictions of another American world.
Indignation, Philip Roth's twenty-ninth book, is a story of inexperience, foolishness, intellectual resistance, sexual discovery, courage, and error. It is a story told with all the inventive energy and wit Roth has at his command, at once a startling departure from the haunted narratives of old age and experience in his recent books and a powerful addition to his investigations of the impact of American history on the life of the vulnerable individual. Click the book cover to read more.
I'd Bark But You Never Listen
An Illustrated Guide to the Jewish Dog
by Harold Kimmel
Fall 2008, Red Rock Press
From a top Hollywood humor writer comes this edgy collection of illustrated jokes revealing the innermost thoughts of independent-minded dogs. What marks the breed is a quirky mindset--given both to philosophical debate and picky pragmatism, not to mention personal pride: I'd fetch but it's embarrassing. The Jewish greyhound, foxhound or chosen mutt always has an excellent and very funny reason for leading his or her distinguished version of a dog's life.
What makes a dog Jewish? A state of mind! The very funny mind of Hollywood comedy writer Harold Kimmel explores herein the loveable attitudes, neuroses and preferences of the Jewish dog. How does Kimmel know? Read this, and you'll know he knows. A dog doesn't have to be born Jewish. He or she could develop a certain way of viewing the world by having a Jewish owner--not that Jewish dogs have owners. So, maybe all a dog needs is a friend in sniffing distance who once ate Bar Mitzvah leftovers. If your dog is contemplative, she's probably Jewish. If your dog is full-grown but greets you with mournful puppy eyes, chances are you're a disappointment to him.
Canines of the faith love to eat, shop and snorkel. They like dog spas. It's true that Jewish dogs worry but they also know how to have a good time. Step into the world of Harold Kimmel's poodles, spainels, dalmations, terriers and pointers--and see for yourself. Click the book cover to read more.
A Man's Responsibility
A Jewish Guide to Being a Son, a Partner in Marriage, a Father and a Community Leader
by Rabbi Joseph B. Meszler
September 2008, Jewish Lights
FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE.... American Judaism has a boy problem. After several thousand years in which women were relegated to the sidelines of worship and community leadership, scholars and denominational leaders now say that women are significantly outnumbering men in numerous key segments of non-Orthodox Jewish community life. At the Reform movement's seminary, 60 percent of the rabbinical students and 84 percent of those studying to become cantors are female. Girls are outnumbering boys by as much as 2 to 1 among adolescents in youth group programs and summer camps, while women outnumber men at worship and in a variety of congregational leadership roles, according to the Union for Reform Judaism. The evidence is everywhere. At Temple Sinai in Sharon, nine of the 11 members of this year's confirmation class were girls.... "After bar mitzvah, the boys just drop out," said Sylvia Barack Fishman, a professor of contemporary Jewish life at Brandeis University and the coauthor of a study on "Gender Imbalance in American Jewish Life," which was publicly released last week.....
The Brandeis study argues that "men's decreased interest in Jews and Judaism walks hand in hand with apathy toward creating Jewish households and raising Jewish children."
"Men need to be encouraged to come back into the synagogue," said Stuart M. Matlins, editor in chief of Jewish Lights Publishing. The Vermont-based publisher has a long list of women's studies books, but this fall is publishing a guide for Jewish men, and next spring is publishing a modern men's Torah commentary. "The welcoming of women into leadership positions is something I have worked very hard on, but we don't want to lose the men."....
"Perhaps one factor is that men are devaluing something that is done by women, while another factor may be that men have less free time then they did a generation ago, and they're choosing to use that free time for child-rearing and family activities," said Rabbi Joseph Meszler, of Temple Sinai of Sharon. Meszler, the author of the Jewish Lights book on men's responsibilities coming out this fall, is an advocate of giving men a time to talk apart from women.
He has relaunched his synagogue's defunct brotherhood, held a men's barbecue, and started men's study groups.
"We need to reintroduce men to the synagogue, but on their own terms," Meszler said
"You have to define the problem in order to solve it," said Rabbi Susan Abramson of Temple Shalom Emeth in Burlington. Abramson, the longest-serving female rabbi in Massachusetts, is not shy about gender issues - she has authored what she says is the world's first comic book series with a female rabbi superhero, Rabbi Rocketpower - but she is now concerned about the role of men.
"Two or three years ago there were hardly any men on the temple board or as committee chairs, and we had a discussion that we need to get some men represented in the top layer of the synagogue, so we've brought them back," she said.....
IN THIS BOOK, Rabbi Meszler explains how the Jewish man should be as a father, a son, a marriage partner (not a husband), and a community and synagogue leader.
. Click the book cover to read more.
BY ILAN STAVANS
September 2008, Schocken
Here is the stirring story of how Hebrew was rescued from the fate of a dead language to become the living tongue of a modern nation. Ilan Stavans's quest begins with a dream featuring a beautiful woman speaking an unknown language. When the language turns out to be Hebrew, a friend diagnoses "language withdrawal," and Stavans sets out in search of his own forgotten Hebrew as well as the man who helped revive the language at the end of the nineteenth century, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda. The search for Ben-Yehuda, who raised his eldest son in linguistic isolation-not even allowing him to hear the songs of birds-so that he would be "the first Hebrew-speaking child," becomes a journey full of paradox. It was Orthodox anti-Zionists who had Ben-Yehuda arrested for sedition, and, although Ben-Yehuda was devoted to Jewish life in Palestine, it was in Manhattan that he worked on his great dictionary of the Hebrew language.
The resurrection of Hebrew raises urgent questions about the role language plays in Jewish survival, questions that lead Stavans not merely into the roots of modern Hebrew but into the origins of Israel itself. All the tensions between the Diaspora and the idea of a promised land pulse beneath the surface of Stavans's story, which is a fascinating biography as well as a moving personal journey.
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A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen
by Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.D.
September 2008, De Capo Lifelong
Books like the Jew in the Lotus have helped to define the intersection of Jewish and Zen experience and custom. Now, in the first guide to the practice of both Judaism and Zen, Dr. Brenda Shoshanna, raised as an Orthodox Jew in Brooklyn, a long-time practitioner and student of both, shares her insights with over one million people who identify as "JuBus," as well as Jews, Zen students, non-Jews, and everyone in the interfaith community who seeks understanding, meaning, and a life grounded in these authentic faiths. Each chapter of Jewish Dharma focuses on common issues that introduce disorder to our lives, using personal narrative, parables, quotations from both Jewish and Zen scriptures, anecdotes, and exercises. Specific guidelines and exercises help readers integrate both practices into their everyday lives-and thereby gain deeper understanding and happiness.
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Sports Stories as a Game Plan for Spiritual Success
by Dov Moshe Lipman
September 2008, Devora
Positive Torah lessons for sports fans
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Whither Thou Goest
The Jewish In-law's Survival Guide
by Sorah Shapiro
Fall 2008, Devora
Here are successful strategies for surviving In-Laws and as an In-Law. Explores the most common points of friction between In-Laws, how to avoid them and how to overcome them. Includes 10 Tips For Getting Along With Your In-Laws and words of advice and solace from psychologists, lawyers, rabbis, and those with years of In-Law experience. If you're married you probably need this book.
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Why Faith Matters
by Rabbi David J. Wolpe
September 2008, HarperCollins
Named the #1 Rabbi in America by Newsweek magazine, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California, where he is a prolific leader, thinker, teacher, and author, but as a pulpit rabbi, he also has to remind congregants to not crowd the kiddush tables. He has also personally known illnesses. Previously he taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, The American Jewish University in Los Angeles, Hunter College, and he currently teaches at UCLA. Rabbi Wolpe writes for many publications, including regular columns for the New York Jewish Week, beliefnet.com, as well as periodic contributions to the Jerusalem Post, The Los Angeles Times, and many others. He is an ethics columnist for Campaigns and Elections Magazine and a monthly book columnist for L.A. Jewish Journal. He has been on television numerous times, featured in series on PBS, A&E, as well as serving as a commentator on CNN and CBS This Morning. Rabbi Wolpe is the author of seven books, including the national bestseller Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times.
Why Faith Matters is a personal faith journey and response to the new atheists. Faith traditions do not offer easy answers. It is not the opiate of simple minded people. Religion allows seekers and adherents to ask deeply challenging questions... Click the book cover to read more.
A Jewish Woman's Prayer Book
by Aliza Lavie, PhD, Bar Ilan University
Late Summer 2008, Spiegel und Grau
On the eve of Yom Kippur in 2002, Aliza Lavie, a university professor, read an interview with an Israeli woman who had lost both her mother and her baby daughter in a terrorist attack. As she stood in the synagogue later that evening, Lavie searched for comfort for the bereaved woman, for a reminder that she was not alone but part of a great tradition of Jewish women who have responded to unbearable loss with strength and fortitude. Unable to find sufficient solace within the traditional prayer book and inspired by the memory of her own grandmother's steadfast knowledge and faith, she began researching and compiling prayers written for and by Jewish women. The Jewish Woman's Prayer Book is the result-a beautiful and moving one-of-a-kind collection that draws from a variety of Jewish traditions, through the ages, to commemorate every occasion and every passage in the cycle of life-from the mundane to the extraordinary. This elegant, inspiring volume includes special prayers for the Sabbath and holidays and important dates of the Jewish year, prayers to mark celebratory milestones, such as bat mitzvah, marriage, pregnancy, and childbirth; and prayers for comfort and understanding in times of tragedy and loss. Each prayer is presented in Hebrew and in an English translation, along with fascinating commentary on its origins and allusions. Culled from a wide range of sources, both geographically and historically, this collection testifies that women's prayers were-and continue to be-an inspired expression of personal supplication and desire. Click the book cover to read more.
Domestic Politics, Foreign Policy, and Security Challenges
by Robert O Freedman, Baltimore Hebrew University
September 2008, Westview
Since its formation in 1948, and particularly since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin in 1995, Israel has experienced turbulent political change and numerous ongoing security challenges, including major party splits, collapsed peace talks with the Palestinians and Syria, nuclear threats from Iran, and even the specter of civil war as Israel withdrew from Gaza. This essential survey brings together Israeli and American scholars to provide a much-needed balanced introduction to Israel's domestic politics and foreign policy. Experts tackle this difficult subject in three parts: domestic politics, foreign policy challenges, and strategic challenges. Domestic topics include the Israeli Right and Left; religious, Russian, and Arab parties; the Supreme Court; and the economy. Part two discusses Israel's complicated and often fractious relationships with the Palestinians and the Arab world, as well as its improved relations with Turkey and India and continuing close relationship with the United States. Israel's second Lebanon war and existential threats to Israel, including the threat from Iran, are detailed in part three. This compelling and authoritative coverage provides students with the necessary framework to understand Israel's political past and present, as well as the direction it is likely to take in the future. Click the book cover to read more.
From Krakow to Krypton
Jews and Comic Books
by Arie Kaplan
September 2008, JPS
Jews created the first comic book, the first graphic novel, the first comic book convention, the first comic book specialty store, and they helped create the underground comics (or "Comix") movement of the late '60s and early '70s. Many of the creators of the most famous comic books, such as Superman, Spiderman, X-Men, and Batman, as well as the founders of MAD Magazine, were Jewish. From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books tells their stories and demonstrates how they brought a uniquely Jewish perspective to their work and to the comics industry as a whole. Over-sized and in full color, From Krakow to Krypton is filled with sidebars, cartoon bubbles, comic book graphics, original design sketches, and photographs. It is a visually stunning and exhilarating history.
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Disguised As Clark Kent
Jews, Comics, And the Creation of the Superhero
by Danny Fingeroth (Author), Stan Lee (Foreword)
Backstabbing for Beginners
My Crash Course in International Diplomacy
by Michael Soussan
September 2008, Nation
Not a Jewish Book, but interesting.
The year is 1997, Michael Soussan, a fresh-faced young graduate takes up a new job at the U.N.'s Oil-for-Food Program, the largest humanitarian operation in the organization's history. His mission is to help Iraqi civilians survive the devastating impact of economic sanctions that were imposed following the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
As a gaffe-prone novice in a world of sensitive taboos, Soussan struggles to negotiate the increasing paranoia of his incomprehensible boss and the inner workings of one of the world's notoriously complex bureaucracies. But as he learns more about the vast sums of money flowing through the program, it becomes clear that all is not what it seems. Soussan becomes aware that Saddam Hussein is extracting illegal kickbacks, a discovery that sets him on a collision course with the organization's leadership. On March 8, 2004, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed editorial, Soussan becomes the first insider to call for "an independent investigation" of the U.N.'s dealings with Saddam Hussein. One week later, a humiliated Kofi Annan appointed Paul Volcker to lead a team of sixty international investigators, whose findings resulted in hundreds of prosecutions in multiple countries, many of which are still ongoing. Backstabbing for Beginners is at once a witty tale of one man's political coming of age, and a stinging indictment of the hypocrisy that prevailed at the heart of one of the world's most idealistic institutions. Click the book cover to read more.
In the first exile, the Northern Israelites were carried away to Kurdistan. When Judea was conquered, those Judeans were carried away to Babylon and Southern Iraq. This is a story of reclaiming the Kurdish Jewish past. It is gripping.
My Father's Paradise
by Ariel Sabar
September 2008, Algonquin
In a remote and dusty corner of the world, forgotten for nearly three thousand years, lived an ancient community of Kurdish Jews so isolated that they still spoke Aramaic-the language of Jesus. Mostly illiterate, they were self-made mystics and gifted storytellers, humble peddlers and rugged loggers who dwelt in harmony with their Muslim and Christian neighbors in the mountains of northern Iraq. To these descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, Yona Sabar was born. In the 1950s, after the founding of the state of Yona and his family emigrated there with the mass exodus of 120,000 Jews from Iraq-one of the world's largest and least-known diasporas. Almost overnight, the Jews' exotic culture and language were doomed to extinction. Yona (named for the prophet after his mother prays for a healthy child in Nineveh at the prophet's tomb), who became an esteemed professor at UCLA, dedicated his career to preserving his people's traditions. But to his first-generation American son, Ariel, Yona was a reminder of a strange immigrant heritage on which he had turned his back-until he had a son of his own. My Father's Paradise is Ariel Sabar's quest to reconcile present and past. As father and son travel together to today's postwar Iraq to find what's left of Yona's birthplace, Ariel brings to life the ancient town of Zakho (the center of Kurdish Jewish life in 1930, telling his family's story and discovering his own role in this sweeping saga. What he finds in the Sephardic Jews' millennia-long survival in Islamic lands is an improbable story of tolerance and hope. Populated by chieftains, trailblazing linguists, Arab nomads, devout believers-marvelous characters all- this intimate yet powerful book uncovers the vanished history of a place that is now at the very center of the world's attention. Click the book cover to read more.
HURRY DOWN SUNSHINE
By Michael Greenberg
September 2008, Other Press / Random House
Greenberg, a columnist for the TLS: Times Literary Supplement, tells the story of the Summer when, at age 15, his daughter was struck mad and locked into a mental ward of a hospital. It was oppressively hot that Summer, and Greenberg was introduced to the world that is our mental health care system, which seemed arcane and filled with rules. This is a chronicle of that journey and the characters Greenberg meets, including a movie producer, a Classics professor, an unconventional psychiatrist, an Orthodox Jewish patient, a landlord and more. . Click the book cover to read more.
Who Wrought the Bible?
Unveiling the Bible's Aesthetic Secrets
by Yair Mazor
September 2008, Wisconsin
Approaching the Hebrew Bible as a work of literary art, Yair Mazor examines its many genres, including historical narratives, poetic narratives, poetry, psalms, and songs. Line drawings from a late nineteenth-century Bible illustrate many of the most famous scenes in scripture, suggesting another aesthetic layer of the text. By breaking the Bible into constituent parts, Mazor traces the range of its writing styles, reconfiguring the work as a literary collage and an artistic masterpiece. He shows how the aesthetics of the texts that comprise the Bible serve its over-arching message, and he develops a literary portrait of its authors by decoding their cryptic aesthetic devices. Click the book cover to read more.
Ms. Hempel Chronicles
by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
September 2008, Harcourt
Ms. Beatrice Hempel, teacher of seventh grade, is new-new to teaching, new to the school, newly engaged, and newly bereft of her idiosyncratic father. Grappling awkwardly with her newness, she struggles to figure out what is expected of her in life and at work. Is it acceptable to introduce swear words into the English curriculum, enlist students to write their own report cards, or bring up personal experiences while teaching a sex-education class? Sarah Shun-lien Bynum finds characters at their most vulnerable, then explores those precarious moments in sharp, graceful prose. From this most innovative of young writers comes another journey down the rabbit hole to the wonderland of middle school, memory, daydreaming, and the extraordinary business of growing up. Click the book cover to read more.
The Man Who Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand
by Benjamin Carter Hett
September 2008, Oxford
During a 1931 trial of four Nazi stormtroopers, known as the Eden Dance Palace trial, Hans Litten grilled Hitler in a brilliant and merciless three-hour cross-examination, forcing him into multiple contradictions and evasions and finally reducing him to helpless and humiliating rage (the transcription of Hitler's full testimony is included.) At the time, Hitler was still trying to prove his embrace of legal methods, and distancing himself from his stormtroopers. The courageous Litten revealed his true intentions, and in the process, posed a real threat to Nazi ambition.
When the Nazis seized power two years after the trial, friends and family urged Litten to flee the country. He stayed and was sent to the concentration camps, where he worked on translations of medieval German poetry, shared the money and food he was sent by his wealthy family, and taught working-class inmates about art and literature. When Jewish prisoners at Dachau were locked in their barracks for weeks at a time, Litten kept them sane by reciting great works from memory. After five years of torture and hard labor-and a daring escape that failed-Litten gave up hope of survival. His story was ultimately tragic but, as Benjamin Hett writes in this gripping narrative, it is also redemptive. "It is a story of human nobility in the face of barbarism." The first full-length biography of Litten, the book also explores the turbulent years of the Weimar Republic and the terror of Nazi rule in Germany after 1933. [in sidebar] Winner of the 2007 Fraenkel Prize for outstanding work of contemporary history, in manuscript. To be published throughout the world. Click the book cover to read more.
AND OTHER WAYS TO READ STORIES
By ALAN ZWEIBEL
Fall 2008, Villard
In Clothing Optional, Alan Zweibel offers a collection of laugh-out-loud personal narratives, essays, short fiction, dialogues, and even a few whimsical drawings. Zweibel first made a name for himself as one of the original writers for Saturday Night Live, but his career's humble beginnings included creating one-liners for Catskill comedians at seven dollars a pop. That experience is only one of the hysterically inspired anecdotes ("Comic Dialogue") in this quirky compilation. Zweibel confesses his first love, as a young Hebrew school student, for Abraham's wife, Sarah ("At this point, Sarah's husband had been dead for more than three thousand years-so, really, who would I be hurting?"); recounts the time he was sent to a nudist resort to write an article ("The fact that I brought luggage is, in itself, worthy of some discussion"); offers a touching tribute to Saturday Night Live writer and mentor Herb Sargent ("Herb was New York. But an older, more romantic New York that took place in black and white like the kind of TV I grew up on and wanted to be a part of someday"); and imagines a scenario in which Sergeant Joe Friday, the stiff, monotoned character from Dragnet, is inexplicably partnered with Snoop Dogg ("Damn, Friday. You gotta learn to chill. Take some free time and kick it with your boys") Every piece is punctuated with the same wit and insight that have come to define Zweibel's humor. Unhinged and hilarious, Clothing Optional is an unguided tour through the uniquely peculiar life and mind of a man who The New York Times said "has earned a place in the pantheon of American pop culture."
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JAMES AND THE LOST HEIRS OF JESUS
Tracing the History of the Original Followers to Their Legacy Today
by Kenneth Hanson, Ph.d.
Fall 2008, Council Oak
Bringing together recent archeological discoveries and the best contemporary scholarship, Kenneth Hanson, Ph.D. tells a fascinating story that goes mostly untold in the New Testament about the ultimate fate of Jesus mother, brothers, sisters, and closest followers. The story of the Jerusalem Church led by Jesus brother James is dropped as the scriptural spotlight follows the ministry of Paul. Now, using the latest discoveries, including some of his own original research, Professor Hanson picks up the story where the Bible leaves off, answering a question that many Christians have long asked: Whatever happened to Jesus family and this original Christian movement based in Jerusalem? Hanson's startling conclusion: It appears the followers of the Way of Jesus spearheaded a powerful revival of devotion within Judaism. Far from disappearing, this movement profoundly influenced the subsequent development of the Jewish faith, and, as Hanson shows, its legacy continues within Judaism, thriving into the twenty-first century.
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OCTOBER 2008 BOOKS
SEVEN DEADLY SINS
A VERY PARTIAL LIST
BY AVIAD KLEINBERG, Translated by Susan Emanuel
October 2008, Harvard University Press
The Seven Sins is a fascinating, amusing and highly readable book that offers a rethinking of our sins and passions through an examination of the Christian deadly sins_sloth, envy, lust, gluttony, greed, anger and pride--to which Kleinberg adds an eighth, self-righteousness. (Ynet )
The Seven Sins is an intellectual gem that introduces the reader to a new world of ideas. It is a thought-provoking and passionate book. Kleinberg cites religious (Christian and Jewish) and non-religious texts. He widens our horizons and broadens our minds_Kleinberg's humor and learning invite the reader to a journey of self exploration and to a reexamination of the sources of evil. (Timeout (Israel) )
The strength of this book is the link between the historian-philosopher Kleinberg and the boy Aviad that appears repeatedly in the book. It offers a successful connection between theoretical issues and the life of concrete human beings in our day and age. (Haaretz )
The Seven Sins is a book written with a pleasure that is bound to pass over to the reader. It is an essay that demonstrates the broad scholarship of its author, who is as comfortable with the rabbinic literature as with Christian and Jewish philosophy, with the Bible as with medieval poetry. Unlike many academics that make it a point to be boring and laborious, Kleinberg is fun to read. (Maariv )
There is no society without right and wrong. There is no society without sin. But every culture has its own favorite list of trespasses. Perhaps the most influential of these was drawn up by the Church in late antiquity: the Seven Deadly Sins. Pride, sloth, gluttony, envy, anger, lust, and greed are not forbidden acts but the passions that lead us into temptation. Aviad Kleinberg, one of the most prominent public intellectuals in Israel, examines the arts of sinning and of finger pointing. What is wrong with a little sloth? Where would haute cuisine be without gluttony? Where would we all be without our parents' lust? Has anger really gone out of style in the West? Can consumer culture survive without envy and greed? And with all humility, why shouldn't we be proud? With intellectual insight and deadpan humor, Kleinberg deftly guides the reader through Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman thoughts on sin. Each chapter weaves the past into the present and examines unchanging human passions and the deep cultural shifts in the way we make sense of them. Seven Deadly Sins is a compassionate, original, and witty look at the stuff that makes us human. .
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by Yoram Kaniuk. Translated by Seymour Simckes
The crowning achievement of one of Israel's literary masters, Adam Resurrected remains one of the most powerful works of Holocaust fiction ever written. A former circus clown who was spared the gas chamber so that he might entertain thousands of other Jews as they marched to their deaths, Adam Stein is now the ringleader at an asylum in the Negev desert populated solely by Holocaust survivors. Alternately more brilliant than the doctors and more insane than any of the patients, Adam struggles wildly to make sense of a world in which the line between sanity and madness has been irreversibly blurred. With the biting irony of Catch-22, the intellectual vigor of Saul Bellow, and the pathos and humanity that are Kaniuk's hallmarks, Adam Resurrected offers a vision of a modern hell that devastates even as it inches toward redemption. Yoram Kaniuk was born in Tel Aviv in 1930 and took part in Israel's War of Independence in 1948. A painter, journalist, and theater critic, he is best known as a novelist. His books have been translated into twenty languages and have earned him the Bialik Prize, the French Prix de Droits de l'Homme, and the Israeli President's Prize.
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The Five Books of Moses
A Translation with Commentary
by Robert Alter
Now in Paperback
October 2008, Norton
From Publishers Weekly: This brilliant and rigorous book by Alter, who teaches Hebrew and comparative literature at Berkeley, strikes the perfect balance. It delves into literary and biblical scholarship, yet is accessible to the general reader. It argues forcefully and persuasively, but is never arrogant, even when Alter is detailing the inadequacies of other biblical translations. It points to the ways a single Hebrew word can make all the difference in our understanding of the text, but it never loses the forest for the trees. In a stimulating and thorough introduction, Alter makes a case for the coherence of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) as a whole, while acknowledging that it is "manifestly a composite construction" that was written and edited by many people over several centuries. He discusses why we need yet another translation, contending that every existing English translation has an anemic sense of the English language, while the King James Version-the most beautiful and literary English-language translation-is unreliable and sometimes inaccurate with the original Hebrew. After this energizing introduction, Alter proceeds with his eminently readable translation and fascinating footnotes on various Hebrew terms. This may well be the best one-volume introduction to the Torah ever published in English.
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CHARMING AND FUNNY AND SO INFORMATIVE
The Boy on the Door on the Ox
An Unusual Spiritual Journey Through the Strangest Jewish Texts
by Rabbi Martin Samuel Cohen
October 2008, Aviv Press
The Mishnah, an ancient Jewish text composed around 200 c.e., is the foundation document of rabbinic law. In this groundbreaking work, Martin Samuel Cohen explores texts from the Mishnah as a foundation document of Jewish spirituality, Using the Mishnah's sketchy characters as personal spiritual guides, Rabbi Cohen makes these obscure texts particularly relevant to a modern seeker. This witty, scholarly and charming meditation demonstrates how the study of Mishnah can provide spiritual guidance. Rabbi Martin Samuel Cohen was born in NYC and was based in Canada He is now the rabbi of Shelter Rock Jewish Center in Roslyn NY. Click the book cover to read more.
by ALAA AL ASWANY
October 2008, Harper
The author of the highly-acclaimed The Yacoubian Building returns with a story of love, sex, friendship, hatred, and ambition set in Chicago with a cast of American and Arab characters achingly human in their desires and needs.
Egyptian and American lives collide on a college campus in post-9/11 Chicago, and crises of identity abound in this extraordinary and eagerly anticipated new novel from Alaa al Aswany. Among the players are a sixties-style antiestablishment professor whose relationship with a younger African American woman becomes a moving target for intolerance; a veiled PhD candidate whose conviction in the principles of her traditional upbringing is shaken by her exposure to American society; an émigré whose fervent desire to embrace his American identity is tested when he is faced with the issue of his daughter's "honor"; an Egyptian informant who spouts religious doctrines while hankering after money and power; and a dissident student poet who comes to America to finance his literary aspirations, but whose experience in Chicago turns out to be more than he bargained for. Populated by a cast of intriguing, true-to-life characters, Chicago offers an illuminating portrait of America--a complex, often contradictory land in which triumph and failure, opportunity and oppression, licentiousness and tender love, small dramas and big dreams coexist. Beautifully rendered, Chicago is a powerfully engrossing novel of culture and individuality from one of the most original voices in contemporary world literature. Note: The character of Wendy, the American girl dating Nagi Abd as-Samad, is Jewish.
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by Marcelo Birmajer
Translated by Sharon Wood
October 2008, Toby
Elisa Traum, a former Argentinian currently residing in Israel, returns to Buenos Aires after twenty years of absence to mourn two friends- two fellow Jews who together with him once comprised " the three musketeers". These young men signed their own death sentences when they joined the Montoneros, the left-wing Peronist guerilla group, back in the bad days of the Dirty War in the 1970's and 80s. Javier Mosan is an unmotivated Jewish journalist who writes for a popular daily newspaper in Argentina. His main hobbies are indulging in sexual fantasies and dodging writing assignments. When Mosan is sent to interview Traum, he believes it will be another routine job. Yet upon arriving at the airport, Mosan is is attacked, while Traum is kidnapped, mugged and then deposited on the side of the road like so much garbage. There is no doubt that the past has returned to take revenge. But what past is it? The revolutionary or the romantic? And how is Israeli Intellegence involved? The story takes us from the bars of Buenos Aries to the beaches of Mar Del Plata, through a forgotten childhood and an era of dictatorship, between memories and reality until everything converges in an exciting thrilling end.
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MY JESUS YEAR
A RABBI's SON WANDERS THE BIBLE BELT IN SEARCH OF HIS OWN FAITH
Bt Benyamin Cohen
October 2008, HarperOne
Cohen is editor of Jewish Life in American magazine. Cohen was raised Orthodox in Atlanta. As a child, Cohen was curious and envious of the church across the street, Dud the sun shine brighter there?. Cohen, as an adult, married a Jew by choice (a woman who was raised Baptist, the daughter of a minister). Cohen, who had a faith crisis, decided that maybe an exploration of Christianity could lead him back to Judaism. He began by visiting churches each Sunday. This is his story of his crisis, his attempt to re-spark his Judaism, and his visits to oh so many churches of various styles and sizes. Click the book cover to read more.
Leaves from the Garden of Eden
One Hundred Classic Jewish Tales
by Howard Schwartz
October 2008, Oxford
In Leaves from the Garden of Eden, Howard Schwartz, a three-time winner of the National Jewish Book Award, has gathered together one hundred of the most astonishing and luminous stories from Jewish folk tradition.
Just as Schwartz's award-winning book Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism collected the essential myths of Jewish tradition, Leaves from the Garden of Eden collects one hundred essential Jewish tales. As imaginative as the Arabian Nights, these stories invoke enchanted worlds, demonic realms, and mystical experiences. The four most popular types of Jewish tales are gathered here--fairy tales, folktales, supernatural tales, and mystical tales--taking readers on heavenly journeys, lifelong quests, and descents to the underworld. King David is still alive in the City of Luz, which the Angel of Death cannot enter, and somewhere deep in the forest a mysterious cottage contains the candle of your soul. In these stories, a bride who is not careful may end up marrying a demon, while the charm sewn into a dress may drive a pious woman to lascivious behavior. There is a dybbuk lurking in a well, a book that comes to life, and a world where Lilith, the Queen of Demons, seduces the unsuspecting. Here too are Jewish versions of many of the best-known tales, including "Cinderella," "Snow White," and "Rapunzel." Schwartz's retelling of one of these stories, "The Finger," inspired Tim Burton's film Corpse Bride. With its broad selection from written and oral sources, Leaves from the Garden of Eden is a landmark collection, representing the full range of Jewish folklore, from the Talmud to the present. It is a must-read for everyone who loves fiction and an ideal holiday gift. Click the book cover to read more.
Return to Naples
Thirteen Summers That Changed My Life
My Italian Bar Mitzvah and Other Discoveries
by Robert Zweig, Ph.D.
October 2008, Barricade
As a boy in the 1960s, Robert Zweig had a rare opportunity: Every summer, he would leave his home in America and make extended visits to his mother's birthplace-Naples, Italy. During each visit, he'd uncover new mysteries about the parents he thought he knew. There, he learned how his German father survived Auschwitz, came to Italy, and met his mother, and how the pair managed to survive the ravages of Fascism and Nazism during World War II. Also, how his grandparents survived in Italy during the Holocaust. Oh. Did I mention how his rabbi , the only one in town, would arrive in his underwear for the bar mitzvah lessons.
Zweig is a professor of English at BMCC in Manhattan/CUNYClick the book cover to read more.
The Life and World of One of Civilization's Greatest Minds
BY JOEL KRAEMER
Professor Emeritus, University of Chicago
October 2008, Doublebay
This authoritative biography of Moses Maimonides, one of the most influential minds in all of human history, illuminates his life as a philosopher, physician, and lawgiver. A biography on a grand scale, it brilliantly explicates one man's life against the background of the social, religious, and political issues of his time. Maimonides was born in Córdoba, in Muslim-ruled Spain, in 1138 and died in Cairo in 1204. He lived in an Arab-Islamic environment from his early years in Spain and North Africa to his later years in Egypt, where he was immersed in its culture and society. His life, career, and writings are the highest expression of the intertwined worlds of Judaism and Islam.
Maimonides lived in tumultuous times, at the peak of the Reconquista in Spain and the Crusades in Palestine. His monumental compendium of Jewish law, the Mishneh Torah, became a basis of all subsequent Jewish legal codes and brought him recognition as one of the foremost lawgivers of humankind. In Egypt, his training as a physician earned him a place in the entourage of the great Sultan Saladin, and he wrote medical works in Arabic that were translated into Hebrew and Latin and studied for centuries in Europe. As a philosopher and scientist, he contributed to mathematics and astronomy, logic and ethics, politics and theology. His Guide of the Perplexed, a masterful interweaving of religious tradition and scientific and philosophic thought, influenced generations of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish thinkers.
Now, in a dazzling work of scholarship, Joel Kraemer tells the complete story of Maimonides' rich life. MAIMONIDES is at once a portrait of a great historical figure and an excursion into the Mediterranean world of the twelfth century. Joel Kraemer draws on a wealth of original sources to re-create a remarkable period in history when Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions clashed and mingled in a setting alive with intense intellectual exchange and religious conflict.
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The Last Secrets of the Temple
by Paul Sussman
2008, Atlantic Monthly
From Publishers Weekly: A bestseller overseas, Sussman's follow-up to The Lost Army of the Cambyses opens at Jerusalem's Holy Temple in the year 70, jumps to doomed WWII German prison camp inmates dragging a Nazi-purloined holy relic down an abandoned coal shaft and then fast-forwards to present-day Egypt. There, Det. Insp. Yusef Ezz el-Din Khalifa of the Luxor police investigates the murder of an old man whose body has been found at an archeological site in the Valley of the Kings. Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, Palestinian journalist Layla al-Madani and Israeli police detective Arieh Ben-Roi have their own sad histories and complicated lives to deal with. Eventually, Sussman twines all the threads into one, and the three principals are hard on the trail of the mysterious artifact hidden by the prisoners. There are familiar Da Vinci Code elements, but Sussman, an archeologist, puts in plenty of satisfying twists and turns, and grounds the story in the violence and intrigue of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict
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THIS IS A RE-ISSUE OF THE EARLIER EDITION, JUST IN TIME FOR THE FILM
The Bielski Partisans
The Story of the Largest Armed Rescue of Jews by Jews During World War II
by Nechama Tec
November 2008, Oxford
From Kirkus Reviews - Powerful account by Holocaust survivor Tec (Sociology/Univ. of Connecticut; In the Lion's Den, 1989, etc.) of the operations of a Jewish partisan group in WW II Belorussia. Seeking to counteract the widespread conception of European Jews as victims who went meekly to their deaths, Tec researched the extraordinary story of the three Bielski brothers and their partisan group, using interviews with group survivors in Israel, the US, and elsewhere. Led by the oldest brother, Tuvia, the partisan group had grown to more than 1,200 Jews by the time Russian forces liberated them in 1944. The Bielski brothers, Tec explains, determined early on to save not only themselves and their families but every Jew who would join them. Resisting efforts to limit their group only to fighters, Tuvia accepted any Jew until more than 70% of the group was comprised of women, children, and middle-aged and elderly men. A charismatic leader of limited education but great intelligence and diplomatic ability, Tuvia maintained good relations with a variety of other partisan groups, some initially hostile. Putting his emphasis on saving lives rather than on killing Germans, he nonetheless acted ruthlessly against those collaborating with the Nazis, and in so doing saved many Jewish lives. At the end of the war, with Stalin's control of Belorussia becoming more oppressive, Tuvia and his brothers escaped to Romania, traveling on to Palestine and then the US--although Tuvia never again gained the recognition or prominence that his leadership qualities might have justified. A remarkable story of a great leader, as well as of a neglected aspect of WW II. Click the book cover to read more.
DEBUNKING LINGUISTIC URBAN LEGENDS
BY DAVID WILTON
NOW IN PAPERBACK
November 2008, Oxford
Do you believe that Ring Around the Rosie refers to the Black Death? Or that Eskimos have 50 (or 500) words for "snow"? Or that "Posh" is an acronym for "Port Out, Starboard Home"? If so, you badly need this book. In Word Myths, David Wilton debunks some of the most spectacularly wrong word histories in common usage, giving us the real stories behind many linguistic urban legends.
Readers will discover the true history behind such popular words and expressions such as "rule of thumb," "the whole nine yards," "hot dog," "raining cats and dogs," "chew the fat," "AWOL," "under the weather," "in like Flynn," "Dixie," "son of a gun," "tinker's damn," and many more. We learn that SOS was not originally an acronym for "Save Our Ship" or "Save Our Souls," but was chosen because the morse code signal (3 dots, 3 dashes, 3 dots) was easy to send and recognize. Also, "let the cat out of the bag" does not refer to the whip (the "cat") used to punish sailors aboard ship. The term "upset" (to defeat unexpectedly) does not date from the horse race when the heavily favored Man O' War was beaten by a nag named Upset (Upset was the only horse ever to defeat Man O' War, but the word predates the race by half a century). And Thomas Crapper did not invent the flush toilet, nor do the words "crap" or "crapper" derive from his name. Click the book cover to read more.
France 1940 (Now in Paperback)
by Hanna Diamond
November 2008, Oxford
From Publishers Weekly - In France, it is called l'exode, or "exodus": the flight from their homes of up to seven million residents before and during the German invasion of the country in May and June 1940 (events described in the bestselling novel Suite Française). Diamond, who specializes in modern French history at the University of Bath, combed dozens of memoirs and diaries about the flight for this first major study in English. She notes a number of reasons for the mass internal migration, including a belief in the "atrocity propaganda" about Germany from WWI; fears that the Germans would bomb Paris and other cities; a desire to avoid working for the Nazi war machine; and the flight of the French government itself from Paris. She captures how an initial "holiday spirit" gave way to a sense of displacement, loss and impoverishment for some and separation of families. Diamond also shows how the host communities, predominantly in France's south and west, often were overwhelmed by a doubling or tripling of their populations virtually overnight. Perhaps most important and interesting is her exploration of how Marshall Pétain exploited the exodus to discredit the government of the Third Republic. While Diamond's treatment of some topics, like fatalities during the exodus, is cursory, this is a solid work on a socially convulsive episode of WWII. Click the book cover to read more.
As They Say in Zanzibar
Proverbial Wisdom From Around the World
by David Crystal
Fall 2008, Oxford
In this captivating tour of humanity's received wisdom, one of Britain's best-known and best-selling authorities on language, David Crystal, brings together more than 2,000 delightful proverbs from 110 countries--the first new book of world proverbs to appear in nearly eighty years. Here readers will find proverbs they have known all their lives--such as "Everything comes to those who wait" and "Once a crook, always as crook"--alongside such lesser known gems as "One generation plants the tree, another gets the shade" (China) or "When two elephants tussle, it's the grass that suffers" (Zanzibar). Indeed, one of the great virtues of this volume is that Crystal serves up proverbs almost certain to be unknown to the reader, providing many fresh and wonderful surprises. Readers will find shrewd and incisive sayings from virtually every continent, ranging from Finland ("Even a small star shines in the darkness") to Ethiopia ("The smaller the lizard, the greater its hope of becoming a crocodile") to Japan ("Too much courtesy is discourtesy"). Loosely following the method of Roget's Thesaurus, which groups words with similar meanings, Crystal has gathered these proverbs in 468 fields such as sameness and difference, small amount and large amount, thus placing similar and antithetical proverbs in close proximity. In addition, there are more than thirty side panels on special topics, such as proverbs in Shakespeare ("Brevity is the soul of wit"), biblical proverbs ("Pride goeth before destruction"), and much more. Proverbs are fascinating in what they tell us about another culture's view of life. Each proverb in this book adds a tiny bit more to our understanding of the world's cultural diversity, and thus helps us grasp more fully what it means to be human. Some items: A coconut shell full of water is a sea to an ant (Zanzibar); Don't call the alligator a big-mouth till you have crossed the river (Belize); A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives you roses (China);
They dread a moth, who have been stung by a wasp (Albania); God heals and the doctor gets the money (Belgium)
The nail suffers as much as the hole (Netherlands); When you sweep the stairs, you start at the top (Germany). Click the book cover to read more.
by Angel Wagenstein Translated by Elizabeth Frank and Deliana Simeonova.
November 2008, Other Press
From Publishers Weekly
Moving effortlessly from Paris to Dresden to Shanghai, Wagenstein (Isaac's Torah) masterfully chronicles the lives of European émigrés and refugees in WWII Shanghai. The cast of this ensemble novel is large. Elisabeth and Theodore Weissberg, a German mezzo-soprano and her German-Jewish virtuoso violinist husband, flee Dresden to eke out an existence in Shanghai's burgeoning Jewish ghetto, which ends up 30,000 strong as the Shoah begins. Hilde Braun, a German-Jewish actress, is living illegally in Paris aided by a mysterious Slav named Vladek, until events force them, separately, to Shanghai. Istvan Keleti, a homosexual Hungarian musician and drug-user, and Gertrude von Dammbach, a former call-girl-turned-baroness, are also among the persecuted and displaced, some of whom work with the Resistance to undermine Hitler. Wagenstein is impressive in his ability to move from the small details of individual displaced lives to a larger panorama of international intrigue: there's a telling subplot about tensions between the Japanese, who occupy Shanghai, and the Germans, with whom they've formed an uneasy alliance; another revealing thread concerns the loyalties of Chinese Catholic nuns. Wagenstein brings to life a largely unknown chapter of Nazi persecution.. Click the book cover to read more.
Concernig The Life of Isaac Jacob Blumenfeld Through Two World Wars, Three Concetration Camps, and Five Motherlands
by Angel Wagenstein Translated by Elizabeth Frank and Deliana Simeonova.
November 2008, Other Press
The Bulgarian author and filmmaker, recipient of the German National Prize, a Sorbonne prize, and the Jean Monet literary prize, spent time in a death camp himself. He was born in 1922 in Plovdiv (Bulgaria), and grew up among Jews, Gypsises, Armenians, Turks, Albanians, and Bulgarians. The family moved to France, where they were treated as miserable immigrants. They returned to Bulgaria as WW2 began, and shipped away. Wagenstein fled, was betrayed, imprisoned and sentenced to death. He was saved when the Soviets entered Bulgaria. This however is a novel. This is the account of the funny Isaac Jacob Blumenfeld of Kolodetz (near Lvov). He survives and endures in this lifetime of loss and terror, beauty and friendship, understanding and truth. Filled with events and Jewish jokes and fables, they become essential to his story and heriatge. Click the book cover to read more.
by Rosie Atkins
November 2008, Running Press
What do you expect from an author raised on NanTucket?
Smelt it, dealt it; denied it, supplied it." "Milk, milk, lemonade, around the corner fudge is made." Who doesn't know "Milk, milk, lemonade..."? Every adult who ever rode a school bus, or sat on a jungle gym, has heard at least a few of these "classic" gems. The collection of verse in Pottymouth rides the nostalgic wave, covering everything from underwear poems to the ultimate taunts, silly songs to the basest bathroom humor. Readers from any part of the country will recognize at least a few of these dirty little rhymes. But with the variety of material here, the reader is bound to learn a new one! (Resist the urge to skip rope!) Broken into categories from the classics ("Miss Lucy") to Anatomy, The Joy of Swearing, Toilet Talk, Underwear, Limericks, and Taunts, this volume is the perfect gift to remind someone of just how old they are! The author confesses "I grew up on Nantucket with four older sisters and two foul-mouthed neighbors who showed me the ropes of swearing and mockery at an early age. My father, a head chef, would recite bawdy navy poems during slow periods and could string together expletives that might have shocked Gordon Ramsey when things went awry. A few years ago, my younger brother and I took our nephew out for his 13th birthday and were shocked to learn that he couldn't swear or recite any dirty poems. We taught him a few choice poems and how to play liar's poker. He's now a lawyer and sport fishing captain and thanks us for his good start." Click the book cover to read more.
THE LANDMARK OF SPIRIT
THE ELDRIDGE STREET SYNAGOGUE
BY ANNIE POLLARD. Foreword by Bill Moyers
December 2008, Yale
New York City's magnificent Eldridge Street Synagogue was built in 1887 in response to the great wave of Jewish immigrants who fled persecution in eastern Europe. Finding their way to the Lower East Side, the new arrivals formed a vibrant Jewish community that flourished from the 1850s until the 1940s. Their synagogue served not only as a place of worship but also as a singularly important center in the development of American Judaism.
A near ruin in the 1980s that was recently reopened after a massive twenty-year restoration, the Eldridge Street Synagogue has been named a National Historic Landmark. But as Bill Moyers tells us in his foreword, the synagogue is also "a landmark of the spirit, . . . the spirit of a new nation committed to the old idea of liberty."
Annie Polland uses elements of the building's architecture-the façade, the benches, the grooves worn into the sanctuary floor-as points of departure to discuss themes, people, and trends at various moments in the synagogue's history, particularly during its heyday from 1887 until the 1930s. Exploring the synagogue's rich archives, the author shines new light on the religious life of immigrant Jews, introduces various rabbis, cantors and congregants, and analyzes the significance of this special building in the context of the larger American-Jewish experience.
For more information, go to: www.EldridgeStreet.org
Click the book cover to read more.
Evangelicals and Israel
The Story of Christian Zionism
by Stephen Spector, Stony Brook University
December 2008, Impact Oxford
This is a study of Christian Zionism and the ways that religion and politics converge in American evangelicals' love and support for Israel and the Jewish people. Because of evangelicals' influence on the Middle East policies of George W. Bush, this is a topic of immense current importance. It bears on some of the most difficult and dangerous global issues -- not only the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but also the relationship between the West and the Islamic world.
Christian Zionism is often said to stem from the belief that the Jews must return to their ancestral home in the Holy Land as a precondition for Christ's return. Observers also point to the evangelicals' frequent citation of Genesis 12:3, in which God promises that He will bless those who bless Abraham and his descendants, and curse those who curse them. Spector shows, however, that conservative Christians' motives for supporting the Jewish state are much more complex and diverse than previous studies have noted. Among these motives are gratitude to the Jews for contributing the theological foundations of Christianity, and for being the source of the prophets and Jesus; remorse for the Church's history of anti-Semitism; and fear that God will judge the nations at the end of time on the basis of how they treated the Jewish people. Moreover, Israel is for evangelicals God's prophetic clock, irrefutable proof that prophecy is true and is coming to pass in our lifetime. Some are also motivated by theologically based enmity towards Islam, seeing Arabs and other Muslims as Satan's agents in disrupting God's plan for the salvation of all humankind. Spector draws on information from Christian Zionist websites and publications, journalistic and academic sources, and a hundred original interviews. He has spoken with evangelicals in Jerusalem and across the U.S., and with Israeli and American officials, including current and former White House advisers. He has also talked with people who studied the Bible with Bush in Midland, Texas. Spector's conclusions will correct much speculation about the president's personal faith, and about evangelical influence on American policy in the Middle East, all the while providing the fullest and most nuanced account of the theology behind Christian Zionism to date.
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Leaving Mother Teresa, Losing Faith, and My Ongoing Search for Meaning
By Colette Livermore
December 2008, Free Press
Not a Jewish Book.. but what a title... She worked for Mother Teresa, perhaps a Catholic Saint.. .but was disillusioned. Click the book cover to read more.
NOW IN PAPERBACK
A DAY APART
How Jews, Christians, and Muslims Find Faith, Freedom, and Joy on the Sabbath
by Christopher D. Ringwald
December 2008, Oxford
From Booklist *Starred Review* Ringwald acknowledges his debt to Josef Pieper, whose landmark study Leisure: The Basis of Culture (1948) reminded harried readers of the contemplative meaning of the Christian Sabbath. But Ringwald has done Pieper two better, by reclaiming the Sabbath in its Jewish, Muslim, and Christian manifestations. Honored by the ancient Jews to memorialize God's holy repose after the Creation, the Sabbath helped forge the collective identity of a long-persecuted people. But Jews finding weekly renewal in their Shabbat look recognizably similar to Christians in their Sunday worship and to Muslims praying each Friday during Juma. Indeed, Ringwald has himself witnessed the blessings of the Sabbath up close in all three faiths, having joined Jewish and Muslim families in as many Sabbath practices as his own Catholic convictions would permit. Careful scholarship permits Ringwald to explain the customs of Sabbath observance--and the modern controversies surrounding them. Readers thus learn, for instance, why some Christians cherish the Sabbath, while others dismiss it. They learn, too, why Jews debate Sabbath transportation, while some Muslims ponder the gender dynamics of Juma. But regardless of contemporary controversies, Ringwald prizes the Sabbath for its power to confirm timeless faiths and refresh modern psyches. A valuable contribution to interfaith studies. Click the book cover to read more.
The Book of the Unknown
Tales of the Thirty-six
by Jonathon Keats
February 2009, Random House
23 years ago, Keats (or shall we say Katz) was in grad school when the remains of a local synagogue were found in a small German town. The landowner gave students one week, during which construction was stopped on a new apartment building, to descend on the spot and save what they could. They found a genizah of documents. Keats wrote his dissertation and became successful, and academically famous. His mother passed away in 1998 and then his father, who was superstitious and filled with stories of demons and amulets, passed away in 2004. Keats had held onto one document from the genizah, one that was to frightening to publish. The names of the 36, upon whom the world exists. Yes, the documents was from Yaakov ben Eliezer who figured out how to pronounce Hebrew with the real vowels and sounds, and not the ones we know of today. These are the tales of 12 of the 36...
(by the way, the author's foreword and afterword are.. um.. fictional (there was no thesis or found document, or was there?) Keats is a grad of Yaddo and MacDowell among other retreats
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