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Welcome to our pages of Summer 2017, Spring 2017, Winter 2017, Fall 2016, Summer 2016, Spring 2016, Winter 2016, Fall 2015, Summer 2015, Spring 2015, Winter 2015, Fall 2014, and oh so many more Book Suggestions. For our Home Page, Please visit MyJewishBooks.com
SOME SUMMER 2017 BOOK READINGS
May 23, 2017: Author Avivah Zornberg on the tpic of redemtpion. Streicker Center. NYC 7PM
May 31, 2017: Senator Al Franken (D, MN) reads from Al Franken, Giant of the Senate
B&N Union Square NYC 7PM
June 03, 2017: Senator Al Franken (D, MN) reads from Al Franken, Giant of the Senate B&N Rochester MN
June 10, 2017: Alan Alda reads from If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face: Relating to and Communicating with Others, from the Boardroom to the Bedroom. B&N Union Square NYC 7PM
June 21, 2017: Jewish Songs and Dances: Music from the Archive of Lazare Saminsky. NYC. YIVO. 7PM
ARE YOU ANYBODY
BY JEFFREY TAMBOR
May 9, 2017
I could not put it down. Anyone who mentions Clem Kadiddlehopper and Jan Peerce in a memoir in the same chapter is a genius who must be read. It is a Mootzian triumph.
“Are You Anybody...” the line he heard after leaving his Broadway theatre, said to him by an autograph seeker
From the Jewish kid with a lisp who was kicked out of Hebrew School for asking a pointed question... to becoming a celebrated actor
The book opens with letters to his manager and others about an offer he gets to write a book and how he says no, no, no.... until... well.. here is the book
It's rare that an actor embodies even one memorable character over the arc of a career. Jeffrey Tambor has managed to create three, beginning with Hank "Hey Now!" Kingsley on The Larry Sanders Show, the series created by Garry Shandling, Jeffrey’s first mentor in television. He went on to find two more show creators, Mitch Hurwitz of Arrested Development and Jill Soloway of Transparent, who shared a love of actors and taught him a lot about acting along the way.
Are You Anybody is Tambor's chance to discuss his creative process and immense accomplishments from a life lived onscreen. He has taught acting for decades and we learn from him. Drawing from his formative childhood years; his dropping by a university drama program as a preteen on his walks home from school, (he describes himself as a fat Hungarian-Jewish kid with a lisp): growing up with a depressive father who was a boxer turned contractor; and a mother who dosed him with a “Milltown/Xanax” before his bar mitzvah speech/torah reading;... to how he drew inspiration from his life to create these characters, Tambor's memoir is funny, insightful, and uplifting, touching on comedy and the enduring chutzpah required to make it through life. His memoir is so very real and it also contains sad family tales about his older brother and mother that may be the kernel of his pathos.
By Gerald Stern
WW Norton & Company
Galaxy Love showcases the voice of a beloved and acclaimed poet, celebrating the passions and rhythms of life.
The poems in this new volume by the winner of the National Book Award span countries and centuries, reflecting on memory, aging, history, and mortality. “Hamlet Naked” traverses Manhattan in the 1960s from a Shakespeare play on 47th Street to the cellar of a Ukrainian restaurant in the East Village; “Thieves and Murderers” encompasses musings of the medieval French poet François Villon and Dwight Eisenhower; “Orson” recounts a meeting of the poet and Orson Welles, exiled in Paris. Gerald Stern recalls old cars he used to drive-
“the 1950 Buick /
with the small steering wheel /
and the cigar lighter in the back seat”
-as well as intimate portraits of his daily life “and the mussel-pooled and the heron-priested shore” of Florida.
These are wistful, generous, lively love poems and elegies that capture the passage of time, the joys of a sensual life, and remembrances of the past.
JBC writes: An example of a joyful, sorrowful elegy is the poem “Larry,” most likely about the late poet Larry Levis. Levis’s name is never stated in the poem, but Stern travels from Utah to France to New Orleans in jocular quatrains that conjure Levis’s spirit and poetry. It is not until the final stanza that Stern delivers, to a woman both he and Levis had loved (and to the reader) “the bad news” of Levis’s death. Her response serves as the last line of the poem: “Now I’m going upstairs to read every word he ever wrote.” After a life—and a poem—full of action, image, friendship, excitement, love, and loss, what remains, Stern seems to be saying, is the writing. Part of the pleasure of reading Galaxy Love is the generosity and range of its references, which move wittily from personal to popular to historical to intellectual. The poem “Bess, Zickel, Warhol, Arendt” slyly devotes a stanza to each figure mentioned in its title: Stern’s Aunt Bess, who “died from forgetting,” his “bewildered cousin” Zickel, and Stern’s friend Andy, with whom the poet
used to resort to walking across the 7th Street Bridge
now the Warhol Bridge—the Allegheny River—
though there is no Gerald Stern Bridge anywhere
nor Michel Foucault nor Jacques Derrida.
Devoting the final stanza of the poem to Hannah Arendt doesn’t seem so strange, despite how far Stern has taken us, in just a few stanzas, from Aunt Bess’s bowls of Rice Krispies. “I’m sure you remember her,” Stern writes of Arendt, as if she, too, were a family member. Here is yet another pleasure of Galaxy Love: Stern’s easy way of collapsing seemingly impossible distances of time and space. Another way to say this is that Stern has vision. His perspective, and his way of accessing religious, political, and literary history, have earned him a place among great American poets.
Giant of the Senate
by U.S. Senator Al Franken (D, MN)
May 30, 2017
AL FRANKEN, GIANT OF THE SENATE is a book about an unlikely campaign that had an even more improbable ending: the closest outcome in history and an unprecedented eight-month recount saga, which is pretty funny in retrospect. It's a book about what happens when the nation's foremost progressive satirist gets a chance to serve in the United States Senate and, defying the low expectations of the pundit class, actually turns out to be good at it. It's a book about our deeply polarized, frequently depressing, occasionally inspiring political culture, written from inside the belly of the beast. In this candid personal memoir, the honorable gentleman from Minnesota takes his army of loyal fans along with him from Saturday Night Live to the campaign trail, inside the halls of Congress, and behind the scenes of some of the most dramatic and/or hilarious moments of his new career in politics.
THE BEGINNING OF POLITICS
Power in the Biblical Book of Samuel
By Moshe Halbertal and
Princeton University Press
The Book of Samuel is universally acknowledged as one of the supreme achievements of biblical literature. Yet the book's anonymous author was more than an inspired storyteller. The author was also an uncannily astute observer of political life and the moral compromises and contradictions that the struggle for power inevitably entails. The Beginning of Politics mines the story of Israel's first two kings to unearth a natural history of power, providing a forceful new reading of what is arguably the first and greatest work of Western political thought.
Moshe Halbertal and Stephen Holmes show how the beautifully crafted narratives of Saul and David cut to the core of politics, exploring themes that resonate wherever political power is at stake. Through stories such as Saul's madness, David's murder of Uriah, the rape of Tamar, and the rebellion of Absalom, the book's author deepens our understanding not only of the necessity of sovereign rule but also of its costs--to the people it is intended to protect and to those who wield it. What emerges from the meticulous analysis of these narratives includes such themes as the corrosive grip of power on those who hold and compete for power; the ways in which political violence unleashed by the sovereign on his own subjects is rooted in the paranoia of the isolated ruler and the deniability fostered by hierarchical action through proxies; and the intensity with which the tragic conflict between political loyalty and family loyalty explodes when the ruler's bloodline is made into the guarantor of the all-important continuity of sovereign power.
The Beginning of Politics is a timely meditation on the dark side of sovereign power and the enduring dilemmas of statecraft. Moshe Halbertal is the Gruss Professor of Law at New York University, the John and Golda Cohen Professor of Jewish Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and professor of law at IDC Herzliya in Israel. Stephen Holmes is the Walter E. Meyer Professor of Law at New York University.
City on a Hilltop:
American Jews and the
Israeli Settler Movement
by Sara Yael Hirschhorn
Harvard University Press
Since 1967, more than 60,000 Jewish-Americans have settled in the territories captured by the State of Israel during the Six Day War. Comprising 15 percent of the settler population today, these immigrants have established major communities, transformed domestic politics and international relations, and committed shocking acts of terrorism. They demand attention in both Israel and the United States, but little is known about who they are and why they chose to leave America to live at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In this deeply researched, engaging work, Sara Yael Hirschhorn unsettles stereotypes, showing that the 1960s generation who moved to the occupied territories were not messianic zealots or right-wing extremists but idealists engaged in liberal causes. They did not abandon their progressive heritage when they crossed the Green Line. Rather, they saw a historic opportunity to create new communities to serve as a beacon?a “city on a hilltop”?to Jews across the globe. This pioneering vision was realized in their ventures at Yamit in the Sinai and Efrat and Tekoa in the West Bank. Later, the movement mobilized the rhetoric of civil rights to rebrand itself, especially in the wake of the 1994 Hebron massacre perpetrated by Baruch Goldstein, one of their own.
On the fiftieth anniversary of the 1967 war, Hirschhorn illuminates the changing face of the settlements and the clash between liberal values and political realities at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
JUNE 2017 BOOKS
by Amy Emberling and
and Photos by Antonis Achilleos
This is the must-have baking book for bakers of all skill levels. Since 1992, Michigan's renowned artisanal bakery, Zingerman's Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, has fed a fan base across the United States and beyond with their chewy-sweet brownies and gingersnaps, famous sour cream coffee cake, and fragrant loaves of Jewish rye, challah, and sourdough. It's no wonder Zingerman's is a cultural and culinary institution. Now, for the first time, to celebrate their 25th anniversary, the Zingerman's bakers share 65 meticulously tested, carefully detailed recipes in a beautiful hardcover book featuring more than 50 color photographs and bountiful illustrations. Behind-the-scenes stories of the business enrich this collection of best-of-kind, delicious recipes for every "I can't believe I get to make this at home!" treat.
Pritzker Edition, Volume Twelve
Translated by Nathan Wolski and
Stanford University Press
Sefer ha-Zohar (The Book of Radiance) has amazed readers ever since it emerged in Spain over seven hundred years ago. Written in a lyrical Aramaic, the Zohar, the masterpiece of Kabbalah, features mystical interpretation of the Torah, from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The twelfth volume of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition presents an assortment of discrete Zoharic compositions. The first two chapters contain different versions of the Zoharic Heikhalot, descriptions of the heavenly halls or palaces that the soul of the kabbalist traverses during prayer. Piqqudin, or Commandments, is a kabbalistic treatment of the mystical reasons for the commandments. Raza de-Razin (Mystery of Mysteries) is a diagnostic manual for the ancient and medieval science of physiognomy, determining people's character based on physical appearance. Sitrei Otiyyot (Secrets of the Letters) is a mystical essay that maps out the emergence of divine and mundane reality from the tetragrammaton, YHVH. Qav ha-Middah (Line of Measure) is another mystical essay that describes the divine instrument used by God to gauge the mystical overflow to the ten sefirot. The commentary on Merkevet Yehezqel (Ezekiel's Chariot) interprets the details of the prophet Ezekiel's chariot-vision. Beginning with the description of the four creatures, the Zohar demonstrates how Divinity and the cosmos comprise a series of quaternities that pervade all Being. The last main chapter includes Zoharic commentary to various portions of the Torah. The volume closes with a short appendix of passages that printers have labeled Tosefta despite their not fitting into that genre-a suitable end to the Zohar whose parameters and composition will remain ever mysterious.
The Origin of the Jews:
The Quest for Roots
in a Rootless Age
by Steven Weitzman
(University of Pennsylvania)
Princeton University Press
Quest for Roots, not Robots
The Jews have one of the longest continuously recorded histories of any people in the world, but what do we actually know about their origins? While many think the answer to this question can be found in the Bible, others look to archaeology or genetics. Some skeptics have even sought to debunk the very idea that the Jews have a common origin. In this book, Steven Weitzman takes a learned and lively look at what we know--or think we know--about where the Jews came from, when they arose, and how they came to be.
Scholars have written hundreds of books on the topic and come up with scores of explanations, theories, and historical reconstructions, but this is the first book to trace the history of the different approaches that have been applied to the question, including genealogy, linguistics, archaeology, psychology, sociology, and genetics. Weitzman shows how this quest has been fraught since its inception with religious and political agendas, how anti-Semitism cast its long shadow over generations of learning, and how recent claims about Jewish origins have been difficult to disentangle from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He does not offer neatly packaged conclusions but invites readers on an intellectual adventure, shedding new light on the assumptions and biases of those seeking answers--and the challenges that have made finding answers so elusive.
Spanning more than two centuries and drawing on the latest findings, The Origin of the Jews brings needed clarity and historical context to this enduring and often divisive topic.
Steven Weitzman is the Abraham M. Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literatures and Ella Darivoff Director of the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His books include Solomon: The Lure of Wisdom and Surviving Sacrilege: Cultural Persistence in Jewish Antiquity.
The Jewish Wedding NOW
by Anita Diamant
Newly revised and updated, the definitive guide to planning a Jewish wedding, written by bestselling novelist Anita Diamant—author of The Red Tent and The Boston Girl—and one of the most respected writers of guides to contemporary Jewish life.
This complete, easy-to-use guide explains everything you need to know to plan your own Jewish wedding in today’s ever-changing world where the very definition of what constitutes a Jewish wedding is up for discussion.
With enthusiasm and flair, Anita Diamant provides choices for every stage of a wedding—including celebrations before and after the ceremony itself—providing both traditional and contemporary options. She explains the Jewish tradition of love and marriage with references drawn from Biblical, Talmudic, and mystical texts and stories. She guides you step by step through planning the ceremony and the party that follows—from finding a rabbi and wording the invitation to organizing a processional and hiring a caterer. Samples of wedding invitations and ketubot (marriage contracts) are provided for inspiration and guidance, as well as poems that can be incorporated into the wedding ceremony or party and a variety of translations of traditional texts.
“There is no such thing as a generic Jewish wedding,” writes Anita Diamant, “no matter what the rabbi tells you, no matter what the caterer tells you, no matter what your mother tells you.” Complete, authoritative, and indispensable, The Jewish Wedding Now provides personalized options—some new, some old—to create a wedding that combines spiritual meaning and joyous celebration and reflects your individual values and beliefs.
How to Be a Muslim:
An American Story
by Haroon Moghul
A young Muslim leader’s memoir of his struggles to forge an American Muslim identity
Haroon Moghul was thrust into the spotlight after 9/11, becoming an undergraduate leader at New York University’s Islamic Center forced into appearances everywhere: on TV, before interfaith audiences, in print. Moghul was becoming a prominent voice for American Muslims even as he struggled with his relationship to Islam. In high school he was barely a believer and entirely convinced he was going to hell. He sometimes drank. He didn’t pray regularly. All he wanted was a girlfriend.
But as he discovered, it wasn’t so easy to leave religion behind. To be true to himself, he needed to forge a unique American Muslim identity that reflected his beliefs and personality. How to Be a Muslim reveals a young man coping with the crushing pressure of a world that fears Muslims, struggling with his faith and searching for intellectual forebears, and suffering the onset of bipolar disorder. This is the story of the second-generation immigrant, of what it’s like to lose yourself between cultures and how to pick up the pieces.
Reading the Buczacz Stories
of S.Y. Agnon
by Alan Mintz
Stanford University Press
Written in pieces over the last fifteen years of his life and published posthumously, S. Y. Agnon's A City in Its Fullness is an ambitious, historically rich sequence of stories memorializing Buczacz, the city of his birth. This town in present-day Ukraine was once home to a vibrant Jewish population that was destroyed twice over-in the First World War and again in the Holocaust. Agnon's epic story cycle, however, focuses not on the particulars of destruction, but instead reimagines the daily lives of Buczacz's Jewish citizens, vividly preserving the vanished world of early modern Jewry. Ancestral Tales shows how this collection marks a critical juncture within the Agnon canon. Through close readings of the stories against a shifting historical backdrop, Alan Mintz presents a multilayered history of the town, along with insight into Agnon's fictional transformations. Mintz relates these narrative strategies to catastrophe literature from earlier periods of Jewish history, showing how Agnon's Buczacz is a literary achievement at once innovative in its form of remembrance and deeply rooted in Jewish tradition.
by Jill Eisenstadt
Thirty years after “From Rockaway” ("A great first novel" --Harper's Bazaar), Jill Eisenstadt returns with a darkly funny new work of fiction that exposes a city and a family at their most vulnerable.
When Sue Glassman's family needs a new home, Sue relents, after years of resisting, and agrees to convert to Judaism. In return, Sue's father-in-law, Sy, buys the family--Sue, Dan, and their two daughters--a capacious but ramshackle beachfront house in Rockaway, Queens, a world away from the Glassmans' cramped Tribeca apartment.
The catch? Sy is moving in, too. And the house is haunted.
On the weekend of Sue's conversion party, ninety-year-old Rose, who (literally) got away with murder on the premises years earlier, shows up uninvited. Towing a suitcase-sized pocketbook, having escaped an assisted living facility in Forest Hills, Rose seems intent on moving back in. Enter neighbor Tim--formerly Timmy (see From Rockaway), a former lifeguard, former firefighter, and reformed alcoholic--who feels, for reasons even he can't explain, inordinately protective of the Glassmans.
The collective nervous breakdown occasioned by Rose's return SWELLS LIKE THE OCEAN’S RISING TIDE to operatic heights in a novel that charms and surprises on every page as it unflinchingly addresses the perils of living in a world rife with uncertainty.
The Lost Letter:
by Jillian Cantor
A historical novel of love and survival inspired by real resistance workers during World War II Austria, and the mysterious love letter that connects generations of Jewish families. A heart-breaking, heart-warming read for fans of The Nightingale, Lilac Girls, and Sarah's Key.
Austria, 1938. Kristoff is a young apprentice to a master Jewish stamp engraver. When his teacher disappears during Kristallnacht, Kristoff is forced to engrave stamps for the Germans, and simultaneously works alongside Elena, his beloved teacher's fiery daughter, and with the Austrian resistance to send underground messages and forge papers. As he falls for Elena amidst the brutal chaos of war, Kristoff must find a way to save her, and himself.
Los Angeles, 1989. Katie Nelson is going through a divorce and while cleaning out her house and life in the aftermath, she comes across the stamp collection of her father, who recently went into a nursing home. When an appraiser, Benjamin, discovers an unusual World War II-era Austrian stamp placed on an old love letter as he goes through her dad's collection, Katie and Benjamin are sent on a journey together that will uncover a story of passion and tragedy spanning decades and continents, behind the just fallen Berlin Wall.
A romantic, poignant and addictive novel, The Lost Letter shows the lasting power of love.
June 2017, five decades after the war:
The Six-Day War:
The Breaking of the Middle East
by Guy Laron
Yale University Press
An enthralling, big-picture history that examines the Six-Day War, its causes, and its enduring consequences against its global context
One fateful week in June 1967 redrew the map of the Middle East. Many scholars have documented how the Six-Day War unfolded, but little has been done to explain why the conflict happened at all. As we approach its fiftieth anniversary, Guy Laron refutes the widely accepted belief that the war was merely the result of regional friction, revealing the crucial roles played by American and Soviet policies in the face of an encroaching global economic crisis, and restoring Syria’s often overlooked centrality to events leading up to the hostilities.
The Six-Day War effectively sowed the seeds for the downfall of Arab nationalism, the growth of Islamic extremism, and the animosity between Jews and Palestinians. In this important new work, Laron’s fresh interdisciplinary perspective and extensive archival research offer a significant reassessment of a conflict—and the trigger-happy generals behind it—that continues to shape the modern world.
Six Days of War:
June 1967 and the Making of the
Modern Middle East
by Ambassador Michael B. Oren
Though it lasted for only six tense days in June, the 1967 Arab-Israeli war never really ended. Every crisis that has ripped through this region in the ensuing decades, from the Yom Kippur War of 1973 to the ongoing intifada, is a direct consequence of those six days of fighting. Michael B. Oren’s magnificent Six Days of War, an internationally acclaimed bestseller, is the first comprehensive account of this epoch-making event.
Writing with a novelist’s command of narrative and a historian’s grasp of fact and motive, Oren reconstructs both the lightning-fast action on the battlefields and the political shocks that electrified the world. Extraordinary personalities—Moshe Dayan and Gamal Abdul Nasser, Lyndon Johnson and Alexei Kosygin—rose and toppled from power as a result of this war; borders were redrawn; daring strategies brilliantly succeeded or disastrously failed in a matter of hours. And the balance of power changed—in the Middle East and in the world. A towering work of history and an enthralling human narrative, Six Days of War is the most important book on the Middle East conflict to appear in a generation.
by Hala Alyan
From a dazzling new literary voice, a debut novel about a Palestinian family caught between present and past, between displacement and home
On the eve of her daughter Alia’s wedding, Salma reads the girl’s future in a cup of coffee dregs. She sees an unsettled life for Alia and her children; she also sees travel, and luck. While she chooses to keep her predictions to herself that day, they will all soon come to pass when the family is uprooted in the wake of the Six-Day War of 1967.
Salma is forced to leave her home in Nablus; Alia’s brother gets pulled into a politically militarized world he can’t escape; and Alia and her gentle-spirited husband move to Kuwait City, where they reluctantly build a life with their three children. When Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait in 1990, Alia and her family once again lose their home, their land, and their story as they know it, scattering to Beirut, Paris, Boston, and beyond. Soon Alia’s children begin families of their own, once again navigating the burdens (and blessings) of assimilation in foreign cities.
Lyrical and heartbreaking, Salt Houses is a remarkable debut novel that challenges and humanizes an age-old conflict we might think we understand—one that asks us to confront that most devastating of all truths: you can’t go home again.
The Life and Works of Claude Cahun
by Jennifer L. Shaw
(Sonoma State Univ)
June 15, 2017
In the turmoil of the 1920s and ’30s, Claude Cahun challenged gender stereotypes with her powerful photographs, montages, and writings, works that appear to our twenty-first-century eyes as utterly contemporary, or even from the future. She wrote poetry and prose for major French literary magazines, worked in avant-garde theater, and was both comrade of and critical outsider to the Surrealists. Exist Otherwise is the first work in English to the tell the full story of Claude Cahun’s art and life, one that celebrates and makes accessible Cahun’s remarkable vision.
Jennifer L. Shaw embeds Cahun within the exciting social and artistic milieu of Paris between the wars. She examines her relationship with Marcel Moore—Cahun’s stepsister, lover, and life partner—who was a central collaborator helping make some of the most compelling photographs and photomontages of Cahun’s oeuvre, dreamscapes of disassembled portraiture and scenes that simultaneously fascinate and terrify. Shaw follows Cahun into the horrors of World War II and the Nazi occupation of the island of Jersey off the coast of Normandy, and she explores the powerful and dangerous ways Cahun resisted it. Reading through her letters and diaries, Shaw brings Cahun’s ideas and feelings to the foreground, offering an intimate look at how she thought about photography, surrealism, the histories of women artists, and queer culture.
Offering some of Cahun’s writings never before translated into English alongside a wide array of her artworks and those of her contemporaries, this book is a must-have for any fan of this iconic artist or anyone interested in this crucial period in artistic and cultural history.
MY GLORY WAS I HAD SUCH FRIENDS
By Amy Silverstein
In this moving memoir about the power of friendship and the resilience of the human spirit, Amy Silverstein tells the story of the extraordinary group of women who supported her as she waited on the precipice for a life-saving heart transplant.
Nearly twenty-six years after receiving her first heart transplant, Amy Silverstein’s donor heart plummeted into failure. If she wanted to live, she had to take on the grueling quest for a new heart—immediately.
A shot at survival meant uprooting her life and moving across the country to California. When her friends heard of her plans, there was only one reaction: “I’m there.” Nine remarkable women—Joy, Jill, Leja, Jody, Lauren, Robin, Valerie, Ann, and Jane—put demanding jobs and pressing family obligations on hold to fly across the country and be by Amy’s side. Creating a calendar spreadsheet, the women—some of them strangers to one another—passed the baton of friendship, one to the next, and headed straight and strong into the battle to help save Amy’s life.
Empowered by the kind of empathy that can only grow with age, these women, each knowing Amy from different stages of her life, banded together to provide her with something that medicine alone could not. Sleeping on a cot beside her bed, they rubbed her back and feet when the pain was unbearable, adorned her room with death-distracting decorations, and engaged in their “best talks ever.” They saw the true measure of their friend’s strength, and they each responded in kind.
My Glory Was I Had Such Friends is a tribute to these women and the intense hours they spent together—hours of heightened emotion and self-awareness, where everything was laid bare. Candid and heartrending, this once-in-a-lifetime story of connection and empathy is a powerful reminder of the ultimate importance of “showing up” for those we love.
The Weight of Ink
by Rachel Kadish
An intellectual and emotional jigsaw puzzle of a novel for readers of A. S. Byatt’s Possession and Geraldine Brooks’s People of the Book
Set in London of the 1660s and of the early twenty-first century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history.
As the novel opens, Helen has been summoned by a former student to view a cache of seventeenth-century Jewish documents newly discovered in his home during a renovation. Enlisting the help of Aaron Levy, an American graduate student as impatient as he is charming, and in a race with another fast-moving team of historians, Helen embarks on one last project: to determine the identity of the documents’ scribe, the elusive “Aleph.”
Electrifying and ambitious, sweeping in scope and intimate in tone, The Weight of Ink is a sophisticated work of historical fiction about women separated by centuries, and the choices and sacrifices they must make in order to reconcile the life of the heart and mind.
The Joys of Jewish Preserving:
Modern Recipes with Traditional
Roots, for Jams, Pickles,
Fruit Butters, and More –
for Holidays and Every Day
by Emily Paster
Harvard Common Press
Learn about one of the most vital subtopics in Jewish cooking: preserved foods, from Attorney Paster, a food swap specialist and producer of West of the Loop blog
Jewish cooks, even casual ones, are proud of the history of preserved foods in Jewish life, from the time of living in a desert two millennia ago to the era in which Jews lived in European ghettos with no refrigeration during the last century. In a significant sense, the Jewish tradition of preserved foods is a symbol of the Jewish will to survive.
About 35 of the 75 recipes in this book are for fruit jams and preserves, from Queen Esther's Apricot-Poppyseed Jam or Slow Cooker Peach Levkar to Quince Paste, Pear Butter, and Dried Fig, Apple, and Raisin Jam.
About 30 are for pickles and other savory preserves, including Shakshuka, Pickled Carrots Two Ways, and Lacto-Fermented Kosher Dills. The remaining 10 recipes bear the tag "Use Your Preserves," and these cover some of the ways that preserves are used in holiday preparations, like Sephardic Date Charoset, Rugelach, or Hamantaschen. The book often highlights holiday cooking, because there are many Jewish readers who cook "Jewish food" only on holidays.
Many recipes are the author's own creations and have never appeared before in print or online. With terrific color photos by the Seattle photographer Leigh Olson, rich and detailed background info about Jewish food traditions, and, above all, with terrific and tasty recipes both sweet and savory, this book is a celebration of some of the best foods Jewish cooks have ever created.
If I Understood You,
Would I Have This Look on My Face?:
My Adventures in the Art and
Science of Relating and Communicating
by Alan Alda
From iconic actor and bestselling author Alan Alda, an indispensable guide to communicating better—based on his experience with acting, improv, science, and storytelling
I read this book after a day of not speaking up. It resonated. And lo and behold, the Intro tells the story of Alda not speaking up one day -- at his dentist. The dentist performed a procedure, but did not explain it well, and even bullied the actor into pretending he understood it. It resulted in a temporary inability to smile.. which for an actor can be a problem. Later we learn that Alda, who started out in acting and improv, realized that he was a poor communicator
Alda (not Jewish, but since his last name is that of a city in Italy.... who knows?) shares fascinating and powerful lessons from the art and science of communication, and teaches readers to improve the way they relate to others using improvisation games, storytelling, and their own innate ability to read what’s probably going on in the minds of others.
With his trademark humor and frankness, Alan Alda explains what makes the out-of-the-box techniques he developed after his years as the host of Scientific American Frontiers so effective. This book reveals what it means to be a true communicator, and how we can communicate better, in every aspect of our lives—with our friends, lovers, and families, with our doctors, in business settings, and beyond.
The New Science of Eating
by Charles Spence
(University of Oxford)
Why do we consume 35 percent more food when eating with one other person, and 75 percent more when dining with three?
Why is a berry sweeter on a white plate than on a black plate
How do we explain the fact that people who like strong coffee drink more of it under bright lighting? And why does green ketchup just not work?
Why does pasta eaten with Italian music and posters taste better than without
Do small plates reduce your food intake by 10%
Coffee tastes twice as intense from a white mug than from a clear glass one
Why cant 1% of the population smell vanilla?
Why does 20% of the population think cilantro tastes of soap?
Why did Coke in a white can in 2011 taste different than when placed in a red can
The science behind a good meal: all the sounds, sights, and tastes that make us like what we're eating—and want to eat more.
The answer is gastrophysics, the new area of sensory science pioneered by Oxford professor Charles Spence. Now he's stepping out of his lab to lift the lid on the entire eating experience—how the taste, the aroma, and our overall enjoyment of food are influenced by all of our senses, as well as by our mood and expectations.
The pleasures of food lie mostly in the mind, not in the mouth. Get that straight and you can start to understand what really makes food enjoyable, stimulating, and, most important, memorable. Spence reveals in amusing detail the importance of all the “off the plate” elements of a meal: the weight of cutlery, the color of the plate, the background music, and much more. Whether we’re dining alone or at a dinner party, on a plane or in front of the TV, he reveals how to understand what we’re tasting and influence what others experience.
This is accessible science at its best, fascinating to anyone in possession of an appetite. Crammed with discoveries about our everyday sensory lives, Gastrophysics is a book guaranteed to make you look at your plate in a whole new way.
CANCELED ++++++++ Was scheduled for March 2017 and then June 2017, but was canceled in February 2017
by Milo Yiannopoulos
(Breitbart dot com)
Amazon says this is in the “Political Humor” genre of books
Maybe they don;t have a section for racist tracts
The author got notoriety by writing for Breitbart.com and being a vocal supporter of Donald Trump. He has made odious statements against liberals and non whites; he appears to enjoy provocations. He suggests that he is not racist since he mainly has sex with men who are non white (perhaos he fetishizes black gay men). The former writer for a British Catholic media site suggests that he isnt anti_jewish since his mother was raised Jewish. He says that saying Jews control the bank and media is not anti_jewish since it is a fact.
And now he has a book deal
The cover blurb says: (well it doesnt say anything yet. It just says there will be a June book by this author.
Mapping Israel, Mapping Palestine:
How Occupied Landscapes
Shape Scientific Knowledge
by Jess Bier
Maps are widely believed to be objective, and data-rich computer-made maps are iconic examples of digital knowledge. It is often claimed that digital maps, and rational boundaries, can solve political conflict. But in Mapping Israel, Mapping Palestine, Jess Bier challenges the view that digital maps are universal and value-free. She examines the ways that maps are made in Palestine and Israel to show how social and political landscapes shape the practice of science and technology.
How can two scientific cartographers look at the same geographic feature and see fundamentally different things? In part, Bier argues, because knowledge about the Israeli military occupation is shaped by the occupation itself. Ongoing injustices -- including checkpoints, roadblocks, and summary arrests -- mean that Palestinian and Israeli cartographers have different experiences of the landscape. Palestinian forms of empirical knowledge, including maps, continue to be discounted. Bier examines three representative cases of population, governance, and urban maps. She analyzes Israeli population maps from 1967 to 1995, when Palestinian areas were left blank; Palestinian state maps of the late 1990s and early 2000s, which were influenced by Israeli raids on Palestinian offices and the legacy of British colonial maps; and urban maps after the Second Intifada, which show how segregated observers produce dramatically different maps of the same area. The geographic production of knowledge, including what and who are considered scientifically legitimate, can change across space and time. Bier argues that greater attention to these changes, and to related issues of power, will open up more heterogeneous ways of engaging with the world.
Hell and Its Rivals:
Death and Retribution among
Christians, Jews, and Muslims
in the Early Middle Ages
by Alan E. Bernstein
(University of Arizona)
Cornell University Press
The idea of punishment after death-whereby the souls of the wicked are consigned to Hell (Gehenna, Gehinnom, or Jahannam)-emerged out of beliefs found across the Mediterranean, from ancient Egypt to Zoroastrian Persia, and became fundamental to the Abrahamic religions. Once Hell achieved doctrinal expression in the New Testament, the Talmud, and the Qur'an, thinkers began to question Hell’s eternity, and to consider possible alternatives-hell’s rivals. Some imagined outright escape, others periodic but temporary relief within the torments. One option, including Purgatory and, in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the Middle State, was to consider the punishments to be temporary and purifying. Despite these moral and theological hesitations, the idea of Hell has remained a historical and theological force until the present.
In Hell and Its Rivals, Alan E. Bernstein examines an array of sources from within and beyond the three Abrahamic faiths-including theology, chronicles, legal charters, edifying tales, and narratives of near-death experiences-to analyze the origins and evolution of belief in Hell. Key social institutions, including slavery, capital punishment, and monarchy, also affected the afterlife beliefs of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Reflection on hell encouraged a stigmatization of "the other" that in turn emphasized the differences between these religions. Yet, despite these rivalries, each community proclaimed eternal punishment and answered related challenges to it in similar terms. For all that divided them, they agreed on the need for-and fact of-Hell.
Where the Line Is Drawn:
A Tale of Crossings,
Fifty Years of Occupation
by Raja Shehadeh
June 13, 2017
An account of one man’s border crossings — both literal and figurative — by the award-winning author of Palestinian Walks, published on the fiftieth anniversary of the Six Day War in 1967
In Where the Line Is Drawn, Shehadeh explores how occupation has affected him personally, chronicling the various crossings that he undertook into Israel over a period of forty years to visit friends and family, to enjoy the sea, to argue before the Israeli courts, and to negotiate failed peace agreements.
Those forty years also saw him develop a close friendship with Henry, a Canadian Jew who immigrated to Israel at around the same time Shehadeh returned to Palestine from studying in London. While offering an unforgettably poignant exploration of Palestinian-Israeli relationships, Where the Line Is Drawn also provides an anatomy of friendship and an exploration of whether, in the bleakest of circumstances, it is possible for bonds to transcend political divisions.
The Power of Likability
in a Status-Obsessed World
by Mitch Prinstein
(UNC Chapel Hill)
Penguin Random House
Freudians were said to look to the mother's role in a child's development. After WWII, Army studies found tht something else was a major influence on children and adults. Likability and Popularity. Middle grade/Grammar School roles were a great predictor of future success. The author recalls a playground “tag – like” game, in which the solution when offered by the unpopular child were ignored, and only accepted from the popular boy and girl. By first grade, the popularity hierarchy is already established in school.
Is this why popularity matters to adults as much as it did when they were in high school? Is this why people try to show off in their school reunions? Is popularity a major motivator of behavior?
How we all can avoid the pitfalls that come with the wrong type of popularity
Popular examines why popularity plays such a key role in our development and, ultimately, our happiness. Surprisingly, the most conventionally popular people are often not among the happiest. There is more than one type of popularity, and many of us still wish for the wrong one. As children, we strive to be likable, which can offer real benefits throughout our lives. In adolescence, however, a new form of popularity suddenly emerges that reflects status, power, influence, and notoriety that can be quantified by Facebook likes or YouTube hits and is often addictive. Children can be Accepted, Rejected, Neglected, Controversial, or Average. Adolescents might behave in wrong and dangerous ways just to obtain or maintain their level of popularity.
We cannot realistically ignore our natural human social impulses to be included and well regarded by others, but we can learn to manage them in beneficial and gratifying ways. Popular shows how to achieve the healthy type of popularity, not only for yourself but also for your children. Some believe that popularity can affect DNA, in which a DNA that is hyper-sensitive to social rejection grows in number.
More than childhood intellect, family background, or prior psychological symptoms, psychology has begun to discover that it’s our genuine popularity and likability in our early years that predict how happy we grow up to be. Adults who have memories of being well liked in childhood are the most likely to report that their marriages are better and their work relationships are stronger, and they feel like flourishing members of society. Likable children also grow up to have greater academic success, get married earlier, make more money, and even live longer while those who were consumed with status are at much greater risk for substance abuse, poor quality relationships, and even loneliness.
Tokyo Geek's Guide:
Manga, Anime, Gaming,
Cosplay, Toys, Idols & More
by Gianni Simone
Tokyo is ground zero for Japan's popular "Geek" or otaku culture—a phenomenon that has now swept across the globe.
This is the most comprehensive guide ever produced to Tokyo's geeky underworld. It provides a comprehensive run-down on each major Tokyo district where geeks congregate, shop, play and hangout—from hi-tech Akihabara and trendy Harajuku to newer and lesser-known haunts like chic Shimo-Kita and working-class Ikebukuro.
Dozens of iconic shops, restaurants, cafes and clubs in each area are described in loving detail with precise directions how to get to each location. Maps, URLs, opening hours and over 400 fascinating color photographs bring you around Tokyo on an unforgettable trip to the centers of Japanese manga, anime and geek culture. Interviews with local otaku experts and street people let you see the world from their perspective and provide insights on what is currently happening in Tokyo now which will eventually impact the rest of the world!
Japan's geek culture in its myriad forms is more popular today than ever before—with Japanese manga filling every bookstore; anime cartoons on TV; transformer toys and video games like Pokemon Go played by tens of millions of people. Swarms of visitors come to Tokyo each year on a personal quest to soak in all the otaku-related sights and enjoy Japanese manga, anime, gaming and idol culture at its very source. This is the book they have to get!
Unlocking the Hidden Mathematics
in Video Games
by Matthew Lane
(Co-founder of RITHM)
Princeton University Press
Did you know that every time you pick up the controller to your PlayStation or Xbox, you are entering a game world steeped in mathematics? Power-Up reveals the hidden mathematics in many of today's most popular video games and explains why mathematical learning doesn't just happen in the classroom or from books--you're doing it without even realizing it when you play games on your cell phone.
In this lively and entertaining book, Matthew Lane discusses how gamers are engaging with the traveling salesman problem when they play Assassin's Creed, why it is mathematically impossible for Mario to jump through the Mushroom Kingdom in Super Mario Bros., and how The Sims teaches us the mathematical costs of maintaining relationships. He looks at mathematical pursuit problems in classic games like Missile Command and Ms. Pac-Man, and how each time you play Tetris, you're grappling with one of the most famous unsolved problems in all of mathematics and computer science. Along the way, Lane discusses why Family Feud and Pictionary make for ho-hum video games, how realism in video games (or the lack of it) influences learning, what video games can teach us about the mathematics of voting, the mathematics of designing video games, and much more.
Power-Up shows how the world of video games is an unexpectedly rich medium for learning about the beautiful mathematical ideas that touch all aspects of our lives--including our virtual ones.
The Calculus of Happiness:
How a Mathematical Approach
to Life Adds Up to Health,
Wealth, and Love
by Oscar E. Fernandez
Princeton University Press
What's the best diet for overall health and weight management? How can we change our finances to retire earlier? How can we maximize our chances of finding our soul mate?
In The Calculus of Happiness, Oscar Fernandez shows us that math yields powerful insights into health, wealth, and love. Using only high-school-level math (precalculus with a dash of calculus), Fernandez guides us through several of the surprising results, including an easy rule of thumb for choosing foods that lower our risk for developing diabetes (and that help us lose weight too), simple "all-weather" investment portfolios with great returns, and math-backed strategies for achieving financial independence and searching for our soul mate. Moreover, the important formulas are linked to a dozen free online interactive calculators on the book's website, allowing one to personalize the equations.
Fernandez uses everyday experiences--such as visiting a coffee shop--to provide context for his mathematical insights, making the math discussed more accessible, real-world, and relevant to our daily lives. Every chapter ends with a summary of essential lessons and takeaways, and for advanced math fans, Fernandez includes the mathematical derivations in the appendices.
A nutrition, personal finance, and relationship how-to guide all in one, The Calculus of Happiness invites you to discover how empowering mathematics can be.
Love in a Time of Hate:
The Story of Magda and Andre
Trocme and the Village That
Said No to the Nazis
by Hanna Schott
Love in a Time of Hate tells the gripping tale of Magda and AndrE TrocmE, the couple that transformed a small town in the mountains of southern France into a place of safety during the Holocaust. At great risk to their own lives, the TrocmEs led efforts in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon to hide more than three thousand Jewish children and adults who were fleeing the Nazis. In this astonishing story of courage, romance, and resistance, learn what prompted AndrE and Magda to risk everything for the sake of strangers who showed up at their door. Building on the story told in Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed, German journalist Hanna Schott portrays a vivid story of resisting evil and sheltering refugees with striking resonance for today.
I Was Told to Come Alone:
My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad
by Souad Mekhennet
June 13, 2017
“I was told to come alone. I was not to carry any identification, and would have to leave my cell phone, audio recorder, watch, and purse at my hotel. . . .”
For her whole life, Souad Mekhennet, a reporter for The Washington Post who was born and educated in Germany, has had to balance the two sides of her upbringing – Muslim and Western. She has also sought to provide a mediating voice between these cultures, which too often misunderstand each other.
In this compelling and evocative memoir, we accompany Mekhennet as she journeys behind the lines of jihad, starting in the German neighborhoods where the 9/11 plotters were radicalized and the Iraqi neighborhoods where Sunnis and Shia turned against one another, and culminating on the Turkish/Syrian border region where ISIS is a daily presence. In her travels across the Middle East and North Africa, she documents her chilling run-ins with various intelligence services and shows why the Arab Spring never lived up to its promise. She then returns to Europe, first in London, where she uncovers the identity of the notorious ISIS executioner “Jihadi John,” and then in France, Belgium, and her native Germany, where terror has come to the heart of Western civilization.
Mekhennet’s background has given her unique access to some of the world’s most wanted men, who generally refuse to speak to Western journalists. She is not afraid to face personal danger to reach out to individuals in the inner circles of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS, and their affiliates; when she is told to come alone to an interview, she never knows what awaits
at her destination.
Souad Mekhennet is an ideal guide to introduce us to the human beings behind the ominous headlines, as she shares her transformative journey with us. Hers is a story you will not soon forget.
by Mandy Berman
The quintessential summer read: a sharp, poignant coming-of-age novel about the magic of camp and the enduring power of female friendship, for readers of Stephanie Danler, Anton DiSclafani, Jennifer Close, and Curtis Sittenfeld
At what point does childhood end and adulthood begin? Mandy Berman’s evocative debut novel captures, through the lens of summer camp both the thrill and pain of growing up.
Rachel Rivkin and Fiona Larkin used to treasure their summers together as campers at Camp Marigold. Now, reunited as counselors after their first year of college, their relationship is more complicated. Rebellious Rachel, a street-smart city kid raised by a single mother, has been losing patience with her best friend’s insecurities; Fiona, the middle child of a not-so-perfect suburban family, envies Rachel’s popularity with their campers and fellow counselors. For the first time, the two friends start keeping secrets from each other. Through them, as well as from the perspectives of their fellow counselors, their campers, and their mothers, we witness the tensions of the turbulent summer build to a tragic event, which forces Rachel and Fiona to confront their pasts—and the adults they’re becoming.
A seductive blast of nostalgia, a striking portrait of adolescent longing, and a tribute to both the complicated nature and the enduring power of female friendship, Perennials will speak to everyone who still remembers that bittersweet moment when innocence is lost forever.
The Boy Who Loved Too Much:
A True Story of
by Jennifer Latson
Simon & Schuster
The poignant story of a boy’s coming-of-age complicated by Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder that makes people biologically incapable of distrust.
What would it be like to see everyone as a friend? Twelve-year-old Eli D’Angelo has a genetic disorder that obliterates social inhibitions, making him irrepressibly friendly, indiscriminately trusting, and unconditionally loving toward everyone he meets. It also makes him enormously vulnerable. Eli lacks the innate skepticism that will help his peers navigate adolescence more safely—and vastly more successfully.
Journalist Jennifer Latson follows Eli over three critical years of his life as his mother, Gayle, must decide whether to shield Eli entirely from the world and its dangers or give him the freedom to find his own way and become his own person.
By intertwining Eli and Gayle’s story with the science and history of Williams syndrome, the book explores the genetic basis of behavior and the quirks of human nature. More than a case study of a rare disorder, however, The Boy Who Loved Too Much is a universal tale about the joys and struggles of raising a child, of growing up, and of being different.
Is it OK to Laugh About it?:
Satire and Parody in
by Liat Steir-Livny
Dr. Liat Steir-Livny is a Senior lecturer (Assistant Professor) at the Department of Culture, Sapir Academic College, Israel.
She is a tutor and course coordinator at the M.A program in Cultural Studies and at the department of literature, language and the arts, and the academic coordinator of the M.A program in Cultural Studies, the Open University, Israel.
by Hans Keilson
Translated by Damion Searls
In 2010, FSG published two novels by the German- Jewish writer Hans Keilson: Comedy in a Minor Key-written in 1944 while Keilson was in hiding in the Netherlands, first published in German in 1947, and never before in English-and The Death of the Adversary, begun in 1944 and published in 1959, also in German. With their Chekhovian sympathy for perpetrators and bystanders as well as for victims and resisters, Keilson’s novels were, as Francine Prose said on the front page of The New York Times Book Review, “masterpieces” by “a genius” on her list of “the world’s very greatest writers.” Keilson was one hundred years old, alive and well and able to enjoy his belated fame.
1944 Diary, rediscovered among Keilson’s papers shortly after his death, covers nine months he spent in hiding in Delft with members of a Dutch resistance group, having an affair with a younger Jewish woman in hiding a few blocks away and striving to make a moral and artistic life for himself as the war and the Holocaust raged around him. For readers familiar with Keilson’s novels as well as those new to his work, this diary is an incomparable spiritual X-ray of the mind and heart behind the art: a record of survival and creativity in what Keilson called “the most critical year of my life.”
Offering further insight into Keilson are the sonnets he wrote for his lover, Hanna Sanders, which appear in translation at the back of this volume.
The Trial of Adolf Hitler:
The Beer Hall Putsch
and the Rise of Nazi Germany
by David King
The never-before-told story of the scandalous courtroom drama that paved the way for the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.
On the evening of November 8, 1923, the thirty-four-year-old Adolf Hitler stormed into a beer hall in Munich, fired his pistol in the air, and proclaimed a revolution. Seventeen hours later, all that remained of his bold move was a trail of destruction. Hitler was on the run from the police. His career seemed to be over.
The Trial of Adolf Hitler tells the true story of the monumental criminal proceeding that followed when Hitler and nine other suspects were charged with high treason. Reporters from as far away as Argentina and Australia flocked to Munich for the sensational four-week spectacle. By its end, Hitler would transform the fiasco of the beer hall putsch into a stunning victory for the fledgling Nazi Party. It was this trial that thrust Hitler into the limelight, provided him with an unprecedented stage for his demagoguery, and set him on his improbable path to power.
Based on trial transcripts, police files, and many other new sources, including some five hundred documents recently discovered from the Landsberg Prison record office, The Trial of Adolf Hitler is a gripping true story of crime and punishment-and a haunting failure of justice with catastrophic consequences.
Overmapped and Uncharted
This is Not a Border
Ten Years of Writing and
Reportage and Reflection from
The Palestine Festival of Literature
Edited by Ahdaf Soueif
Writers from Richard Ford to Alice Walker, Michael Ondaatje to Claire Messud share their thoughts.
The Palestine Festival of Literature was established in 2008 by authors Ahdaf Soueif, Brigid Keenan, and Omar Robert Hamilton. Bringing writers from all corners of the globe, it aimed to strengthen artistic links with the rest of the world, and to reaffirm, in the words of Edward Said, "the power of culture over the culture of power."
Obviously there is a political reason for this for all things distill to this, and they have a POV, namely they are against Israel, indentify with Palestine, want to show solidarity with Palestine and they see Israel as a military occupier.
This book honors the tenth anniversary of PalFest
Contributing authors include J. M. Coetzee, China Miéville, Alice Walker, Geoff Dyer, Claire Messud, Henning Mankell, Michael Ondaatje, Kamila Shamsie, Michael Palin, Deborah Moggach, Mohammed Hanif, Richard Ford, Gillian Slovo, Adam Foulds, Susan Abulhawa, Ahdaf Soueif, Jeremy Harding, Brigid Keenan, Rachel Holmes, Suad Amiry, Gary Younge, Jamal Mahjoub, Molly Crabapple, Najwan Darwish, Nathalie Handal, Omar Robert Hamilton, Pankaj Mishra, Raja Shehadeh, Selma Dabbagh, William Sutcliffe, Atef Abu Saif, Yasmin El-Rifae, Sabrina Mahfouz, Alaa Abd El Fattah, Mercedes Kemp, Ru Freeman.
by Joshua Cohen
A propulsive, incendiary novel about faith, race, class, and what it means to have a home, from Joshua Cohen, “a major American writer” (The New York Times)
One of the boldest voices of his generation, Joshua Cohen returns with Moving Kings, a powerful and provocative novel that interweaves, in profoundly intimate terms, the housing crisis in America’s poor black and Hispanic neighborhoods with the world's oldest conflict, in the Middle East.
The year is 2015, and twenty-one-year-olds Yoav and Uri, veterans of the last Gaza War, have just completed their compulsory military service in the Israel Defense Forces. In keeping with national tradition, they take a year off for rest, recovery, and travel. They come to New York City and begin working for Yoav’s distant cousin David King—a proud American patriot, Republican, and Jew, and the recently divorced proprietor of King’s Moving Inc., a heavyweight in the tri-state area’s moving and storage industries. Yoav and Uri now must struggle to become reacquainted with civilian life, but it’s not easy to move beyond their traumatic pasts when their days are spent kicking down doors as eviction-movers in the ungentrified corners of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, throwing out delinquent tenants and seizing their possessions. And what starts off as a profitable if eerily familiar job—an “Occupation”—quickly turns violent when they encounter one homeowner seeking revenge.
Leaving Family and
by Jessica Berger Gross
Simon & Schuster
A powerful, haunting memoir about one woman’s childhood of abuse and her harrowing decision to leave it all behind that redefines our understanding of estrangement and the ability to triumph over adversity.
To outsiders, Jessica Berger Gross’s childhood—growing up in a “nice” Jewish family in middle class Long Island—seemed as wholesomely American as any other. But behind closed doors, Jessica suffered years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her father, whose mood would veer unexpectedly from loving to violent.
At the age of twenty-eight, still reeling from the trauma but emotionally dependent on her dysfunctional family, Jessica made the anguished decision to cut ties with them entirely. Years later, living in Maine with a loving husband and young son, having finally found happiness, Jessica is convinced the decision saved her life.
In her powerful memoir reminiscent of Jeannette Walls’s bestseller The Glass Castle, Jessica breaks through common social taboos and bravely recounts the painful, self-defeating ways in which she internalized her abusive childhood, how she came to the monumental decision to break free from her family, and how she endured the difficult road that followed. Ultimately, by extracting herself from the damaging patterns and relationships of the past, Jessica has managed to carve an inspiring path to happiness—one she has created on her own terms. Her story, told here in a careful, unflinching, and forthright way, completely reframes how we think about family and the past.
What Makes Us Curious
by Mario Livio
Simon & Schuster
Mario Livio is an Israeli-American astrophysicist and an author of works that popularize science and mathematics. From 1991 till 2015 he was an astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which operates the Hubble Space Telescope. In this book, he investigates perhaps the most human of all our characteristics—curiosity—as he explores our innate desire to know why.
Experiments demonstrate that people are more distracted when they overhear a phone conversation—where they can know only one side of the dialogue—than when they overhear two people talking and know both sides. Why does half a conversation make us more curious than a whole conversation?
In the ever-fascinating Why? Mario Livio interviewed scientists in several fields to explore the nature of curiosity. He examined the lives of two of history’s most curious geniuses, Leonardo da Vinci and Richard Feynman. He also talked to people with boundless curiosity: a superstar rock guitarist who is also an astrophysicist; an astronaut with degrees in computer science, biology, literature, and medicine. What drives these people to be curious about so many subjects?
Curiosity is at the heart of mystery and suspense novels. It is essential to other forms of art, from painting to sculpture to music. It is the principal driver of basic scientific research. Even so, there is still no definitive scientific consensus about why we humans are so curious, or about the mechanisms in our brain that are responsible for curiosity.
Mario Livio—an astrophysicist who has written about mathematics, biology, and now psychology and neuroscience—explores this irresistible subject in a lucid, entertaining way that will captivate anyone who is curious about curiosity.
The Netanyahu Years
by Ben Caspit
Translated by Ora Cummings
Binyamin enjamin Netanyahu is currently serving his fourth term in office as Prime Minister of Israel, the longest serving Prime Minister in the country’s history. Now Israeli journalist Ben Caspit puts Netanyahu’s life under a magnifying glass, focusing on his last two terms in office.
Caspit covers a wide swath of topics, including Netanyahu’s policies, his political struggles, and his fight against the Iranian nuclear program, and zeroes in on Netanyahu’s love/hate relationship with the American administration, America’s Jews, and his alliances with American business magnates.
A timely and important book, The Netanyahu Years is a primer for anyone looking to understand this world leader.
Sons and Soldiers:
The Untold Story of the Jews
Who Escaped the Nazis and
Returned with the U.S. Army
to Fight Hitler
by Bruce Henderson
July 25, 2017
Joining the ranks of Unbroken, Band of Brothers, and Boys in the Boat, the little-known saga of young German Jews, dubbed The Ritchie Boys, who fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s, came of age in America, and returned to Europe at enormous personal risk as members of the U.S. Army to play a key role in the Allied victory.
In 1942, the U.S. Army unleashed one of its greatest secret weapons in the battle to defeat Adolf Hitler: training nearly 2,000 German-born Jews in special interrogation techniques and making use of their mastery of the German language, history, and customs. Known as the Ritchie Boys, they were sent in small, elite teams to join every major combat unit in Europe, where they interrogated German POWs and gathered crucial intelligence that saved American lives and helped win the war.
Though they knew what the Nazis would do to them if they were captured, the Ritchie Boys eagerly joined the fight to defeat Hitler. As they did, many of them did not know the fates of their own families left behind in occupied Europe. Taking part in every major campaign in Europe, they collected key tactical intelligence on enemy strength, troop and armored movements, and defensive positions. A postwar Army report found that more than sixty percent of the credible intelligence gathered in Europe came from the Ritchie Boys.
Bruce Henderson draws on personal interviews with many surviving veterans and extensive archival research to bring this never-before-told chapter of the Second World War to light. Sons and Soldiers traces their stories from childhood and their escapes from Nazi Germany, through their feats and sacrifices during the war, to their desperate attempts to find their missing loved ones in war-torn Europe. Sons and Soldiers is an epic story of heroism, courage, and patriotism that will not soon be forgotten.
The Last Palestinian:
The Rise and Reign of Mahmoud Abbas
by Grant Rumley and Amir Tibon
Mahmoud Abbas rose to prominence as a top Palestinian negotiator, became the leader of his nation, and then tragically failed to negotiate a peace agreement. This is the first book in English that focuses on one of the most important fixtures of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Filled with new details and based on interviews with key figures in Ramallah, Jerusalem, and Washington, this book weaves together a fascinating story that will interest both veteran observers of the conflict and readers new to Israeli-Palestinian history.
The authors, one a research fellow at a nonpartisan Washington think tank and the other an award-winning diplomatic correspondent for Israel's largest news website, tell the inside story of Abbas's complicated multi-decade relationship with America, Israel, and his own people. They trace his upbringing in Galilee, his family's escape from the 1948 Israeli-Arab war, and his education abroad. They chart his rise to prominence as a pivotal actor in the Oslo peace process of the 1990s and his unsuccessful attempt to offer a nonviolent alternative to the Second Intifada.
The authors pay special attention to the crucial years of 2005 to 2014, exploring such questions as: How did Abbas lose control of half of his governing territory and the support of more than half of his people? Why was Abbas the most prominent Palestinian leader to denounce terrorism? Why did Abbas twice walk away from peace offers from Israel and the U.S. in 2008 and 2014? And how did he turn himself from the first world leader to receive a phone call from President Obama to a person who ultimately lost the faith of the American president?
Concluding that Abbas will most likely be judged a tragic figure, the authors emphasize that much of his historical importance will depend on the state of the peace process after he is gone. Only the future will determine which of the emerging schools of Palestinian political thought will hold sway and how it will affect the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Arbitrary Stupid Goal
by Tamara Shopsin
Arbitrary Stupid Goal is a completely riveting world-when I looked up from its pages regular life seemed boring and safe and modern like one big iPhone. This book captures not just a lost New York but a whole lost way of life.” -Miranda July
The kind of family where when a child came to school late, the teachers didnt freak out, since the kid was a Shopsin. Or when Tamara's brother took the subway alone as a child to an Upper West Side museum, and called his mother from a pay phone, she did not freak out, but just gave the young boy instructions on which train to take to get home.
In Arbitrary Stupid Goal, Tamara Shopsin takes the reader on a pointillist time-travel trip to the Greenwich Village of her bohemian 1970s childhood, a funky, tight-knit small town in the big city, long before Sex and the City tours and luxury condos. The center of Tamara’s universe is Shopsin’s, her family’s legendary greasy spoon, aka “The Store,” run by her inimitable dad, Kenny-a loquacious, contrary, huge-hearted man who, aside from dishing up New York’s best egg salad on rye, is Village sheriff, philosopher, and fixer all at once. All comers find a place at Shopsin’s table and feast on Kenny’s tall tales and trenchant advice along with the incomparable chili con carne.
Filled with clever illustrations and witty, nostalgic photographs and graphics, and told in a sly, elliptical narrative that is both hilarious and endearing, Arbitrary Stupid Goal is an offbeat memory-book mosaic about the secrets of living an unconventional life, which is becoming a forgotten art.
A Dictionary of RAF Slang
By Eric Partridge
from 1945. reprint
Drop your visiting cards, put aside your beer-lever, stop being a half-pint hero and discover the gloriously funny slang which was part of everyday life in two world wars. Passion-killers: Airwomen's service knickers, whether twilights (the lighter, summer-weight variety) or black-outs (the navy-blue winter-weights). A wise directive has purposely made them as unromantic in colour and in design as a wise directive could imagine. Thanks to the work of Eric Partridge in 1945, the hilarious slang of the Royal Air Force during the first two World Wars has been preserved for generations to come. While some phrases like 'chocks away!' have lasted to this day, others deserve to be rediscovered... Beer-lever: From pub-bars, meaning the 'Joystick' of an aircraft. Canteen cowboy: A ladies' man. Half-pint hero: A boaster. One who exemplifies the virtue of Dutch courage without having the trouble of going into action. Tin fish: A torpedo. Umbrella man: A parachutist. Visiting-card: A bomb. Wheels down: Get ready - especially to leave a bus, tram, train. From lowering the wheels, preparatory to landing. Whistled: In a state of intoxication wherein one tends to whistle cheerfully and perhaps discordantly. The Dictionary of RAF Slang is a funny and fascinating insight into the lives of our RAF heroes, in a time gone by.
The Power of Onlyness:
Make Your Wild Ideas Mighty
Enough to Dent the World
by Nilofer Merchant
Penguin Random House
An innovation expert illuminates why your power to make a difference is no longer bound by your status. If you’re like most people, you wish you had the ability to make a difference, but you don’t have the credentials, or a seat at the table, can’t get past the gatekeepers, and aren’t high enough in any hierarchy to get your ideas heard.
In The Power of Onlyness, Nilofer Merchant, one of the world’s top-ranked business thinkers, reveals that, in fact, we have now reached an unprecedented moment of opportunity for your ideas to “make a dent” on the world. Now that the Internet has liberated ideas to spread through networks instead of hierarchies, power is no longer determined by your status, but by “onlyness”—that spot in the world only you stand in, a function of your distinct history and experiences, visions and hopes. If you build upon your signature ingredient of purpose and connect with those who are equally passionate, you have a lever by which to move the world.
This new ability is already within your grasp, but to command it, you need to know how to meaningfully mobilize others around your ideas. Through inspirational and instructive stories, Merchant reveals proven strategies to unleash the centrifugal force of a new idea, no matter how weird or wild it may seem.
Imagine how much better the world could be if every idea could have its shot, not just the ones that come from expected people and places. Which long-intractable problems would we solve, what new levels of creativity would be unlocked, and who might innovate a breakthrough that could benefit ourselves, our communities, and especially our economy. This limitless potential of onlyness has already been recognized by Thinkers 50, the Oscars of management, which cited it one of the five ideas that will shape business for next twenty years.
Why do some individuals make scalable impact with their ideas, regardless of their power or status? The Power of Onlyness unravels this mystery for the first time so that anyone can make a dent. Even you.
(A Book for Just About Anyone)
by Devorah Baum
Yale University Press
In this sparkling debut, a young critic offers an original, passionate, and erudite account of what it means to feel Jewish—even when you’re not.
Self-hatred. Guilt. Resentment. Paranoia. Hysteria. Overbearing Mother-Love. In this witty, insightful, and poignant book, Devorah Baum delves into fiction, film, memoir, and psychoanalysis to present a dazzlingly original exploration of a series of feelings famously associated with modern Jews. Reflecting on why Jews have so often been depicted, both by others and by themselves, as prone to “negative” feelings, she queries how negative these feelings really are. And as the pace of globalization leaves countless people feeling more marginalized, uprooted, and existentially threatened, she argues that such “Jewish” feelings are becoming increasingly common to us all.
Ranging from Franz Kafka to Philip Roth, Sarah Bernhardt to Woody Allen, Anne Frank to Nathan Englander, Feeling Jewish bridges the usual fault lines between left and right, insider and outsider, Jew and Gentile, and even Semite and anti-Semite, to offer an indispensable guide for our divisive times.
Was the Cat in the Hat Black?:
The Hidden Racism of Children's
Literature, and the Need
for Diverse Books
by Philip Nel
Oxford University Press
Racism is resilient, duplicitous, and endlessly adaptable, so it is no surprise that America is again in a period of civil rights activism. A significant reason racism endures is because it is structural: it's embedded in culture and in institutions. One of the places that racism hides-and thus perhaps the best place to oppose it-is books for young people.
Was the Cat in the Hat Black? presents five serious critiques of the history and current state of children's literature tempestuous relationship with both implicit and explicit forms of racism. The book fearlessly examines topics both vivid-such as The Cat in the Hat's roots in blackface minstrelsy-and more opaque, like how the children's book industry can perpetuate structural racism via whitewashed covers even while making efforts to increase diversity. Rooted in research yet written with a lively, crackling touch, Nel delves into years of literary criticism and recent sociological data in order to show a better way forward. Though much of what is proposed here could be endlessly argued, the knowledge that what we learn in childhood imparts both subtle and explicit lessons about whose lives matter is not debatable. The text concludes with a short and stark proposal of actions everyone-reader, author, publisher, scholar, citizen- can take to fight the biases and prejudices that infect children's literature. While Was the Cat in the Hat Black? does not assume it has all the answers to such a deeply systemic problem, its audacity should stimulate discussion and activism.
Losing an Enemy:
Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy
by Trita Parsi
Georgetown Walsh School and Johns Hopkins SAIS
Yale University Press
From the author of the 2008 book, Treacherous Dealings: Israel, Iran, and the USA, comes what some people say is the definitive book on Obama’s historic nuclear deal with Iran from the author of the Foreign Affairs Best Book on the Middle East in 2012
This timely book focuses on President Obama’s deeply considered strategy toward Iran’s nuclear program and reveals how the historic agreement of 2015 broke the persistent stalemate in negotiations that had blocked earlier efforts.
The deal accomplished two major feats in one stroke: it averted the threat of war with Iran and prevented the possibility of an Iranian nuclear bomb. Trita Parsi, a Middle East foreign policy expert who advised the Obama White House throughout the talks and had access to decision-makers and diplomats on the U.S. and Iranian sides alike, examines every facet of a triumph that could become as important and consequential as Nixon’s rapprochement with China. Drawing from more than seventy-five in-depth interviews with key decision-makers, including Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, this is the first authoritative account of President Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement.
The Modern Jewish Table:
100 Kosher Recipes from
around the Globe
by Tracey Fine and Georgie Tarn
August 15, 2017
The Modern Jewish Table is the new, essential kosher cookbook for every Jewish home, whether you are a reluctant cook or a dedicated balabusta. Bringing their fun, upbeat, and infectious brand of energy to the kitchen, self-proclaimed Jewish Princesses Tracey Fine and Georgie Tarn don their high heels and aprons to revamp the kosher kitchen and raise the culinary bar. It’s no longer just chopped liver, chicken soup, and matzo bread; instead, learn to make Mock Chopped Liver, Sephardi Saffron Chicken Soup, and Princess Pitta Bread!
Writing from the point of view of the average home cook, the Jewish Princesses dish out their witty know-how and inspire amateur cooks to create simple and hip recipes, with all the short cuts included, even as they entice “professional” home cooks to revitalize traditional Jewish fare with uniquely global flavors. Drawing inspirations from Turkish, Iranian, Japanese, Chinese, French, German, American, and Mexican cooking, to name a few, The Modern Jewish Table boasts globe-trotting recipes that include:
• Street Food Gefilte Fish Bites
• Crème Fraiche Vegetable Latkes
• Cohen-Tucky Baked Chicken
• Princess Pad Thai
• Kunafa Middle Eastern Cheese Cake
• Cuban Sweet Corn Soufflé, and more!
Complete with stunning photography, outrageous tips, and a dash of chutzpah, The Modern Jewish Table introduces innovative dishes that will soon become Jewish traditions for the future.
I'll Have What She's Having:
How Nora Ephron's Three Iconic
Films Saved the Romantic Comedy
by Erin Carlson
A backstage look at the making of Nora Ephron's revered trilogy--When Harry Met Sally, You've Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle--which brought romantic comedies back to the fore, and an intimate portrait of the beloved writer/director who inspired a generation of Hollywood women, from Mindy Kaling to Lena Dunham.
In I'll Have What She's Having entertainment journalist Erin Carlson tells the story of the real Nora Ephron and how she reinvented the romcom through her trio of instant classics. With a cast of famous faces including Reiner, Hanks, Ryan, and Crystal, Carlson takes readers on a rollicking, revelatory trip to Ephron's New York City, where reality took a backseat to romance and Ephron--who always knew what she wanted and how she wanted it--ruled the set with an attention to detail that made her actors feel safe but sometimes exasperated crew members.
Along the way, Carlson examines how Ephron explored in the cinema answers to the questions that plagued her own romantic life and how she regained faith in love after one broken engagement and two failed marriages. Carlson also explores countless other questions Ephron's fans have wondered about: What sparked Reiner to snap out of his bachelor blues during the making of When Harry Met Sally? Why was Ryan, a gifted comedian trapped in the body of a fairytale princess, not the first choice for the role? After she and Hanks each separatel balked at playing Mail's Kathleen Kelly and Sleepless' Sam Baldwin, what changed their minds? And perhaps most importantly: What was Dave Chappelle doing ... in a turtleneck? An intimate portrait of a one of America's most iconic filmmakers and a look behind the scenes of her crowning achievements, I'll Have What She's Having is a vivid account of the days and nights when Ephron, along with assorted cynical collaborators, learned to show her heart on the screen.
The Making of an American
by David Thomson
Jewish Live Series
Yale University Press
Behind the scenes at the legendary Warner Brothers film studio, where four immigrant brothers transformed themselves into the moguls and masters of American fantasy
Warner Bros charts the rise of an unpromising film studio from its shaky beginnings in the early twentieth century through its ascent to the pinnacle of Hollywood influence and popularity. The Warner Brothers—Harry, Albert, Sam, and Jack—arrived in America as unschooled Jewish immigrants, yet they founded a studio that became the smartest, toughest, and most radical in all of Hollywood.
David Thomson provides fascinating and original interpretations of Warner Brothers pictures from the pioneering talkie The Jazz Singer through black-and-white musicals, gangster movies, and such dramatic romances as Casablanca, East of Eden, and Bonnie and Clyde. He recounts the storied exploits of the studio’s larger-than-life stars, among them Al Jolson, James Cagney, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, James Dean, Doris Day, and Bugs Bunny. The Warner brothers’ cultural impact was so profound, Thomson writes, that their studio became “one of the enterprises that helped us see there might be an American dream out there.”
What Is It All but Luminous:
Notes from an Underground Man
by Art Garfunkel
From the golden-haired, curly-headed half of Simon & Garfunkel--a memoir (of sorts): artful, moving, lyrical; the making of a musician; the evolution of a man, a portrait of a life-long friendship and collaboration that became one of the most successful singing duos of their time.
Art Garfunkel writes about his life before, during, and after Simon & Garfunkel . . . about their folk-rock music in the roiling age that embraced and was defined by their pathbreaking sound. He writes about growing up in the 1940s and '50s (son of a traveling salesman), a middle class Jewish boy, living in a red brick semi-attached house in Kew Gardens, Queens, a kid who was different--from the age of five feeling his vocal cords "vibrating with the love of sound" . . . meeting Paul Simon in school, the funny guy who made Art laugh; their going on to junior high school together, of being twelve at the birth of rock'n'roll, both of them "captured" by it; going to a recording studio in Manhattan to make a demo of their song, "Hey Schoolgirl" (for $7!) and the actual record (with Paul's father on bass) going to #40 on the national charts, selling 150,000 copies . . .
He writes about their becoming Simon & Garfunkel, taking the world by storm, ruling the pop charts from the time he was sixteen, about not being a natural performer, but more a thinker . . . touring; sex-for-thrills on the road, reading or walking to calm down (walking across two continents--the USA and Europe). He writes of being an actor working with directors Nicolas Roeg (Bad Timing) and Mike Nichols ("the greatest of them all") . . . getting his masters in mathematics at Columbia; choosing music over a PhD; his slow unfolding split with Paul and its aftermath; learning to perform on his own, giving a thousand concerts worldwide, his voice going south (a stiffening of one vocal cord) and working to get it back . . . about being a husband, a father and much more.
Modern Jewish Baker:
Bagels & More
by Shannon Sarna
Step-by-step instructions for the seven core doughs of Jewish baking.
Jewish baked goods have brought families together around the table for centuries. In Modern Jewish Baker, Sarna pays homage to those traditions while reinvigorating them with modern flavors and new ideas. One kosher dough at a time, she offers the basics for challah, babka, bagels, hamantaschen, rugelach, pita, and matzah. Never one to shy away from innovation, Sarna sends her readers off on a bake-your-own adventure with twists on these classics. Recipes include:
Chocolate Chip Hamantaschen
(hey.. her dog is named babka
Detailed instructions, as well as notes on make-ahead strategies, ideas for using leftovers, and other practical tips will have even novice bakers braiding beautiful shiny loaves that will make any bubbe proud.
The Rise and Fall of
Adam and Eve
by Stephen Greenblatt, PhD
Stephen Greenblatt-Pulitzer Prize– and National Book Award–winning author of The Swerve and Will in the World-investigates the life of one of humankind’s greatest stories.
Bolder, even, than the ambitious books for which Stephen Greenblatt is already renowned, The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve explores the enduring story of humanity’s first parents. Comprising only a few ancient verses, the story of Adam and Eve has served as a mirror in which we seem to glimpse the whole, long history of our fears and desires, as both a hymn to human responsibility and a dark fable about human wretchedness.
Tracking the tale into the deep past, Greenblatt uncovers the tremendous theological, artistic, and cultural investment over centuries that made these fictional figures so profoundly resonant in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim worlds and, finally, so very “real” to millions of people even in the present. With the uncanny brilliance he previously brought to his depictions of William Shakespeare and Poggio Bracciolini (the humanist monk who is the protagonist of The Swerve), Greenblatt explores the intensely personal engagement of Augustine, Dürer, and Milton in this mammoth project of collective creation, while he also limns the diversity of the story’s offspring: rich allegory, vicious misogyny, deep moral insight, and some of the greatest triumphs of art and literature.
The biblical origin story, Greenblatt argues, is a model for what the humanities still have to offer: not the scientific nature of things, but rather a deep encounter with problems that have gripped our species for as long as we can recall and that continue to fascinate and trouble us today.
by Nicole Krauss
"A brilliant novel. I am full of admiration." —Philip Roth
"One of America’s most important novelists" (New York Times), the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The History of Love, conjures an achingly beautiful and breathtakingly original novel about personal transformation that interweaves the stories of two disparate individuals—an older lawyer and a young novelist—whose transcendental search leads them to the same Israeli desert.
Jules Epstein, a man whose drive, avidity, and outsized personality have, for sixty-eight years, been a force to be reckoned with, is undergoing a metamorphosis. In the wake of his parents’ deaths, his divorce from his wife of more than thirty years, and his retirement from the New York legal firm where he was a partner, he’s felt an irresistible need to give away his possessions, alarming his children and perplexing the executor of his estate. With the last of his wealth, he travels to Israel, with a nebulous plan to do something to honor his parents. In Tel Aviv, he is sidetracked by a charismatic American rabbi planning a reunion for the descendants of King David who insists that Epstein is part of that storied dynastic line. He also meets the rabbi’s beautiful daughter who convinces Epstein to become involved in her own project—a film about the life of David being shot in the desert—with life-changing consequences.
But Epstein isn’t the only seeker embarking on a metaphysical journey that dissolves his sense of self, place, and history. Leaving her family in Brooklyn, a young, well-known novelist arrives at the Tel Aviv Hilton where she has stayed every year since birth. Troubled by writer’s block and a failing marriage, she hopes that the hotel can unlock a dimension of reality—and her own perception of life—that has been closed off to her. But when she meets a retired literature professor who proposes a project she can’t turn down, she’s drawn into a mystery that alters her life in ways she could never have imagined.
Bursting with life and humor, Forest Dark is a profound, mesmerizing novel of metamorphosis and self-realization—of looking beyond all that is visible towards the infinite.
TO LOOK A NAZI IN THE EYE
A Teen's Account of a War Criminal Trial
by Kathy Kacer and Jordana Lebowitz
September 12, 2017
Second Story Press
The true story of nineteen-year-old Jordana Lebowitz's time at the trial of Oskar Groening, known as the bookkeeper of Auschwitz, a man charged with being complicit in the death of more than 300,000 Jews. A granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Jordana was still not prepared for what she would see and hear.
Listening to Groening's testimony and to the Holocaust survivors who came to testify against him, Jordana came to understand that by witnessing history she gained the knowledge and legitimacy to be able to stand in the footsteps of the survivors who went before her and pass their history—her history—on to the next generation.
Kathy Kacer – a psychologist - has won many awards for her books about the holocaust for young readers, including Hiding Edith, The Secret of Gabi’s Dresser, Clara’s War and The Underground Reporters.
My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts
by Torill Kove
It is Norwegian, not Jewish, but I like to think of it as a Jewish tale.
You can find the animated film on Youtube from NFB (National Film Board of Canada)
This tall tale of Kove's Norwegian grandmother was nominated for an Academy Award when first produced as an animated short film. Torill Kove's grandmother often told stories to Torill when she was a young girl. One in particular revolved around ironing shirts for the King of Norway.
When Norway gained independence, they needed a king. They placed an ad for royals and interviewed candidates. They hired a royal from Denmark who had a British royal wife. They became the king and queen but did not know how to iron. SO they sent their clothes (Shirts) out. In My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts, Kove follows a thread of family history, embroidering it with playful twists along the way, imaginatively rendering her grandmother's life and work in Oslo during World War II.
In Kove's retelling, her grandmother leads a Norwegian resistance to the invading German Army who had forced the King to flee for his safety.
When the task of ironing the King's shirts was replaced by those of the German Army officers, Kove's grandmother and her shirt pressing sisters sabotage the enemy uniforms until morale among the Germans is so low that they lose the war and head home without a thing to wear!
Full of sharp humor and myth making, My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts is a great example of how small contributions to the greater good count for a whole lot.
My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts was nominated for an Oscar in 2000 and won 17 awards in all. It has also been produced as a book in Norway.
Holocaust Memory in the Digital Age:
Survivors’ Stories and New
by Jeffrey Shandler
Stanford University Press
Smart Family Fellow at the Allen and Joan
Bildner Center for Study of Jewish Life
Holocaust Memory in the Digital Age explores the nexus of new media and memory practices, raising questions about how advances in digital technologies continue to influence the nature of Holocaust memorialization. Through an in-depth study of the largest and most widely available collection of videotaped interviews with survivors and other witnesses to the Holocaust, the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation's Visual History Archive, Jeffrey Shandler weighs the possibilities and challenges brought about by digital forms of public memory. The Visual History Archive's holdings are extensive-over 100,000 hours of video, including interviews with over 50,000 individuals-and came about at a time of heightened anxiety about the imminent passing of the generation of Holocaust survivors and other eyewitnesses. Now, the Shoah Foundation's investment in new digital media is instrumental to its commitment to remembering the Holocaust both as a subject of historical importance in its own right and as a paradigmatic moral exhortation against intolerance. Shandler not only considers the Archive as a whole, but also looks closely at individual survivors' stories, focusing on narrative, language, and spectacle to understand how Holocaust remembrance is mediated.
The Ken Commandments:
My Search for God
by Ken Baker
September 12, 2017
Do the Kardashians believe in God?
An E! News star mixes memoir and investigative journalism in his own rollicking, poignant, and masterful version of A.J. Jacobs’ A Year of Living Biblically, chronicling his own spiritual journey as he investigates the religious lives of the rich and famous in Hollywood.
Ken Baker, the popular L.A.-based senior correspondent for E! News and E! Online, has worked in Hollywood for over twenty years—hobnobbing with multimillionaires and interviewing movie, music and TV stars such as George Clooney, Britney Spears, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Kim Kardashian, day in and day out. In that time, and in the land of fairy tales and double-dealing, Baker had become one of the materialistic, carnal people he never wanted to be, abandoning his Christian heritage and losing his spiritual center in the process. Finding himself alone and confused one day in Vegas, he has an awakening that puts him on a journey to find God, not only in himself, but in the celebrities whose lives intersect with his both professionally and personally.
In The Ken Commandments, Ken sets off on an experiment that will bring him closer to the spiritual lives of such diverse luminaries as Deepak Chopra, Tom Cruise, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Joel Osteen and Gwen Stefani and in the process help to reveal the light and dark of Hollywood in new ways. From New Age spirituality, to Bible-based Christianity, to Scientology, to Buddhist retreats, to meditation classes, to Atheism studies, to the mega-church of the nation's top TV preacher, to “Jewish POWER TEMPLES,” Baker immerses himself in a range of spiritual practices side by side with the celebrity set, revealing a world that is deeper, more questioning and more God-centered than you'd ever imagine.
by Richard Elliott Friedman
The Exodus has become a core tradition of Western civilization. Millions read it, retell it, and celebrate it. But did it happen?
Biblical scholars, Egyptologists, archaeologists, historians, literary scholars, anthropologists, and filmmakers are drawn to it. Unable to find physical evidence until now, many archaeologists and scholars claim this mass migration is just a story, not history. Others oppose this conclusion, defending the biblical account.
Like a detective on an intricate case no one has yet solved, pioneering Bible scholar and bestselling author of Who Wrote the Bible? Richard Elliott Friedman cuts through the noise — the serious studies and the wild theories — merging new findings with new insight. From a spectrum of disciplines, state-of-the-art archeological breakthroughs, and fresh discoveries within scripture, he brings real evidence of a historical basis for the exodus — the history behind the story. The biblical account of millions fleeing Egypt may be an exaggeration, but the exodus itself is not a myth.
Friedman does not stop there. Known for his ability to make Bible scholarship accessible to readers, Friedman proceeds to reveal how much is at stake when we explore the historicity of the exodus. The implications, he writes, are monumental. We learn that it became the starting-point of the formation of monotheism, the defining concept of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Moreover, we learn that it precipitated the foundational ethic of loving one’s neighbors — including strangers — as oneself. He concludes, the actual exodus was the cradle of global values of compassion and equal rights today.
Golda Meir and the
Nation of Israel
by Francine Klagsbrun
Klagsbrun has been working on this for three decades. A biography of Meir is hard, she left no diaries, and did not write letters much. She swore those closest to her to keep her secrets and closest opinions. Klagsbrun has interviewed them all, and most have now passed away. This is THE definitive biography of Golda Meir. Meir was the the iron-willed leader, chain-smoking political operative in Israel, and tea-and-cake-serving grandmother who became the fourth prime minister of Israel and one of the most notable women of our time. As Ben Gurion quipped, she had the most balls of anyone on his cabinet
Golda Meir was a world figure unlike any other. Born in czarist Russia in 1898, she immigrated to America in 1906 and grew up in Milwaukee, where from her earliest years she displayed the political consciousness and organizational skills that would eventually catapult her into the inner circles of Israel's founding generation. She left home as a teen to escape her overbearing parents and moved in with her married sister. There she fell in love with the man she would marry. Together they moved to British Mandate Palestine in 1921. The passionate socialist joined a kibbutz but soon left for Tel Aviv with her husband and two children, and was hired at a public works office by the man who would become the great love of her life: David Remez who was Secretary of the Histadrut trade unions organization and Israel’s first minister of transportation. (Meir was also romantically involved with Zalman Shazar, who would become Israel’s third president; and linked to other powerful lovers in the United States and Israel.)
A series of public service jobs brought her to the attention of David Ben-Gurion, and her political career took off. Fund-raising in America in 1948, secretly meeting in Amman with King Abdullah right before Israel's declaration of independence, mobbed by thousands of Jews in a Moscow synagogue in 1948 as Israel's first representative to the USSR, serving as minister of labor and foreign minister in the 1950s and 1960s, Golda brought fiery oratory, plainspoken appeals, and shrewd deal-making to the cause to which she had dedicated her life—the welfare and security of the State of Israel and its inhabitants.
As prime minister Golda negotiated arms agreements with Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, agonized over the mixed signals being sent by newly installed Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, and had dozens of clandestine meetings with Jordan's King Hussein in the unsuccessful pursuit of a land-for-peace agreement with Israel's neighbors. But her time in office ended in tragedy, when Israel was caught off guard by Egypt and Syria's surprise attack on Yom Kippur in 1973. Resigning in the war's aftermath (critics were calling her an old lady, and a murderer), Golda spent her final years keeping a hand in national affairs and bemusedly enjoying international acclaim. Francine Klagsbrun's superbly researched and masterly recounted story of Israel's founding mother gives us a Golda for the ages.
Note: For those of you expecting some unique intimate details from Lou Kadar, Meir's confidante and secretary for over 30 years, you will have to look elsewhere.
In 2018, we will have to check out Pnina Lahav's Gender Based biography of Meir)
A New History of
by Daniel Siemens
Yale University Press
The first full history of the Nazi Stormtroopers whose muscle brought Hitler to power, with revelations concerning their longevity and their contributions to the Holocaust
Germany’s Stormtroopers engaged in a vicious siege of violence that propelled the National Socialists to power in the 1930s. Known also as the SA or Brownshirts, these “ordinary” men waged a loosely structured campaign of intimidation and savagery across the nation from the 1920s to the “Night of the Long Knives” in 1934, when Chief of Staff Ernst Röhm and many other SA leaders were assassinated on Hitler’s orders.
In this deeply researched history, Daniel Siemens explores not only the roots of the SA and its swift decapitation but also its previously unrecognized transformation into a million-member Nazi organization, its activities in German-occupied territories during World War II, and its particular contributions to the Holocaust. The author provides portraits of individual members and their victims and examines their milieu, culture, and ideology. His book tells the long-overdue story of the SA and its devastating impact on German citizens and the fate of their country.
REPAIRING THE WORLD
By Hasia Diner, PhD
Jewish Live Series
Yale University Press
Everyone remembers Sears & Roebuck, and even James Cash (JC) Penney
Rarely does anyone mention Julius Rosenwald
The portrait of a humble retail magnate whose visionary ideas about charitable giving transformed the practice of philanthropy in America and beyond
Julius Rosenwald (1862–1932) rose from modest means as the son of a peddler to meteoric wealth at the helm of Sears, Roebuck. Yet his most important legacy stands not upon his business acumen but on the pioneering changes he introduced to the practice of philanthropy. While few now recall Rosenwald’s name—he refused to have it attached to the buildings, projects, or endowments he supported—his passionate support of Jewish and African American causes continues to influence lives to this day.
This biography of Julius Rosenwald explores his attitudes toward his own wealth and his distinct ideas about philanthropy, positing an intimate connection between his Jewish consciousness and his involvement with African Americans. The book shines light on his belief in the importance of giving in the present to make an impact on the future, and on his encouragement of beneficiaries to become partners in community institutions and projects. Rosenwald emerges from the pages as a compassionate man whose generosity and wisdom transformed the practice of philanthropy itself.
A DEADLY LEGACY
German Jews and the Great War (WWI)
By Tim Grady
(University of Chester, reader)
Yale University Press
I don't get the point... but you might like it
A groundbreaking reassessment of the crucial but unrecognized roles Germany’s Jews played at home and at the front during World War I
This book is the first to offer a full account of the varied contributions of German Jews to Imperial Germany’s endeavors during the Great War. Historian Tim Grady examines the efforts of the 100,000 Jewish soldiers who served in the German military (12,000 of whom died), as well as the various activities Jewish communities supported at home, such as raising funds for the war effort and securing vital food supplies. However, Grady’s research goes much deeper: he shows that German Jews were never at the periphery of Germany’s warfare, but were in fact heavily involved.
The author finds that many German Jews were committed to the same brutal and destructive war that other Germans endorsed, and he discusses how the conflict was in many ways lived by both groups alike. What none could have foreseen was the dangerous legacy they created together, a legacy that enabled Hitler’s rise to power and planted the seeds of the Holocaust to come.
FROM HERE TO ETERNITY
TRAVELING THE WORLD IN SEARCH OF A GOOD DEATH
By Caitlin Doughty
The best-selling author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with “dignity.”
Fascinated by our pervasive terror of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for their dead. In rural Indonesia, she observes a man clean and dress his grandfather’s mummified body. Grandpa’s mummy has lived in the family home for two years, where the family has maintained a warm and respectful relationship. She meets Bolivian natitas (cigarette- smoking, wish- granting human skulls), and introduces us to a Japanese kotsuage, in which relatives use chopsticks to pluck their loved- ones’ bones from cremation ashes. With curiosity and morbid humor, Doughty encounters vividly decomposed bodies and participates in compelling, powerful death practices almost entirely unknown in America. Featuring Gorey-esque illustrations by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity introduces death-care innovators researching green burial and body composting, explores new spaces for mourning- including a glowing- Buddha columbarium in Japan and America’s only open-air pyre- and reveals unexpected new possibilities for our own death rituals. 45 illustrations
What You Did Not Tell:
A Russian Past and the Journey Home
by Mark Mazower
Uncovering their remarkable and moving stories, Mark Mazower recounts the sacrifices and silences that marked a generation and their descendants. It was a family which fate drove into the siege of Stalingrad, the Vilna ghetto, occupied Paris, and even into the ranks of the Wehrmacht. His British father was the lucky one, the son of Russian-Jewish emigrants who settled in London after escaping the Bolsheviks, civil war, and revolution. Max, the grandfather, had started out as a socialist and manned the barricades against Tsarist troops, never speaking a word about it afterwards. His wife Frouma came from a family ravaged by the Terror yet making their way in Soviet society despite it all.
In the centenary of the Russian Revolution, What You Did Not Tell revitalizes the history of a socialism erased from memory--humanistic, impassioned, and broad-ranging in its sympathies. But it is also an exploration of the unexpected happiness that may await history's losers, of the power of friendship and the love of place that made his father at home in an England that no longer exists.
A Contemplative Community at Work in the Desert
by Ariel Glucklich
(Georgetown, Prof of Theology)
Yale University Press
A scholar’s experiences inside a contemplative working community in Israel’s Negev desert
In this thoughtful and enlightening work, world renowned religion scholar Ariel Glucklich recounts his experiences at Neot Smadar, an ecological and spiritual oasis that has been thriving in the arid Southern Israeli desert for a quarter century. An intentional community originally established by a group of young professionals who abandoned urban life to found a school for the study of the self, Neot Smadar has thrived by putting ancient Buddhist and Hindu ideas into everyday practice as ways of living and working. Glucklich provides a fascinating detailed portrait of a dynamic farming community that runs on principles of spiritual contemplation and mindfulness, thereby creating a working environment that is highly ethical and nurturing. His study serves as a gentle invitation to join the world of mindful work, and to gain a new understanding of a unique form of mystical insight that exists without exoticism.
By Adonis, the Syrian poet
Yale University Press
A cri de cœur or fully imagined poem on the myth and history of Jerusalem/Al-Quds from the author revered as the greatest living Arabic poet
At the age of 86, Adonis, a Syrian poet, critic, essayist, and devoted secularist, has come out of retirement to pen an extended, innovative poem on Jerusalem/Al-Quds. It is a hymn to a troubled city embattled by the conflicting demands of Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
Adonis’s city, as a coveted land, ought to suggest the universal love of humanity; as a land of tragedy, a place of contending history and beliefs, and a locus of bitterness, conflict, hatred, rivalry, and blood. Wrapping multiple voices, historical references, and political viewpoints within his ecstatic lyricism, Adonis has created a provocative work of unique beauty and profound wisdom, beautifully rendered in English by award-winning poet Khaled Mattawa.
Regulating Sex in the Roman Empire:
Ideology, the Bible, and
the Early Christians (Synkrisis)
by David Wheeler-Reed
Yale University Press
A New Testament scholar challenges the belief that American family values are based on “Judeo-Christian” norms by drawing unexpected comparisons between ancient Christian theories and modern discourses
Challenging the long-held assumption that American values—be they Christian or secular—are based on “Judeo-Christian” norms, this provocative study compares ancient Christian discourses on marriage and sexuality with contemporary ones, maintaining that modern family values owe more to Roman Imperial beliefs than to the bible.
Engaging with Foucault’s ideas, Wheeler-Reed examines how conservative organizations and the Supreme Court have misunderstood Christian beliefs on marriage and the family. Taking on modern cultural debates on marriage and sexuality, with implications for historians, political thinkers, and jurists, this book undermines the conservative ideology of the family, starting from the position that early Christianity, in its emphasis on celibacy and denunciation of marriage, was in opposition to procreation, the ideological norm in the Greco-Roman world.
This Narrow Space:
A Pediatric Oncologist, His
Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Patients,
and a Hospital in Jerusalem
by Elisha Waldman, MD
(Columbia Univ Medical Center)
I hope Hadassah has a book launch party / fundraiser (albeit the book deals with their financings)
A memoir both bittersweet and inspiring by an American pediatric oncologist who spent seven years in Jerusalem taking care of Israeli and Palestinian children with one tragic thing in common—a diagnosis of pediatric cancer
In 2007, Elisha Waldman, a New York–based pediatric oncologist and palliative-care specialist in his mid-thirties, was offered his dream job: attending physician at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center.
He had gone to medical school in Israel and spent time there as a teenager; now he was going to give something back to the land he loved. But in the wake of a financial crisis at the hospital that left him feeling unsure about his future, Waldman, with considerable regret, left Hadassah in 2014 and returned to America.
This Narrow Space is his deeply affecting and poignant memoir of the seven years he spent taking care of children—Israeli Jews, Muslims, and Christians; Palestinian Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza—with one devastating thing in common: they had all been diagnosed with some form of pediatric cancer. Waldman’s years at Hadassah were filled in equal measure with a deep sense of accomplishment, with FRUSTRATION when regional politics sometimes got in the way of his patients’ care, and with tension over the fine line he would have to walk when the religious traditions of some of his patients’ families made it difficult for him to give these children the care he felt they deserved.
Navigating the baffling Israeli bureaucracy, the ever-present threat of war, and the cultural clashes that sometimes spilled over into his clinic, Waldman learned to be content with small victories: a young patient whose disease went into remission, brokenhearted parents whose final hours with their child were made meaningful and comforting.
As he sought to create both a personal and a professional life in his new home, Waldman struggled with his own questions of identity and belief, and with the intractable conflict between Israelis and Palestinians that had become a fact of his daily life. What he learned about himself, about the complex country that he was now a part of, and about the heartbreakingly brave and endearing children he cared for—whether they were from Me’ah She’arim, Ramallah, or Gaza City—will move and challenge readers everywhere.
The Stakes of History
On The Use and
Abuse of Jewish History for Life
by David N. Myers, PhD
Yale University Press
A leading scholar of Jewish history’s bracing and challenging case for the role of the historian today
Why do we study history? What is the role of the historian in the contemporary world? These questions prompted David N. Myers’s illuminating and poignant call for the relevance of historical research and writing. His inquiry identifies a number of key themes around which modern Jewish historians have wrapped their labors: liberation, consolation, and witnessing. Through these portraits, Myers revisits the chasm between history and memory, revealing the middle space occupied by modern Jewish historians as they work between the poles of empathic storytelling and the critical sifting of sources.
History, properly applied, can both destroy ideologically rooted myths that breed group hatred and create new memories that are sustaining of life. Alive in these investigations is Myers’s belief that the historian today can and should attend to questions of political and moral urgency. Historical knowledge is not a luxury to society but an essential requirement for informed civic engagement, as well as a vital tool in policy making, conflict resolution, and restorative justice.
SADNESS IS A WHITE BIRD
A Novel by Moriel Rothman-Zecher
Spring 2018 is the expected date on an English translation of this debut novel by Moriel Rothman-Zecher, a MacDowell fellow. The novel concerns “a young Israeli man trying to reconcile his connection to two Palestinian siblings with his deeply ingrained loyalties to family and country as his military draft date approaches.” In 2015, the author published an op-ed in the New York Times about Israelis who refuse to serve in the nation’s military.
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