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Grab yourself a hamantaschen and read a good book.


MARCH 2001

By Allegra Goodman

Dial. March 2001. From the author of Kaaterskill Falls.
Grab a copy of Shir ha Shirim (song of songs), skim them, and then start this novel. In 1974, Sharon Spiegleman, 22, a folkdancer and college dropout, follows her boyfriend to Wakiki, Hawaii (where Allegra Goodman lived, and where the rabbi's license plate reads "ShAloha") from Boston via Berkeley and Portland, only to find him shacking up with someone else. Sharon then naively explores various forms of enlightenment, from New Age groups, to an Israeli yeshiva, to Crown Heights style Hasidism (too restrictive), to Buddhism (too ascetic), to raising pot, to Pentacostalism, to returning to college (boring and dry), to taking more lovers, to Buddhism. Will she find true love and spirituality? Will she find community and forgiveness?
Click here to order this book from, read more reviews, or to add your own review.

[book] MARTYRS CROSSING by Amy Wilentz
Simon and Shuster. March 2001. Amy is the former Jerusalem correspondent for The New Yorker, and a specialist on Haiti. In this novel, the border checkpoints between Israel and the PA have been closed after two bus bombings in Israel. A young Palestinian woman, who wants to get her 2 year old asthmatic son to a hospital in Israel, begs a checkpoint soldier for permission to enter Israel. This is not just any mother. It is the wife of a jailed Hamas terrorist, Hassan Hajimi. Lt Ari Doron calls his superiors many times, trying to gain admittance for Marina and her son Ibrahim. But as he does, Marina's child dies. The answer was no. Lt Doron, who strives for truth, is plagued with guilt and seeks absolution in Ramallah. Colonel Daniel Yizhar is assigned to his case for crisis management. The Palestinian politicians, like Ahmed Amr, clothed in corruption, use this case as a cause du jour at the expense of The Cause. The street calls for "the solider." Into this mess arrives Doctor George Raad from the USA. The child's grandfather and a successful cardiologist (cast Edward Said in the role). Is he right or an anachronism? Is there room for his dissent in the PA? . Click to read more extensive descriptions of the plot.

[book] THE CARLEBACH HAGGADAH. Seder Night With Reb Shlomo Carlebach by Chaim Stefansky (Editor)
February 2001. 182 pages. New for 2001, The Carlebach Haggadah, a Haggadah for the neshama. It is a traditional haggadah for his "sweet, heilige, holy, beautiful friends," in RIGHT to LEFT format, with Hebrew texts on the right pages and facing English translations on the left pages. There are no transliterations. At the bottom of each page is the reason to buy this book. They are the teachings and stories of the late singer, teacher, and composer Reb Shlomo Carlebach. The editors of this Haggadah have compiled some of the Rabbi's teachings from his concerts, shiurim, kumsitz sessions, and holiday celebrations. What I liked best about this Haggadah was its feeling of joy (you get that feeling from the start just from the Hebrew font that editors use for the text), and from the stories which essentially reinforce the idea of freedom, striving, and the joy of freedom from various slaveries. The Carlebach Haggadah opens with a search for the Chametz. Prior to beginning the seder text, there are illustrations of three seder plate arrangements (according to the Vilna Gaon, the Ari, and the Rama). His stories relate to the Haggadah text in most cases. For the Maggid (This is the bread of affliction), the associated stories are about those who are hungry for physical, or spiritual, food, and Avraham's biblical hospitality. For Ma Nishtana, there is a story from a Warsaw Ghetto seder. The story for Avadim Hayeenu (We were slaves) compares how the Hebrews were freed with other redemptions. For the Four CHILDREN, Carlebach defines the children as good, best, clever, and not so clever, and shows how the RaSHa contains the letter SHin and what that may actually connote, and how the clever may be too intellectual and not spiritual enough. For Motzi Matzah there is a story about Carlebach's father and a matza baker during WWI. For the main meal, there is an appropriate story about meals that may contain chametz but still be kosher. The Haggadah closes with a four page glossary of terms, a teaching from Reb Nachman of Bratslav, Hallel, Birkat Hamazon, the Counting of the Omer, Echad Mi Yodea, Adir Hu, and Uv'cheyn Viyhee Ba'chatzee Ha'Leila, with storied commentaries on their paragraphs and meanings.

[book] THE FOOD OF ISRAEL TODAY By Joan Nathan
Random House. March 2001. With 300 recipes, two pages of suggested Israeli restaurants, two web sources for ingredients, and nine suggested menus, Nathan shows the diverse cuisines of Israel's sabras and immigrants. THIS IS ISRAELI CUISINE, not Sephardic or Ashkenazi cuisine, that is being eaten in Israel. Includes turkey schnitzel, quick kibbutz apple cake, eggplant salad, and halvah chocolate cake. Includes Transylvania Green Bean Soup, a dessert salami (made of cookies) and the Chocolate Cake recipe from the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem. It includes over a dozen poultry recipes, including Doro Wat, a spicy chicken of Ethiopian Jews and Hamim, an overnight chicken dish with cloves, spaghetti, cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom. Ms Nathan felt compelled to write this 400 page book on the night Itzhak Rabin was assassinated (Nov 4, 1995). Three decades ago, she lived in Israel for three years and worked in Jerusalem for Mayor Teddy Kollek for over two years (where Nathan co-wrote her first cookbook). The book is in the style of her earlier American Jewish Cooking book, namely, each recipe is preceded by an oral history, and there are histories, classic photos, and stories between the recipes. For example, to complement the recipe for Shakshuka, the reader learns about the Doktor Shakshuka restaurant in old Jaffa and its owners. For the burekas recipe, we read about eating burekas at Jerusalem's city hall in the Seventies. While discussing the Friedman's farm in Rosh Pina, we get lots of farm recipes. A recipe for Kaiserschmarrn is coupled with an old picture of Beit Ha'Pancake's roadside gas station and a story about the search for the dish's Viennese roots. In addition to salad, tahina, and hummus recipes, Nathan lists 19 of the best places for hummus from Jerusalem to Akko to Haifa. Plus 12 happening places for falafel. There are 23 salads, including Hamutzim (pickled vegetables). Some of my favorite recipes are Mish Mish Apricot Jam (with cinnamon stick); Egyptian Coconut Jam; Triple Citrus Marmalade (coupled with a story on Etrog picking); Israeli Onion Jam (from Neot Kedumim), a guide to how to make your own Za'atar spice; Carmelized green Olives; Shortcut Potato Burekas; Marhooda; Bulgur Patties from the Black Hebrew community in Dimona; and a Revisionist Haroset (from Hemda Friedman). The Palestinian Fruit Soup uses cinnamon stick. There is a Bukharan style Tomato Gazpacho and Bulgarian Eggplant Soup with Yogurt. Speaking of Za'atar, Nathan includes the recipe for Abouelafia's Sunny Side Up Za'atar Pita Pizza (if you haven't had it in Jaffa, either buy the book or fly ElAl to the bakery immediately). Speaking of soup, she has the Hummus Soup recipe from Keren Restaurant, as well as Aramaic Chicken Soup, and the Goulash Soup recipe from Fink's Bar (on King George at Ben Yehudah mall). The Olive Bread recipe uses black and green olives and oregano. The Mahlouach recipe is from Nahlaot, and the Chocolate Bread recipe is from Lehem Erez Komarovsky. The Jerusalem Kugel recipe is heavy on the pepper and the Barsch is Uzbeki style from Holon. There is Yotvata Potato Mushroom Casserole from Kibbutz Yotvata (and all you thought they made was milk), and the 16 fish dishes include Khremi, a Libyan style fish from Beit Shikma; Ima Sharansky's gefilte fish; and Chef Steinitz's Salmon Trout dish (Dan Hotel, Eilat). One more can one want? Oral recipes and oral histories results in oral gratification.

[book] THE ROAD TO FEZ. A novel
by Ruth Knafo Setton

Couterpoint, March 2001. A first novel, quite erotic and introspective, too. When she was a young girl, Brit Suleika Lek and her parents move from El Kajda to the USA. She is named for a virgin martyr, Suleika, who was killed in 1834. But at age 18, when Brit's mother dies, she returns to the Moroccan Jewish mellah, where she prepares for a pilgrimage to the grave in Fez of the martyr for whom she is named. But she finds herself falling for her mother's younger brother, Gaby.

[ansky at his desk] Click here to visit the web page for BETWEEN TWO WORLDS. S ANSKY AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY. STANFORD UNIVERSITY, March 17-19, 2001.

by Myra Alperson

FSG, March 2001. Myra adopted a daughter from China. She was single and over 40. Who doesn't know someone at home, work, synagogue, or life who hasn't adopted from China or elsewhere? This is an invaluable handbook and RESOURCE (with listings) for multicultural adoptions and family creation. Read it to prepare for some of the issues you will face (stares, family disapproval, outright racism). Dim Sum, Bagels, and Grits sound different at first, but they are all breakfast foods, and they are all based on a grain. The same holds for families. They may be shaped or sound differently, but they are all based on in this case on kids, who underneath are all the same. I wanted to make sure that I recommended this book today, February 27, 2001. This week, the U.S. Child Citizenship Act takes effect, which makes it much easier to and quicker to provide children adopted from abroad with U.S. citizenship. It is nearly automatic for most children. But I digress, let's discuss Ms Alperson's sourcebook. Each year in the USA, about 15% of all adoptions are of children born outside the USA. (About 20,000 children last year, about 16,000 per year in the past few years, and several hundred thousand over the past 40 years). These parents, grandparents, and children, adopted across what are perceived as racial, ethnic and cultural boundaries, face a harder time than some other adoptions, since there is the added bonus of multiculturalism. Alperson's sourcebook is an excellent guide and a must read for anyone considering adoption or raising a multicultural family. As the adoptive mother of Sadie Zhenzhen Alperson, she speaks from experience. She tells the stories of strangers not thinking that her daughter and she are daughter and mother. She discusses the need to honor both the child's birth heritage and the new family's heritage, and finding mentors and role models (American, Chinese, and Jewish in Alperson's case). Speaking of religion, she also discusses the subject of religious practice and preferences in the new family. (Sadly, you know that some imbecile is going to tell Sadie one day, "funny you don't look Jewish"; hopefully you can protect your child from those relatives who will make them feel that they are in the family as part of some sort of affirmative action program). Speaking of which, a full chapter is devoted to the many forms of prejudice that adoptive families can face. The chapter also includes actual accounts of how other families have responded to prejudice. Alperson gives advice on finding and forming groups where your child can play with children who "look like" them, and what to do if that isn't possible. The sourcebook provides a compendium of resources that can help you create, and strengthen multicultural homes, and it also will help you to understand what it means to be multicultural. Alperson includes interviews with adopted children and experts in the field. The bottom line is (1) read it if your are adopting; (2) read it if you know families facing these issues, (3) read it if you are teaching children from these families, and (4) read it if you minister or lead congregations with multicultural families.

by Bart Schneider
March 2001. A new novel by Bart Schneider, the author of Blue Bossa. The book's title (Secret Love) comes from the Doris Day song in the movie "Calamity Jane." The book is set in San Francisco, in the 1960s. The summer is approaching, and Barry Goldwater will be nominated top run against LBJ. Lenny Bruce is on the scene, as is Cassius Clay, Tang OJ mix, the race to the moon, Camus, and Mario Savio. Our hero is Jake Roseman, a Jewish prominent civil rights lawyer and agitator for urban renewal, who is in love with a beautiful black activist, Nisa. Jake, who dresses in Bermuda shorts, is in his 40s at a time when 40 was middle aged. Nisa Boehm (as in La Boheme?) is younger, an actress, and the daughter of a white socialite and a black father who vanished long ago. Nisa's annoyance grows from her Chinatown apartment, as Jake keeps her at arms length from his family. Jake is conflicted. Jake's wife, Inez, has recently committed suicide, and he has two kids. His curmudgeonly senile father is a vile racist. Over the course of their sensually passionate and sexually satisfying affair, Nisa draws Jake out of his remorseful depression and mourning. As their affair continues, we meet Peter, a handsome Jewish actor, who has of course changed his surname to make it in the business. Peter also finds love. After meeting in a foggy spot, Peter enters into a relationship with Simon Sims, a young black som of a minister. Simon, has fallen from his father's faith and taken up with the teachings of the Nation of Islam. So here are Jewish Peter and Muslim, closeted, gay, black, literary, janitor Simon, in love, and on their way to a civil rights march. You can see how the stories get interwoven. Click the cover to read more.


by Myron Uhlberg

March 2001. An updated Chelm tale for children aged 4 to 8. Lemuel wants to sail on an adventure to a magical town. His wife protests. He sets sail, and arrives, after a storm, in a town just like the one he left. Why, there is even a woman who is the twin of his own wife there. He will not believe that it is the same city he left. He sets sail again, falls asleep, and arrives back at his own town. Boy, is he happy to be back home.

by Eric A Kimmel, Illustrated by Katya Krenina

March 2001. Holiday Books. Haskel is a tailor and lives in the town of Tzafat, the center of Jewish mysticism. One evening, as Haskel sleeps, he dreams that the moon comes to him and requests a cloak to keep her warm. And why shouldn't she? For Haskel is a good tailor. Upon awakening from the dream, Haskel keeps his promise to the moon. He learns about a garment that can expand or shrink to any size, depending on the size of the wearer. He travels the world in search of this garment, for he must keep his dreamt promise to a cold moon. (based on a story attributed to Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav)


March 2001. A children's book of extreme beauty and craft, set in Wisconsin. Marc Kornblatt, an elementary education student at University of Wisconsin has crafted this unique children's book about Sam Keeperman. One day, Sam Keeperman's little sister asks a question about the Keeperman's deceased housekeeper, Laura White. Sam, a fifth grader, who make parallels between his life events to the Bible stories he learns in synagogue school, says that he thinks Ms White is in heaven. Buddy White, Laura White's son, transfers to Sam's school. When Sam tries to befriend Buddy and spend time with him, Sam's best friend, Alex, becomes jealous. Sam must learn that doing the right thing sometimes costs a heavy price in friendship. Buddy is a Jehovah's Witness, and this confuses Sam. Sam learns more. Buddy learns more. Through their interactions and using learnings from both religions, Sam and Buddy must learn to solve their questions.

[book] THE YELLOW STAR. The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark
by Carmen Agra Deedy

Winner of the CHRISTOPHER AWARD 2001.

A Transliterated Guide to Everyday Practice and Observance
by Rabbi Abraham and Rachel Witty

Doubleday, March 2001. An instructional guide to Judaism, its holidays, words, practices, rituals, phrases, and life cycle. A good reference.

[book] BEYOND BREAKING THE GLASS: A Spiritual Guide to Your Jewish Wedding
By Rabbi Nancy H Weiner, D Min.

March 2001, CCAR press. The definitive Reform Jewish guide to marriage and weddings. It should be required reading prior to meeting with your rabbi before planning the wedding. Includes information for same-gender couples.

By Ruth Kark and Michael Oren-Nordheim

March 2001, Wayne State Univ Press. Urban and Rural development of Jerusalem prior to 1948

by John Felsitner (Stanford University)

Yale, March 2001. Reprint of biography of Paul Celan, a German speaking East European Jew who became Europe's most compelling post-War poet.

[book] LYING ABOUT HITLER. History, The Holocaust, and The David Irving case
by Richard Evans (Cambridge University Professor of History)

Basic Books. Author tour in DC, NYC, and Boston. In April 2000, the High Court in London ruled against David Irving, a Holocaust denier, and for Deborah Lipstadt. The author of this book, Richard Evans, was a consultant to Ms Lipstadt (the defense). The High Court found that Irving was a falsifier of history. This book explores the role of the historian and the historian's personal agenda when looking "subjectively" at events and creating history. By exploring David Irving's methods, he shows the difference between responsible and irresponsible uses of the historical record.

March 2001. Jewish Lights. This audacious exploration of the Jewish concept of God squarely faces many contradictions and conundrums. Gillman, a professor of Jewish philosophy at Jewish Theological Seminary, begins by asking how humans can describe God if He is ultimately unknowable. Our common conception of God in human terms is metaphorical thinking, according to Gillman; when it comes to actual knowledge, "we are all agnostics. We know nothing." His examination of texts brings him to accept inconsistencies and to highlight discrepancies between popular images of God and God's portrayal in classical Jewish sources. Gillman has made a significant contribution.

[book] RETURNING LOST LIVES. By Yehoshua Kenaz (Haaretz). Translated from the Hebrew by Dalya Bilu
March 2001. 272 pages. A novel. A look at the lives of contemporary Israelis as seen through the lives of the residents of a Tel Aviv apartment building. An exploration of patriotism, loneliness, passion, isolation, and compassion. Shwartz, an old Ashkenazi Jew complains about encroaching Sephardim and decay. But the landlord is not around. Gabi rents an apartment in the building so she can have afternoon trysts with Hezi, a married man. Hezi is quite secretive, and then a murdered body is found. Aviram listens in on the passionate lovemaking. Eyal deserted from the army, and his parents, Ezra and Ruthie are worried.

[book] ANA PAUKER. The Rise and Fall of a Jewish Communist
by Robert Levy

UCal. March 2001. In 1948, Time magazine said that Pauker was the most powerful woman in the world. What was the Romanian Jewish woman all about? Who remembers her? Was she really dogmatic? If so, the why did Stalin purge her? What is the truth about Ana Pauker? What was her role in the emigration of Romanian Jews when other Communist countries would not allow its Jews to leave? How did she help the mostly Jewish veterans of the Spanish Civil War?

Hitler's Willing Investment Bankers
By Harold James (Princeton University Professor of History)

March 2001, Cambridge Univ Press. Dry as toast. James recounts Deutsche Bank's participation in the aryanization of the German economy from 1932 to 1940. The bank reluctantly purged itself of its Jewish directors as Hitler gained power. After the Reich exerted pressure, the bank fired its Jewish workers. The state then used the bank to aryanize and expropriate German companies. Most of the companies they seized were worthless without their former Jewish owners and managers. Ummm... did I mention that the Bank subsidized this book? Nevertheless, it is chock full of facts and figures for History students.

[book] GOD 101. Jewish Ideals, Beliefs, and Practices for Renewing Your Faith
by Terry Bookman

March 2001. Rabbi Bookman of Miami's Temple Beth Am talks the god-talk that is rarely heard from the pulpit. The first part of the book is about whether god exists and the nature of god. The second part provides four paths to god: prayer (heart), study (head), action (hands and feet), and relationships (soul).

By Aryeh Wineman.

March 2001, Jewish Publication Society. Commentary illuminates parables drawn from classic Hassidic homiletic texts

by Carol Ochs (HUC-JIR)

March 2001. Jossey Bass (another in their growing line of Judaica). Who Am I? What Do I Know? What Can I Know? What can I hope for? Can I learn from love? From suffering? Is suffering good? Ochs, an educator at Hebrew Union College, shows the reader hoe to use his or her own life stories in creating meaningful personal Torahs, creating and discovering your own THEOLOGY, or life system or methodology for making decisions

[book] WHAT DID THE Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know it? What archeaology and the Bible Can Tell Us About Ancient Israel
by William G Dever

Eerdmans, March 2001. Dever is a Professor of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Arizona. This book explores ancient Israel during the Iron Age.

by Meir Wagner

KTAV Publishing. March 2001. Stories of some of the Swiss citizens who saved Jews.

edited By Edmund Pellegrino and Alan Faden.

March 2001, Georgetown Univ Press. Perspectives on such issues as euthenasia, abortion, and genetic screening.


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