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May flowers, Lag B'Omer, Shavuot, and Yom Ha-atzmaut. May is jam packed, but can't you can squeeze in a new Jewish book and a call to you mum?
Would George W.'s first 100 days have been better had he bought a Jewish book from us? Are you counting the omer, anticipating a nice blintz on Memorial Day? Why not prepare with a nice Jewish book?


And congrats to Michael Chabon on the winning of the Pulitzer Prize on April 16, 2001 for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.


by Henry Dunow

May 2001. Broadway Books. Henry Dunow, a literary agent and son of a prominent, charismatic, short, traumatized refugee and Yiddish writer (Moishe Dloznowsky), discusses what happened when he volunteered to be the coach for his 7 year old son's "non competitive" little league team on Manhattan Upper West Side. He knew he was in trouble, when as a baseball aficionado, but not the best athlete, he got a call from the Baseball "Commissioner" of the Upper West Side league. Would he be MAN enough for the job? Could he handle crazed kids, dreamy kids, aggressive parents, and absent kids, kids who knew all about baseball, and others who didn't know where first base was? Dunow's memoir includes reminiscences about growing up, his relationship with his intellectual father (loving yet distant?), his father's death, as well as parenthood, inclusion, fitting in, competition, Jewishness, urban life, exclusion, and coaching. There is a lot one can learn from one's child that can help one understand their own relationships with their fathers. Click to read more. (hey rabbi salkin, listen up).


Knopf. May 2001. 35 essays by the noted playwright, about her life in the forties, her pregnancy, her sister's breast cancer, politics, life, plays, etc. Terrance McNally writes, Wendy Wasserstein writes with a heart as big as The Ritz. Her sly humor is based on acute perception, her passion comes from the gut and her intelligence borders on the Talmudic. What binds them all together is a humanity that runs deep. These funny, truly intimate and uncommonly passionate pieces are a model of their kind.


May 2001. GOING DOWN was so successful, Ms Belle has followed up this novel. The author of the outrageous, hilarious Going Down-named Best New Novelist by Entertainment Weekly-returns with her second novel: the story of an obsessive love affair between a woman and an apartment. The publication of her sexy, offbeat, riotous first novel, Going Down, won Jennifer Belle raves from Time ("an exceptionally funny writer") to Entertainment Weekly ("a wonderful, aberrant, compulsively readable novel"). High Maintenance is another brilliantly twisted New York story that is as funny, sad, painful, ridiculous, wild, daring, and lovable as its predecessor. Set in the manic world of New York real estate, it tells the story of Liv Kellerman, a young woman who's just left her husband and, more importantly, left their fabulous penthouse apartment with its Empire State Building view. On her own for the first time in her life, she relocates to a crumbling Greenwich Village hovel and contemplates her next move. Before long she finds her true calling: selling real estate. With her native eye for prime properties and an ability to lie with a straight face, Liv finds success and soon is swimming with the sharks-the hardcore, cutthroat brokers who'll do anything to close a deal. Along the way she picks up a maniacally ardent architect who likes to bite her, a few hilarious bosses, strange and exasperating clients, and a gun, and brings them with her on her search for the one thing she's really after-a home. Belle's gift for creating strange and winning characters and her acute observations of both the absurd and the poignant in everyday life are the hallmarks of her fiction. High Maintenance is generous and unsparing, tough and exciting and terrifically smart-a hot new property on the market.

CLICK HERE TO GET INFORMATION ON (OR PURCHASE) the 1996 Paperback by Jennifer Belle, GOING DOWN, which was rated the best Summer read about a Jewish Call Girl, Bennington Bloom, an NYU undergrad who, on the brink of financial and emotional collapse and with no help forthcoming from her addled family, spies an escort service ad in the Village Voice and quickly finds herself leading a frantic double life. Need I say more? Okay, I will. Madonna bought the film rights.

[book] GOOD IN BED.
by Jennifer Weiner

Move over Bridget. This is the story of Jewish single life in America. Cannie Shapiro, a zaftig Philadelphia Jewish journalist, with a lesbian mother and distant physician father. She never wanted to be famous. The pop culture reporter was perfectly content writing about other people's lives on the pages of the Philadelphia Examiner. But the day she opens up a national women's magazine to find out that her ex-boyfriend, Bruce Guberman, has been chronicling their three year long ex-sex life is the day her life changes forever. Loving a larger woman is an act of courage in our world, Bruce has written. Cannie is plunged into misery, and into the most amazing year of her life. The author, Jennifer Weiner, 31, like Connie, is a Jewish journalist in Philadelphia with a lesbian mother, a physician father and a lifelong battle with her weight. Both the author and the character were born in Louisiana. Both drink more alcohol than Bridget Jones. Weiner's debut shines strongest in its witty dialogue. Shapiro is clever and sarcastic, caustic but generally kind. Funny is the fat person's defense mechanism, she says.

by Ethan Canin

Random House. May 2001. A novel
August Kleinman escaped the Nazis and Germany with his mother, was raised in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Queens NY, and fought the Japanese during WWII. Now, at age 78, having recently lost his beloved wife and high school sweetheart to illness, he recalls, that at age 18, he traveled to see a friend of his play football at Fordham University. When he arrived to see his friend practice, he sneaked into the locker room, put on a uniform, and participated in a play before he was discovered. That thrill, that drive, that persistence is what kept him alive and made him successful. In precise stories and recollections, Canin relates to the reader Kleinman's fascinating life, his loves, his success as a brewery owner, his fatherhood and distant relationship with his son, and his guilt over what he did in a cave during WWII when he confronted a Japanese soldier. CLICK THE BOOK COVER TO READ MORE EXTENSIVE REVIEWS

[click here to see book cover] FIXER CHAO
by Han Ong

There were books that defined aspect of America in the 1980's: Liar's Poker, Less Than Zero, and Bonfire of the Vanities. This book will be the defining classic for Manhattan in 1999, on the cusp of the Millenium and Y2K. This is the first novel by one of the youngest MacArthur Genius grant recipients, the playwright, Han Ong. In this story, we meet our narrator, William Narcisco Paulinha, a Philippine-American. This is the story of his life. William has always felt himself to be a loser; he is no piranha in Manhattan's waters. Even though he typed perfectly at a speed of 120 wpm, he charged 75% of the market rate instead of a premium. He types manuscripts for New York's lesser, aspiring writers, or those with poor grammar and run-on sentences, like the Holocaust survivor for whom he takes dictation. But taking dictation and typing is probably better than his former job, that of a Port Authority Bus Terminal Men's Room hustler and sex worker (no, the book's author never turned tricks at Port Authority). William is a good person. He doesn't correct his elderly clients' grammar and he cares for an elderly Filipino neighbor who suffers from an injured hip. One evening after work, William meets Shem C., a peculiar Jew in a squalid, Times Square bar, the Savoy (used to be at 41st and 9th). Shem asks Paulinha to buy him a shot, calls him a Chink, and reports that he never heard of the Philippines. Shem is recovering from being thrown out of his home by his nagging Jewish wife. She is the daughter of a famous Jewish novelist. Shem is a social climbing, unsuccessful author of book reviews and celebrity profiles. Shem has been spurned by Manhattan's elite, and now he wants sweet revenge. Shem has a proposal for William, a down and out Asian. Shem wants to front him as a Chinese Feng Shui expert, a fixer, from Hong Kong, Fixer William Chao, living secretly in America under an assumed name. Shem wants The Fixer Chao to always make one feng shui error, in order to injure the despised elitists. Together they will bilk Manhattan's elite, separating them from their extra money, fixing their unhappy but wealth-filled lives. Shem is a Shem-Sham Man. William joins him, and the reader is left with an enjoyable story and biting commentary on Manhattan life, celebrities, and the lemming-like behavior of those elite New Yorkers with artistic sensibilities. This is a must read, as each page contains an insightful nugget.

by Daniel Schorr

May 8, 2001. Schorr's dream was to write for The New York Times. But a HIRING FREEZE on JEWISH correspondents wrecked that dream. Instead, he teamed up with Edward R Murrow and CBS-NEWS. The rest is history. Schorr, age 85, is respected (but not loved) by his broadcast colleagues. Many of you know Schorr from his pieces on National Public Radio, or his lifetime of pieces on CBS, his appearance on President Richard Nixon's ENEMIES LIST, and his work on CNN (he joined CNN in 1980, after he got into hot water at CBS for his principles and his refusal to not tell Congress how he got information on covert activities). This is Schorr's updated memoir. [I remember meeting him in the press room at the DNC Convention in 1992, What a thrill] CLICK THE BOOK COVER TO READ MORE EXTENSIVE REVIEWS

by Hal Sirowitz

Congratulations to Hal Sirowitz, Speical Education teacher and poet, upon being named The Poet Laureate of Queens New York (2001). I don't know how one could live without reading at least one of his poems. With his dry delivery and caustic wit (when reading the poems, think of Steven Wright, but slowed down), Hal Sirowitz is a well-known performance poet. The twisted reasoning of family life is his favorite subject, and his ability to expose absurdity with brutal honesty accounts for a lot of his appeal. Readers familiar with his performances will hear his voice on every page, but I was struck by how well the writing stood on its own. Hilarious, honest, striking poems.

by Melvin Jules Bukiet

A novel. May 2001. Norton. What do scrambled eggs with cheese smell like?
The author of NEUROTICA (Jewish writers on sex) and SIGNS AND WONDERS, Bukiet, the son of survivors, writes a timely novel about a blind (he lost his eyesight while being tortured), fatherless, gay Russian émigré speechwriter, Nathan Nabakov, I mean Kazakov, who has enough problems even before his left ear is obliterated by a bullet presumably meant for his employer, the hawkish Prime Minister of Israel, described as a human condom, who if he breaks, you're screwed. Nathan Kazakov is consumed by the desire to discover exactly what happened, Nathan begins an investigation that leads him into a web of conspiracies involving messianic orthodox settlers, Arab terrorists, and the Israeli secret service. Was the bullet intended for Nathan? for the prime minister? or perhaps for the prime minister's charismatic son Gabriel, an archaeologist who does not share his father's politics? (Nathan has the hots for Gabriel, or at least for his smell). What was the Brooklyn sniper shooting for? One clue leads to Leviticus, another beneath the Temple Mount. Told by the blind hero as he staggers through Jerusalem, Strange Fire is a fiercely compelling, darkly comic literary tour de force fueled by Melvin Jules Bukiet's singular imagination. If you think that his loss of eyesight or the loss of a father is somehow symbolic of the loss of idealism or direction by the State of Israel... ummm... maybe your should read more? Or maybe a pipe is just a pipe?

USE THE "SEARCH" FUNCTION BELOW to find any other books that interest you, or click the top frame to see the other books that Sefer Safari can offer.

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[book] Through the Unknown, Remembered Gate : A Spiritual Journey
by Emily Benedek

Hardcover - 335 pages Schocken. Emily Benedek, the author of two highly regarded books on the traditions and conflicts of Native Americans of the Southwest, suddenly found herself in the mid-1990s grappling with certain traditions and conflicts of her own. Stricken with a case of temporary blindness, she had an experience- unprecedented in her life-which she was able to understand only as an apprehension of the divine. Stirred and confused, Benedek took herself to a humble storefront synagogue in Dallas, where she was then living. Among the welcoming congregants she began a spiritual journey that gradually led her back to Jewish practice and belief. As we accompany Benedek on her journey, we come to know the wise and imaginative psychoanalyst who served as one of her guides... an Orthodox family in Rockland County whose lives are devoted entirely to Torah yet who are open to Benedek's questioning and probing, particularly on the subject of the differing roles of men and women in Orthodoxy... Texans, Israelis, and Brooklynites, teachers and students, and the vibrant Conservative Congregation B'nai Jeshurun on Manhattan's Upper West Side, where Benedek eventually finds her most comfortable spiritual home.

An International Anthology of Jewish Fabulist Fiction
Edited by Daniel Jaffee, Esq.

An Anthology of 24 short fictions of magical realism. What would have happened if Shalom Aleichem arrived in the South and not NYC? What would happen if your various body parts were taken over by various prophets? What would you do if your were a flying rabbi living in Tennessee? Do you count Siamese (conjoined) Twins as one or two in a minyan (are they Elijah, or the Angel of Death coming for an elderly congregant)? How will police solve the mystery of a serial killer? How did a girl defeat death at Babi Yar? Includes stories by Steve Stern (with a tale of a flying rabbi), Moacyr Scliar (brazil), Daniel Ulanovsky Sack, Dina Rubina (Russia/Israel), Joe Hill (a jew, a non-jew, and an inflatable Jewish doll named Art who fears puncture wounds), Joan Leegant (the siammese twins at a minyan confound a rabbi), Teresa Porzecanski, Cyille Fleischman, Yakov Shechter, Rebecca Boroson, and others. In "Anya's angel" by Tehila Lieberman, a Holocaust survivor and his granddaughter reunite. Avi Schmuelian tells the tale of flying caroets and magic springs and spells. In "Home Cooking" recipes are passed on from beyond the grave. In The Roussalka by Boroson, a sea creature saves a depressed and suicidal young woman.

[book] WHY CAN'T I FALL IN LOVE? Creating the Loving Connection You Need to Be Human. A TWELVE STEP PROGRAM.
by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

What? You mean sex and your job are not substitutes for love??
The self promoting friend of Kosher Sex, a reformed Michael Jackson, Uri Geller, and the Rev Al, denounces modern society, commitment phobic singles, and people who are waiting for the best mate. Boteach makes suggestions to get over it and make a love connection. Did I mention that Rabbi Boteach is suing the Jewish dating service that he was fronting for??

[book] WINE AND WAR.
by Don and Petie Kladstrup

The only adequately edited story of French vintners and their tactics against the Nazis and Vichy, like selling them bad vintages and hiding some Jews in their wine cellars. Goring and Goebbels were wine collectors; General Moritz von Faber du Faur, Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, and Captain Ernst Kuhnemann (commander of Bordeaux's port) all came from wine families in Germany. Marshal Petain owned his own vineyard. Hitkler collected Rothschild Mouton and Lafite cases of wines. But the Nazis (with the collusion of their Wine Fuhrer, Heinz Bomerss) were mostly sold the worst batches of wine in a passive aggressive attack against them by the French vintners.

Why Bulgaria's Jews Survived the Holocaust
by Tzvetan Todorov, Arthur Denner (Translator)

An excellent and enlightening account of Bulgaria and its Jews during WWII. WHY DID MOST OF BULGARIA'S JEWS SURVIVE THE WAR? Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly protested the ant iJewish laws along with other Bulgarian intellectuals. Everyone ignored the laws requiring Jews to wear stars. Although its King, King xxxx, is responsible for the deaths of 12,000 Jews, most Jews were saved by him, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, and the King's Justice Minister and Vice Chairman of the Assembly, Dimitur Peshev (who was later imprisoned by the Communists, his Jweish lawyer was disbarred, and two other Jewish lawyers refused to represent him). The Metropolitan Stefan housed the chief rabbi to protect him. The Bulgaria that emerges is not a heroic country dramatically different from those countries where Jews did perish. Todorov does find heroes, especially parliament deputy Dimitar Peshev, certain writers and clergy, and--most inspiring--public opinion. Yet he is forced to conclude that the "good" triumphed to the extent that it did because of a tenuous chain of events. Any break in that chain--one intellectual who didn't speak up as forcefully, a different composition in Orthodox Church leadership, a misstep by a particular politician, a less wily king--would have undone all of the other efforts with disastrous results for almost 50,000 people. The meaning Todorov settles on is this: Once evil is introduced into public view, it spreads easily, whereas goodness is temporary, difficult, rare, and fragile. And yet possible.

The Danish born Jewish comedian and musician, Victor Borge, published his autobiography in Danish a week before he passed away. The publisher is Lars Ringhof at Aschehoug. If you would like to buy the rights to publish the book in English, please contact Ringhof at or phone 45-33-30-58-70.

We heard that Arthur Levitt, the former Chairman of the SEC and American Stock Exchange will write a book for Pantheon on how dangerous it is to invest without a reputable broker. DARN, I wish he would write about how he likes to visit synagogues when he travels abroad.

[book] IDOLIZING PICTURES. Idolatry, Iconoclasm and Jewish Art.
by Anthony Julius

Based on Attorney (Barrister?) Julius' London lectures on Idolatry, Jewish Icon-icism, Icon-oclasms, and Jewish Creativity in the visual arts. Note to readers... Attorney Julius is famous for his arguments in the case against David Irving, the Holocaust Denier; and Julius' earlier book on T.S. Eliot's Anti-Semitism.

History, Justice and the David Irving Libel Case

Norton. May 21, 2001. The story behind the David Irving libel case in England, based on Guttenplan's prior essays in Atlantic Monthly magazine. Great courtroom thriller tension, even though you know that Lipstadt won against Irving.

[get out of the office] Just escape the office, grab a book, and READ.

by Rabbi Lawrence Kushner

Jewish Lights. May 2001.
Another installment in the "THE WAY INTO..." series. An Examination into Jewish mysticism.

[book] John Yang: Mount Zion: Sepulchral Portraits .
by John Yang

John, a retired architect and amateur photographer, who lived near the 80 acre Mount Zion Jewish cemetery in Maspeth Queens NYC, photographed the gravestones over a number of years. Mount Zion refers to a Jewish cemetery in Queens, New York, built in 1893, sandwiched between a New York City Sanitation plant and the Long Island Expressway. ''Sepulchral portraits'' refer to miniature photographs once placed on many of Mount Zion's tombstones, a custom brought over by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. These images--often heavily retouched--were burned onto porcelain or metal tablets, and then glazed. The process was, at the time, advertised as permanent; but the ravages of the elements, pollution, and vandals have transformed these portraits into something else altogether. What remains of them--and what has become of them--is what John Yang has set out to portray in his own series of photographs, taken between 1994 and 1998. The result is a fiercely moving document, a meditation on morality, memory, the urban landscape, and the photographic process. Much like his subject matter, Yang's photographs are themselves memorials--to Mount Zion, to its urban environment, to its occupants, to the gesture of its sepulchral portraits, and to photography itself. There are many stones of children, reflecting the thousands! Of children buried in Mount Zion who succumbed to the flu epidemics earlier in the Twentieth Century. At its height in the 1930's, there were 4000 burials a year by 750 Jewish burial societies at Mount Zion.

[book cover of yellow cross] THE YELLOW CROSS
The Story of the Last Cathars 1290-1329
by Professor Rene Weis (University College, London)

A brilliant exploration of the medieval community that, with almost miraculous psychological fortitude and strength of faith, defied the Catholic Church and the Inquisition in the early 14th century. The Cathars, whose religion was based on the Gospels but contradicted the orthodoxy of Rome, resided in what is now southwest France and the Pyrenees (from Toulouse and Parmiers to Avignon and the Italian border with Genoa). In the early thirteenth century, they became the focus of systematic repression by both the French monarchy and the Church, and were forced to wear yellow crosses, a symbol of shame. In successive waves of brutal persecution, thousands of Cathars were captured, summarily tried, and burned. Yet so ardent was the faith of their community that during the years 1290 to 1320 the Cathars rose up one last time. The Cathars believed that the devil was co-eternal with God and that the material world and certain sexual pleasures of the flesh were his evil creation. They were pacifists and somewhat vegetarian (they ate bread, vegetables, and fish). They believed that the "virgin birth" was symbolic, not literal, and that the transubstantiation of bread and wine into body and blood was absurd, since it would linger in the bowels. The also believed in the endura, or a consecrated death through fasting. Both Pope Gregory 9 and Innocent 3 and their crusaders ordered their deaths. Chapter 14, may be of special interest to Jewish readers, as it tells the story of Bishop Jacques Fournier of Pamiers, a territory fought over by the Pope and the King of France. Its economy thrived, but the King of France evicted the town's Jews in 1306 during one of his periodic persecutions. Bishop Fournier, who needed money to put the church and its buildings on an equal footing with the Monarchy, relaunched his own Inquisition in order to raise the necessary taxes. CLICK through to read a more extensive review.

[book cover of The Medic] THE MEDIC
Life and Death in the Last Days of World War II
by Professor Leo Litwak

Memoirs of a Detroit born, Jewish 18 year old who joins the army for three years and sees action in Europe, Belgium, France and Germany in the last months of WWII as a medic. After finishing a year at University of Michigan, he is sent to South Carolina where, like most every other Jewish draftee and recruit, he is called a College Boy, Kike, and An Inside-Out Nigger by his welcoming bunkmates in basic training. Litwak, who served as a medic in World War II, is a novelist, and he teaches English Literature at San Francisco State University. Throughout his 13 chapters of memoirs, he shows that war is awful and evil on both sides. Horniness on both sides leads to stupid choices during leaves and the occupation. Litwak bonds with many in his platoon and puts up with the others who in a different world should be jailed. Like any WWII Hollywood film, his platoon consists of so many diverse post adolescent men who must band together to stay alive. There are the southerners who are segregationists, there is the New Yorker Commie Red who served in The Lincoln Brigade against Spanish Fascists; there is the soldier who loots civilians and corpses, the extremely pragmatic teenage Dutch survivor who deals in the black market, and the farm boy who executes and butchers captured or surrendered German soldiers. One second, Leo is speaking with two friends, the next second screaming meemee's have injured them in his trench. They both die en route to a division hospital. When they liberate some Jews and hold a seder, Litwak, who never attended a seder as a youth in Detroit is enlisted to help in the ceremony. I was a little irritated when I learned that some incidences were dramatized, since it detracts from knowing the truth. There are no "good guys" or "bad guys" here, although the presence of both good and evil is constant. Instead, we witness ordinary men, most of them quite young, striving to survive a conflict that few of them understand. This is a disturbing, revealing, and very important glimpse of warfare at the most elementary level

by James Reston Jr.

240 Pages. Doubleday. I noticed this book by accident, started to read the first chapter, and was drawn into this interesting story of two men, two political leaders, and the fight for Jerusalem between Arabs and Christian Europe. The victims were of course Moslems and Jews, whose blood ran in the streets of the Middle East and Europe. Come and read this story of how Pope Urban II sought to unite the warring kings and princes of Europe by having them unite in a holy war to wrest control of Jerusalem from the infidels. What followed were years of five crusades, beginning at the end of the Eleventh Century. Along the way they killed many European Jews. At the same time, Sultan Saladin was able to unite Egypt, Syria, Arabia and Mesopotamia, and the lands in between, and bring together a holy Jihad war in defense of Arab, Islamic control of Jerusalem. In the THIRD Crusade (1187 - 1192), King Richard I of England (a pious murderer) faced off with Saladin. To this day, some Arabs pray for Saladin to return and win control of the Middle East for Arabs, so to read the actual story is quite enlightening and enjoyable

PEOPLE ASK ME, HOW WELL DO JEWISH BOOKS SELL in comparison to National Best Sellers? Well, below is a peak at 2000 sales.

The best selling Children's Book was HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE, which made the register ring 7.9 million times. IF YOU TAKE A MOUSE TO THE MOVIES sold about 500,000 copies. CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS... sold about 465,000 copies. PAT THE BUNNY sold 240,000 copies.

By comparison, JOSEPH HAD A LITTLE OVERCOAT by Simms taback sold an additional 180,000 copies in the year 2000, making it about the 65th best selling children's book in 2000.

The best selling fiction book was THE BRETHREN by John Grisham. It sold about 2.9 million copies in 11 months. THE JOURNEY by Danielle Steel sold about 975,000 copies in 3 months. THE WEDDING by Steel sold about 750,000 copies in 9 months.

On the NON FICTION side, WHO MOVED MY CHEESE sold about 3 million copies; BODY FOR LIFE sold 1.2 million copies; TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE sold about 1.2 million additional copies, FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS sold about 570,000 copies, WHO WANTS TO BE ME by Regis Philbin and ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY by David Dedaris sold about 250,000 copies each; and HAVE A NICE DAY by Mankind sold about 313,000 additional copies on top of its previous 650,000 copies.

So, how does this compare to a top Jewish book? Well on the FICTION side, THE RED TENT in paperback sold 470,000 copies
RAVELSTEIN by Saul Bellow sold about 100,000 copies; while BEE SEASON sold under 100,000.
No Jewish non fiction book sold more than 100,000 copies. HITLER'S POPE in paperback sold 80,000 copies.

Future authors take note.

[book cover of dachau] Legacies of Dachau :
The Uses and Abuses of a Concentration Camp, 1933-2001
by Professor Harold Marcuse

Cambridge Univ Press. Harold Marcuse, grandson of the social critic Herbert Marcuse, teaches German culture at UCLA. In this book, he documents Dachau, the town and the concentration camp (which until recently had the snack bar adjacent to the crematoria), over the past century. Especially of interest are his paragraphs on the town of Dachau, and the method the residents used to mythologize the Camp and deal with its place in history.

The Postwar Inquisition of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee
Edited by Joshua Rubenstein (Amnesty Intnl/Harvard) and Vladimir Naumov

Yale, May 2001. In 1952, 15 Jewish Soviets, including five prominent Yiddish poets and writers were secretly tried, convicted, and executed in Lubyanka prison. Stalin was paranoid. The Jews were members of the anti Fascist committee as a response to Nazi atrocities. This book includes the abridged version of the long secret transcript of the trial. The trial is put into historical context, interviews with relatives of those executed are included.

by John M. Efron (Indiana Universsity Borns Jewish Studies Center)

Yale, May 2001. Why did Jews flock to medicine? Why were 50% of Berlin's physicians Jewish in 1933? Why were 60% of Vienna's physicians Jews in 1933? Medicine played an important role in the early secularization and eventual modernization of German Jewish culture. The art of healing was a ticket to emancipation, but brought with it greater persecution. As physicians and patients, Jews exerted great influence on the development of modern medicine. This is a history of Jews and medicine from Medieval times to the Nazi period. The author includes the story of the development of the German cultural and scientific racial idea of the "Jewish body.", and the differentiation between the bent over Moses Mendelssohn and very "german" Jewish Dr. Marcus Herz.

[book] NEIGHBORS. The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland
by Jan Tomasz Gross (a Polish Jewish émigré to USA who teaches in NYC)

April 2001, 261 pages. Princeton University Press.
There is a joke making the rounds in Warsaw this Spring. It asks when Olisadebe, Poland's heroic African soccer player from Nigeria, will become a true Pole. The answer is, "When he apologizes to the Jews for the massacre in Jedwabne."
Why do some Poles and Holocaust deniers hate and loathe this book so much?
Some readers of Polish heritage find it hard to accept and are surprised, that Poles, and not Nazis, killed Jews in a village. Sadly, they have a knee jerk reaction, they deny it and insult this book's author. But then, many Americans were surprised to read about the white pogroms against blacks in Tulsa Oklahoma and Rosewood Florida. But at least they never called these events lies. This book presents a generalized discussion on how Poles, with Nazi prodding (or photography), burned 1,600 Jews alive in a barn in the northern Polish town of Jedwabne (85 mile NE of Warsaw) in July 1941. Deniers will say it wasn't 1600, but suffice it to say, at least 200 bodies were recently dug up in June 2001. Seven Jews survived, hidden by a Polish woman. The mayor exceeded the Nazi command of July 10, 1941 to kill the Jews, but spare some tradesmen. The villagers killed nearly everyone, and not just those that may have supported the Soviets, if any (see Gross's "Revolution from Abroad" for a study of pre War Soviet atrocities in Poland). It followed massacres of Jews in two neighboring villages (probably under the leadership of SS-Obersturmfuhrer Hermann Schaper). Documents listed some 92 villagers who participated in the murders. Some villagers played music while the Jews screamed and burned. The massacre was planned by the town's city council and mayor. It was so grotesque that the town butcher declined to participate. Some Poles brought wagons to carry away Jewish booty. The book has sparked a national debate in Poland. The massacre was never fully investigated, although perfunctory trials were held after WWII. As the book states in its opening, "Half the town murdered the other half." A monument was erected that blamed the Nazis and Gestapo, even though in 1949, 22 Poles were arrested for the murders. Another trial was held in 1953. Poles continue to think it was the work of "bandits." Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek and President Aleksander Kwasniewski have read the book and asked the nation to ask for forgiveness for the crime of killing 1/3 of Poland's pre War urban population (the Jews), and 2/3rds of Jedwabne's population (Jews) (although Deputy Antoni Macierewicz is now suing the President for defamation to take back the lie that Poles killed Jews).

Because of this book's publication, in May 2001, the head of the Catholic Church in Poland, Jozef Cardinal Glemp, acknowledged Polish involvement in the crime, but of course, Cardinal Glemp also said that the Jews should apologize for bring Communism to Poland (what?). Cardinal Glemp will pray at All Saints Church on Grzybowski Sqaure in Warsaw, across from Warsaw's synagogue, but maybe he will have All Saints get rid of some of the books they sell in their store, books like "Spot the Jew" and "Jews and Freemasons Working Together." Defense Minister Bronislaw Komorowski announced that in March 2001, the 1,348 Jews who were purged from the communist Polish army in 1968-1980 would be rehabilitated. In May 2001, the barn mentioned in the book was exhumed. In it were found the charred remains of a statue (as the book mentions, a statue of Lenin was burned with the Jews), as well as many many house keys and the effects of men, women and children. Click to read more extensive reviews

The flora and fauna of Israel. Michal Strutin has been involved with nature writing from her time as an editor at Outside and National Parks magazines. In Discovering Natural Israel: From the Coral Reefs of Eilat to the Emerald Crown of Mount Carmel, Michal Strutin shows travelers natural wonders often obscured by political realities: from Rosh Hanikra to Ein Gedi, from Makhtesh Ramon, (Israel's Grand Canyon) to the hot springs of Gader. Strutin encounters two-foot long parrot fish grazing on coral in the Red Sea; wafer-thin, often motionless gazelle camouflaged in the Negev Desert; colonies of griffon vultures in the Golan; skinks; fringe-toed lizards; hyraxes and countless other mythic-seeming beasts. And no politicians.

[book] BOOKENDS: Two Women, One Enduring Friendship
by Leona Rostenberg and Madelleine Stern

The Free Press. The two women, each close to 90 years of age, are famous antiquarian book dealers in New York City and the United States. They have been lifelong friends and descend from quite families. Bookends support Books and Come in Pairs. This is an account of their lives and a personal friendship. I especially enjoyed the story of their ancestors in the opening chapter. If you love books and classics, you will love there story.

Stories my father told me
By Adam Biro. Translated Catherine Tihanyi

May 2001. University of Chicago Press. Catherine Tihanyi is with the Western Washington University. Adam Biro is a French publisher who was born in Hungary. Two Jews were travelling on a train,,,, that is how many Jewish jokes begin. Biro recounts the tales he heard. Humor was used to teach lessons. Biro knows how to spin a story. Biro writes, "although the stories never happened to me, they are me, they explain me, they characterize me." FOR MORE INFORMATION, CLICK THE TITLE OR AMAZON TAG ABOVE

[book] FRAUD
By David Rakoff.

May 2001, Doubleday.
The preface quotes says it all: "You're maudlin and full of self-pity. You're magnificent." This is a collection of about 15 short essays and stories by David Rakoff, known for his essays and interviews in The New York Times Sunday Magazine and from his appearances on WBZ-Public Radio's This American Life with Ira Glass (or his role as moderator at a panel at NYC's JCC of a Upper West Side). A New York City-based young, gay, Jewish man who is actually Canadian (like Peter Jennings and Monty Hall, but not Andrea Martin), with a degree in Asian studies from Columbia, his stories place him in a range of activities. Each story is poignant, fresh and funny. My favorites included stories on the time he attended a survival school (I remember reading it in a Pocono area auto repair waiting room in Outside Magazine) in which he learns to skin roadkill and never to drive down the highway and look at roadkill the same way again; an essay on the day he climbed Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire on a cold stormy Christmas in a possible test of ennobling manhood; his recounting of a Toronto adolescence where he and other children of professionals sing the Internationale, commit themselves to Zionist Socialism, and do an instructional stint in a kibbutz chicken coop; and the time he played a form of Jewy McHebrew on a soap opera. Some of the other stories include the time he sat in NYC's Barney's clothing store's Christmas window as a Christmas Sigmund Freud (people tell him their wishes, and he tells them why their desires are unhealthy for them, or wished for in error); a story in which he attends a weekend Buddhist retreat, in which the aikido-fighting, aubergine and saffron wearing, actor, Steven Seagal is the guest teacher of Tibetan Buddhism; and a story that should be read by every college English major, namely the story of despair as a low-payed entry level editorial assistant (secretary) at a NYC publisher.

[book cover] A PASSION TO WIN
by Sumner Redstone (with Peter Knobler)

Simon and Schuster, May 2001. VIACOM IS ME. (Call me Ishmael?) This man does not know from Lashon Hara, since he enjoys smearing those OUTRAGEOUS people he has crushed or faced off with. Not the guy you want to sit next to on Yom Kippur. This is the autobiography of the Chairman and CEO of Viacom/CBS (Paramount, MTV, Blockbuster, Nickleodeon, Showtime, VH1, oh and Simon and Schuster, of course). The son of a pushy Jewish mommy and a linoleum salesman, Redstone gained admission to Boston Latin High School. From there, he graduated from Harvard Law, worked for the Department of Justice, and settled into the life of a well paid tax attorney. But in 1954, at the age of 31, Redstone left the practice of law (although he loves to sue and sue and sue his enemies), and he joined his father's drive-in movie and nightclub business (National Amusements), which he grew into a 40 theater chain. What can one learn from the drive-in movie business? Is it about real estate? No way. People are willing to drive for a good film. So it is programming (the film) that mattered. Gee, isn't that the same lesson one can apply to tv and cable broadcasting? Anyway, Redstone parlayed National Amusements into one of the biggest media companies, which currently has a market value of a mere $100 BILLION. Note to file: Redstone states that he won a famous case before the Supreme Court in the 1950's and was invited to dinner with mobster Bigsy Siegel afterwards. (page 65-66). But actually, Benjamin Bigsy Siegel was shot dead on June 19, 1947, about a month after Redstone was receiving his law degree from Harvard. And he did not win his tax case until 1950 (page 62-65). Tsk tsk, needs better editing.

By Stephen T. Rosenthal. (Univ of Hartford)

May 2001, Brandeis Univ Press. Is it true that the Jewish state of Israel has little effect on the lives, religious or cultural, of American Jews? The story and history of the creation, erosion, and the destruction of the American Jewish consensus on Israel. That halo fell into the mud in 1982, during the invasion of Lebanon. It got spewed on during the Pollard affair, and in light of the Palestinian riots, it has never recovered.

By Susan Sneider.

May 2001, Aronson. Annotates texts focused on the relations between men and women

[book] God at the Edge: Searching for the Divine in Uncomfortable and Unexpected Places by Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein
MAY 2001 in PAPERBACK. I read a review that said it needs better editing, but after reading it, I found it to be, at times, rambling in a GOOD way. There are many alternate paths to god, and god is present in the darkness as well as the light. Many people find god in pretty parks, humble houses of worship, massive mountaintops, and serene meadows. Others find spirituality in foxholes, in the muck and mire, in degradation, or in prison. In the bible, Avraham Avinu smashed the idols in his father's retail idol outlet. Rabbi Goldstein did not smash an idol, he just smashed a urinal in a fit of mortal rage and anger at a Manhattan bar two weeks prior to graduating college. He spent a night in the Manhattan's Tombs Prison with accused murderers and transvestite prostitutes. But didn't Joseph spend time in jail, as did Shneur Zalman? Didn't Jonah have to go down to Jaffa, down to the hold of the ship, and down into a fish to turn around? These events led to spiritual awakenings and eventual leadership. A restless Rabbi Goldstein, 33, is seeking authenticity, meaning, wholeness, and rest. He is a police chaplain and DEA advisor, and a founding rabbi of the New Shul which met at HUC-JIR in Greenwich Village/Manhattan (now meets at Judson Kirche). He is also a specialist in the Fear of God, as author of "Forests in the Night. Fear of God in Early Hasidic Thought." His book is part travelogue and part spiritual search. For example, on a trip to Nepal and Katmandu, he and his father attend a weekly animal sacrifice in Dakshinkali. As a goat's head is severed, and his father hugs him, Niles is reminded of the Akedah, and thinks of sacrilege. When discussing the fine line between the spiritual and sacrilegious, he is reminded of Nadav and Avihu and the Golem of Prague. His trip 'into the wilderness' of Alaska and meeting with a hungry grizzly bear brings on thoughts of the Rambam's discourse on fear and the awareness of one's meagerness in comparison to god. He has the ability to find God while dog-sledding in the Arctic Circle, while counseling police officers in the Bronx, getting dumped by a young girlfriend in Princeton, and while on additional excursions in Asia, Alaska, Boston, Africa, and the wilds of New Hampshire (but is the company of infighting, howling, hungry sled dogs better than the company of fellow, infighting Jews?). To put it succinctly, this is OUTSIDE magazine meets Jewish renewal; a must read for those who know that Jewish discovery and growth takes place in muck more than in comfy splendor.
Click here to order this book from, read more reviews, or to add your own review.

[book] ONE GOD CLAPPING: The Spiritual Path of a Zen Rabbi
By Rabbi Alan Lew and his wife, Sherril Jaffe

Now available in paperback (March 2001). Click the icon to read the reviews, as well as our earlier review on Amazon from August 1999.

An Album for Treasuring the Spiritual Celebration - Featuring Special Memories of People We Admire.
By Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin and Nina Salkin


[book] ONE GOD CLAPPING: The Spiritual Path of a Zen Rabbi
By Rabbi Alan Lew and his wife, Sherril Jaffe

Now available in paperback (March 2001). Click the icon to read the reviews, as well as our earlier review on Amazon from August 1999

By Tamar Frankiel

Jewish Lights, April 2001. Key words and concepts explained

By Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic

Jewish Pub Society, May 2001. Look deeply into these 1,000 words for holidays, food, and worship

[book] Worst Case Scenario Survival TRAVEL Handbook
by Josh Joshua Piven
Chronicle, May 2001. Just in time for your Summer trip to Israel or other parts of the world, a book for the Jewish neurotic traveler. How do you stop a runaway camel? How do you stop a runaway train? How can you survive being taken hostage? How should you navigate through a minefield? What is the best way to cross a river infested with piranha? What should you do if your rental car is hanging over the edge of a cliff? What if you sever a limb, or get abducted by aliens? Don't travel without it.

[book] Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook
by Joshua Piven
Chronicle, Nov 1999. Jews have a knack for survival and escape. Therefore, every home should have a book of torah commentary, a siddur, and this book. Learn how to wrestle an alligator, break down a door, escape killer bees, perform a tracheotomy, survive a snake attack outside of Eden, treat frostbite, survive if your parachute fails to open, escape from quicksand, maneuver on top of a train and get inside, jump from a building into a dumpster, or leap from a motorcycle to a car. ISNT THIS RIPE FOR A JEWISH PARODY??? Writers, start your engine

A Jewish Family in the German Countryside.
By Eric Lucas.

Northwestern University Press. The tale of a close-knit family of German Jews during the Nazi era, when hatred and anti-Semitism destroyed an entire generation of families and the traditions they had created. The author tells of his grandfather, a butcher in a small German village of Warden. Lucas, who passed away in 1996, was born in Aachen in 1915, and fled to Palestine after Kristallnacht. Each evening, he would study the Bible with his nine children. As the Nazis rose to power, they settled scores against this family and others. In Aachen, the antisemites targeted the Cattle Jews (Viehjuden). This memoir is a testament to the power of family.


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