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Please browse my recommendations and selections, read a review, or add your own review by clicking an icon or bookcover. The orders are fulfilled by amazon.com; net proceeds are donated to tzedakah. If you want to recommend a charity, please send me an email at Admin@myjewishbooks.com

OFRAH'S DECEMBER 2000 SELECTION

[book] THE WOMEN'S TORAH COMMENTARY: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions by Rabbi Elyse Goldstein
Jewish Lights Publishing. When you picture a rabbi, do you picture a young, beardless, mother of three? You should. As Rabbi Goldstein writes in the introduction, Abraham Geiger wrote in 1837 that "our whole religious life will profit from the beneficial influence which feminine hearts will bestow upon it." Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, a 1983 HUC-JIR grad, is the leader of the Kolel Adult Center for Liberal Jewish Learning program in Toronto (kolel.ORG), a program that is so successful that they are building their own building. She wanted to be a rabbi since the day of her Bat Mitzvah ceremony. She knows that divrei Torah by women provide a unique perspective. I predict that her book will be the bat mitzvah gift book of choice in this decade. Over fifty, YES FIFTY, women rabbis teach the reader with inspiring commentaries, and NOT JUST feminist commentaries on the parsha's that deal with the Hebrew matriarchs. No, this is in the weekly Torah portion format, starting with Bereshit/Genesis' first chapter (Bereshit) and ending with Davarim/Deuteronomy's last chapter (Vzot Habrachah/The Death of Moses). The week by week format is an asset, and makes it an excellent resource. And not only does the book contain enlightening commentaries, but there are nearly half page biographies for each of the rabbis who provide the commentaries. These bios provide as much enjoyment as the commentaries, since they provide a profile of each woman's path to the rabbinate. The Foreword is by Rabbi Amy Eilberg (JTS, 85). In it she lays the groundwork for women in the rabbinate (beginning with Regina Jonas in 1935, Sally Preisand in 1972 and Sandy Sasso in 1974) and its feminization. Some of my favorite commentaries were Rabbi Lori Forman's (JTS, 88) Bereshit discourse on the creation of Eve; Rabbi Rebecca Alpert's (RRC, 76) Shmot drash on Tziporah; Rabbi Karyn Kedar's (HUC, 85) Ve-era commentary on the many names on God; Rabbi Ilene Schneider's (RRC, 76) Shemini discourse on Kashrut, Food, Women , and Eating Disorders; Rabbi Gila Colman Ruskin's (HUC, 83) insight into Ekev- Circumcision, Womb, and Spiritual Intimacy; Rabbi Barbara Rosman Penzer's (RRC, 87) commentary on Serach daughter of Asher in Vayechi; and Rabbi Helaine Ettinger's (HUS, 91) drash on Tazria, niddah, and brit milah.
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OFRAH'S NOVEMBER 2000 SELECTION

[book] HEALTHY JEWISH COOKING
by Steven Raichlin

Hardcover - 272 pages (September 2000).
Who knew that Jewish cooking can have a light touch? Raichlen, like many reformed Jews growing up in Pikesville/Baltimore in the 1950's, lived his Judaism through his foods - soups, mandelech, pirogis, briskets, desserts, flanken, knaidlach, tsimmis, and baklava. But, today, these foods can be done lite. His techniques include bake-frying and grilling, focusing on naturally low fat foods, using egg substitutes, using chicken broth instead of schmaltz, increasing the ratio of vegetables to meats, sauteing with non stick pans, and roasting. His 175 recipes include mock schmaltz made from canola oil, a breakfast sangria (for a Yom Kippur Break Fast) from the Caribbean, Curacaoan hot cocoa, quick bake-fried kreplach, sweet cheese kreplach, sephardic empanadas, baltic pirogi, veggie chopped liver, lowfat chopped chicken liver, a low fat chicken soup, matzo ball soup, hot borscht, Greek egg-lemon matzo soup, sauerkraut soup, salonikan soup, and sorrel schav soup. He includes eleven salads including a two-egg-salad made from eggs and eggplants. Speaking of vegetable dishes, there are fourteen, including a tropical tsimmis, a Jewish Romanian polenta (mamaliga) made with garlic and cinnamon; a basil marinated zucchini dish, and Pesach Spanekopita. Several breads are described, including a honey VANILLA challah, Passover rolls, onion rolls, matzo muffins, and Bukharan steamed buns with cilantro and chives. A Sephardic style scrambled eggs with garlic, paprika, cumin and bell peppers (strapatsata or Tunisian chakchouka) is a standout. In terms of meats, recipes include low fat Israeli spiced turkey cutlets, chicken cutlets with a mushroom stuffing, Syrian style Chicken with eggplant (a new Shepherds Pie); a sweet and sour turkey stuffed cabbage roll; holiday brisket with raisins, grape wine, prunes, and apricots; a Napa Valley style brisket; lamb tagine, and a Three-B's cholent. Five kugel recipes include a carrot apple kugel, and a zucchini kugel. Desserts include zvingous, or Greek Hanukkah fritters that are baked. They became a sensation after being mentioned in 1999 in a NYT Hanukkah recipe. A strudel recipe includes a Greek-Sephardic Pumpkin strudel that is usually eaten at Sukkot (Rodanchas de la Calabaza). Finally, let me add a word on Greg Schneider's photography... great. His picture of assorted low fat blintzes lying atop Hebrew newspapers, corralled by a set of tefillin is worthy of individual sale as a lithograph.
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[book] SETTING FIRES
by Kate Wenner

Hardcover - 288 pages (Fall 2000) Scribner. Setting Fires is the gripping story of Annie Fishman Waldmas, a documentary filmmaker, wife, and mother of two young children, who uses her professional skills to unravel the shocking secrets behind the two fires that come to dominate and haunt her life. The novel begins with a pair of phone calls that shatter Annie's contentment forever. The first brings news that Annie's country house in Connecticut has burned, in an area where two other Jewish-owned buildings have also recently burned down. The second and far more distressing call informs Annie that her beloved father -- the family patriarch, burdened by a lifelong shame that Annie will soon uncover -- has been diagnosed with cancer. Gradually, as Annie and her father forge a new and closer bond, he is able to acknowledge his history of poverty, his struggle for survival, and the near-tragedy it led to. Annie's determination to help her father find peace and forgiveness before dying meshes inextricably with her determination to find and expose the anti-Semitic arsonist who threatens her own family. Annie's passionate search reaches back four generations from the early roots of the Fishman clan in Russia and New York to the modern-day lives of Annie, her siblings, and their divorced parents. At the same time, it throws Annie's relationships with her own husband and children into chaos, and rocks the family life on which she has always depended for stability and support. Not until Annie discovers and resolves the final truths -- by her own wit, perseverance, and self-knowledge -- can she reestablish the harmony she treasures. Kate Wenner, an award-winning former producer of 20/20, makes a startling fiction debut in this powerful novel about a courageous woman's struggle to come to terms with a complex family history. The novel grew out of the interviews Ms. Wenner did with my father as he was dying of cancer - near the end of his life he confessed a shameful secret he had kept buried since his childhood -- that his mother had set fires to their stores on the lower East Side and in Brooklyn, in order to collect insurance money. In a remarkable process of teshuvah, he faced the truth at the end of his life. His courage in doing this transformed Wenner's family. At the same time that she learned about his fire, she also experienced an anti-Semitic arson in her home in Connecticut. The coincidence of these fires had a powerful impact on my life, and propelled her to write a novel to discover what connected them.
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OFRAH'S OCTOBER 2000 SELECTION

Should I change my name to OPhRAH? My thoughts are introspective, so here are my selections.

[bookcover] Moonbeams: A Hadassah Rosh Hodesh Guide by Dr. Carol Diament (Editor, national Education Director of Hadassah WiZO), Hadassah Tropper, Leora Tannenbaum
Paperback (September 2000) Jewish Lights Pub. An excellent guide for spiritual exploration. Have you ever been to a New Moon prayer service? The new moon, or Rosh Hodesh (head of the month) celebration has been re-embraced by many Jewish women. This guide offers a nine month course of study, with topical chapters for each month. Each chapter contains a personal essay, followed by classic and contemporary readings, as well as activities and study questions. The chapters include, The History and Observance of Rosh Hodesh; Kippah, Tallit & Tefillin: Their History and Meaning for Women; Claiming a Jewish Feminist Heritage: What is "Jewish Feminism"?; What Can We Learn from Orthodox tradition?; Women & Israeli Law; History of Women's Rabbinic Ordination; and Women & Religious Leadership in Jewish Literature.
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[book] Open Closed Open: Poems by Yehuda Amichai, Translations by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld.
Hardcover - 208 pages 1st edition (March 7, 2000) Harcourt Brace. The English translation of Amichai's 1998 book of poetry. He titled the book knowing that his life was slipping away. Regrettably, the poet laureate of the Jewish people died the week prior to Rosh Hashana in Jerusalem. A magnum opus.

The memorial forest where we made love But the two of us stayed alive and in love in memory of the burnt ones the forest remembered.

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OFRAH'S SEPTEMBER 2000 SELECTION(S)

The conventions behind us, and Elul upon us, a good book would be nice.

[book] The Food of Israel : Authentic Recipes from the Land of Milk and Honey (Periplus World of Cooking Series) by Sherry Ansky, Nelli Sheffer (Photographer)
Hardcover - 144 pages. The land of Israel is not only a land of Milk and Honey, but a land of seven main ingredients: olives, figs, dates, pomegranates, grapes, barley and bulgur wheat. Jerusalem-born, Ansky is the food writer for Israeli's MA'ARIV newspaper. The book opens with 30 pages of essays on the nature of Israel cuisine, and is followed by 3 pages of descriptions of ingredients. Each recipe is faced by an alluring, dare I say sensuous, picture of the dish that comes close to a work of art. Recipes include five eggplant salads, hummus, falafel, fatoush, shakshouka, Jerusalem kugel, patira, pastelicos, Etrog jam, Jerusalem Hamin, kibbeh, and Mussakhan (chicken with sumach and onions). Soups include a version of matzo ball, a kibbeh soup with beets and turnips, and lentil soup. Recipes for the Yemenite breads of malauach and Jachnun are included, in addition to recipes for lachma, and chickpeas with squid (well, maybe it isn't a kosher cookbook). Three exceptional recipes are Hraymi (a garlic halibut) which is the gefilte fish of the Sephardim; Leek Patties and Meat Cutlets in a lemon sauces; and Lamb Kebabs. Some recipes are from Israel's most famous restaurants and chefs.
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OFRAH'S AUGUST 2000 SELECTION(S)

I was too busy following Camp David to read to many books, so I can only recommend one book for August. Even if you can't go to Martha's Vineyard for the whole month to read it on the beach, this one is a winner..

[book] BEAUTIFUL WASPS HAVING SEX
by Dori Carter

Hardcover - 272 pages (June 2000) William Morrow. Why do Jews enter the screen trade? Is it cuz of their parents' expectations? Dori Carter's funny, first novel is about a disillusioned Jewish Hollywood ex-screenwriter looking back over her experiences. Ms Frankie Jordan (previously Francine Fingerman, which sounds a lot like Zelda Zuckerman, the author's grandma) is approaching 40, facing a divorce, and finding it hard to finish her screenplay. It is about a Jewish woman and her gay best friend/cousin. But god forbid that a Jew should be portrayed on the screen (gee, maybe Meg Ryan is available?) Then she meets Jonathan Prince. Prince, who is Frankie's agent's secretary, is Jewish, handsome, a Harvahd grad from Long Island who hates JAPS, intelligent, 24, eager to make something of himself in the movie industry, and apparently Frankie's devoted fan (he is not named Prince, as in JAP, for nothing). Or so Frankie believes, until, after a painful betrayal, she realizes that to him, she is only a small step on his way to the top. There's no particularly happy ending here, except that Frankie comes to understand herself and her fellow Hollywood Jews better as a result of her experience with Jonathan. Beneath the humor is an analysis of why Jews have always played such a major role in the movie industry. By the way... the author knows about that which she writes. Dori Carter, wrote the script for "Big Business", a 1988 film that starred Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin. The studio execs were uncomfortable cuz the characters were too Jewish. Click to read more.
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OFRAH'S JULY 2000 SELECTION(S)

How can it be July already, I have 30 books on my Summer beach reading list, and I am only through a few so far. FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER by Loung Ung is a fascinating and courageous account of death, terror, and survival under the Khmer Rouge. It is her story of hiding, starvation, and escape. I enjoyed BECOMING MADAME MAO by Anchee Min, the poetic author of RED AZALEA, and I reread parts of BEE SEASON by Myla Goldberg. Readers of my page will remember how I mentioned this book back in April. I am glad to see how much press Goldberg's book is garnering. I also started DRIVING MR ALBERT: A TRIP ACROSS AMERICA WITH EINSTEIN'S BRAIN by Michael Paterniti. And I started I also started BODEGA DREAMS. But I have yet to finish either of them. I tried a few chapters of Andrea Dworkin's Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel, and Women's Liberation. , but it wasn't my cup of tea. Which leaves me with my July selection, a book that isn't actually Jewish, but about the lives of several Jewish women in Hollywood.

[book] IS THAT A GUN IN YOUR POCKET? Women's Experience Of Power In Hollywood by Rachel Abramowitz
494 pages Random House (June 2000). The book opens at the funeral of Dawn Steel at Mount Sinai Cemetery in 1997 -- Dawn, the woman who headed Columbia Pictures, the woman who hung up on President Clinton when she was placed on hold. For the next 445 pages, it is a non stop enjoying read and history of women in Hollywood, women as agents, directors, producers, and actors. Stories of sexism, nude auditions, jealousy, rivalry, friendship, struggle, and POWER. With profiles of players, including Barbra Streisand, Elaine Goldsmith, Polly Platt (WASP daughter of Col. Jack Platt), Amy Herckerling, Elaine May, Joan Micklin Silver, Sue Mengers, Paula Weinstein, Nora Ephron, Dawn Steel, Amy Pascal, Sherry Pascal, and others. Click to read more.
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OFRAH'S JUNE 2000 SELECTION(S)

I have to run out to purchase the blintzes for Shavuot, but I have enough time to let you know what you should read this month. Of course I love those non-Jewish books by David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, and Francine Prose. BUT, for a Jewish book, you cant go wrong, but taking a peak at the following...

[book cover] Coming Home To Jerusalem: A Personal Journey by Wendy Orange
Hardcover - 320 pages (June 2000) Simon and Schuster. Israel always felt a part of Wendy's family growing up in upper middle class Long Island. Her grandfather died while giving an impassioned fund raising speech during the Six Day War in 1967. Her grandmother died the night after the Yom Kippur broke out. Her parents died during the period of the Lebanon War. Wendy Orange, a divorced, single parent, psychologist and teacher, visited Israel for the first time in 1990 for an academic conference. She was in her 40's, between jobs, newly divorced; so after a week or two in Jerusalem, she made aliyah. It was her first visit, and she knew no Hebrew, very little Jewish history, or Israeli political culture. Oh god, did my blood boil when I started reading this book. Must Israel be the haven for all those in midlife crisis? Why do these people who know nothing think they can stay two weeks at the King David Hotel and pen a column. But in the words of Tevye the Milkman, "if you've..." well never mind. This is my own problem, so let's get back to the book. This lack of knowledge didn't stop her from becoming the correspondent for TIKKUN magazine from 1991-1997.
But seriously, join her as she lands in Israel with her two daughters, finds a place to live, feels both euphoric and disassociated, moves in to the King David, finds another place to live, looks for work, finds an Ulpan, falls madly in love, makes friends, meets the intelligentsia and the cab drivers, and has an affair with her cab driver and protector. Over her 6 years there, she imparts a feeling of what it's like to live in Israeli society and be a "part" of the peace process.
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OFRAH'S MAY 2000 SELECTION(S)

Well Passover is over and can Memorial Day and Shavuot be far away? The books are coming fast and furious, and I can hardly keep up. On the topic of non-Jewish books, I just finished Andrew X. Pham's Catfish and Mandala. Although it is a Vietnamese American memoir, I think it will ring true to any child of survivors. As for Jewish books, my first suggestion for May 2000 is by David Horovitz. I recommend that you read, contrast and compare it to the forthcoming similar book by Wendy Orange (which comes out in June). But before you read it, may I recommend the following.

[book cover] A Little Too Close to God: The Thrills and Panic of a Life in Israel by David Horovitz
Hardcover - 320 pages (May 2, 2000) Knopf. The book opens with London born Horovitz talking about his weekly lunches at a restaurant that gets blown up by a terrorist. Are the settlers wrong to live in very safe enclaves, while he lives in a dangerous Jerusalem? Do priorities change when you have 3 kids. When David Horovitz emigrated from England to Israel in 1983, it was the fulfillment of a dream. But today, a husband and a father, he is torn between hope and despair, between the desire to make a difference and fear for his family's safety, between staying and going. In this candid and powerful book, Horovitz confronts the heart-wrenching question of whether to continue raising his three children amid the uncertainty and danger that is Israeli daily life, or move with his American born wife. In answering that question he provides us with an often surprising, myth-shattering, and shockingly immediate view of a country perpetually at a crossroads, yet fundamentally different than it was a generation ago. This is a unique personal story (through the eyes of a Western highly politicized immigrant) of his successes, failures, mistakes, prejudices, and life experiences, and as an acclaimed reporter and editor for The Jerusalem Report.
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[book] Bee Season : A Novel. by Myla Goldberg
Hardcover - 304 pages (June 2000) Doubleday. From the moment I picked up this novel, I kept thinking "four men entered the garden, and only one returned unscathed...." Jewish book reading groups should keep this in mind; This will be a must read. Oberlin grad, and first time Brooklyn novelist, Myla Goldberg, mixes Jewish family dynamics, adolescence, a national spelling bee, Reconstructionist synagogue life, mysticism, and the writings of Rabbi Avraham Abulafia, the Kabbalist, into a witty, extraordinary, and compelling story about nine year old Eliza Naumann's quest for family status. A successful and driven couple, Saul and Miriam, wonder why Eliza, an average, quiet nine year old, is not excelling in school like her older brother Aaron. Will she be tracked into the "dummies" classes forever? Is she really their daughter? But then she sweeps her school, district, and state spelling bees. Saul, a cantor and self-taught student of Jewish mysticism, who ignored Eliza up to this point, now invests his time into coaching her. He focuses on Eliza at the expense of his formerly annointed prodigal son, Aaron. Now only she is allowed into the inner sanctum, or garden, of his study. Now Aaron loses faith. Aaron, who is a searcher for a repeat epiphany, no longer plays the synagogue game to see who will sit down first during the silent Amidah prayers. Then he meets a man in a park. Oh, I can tell no more; if I only had Eliza and Miriam's powers of concentration. Click to read more.
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[book] Eat First -- You Don't Know What They'll Give You. The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter. by Sonia Pressman Fuentes.
Hardcover and Paperback (see below)- 340 pages. Sonia Pressman Fuentes, the first female attorney in the General Counsel's Ofice of the EEOC and a founder of NOW, played a major role in the birth of the new women's movement and her tales of its early days will delight those who are curious about the beginnings of this great social movement. Fuentes was born in Berlin to Polish Jewish parents, and they escaped to the USA prior to the deportations and extermination of the Jews. They settled in the Catskills and worked in the Jewish resorts biz. She is a granddaughter of a Jewish wedding jester, a badkhn. Her memoirs are written with a light touch and a Jewish/Yiddish flavor.
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OFRAH'S APRIL 2000 SELECTION(S)

My selections for April are easy. Of course, I am re-reading The New York Times Passover Cookbook: More Than 175 Holiday Recipes from Top Chefs and Writers by Linda Amster (Editor), and Joan Nathan. See the review of it lower on the page that I did last year. I am most happy about the English translation of the poet, Yehudah Amichai's Magnum Opus (see the review below). Additionally, I have been quite perturbed by all the emails that have been swirling around concerning Amazon and Bn.com's sale of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I want them to sell the book. I do not believe in censorship. I DO believe however that amazon should mention that the book is a fiction, and they have told me that they are posting a notice from the ADL. But most of the people complaining about the Protocols have never read it, like most people have never read Mein Kampf or Das Kapital. So that is why I am recommending that everyone reads A RUMOR ABOUT THE JEWS (see the review below) [book] Open Closed Open: Poems by Yehuda Amichai, Translations by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld.
Hardcover - 208 pages 1st edition (March 7, 2000) Harcourt Brace. The English translation of Amichai's 1998 book of poetry. A magnum opus. A poet would be needed to describe the genius of his words. I never "get" poetry. It doesn't work for me. But then I read a poem by Amichai, age 76, and it made sense. Then I went to hear him at a reading at NYU several years ago, and it clicked. Then I read an excerpt from this book last Fall in The Forward, and I have been anxious for this book's release for the past 6 months. I bought this book and I consumed it. Reading his 25 poems is like praying, like meditating. Here is one tiny excerpt that is reprinted with permission. If it clicks for you, get the book.

Tova's brother, whom I carried wounded from the battle at Tel Gath,
recovered and was forgotten because he recovered, and died
a few years later in a car crash, and was forgotten
because he died. And even if my bloodied hands
had been prophets then, my eyes saw not
and my feet knew not what the grain in the field knows,
that green wheat ripens yellow.
That's the life prophecy of a field of wheat."

Wait here is another excerpt
The memorial forest where we made love But the two of us stayed alive and in love in memory of the burnt ones the forest remembered.

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[book] A Rumor About the Jews: Reflections on Antisemitism and the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion by Stephen Eric Bronner.
Hardcover - 160 pages (April 2000) St Martins Press. With the whole issue over the Protocols of the Elders of Zion reaching such a boiling point, I wish to point out this excellent history of the topic. Rutgers Political Science Professor, Stephen Eric Bronner, whose parents fled Nazi Germany and settled in the German Jewish enclave of Washington Heights in Manhattan, provides this remarkable analysis into the antecedents of THE PROTOCOLS, the reasons it was published in 1903 by the Russian Imperial Secret Police, the groups that used the Protocols for their political ends, the legal suit that was brought against the book in the 1930's in Switzerland, the early opponents to this popular fictitious Antisemitic tract, and the current state of antisemitism, whether it be social, religious, or political. A MUST READ. Click to read more reviews of this book.
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OFRAH'S MARCH 2000 SELECTION(S)

Be happy, it's Adar II. For the last few weeks, I have focused on a first novel by a Brooklynite which will be published in June. I really enjoyed it, and I can't wait til June when I will recommend it to book clubs. (It's called Bee Season, and concerns a Reconstructionist Jewish family, the Kabbalah of Rabbi Abulafia, and a spelling bee.)

What else is nu?? I am really happy that "A DRIZZLE OF HONEY" was awarded a National Jewish Book Award (Awards ceremony is in NYC on March 23); and I saw the film Wonder Boys. Unfortunately the Jewish scenes from the book (by Michael Chabon) were taken out of the screenplay, but it was an entertaining film, nevertheless. As for my book recommendation for March 2000...

[bookcover click me] The Operator: David Geffen Builds, Buys and Sells the New Hollywood. By Tom King
(March 7, 2000). A fascinating story of the music biz and a music and film studio mogul. Will this be the book for pre Yom Kippur reading, with a theme of the master of reconciliation? Is Geffen like a pastrami sandwich? Something that gives you indigestion, but you crave frequent closeness with it nonetheless? Wall Street Journal reporter Tom King's unauthorized (but Geffen was interviewed) biography on David Geffen. Over 300 interviews were conducted to create this bio of Geffen, who started in the mailroom of the William Morris agency (actually, everyone, even lawyers, must do a stint in the mailroom). Geffen went on to found Geffen and Asylum Records (JONI MITCHELL, The Eagles, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Nirvana, etc), back the broadway shows of Cats and Dreamgirls, and produce the film Risky Business. He is also a founder of Dreamworks SKG (with Katzenberg and Spielberg), and he bailed out Calvin Klein in the 1990's. This is an unflinching and unflattering portrait of Geffen, so much so, that Geffen turned against the author before publication. Like a magnet, Geffen attracts and repels; he is so caring and captivating, yet can be ruthless and insensitive when it comes to making the deal and winning. For example, Spielberg was disgusted by Geffen's behavior during the final days of the dying Steve Ross (Time Warner), yet became Geffen's partner in SKG a decade later. Or take Ertugen, his mentor. They were close and lifetime partners, until Geffen left to for Asylum Records. They became enemies, and Geffen even spread a rumor that Ertugen was anti-Jewish. Ertegen, now co-chairman of Atlantic Records, and Geffen, are now good friends.
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[book] Mother & Daughter Jewish Cooking: Two Generations of Jewish Women Share Traditional and Contemporary Recipes by Evelyn Rose and Judi Rose.
Hardcover - 320 pages (March 2000) Jewish women have been cooking and handing down their recipes since Rivka cooked a savory dish with which Jacob tricked Isaac. Evelyn Rose is the food editor for the Jewish Chronicle (UK) and author of the cookbook nearly everyone has, The New Complete International Jewish Cookbook. . Her daughter Judi, who lives in NYC, is a producer for the BBC and is currently preparing a series on Thai cooking. Mother passes traditions and tips and lore onto daughter in this book. In addition to recipes and tips (tips on frying onions, soaking beans, chopping, preparing rice, and baking), folktales are also passed down to the new generation, such as how it took Evelyn ten years to beat the Rose family pickle recipe out of her husband. The Roses also include some holiday menus at the back of the book which makes it easier for you to add their recipes to your holiday presentations. For each classic Jewish recipe, the authors also present updated hybrids. For example, recipes include classic chicken soup, followed by a contemporary szechuan chicken soup with soy, ginger, or lemongrass. Hungarian Goulash soup is followed by a Spanish red pepper soup. A traditional Jewish lentil soup is paired with a Cream of Watercress; chopped chicken liver is followed by liver pate with pears and citrus and red currant sauce; or a vegetarian zucchini pate. Sephardic cheese puffs are followed by contemporary French petites gougeres. A traditional Tunisian baked omelet (badinjan kuku) is followed by Israeli cream cheese pancakes. The Roses provide a recipe for a lokshen kugel that can be made with wheat and egg free asian noodles (did you know that lakcha means noodles in Turkish?), as well as an excellent one for a traditional Anglo-Jewish halibut in lemon sauce, and a kosher Valencian seafood-free paella. Gefilte fish is hybridized with Gefilte Fish Provencale, Marmite due Pecheur, and Normandy style fish with cider and apples. There are a dozen chicken dishes, including a lemon chicken; an orange, raisin, and honey chicken; and spice roasted chicken with apricot and bulgher stuffing. As for salad recipes; to name a few, there is Moroccan carrot-raisin; fennel, almond and black grape; Manchester style potato; cucumber; and melon, cucumber and strawberry. The desserts are to die for, need I say more? Okay, let me mention three: A traditional Queen of Sheba Flourless Chocolate Gajeau, a contemporary Viennese Apfelschnitten, and a classic Jewish Apple Pie.
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OFRAH'S FEBRUARY 2000 SELECTIONS

Oy, it's February already? Where did January go? Before you know it, Purim will be upon us. I spent most of January reading more of my January selections, and listening to some new CD's, including the Magnolia and the Bnai Jeshurun Shabbat CD's. For February, I have a difficult read, but its worth it...

[book] Fibroids : The Complete Guide to Taking Charge of Your Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Well-Being by Johanna Skilling
Paperback - 272 pages (February 2000). Yes, I know you were expecting a novel, but my two February selections are non-fiction and serious. When Johanna Skilling, a member of the same synagogue I attend, was diagnosed with fibroid tumors, she was confused by treatment recommendations that ranged from "watch and wait" to total hysterectomy. She was even more frustrated by the lack of data about fibroids, so she set out to close the information gap. Skilling offers practical information and reassurance, she explores the medical, emotional, and sexual implications of a fibroid diagnosis simply and thoroughly; explains what fibroids are, what influences their growth, what to expect after a diagnosis, and how to live with fibroids if surgery isn't chosen; and discusses traditional and alternative treatments and the mind-body connection. Click for more information.
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[book] No Room of Their Own : Gender and Nation in Israeli Women's Fiction (Gender and Culture) by Yael S. Feldman
Paperback - 337 pages (December 1999). Columbia University Press. An Associate Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at NYU, Feldman has written an eye-opening comparative analysis that will cause you to never read a book authored by a woman the same way again. I am not used to reading literary or gender theory, but this provided an excellent introduction, as well as providing a synopsis of the feminist works of Virginia Woolf and Simone Beauvoir. As Feldman's book taught me, you rarely saw Israeli women authors prior to 1980. It was the time of social realism literature, stories of "WE" the nation builders. But in 1997, four of Israel's best seller's were authored by religious women. Prior to the Yom Kippur War, Israeli women, like Leah Goldberg, wrote poetry; and men wrote fiction. For all the lip service that was paid to the new Hebrew socialist culture of the pioneers and the kibbutz, much of it was lip service when it came to gender roles. But since 1980, women have published historical fiction, biography, and mystery (Batya Gur) successfully in Israel. Many have them have projected contemporary concerns over the role of women in Israeli society onto their heroines from the pre-State period. Feldman focuses on five women authors: Amalia Kahana Carmon (Chapter 3), Shulamith Hareven (Chapter 5 and 6.3), Netiva Ben Yehuda (chapter 7), Ruth Almog (Chapter 8), and Shulamit Lapid (Chapter 1). I was captivated by the analysis of Lapid's "GEI ONI", a fictional story about the founding of Rosh Pinna (its original name was a Hebrew takeoff on the name of the Arab village). Was it a best seller in Israel because it dared to write about a fictional pioneering Woman of the first Aliyah? (Why do we only hear about the male pioneers?) Long story, short... Feldman shows the richness and subtleties of Israeli women's fiction as she explores the themes of gender and nation, as well as the (non)representation of the "New Hebrew Woman" in these five authors who are the "foremothers" of the contemporary boom in Israeli Women's fiction. Click for more information.
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