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[Happy Jewish New Year]
Forthcoming Books for Fall 2004.


Click here for Rosh Hashana books


Sep 07, 2004: Harold Kushner reads from The Lord is My Shepherd, B&N Framingham, 7PM
Sep 08, 2004: Novel Jews reading series. KGB Bar, 85 E 4th St, East Village NYC 7PM
Sep 09, 2004: Rabbi Steven Greenberg (WRESTLING WITH GOD AND MAN), NYC 92nd StY
Sep 09, 2004: Rabbi Yitz Greenberg (FOR THE SAKE OF HEAVEN AND EARTH), NYC JCC UWS 7PM
Sep 09, 2004: Jonathan Ames reads, B&N Court Street Brooklyn, 7PM
Sep 16-17, 2004: Rosh Hashana
Sep 22, 2004: Rabbi Steven Greenberg (WRESTLING WITH GOD AND MAN), NYC JCC UWS 7 PM
Sep 24, 2004: Kol Nidre
Sep 25, 2004: Yom Kippur
Sep 26, 2004: Joan Nathan with Phyllis Glazer, NYC 92nd St Y
Sep 28, 2004: Amy Sohn (MY OLD MAN), NYC 92nd St Y

Oct 01, 2004: First Day of Sukkot
Oct 03, 2004: Dennis Ross speaks on THE MISSING PEACE. Washington DC JCC
Oct 04, 2004: A J Jacobs speaks on THE KNOW IT ALL. Washington DC JCC
Oct 04, 2004: Steve Oney speaks on AND THE DEAD SHALL RISE. Washington DC JCC
Oct 05, 2004: Ellen Cassedy speaks on RADIANT AS THE STARS. Washington DC JCC
Oct 05, 2004: Jonathan Rosen reads from JOY COMES IN THE MORNING, B&N UWS NYC, 7PM
Oct 05, 2004: Rabbi Joseph Telushkin (A CODE OF JEWISH ETHICS), NYC JCC UWS 7 PM
Oct 09, 2004: National Book Festival, Washington DC 10 AM -5PM
Oct 09, 2004: Roya Hakakian speaks on WITNESS TO THE REVOLUTION. Washington DC JCC Literary Festival
Oct 10, 2004: Shulamit Elson speaks on KABBALAH OF PRAYER. Washington DC JCC Literary Festival
Oct 10, 2004: Jewish Food Conference at GWU, "Are We What We Eat? Jewish Foodways since 1654." Keynote Address: Joan Nathan: "From Bumuelos to Bagels and Beyond: 350 Years of Jewish Cooking in America." Featuring David M. Gitlitz, (Rhode Island) and Linda Kay Davidson; Marcie Cohen Ferris (UNC); Hasia Diner (NYU); Jonathan Sarna (Brandeis) (Not By White Bread Alone) (How Matzah Became Square); Eve Jochnowitz (Rutgers University); Yael Raviv (NYU) (Pita, Hummus and Lox: The Evolution of a Jewish-American Identity); Stephen Joel Trachtenberg (GWU); Mimi Sheraton; Jenna Weissman Joselit (Princeton); Barbara Haber; Ruth Abusch-Magder (Yale University); Shulamit Reinharz (Brandeis); Susan Weidman Schneider (Lilith Magazine) and Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz. Washington DC. See

Oct 11, 2004: Deborah Dash Moore speaks on G. I. JEWS: How WWII Changed a Generation. Washington DC JCC Literary Festival
Oct 11, 2004: Jules Feiffer reads. Part of the Nextbook series. Washington DCJCC
Oct 12, 2004: Jules Feiffer reads. Part of the Nextbook series. Fairfax VA
Oct 12, 2004: Robert Alter (THE FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES), NYC 92nd St Y
Oct 13, 2004: Novel Jews reading series. KGB Bar, 85 E 4th St, East Village NYC 7PM
Oct 14, 2004: Elie Wiesel speaks on American Jewry at 350, NYC 92nd St Y
Oct 18, 2004: Nancy Reisman reads from THE FIRST DESIRE, B&N Astor Place NYC, 7PM
Oct 20, 2004: Discussion of Henry Roth's CALL IT SLEEP, NYC 92nd St Y
Oct 21, 2004: Lawrence Summers (Harvard University, President), NYC 92nd St Y
Oct 21, 2004: Bennett Muraskin (LET JUSTICE WELL UP LIKE WATER), NYC JCC UWS 7 PM
Oct 21, 2004: Etgar Keret (The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God) reads. Part of the Nextbook series. Washington DCJCC
Oct 22, 2004: David Mizner reads from POLITICAL ANIMAL, B&N Gr. Village NYC, 7PM
Oct 24, 2004: Orly Castel-Bloom, Israeli Novelist of HUMAN PARTS and DOLLY CITY, speaks at UCLA Center for Jewish Studies. 7:30. UCLA. Living and Writing in Uncertain Times.
Oct 26, 2004: Dr. Jenna Wesiman Joselit (A PERFECT FIT) with Dr. Sarah Sayeed, Devorah Zlochower and Rev Dr. Katherine Henderson, on Pants Wigs and Headscarves, NYC JCC UWS 7 PM
Oct 26, 2004: The Moth: Who's Your Daddy? Stories of Fatherhood. At Crash Mansion, NYC, 199 Bowery.
Oct 31, 2004: A day of learning. NYC. www.LishMah.Org



[book] Yiddish with Dick and Jane
by Ellis Weiner, Barbara Davilman, Gabi Payn
Little, Brown; (September 13, 2004)
Schmooze Dick Schmooze
Jane works in Real Estate/ Jane has an Open House / Schlep Jane Schlep
Mary and Dick go out for Cantonese with their kids Alice and Zach
You will plotz! Television and film writer Barbara Davilman and humorist Ellis Weiner's YIDDISH WITH DICK AND JANE, a parody kids'book/language primer wherein grown-up versions of Dick and Jane help us all learn Yiddish. a primer like no other! In an inspired parodic twist, the two least Jewish characters in American literature spout some of the edgy, ironic Yiddishisms that have become part of the American vernacular. Click the book cover above to read more.
AN UPDATE FOR MYJEWiSBOOKS.COM READERS: Little, Brown's, Yiddish with Dick and Jane, was a surprise holiday hit, and has delighted the many who received it as a gift. Attorneys for Pearson Education, however, are less amused. Pearson, the publishers of the original Dick and Jane educational series earlier this month filed suit against Little, Brown as well as authors Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman and illustrator Gabi Payne, alleging copyright infringement. Liz Dubelman, president of, which produced a phenomenally successful online audiovisual promotion for the book that received in excess of two-million hits over six weeks, was also named. LB put a sizeable disclaimer on the back of the book which states: "This book is a parody and has not been prepared, approved, or authorized by the creators or producers or the 'Dick and Jane' reading primers for children." And the lawsuit acknowledges discussions between Pearson and Little, Brown prior to publication. "While disagreeing with LBC's (Little Brown & Company's) assertion that the infringing work was protected under fair use doctrine, the plaintiff determined not to take any further action at that time." Somewhere between those discussions and the huge success of the book, though, Pearson decided it should. One more possible motive for the suit can be found in Pearson's filing, which mentions that the company has licensed the characters to Columbia Pictures for an upcoming remake of Fun with Dick and Jane starring Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni.

by Cynthia Ozick
Houghton Mifflin; (September 1, 2004)
John Leonard writes, "a glimmerer in 16th-century England was a beggar woman, often with a sham license, who claimed to have lost her belongings to fire... there are the recorded glimmerings of old myths in the minds of poets and a transfigured Jesus in the Godhead. Nor should we forget that in such semishadow one sees ghosts. ...In her typically audacious new novel, ''Heir to the Glimmering World,'' Cynthia Ozick braids at least three and probably four ghostly glimmers and ''phantom eels'' of thought into a single luminous lariat -- or maybe a hangman's noose. Anything goes when she's making things up. While the Second Commandment on graven images presides over her fiercely prescriptive essays (four idol-smashing volumes of them since ''Art & Ardor'' in 1983), Ozick's fiction is shamanistic, almost wanton (five completely different novels, three dazzling collections of stories plus a ''Shawl'' since 1966). However much she always insists on ''a certain corona of moral purpose'' for fiction that wants to be better than journalism, she can't help dancing in the air like Feingold in ''Levitation,'' like Chagall with the cows, or Flannery O'Connor. In 1935, 18-year-old Rose Meadows, orphaned [her mother died when she was 3, her father died 14 years later on the way to the track (lm)], bright, bookish, broke, ''mainly a watcher and a listener'' and just evicted from her cousin Bertram's apartment by his obnoxious Communist girlfriend [Ninel which is Lenin spelled backwards (lm)], answers an Albany newspaper ad for someone to assist a family that has recently arrived from Berlin and is shortly to move to ''the true city'' of New York. Though it isn't clear if Rose is expected to be a secretary to Rudolf Mitwisser (a scholar obsessed with the 1,200-year-old Jewish heresy of Karaism), a nursemaid to his invalid wife, Elsa (a physicist booted out of her lab by the Nazis), or a nanny to their five difficult children, she is the only applicant for the job, with nowhere else to go."
Donna Seaman wrotes, "Ozick sets in motion a kaleidoscopic array of complex entanglements in her much anticipated new novel, a work of scintillating intelligence and supple imagination that, like The Puttermesser Papers (1997), draws on sacred and literary traditions to create a tale at once compassionate and brightly satirical, otherworldly and down to earth. It's 1933 and the Mitwissers, a prominent Jewish German family, have escaped the Nazis and found a dubious yet irresistible champion in peripatetic and dissolute James Philip A'Bair, who is intrigued by Professor Rudolph Mitwisser's obsession with Karaism, a renegade eighth-century Baghdad-based Jewish doctrine rejecting rabbinical interpretations in favor of a strict focus on scripture. Known as the Bear Boy, James is the reluctant heir to a great fortune amassed by his father, a children's author who, like A. A. Milne and his character Christopher Robin, used his son as a model for what became a beloved icon. James sets the Mitwissers up in a rangy old house in the Bronx, where Rose Meadows, a pragmatic 18-year-old orphan steeped in Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen, serves as caretaker, nanny, typist, confidante, and discerning witness to a strange and compelling world. Gruff and preoccupied, Rudolph is fascinating, but his physicist wife, Elsa, gravely depressed yet all-knowing, steals the show. There are also three wild boys, a regal teenage daughter, and a neglected baby girl. Money and affection are scarce, but secrets, chaos, and angst abound. As her captivating characters struggle to come to terms with their raided past, Ozick brilliantly dramatizes the conflict between theology and science, various modes of mythmaking and survival, and "the hot drive to dissent, to subvert, to fly from what all men accept!"" Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] SHANDA
The Making and Breaking of a Self-Loathing Jew
by Neal Karlen
Touchstone; (September 2, 2004)
Early in his memoir, Neal Karlen tells a rabbi, "I love Judaism. It's Jews I can't stand." What he means is that he hates the parochialism and material trappings of the young Jews he knows: Their new temples are gilded and the parking lots spill over with luxury cars. Religion for them is a quest for a Jewish wife from "the right" family and a big house and splendid clothes. Gone is the soulful practice of tradition that his grandparents brought over from Russia. Karlen sees communities from New York to Los Angeles of Jewish status seekers and he can't stand the thought of being identified as one of them. Frustrated and embarrassed, Karlen stops looking for the Jewish enclave that fits him and, for the next ten years, simply rejects Judaism. He antagonizes rabbis. He becomes the token Jew among his Midwestern friends and the buffoon at cocktail parties with a shtick of Jewish jokes and imitations that cross the line. And then one day, Karlen goes too far: he marries a blue-eyed Protestant from a family with an anti-Semitic bent. The marriage is doomed.
At midlife Karlen discovers that he belongs nowhere and that the Jew he really hates is himself. He is a shanda -- a shame. Written with irreverent zest and poignancy, SHANDA is Karlen's story of finding his way back to Judaism -- and the Jewish community. His guide is an unlikely one: Rabbi Manis Friedman, a Hasidic scholar with a beard to his chest and a fedora that makes him look like "Sam Spade about to go out in the rain." The rabbi invites Karlen to study with him. In their weekly meetings devoted to scholarship and Jewish ritual, Karlen asks the questions that assimilated Jews grapple with, such as "How do we bring meaning to the practice of Judaism?" "Where is the line between Jewish and too Jewish?" and "What does it mean to be Jewish-American and ashamed by Judaism?" Rabbi Friedman leads Karlen up the mountain to find these answers -- and shows both author and reader the stunning view from the top. Ultimately, this odd couple discovers what it means to be a good person -- not just a good Jew. At its heart, SHANDA is about their surprising friendship and the ways that people change -- and change each other. At once hilarious and heartbreaking, it is a parable for anyone who has ever questioned his faith or has lost his way. Click the book cover above to read more.

Consortium; (September 15, 2004)
PW WRITES: A young speechwriter meets the unlikely woman of his dreams during campaign season in Mizner's sharp, very funny novel. "I'm eating Kung Pao chicken and listening to people tell lies," begins Ben Bergin, the sloppy but likable protagonist. "This is where we have staff meetings, where we make decisions that get overturned by decisions made in smaller rooms." Rep. Arnie Schechter (D.-N.Y.) is running for senator, and about the only thing that makes the campaign tolerable for Ben is the presence of Calliope Berkowitz, the beautiful, zaftig and sharp-tongued volunteer coordinator who becomes his coconspirator in office politics and outrageous wisecracks. Most of the novel deals with the slow, ambiguous simmer leading up to their boiling romance, set against the backdrop of the Schechter campaign and a politically and racially charged murder case. Mizner's take on politics ("Liberalism, I grant, could use a shave and a haircut, if not an enema..."; "the bigger the office, the bigger the robot") are wry and trenchant (he's a former speechwriter), and Ben's odes to Calli's sex appeal are alternately raunchy and romantic. Some Clinton-related controversies seem a bit quaint in the post-9/11 political landscape, but Mizner's cutting commentary on New York politics, its attendant disillusionments and its diverse supporting cast more than compensate. A deftly handled blend of romance and politics, this is a smart and fun debut. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The Fortress of Solitude
A novel
Vintage; (Summer 2004)
NOW IN PAPERBACK This is the story of two boys, Dylan Ebdus and Mingus Rude. They are friends and neighbors, but because Dylan is white and Mingus is black, their friendship is not simple. This is the story of their Brooklyn neighborhood, Boerum Hill, between the Heights, Cobble Hill, Gowanus, and Park Slope, which is almost exclusively black despite the first whispers of something that will become known as "gentrification." The protagonist of the novel is Dylan Ebdus, who arrives on Dean Street in 1970 when he is 5 years old. His father, Abraham, is a painter and a recluse. The more massive presence in Dylan's life is his mother, Rachel. She is young, wildly articulate in the manner of Brooklynites, a pot-smoker, a Nixon-hater. She is fiercely protective of her son, but also wants him to grow up as a street kid to acquire street smarts. So she sends him to P.S. 38 rather than Packer Collegiate or St. Ann's, and at one point Dylan overhears her boasting to a friend that her son is the only white child in his school. What she doesn't say, what she might not even notice, is that he is learning next to nothing, and getting mugged by black children almost every day. This is the story of 1970s America, a time when the most simple human decisions-what music you listen to, whether to speak to the kid in the seat next to you, whether to give up your lunch money-are laden with potential political, social and racial disaster. This is the story of 1990s America, when no one cared anymore. This is the story of punk, that easy white rebellion, and crack, that monstrous plague. This is the story of the loneliness of the avant-garde artist and the exuberance of the graffiti artist. This is the story of what would happen if two teenaged boys obsessed with comic book heroes actually had superpowers: They would screw up their lives. This is the story of joyous afternoons of stickball and dreaded years of schoolyard extortion. This is the story of belonging to a society that doesn't accept you. This is the story of prison and of college, of Brooklyn and Berkeley, of soul and rap, of murder and redemption. Periodically, one of the characters sitting on a stoop or leaning out an open window for air will pause to take the temperature of the block, and it is almost always summer: "Brooklyn was a tropical place, faint marimba notes suspended in the yellow air, now a Mister Softee truck's incessant, circular tune, rising and falling like an ambulance whine as it positioned itself on Bergen, Bond, Dean, Pacific, drawing sluggish kids like ants to a soda spill. Manhattan seemed a thousand miles away, another city." For the last 200 pages of the novel, Lethem switches from the third person to the first, confining himself to Dylan's voice. Dylan has grown up. He is a music journalist in California, writing liner notes for boxed sets of oldies. But he never stops thinking about his childhood in Gowanus ("My childhood is the only part of my life that wasn't, uh, overwhelmed by my childhood," he tells his understandably exasperated black girlfriend), and in the last part of the book he tries to fathom the sources of this haunting and to do something about it. Why is it Jewish?? Cuz as you read it, you realize they must be Jewish, and it is alluded to around page 430. Click the book cover above to read more.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux; (September 15, 2004)
Who better to write a novel about a rabbi, than a real life rabbi's husband?
Rabbi Deborah Green is a woman of passionate contradictions--a rabbi who craves goodness and surety while wrestling with her own desires and with the sorrow and pain she sees around her. Her life changes when, as a hospital chaplain, she visits the hospital room of Henry Friedman, an older man who has attempted suicide. His parents were murdered in the Holocaust when he was a child, and all his life he's struggled with difficult questions: Can happiness really come after such loss, or does the very wish profane the dead? Can religious promises ever bring peace? Deborah's encounter with Henry and his family draws her into a world of tragedy, frailty, love, and, finally, hope. Henry's son, Lev, is a skeptic and science writer. Lev recently fled from his wedding to a non-Jewish woman. He feels overshadowed by his brother, Jacob, a genius. Lev's friend, Neal Marcus, has had his energetic mind derailed by schizophrenia. Of course, you know that Lev will embark on a tentative relationship with Rabbi Green. The New Yorker called Rosen's first novel "An impressive debut--a highly original addition to the distinguished line of Jewish-American romances." He has fulfilled the promise of his first fiction in this contemporary story of classic scope, whose characters hunger for love, grapple with faith and doubt, and seek to bind themselves to something sacred in the midst of modern chaos. Click the book cover above to read more.

A novel
Vintage, (Summer 2004) paperback edition
Acclaimed short story and non fiction writer, Mr. Wolff's (Stanford), first Novel. Determined to fit in at his New England prep school (1960-1961), the narrator has learned to mimic the bearing and manners of his adoptive tribe while concealing as much as possible about himself. He is passing, he is an outsider, his father is Jewish, he is on scholarship, he is middle class in an elite school filled with the sons of rich men. His final year, however, unravels everything he's achieved, and steers his destiny in directions no one could have predicted. The school's mystique is rooted in Literature, and for many boys this becomes an obsession, editing the review and competing for the attention of visiting writers whose fame helps to perpetuate the tradition. Robert Frost, soon to appear at JFK's inauguration, is far less controversial than the next visitor, Ayn Rand. But the final guest, Ernest Hemingway, is one whose blessing a young writer would do almost anything to gain. Note to readers. Tobias Wolff is of Irish and Jewish heritage. His father hid the fact that he was Jewish. Wolff stated, "...I think he [my father] was pretending, out of some deep sadness of self, that he was someone other than who he was. He had this sort of pathetic WASP fantasy. I used to think it was the prep schools he went to, where there was a lot of anti-Semitism. But as my brother was doing his research for a book about my father, it became his opinion that the most influential anti-Semitism my father encountered when he was growing up was from Jews, because his relatives were German Jews, and doctors. Our grandfather was a doctor and our great-grandfather was a doctor and our great-great grandfather was a doctor to Napoleon, and they were very proud and insular. When this great wave of immigrants came here at the turn of the century - Jews from Poland, from Russia - they were looked down on by the German Jews who called them Yids and Hebes and all this stuff. The German Jews were very secularized, very unobservant, very assimilationist. And my father picked up a lot of this stuff. It's a very strange business. . Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] [philip roth] THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA
Houghton Mifflin Company; (October 1, 2004)
The most anticipated book of Fall 2004.
The Jewish best seller of Fall 2004
Although well reviewed around the country, The NYT reviewer, Michiku Kakutani called it a little contrived and "provocative but lumpy." All I can tell you is that she read it from a set of eyes that are not mine. I found it provocative, metaphorical, believable, gripping, and impelling. It was amazing to read this during the RNC Convention.... Shudder.
The book opens in 1940. June. (or is it 2004?). [yes, I know that Roth says it has nothing to do with 2004, but it is out of his hands, and the reader, namely me, found it a reflection of current times]
A nine year old Philip Roth, his older brother, and his parents are living in a small Newark apartment in a Jewish neighborhood. Philip's father is selling insurance for Met Life; he declines an offer for a position in management, which would require him to manage some drunk Christians and move his family to a non-Jewish area of NJ. It is 1940, an election year, FDR is running for reelection. It is a hot night, when the deadlocked Republicans offer up Lindbergh as their Presidential candidate to run against FDR. The family listens to their radio closely. Lindbergh had just given an awful speech criticizing the evil Jews, just like Henry Ford and Reverend Coughlin. Walter Winchell, the greatest Jew after Einstein in 1940, lashes out against Lindbergh; the Jews feel relieved. But when the renowned aviation hero and rabid isolationist Charles A. Lindbergh defeats Franklin Roosevelt by a landslide in the 1940 presidential election, fear invades every Jewish household in America. Not only had Lindbergh, in a nationwide radio address, publicly blamed the Jews (OR NEOCONSERVATIVES AND UPPER WEST SIDERS) for selfishly pushing America towards a pointless war with Nazi Germany, but upon taking office as the thirty-third president of the United States, he negotiates a cordial "understanding" with Adolf Hitler, whose conquest of Europe and virulent anti-Semitic policies Lindbergh appeare to accept without diffculty.
What then followed in America is the historical setting for this startling new book by Pulitzer Prize-winner Philip Roth, who recounts what it was like for his Newark family - and for a million such families all over the country - during the menacing years of the Lindbergh presidency, when American citizens who happened to be Jews had every reason to expect the worst.
Best among the chapters is LOUDMOUTH JEW, in which the Roth family visits Washington DC after Lindbergh has entered the White House. Roth delivers powerful, supremely crafted sentences. His portrayal of splits in families and the Jewish leadership are on target. Lindbergh smartly sets up JUST FOLKS, to assimilate Jewish youth into Christian America; a revered rabbi, a confidant of Lindbergh runs the program (kind of like Nixon's rabbi). It reminded me of the film CSA (Confederate States of America, in which the Confederacy wins and they send Jews to Canada and set up a Jewish reservation on Long Island). Philip's family becomes a microcosm for the nation, as his older brother, his celebrity enamoured Aunt, and Lindbergh-befriending rabbi side with Lindbergh; his cousin is maimed in the war fighting for Canada, and his father remains committed against Lindbergh. Roth wisely puts a bitter, injured nephew, (a thin as a death camp survivor), as well as a Lindbergh loving son under Herman Roth's roof.
Roth is right on the mark in his portrayal of the Roth family, the uncles, the optimistic views of the wealthier Jews, the pessimism of the poorer Jews, and, tell me that the coke, smelting, and coal plants of West Virginia do not evoke a certain feel of Southern Poland in your mind's eye. In 1997 Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House, and in 2002 received the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction. Click the book cover above to read more.
Click here for the Audio Book for those who would rather listen to it

[book] The Gospel According to Disney
Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust
by Mark I. Pinsky
August 2004. Westminster Books.
Pinsky, the religion writer for the Orlando Sentinel and author of the Gospel According to the Simpsons, has written this insightful look into Disney film and culture, religion, and the differences between early Disney under the Christian Disneys... and the later Jews of Michael and Jeffrey (Eisner and Katzenberg). Is a pilgrimage to Disney World the modern religious family pilgrimage and Hajj? (Disney employs 50,000 people in Central Florida) He discusses the effects of the boycott of Disney products by the Southern Baptist Convention (after the Jews took over?)... He also covers how Disney, a corporation, has helped to mold the moral and spiritual development of America's children, through 30 of their most popular films, including Snow White, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and the Lion King. Who forgets how each Sunday night, we watched Walt introduce the prime time film, or later, Michael Eisner do the same. More specifically, Pinsky looks at the Disney Years (Walt and Roy, 1937-1984), which created (with sometimes racist characterizations) Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, Bambi, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmatians, The Sword and the Stone, The Jungle Book, Robin Hood, The Fox and The Hound, Shorts (Pagans, Jews and Christians) and the The Black Cauldron (1985, contains occult). Where was God and what was the role of magic in these films? In Part Two of the Book, The Eisner Years of 1984-2004, Pinsky reviews Michael and Jeffrey, and the films of the Little Mermaid (upward mobility, intermarriage), Beauty and The Beast (feminism and transformation), Aladdin (Islam), The Lion King (karma, hinduism, circle of light), Pocahantis (animism), The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan (a woman of valor), Tarzan (taming the savage), The Emperor's New Groove (noblesse oblige), Atlantis (adventure capitalism), Lilo and Stitch, Treasure Planet, Return to Neverland, and Brother Bear. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Devil in the Details
Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood
by Jennifer Traig
Little, Brown; September 14, 2004.
Jennifer Traig, the Forward columnist and author of Judaikitsch, has written this memoir in the bestselling tradition of Running with Scissors and A Girl Named Zippy, Jennifer Traig tells an unforgettable story of youthful obsession. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Journey from the Land of No
A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran
Simon & Schuster; (Summer 2004)
Political upheavals like the fall of the Shah of Iran and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism may be analyzed endlessly by scholars, but eyewitness accounts like Hakakian's help us understand what it was like to experience such a revolution firsthand. The documentary filmmaker and poet was born to a prominent Tehran Jewish family in 1966, two years after the Shah had exiled Islamic fundamentalist leader Ayatollah Khomeini. As Jews in a largely Muslim world, the family knew how to live respectfully with their neighbors. With powerful illustrations, Hakakian relates how, in 1979, when the Shah fled and Khomeini returned triumphant, she joined the cheering crowds. Khomeini's revolution seemed liberating, but before long, the grip of the Islamic extremists tightened. Women were put under strict surveillance; books and speech were censored. Anti-Jewish graffiti appeared. As the targeting became more visible-being made to use separate toilets and drinking fountains, being required to identify their businesses as non-Muslim-many Jews emigrated. After Hakakian describes the teacher who risked her job to give her high marks on a "subversive" paper or grips readers with the tale of how she and her teen buddies barely evaded the morality police, readers just want her to leave, too, which her family did, in 1984. Hakakian's story-so reminiscent of the experiences of Jews in Nazi Germany-is haunting. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Songbird
A Novel
by Walter Zacharius
Atria; (September 14, 2004)
Booklist writes: Through the truth of one young Jewish woman's viewpoint, this searing first novel covers a huge sweep of Holocaust history even as it offers an intimate view of the personal-survivor experience. It could be 10 novels, but the clear, gripping first-person narrative is a breathless read. Mia Levy, a rich, gorgeous teenager in Lodz, Poland, and later a music student in Paris, is transported by the Nazis to Treblinka with her family. Pushed off the train by her father, she joins the partisans in the Warsaw Ghetto, escapes to Switzerland, and gets a visa to visit relatives in New York. Once in the U.S., she falls in love with a musician, never thinks of her past, never talks about her family, and tries to fit in in an America that doesn't want to know. After Pearl Harbor, though, she is recruited by the French Resistance to work in a Paris brothel, where she services sadomasochistic Nazi officers and extracts secrets for the Allies. After the war, her family dead, her home in Lodz stolen, she flees to Palestine. The historical detail is authentic, and the passionate story takes you with her, so drawn into her world that you are shocked to discover what you knew about her past and that she has made you forget. The Paris espionage story is absolutely compelling, especially the shock of who is betraying--and killing--whom. Only the hint of the lovers' reunion may be too hopeful. Daughter, pianist, fighter, killer, refugee, whore, lover: What does survival mean? Click the book cover above to read more.

by Rabbi Yitz Greenberg Irving Greenberg
Summer 2004, Jewish Publication Society.
Rabbi Greenberg's new book makes an invaluable contribution to interfaith conversation. He calls for Christians and Jews to come together in their continuously evolving partnership with God-dual covenants that demand "openness to each other, learning from each other, and a respect for the distinctiveness of the ongoing validity of each other." Now, when the resurgence of anti-Semitism poses a threat to Jews here and around the world, this powerful book presents a new opportunity to heed the call first put forward by Rabbi Greenberg nearly four decades ago: a call for people of all faiths and cultures to work together to create a world in which everyone can live with dignity and equality-the deserved inheritance of a humanity created in the image of God. In the first half of his book, Rabbi Greenberg takes us on his personal journey to a rethinking of Christianity, which ultimately gave rise to his belief that Christianity, Judaism (and every religion that works to repair the world and advance the triumph of life) are valid expressions of the pact between God and humankind. In Part 2 he brings together for the first time his seven most important essays on the new encounters between Judaism and Christianity. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The First Desire
A novel by Nancy Reisman
September 2004. Pantheon Books.
Set in the years after 1929 and the Depression, a novel about Sadie Feldstein (nee Cohen) and the disappearance of her sister Goldie. A Buffalo family personifies quiet desperation. Abraham, a dour jeweler, is the widower-patriarch of the Cohen family, who occupy a rambling house on tree-lined Lancaster Street, a powerfully traditional Jewish home that Abraham's four daughters and one son struggle to escape from with varying degrees of success. Ponderous, incantatory prose and painstaking attention to mundane domestic detail, not to mention much interior musing, slow the narrative but deepen our identification with the characters' plights. Taking place in the 1930s and '40s, the story is told from the points of view of second daughter Sadie, who finds provisional refuge in marriage to a dentist; Goldie, the oldest, who immigrated late, with her mother, from Ukraine and is hence a stranger to her father; middle child Jo, a latent lesbian who rebels against being forced into the role of surrogate mother when Goldie bolts; and baby brother Irving, spoiled from birth, perennially torn between pressures to conform to the bourgeois values of a tight-knit Jewish community and the temptations of loose women and gambling. The Depression, along with the pre- and post-WWII eras, are evoked vividly, as is the sense of a vise gradually tightening upon Abe's children as one after another they either accept their lot as family servants or act out their frustrations-in the meantime competing to escape the threatening, feared, and imprisoning burden of youngest daughter Celia's mental "peculiarity." Abe's mistress, Lillian, longs for marriage but is ultimately thankful for not having been dragged into the "morass" of the Cohenhousehold. Goldie's self-realization as she slips off the coils of her hometown is the only hopeful note in this grimly purposeful tale, where the fog of seething resentments (Niagara is a recurring symbol) can't entirely obscure sporadic gleams of familial love. Beneath the sepia tint, fully imagined lives. Click the book cover above to read more.


[book] Someone Not Really Her Mother
A novel
by Harriet Scott Chessman
Dutton; (Summer 2004)
Hannah Pearl can't remember whether the nursing home aide is her daughter, her sister, or a stranger. She can't remember whether she is still a Jew in occupied France in 1940, in England during and after the war, or in America raising her daughter alone. Does she speak French or English? She has Alzheimer's, and the very memories of losing her entire family in the concentration camps and her husband in a freak accident are the only ones clear to her anymore. Her past is shattered, who knows what the future has in store. What happens when you put the past behind you to start over in America, and now you can only remember these past events, and since you never spoke of them, your child and grandchild can not understand these events in your lucid moments. She is alone in her secret memories. Her daughter, Miranda, waits for the brief moments her mother knows her to tell her what is happening in her life. But she never was told much about her mother's wartime tragedies or her biological father who died prior to Miranda's birth. Her granddaughter, Ida, wants to put Hannah's life in a poem but is too late to catch the memories. And Fiona is haunted by the lost family in France. Told through the voices of these four women, the novel intricately reveals the fleetingness of memory and the delicate lacework of love between mothers and daughters. Chessman manages to explore some major themes: memory, family history, personal identity and the redemptive power of art. A chilling portrait of mental disintegration, "Someone Not Really Her Mother" also captures the heartbreak of a family bereft of history. The women in Hannah's family -- Miranda, who is "trying to live in the present" and her daughters Fiona, a new mother, and Ida, a college senior hell-bent on understanding Hannah's life -- are haunted by the bits of the story that they know and the horrors they imagine. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] An Hour in Paradise: Stories
by Joan Leegant
W. W. Norton & Company; (Summer 2004) paperback edition
Joan Leegant's collection takes its title from the Yiddish proverb "Even an hour in Paradise is worthwhile." In settings from Jerusalem to Queens, from Hollywood's outskirts to Sarasota, Florida, the characters in this mesmerizing debut collection are drawn to the seductions of religion, soldiering on in search of divine and human connection. A former drug dealer turned yeshiva student faces his past with a dying AIDS patient. A disaffected American in the ancient city of Safed ventures into Kabbalist mysticism and gets more than he bargained for. A rabbi whose morning minyan is visited by a pair of Siamese twins considers the possibility that his guests are not mere mortals. An aging Jerusalemite chronicles his country's changes during the biblical year of rest. By turns poignant and comic, unflinching and compassionate-with a dose of fabulist daring-An Hour in Paradise explores the dangers and unforeseen rewards of our most fundamental longings. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Fraulein Rabbiner Jonas
The Story of the First Woman Rabbi
by Elisa Klapheck
September 17, 2004. Jossey Bass Wiley.
Bio on modern Judaism's first female rabbi. Fraulein Rabbiner Jonas tells the moving story of the woman who inspired a new kind of progressive female participation in the Jewish religion. Biographer Elisa Klapheck shows how Jonas overcame formidable resistance and obstacles from conventional orthodox Jewish institutions to become the first female rabbi. The book includes the text of Jonas's definitive treatise on why women can indeed become rabbis, which is based on sound scripture from the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, and other precedents in Jewish halachic law, rabbinic commentary, and Jewish practice. After her ordination in 1935, Jonas spent the remaining years of her life ministering to the abused and terrified German Jewish community as the Nazis rapidly restricted and robbed it of property, identity, and social privilege, forcing the Jews into hard labor, poverty, and ultimately death camps. This moving portrayal of her life reveals Regina Jonas as a humorous and passionate woman who was deeply beloved by all she served during the terminal crisis of their lives. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] You Are My Witness
The Living Words of Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer
Edited by Jane Isay, Writings from Marshall T. Meyer and Naomi Meyer
September 2004.
St Martins Press.
Marshall Meyer, who died at age 64 in 1993, was a human rights leader and a powerful voice for justice. People flocked to hear him in Argentina, where he served as a rabbi for twenty-five years. In the mid-1980's, he became the spiritual leader of the fastest growing Jewish congregation in the U.S., Congregation B'Nai Jeshurun. People like Sam Freedman, Richard Bernstein, and Jan Hoffman of the New York Times are members. Harvey Cox, Elie Wiesel, and William Sloan Coffin were close friends. After the rabbi's untimely death, Jane Isay had urged his widow, Naomi Meyer, partner in faith and action, to create a book from his writings so that his voice would not be silenced forever. Instead of finding the yellowing pages of rabbinic prose or the dry papers of a rabbi-scholar, Jane Isay encountered a powerful voice that implores readers to see the cruelty of our greedy world, begging them to understand the pain of the oppressed, urging them to awaken from their slumber of inactivity, and directing them to act for justice out of respect for the great prophetic vision that is the Jewish gift to civilization. There is a long Jewish tradition of master rabbis, who attract large followings through their lives and whose teachings live long after they die. The writings collected in this gem of a book combine the best of Jewish prophecy with social action and a great sense of joyfulness.
Pubishers Weekly writes, "When Meyer died in 1993, he was only 64 years old, but it was as if he had already lived two very full lives. In the first, he worked as a rabbi in Argentina for 25 years and spoke out frequently against the repressive government. He founded Latin America's first rabbinical seminary and ran an "underground railroad" that helped people escape the country. In the second, he resuscitated a dying synagogue on Manhattan's Upper West Side and made it one of the most outspoken, active and thriving Jewish congregations in America. Isay, who was one of Meyer's New York congregants, brings her professional skills as an editor to bear on his considerable corpus of papers, which startled her with their power and relevance. "I felt as if I were encountering a burning bush on every page," she records in the book's introduction. Isay organizes the book into six basic spiritual themes-faith, confronting God in world events, war and peace, prayer, holy days and the "lessons of Argentina." In the brief excerpts, Meyer tells stories, preaches about justice and draws on biblical prophets like Amos, whom he affectionately calls "a subversive Jew." This is a powerful, fitting tribute to a man who "loved Judaism most because of its intolerance of cruelty.""
Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] [mark borovitz] The Holy Thief
A Con Man's Journey from Darkness to Light
by Rabbi Mark Borovitz, and Alan Eisenstock
William Morrow; (August 17, 2004)
Save your "all rabbis are con artists" jokes for the sisterhood meetings, baby.
At the age of 14, (Rabbi) Borovitz began selling stolen goods for the Cleveland mob to help support his family after his father's death. At 20, he started carrying a gun, but his "weapon of choice was a checkbook." He got into insurance frauds, armed robbery, and kiting checks. When two mobsters he had scammed put a hit out on him, Borovitz moved to Los Angeles and continued his life of "hustling, drinking, and madness." From 1982 to 1988, Borovitz, a Jew, was in and out of prison. In 1987, in the state prison in Chino, California, he began studying the Torah, was married in 1990 (to the co founder of Beit Teshuva), and, in the mid-1990s, ordained as a rabbi (University of Judaism). (His older brother Neal is also a Rabbi) He's now the spiritual leader of the chaplaincy at Beit T'Shuvah, the Los Angeles treatment center lauded by President Bush as faith-based initiative at its best. It is an in-patient rehab center in Los Angeles, designed to serve Jewish drug and alcohol addicts. Reading like fiction, it's nevertheless a true story. Mark Oppenheimer, writing for NextBook, wrote, "Rabbi Mark Borovitz's memoir of how prison Torah study turned an alcoholic grifter and check-kiter into a successful rehabilitator of Jewish cokeheads, gamblers, and other addicts, is a blustering and grandiose book, marred by clichés and solecisms. And yet I liked The Holy Thief: A Con Man's Journey from Darkness to Light, very much. There have been so many bad recovery memoirs cultivating readers' cynicism that one can forget how amazing the redemption of a human soul is; something about the blunt, antiliterary voice of Borovitz (or, more probably, his co-writer, Alan Eisenstock) perfectly conveys the hustler, the tough Jew who turns his talent for persuasion to better ends." Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] How to Keep Kosher
A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Jewish Dietary Laws
by Lise Stern
September 2004. HarperCollins Morrow Cookbooks.
There are more than 11 million kosher consumers in the USA, spending $6 billion in the past year. This book has step by step instructions for creating a kosher kitchen, and which foods are kosher and which are not. Also includes recipes for traditional Ashkenazic Challah, Chicken Soup, and Enchildada Lasagna. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] 65 Successful Harvard Business School Application Essays
With Analysis by the Staff of the Harbus,
The Harvard Business School Newspaper
The Staff of the Harbus
September 2004.
St Martins Press.
Damn.. Harvard B School rejected me.. Had I only had this book, maybe things would have turned out differently. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Autobiographical Jews
Essays in Jewish Self-Fashioning
by Michael Stanislawski
University of Washington Press; (September 1, 2004).
Autobiographical Jews examines the nature of autobiographical writing by Jews from antiquity to the present, and the ways in which such writings can legitimately be used as sources for Jewish history. Drawing on current literary theory, which questions the very nature of autobiographical writing and its relationship to what we normally designate as the truth, and, to a lesser extent, the new cognitive neurosciences, Michael Stanislawski analyzes a number of crucial and complex autobiographical texts written by Jews through the ages. Stanislawski considers The Life by first-century historian Josephus; compares the early modern autobiographies of Asher of Reichshofen (Book of Memories) and Glikl of Hameln (Memoirs); analyzes the radically different autobiographies of two Russian Jewish writers, the Hebrew Enlightenment author Moshe Leib Lilienblum and the famous Russian poet Osip Mandelstam; and looks at two autobiographies written out of utter despair in the midst and in the wake of World War II, Stefan Zweig's The World of Yesterday and Sarah Kofman's Rue Ordener, Rue Labat. These writers' attempts to portray their private and public struggles, anxieties, successes, and failures are expressions of a basic drive for selfhood which is both timeless and time-bound, universal and culturally specific. The challenge is to attempt to unravel the conscious from the unconscious distortions in these texts and to regard them as artifacts of individuals' quests to make sense of their lives, first and foremost for themselves and then, if possible, for their readers Click the book cover above to read more.

September 30, 2004. W W Norton
God.. this is the fourth book I am reading by Rich Cohen.. What is he? Vonnegut and Uris? Cohen loves to write about tough guys. First he wrote about Tough Jews, Jews in the mob in NYC and their relationship to his grandfather. Then there was THE AVENGERS, Jews who took revenge after WWII (one of whom was a distant cousin). Next, in Lake Effect, he wrote about growing up in a lake community, the tough "Fonzie" neighbor who was the cool kid and the kid's later competitive-like relationship with Cohen's parents. And now we have Machers and Rockers. This is a tour de force history of Jews and the Blues and the birth of an industry in the South Side of Chicago in the late 1940's. Two men in postwar America - one a Jew born in Russia, the other a black blues singer from Mississippi- met and changed music history. Muddy Water and Leonard Chess recorded Bo Diddly and Chuck Berry. Along the way we learn about the biz and music and the creation of history.
PW writes, "In a postscript to his dynamic history of Chess Records, Cohen (Tough Jews) confesses that its tale is one he's been telling since adolescence, "using whatever was at hand to make the case: not only does this song rock, it also has something big to tell us." Cohen's book has something big to say too-about how the unlikely marriage of the shtetl and the plantation produced Chicago blues and rock and roll. The music that exploded into the living rooms of America and the world might have remained in the juke joints of the South if not for "record men" like Leonard Chess, whose label is rivaled only by Atlantic for its influence. Sensing an audience where the big labels didn't, Chess carted unvarnished recordings of artists like Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry in the trunk of his Cadillac, getting them in stores and on the air by any means necessary. Cohen weaves the story of the mercurial, lovable but not always entirely ethical Chess with the stories of the artists he recorded and well-judged glimpses of social history. Though written with the energy of his teenage bull sessions, Cohen's history avoids the rhetorical excess nearly endemic to rock and roll books, offering instead a punchy and driven but also sturdy and careful narrative." Click the book cover above to read more.

The True Story of the 92nd Signal Battalion and the Liberation of Dachau
by Jack Sacco
September 30, 2004. Regan Books
In his riveting debut, Where the Birds Never Sing, Jack Sacco tells the realistic, harrowing, at times horrifying, and ultimately triumphant tale of an American GI in World War II. As seen through the eyes of his father, Joe Sacco -- a farm boy from Alabama who was flung into the chaos of Normandy and survived the terrors of the Bulge -- this is the heroic story of the young men who changed the course of history. As part of the 92nd Signal Battalion and Patton's famed Third Army, Joe and his buddies found themselves at the forefront of the Allied push through France and Germany. After more than a year of fighting, but still only twenty years old, Joe was a hardened veteran. However, nothing could have prepared him and his unit for the horrors behind the walls of Germany's infamous Dachau concentration camp. They were among the first 250 American troops into the camp, and it was there that they finally grasped the significance of the Allied mission. Surrounded by death and destruction, they not only found the courage and the will to fight, they discovered the meaning of friendship and came to understand the value and fragility of life. Told from the perspective of an ordinary soldier, Where the Birds Never Sing contains firsthand accounts and never-before-published photographs documenting one man's transformation from farm boy to soldier to liberator. Click the book cover above to read more.

September 2004. Wisconsin
Rabbi Gershon Henokh, founded the school of Izbica and Radzin thought in 19th Century Poland. Magid traces the intellectual history of this strand of Judaism into th epresent. He provides a model for inquiry into the other forms of Hasidism. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Will In The World
How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
by Stephen Greenblatt (Harvard University)
September 30, 2004). W W Norton
Professor Greenblatt tells how Shakespeare, a young man from the provinces, moved to London without connections and became the greatest playwright in a dangerous (politically and religiously) world of Elizabethan England. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Reclaiming Judaism as a Spiritual Practice: Holy Days and Shabbat by Rabbi Goldie Milgram
Jewish Lights Publishing; (September 30, 2004)
The Judaism that Rabbi Milgram describes growing up with-"desiccated, disappointing, depressing, and quite frankly, boring"-is what she hopes to counteract in this guide to Jewish holidays and Shabbat, designed to restore the soul of the tradition through a variety of Jewish practices. Structured as a tasting menu with "recipes" to enrich religious experience, the book is divided into two lopsided parts: holidays (150 pages) and Shabbat (30 pages), followed by a 20-page glossary. Each chapter explains history and customs, provides contemporary relevance, presents creative perspectives and raises provocative questions. Milgram, a self-described "postdenominational, or reconformadox" rabbi and teacher, promotes a Judaism that is "inclusive, egalitarian, nonhierarchical [and] nontriumphalist," but sometimes New Agey and overly saccharine. (An example of a "forgiveness call" before Yom Kippur begins: "Sandra? This is Reb Goldie. I feel there is some negative energy between us....") Milgram proposes Sukkot visualizations, especially for those who work indoors all day, allowing them to reconnect to nature; a "spiritual menu" for a Passover seder; a "Shabbat box" in which to deposit cell phones, TV remotes and disruptive thoughts that belong to the workday world; and even a meditation for preparing and baking challah. For those who want to sample Judaism's sensible and spiritual diet, Milgram's guide whets the appetite, pointing them toward enjoying the entire meal. Click the book cover above to read more.

The 400 Most Commonly Asked Questions About the Old Testament
by Rabbi Morry Sofer
Schreiber Publishing, Inc.; (September 25, 2004)
Who were The three patriarchs of Israel? The three matriarchs? The first three kings of Israel? The place where the law was given to Israelites? Name The city of David? Who was Nahum? Was Joel a prophet? Who was he? Why are Ezekiel, Isaiah and Jeremiah considered "literary" prophets? Why did Judah last longer than Israel? In 1 Samuel, why didn't the ark of the covenant protect Israel's army? Was the brass erpent of Moses magical? Why is Psalm 18, a war psalm, included in the peaceful Book of Psalms? Does David proclaim himself a son of God in Psalm 2? "Ask the Bible" looks at questions people everywhere have been asking for ages. The answers respect all faiths. Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut has already praised this clear, well written book. Many questions reach deeply into human existence, ranging from the origins of the universe to the problem of good and evil. The purpose of this book is to look at the questions that have been most often asked by all sorts of people, from biblical scholars to people with very little knowledge of the Bible, and through an honest discussion, based on general and unbiased knowledge and the opinions of many scholars throughout the ages, offer sensible answers which hopefully will help the reader form his or her own view, and thereby gain a better understanding of the Bible. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Stepchildren of Mother Russia
The Story of a Jewish Family
by Boris Draznin
Schreiber Publishing, Inc.; (September 2004)
In 1973, life for Jews in the USSR was intolerable. Dr. Boris Draznin's family emigrated to Israel and then to the USA. An expert in diabetes treatment and Endocrinology, a creator of the "Draznin Plan", he is a Professor of Medicine of the University of Colorado. He was born in Kharkov, Russia in 1945. He has written this memoir about his family's rich history in Russia. It is filled with vitality, pathos, and it is essentially inspiring and an exciting read. Using his family as a barometer, we see the transition from shtetl to city life, the Communist Revolution, WWII, Jewish intellectual life in the USSR, why Jews remained after the Bolshevik Revolution, Stalin, the Doctors' Plot (which forced his parents to move to Minsk, after his father Nahum was fired from his position for being Jewish), anti-Semitism, the exodus of Soviet Jews, and now modern times and the return of Jewish religious life to Russia. Some of the less inspiring personalities who appear in the book are Aaron (Draznin)Yavlinsky, a mastermind of Bolshevik OPGU terror who was later falsely accused of conspiracy; and Nahum Olshansky (a top member of the Central Committee, who also, since he was formerly Jewish, accused of spying); and Moshe Draznin, a committed party member who was later accused of being a spy; Lev Davidovich Bronstein (also known as Leon Trotsky), and his meeting with the Chief Rabbi of Moscow.
PW writes that it is interesting to see how a family lived in the USSR for 70 years. The Intermountain Jewish News wrote that it deserves to be read not only for its own merits, but for the light it sheds on Soviet Jews who are becoming, more and more, influential members of the U.S. and Israeli Jewish communities.
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by Henry David Thoreau
Summer 2004. W W Norton
Henry David Thoreau is famous for the literary excellence of his political and nature writings. But his friend Harrison Blake understood that the "true significance of [Thoreau's] life" was in fact spiritual, and he presciently asked the then-little-known Thoreau for guidance in finding a path of his own. The result was a regular exchange of letters for the remaining thirteen years of Thoreau's life, charting the evolution of his skills as a writer and thinker. The possibilities and limits of spirituality, the role of vocation in developing one's spiritual life, the importance of a direct relationship between the individual and God-Thoreau discusses these and more in his letters to Blake. Click the book cover above to read more.

By Jennifer Beth Cohen
September 2004. Wisconsin.
In January 1998, Cohen started investigating a story about prostitution and the sex slave trading in Russia and the U.S. She hired a college crush who was working in St Peterburg. They fall madly in love. What did she do? She got engaged to him, a man she hardly actually knew. He ends up getting drunk daily, her health fails, the Russian economy falters, and her safety is threatened. There were drugs, there was abuse. What did she get herself into? This is the story. Click the book cover above to read more.

Dennis Ross, the chief Middle East peace negotiator in the presidential administrations of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, is that rare figure who is respected by all parties: Democrats and Republicans, Palestinians and Israelis, presidents and people on the street in Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Washington, D.C. The Missing Peace is far and away the most candid inside account of the Middle East peace process ever published. The maneuverings of both sides, and of the United States as well, are described. For the first time, the backroom negotiations, the dramatic and often secretive nature of the process, and the reasons for its faltering are on display for all to see. Ross recounts the peace process in detail from 1988 to the breakdown of talks in early 2001 that prompted the so-called second Intifada. It's all here: Camp David, Oslo, Geneva, Egypt, and other summits; the assassination of Yitzak Rabin; the rise and fall of Benjamin Netanyahu; the very different characters and strategies of Rabin, Yasir Arafat, and Bill Clinton; and the first steps of the Palestinian Authority. The issues Ross explains with unmatched clarity-n-egotiations over borders, Israeli security, the Palestinian "right of return"--are the issues behind today's headlines. The Missing Peace explains, as no other book has, why Middle East peace is so difficult to achieve. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] [book] JEWISH IN AMERICA
September 2004. Michigan
This rare and original work of cultural studies offers uncommon and engaging perspectives -- as well as provocative and humorous insights -- on what it means to be Jewish in America. Jewish in America features poetry, art, essays, and stories from an impressive and respected list of contributors, including among others Stephen Greenblatt, Richard Kostelanetz, Jacqueline Osherow, Robert Pinsky, Sharon Pomerantz, Nancy Reisman, Grace Schulman, Louis Simpson, Alisa Solomon, and Stephen J. Whitfield. In addition to pieces by some of the country's leading writers, the book features a stunning gallery of original photographs that transport the viewer from the crowded Coney Island beaches of the 1940s to the landscapes of Oaxaca, Mexico in the 1990s. Click the book cover above to read more.

A novel
By Jacob Braff

Algonquin; September 2004.
Yes, he is Zach Braff's brother.
What sort of insane family did Zach and Jacob Braff grow up in? Actor Zach wrote and starred in GARDEN STATE with a distant Jewish father, and now his brother has written this novel, a coming of age tale set in an Orthodox Jewish New Jersey family with a Jewish father who craves attention without end, and rages more than a rage-a-holic. Not even EST can calm him. A word to the wise. If you ever meet either Braff brothers, don't go near their Challahs.. God knows where its been or what nefarious sexual thing they did with it.
It's 1977, Jacob Green, a Jewish kid from suburban New Jersey, sits on the stairs during his family's housewarming party, waiting for his father, Abram - charming host, everyone's best friend, and amateur emcee - to introduce him to the crowd as his favorite lovely blonde pre Bar Mitzvah boy. Housewarming parties, Annie Hall parties, and bar mitzvah parties punctuate Jacob's childhood. But behind the drapes, at home, Abram Green is daddy dearest. He is a tyrant filled with RAGE. Jacob thinks hilarious thoughts as an escape. He fantasizes about in home sex education with the live-in nanny, and Hebrew school escapades. He fantasizes about his challah (didn't Philip Roth do this decades ago? Or was it woody allen with a rye bread). His bar mitzvah thank you notes, if they weren't proofed, would detail his lust for the nanny. Sadly they are filled with spelling errors, since Jacob has a learning challenge. If only his mother had not gone back to school at the age of 36 and fallen for her Freudian professor. If only he was expelled from Hebrew School like his rebellious brother, Asher, famed for the drawing he made of his rabbi in a threesome with an erect pig and a tasty lobster (plus the one of the veined penis wearing tefillin). Can Jacob confront his father and tell him he doesn't want to sing in synagogues anymore? How can he be a perfect son to his demanding EST-loving father? Is it any surprise that a key scene is played out around the Shabbat of Parshat Naso, a torah reading that refers to two brothers, Judah being superior to Benjamin, a wife accused of adultery, and how bitterness or bitter waters can ruin a marriage and a family. Now you get a clue into the unthinkable thoughts of Jacob Green. It is a highly witty look at the secrets in an Orthodox Jewish New Jersey family in the 1970s. The book is worth a read even if you only read Jacob's highly creative thank you notes for his Bar Mitvah gifts. Click the book cover above to read more.

September 2004. Overlook
NO SORRY.. They aren't Jews from Sicily, as I had though and hoped.
NOR is it kosher
Born of the culinary traditions of the two very different sides of actress Pamela Hensley Vincent's Jewish-American family and her husband Duke Vincent's Italian-American background, The Jewish-Sicilian Cookbook recaptures, with charm, humor, and tasty and do-able recipes, the gastronomic nostalgia of two families that could be very much like any of our own. The sixty-four recipes in this charmingly appointed cookbook range from quick salads to hearty stews and run the gamut from typically Jewish (Yetta's chicken soup and latkes) to the quintessentially Italian (Duke's Special Spaghetti). Click the book cover above to read more.

The Untold Story Of Nazi Racial Laws And Men Of Jewish Descent In The German Military
University Press of Kansas; September 1, 2004
Paperback Edition
Dr. Rigg is a graduate of Yale and Cambridge, was a Marine, and was a volunteer in the Israeli Defense Forces. He is currently a teacher at a U.S. Dept of Defense college. Raised as a Protestant in the Texas Bible Belt, Bryan Mark Rigg was surprised to learn of his own Jewish ancestry while researching his family tree in Germany. This revelation, as well as a chance encounter with a Jewish veteran of the Wehrmacht at a Berlin screening of Europa Europa, roused him to embark on a decade of research while a student first at Yale University and later at Cambridge University. For the hardcover version of this Spring 2002 book, he interviewed 400 partial Jews who served for Germany. His research is housed in Freiberg. Although earning trust was often challenging and some men refused to speak with Bryan, he also encountered many who were grateful for the opportunity at last to discuss this part of their lives in war. In some cases the men's families knew little or nothing of their hidden religious heritage. In a 1996 London Telegraph article concerning his research efforts, Bryan described these men who are at the heart of his work: "They don't know where they stand. There is no place for them to tell their story. No one thought it was an issue, and neither side wants to claim them."
On the murderous road to "racial purity" Hitler encountered unexpected detours, largely due to his own crazed views and inconsistent policies regarding Jewish identity. After centuries of Jewish assimilation and intermarriage in German society, he discovered that eliminating Jews from the rest of the population was more difficult than he'd anticipated. As Bryan Mark Rigg shows in this provocative new study, nowhere was that heinous process more fraught with contradiction and confusion than in the German military. Contrary to conventional views, Rigg reveals that a startlingly large number of German military men were classified by the Nazis as Jews or "partial-Jews" (Mischlinge, as in fomer Chancellor Helmut Schmidt who served in the Luftwaffe and had a Jewish heritage), in the wake of racial laws first enacted in the mid-1930s. Rigg demonstrates that the actual number was much higher than previously thought--perhaps as many as 150,000 men, including decorated veterans and high-ranking officers, even generals and admirals. As Rigg fully documents for the first time, a great many of these men did not even consider themselves Jewish and had embraced the military as a way of life and as devoted patriots eager to serve a revived German nation. In turn, they had been embraced by the Wehrmacht, which prior to Hitler had given little thought to the "race" of these men but which was now forced to look deeply into the ancestry of its soldiers. The process of investigation and removal, however, was marred by a highly inconsistent application of Nazi law. Numerous "exemptions" were made in order to allow a soldier to stay within the ranks or to spare a soldier's parent, spouse, or other relative from incarceration or far worse. (Hitler's own signature can be found on many of these "exemption" orders.) But as the war dragged on, Nazi politics came to trump military logic, even in the face of the Wehrmacht's growing manpower needs, closing legal loopholes and making it virtually impossible for these soldiers to escape the fate of millions of other victims of the Third Reich. Based on a deep and wide-ranging research in archival and secondary sources, as well as extensive interviews with more than four hundred Mischlinge and their relatives, Rigg's study breaks truly new ground in a crowded field and shows from yet another angle the extremely flawed, dishonest, demeaning, and tragic essence of Hitler's rule. Click the book cover above to read more.

By Andrew P. Scheil
September 2004. Michigan
Jews are the omnipresent border-dwellers of medieval culture, a source of powerful metaphors active in the margins of medieval Christianity. This book outlines an important prehistory to later persecutions in England and beyond, yet it also provides a new understanding of the previously unrecognized roles Jews and Judaism played in the construction of social identity in early England. Andrew P. Scheil approaches the Anglo-Saxon understanding of Jews from a variety of directions, including a survey of the lengthy history of the ideology of England as the New Israel, its sources in late antique texts and its manifestation in both Old English and Latin texts from Anglo-Saxon England. In tandem with this perhaps more sympathetic understanding of the Jews is a darker vision of anti-Judaism, associating the Jews in an emotional fashion with the materiality of the body. In exploring the complex ramifications of this history, the author is the first to assemble and study references to Jews in Anglo-Saxon culture. For this reason, The Footsteps of Israel will be an important source for Anglo-Saxonists, scholars of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, scholars of medieval anti-Semitism in general, students of Jewish history, and medievalists interested in cultural studies. Click the book cover above to read more.

by Susan L. Braunstein
Yale University Press; (September 27, 2004) .
A magnificent array of Hanukkah menorahs and lamps that shed light on the Jewish traditions that produced them. The ceremonial kindling of lights each night during the eight-day holiday of Hanukkah commemorates an ancient victory for religious freedom-the liberation and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 164 BCE. As their diversity and beauty attest, Hanukkah lamps are singularly important as a form of ceremonial art and are among Judaism's best-loved traditional objects. This superbly illustrated book showcases more than 100 Hanukkah lamps selected from the extensive collection of The Jewish Museum in New York. The featured lamps date from the Renaissance to our own time, and were created from a wide variety of materials in virtually every part of the world, including the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. Susan L. Braunstein provides an engaging overview of the Hanukkah lamp and discusses its origins in Jewish tradition, its many innovative forms, its enduring ritual uses, and its social context. She also includes a short informative essay about each of the wonderfully varied lamps pictured in the book. Susan L. Braunstein is curator of archaeology and Judaica and head of the Judaica Department at The Jewish Museum in New York. She is also adjunct instructor of Jewish art and material culture at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Click the book cover above to read more.

Rediscovering a Jewish Identity
by Eleanor Mallet (former columnist of the Cleveland Plain Dealer)
Pilgrim Press; (September 2004).
From this mostly Christian book publisher comes the story of Mallet's exploration of her personal identity through the Jewish experiences she experienced, flowing from her parents and grandparents and on to her children. Her four sections are Beginnings; Israel; Germany; and Home. She gives voice to some baby boomer Jews, a generation of regeneration. (note to file: although she has been regenerated, she has not yet joined a synagogue, nor was she familiar with the Shavuot holiday). Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Where the Right Went Wrong
How Neoconservatives Subverted the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush Presidency
by Patrick J. Buchanan
Thomas Dunne Books; (September 1, 2004).
A new book from that lover of the Jewish people, Pat Buchanan, about how neo-cons have hijacked and corrupted the purity of Reagan Republican-ism. Of course, you know, that neo-con is a euphemism for... well.. you know.
Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Little Earthquakes
A Novel
by Jennifer Weiner
Atria; (September 14, 2004).
Bestselling author Jennifer Weiner creates a tale of romance, forgiveness, and extreme sleep deprivation, as four very different women navigate one of life's most wonderful and perilous transitions: the journey of new motherhood. Rebecca Rothstein Rabinowitz is a plump, sexy chef who has a wonderful husband, a restaurant that's received citywide acclaim, a beautiful baby girl and the mother-in-law from hell. Kelly Day's life looks picture-perfect. But behind the doors, she's struggling to balance work, motherhood and marriage, while dealing with an unemployed husband who seems content to channel- surf for eight hours a day. Ayinde Towne's already on shaky ground, when her basketball superstar husband breaks her trust at the most vulnerable moment in her life, putting their marriage in peril -- and thrusting their new family further into the public eye. Then there's Lia Frederick, a Philadelphia native who has left Los Angeles behind, along with her glamorous Hollywood career, her husband, and a tragic secret. With her trademark warmth and humor, Weiner tells the story of what happens after happily ever after.
Click the book cover above to read more.

By Eliezer Berkovits (1908-1992)
Republished and Edited by David Hazony (Senior Editor of Azure)
GEFEN BOOKS; (September 2004).
This is a Big DEAL !
The republication of this out of stock magnum opus
Rabbi Berkovits was one of the greater Jewish philosophers of the past fifty years, from his bases in Chicago and Jerusalem. In his 19 books, he laid out a Jewish lifestyle that pioneered a synthesized set of moral teachings, Zionism, and modern Jewish thought. It is a comprehensive construction. In this book, Berkovitz examines the underpinnings of Judaism as a whole, from theology to law to the meaning of Jewish nationhood. He argues for the independence of a traditional Jewish worldview. Rabbi David Hartman writes, ".. [his] insistence that the commandments not be regarded as absolute categories removed from the realities of history, but as history-making deeds that must be effective in our world, make him a unique voice among Jewish thinkers." Click the book cover above to read more.

By Natan Sharansky
PublicAffairs; (September 2004).
Natan Sharansky believes that the truest expression of democracy is the ability to walk into the middle of a town square and say whatever you like without fear of arrest or imprisonment. He should know. A dissident in the Soviet Union Sharansky was jailed for nine years for asserting his right to speak freely. During that time he reinforced his moral conviction that democracy above all others was a political virtue to be protected and enhanced, whatever the circumstances. It is a prerequisite for civilized society. Since his release and emigration to Israel in 1986 Sharansky has been a deputy prime minister of the Knesset, leading the party of Russian immigrants, and is now minister for Jerusalem. He has been pilloried by those who say he has been a disappointment as a liberal activist. He says he has been as consistent as he has been stubborn: tyranny, whether in the Soviet Union or the Middle East, must always be made to bow before Democracy. For Sharansky, drawing on a lifetime of experience of democracy and of its absence, politics is no longer a matter of left and right but of right and wrong. Politics must face up to moral responsibility and make hard choices: it must determine what matters most. And for Sharansky, it is only democracy that can safeguard the wellbeing of societies. This is a passionately argued book from a man who carries supreme moral authority to make the case he does here: that all rights and freedoms stem from democracy. With it robustly in place, societies will thrive and nations should be respected. Its absence is a fatal moral flaw that cannot be ignored. His argument is sure to stir controversy on all sides; his opinions will be studied at the highest levels of government policy making; this is arguably the next great issue of our times. Click the book cover above to read more.

For your favorite JEW-BU
[book] The Great Failure
A Bartender, A Monk, and My Unlikely Path to Truth
by Natalie Goldberg
HarperSanFrancisco; (September 1, 2004)
PW writes: "Of course, we are drawn to teachers that unconsciously mirror our own psychology," writes Goldberg in a memoir about her wrestling match with her particular devil. In Writing Down the Bones, she coupled writing with the insights of Zen Buddhism, showing writers how to use a stream of consciousness approach to move through blocks and understand their true experience. Here, however, as Goldberg explores the link between her elegant Zen master, Katagiri Roshi, and the gritty, charming bartender father who sexually violated her, she inadvertently demonstrates this approach's shortcoming. Years after his death, Goldberg learned that Katagiri, the teacher who taught her so much (and the subject of Long Quiet Highway), carried on affairs with female students. Goldberg was shattered; she'd wanted to believe he was an immaculate refuge. Liberation through disillusionment is a universal and durable theme, yet as Goldberg muses and tells stories-splicing in a long Zen tale for a little extra-dimensional oomph-her account closes rather than opens up. In spite of her fluid writing and honesty, the work feels insular and self-cherishing, like personal notes rather than a compelling narrative for the rest of us. Many readers will conclude that this is a not-so-great failure after all, or perhaps a heartache that hasn't really healed. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be
Lessons on Change, Loss, and Spiritual Transformation
Broadway; 2004
Lama Surya Das (which means servant of the Son, or is akin to Ben Shemesh, hehehe), known to his mother as the DELI Lama, was born as Jeffrey Miller, and celebrated his bar mitzvah I 1964 at Temple Shaarei Zion in Valley Stream, Long Island, NY. A straight-A student, he experienced the Sixties at Woodstock and even knew one of the women killed at Kent State (his best friend's girlfriend). He sought something more in life, went traveling, and found enlightenment with Tibetan Buddhism in India. When he isn't playing basketball against Alan Dershowitrz in the Vineyard, he is chanting and teaching, and answering queries to Ask the Lama. Das is a lama in the Dzogchen lineage of Tibet and author of the bestseller Awakening The Buddha Within. In this book, in time for Rosh Hashana (or with his Lotus friend Mitch Kapor's help, Yom Kapor), he explores the losses and changes that inevitably mark our lives. He argues that what is important is not that difficult things happen (Buddhism's first truth, after all, is that life is suffering), but how we deal with them. Pure detachment from loss and sorrow is not sufficient, he says; the goal is non-attachment to circumstances that are by nature impermanent. Despite losses and pain, we still need to be fully engaged with the world: "Spiritual detachment or equanimity should never be equated with indifference or complacent resignation." One of the strongest sections of the book is Das's simple chronicle of various losses he has suffered, both enormous (the death of his father) and mundane (a stolen bike). Thus acknowledged, his echoing pain prevents the book from being self-help pabulum about how bad things make good people stronger. The writing style, composed mostly of short, choppy sentences, seems well suited for effective public speaking, but unpolished for a book. Many of Das's recommendations-meditating, journal writing, "naming" your feelings, visualizing attachments, chanting a healing mantra-are fairly standard self-help ideas, as are the classic and familiar Buddhist anecdotes sprinkled throughout the book. But there are also great and original nuggets of wisdom here, as when Das advocates the ancient Tibetan practice of chod, a hero's quest-like ritual to confront personal fears. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] MY OLD MAN
Simon & Schuster; (September 8, 2004)
Rachel Block is from Brooklyn, now Mewark. She is 26 and a rabbinical school drop out. When a sick man dies under her counseling, she realizes she's not cut out for the pastoral side of the rabbinate. So she takes a job as a bartender in my old neighborhhod, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Rachel stops dating nice Jewish boys. Now she's fending off come-ons from sleazy guys and trying to remember the ingredients in a Metropolitan. Liz Kaminsky, he upstairs neighbor, makes so much noise having sex at night, that Rachel can barely sleep. Along comes Hank Powell, an iconoclastic screenwriter twice her age. Now she is moaning all night with her Christian lover. Suddenly she's reassessing her values, her surroundings, and everything she's ever believed about the "right" kind of relationship. She begins dressing up in outrageous outfits for midday trysts, while hiding the dirty details from a newly modest Liz. Meanwhile, her interactions with her father, with whom she's always been close, have become increasingly strange. Is he distraught that she's dropped out of school? Is he having his own (midlife) crisis? Or is he upset over her mother's newfound independence, now that she's entered menopause and discovered the joys of a book group? Something's up...and Rachel's increasingly convinced it might be her father's libido. HEY RACHEL... GET THEE TO A FREUDIAN THERAPIST.. YOU ARE WORRYING ABOUT YOUR FATHER AND SEX TOO MUCH. With Rachel's own relationship getting wilder and weirder and her parents acting like teenagers, it seems that everyone in Cobble Hill is going crazy. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Becoming Like God
by Michael Berg
Kabbalah Centre publishing; (September 2004)
Michael Berg suggests that the time is right for people to break free of "ego nature" and achieve total joy and immortality: in other words, to "become like God." Advising ruthless honesty about human life - its pain, suffering, and death - and then providing an escape plan based on those truths, Berg uses the tools of Kabbalah - such as the Zohar, the key text of the discipline - as well as the collective energy of all the individuals sharing this path to help form that critical mass that will allow everyone to realize their true, joyous nature. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The Lord Is My Shepherd
Now in Paperback
Anchor; Summer 2004
A new book of practical spirituality, of inspiration and encouragement gleaned from what may be the best-known and best-loved chapter in the Bible: the Twenty-third Psalm. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." So begins the psalm that, for millennia, has been a source of comfort in grief and of courage in fear. Now Harold Kushner discovers what it has to teach us about living our day-to-day lives. Each chapter discusses one line of the psalm in the context of both the time when it was written and the present day, and illuminates the life lessons contained within it. For example, Kushner shows us that the phrase "My cup runneth over" is a declaration of our gratitude for what life has given us and a rejection of the envy we may feel for what others have. And he draws on the ideas and thoughts of various spiritual figures-from G. K. Chesterton to Martin Buber to Paul Tillich-to further expand our understanding of this great psalm and help us benefit from its everyday spiritual wisdom. Harold S. Kushner is Rabbi Laureate of Temple Israel in Natick, Massachusetts, where he lives. This is his ninth book. Click the book cover above to read more.

Ancient Wisdom for a Modern World
Behrman; September 2004
When Rabbi Wolpe isn't busy telling his Los Angeles congregants to be more patient at the kiddush cake and pastry tables, he writes informative books. After six years away from the literary scene, Rabbi David J. Wolpe has returned with a remarkable collection of intellectually powerful and thoughtful essays--the best of his five years of writing for the New York Jewish Week. Wolpe explores Jewish tradition as it has shaped his own life experiences--as the grandson of an immigrant, as a student of world history, and as a person living a Jewish life in a diverse and evolving society. Drawing on the insights of sources as diverse as Robert Frost, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Lily Tomlin, and Ernest Hemingway, Wolpe brings together a remarkably varied group of writers and thinkers, combining their insights with his own into a series of keen and penetrating observations about the world in which we live. Wolpe focuses his spiritual and intellectual microscope on such unlikely companions as Louis XIV and King David, Beowulf and Ezekiel. Paradoxically, it is his keen eye for details such as the books in his father's library, and the observations of physicist Richard Feynman on the sources of creativity, that allow him to offer us a broad, panoramic view of our world. He creates a bridge between the lessons of these literary and historical figures, together with the lessons from his own life, and the modern American Jewish experience.
Here is an excerpt of one of his MUSINGS: Jewish events are notorious for starting late. The clock seems to move all too swiftly for this people whose span is measured not in minutes but in millennia. So we are leisurely about beginnings. The Zionist leader Nahum Goldmann once said, "I tried my whole life to come late to a Jewish meeting and never succeeded." Strangely, however, Jewish law depends on precision in the measurement of time. Sabbaths and holidays have specific starting times. Ritual observances such as mourning have definite time-bound cycles. We seem caught between the rigor of ritual and the languor of social occasions. Perhaps each clock counterbalances the other. Centuries of wandering do not always permit a fixed and insistent attitude toward time. Flexibility and patience are virtues cultivated by our uneasy history. Still, we did not allow tribulation to override obligation. For all the uncertainty in the world, there was certainty in our souls. Our spiritual clocks remain fine-tuned. Insistent on the rhythms of our devotion, we have also made allowances for the unpredictability of circumstance. In other words, often it is a matter of finding parking.
Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] Breath
KNOPF; (September 2004)
Though Levine's late-'60s poems (in They Feed They Lion) surprised everyone, by now his readers know what to expect. Levine writes gritty, fiercely unpretentious free verse about American manliness, physical labor, simple pleasures and profound grief, often set in working-class Detroit (where Levine grew up) or in central California (where he now resides), sometimes tinged with reference to his Jewish heritage or to the Spanish poets of rapt simplicity (Machado, Lorca) who remain his most visible influence. Levine's 18th book will neither disappoint his devotees nor silence the doubters. The simple lyric pleasures are still here, however colored with mortality: "I came to walk/ on the earth, still cold, still silent." Many poems memorialize, by name, men now dead whom Levine admired when young: Uncle Nate, Uncle Simon, "great-uncle Yenkl"; "Antonio, the baker"; Bernie whose "mother/ worked nights at Ford Rouge"; Joachim, who once fought for the Spanish Republic; young John, "coming home from the job at Chevy," "even at sixteen... a man waiting to enter/ a man's world, the one that would kill him." "Until he dies, a boy remains a boy," the sequence "Naming" states; often Levine contrasts his boyhood memories with his experience of old age, to serious effect. His poems of grief also form, as Levine says, "a silent chorus/ for all those we've left/ behind." Click the book cover above to read more.

A novel
NAL. September 2004
The book opens with Sarah setting her family's Shabbat table in Woodbrige, Long Island. It is oppressively hot; it is August. She has an offer. For Sarah Friedman, 33, the chance to journey to the Southwest to buy Native American art for her family's successful New York store comes at a time of transition. Determined to put aside personal disappointments (such as her failer 4 year adulterous relationship with a married man on Manhattan Upper East Side), she seeks new perspectives in the serenity of the vast desert landscape. Then her car breaks down on a Navajo reservation near the home of an aloof artist... After many chaotic years, Ben Lonefeather has finally gotten control of his life. He devotes his days to his artwork and to caring for the coyotes he rescued as pups. When Sarah is stranded, he grudgingly offers her a room. Within the slow rhythms of the natural world, their practical arrangement deepens into a relationship that leaves them both feeling passionately alive. But when circumstances separate them, their true feelings are tested. As each seeks to build a meaningful life, they are forced to choose between love and duty, commitment and freedom-and learn to fight for what matters most. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The Jewish 1960s
An American Sourcebook
(Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture and Life)
Brandeis University Press (September 1, 2004)
A collection of primary sources about Jewish contributions to and involvement in the tumultuous social transformations of the 1960s. No American decade during the twentieth century has been so strongly defined by Jewish-led and Jewish-sponsored political activism or so deeply informed and influenced by Jewish culture as the 1960s. Nor has any decade in the last century had more lasting consequences on the contemporary state of America Jewry. The 1960s marked the rise of Jewish pride, witnessed a revitalization of religious communal commitments, and saw the revival of Jewish particularism as a crucial counterpoint to a liberal-left Jewish universalism. In these and other respects, Jews remade themselves as they transformed the nation in this critical period. The Jewish 1960s introduces a new generation of interested readers to some of the finest essays, speeches, and journalistic accounts by Jewish commentators, spokespersons, prominent rabbis, civil rights and antiwar activists, radical Zionists, feminists, counter-cultural leaders, and their critics from 1960 to the early 1970s. This volume brings together materials from Jews on the right as well as the left and chronicles, among other things, Jewish religious and ethnic renewal, the Jewish stand on civil rights, Jewish liberalism and the origins of Jewish neo-conservatism, American Jews' commitments to Israel, Jewish contributions to feminism and the gay and lesbian rights movements, and the evolution of Holocaust consciousness. Click the book cover above to read more.

Fall 2004 from Inner Traditions Bear and Company
Ehud Sperling runs the Inner Traditions publishing company in Vermont. He sees Kabbalah and the faddish obsession with it as a shoe in for the self help category of books. He has therefore published this book as a guidebook to using the Kabbalah to transform our consciousness in order to heal the body, mind, and spirit. In it, the author describes a process of unification with God and the healing implications of that process for our daily life; introduces four kabbalistic universes that form a topographical map of reality; and offers a unique perspective on human consciousness and the nature of existence from a leading modern kabbalist. To Jason Shulman, the Kabbalah is the living experience of our real self, the self that is always connected to God, the self that lives in God the way a fish lives in water. It draws upon the author's work at A Society of Souls, which promotes the belief that the ultimate form of healing is to create a unitive or nondual state of consciousness, integrating the healthy human ego into its proper relationship with transcendent reality. As we deepen our understanding of our true selves and enhance our ability to hold new states of consciousness, we are able not only to heal ourselves but to help heal others as well. Jason Shulman states that he is a modern kabbalist who is also a recognized teacher in the Buddhist lineage of Shaka Kendo Rich Hart, Abbot of the Clear Mountain Center. He is also a faculty member at the New York Open Center, Esalen Institute, and Omega Institute. Oh... and he lives in New Jersey. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] KABBALAh 365
Daily Fruit from the Tree of Life
by Gershon Winkler
Andrews McMeel Publishing; 2004
From the book jacket... Rabbi Gershon Winkler is an interpreter of the Kabbalah.. Every day is a chance for a new beginning - an awakening. Start each day with the gift of time-tested wisdom from the Kabbalah. Kabbalah 365 is a unique collection of rare Jewish mystery and understanding. People from all walks of life are finding their paths illuminated within the Kabbalah. Each selected reading, one for every day of the yearly cycle, encourages honest contemplation, true inspiration, and deep reflection. Here are just a few examples: If you are in a hurry to get to an appointment, and you are riding on a train that is moving too slow, do you think you will arrive at your destination any faster by getting up and running through the train? Likewise, when the time is right for you, you'll be arriving at your destination - no sooner, no later. In the meantime, make sure you are on board. If you are rubbing two sticks together and are having difficulty lighting a fire, move to another place and try again. Likewise, if you are having difficulty in the place where you are, shift to another place. Experience the vastness and riches of the Kabbalah with Kabbalah 365, which ably preserves the integrity of the original texts, some translated here for the first time, and renders insights in easy-to-understand language. .... Oh... and he lives in San Miguel wilderness of New Mexico. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The Cats in Krasinski Square
by Karen Hesse, Wendy Watson
Scholastic Press. September 2004
Children Grades 2-5.
Gillian Engberg writes: " In luminous free verse, Hesse's latest picture book tells a powerful story of a young Jewish girl who, together with her older sister, ingeniously fights the Nazi occupation of Warsaw. After escaping from the Jewish ghetto, the girl avoids detection: "I wear my Polish look, / I walk my Polish walk. / Polish words float from my lips / and I am almost safe, / almost invisible." She finds joy in playing with the city's abandoned cats, who show her holes in the ghetto wall, which the girl's older sister and their resistance friends will use to pass supplies shipped by train to Warsaw. The Gestapo learns of the scheme, and soldiers wait at the train station with dogs. Luckily, the cats inspire a solution; they distract the dogs and protect the supplies. It's an empowering story about the bravery and impact of young people, and Hesse's clear, spare poetry, from the girl's viewpoint, refers to the hardships suffered without didacticism. In bold, black lines and washes of smoky gray and ochre, Watson's arresting images echo the pared-down language as well as the hope that shines like the glints of sunlight on Krasinski Square. An author's note references the true events and heartbreaking history that inspired this stirring, expertly crafted story." Click the book cover above to read more.

By Avraham Grossman
Brandeis University Press, 2004
Avraham Grossman offers a comprehensive study of Jewish women in Europe during the High Middle Ages (1000-1300). Examining multiple aspects of women's lives in medieval Jewish society, Grossman shows that this period saw a distinct improvement in the status of Jewish women in Europe relative to their status during the Talmudic period and in Muslim countries. Two main factors fostered this change: the transformation of Jewish society from agrarian to "bourgeois," with women performing an increasingly important function in the family economy; and the openness toward women in Christian Europe, where they were not subjected to strict limitations based upon conceptions of modesty, as was the case in Muslim countries. The heart of Grossman's book concerns the improvement of Jewish women's lot, and the subsequent efforts of secular and religious authorities to impede their new-found status. Click the book cover above to read more.

[book] The Botox Diaries
A novel
Best friends Jess and Lucy have seen each other through everything: Jess' divorce from her sexy French husband and the adoption of her daughter, Jen; Lucy's marriage to the perfect suburban father, Dan, and her tenacious clawing to the top of the television show production heap. Now they face their forties and must get through what appears to be a second childhood. Glamorous and flighty Lucy is having a hot affair with one of Hollywood's most beloved stars, dependable Dan is nursing a crush on his wife's best friend, and suburban single-mom Jess is herding a flock of bored young Park Avenue mothers determined to stage a charity production featuring ghetto kids and their own offspring. Only the strength of the women's friendship can get them through an hour of Thai massage, an orgy in Willie Nelson's trailer, and snobby PTA meetings. With snappy dialogue, hilarious and lovable characters, and enough tension to keep the pages turning, this first-time collaboration will be a great beach read. Click the book cover above to read more.


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