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Spring 1999 Recommendations
(click on a listing to learn more, add a review, or purchase it for up to 50% off, tax free) All Profits in May and June get DONATED to charity.

[book] For the Relief of Unbearable Urges: Stories by Nathan Englander
30% OFF LIST PRICE. April 1999, Knopf, Hardcover - 256 pages. This is a DEBUT collection of nine stories, and already the book has been reviewed everywhere of importance and sales have skyrocketed. Englander, who reportedly received a $350K advance from Knopf, grew up in an Orthodox family on New York's Long Island, and now resides in Jerusalem. The stories all deal with fickle fate. Englander, whose long hair conjure up images of Rambo or Shimshon, may be the newest Malamud, Cheever, or Roth! Maybe the newest I. B. Singer. Maybe you've seen his pieces in The New Yorker? The stories focus on Jewish characters living around the world. Some are tragic, others comic. In one story a group of Polish Jews board a passenger train instead of the cattle car bound for Auschwitz. They are mistaken for tumbling acrobats who are to perform for soldiers. Does a reader laugh or cry? Another story is set in a taxi on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, another in Jerusalem, and another in the USSR under Stalin. In the Soviet story, a young writer is imprisoned, creates the greatest story he has every originated, but in a few hours he will probably be killed by a firing squad. What about the bearded rabbi who gets a job each year playing Santa? This is a great collection. Buy it!
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[book] Turn of the Century by Kurt Andersen
Hardcover - 659 pages. Fast becoming the best seller for 1999. In the Eighties, the hot thing to be was a BSD on Wall Street. In the late Nineties, at the turn of the Century, it is best to be involved in television and software. This biting, funny, satirical novel from Andersen, a SPY co-founder and New Yorker writer, which opens in the future world of February 2000, where buses are shaped like Absolut bottles. George Mactier, a Newsweek writer, becomes a producer for MBC's show NARCS in which actors team up with cops on drug busts. Lizzie Zimbalist, George's wife, is a software entrepreneur. They jet between the coasts and tag-team parent their three kids (Sarah, Max and LuLu). Take a mint flavored Prozac (for Kids) and read more about what happens, by clicking through to Amazon.
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[book] The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind the New York Times by Susan E. Tifft, Alex S. Jones
Who among us can wait until August 1999 when this is published? Excerpts from it already appeared in The New Yorker (April 19, 1999). The two authors spent seven years writing this book which explores the history of the Ochs and Sulzberger families, and how being Jewish shaped this dynasty that runs The Times. Adolph Ochs bought the bankrupt Times over 100 years ago. Jacob Schiff actually owned most of the shares of the bankrupt firm. Did you know that Adolph Ochs' father (Julius) was a Hebrew scholar in Tennessee, who came to the US in 1845? Or that Adolph's wife Iphigenia was the daughter of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise? That Arthur Hayes Sulzberger, Adolph's son-in-law (he married Iphigene Ochs) and successor, attended the first Zionist Congress as a child, and was the son of Rachel Peixotto Hayes, a Sephardic Jew whose family arrived in the US prior to 1776. These are just tidbits. The book gets into how religion affected the family and its management and creation of The Times.
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[book] The New York Times Passover Cookbook: More Than 175 Holiday Recipes from Top Chefs and Writers by Linda Amster (Editor), and Joan Nathan
List Price: $25 before discount. Hardcover - 384 pages (March 1999) William Morrow & Company. Each year, thousands of readers of The New York Times await a Wednesday "Dining In/Dining Out (DiDo)" section that appears in the week or so preceding the Jewish holiday of Passover. They want to read about time-honored/traditional and updated/newer holiday recipes that give one a taste of the holiday, conform to dietary rules, and provide an aura of rebirth and freedom. Linda Amster, a DiDo section regular, has compiled the most exciting recipes in this Passover Cookbook; sure to become a classic. Had she only included Wolfgang Puck's Los Angeles seder recipes... Dayenu, it would have been enough. Had she only then added Paul Prudhommes Pesach veal roast... Dayenu, that too would have been enough to make this worthwhile. And what about Anne Rosenzweig recipe for haroseth? Dayenu. We get 175 recipes. They are all in this book. I doubt that I will ever prepare a tenth of the recipes in the book, yet it is an exciting read none the less.
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[book] Kaddish by Leon Wieseltier
($28 before discount). Hardcover - 720 pages (September 1998) Knopf. WINNER OF THE NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD. What do they say? There is no avoidance of death and taxes? Maybe we can also add, one day during our lives, we will be called upon to recite the Mourners Kaddish for a family member. Why? What is the nature of this prayer? Is it for the living or for the dead? This book is part memoir, part discussion of a spiritual quest by the literary editor of The New Republic. Leon Wieseltier was born in Brooklyn in 1952, and raised in an Orthodox household. He was educated at Columbia, Oxford and Harvard. From 1979 to 1982, he was a member of the Society of Fellows at Harvard. He has been the Literary Editor of The New Republic since 1982. In March 1996, when his father died, Leon went to shul to begin saying the Mourners' Kaddish prayer for the required eleven months. An academic by heart, he begam to keep a journal during this time and embarked upon a quest to understand the nature and history of the Kaddish prayer, an Aramaic prayer that does not mention death and was only assigned to mourners in the Middle Ages. Wieseltier's book helps one understand the prayer and penetrate its depth. A shoe-in for the Jewish Book Award.
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[book] Kosher Sex :A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Hardcover - 224 pages (March 1999) Doubleday. Didn't you see the excerpts in Playboy? Did you see him on NBC's The Today Show? Rabbi Boteach's (Bo-tay-ach) greatly anticipated book about Jewish sex and intimacy. I expect he will do for Jewish sex, what he did for Jewish life at Oxford..., namely shake it up. But seriously, folks, Rabbi Boteach (who plans to return to the uSA from the UK in 2000) offers some interesting anecdotal views on how sex should not be repressed and how it can be used to build fulfilling, intimate relationships of lasting emotions. How do you find a soulmate that is both a friend and a sensual partner? And, yes, he does discuss the use of sex toys, and some kosher sexual positions. So buy a box of "koshering salt" and get a copy of this book, too.
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[book] Years of Renewal by Henry Kissinger
$35 before discount. Hardcover-912 pages (March 1999). Simon & Schuster. Not out yet. The third and concluding volume in his 3 volumes of memoirs. Richard Berstein of The NYT, writes, "... a distinguished and important work.... Kissinger's history of his own time in office is a work whose breadth, clarity of vision and historical scope amply justify its size. It is an event, a likely classic of its genre." The book begins during Nixon's final days. One revelation that Nixon ordered the bombing of the Damascus airport in 1969 during a hijacking incident "to impress his pals." (It was called off the next morning.) The book then focuses on Ford, who comes across as statesmanlike. Remember that Ford oversaw the fall of Cambodia and South Vietnam, the Mayaguez incident and the conflict between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus, Rhodesia, South Africa, Chile, Kurds, China, the starts of the civil war in Lebanon, Sadat and Rabin after the 1973 War, and Brezhnev and the Cold War.
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[book] The Times of My Life and My Life With the Times (New York Times) by Max Frankel
Hardcover - 432 pages (March 1999). Max Frankel, like Kissinger, escaped from Nazi Germany as a child and grew up, detached, in Washington Heights. It was a painful exile for him. Frankel rose to become the executive editor and shake up the tone and hiring practices of the NY Times and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Along the way he knew Presidents and PM's and did time in Cuba, DC, and Moscow. He doesn't hold back one bit, and even discusses his wife's depression. Quite an absorbing read.
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[book] 1185 Park Avenue - A Memoir by Anne R. Roiphe
Hardcover-256 pages (May 1999). The Free Press. Anne Richardson Roiphe, columnist, feminist, author of Up the Sandbox; Loving Kindness; and Fruitful: My Real Life as a Modern Mother, and mother of five kids, at least two of whom are authors (Katie Roiphe is one, Emily Carter the other), offers us her memoir of growing up in gilded, Jewish Manhattan. Just your average Jewish family -- brother, sister, mom, dad -- living on Park Avenue, playing Mah Jongg, having an xmas tree, going to tutors, mixing drinks, lighting mom's cigarettes, residing with the strict German governess and maids. Dad was a philanderer, mom was an insecure, weak heir to the Philips Van Heusen apparel fortune. Anne's brilliant brother was emotionally scarred for life, and she despised him. All was not as it appeared in Apartment 8C. How will Anne escape? How will her parents and brother survive? Is it true that the second wife gets everything? Is it true her father disinherited her from her mother's fortune for revealing family secrets? Click to read more.
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[book] Goldman Sachs. The Culture of Success by Lisa Endlich.
Hardcover - 336 pages (February 1999) Knopf. THIS BOOK IS FLYING OFF THE SHELVES!! Marcus Goldman, a German Jewish immigrant to New York City went into biz on Wall Street in 1869 (in a basement), and was joined by his son, Henry, and his son-in-law, Sam Sachs, a little over a decade later. The rest is history. Richard Bernstein (who I recently met at a NYC synagogue event) of The New York Times wrote, "It is not an easy thing to write a lively and informed institutional history, and Ms. Endlich's effort to do so with a large investment bank is a qualified success. Certainly, the transformation of an immigrant peddler's operation into a multibillion-dollar-a-year financial institution is an American classic, and Ms. Endlich describes its various stages with an insider's expertise." Lisa Endlich used to be a currency trader and Vice President at Goldman, and she has an easy facility with trading, numbers, and financial instruments. She documents how close client-contact, teamwork, and a focus on long-term profitability over short-term goals brought the firm to a financial pinnacle. This is the best inside story on Goldman Sachs to date. The first half deals with its founding and history and what made the partnership so successful; the second half deals with the past decade, its attempts to go public, and as the title clearly states, the firm's distinctive culture. Worth reading just to learn more about the famed Gus Levy, as well as Whitehead, Weinberg, Rubin, Friedman, and Corzine. The cover leaves something to be desired, however. I hear the Larry Summers read the book before he got promoted to Sec of Treasury.
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[book] Lexus and the Olive Tree. Understanding Globalization by Thomas L. Friedman
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "From Beirut to Jerusalem" offers a brilliant investigation of globalization, the most significant socioeconomic trend in the world today, and how it is affecting everything we do--economically, politically, and culturally--abroad and at home.
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[book] Fighting to Become Americans: Jews, Gender, and the Anxiety of Assimilation by Riv-Ellen Prell
Hardcover - 272 pages (March 1999). A study of where the term JAP comes from. Was it actually made up and projected by Jewish men as a put down to women who pushed them too hard to assimilate and to maintain a middle class existence? Zzzzz. I mean, was it a projection against conspicuous consumption? Does it date back to a Jewish newspaper article in 1902 about ghetto girls? Did this only happen in America. Did America and the push to assimilation cause Jewish men and women to ridicule each other? Click to read more reviews.
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[book] Waging Peace: Israel and the Arabs at the End of the Century by Itamar Rabinovich
June 1999, 224 pages, FS&G. Itamar Rabinovich, scholar, author, and senior Israeli diplomat, known to students from California to Penn to Tel Aviv University, sets out a plan for Mideast peace in time for the June elections. The conflicts between Israel and its Arab neighbors have lasted for more than 50 years. His new formula is.... Rabinovich is most insightful in his analysis of Syria, as well as the goals of Arafat, Hussein, al-Asad, and Mubarak. Click the icon to read more expansive reviews.
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[book] The Holocaust in American Life. The Holocaust Comes To America. How The Murder of the Jews of Europe Moved from the Margins to the Center of Our Culture by Peter Novick.
Houghton Mifflin, June 1999, $27 before 30% discount. Professor Novick (University of Chicago Professor of History and Vichy specialist) takes a groundbreaking, provocative look at Holocaust memory in America. Has the Holocaust become a salient symbol in America? Is it a cornerstone to Jewish identity in the late 20th Century? Novick is a specialist in Historicity. While ordinarily historical memories are most vivid in the immediate aftermath of an event and fade with the passage of time, the Holocaust has acted in the reverse. In the decades after the Shoah, no one spoke about it. Novick explores why even Jews were silent about the Holocaust during the 1950's. Was it due to the Cold War? Or did the optimism of the 1950's hush the past tragedies and sweep it under the rug? Was it due to the state of American anti-Semitism in the 1950's? Why and when did the Holocaust become central to current Jewish identity? Was it the 1967 War and precarious state of Israel that got American Jews talking about the Holocaust? Are there lessons of the Holocaust that must be learned? What is the cost that Jews will pay for making the Holocaust a central moral and defining symbol? Must the Jews define themselves as victims?
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[book] The Conversion: A Novel by Aron Appelfeld, Jeffrey M. Green (Translator),.
Hardcover - 240 pages (November 1998). Reviewers have said that this, his 12th novel, is the best. A love story set in Austria, it is, of course, also a allegory. Click to read more expanded reviews.
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[book] On Burning Ground- A Son's Memoir by Michael Skakun
Hardcover - 256 pages (June 1999) St Martins Press. Skakun was born in Jaffa and came to the US as a child. He was an assistant to Alfred Kazin. This is considered to be one of the best and most gripping Holocaust memoirs. This is the story of Michael's father, Joseph, a Talmudic scholar with blue eyes and blond hair, who tried to save his mother in Navaredok/Novogrudek Poland, failed, and fled to the forests and to Vilna. In Vilna, he took on the identity of a Muslim Tatar, studied Islam, and became a foreign laborer in Berlin. Joseph then enlisted in the SS to avoid suspicion. Quite an amazing story. Click to read more expanded reviews.
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[book] A God In Ruins by Leon Uris
Hardcover - 800 pages (June 1999). Leon Uris gave the Jews Exodus, Qb VII, The Haj and Mila 18. Now he offers us "A God In Ruins," the story of Quinn O'Connell, an Irish Catholic candidate for the Presidency of the United States in the year 2008. After 400 scouts were killed by a militia group, the primary campaign issue is gun control. One week prior to Election Day, O'Connell discovers that he was born to Jewish parents, but adopted by a Catholic family. He has a Jewish half-brother. So what? So what if he was born to Jewish parents? Will voters care? How will this affect the tensions between the black and Jewish communities, the neo-Nazi's. Will a Kristallnacht occur in 2008? Click to read more expanded reviews.
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[book] Spinoza: A Life by Steven M. Nadler
$35 before discount. Hardcover (April 1999). Cambridge Univ Press. Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) was one of the most important philosophers of the past 400 years. This is the first complete biography of Spinoza in any language and is based on detailed archival research. Though the book will be an invaluable resource for philosophers, historians, and scholars of Jewish thought, it has been written for any member of the general reading public with a serious interest in philosophy, Jewish history, 17th-century European history, and the culture of the Dutch Golden Age
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[book] The Book of Blam by Aleksandar Tisma, Translated by Michael Henry Heim
Hardcover (April 1999) 226 pages. This is a book about a dead people in a dead country that was written in a language that is now dead. It is about the Jewish community of Novi Sad (dead community), in Yugoslavia (dead country), first published in the Serbo-Croatian language (dead) in 1972. It is a novel that focuses on the lost Jewish community of former Yugoslavian province of Vojvodina. The book opens in the Yugoslavian town of Novi Sad, on the Danube, under the rule of Tito. Novi Sad was a Hapsburgian, multicultural city of Serbs, Jews, Germans, Croats, Romanians, and Hungarians. Miroslav Blam is the main character, who like Job, is wandering and wondering why he survived when his friedns were killed. The book opens as he walks through the city ten years after The War, remembering the Jews that were killed by the Hungarians and Nazis; remembering the red heroes (written under Tito, remember), and the collaborating enemies. To read more, click...
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[book] Israel and Europe: An Appraisal in History by Howard M. Sachar
April 1999, 400 pages, Knopf. Dr. Sachar, the author of over 14 books on the Jewish people, Sephardim, Israel, and the Middle East; and a Professor of Modern History at George Washington University in Washington DC, concisely tells the story of the post War European powers and the State of Israel, their dealings and ambitions. Click the icon to read more expansive reviews.
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[book] A Rabbi and His Dream. Building the Brotherhood Synagogue by Irving Block
Not til May 1999. KTAV. A rabbinical memoir. Rabbi Irving Block reflects on his 42 years in the rabbinate, 42 stormy years. The Brotherhood Synagogue started in a church in Greenwich Village, and grew in interfaith cooperation. But then the Board voted to move out and get their own space; was this a slap in the face to ecumenism? Boards move slow, however, and it wasn't until a minister who was not to keen on Jews took over the church two decades later that the synagogue moved to its own space. A story of rabbi and his challenges and dreams.
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[book] Separate and Unequal: The Inside Story of Israeli Rule in East Jerusalem. By Amir S. Cheshin, Bill Hutman and Avi Melamed
Hardcover - 288 pages (May 1999) Harvard University Press. This book is going to be the most talked about book in 1999. Amir Cheshin a retired Israeli Army colonel and senior adviser to Teddy Kollek, Avi Melamed a Deputy Adviser to Kollek and Ehud Olmert, and Bill Hutman from The Jerusalem Post have written this vivid, cloak room account of Israeli policies in East Jerusalem since 1967. What they tell us about Teddy Kollek is worth the price of the book alone! If you are planning to say anything about Jerusalem history or the peace plans, you better read this first. To read more, click below.
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[book] Drinking the Sea at Gaza : An Israeli Woman's Journey to the Other Side by Amira Hass, Elana Wesley (Translator), Maxine Nunn (Translator)
Hardcover - 384 pages (May 1999) Metropolitan Books. Amira Hass is the Israeli-born daughter of Balkan-born Holocaust survivors. As a reporter for the Israeli daily Haaretz, she was sent to Gaza to write a story in 1993. She came for the story, but ended up setting up a residence in a place that is so despised that some Israelis say "go to Gaza" instead of "go to hell." In this haunting book, Hass tells the tale of the daily life of Gaza residents and the politically based difficulties they encounter in trying the earn a living, crossing the border, undergoing cultural humiliations, and breaking curfews. It is a good book to read if you want to understand daily life in the PA, and it is despairing when you wonder if anything will ever succeed there. Hass' Marxist leanings get in the way sometimes, but if you are an active reader, you can overcome the tilt. To read more, click below.
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[book] The Imaginary Voyage: With Theodore Herzl in Israel by Shimon Peres
Hardcover - 256 pages (June 1999). 75 year old Shimon Peres... Isn't he busy enough being a former statesman and PM, an M.K., a Nobelist.. well now he is a writer of fiction. Join him on his journey with the father of modern political Zionism, Theodore Herzl (who died in 1904 at the age of 44). Russian born Peres and Austrian Herzl travel through Israel as Peres points out its history and progress, its unity and factionalism, its beauty and its ugliness.
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[book] Four Mothers by Shifra Horn, Dalya Bilu (Translator)
Hardcover - 288 pages (May 1999) St Martins Press. Set in Jerusalem, this is a best seller in Israel. It is chock full of folklore, customs, superstition, and folk wisdom. It concerns five generations of Jewish women. These women are cursed with husbands who disappear after their wives give birth. Is it a family curse? Where did it originate? Amal decides to find out. Her search leads her to her great-great-grandmother, Mazal, and from there we learn about the lives of her descendants. An excellent insight into the neighborhoods of old and new Jerusalem.
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[book] The Same Embrace by Michael Lowenthal
Hardcover - 304 pages Penguin. A novel about the Rosenbaum twins. Jacob and Jonathan are identical twins, tied together by family, by shared history, by identical genes. In this novel, they battle themselves and one another to become individuals. Jacob comes out and Jonathan becomes Orthodox. In the words of the NYT, "The Same Embrace is an eloquent exploration of the nature of faith, the consequences of judgment and the stubborn endurance of family ties."
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[book] Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire by Jason Goodwin
April 1999, 352 pages, Henry Holt. An anecdote-filled and breezy account of the long, troubled career of the Ottoman Empire. That empire endured for nearly 600 years and embraced not only a large territory--stretching, at one point, from the border of Iran to the gates of Vienna--but also hundreds of ethnic groups and three dozen nations. Did you ever wonder why so many Spanish Jews ended up in Turkey and the Ottoman Empire? Click the icon to read more expansive reviews.
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[book] Grief in Our Seasons: A Mourner's Kaddish Companion. By Rabbi Kerry Olitzky.
(Jewish Lights, 448 pages). Offer mourners a prayerbook for one complete year of mourning. There is at least one passage and a meditation for each day of the mourning cycle. There is also space for you to add your own thoughts, feelings, and reflections.
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[book] The Language of Truth: The Torah Commentary of Sefat Emet by Judah Aryeh Leib Alter (The Gerrer Rebbe), translated by Dr. Arthur Green (Translator)
Hardcover - 408 pages. JPS. Professor/Rabbi Arthur Green, of Penn, RRC, JTS, and Brandeis, to name a few, scholar and specialist in Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav, has translated the Sfat Emes by the Gerrer Rebbe. I picked this up while preparing a dvar torah in the Spring of 1999, and was drawn to the Gerrer's excellent commentaries of Torah. A fascinating translation of the rabbi's writings.
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[book] Heshel's Kingdom by Dan Jacobson
April 1999. The author returns to Lithuania from South Africa in a search for his family's Jewish roots.
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[book] Balaam's Prophecy: Eyewitness to History, 1939-1989 by Naphtali Lau-Lavie
Hardcover (October 1997) Cornwall Books. Translated from the Hebrew. Former Israeli Consul General and diplomat, Naphtali Lau-Lavie, survived the Holocaust and Auschwitz. He put those traumas behind them. He and Natan Sharansky also survived an injurious NYC taxi cab attack 35 years later. In this memoir, Lau Lavie provides an intimate portrait of his life and the life of Israel and the Jewish people, from the perspective of someone who was an assistant and advisor to Israel's leaders. Remember that Balaam was sent to curse the Hebrews but ended up praising and blessing them. a true lion.
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[book] Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and the Last Great Lesson by Mitch Albom
30 percent off. Hardcover - 192 pages (September 1997) Doubleday. This true story about the love between a spiritual mentor and his pupil has soared to the bestseller list for many reasons. For starters: it reminds us of the affection and gratitude that many of us still feel for the significant mentors of our past. It also plays out a fantasy many of us have entertained: what would it be like to look those people up again, tell them how much they meant to us, maybe even resume the mentorship? Plus, we meet Morrie Schwartz--a one of a kind professor.
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[book] Ex-Friends :The Civil War of the New York Intellectuals. Falling Out With Allen Ginsburg, Lionel and Diane Trilling, Lillian Hellman, Hannah Arendt and Norman Mailer. by Norman Podhoretz
($25 before discount). Hardcover - 256 pages (February 1999) Free Press. Ahhhh... those bygone days of a shared community of polemics and thoughts. Podheretz, who became the editor of COMMENTARY in 1958, who moved from radicalism to neo-conservatism, who made dozens of enemies because of his deep lust to succeed and put his Brownsville Brooklyn poverty behind him, recalls his quarrels within the MOSTLY Jewish NYC Intellectual community. Lots a fun character sketches, like the time he helped Norman Mailer avoid the cops after Mailer had stabbed his wife.
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[book] Hitler's Vienna. A Dictator's Apprenticeship by Brigitte Hamann. Translated by Thomas Thornton
($35 before discount). Oxford University Press. 452 pages. Not another Hitler book? That's what I thought, til I read this. This is a fascinating story about the Vienna in which Hitler created his vision and plans. This is the Vienna of Adler and Freud. But did the young Hitler live in this mileiu from 1908 - 1913? Or was he relegated to the lower class and working class neighborhoods. What was life like there among the poor, single men? Were there any Jewish professors at the Visual Arts school he attended? (no) With the newly won right to vote, what kind of pan-German politicians caught the attention of Hitler? What would he have read? How did Vienna's architecture influence Hitler's ideas symbolic art? How did Georg Schonerer affect Hitler's ideas? Is this where he learned about anti-Semitism? A fascinating read that just draws you in.
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[book] Serbia's Secret War: Propaganda and the Deceit of History by Philip J. Cohen, David Riesman
264 pages, Texas A&M University Press. Some say that Serbians protected Jews during WWII, and were much better to Jews than Croatians and Albanians. And then some say the opposite. Some say that if you say something long enough it will become fact, not fiction. Others say, how can a dentist from the USA who doesn't read Croatian, Serbian, or Serbo-Croatian author a book on the topic. Doctor Cohen focuses on Serbian actions during World War II and uncovers the foundations of today's ethnic cleansing. He argues that the Serbs collaborated with the Nazis in contrast to later Serbian rhetoric that claimed the Serbs were victims, "the thirteenth tribe of Israel." This official duplicity veiled the true objectives of the government to create an ethnically pure homeland. Click the icon to read more expansive reviews.
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[book] Journeys With Elijah : Eight Tales of the Prophet by Barbara Diamond Goldin, Jerry Pinkney (Illustrator)
Reading level: Ages 4-8 Hardcover - 96 pages (April 1999). You never know when Elijah is going to show up. Is he a poor beggar, a helper, a stranger in town? How will you treat him? This book contains classic tales about Elijah with introductions for each story about the history of the community that told the tale, whether it be Eastern Europe or China. Click to read more.
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[book] Looking for Lost Bird: A Jewish Woman's Discovery of Her Navajo Roots by Yvette D. Melanson with Claire Safran
($22 before 30% discount). Hardcover - 240 pages (February 1999). A few years ago, NBC-TV did a story about a 43 year old Jewish woman who, when she sought out her birth parents, discovered that she was actually born to a Navajo family. Yvette was a lost bird, the name Native Americans give to their children who were stolen by "well-meaning" white social workers and others. This is Yvetts's fascinating story. Yvette Melanson was born "out West" in the 1950's, adopted by a Jewish couple in Miami, and raised in New York City in a wealthy, doting, Jewish family. Although she knew she was adopted, her parents always deflected questions about her roots, but did let it slip that she had a twin brother. When her mother died a painful death when Yvette was just a young teenager, Yvette's father blamed Yvette, rejected her, and soon remarried a woman who treated Yvette worse than Cinderella. So I don't give away any more juicy details, suffice it to say that Yvette moved to a Kibbutz at 17, was injured as a soldier during the '73 War, returned to the U.S., and settled in Maine to raise a family. At her father's funeral, a stranger had to ask her stepmother to move over so Yvette could sit in the family pew. Can you believe such a family? Upon discovering her true birth heritage a while after her father's funeral, we follow Yvette as she meets her Navajo family, learns the truth about her birth, tries to fit into Navajo culture in Tolani Lakes, a culture which is sometimes at odds with a louder New York City/Israeli/Jewish one, and finds similarities between her Jewish faith and Navajo culture.
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[book] Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad by Gordon Thomas.
Hardcover - 352 pages (March 1999) St Martins Press. This is Gordon Thomas' 38th book, but who's counting? Does the Mossad need a good PR Agent, or is this a PR ploy? If Mossad Agents don't reveal their secrets or talk to the press, why would they tell Gordon Thomas, a former reporter for The Daily Express (UK) these tales? I expect this book will get lots of press, cuz he spends the first chapter on Henri Paul, the chauffeur who drove Dodi Al-Fayed and Princess Diana to their deaths. Was Henri Paul on the Mossad payroll? Whether the stories are fact or fiction, it still is a good read, and especially enlightening about the bungled operations we have only heard snatches of, like the murder of the Arab waiter in Norway.
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[book] A Heart of Many Rooms; Celebrating the Many Voices Within Judaism. By David Hartman.
Hardcover - 304 pages. Jewish Lights Publishing. Are pluralism and traditional Judaism contradictory? Can the enrich each other? Rabbi Hartman, a two time winner of the Jewish Book Award, writes that they need not conflict. As it is written in Tosefta Sotah 7:12, make yourself a heart of many rooms so that the words of Bet Hillel AND Bet Shammai can reside as one. This book is a collection of Rabbi David Hartman's essays that seek out inclusion, bridges, and pluralism. It is incisive and passionate. Hartman, a graduate of Yeshiva University, and a student of the late Rav Soloveitchik, was a pulpit rabbi in The Bronx and Montreal for over 17 years, before moving to Jerusalem in 1977. After graduation, he thought his role would be to answer questions - questions pertaining to Halachah. But then he realized that a rabbi's role is to create questions, and not only provide answers. He realized that his task was to fight indifference and to convince Jews to confront the Judaic tradition as a living option that could not be easily dismissed. He accomplishes this in this book. Hartman write, "One who seeks absolute certainty will not find comfort in a spiritual tradition whose response to the disagreements between the schools of Hillel and Shammai was that both schools of thought were the words of the living God." The book contains 16 chapters in 4 parts. Part I deals with the interpretive tradition and tradition and secularism; Part II concerns 'educating toward inclusiveness'; Part III focuses on celebrating religious diversity; and Part IV concerns religion in a modern Israel, which chapter titles about the Lebanon War, Zionism, and Aliyah. Click to read more.
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[book] Messianic Revolution: Radical Religious Politics to the End of the Second Millennium by Richard H. Popkin, David S. Katz.
Hardcover - 352 pages (April 1999) Hill & Wang Publishing. Richard Popkin is Emeritus Professor of History of Religion at UCLA and David Katz is Professor of History at Tel Aviv University. Together they trace the history of radical millennial religious movements from the Renaissance to today, and their affect on political movements. There study looks at leaders such as Sir Isaac Newton, Pat Robertson, William Miller, David Koresh, Pico, Swedenborg, William Miller, and Paracelsus; and movements such as the Reformation, hermiticism, The Fifth Civil War, Seventh Day Adventists, Witnesses, and alchemy. Let me put it bluntly, if you want to understand the growth of religious right-wing parties in the U.S. and elsewhere, you have to read this book. Popkin is a specialist in Skepticism, and Katz in the History of British Jews.
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[book] God Whispers: Stories of the Soul, Lessons of the Heart by Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar.
Jewish Lights Publishing, 160 pages, Telling eloquent stories from the lives of ordinary people, Rabbi Kedar, of Congregation Bnai Torah of Highland Park, IL, reveals 12 gates of spirituality and explains how each person might enter through these gates to find a deeper understanding of his or her relationship with God, especially when dealing with difficult sutuations.
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[book] Drizzle of Honey: The Lives and Recipes of Spain's Secret Jews by David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson
Hardcover (Spring 1999). St Martins Press. During the Inquisition, a bowl of Chicken soup could get you killed, not healed. If this book is not nominated for a Jewish Book Award, I don't know what will be. How is that for a recommendation? I came across this in the shelves the other day and was mesmerized. David Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson are a husband and wife team and teachers at the the University of Rhode Island. David is a past winner of the National Jewish Book Award, and he is a specialist in aljamas (jewish neighborhoods), the converso Jews, the anusim (forced converts) and the meshumadim (willing coverts). Using cookbooks and Inquisition documents in Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan (including the rare 13th Century Al Andalus cookbook of the Cocina Hispano-Magribi), the authors have recreating over 90 recipes of the Converso community. During the Inquisitions in the Iberian peninsula, Jews and Moslems were killed, exiled, or converted. Some of the converted remained Jewish or Moslem and became crypto-jews, Crypto-Moslems, of Conversos. Spain expelled Jews in 1492 (you know, when Columbus sailed the Ocean Blue); Portugal expelled Jews in 1497. The recipes are well categorized, and make use of lamb, beef, fish, eggplant, greens, turnips, chickpeas, as well as mace, cinnamon, ginger, lavender, rue, portulaca, and dozens of other spices. Most recipes include histories and characters of the period, which is the prime motivation to purchase this book. For example, along of the recipes of Beatrice Nunez, we learn that she was arrested in 1485. Her maid turned her in to the Inquisition for the crime of maintaining a kosher kitchen. She also prepared a Sabbath stew of lamb, chickpeas and eggs. Proof enough to have her burned at the stake. Among my favorite recipes is Mayor Gonzalez's Egg and Carrot Casserole. She was imprisoned in 1483 for killing a goose in "the jewish way." Then there is Juan Sanchez's hamin of chickpeas, spinach and cabbage; and Maria de Luna's rasquillas honey pastries that she prepared for the post-Yom Kippur fast. She was arrested in 1505 for this crime. There is also Juan de Teva's Roast Lamb dish. Juan's father was a rabbi who was burned to death i n1484. The authors also include the Roast Chicken with Fruit and Almori recipe of Anton de Montoro. Senor de Montoro was a rag merchat in Cordoba, but is most well known as being the converso poet to the Court of Queen Isabel of Castile. De Montoro was accused of preparing stuffed radishes (a Jewish dish) and Pollo Judio (jewish chicken). Easily, this is among the top three Jewish Cookbooks of the year.
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[book] The Rise and Fall of the House of Barneys: A Family Tale of Chutzpah, Glory and Greed by Joshua Levine.
Hardcover - 336 pages (April 1999) William Morrow & Company. Who DIDN'T buy their Bar Mitzvah suit at Barney's in NYC?? The premier Barney's clothing store was started in 1923 by Barney Pressman with a hocked engagement ring ($500). It grew from a cut-rate clothier to a store that catered to the most luxurious tastes in apparel. Seventy years later, the store was doing multi-millions of dollars in sales and had expanded from 17th and Seventh to Tokyo. Was the company's downfall the greed of Barney's grandson's (Bob and Gene), the interest payments of the $550 million in loans, or the economy? Is it a tragedy when grandpa creates a company, his child expands it, and the grandkids, showered in wealth, become greedy and destroy it? Decide for yourself and read this.
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[book] Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein by Andrew and Patrick Cockburn.
30% discount. Hardcover - (March 1999). Was America's support of the Kurds in Iraq like America's support of the Cuban's at The Bay of Pigs? Did you ever wonder how Saddam remains in power and why the CIA has not toppled him? Before you spout off, better give this book a read and its revelations on Saddam and the US history and it failures with him. Were our failures due to internal CIA feuding? How does Saddam stay in power and what sort of clique surrounds him? Read this and find out.
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[book] Bar Mitzvah by David MAMET.
Little Brown. April 1999. Boy learns about life from an old man in this allegorical tale from playwright David Mamet. No, he doesn't use the "F" word. Tinkering with an old watch, an old man gets the attention of a boy, telling him a bit about the mechanics of watches. The old man then imparts a lesson about history, the old and then new, the boys upcoming bar mitzvah celebration, Jewish life, and being a good Jew through one's action. Includes 20 charcoal drawings by Donald Sultan.
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[book] The Greenspan Effect: Words That Move The World's Markets by David Sicilia.
June 1999, McGraw Hill. 204 pages.
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[book] The Greatest Poems of the Bible. Translated by James Kugel
$22 before our discount. The Free Press. Not til September 1999. A readers companion to the poems of the Bible, with Kugel's insights into their hidden beauties of deeper meanings. What do the psalms tell us about the nature of the soul? What do the shirim/songs and proverbs tell us about monotheism and the afterlife? Kugel is a Professor of Hebrew Lit at Harvard, and a Prof at Bar Ilan.

[book] The First Messiah : Investigating the Savior Before Jesus by Michael Owen Wise
Hardcover - 352 pages (March 1999) Harper San Francisco. With talk of the Year 2000, and false messiahs, this may be an interesting look at what early Jews thought about "Judah" (the name given to a Jerusalem priest in the first century BCE; not the biblical son of Jacob). Wise reconstructs the life of "Judah," the first messianic figure. From Judah's writings, preserved among the Dead Sea Scrolls as The Teacher of Righteousness, Wise (The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered) teases out some compelling arguments about social tensions in Jerusalem a century before Christ. Amid the intense conflict among Jewish factions, Judah proclaimed himself a prophet who knew God's mysteries, a certainty which propelled him to messiah status among his many followers. But Judah died in exile, leaving his millennial prophecies apparently unfulfilled, his followers scattered. His movement did not end there: a few years later, it exploded in growth because a war with Rome was at hand, and many turned to Judah's prophecies to explain the crises of the age. Judah's story is intriguing in and of itself, and even more so because it provided a paradigm for that more famous messiah figure who arose in Israel less than a century later. Also reconstructs Judah's trial by fellow Jews for heresy and insurrection.
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[book] American Sermons : The Pilgrims to Martin Luther King Jr (The Library of America, 108) by Michael Warner (Editor).
Hardcover - 950 pages (March 1999). I was drawn to this book, since I have been searching out good preaching sermons, and hope to compile an article on the best preachers in NYC one day. Okay, maybe this book is not fully Jewish, but this is a collection of the top American historical sermons, including ones by Rabbi A J Heschel; M. L. King Jr.'s "I've Been To The Mountaintop"; John Winthrop's "A Model of Christian Charity (new world=new Jerusalem)"; Jonathan Edward's "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"; Francis Grimke's "American Negro and the Children of Israel in Egypt"; Ralph Waldo Emerson's "The Lord's Supper"; as well as pieces by Cotton Mather, Increase Mather, Bishop Fulton Sheen, Absalom Jones (African Episopalian), and others.
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