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Welcome to, where we list new, diverse, and eclectic books of Jewish interest and sort them by publication date (we do not categorize by fiction and non-fiction). All net proceeds go to tzedaka. Look at the hyperlinks to the left for books by publication data or season.

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An award winning film from Sony Pictures Classics based on this novel is now in theaters in December 2017:
[book] Call Me by Your Name:
A Novel
by André Aciman
Paperback film tie-in edition, October 2017
Originally published in 2007
The novel upon which the film, directed by Luca Guadagnino, starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet, and adapted by James Ivory, is based. Andre Aciman's “Call Me by Your Name” is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between a brilliant, sensitive adolescent Jewish boy (Elio Perlman) and a Jewish 6'5” grad student guest (Oliver), 24, at his parents’ cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera (in Liguria, but the film uses a villa in Crema, Lombardy, instead). Each Summer, Elio's father, an esteemed archaeologist, invites an accomplished PhD student in Classics to spend the Summer in Italy at their house. Oliver and Elio are each unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, when, during the restless summer, unrelenting currents of obsession, fascination, competition, contempt, love and desire intensify their passion and test the charged volcanic ground between them. Elio reads and plays music, dates, and spends languid summer days and nights. He appears confident but has doubts and confusion. Oliver works on his dissertation on Heraclitus. (As you will recall from high school Greek, Heraclitus wrote that no man steps in the same river twice, that life is fleeting, and that 'the path up and down are one and the same' so that opposites attract). “Is it better to speak or die,” is what Elio remembers from the French tale that his mother translates for the family. The story of a knight and a princess. Recklessly, Elio and Oliver verge toward the one thing both fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy. That they both, at times, hide their Jewishness, can be considered a metaphor for their hiding of their desires. It is an instant classic.

Set in 1983, it is a winner of a Lambda Literary Award for Fiction, and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, as well as a Publishers Weekly and The Washington Post Best Book of the Year

André Aciman is the noted CUNY professor, expert in Marcel Proust, and am award winning novelist as well as the author of Out of Egypt, about his Egyptian Jewish family's life in and flight from Gamal Abdul Nasser's Egypt.

NOTE: For readers who already saw the film... note that the novel ends 20 years after where the film does. So buy and read the book to find out what happens.

NOTE 2: The idea for the novel came in 2005, when André Aciman’s plans to take his wife and three sons to a Mediterranean villa collapsed. Angry, Aciman, now 66, decided to instead, write a love story set on the Italian Riviera in the mid-1980s. Three months later he had “Call Me By Your Name” ready for editing.

[book] Fire and Fury:
Inside the Trump White House
by Michael Wolff
January 5, 2017
Henry Holt

Ever since BURN RATE and his other ventures and books, I have had issues with books by Michael Wolff. I have not read this book yet, though I have two copies. Some people have accused Wolff in the past with recreating conversations and as they say.. pushing the envelope on the truth. Perhaps he has a kernel of truth and adds flourishes to it. You can judge for yourself. Sure there are errors, like the Boehner sentences, but the overall theme appears to be correct.

From COVER: With extraordinary access to the Trump White House, Michael Wolff tells the inside story of the most controversial presidency of our time. The first nine months of Donald Trump’s term were stormy, outrageous-and absolutely mesmerizing. Now, thanks to his deep access to the West Wing, bestselling author Michael Wolff tells the riveting story of how Trump launched a tenure as volatile and fiery as the man himself.

In this book, Wolff provides a wealth of new details about the chaos in the Oval Office. Among the revelations:

-- What President Trump’s staff really thinks of him
-- What inspired Trump to claim he was wire-tapped by President Obama
-- Why FBI director James Comey was really fired
-- Why chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner couldn’t be in the same room
-- Who is really directing the Trump administration’s strategy in the wake of Bannon’s firing
-- What the secret to communicating with Trump is
-- What the Trump administration has in common with the movie The Producers

Never before has a presidency so divided the American people. Brilliantly reported and astoundingly fresh, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury shows us how and why Donald Trump has become the king of discord and disunion.

We will have to read it to discover why...
Why did Henry Kissinger reportedly say that it is a story of Jews vs non Jews in the White House?
Does Bannon call Kushner stupid and say Ivanka expects to run for President

NOTE 3: Wolff writes that Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon were at loggerheads over the US’s Israel policy. In passages related to Middle East policy, Wolff also writes that Steve Bannon enjoyed the full trust and backing of Jewish American billionaire Sheldon Adelson. According to Wolff, Adelson defended Bannon before Trump decided to fire him last summer, holding him out as "the only person he trusted on Israel" in the Trump White House. However, Adelson’s endorsement was evidently lacking. Wolff suggests that Trump’s appointment of Kushner as the liaison in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict created tension between him and Bannon, who positioned himself as a further right-wing conservative, priding himself on staunchly supporting Israel. Bannon apparently had wanted to move the American embassy to Jerusalem on Trump’s first day in office. “Day one we’re moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s all in. Sheldon is all in. We know where we’re heading on this.” Wolff describes Bannon’s ability to make Kushner feel inferior due to his ‘less’ ardent defense of the Jewish state. “Bannon, meanwhile, did not hesitate to ding Kushner on Israel, that peculiar right-wing litmus test. Bannon could bait Jews — globalist, cosmopolitan, Davos-Centric liberal Jews like Kushner — because the farther right you were, the more correct you were on Israel. Netanyahu was an old Kushner family friend, but when, in the fall, the Israeli prime minister came to New York to meet with Trump and Kushner, he made a point of seeking out Steve Bannon.” Wolff elaborates in blunter terms, explaining, "For Kushner, Bannon’s right-wing defense of Israel, embraced by Trump, somehow became a jujitsu piece of anti-Semitism aimed directly at him. Bannon seemed determined to make Kushner appear weak and inadequate — a cuck, in alt-right speak." Adelson is also said, according to Wolff, to have supported a Bannon-crafted campaign against Trump's National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, in response to his alleged hostility to Israel.

[book] The Immortalists
a novel
by Chloe Benjamin
January 9, 2018

If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?
It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in '80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.

[book] Traitor:
A Thriller Novel
by Jonathan de Shalit
January 30, 2018

In the exhilarating tradition of I Am Pilgrim comes a sprawling, international high-stakes thriller that pits the intelligence of one man against one of the most successful spies ever to operate against American interests.

When a young Israeli walks into an American embassy and offers to betray his country for money and power, he has no idea that the CIA agent interviewing him is a Russian mole. Years later, that young man has risen in the ranks to become a trusted advisor to Israel’s Prime Minister and throughout his career, he’s been sharing everything he knows with the Kremlin. Now, however, a hint that there may be a traitor in the highest realms of power has slipped out and a top-secret team is put together to hunt for him. The chase leads the team from the streets of Tel Aviv to deep inside the Russian zone and, finally, to the United States, where a most unique spymaster is revealed. The final showdown—between the traitor and the betrayed—can only be resolved by an act of utter treachery that could have far-reaching and devastating consequences.

[book] GREEN:
A Novel
by Sam Graham-Felsen
January 2, 2018

Random House
A coming-of-age novel about race, privilege, and the struggle to rise in America, written by a former Obama campaign staffer and propelled by an exuberant, unforgettable narrator.

Boston, 1992. David Greenfeld is one of the few white kids at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School. Everybody clowns him, girls ignore him, and his hippie parents won’t even buy him a pair of Nikes, let alone transfer him to a private school. Unless he tests into the city’s best public high school—which, if practice tests are any indication, isn’t likely—he’ll be friendless for the foreseeable future.

Nobody’s more surprised than Dave when Marlon Wellings sticks up for him in the school cafeteria. Mar’s a loner from the public housing project on the corner of Dave’s own gentrifying block, and he confounds Dave’s assumptions about black culture: He’s nerdy and neurotic, a Celtics obsessive whose favorite player is the gawky, white Larry Bird. Before long, Mar’s coming over to Dave’s house every afternoon to watch vintage basketball tapes and plot their hustle to Harvard. But as Dave welcomes his new best friend into his world, he realizes how little he knows about Mar’s. Cracks gradually form in their relationship, and Dave starts to become aware of the breaks he’s been given—and that Mar has not.

Infectiously funny about the highs and lows of adolescence, and sharply honest in the face of injustice, Sam Graham-Felsen’s debut is a wildly original take on the American dream.

[book] The Ruined House:
A Novel
by Ruby Namdar
Winner of the Sapir Prize, Israel’s highest literary award

Picking up the mantle of legendary authors such as Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, an exquisite literary talent makes his debut with a nuanced and provocative tale of materialism, tradition, faith, and the search for meaning in contemporary American life.

Andrew P. Cohen, a professor of comparative culture at New York University, is at the zenith of his life. Adored by his classes and published in prestigious literary magazines, he is about to receive a coveted promotion—the crowning achievement of an enviable career. He is on excellent terms with Linda, his ex-wife, and his two grown children admire and adore him. His girlfriend, Ann Lee, a former student half his age, offers lively companionship. A man of elevated taste, education, and culture, he is a model of urbanity and success.

But the manicured surface of his world begins to crack when he is visited by a series of strange and inexplicable visions involving an ancient religious ritual that will upend his comfortable life.

Beautiful, mesmerizing, and unsettling, The Ruined House unfolds over the course of one year, as Andrew’s world unravels and he is forced to question all his beliefs. Ruby Namdar’s brilliant novel embraces the themes of the American Jewish literary canon as it captures the privilege and pedantry of New York intellectual life in the opening years of the twenty-first century.

[book] Rise and Kill First:
The Secret History of
Israel's Targeted Assassinations
by Ronen Bergman
January 2018
Random House

The page-turning, news-breaking, inside account of Israel’s state-sponsored assassination programs, from the man hailed by David Remnick as “arguably [Israel’s] best investigative reporter.”

The Talmud says: “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.” This instinct to take every measure, even the most aggressive, to defend the Jewish people is hardwired into Israel’s DNA. From the very beginning of its statehood in 1948, protecting the nation from harm has been the responsibility of its intelligence community and armed services, and there is one weapon in their vast arsenal that they have relied upon to thwart the most serious threats: Targeted assassinations have been used countless times, on enemies large and small, sometimes in response to attacks against the Israeli people and sometimes preemptively. In this page-turning, eye-opening book, journalist and military analyst Ronen Bergman offers a riveting inside account of the targeted killing programs—their successes, their failures, and the moral and political price exacted on the men and women who approved and carried out the missions.

Bergman has gained the exceedingly rare cooperation of many current and former members of the Israeli government, including Prime Ministers Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, and Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as high-level figures in the country’s military and intelligence services: the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), the Mossad (the world’s most feared intelligence agency), Caesarea (a “Mossad within the Mossad” that carries out attacks on the highest-value targets), and the Shin Bet (an internal security service that implemented the largest targeted assassination campaign ever, in order to stop what had once appeared to be unstoppable: suicide terrorism).

Including never-before-reported, behind-the-curtain accounts of key operations, and based on hundreds of on-the-record interviews and thousands of files to which Bergman has gotten exclusive access over his decades of reporting, Rise and Kill First brings us deep into the heart of Israel’s most secret activities. Bergman traces, from statehood to the present, the gripping events and thorny ethical questions underlying Israel’s targeted killing campaign, which has shaped the Israeli nation, the Middle East, and the entire world.

[book] Anatomy of a Genocide:
The Life and Death of
a Town Called Buczacz
by Omer Bartov
January 23, 2018
Simon & Schuster

A fascinating and cautionary examination of how genocide can take root at the local level—turning neighbors, friends, and even family members against one another—as seen through the eastern European border town of Buczacz during World War II.

For more than four hundred years, the Eastern European border town of Buczacz—today part of Ukraine—was home to a highly diverse citizenry. It was here that Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews all lived side by side in relative harmony. Then came World War II, and three years later the entire Jewish population had been murdered by German and Ukrainian police, while Ukrainian nationalists eradicated Polish residents. In truth, though, this genocide didn’t happen so quickly.

In Anatomy of a Genocide Omer Bartov explains that ethnic cleansing doesn’t occur as is so often portrayed in popular history, with the quick ascent of a vitriolic political leader and the unleashing of military might. It begins in seeming peace, slowly and often unnoticed, the culmination of pent-up slights and grudges and indignities. The perpetrators aren’t just sociopathic soldiers. They are neighbors and friends and family. They are human beings, proud and angry and scared. They are also middle-aged men who come from elsewhere, often with their wives and children and parents, and settle into a life of bourgeois comfort peppered with bouts of mass murder: an island of normality floating on an ocean of blood.

For more than two decades Bartov, whose mother was raised in Buczacz, traveled extensively throughout the region, scouring archives and amassing thousands of documents rarely seen until now. He has also made use of hundreds of first-person testimonies by victims, perpetrators, collaborators, and rescuers. Anatomy of a Genocide profoundly changes our understanding of the social dynamics of mass killing and the nature of the Holocaust as a whole. Bartov’s book isn’t just an attempt to understand what happened in the past. It’s a warning of how it could happen again, in our own towns and cities—much more easily than we might think.

[book] The Future Is History:
How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia
by Masha Gessen
October 2017
Riverhead Books
Putin’s bestselling biographer reveals how, in the space of a generation, Russia surrendered to a more virulent and invincible new strain of autocracy.
Hailed for her “fearless indictment of the most powerful man in Russia” (The Wall Street Journal), award-winning journalist Masha Gessen is unparalleled in her understanding of the events and forces that have wracked her native country in recent times. In The Future Is History, she follows the lives of four people born at what promised to be the dawn of democracy. Each of them came of age with unprecedented expectations, some as the children and grandchildren of the very architects of the new Russia, each with newfound aspirations of their own—as entrepreneurs, activists, thinkers, and writers, sexual and social beings.
Gessen charts their paths against the machinations of the regime that would crush them all, and against the war it waged on understanding itself, which ensured the unobstructed reemergence of the old Soviet order in the form of today’s terrifying and seemingly unstoppable mafia state. Powerful and urgent, The Future Is History is a cautionary tale for our time and for all time.

[book] LIONESS
Golda Meir and the
Nation of Israel
by Francine Klagsbrun
October 2017


Klagsbrun has been working on this for three decades. A biography of Meir is hard, she left no diaries, and did not write letters much. She swore those closest to her to keep her secrets and closest opinions. Klagsbrun has interviewed them all, and most have now passed away. This is THE definitive biography of Golda Meir. Meir was the the iron-willed leader, chain-smoking political operative in Israel, and tea-and-cake-serving grandmother who became the fourth prime minister of Israel and one of the most notable women of our time. As Ben Gurion quipped, she had the most balls of anyone on his cabinet

Golda Meir was a world figure unlike any other. Born in czarist Russia in 1898, she immigrated to America in 1906 and grew up in Milwaukee, where from her earliest years she displayed the political consciousness and organizational skills that would eventually catapult her into the inner circles of Israel's founding generation. She left home as a teen to escape her overbearing parents and moved in with her married sister. There she fell in love with the man she would marry. Together they moved to British Mandate Palestine in 1921. The passionate socialist joined a kibbutz but soon left for Tel Aviv with her husband and two children, and was hired at a public works office by the man who would become the great love of her life: David Remez who was Secretary of the Histadrut trade unions organization and Israel’s first minister of transportation. (Meir was also romantically involved with Zalman Shazar, who would become Israel’s third president; and linked to other powerful lovers in the United States and Israel.)

A series of public service jobs brought her to the attention of David Ben-Gurion, and her political career took off. Fund-raising in America in 1948, secretly meeting in Amman with King Abdullah right before Israel's declaration of independence, mobbed by thousands of Jews in a Moscow synagogue in 1948 as Israel's first representative to the USSR, serving as minister of labor and foreign minister in the 1950s and 1960s, Golda brought fiery oratory, plainspoken appeals, and shrewd deal-making to the cause to which she had dedicated her life—the welfare and security of the State of Israel and its inhabitants.

As prime minister Golda negotiated arms agreements with Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, agonized over the mixed signals being sent by newly installed Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, and had dozens of clandestine meetings with Jordan's King Hussein in the unsuccessful pursuit of a land-for-peace agreement with Israel's neighbors. But her time in office ended in tragedy, when Israel was caught off guard by Egypt and Syria's surprise attack on Yom Kippur in 1973. Resigning in the war's aftermath (critics were calling her an old lady, and a murderer), Golda spent her final years keeping a hand in national affairs and bemusedly enjoying international acclaim. Francine Klagsbrun's superbly researched and masterly recounted story of Israel's founding mother gives us a Golda for the ages.

[book] The Jewlish Cookbook:
175 Pages of Fun, Easy &
Authentic Jewish Recipes
by Dana Attias and Jacob Attias
Summer 2017

The Jewlish Cookbook is for fun, easy & authentic Jewish cooking. Just over a year ago, Dana and Jacob Attias began filming cooking videos in their tiny Tel Aviv apartment. Since then, these Jewish cooking videos have reached over 100 million people worldwide, with viral hits such as Challah In A Bag, Libyan Mafrum, Apple Challah and many more. The goal of Jewlish is to show the world that Jewish food is more diverse than you could ever imagine, with recipes spanning the world and the ages. With Jewlish, it's easy to tap into Jewish history- and you might even find a creative new twist! After selling out it's first batch of cookbooks in less than a day, Jewlish is back, presenting more than 150 pages of Jewish food, including exclusive and never-before-seen recipes.

[book] Little Book of Jewish Appetizers
by Leah Koenig
August 2017

Chronicle Books
First in a series of elegant little books exploring Jewish culinary traditions, this perfect hostess gift or self-treat takes us through the most social part of the meal: the appetizers.

Organize a Jewish Cheese Plate (between Chapter 1 and 2) and Be The Talk Of The Town.

Whether you call them mezzes, forspeisn, appies, apps, or appetizers, a gefilte fish fritter or chopped liver on a crostini will delight. This is a little book, a tiny treasure of twenty three items in two chapters. In Chapter One (Fresh, Toasted, Pickled) we are introduced to items including Beet-Pickled Turnips; Pickled Cherry Tomatoes; Borscht Crostini; Eggplant Carpaccio; Smoky Sweet Potato Hummus; Vegetarian Chopped Liver; and Morroccan Orange and Black Olive Salad. Koenig reminisces about how chopped liver was so iconic that a vegetarian version was made using beans, peas, Tam Tams crackers, or lentils. But Koenig uses cremini mushrooms, brown sugar, walnuts, kidney beans, ring-shaped shallots, oil and eggs for hers. Her outstanding smoky sweet-potato hummus retains the soul of hummus (unlike pizza and ranch hummus) and - as she writes - its structural integrity, and elevates the flavor profile. She uses a sweet potato, chickpeas, garlic, tahini, sumin, and other ingredients. Bored of baby carrots next to a dip? Koenig advises on "next level dippers," such as endive leaves, purple cauliflower florets, black sesame rice ships, jicama, sliced watermelon radishes, and more. Her Aleppo/Halab-rooted Muhammara stars DIY pomegranate molasses (just 1 tablespoon). The Orange and Olive salad use EVOO instead of argan oil; lime juice; honey; cumin and more. Borscht Crostini? Why serve it in a bowl when you can place it on crunchy toast?

In Chapter 2 (Cooked, Fried, Baked), Koenig shares recipes, photos, and histories for Barley-Stuffed Mushrooms; Fried Gefilte Fish (that some might called fritters since it sounds more app'y); Butternut Bichak; Spinach Nichak; a strudel, a knish, a heart (artichoke heart), and more. The Barley-Stuffed Mushrooms? Think reverse mushroom barley soup sans the soup, and prettier. She recommends them for Sukkot. Her Roman-inspired Fried Artichoke Hearts are crunchy panko fried and a nod to the Carciofi alla Giudia. Her Albondigas are beef and inspired by the lamb ones at Brooklyn's La Vara Pre-Inquisition style Spanish eatery. The Fried Gefilte Fish uses halibut and salmon. onion, panko, and more ad looks like a fish latke (think British Fish & Chips by way of the Iberian Jews who settled in London in the 17th century). Koenig closes with pairing ideas with easy to find page references for your parties and dinners.

[book] Dinner at the Center
of the Earth:
A novel
by Nathan Englander
September 2017


The best work yet from the Pulitzer finalist and best-selling author of For the Relief of Unbearable Urges--a political thriller that unfolds in the highly charged territory of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and pivots on the complex relationship between a secret prisoner and his guard.

A prisoner in a secret cell. The guard who has watched over him a dozen years. An American waitress in Paris. A young Palestinian man in Berlin who strikes up an odd friendship with a wealthy Canadian businessman. And The General, Israel's most controversial leader, who lies dying in a hospital, the only man who knows of the prisoner's existence.

From these vastly different lives Nathan Englander has woven a powerful, intensely suspenseful portrait of a nation riven by insoluble conflict, even as the lives of its citizens become fatefully and inextricably entwined--a political thriller of the highest order that interrogates the anguished, violent division between Israelis and Palestinians, and dramatizes the immense moral ambiguities haunting both sides. Who is right, who is wrong--who is the guard, who is truly the prisoner?

A tour de force from one of America's most acclaimed voices in contemporary fiction.

[book] If All the Seas Were Ink:
A Memoir
by Ilana Kurshan
September 2017

St. Martin's Press
Ilana Kurshan grew up on Long Island, NY, the daughter of a rabbi, in a family that had to sit in the front pews, with all eyes on them. She attended a Schecter school through eighth grade; and as a voracious reader, she studied at Harvard and became a translator and literary agent. Marrying, she and her husband, like many young couples, moved to Israel to start their newlywed lives. Sadly, the marriage faltered after the move, and a painful divorce followed. Kurshan, an accomplished literary analyst, began to study the Talmud daily, and compare it to her daily life. Perhaps she chose late night classes so she could avoid being alone at home, a divorced woman not knowing if she would find love again.

Here she was in the promised land of dreams, yet she was feeling lost in the wilderness. But studying a page (Daf) a day (Yomi), and joining the tens of thousand of others around the world who study the same page, one page a day, of the Babylonian Talmud over the seven and a half year it takes to finish all the tractates, was like a daily dose of Xanax -- an anchor on the seas of ink (but not one that drowns you).

Slowly we follow the author as she recovers from divorce and an eating disorder and seeks new love and pregnancy, and as she compares the writings of the Talmud's rabbis to her own adventures, and to the writings of her literary heroes. She lugs a heavy tractate with her everywhere, even on the flights to literary conferences in Europe. Actually, there is a page on her interrogation by an El Al security agent at Heathrow that throws her into a sadness. (Where are you going? Why do you live in Israel if your friends are elsewhere, Why, Why Why, etc.) But fortunately the structure of the daf yomi was there to help. A fascinating, intelligent adventure.

This memoir is a tale of heartache and humor, of love and loss, of marriage and motherhood, and of learning to put one foot in front of the other by turning page after page. Kurshan takes us on a deeply accessible and personal guided tour of the Talmud, shedding new light on its stories and offering insights into its arguments-both for those already familiar with the text and for those who have never encountered it. For people of the book-both Jewish and non-Jewish-If All the Seas Were Ink is a celebration of learning-through literature-how to fall in love once again.

by Tova Mirvis
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
September 2017

The memoir of a woman who leaves her faith and her marriage and sets out to navigate the terrifying, liberating terrain of a newly map-less world.

Born and raised in a tight-knit Orthodox Jewish family, Tova Mirvis committed herself to observing the rules and rituals prescribed by this way of life. After all, to observe was to be accepted and to be accepted was to be loved. She married a man from within the fold and quickly began a family.
But over the years, her doubts became noisier than her faith, and at age forty she could no longer breathe in what had become a suffocating existence. Even though it would mean the loss of her friends, her community, and possibly even her family, Tova decides to leave her husband and her faith.

After years of trying to silence the voice inside her that said she did not agree, did not fit in, did not believe, she strikes out on her own to discover what she does believe and who she really is. This will mean forging a new way of life not just for herself, but for her children, who are struggling with what the divorce and her new status as “not Orthodox” mean for them.

This is a memoir about what it means to decide to heed your inner compass at long last. To free the part of yourself that has been suppressed, even if it means walking away from the only life you’ve ever known. Honest and courageous, Tova takes us through her first year outside her marriage and community as she learns to silence her fears and seek adventure on her own path to happiness.

[book] The Weight of Ink
a novel
by Rachel Kadish
June 2017
An intellectual and emotional jigsaw puzzle of a novel for readers of A. S. Byatt’s Possession and Geraldine Brooks’s People of the Book

Set in London of the 1660s and of the early twenty-first century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history.

As the novel opens, Helen has been summoned by a former student to view a cache of seventeenth-century Jewish documents newly discovered in his home during a renovation. Enlisting the help of Aaron Levy, an American graduate student as impatient as he is charming, and in a race with another fast-moving team of historians, Helen embarks on one last project: to determine the identity of the documents’ scribe, the elusive “Aleph.”

Electrifying and ambitious, sweeping in scope and intimate in tone, The Weight of Ink is a sophisticated work of historical fiction about women separated by centuries, and the choices and sacrifices they must make in order to reconcile the life of the heart and mind.

[book] OPTION B:
Facing Adversity,
Building Resilience and
Finding Joy
by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
April 24, 2017
A book on grief and loss and recovery, complementing her website and non profit on the same OPTION B theme

From the Facebook COO and one of Wharton’s top-rated professor, the #1 New York Times best-selling authors of Lean In and Originals: a powerful, inspiring, and practical book about building resilience and moving forward after life’s inevitable setbacks.

In 2015 Sheryl Sandberg was on an adults-only vacation with her husband, Dave Goldberg, in Mexico. Their two young children were staying with the grandparents in California. She and Goldberg were friends for six years before dating. Goldberg had quipped that he had to wait nearly six years for Sheryl to realize she was dating jerks (including a former Navy SEAL who slept with a loaded gun) and finally date and marry him. Sheryl fell asleep at the pool, and Dave went to the gym. In a freak accident, he fell at the gym and bled; he died suddenly at the age of 48. Sandberg and her two young children were devastated, and she was certain that their lives would never have real joy or meaning again. Shiva was numbing, later that year, Sheryl needed her mother and sister’s help to make it through her daughter’s birthday party

Just weeks later, after shiva, Sandberg was talking with a friend about the first father-child activity without a father. They came up with a plan for someone to fill in. “But I want Dave,” she cried. She doubted herself and her own parenting skills. Her friend put his arm around her and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of Option B.”

Everyone experiences some form of Option B. We all deal with loss: jobs lost, loves lost, lives lost. The question is not whether these things will happen but how we face them when they do.

Thoughtful, honest, revealing and warm (with footnotes and interviews). For example footnotes referring to “Resilience to Loss and Chronic Grief” or “Family Structure and Children’s Success: A Comparison of Widowed and Divorced Single Mother Families”), Option B weaves Sandberg’s experiences coping with adversity with new findings from Adam Grant and other social scientists. The book features stories of people who recovered from personal and professional hardship, including illness, injury, divorce, job loss, sexual assault and imprisonment. These people did more than recover—many of them became stronger.

Option B offers compelling insights for dealing with hardships in our own lives and helping others in crisis. It turns out that post-traumatic growth is common—even after the most devastating experiences many people don’t just bounce back but actually bounce forward. And pre-traumatic growth is also possible: people can build resilience even if they have not experienced tragedy. Sandberg and Grant explore how we can raise strong children, create resilient communities and workplaces, and find meaning, love and joy in our lives.
Her rabbi in Redwood, CA counseled that friends be supportive and “Lean in to the suck,” don;t avoid grief. Encourage it. Mark Zuckerberg, her colleague, boss, and friend, gave her the room to grieve at work and was supportive, even if she would weep in a meeting. And added bereavement leave to Facebook's corproaate policy)
“Dave’s death changed me in very profound ways,” Sandberg writes. “I learned about the depths of sadness and the brutality of loss. But I also learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface and breathe again.”

[book] King Solomon's Table:
A Culinary Exploration of
Jewish Cooking from Around the World
by Joan Nathan
April 4, 2017
From the James Beard Award-winning, much-loved cookbook author and authority: an around-the-world collection of recipes from the global Jewish diaspora--an essential book of cooking and culture.

The cover tells the story: a variation of a challah roll (an Ethiopian Sabbath bread) lying atop an embossed map of the nations of the world. Joan Nathan, a tireless, curious, multilingual cookbook goddess, was in the Paradesi Synagogue in Kochi, Kerala, India, researching a book when she noted a sign that said Jewish people had been in India since the time of King Solomon. Whether it is myth, legend, or fact, she pondered how so many Jewish merchant seamen and traders traveled from the Middle East to other ports for business, spices, and spouses; and they created relationships and families, and “mashed-up” their Jewish food traditions with local customs, foodways and ingredients. She changed her plans and wrote this cookbook, her eleventh, instead.

In it, Ms. Nathan travels – like these ancient mariners - from country to country, and finds she Jewish mash-ups, whether it is Jewish foods from Europe that ended up in Dayton, or Turkish staples in Cuba, or the foods of Babylonia in FSU Georgia. As she once said, “When I lived in Israel, I saw not a clash but a coming together of civilizations. You know, for me, Jewish food was my mother’s matzoh ball soup. Then I went there and I saw stuffed vegetables and all kinds of salads that were different… I realized then that food was culture, and it was not restaurant culture. It was ethnic culture.”

The title? It is said that Solomon had 700 wives and half as many girlfriends, and they had many food traditions. He learned from them, they learned from him, and there was a sharing of recipes and other things. It was "tabletop Judaism." In this spirit, Nathan shares over 170 uniquely Jewish recipes from El Salvador to Israel, from Morocco to Cuba, Siberia to Canada, and Sri Lanka (you know the Rambam’s brother lived there...) to Romania.

The book opens with a quote from Genesis: When woman ate of the tree of wisdom, she took of its fruit and ate, and shared some with her husband, and he ate. This is followed by a 16 page introduction to Solomon, Babylon, Judea, and the roots of Jewish foods; and 11 pages on pantry spices. There are sections for Morning (16 recipes); Starters (21 recipes), Salads (16 recipes), Soups and Their Dumplings (13 recipes), Breads (7 Sabbath breads, 4 Weekday breads), Grains and Such (10 recipes), Vegetables (15), Fish (15), Poultry (10), Meat (14), and Sweets (23).

The aleph recipe is an Azerbaijani Kukusa with Swiss Chard and Herbs, which is easy and herb-infused and a living vestige of Jewish life in Babylonia and Persia and an example of how a Jewish dish traveled from southern France to North Africa and back to France, morphed to Azerbaijan and then to Brooklyn. The Tof "closing recipe" is a Libyan Saefra, King Solomon Cake (how often have you used Cream of Wheat and Orange zest in a recipe?).

One of the fascinating aspects of this book is that each recipe has a priceless shared story and an amazing photo. To me, it is a keepsake. Smoky Shakshuka with Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplant comes with a story of colonial Williamsburg and its first Jewish resident, Dr. de Sequeyra, who introduced tomato-eating to his neighbors and patients. A Matzo Brei recipe comes with a cook-off story than ranges from Zamosc Poland to DC to the residence of the late Sheila Lukins (author of Silver Palate Cookbook). A recipe for Chilaquiles (Mexican Matzo Brei) is delivered with a story from LA's Jonathan Gold. Her “New Old Fashioned Bagel” recipe is akin to Montreal style ones of Mark Furstenberg’s "Bread Furst." Speaking of Canada, there is a recipe for Toronto-style Shtritzlach, as well as Siberian Chremsel. The Socca (chickpea pancake) recipe may change your life, as will Caponata Siciliana di Melanzane alla Giudia (many say that the Jews introduced eggplants to Sicily). Her Hummus with Preserved Lemon and Cumin recipe is matched with a Hebrew translation story on whether it was ‘vinegar’ or ‘hummus’ that Boaz served his workers in The Book of Ruth.

Other highlights (just mentioning a few) include: Corfu/Italian Huevos Haminados con Spinaci (Long-Cooked Eggs with Spinach) from Daisy Dente Modigliani; Halleq (Persian Haroset); Ferrara Haroset (using banana, pear, and apple); Bene Israel Fish Curry with Fresh Ginger, Tamarind, and Cilantro (from Babu of Ernakulam, India); Matbucha; Curried Beet Borscht with Apples and Ginger; Yemenite Chicken Soup with Dill, Cilantro and Parsley, Persian Cucumber and Radish Salad with Hungarian Paprika; Salonikan MelitzanoSalata; Tchav; Honduran/CrownHeights mashup Winter Squash Soup with Hot Pepper and Coconut Milk; Perugia-style Cod with Tomatoes, Dried Plums, Onions, and Pine Nuts; Abgoosht with Gundi; Suellen Lazarus’ Vegetarian Matzo Ball Soup with Ghee; Concia; T’beet (Baghdadi Sabbath Overight Spiced Chicken with Rice and Coconut Chutney); Karaite-style Spiced Fried Matzo with Celery Seed and Tumeric; Kosher-Brined Roast Turkey with Challah-Chestnut-Cranberry Stuffing; Bulgarian Pashtida (from Spain Greece, the Balkans); Kubbanah, Ka’ak; Pletzel; Parpikas Krumpli (Hungarian Roasted Potatoes with Onions); Fideos Tostados with Cinnamon-Spiked Tomato Sauce (coupled with an essay on Rabbi Mussana and his concordance to the 1140 CE HeAruch); Slightly Sweet and Sour Cabbage (via Cuba by way of Ladino speakers of Turkey); Hand Cured Corned Beef; Indian Chicken with Cardamom, Cumin and Cilantro; David Tanis’ Dayton, Ohio-inspired Poached Salmon with Ginger-Cilantro Butter and Spinach; Macedonian Leek and Meat Patties; Roman Ricotta Cheese Crostata with Cherries or Chocolate; and El Salvador Schokoladenwurst.

P.S. - Remove the dust jacket and there is a pic of Hummus and a pic of Crostata. Can King Solomon figure out any puzzle or meanings?? (It all began with hummus?)


Honorees include:

[gordis bookcover] [moonglow bookcover] [boh bookcover]

[modernity bookcover] [but u did not bookcover] [inthedarkroom bookcover]

[and after the fire bookcover] [i dissent bookcover] [rabbi jaffee bookcover]

[ bookcover] [  bookcover] [love finer wine bookcover]

By Ruth Bader Ginsburg
U.S. Supreme Court Justice
With Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams
Simon and Schuster
The first book from Ruth Bader Ginsburg since becoming a Supreme Court Justice in 1993—a witty, engaging, serious, and playful collection of writings and speeches from the woman who has had a powerful and enduring influence on law, women’s rights, and popular culture.
My Own Words offers Justice Ginsburg on wide-ranging topics, including gender equality, the workways of the Supreme Court, being Jewish, law and lawyers in opera, and the value of looking beyond US shores when interpreting the US Constitution. Throughout her life Justice Ginsburg has been (and continues to be) a prolific writer and public speaker. This book’s sampling is selected by Justice Ginsburg and her authorized biographers Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams. Justice Ginsburg has written an introduction to the book, and Hartnett and Williams introduce each chapter, giving biographical context and quotes gleaned from hundreds of interviews they have conducted. This is a fascinating glimpse into the life of one of America’s most influential women.

The deli... a place where uncouth could be uncouth, and waiters could treat customers with complete disdain and arrogance. Made Jewish people feel at home :-)
An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli
by Ted Merwin
Associate Professor of Religion
and Judaic Studies at Dickinson College
September 2015
NYU Press
For much of the twentieth century, the New York Jewish deli was an iconic institution in both Jewish and American life. As a social space it rivaled—and in some ways surpassed—the synagogue as the primary gathering place for the Jewish community. In popular culture it has been the setting for classics like When Harry Met Sally. And today, after a long period languishing in the trenches of the hopelessly old-fashioned, it is experiencing a nostalgic resurgence.

Pastrami on Rye is the first full-length history of the New York Jewish deli. The deli, argues Ted Merwin, reached its full flowering not in the immigrant period, as some might assume, but in the interwar era, when the children of Jewish immigrants celebrated the first flush of their success in America by downing sandwiches and cheesecake in theater district delis. But it was the kosher deli that followed Jews as they settled in the outer boroughs of the city, and that became the most tangible symbol of their continuing desire to maintain a connection to their heritage. Ultimately, upwardly mobile American Jews discarded the deli as they transitioned from outsider to insider status in the middle of the century. Now contemporary Jews are returning the deli to cult status as they seek to reclaim their cultural identities.

Richly researched and compellingly told, Pastrami on Rye gives us the surprising story of a quintessential New York institution..

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