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Mazal Tov to the winners of the Jewish Book Council's 2014 Jewish Book Awards [book] The Boston Girl
A Novel
by Anita Diamant
December 09, 2014
Scribner
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Red Tent and Day After Night, comes an unforgettable novel about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.
Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine—a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love.
Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her “How did you get to be the woman you are today.” She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naïve girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.
Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Anita Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.
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[book] TEL AVIV NOIR
A Collection of stories
Edited by Etgar Keret and Assaf Gavron
October 2014
Akashic
Akashic Books continues its groundbreaking series of original noir anthologies, launched with the summer 2004 award-winning best seller Brooklyn Noir.
Each book is comprised of all-new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respective city. For Tel Aviv Noir, Etgar Keret and Assaf Gavron have masterfully assembled some of Israel's top contemporary writers into a compulsively readable collection.

From the introduction by Etgar Keret:
"In spite of its outwardly warm and polite exterior, Tel Aviv has quite a bit to hide. At any club, most of the people dancing around you to the sounds of a deep-house hit dedicated to peace and love have undergone extensive automatic-weapons training and a hand-grenade tutorial...The workers washing the dishes in the fluorescent-lit kitchen of that same club are Eritrean refugees who have crossed the Egyptian border illegally, along with a group of bedouins smuggling some high-quality hash, which the deejay will soon be smoking on his little podium, right by the busy dance floor filled with drunks, coked-up lawyers, and Ukrainian call girls whose pimp keeps their passports in a safe two streets away. Don't get me wrong--Tel Aviv is a lovely, safe city. Most of the time, for most of its inhabitants. But the stories in this collection describe what happens the rest of the time, to the rest of its inhabitants. From one last cup of coffee at a café targeted by a suicide bomber, through repeat visits from a Yiddish-speaking ghost, to an organized tour of mythological crime scenes that goes terribly wrong, the stories of Tel Aviv Noir reveal the concealed, scarred face of this city that we love so much."
Featuring brand-new stories by:
Etgar Keret,
Gadi Taub,
Lavie Tidhar,
Deakla Keydar,
Matan Hermoni,
Julia Fermentto,
Gon Ben Ari,
Shimon Adaf,
Alex Epstein,
Antonio Ungar,
Gai Ad,
Assaf Gavron,
Silje Bekeng, and
Yoav Katz.
Click the book cover or title to read more or to purchase the book





SPEAKING OF ASSAF GAVRON!

[book] THE HILLTOP
A Novel
By Assaf Gavron
October 28, 2014
Scribner
Hailed as “The Great Israeli Novel” (Time Out Tel Aviv) and winner of the prestigious Bernstein Prize, The Hilltop is a monumental and daring work about life in a West Bank settlement from one of Israel’s most acclaimed young novelists.
On a rocky, beautiful hilltop stands Ma’aleh Hermesh C, a fledgling community flying under the radar. According to the government it doesn’t exist; according to the military it must be defended.
On this contested land, Othniel Assis—under the wary gaze of the neighboring Palestinian village—plants asparagus, arugula, and cherry tomatoes, and he installs goats—and his ever-expanding family. As Othniel cheerfully manipulates government agencies, more settlers arrive, and, amid a hodge-podge of shipping containers and mobile homes, the outpost takes root.
One of the settlement’s steadfast residents is Gabi Kupper, a one-time free spirit and kibbutz-dweller, who undergoes a religious awakening. The delicate routines of Gabi’s new life are thrown into turmoil with the sudden arrival of Roni, his prodigal brother, who, years after venturing to America in search of fortune, arrives at Gabi’s door, penniless. To the settlement’s dismay, Roni soon hatches a plan to sell the “artisanal” olive oil from the Palestinian village to Tel Aviv yuppies. When a curious Washington Post correspondent stumbles into their midst, Ma’aleh Hermesh C becomes the focus of an international diplomatic scandal and faces its greatest test yet.
By turns serious and satirical, The Hilltop brilliantly skewers the complex, often absurd reality of life in Israel, the West Bank settlers, and the nation's relationship to the United States, and makes a startling parallel between today’s settlements and the kibbutz movement of Gabi and Roni’s youth. Rich with humor and insight, Assaf Gavron’s novel is the first fiction to grapple with one of the most charged geo-political issues of our time, and he has written a masterpiece.
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[book] Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?
A Memoir Hardcover
In Graphic Form
by Roz Chast
May 2014
Bloomsbury USA
In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of her aging Jewish parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast’s memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.
When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the “crazy closet”—with predictable results—the tools that had served Roz well through her parents’ seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed.
While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies—an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades—the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care.
An amazing portrait of two lives at their end and an only child coping as best she can, Can We Talk about Something More Pleasant will show the full range of Roz Chast’s talent as cartoonist and storyteller..
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[book] KHIRBET KHIZEH
A Novel (paperback) by S. Yizhar
Pen name for Yizhar Smilansky (passed away in 2008)
Translated from Hebrew by Nicholas de Lange and Yaacob Dweck
Afterword by David Shulman
FS&G
Considered a modern Hebrew masterpiece, Khirbet Khizeh is an extraordinary and heartbreaking book that is destined to be a classic of world literature. Now, years after its 1949 post-War of Independence publication, it is available in English (published ni the UK in 2011, and now in the USA).

"Exhilarating . . . How often can you say about a harrowing, unquiet book that it makes you wrestle with your soul?" —Neel Mukherjee, The Times (London)

It’s 1948 and the Arab villagers of Khirbet Khizeh (a fictitious village) are about to be violently expelled from their homes (the author was an intelligence office whose group carried out a similar expulsion).
A young Israeli soldier who is on duty that day finds himself battling on two fronts: with the villagers and, ultimately, with his own conscience (ambivalence, revulsion, complacency, resignation). The ‘operation’ leaves a ‘scar.’
The novella was published just months after the founding of the State of Israel and the end of the 1948 war, the novella Khirbet Khizeh was an immediate sensation when it first appeared. Since then, the book has continued to challenge and disturb, even finding its way onto the school curriculum in Israel. The various debates it has prompted would themselves make Khirbet Khizeh worth reading, but the novella is much more than a vital historical document: it is also a great work of art. Yizhar’s haunting, lyrical style and charged view of the landscape are in many ways as startling as his wrenchingly honest view of modern Israel’s primal scene.
Click the book cover or title to read more or to purchase the book















[book] THE NEW PASSOVER MENU
BY PAULA SHOYER
February 3, 2015
Sterling Epicure
Chef Paula Shoyer is the author of the popular THE HOLIDAY KOSHER BAKER and KOSHER BAKER cookbooks. She resides in the DC area with her husband and four children. The fans of her baking books would ask her about Passover recipes even in the Summer, all around the country, so she decided to write book to answer their recipe questions. She organizes the recipes and stories into eight menus: one for each of the eight nights of Passover. Lunch ideas are also given for each day of the Chag - with page numbers of the mixed and matched recipes provided for your ease.

The eight menus are (1) The Updated Ashkenazic Seder Menu (9 recipes); (2) The International Seder Menu (8 recipes); (3) Shabbat Menu for Passover (5 recipes); (4) Yomtov Menu (8 recipes); (5) French Dairy Menu (4 recipes); (6) Italian Vegetarian Menu (4 recipes); (7) BBQ Dinner Menu (4 recipes); (8) Easy Chicken Menu (4 recipes) – but there is no complementary Hard Chicken Menu; (9) The Passover Breakfast (5 recipes); and (10) DESSERTS, of course (with 15 recipes).

In the Introduction, Shoyer discusses what many see as the Passover Food Oppression, and her mission to provide delicious, inspired, and elegant holiday meals within the dietary and culinary framework or spiritual restrictions of Passover.

Some of the standout recipes for me were:
Banana Haroset, which is gluten free and makes enough for 25 portions. It uses 3 bananas, ground walnuts, apples, wine and more; and Shoyer's gefilte fish gets ge'filled with salmon and served with a slaw of ginger, orange, mango, arugula, and avocado. Shoyer tried so many times to boil gefilte fish from scratch, and once it turned into a fish soup. So she writes, we should save time and stress and use a frozen fish loaf/roll and just enhance it with salmon filets. Her chicken soup adds in chicken meatballs and zucchini spaghetti, while her matzoh balls use ginger and cilantro.
The Peruvian Roasted Chicken with Salsa Verde is based on a Peruvian recipe by her friend Betty Supo. She also has a recipe for Brisket Osso Buco (as in the style of veal that one finds in Italian cuisine) She recommends using 2nd cut of brisket, not first cut. Inspired by NYC's kosher Tevere84 restaurant, she adds garlic gremolata to the brisket as a last step. Did I mention that her kugel is of asparagus and zucchini.
The International Seder Menu makes a Middle Eastern Haroset of dates, figs, ginger, zest, wine, fruit, nutmeg and more a la Limor Dector. There are recipes for Sephardic Poached Fish in Pepper Sauce; a Whole Chicken Stuffed with Dried Fruit; Moroccan Spiced Short Ribs; and Gingered Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
Two of the four Shabbat Menu rcipes are for Caramelized Onion and Sweet Potato Soup and Smothered Chicken and Sage and Basil.
For Yomtov, Shoyer recommends a Zucchini based soup; Beet and Butternut Squash Salad; Lamb Stew with Mint, Apricots, and Pears; and Coconut Chicken Schnitzel which makes use of matzo cake meal.
Kale leads the French inspired menu with a Kale Caesar Salad. Shoyer lived in Geneva for three Passovers. She includes recipes for Southeastern French-style Gratin Dauphinois with Kosher for Passover Cheese; Ratatouille; and Seared Tuna with Olives and Capers.
The Italian menu pays tribute to her father, Reuben Marcus, who served in Italy during WWII, and her brother who loves eggplant. It includes recipes for a vegetable antipasti; Eggplant Parm; and Pan Seared Zucchini with Garlic. The BBQ menu leads with a Garlic Marinated Steak with Onion Jam. The Easy Chicken Menu highlights a recipe for Chicken Scaloppini with Mushrooms. Very easy.
Some of the Breakfast items are Passover Rolls; Waffles; and Crumb Cake Muffins. The Dessert items – many of which are gluten free - include torts (three of them); two pistachio based rolls; orange tea cake cupcakes; candy; cookies; biscotti; and a Passover Opera Cake (insert a Verdi Nabucco opera joke here?)










[book] PER LA VITA
A CD IN GERMANY BY
von Bejarano & Microphone Mafia (Künstler)
Featuring Esther Bejarano
2010
Esther Béjarano joins MICROPHONE MAFIA to spread the message of tolerance in Germany and Europe through hip-hop. Born in 1924, she is among the last survivors of the Girl orchestra of Auschwitz. Béjarano was born as Esther Loewy as a daughter of the Head Cantor of a Jewish municipality. The father encouraged his daughter to get interested in music and Esther learned to play the piano. At age 15 she had to separate from her parents, in order to prepare for emigration to Palestine. This emigration was thrwarted by the Nazis. She carried out two years of hard labour in Neuendorf Labour Camp close to Fürstenwalde/Spree. On April 20, 1943 all members of the labour camp were deported to Auschwitz. There she had to drag stones until she joined the Girl orchestra of Auschwitz. In the orchestra, she played the accordion. The orchestra had the task of playing for the daily march of the gangs by the camp gate. She survived Auschwitz after escaping in March, 1945. She emigrated to Palestine and returned later to Germany. At the beginning of the 1980s, with her daughter Edna and son Joram, she created the musical group Coincidence. They sing songs from the ghetto and Jewish as well as anti-fascist songs. Béjarano lives today in Hamburg. She is a co-founder and chairman of the Auschwitz Committee and was awarded the Carl-von-Ossietzky medal. She holds the Cross of Merit, First class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
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