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Welcome to MyJewishBooks.com
Welcome to MyJewishBooks.com, 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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The Turbulent Life and Times
of Benjamin Netanyahu
by Anshel Pfeffer
(Haaretz, The Economist)
May 1, 2018
A deeply reported biography of the controversial Israeli Prime Minister, showing that we cannot understand Israel today without first understanding the man who leads it
For many in Israel and elsewhere, Benjamin Netanyahu is anathema, an embarrassment, even a precursor to Donald Trump. But he continues to dominate Israeli public life. How can we explain his rise, his hold on Israeli politics, and his outsized role on the world's stage?
In Bibi, journalist Anshel Pfeffer reveals the formative influence of Netanyahu's grandfather and father, who bequeathed to him a brand of Zionism integrating Jewish nationalism and religious traditionalism. Pfeffer argues that we must understand Netanyahu as embodying the triumph of the underdogs in the Zionist enterprise over the secular liberals who founded the nation. As he demonstrates in this penetrating biography, Netanyahu's Israel is a hybrid of ancient phobia and high-tech hope, tribalism and globalism--just like the man himself.
My Country, My Life:
Fighting for Israel,
Searching for Peace
by Ehud Barak
May 8, 2018
St. Martin's Press
The definitive memoir of one of Israel's most influential soldier-statesmen and one-time Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, with insights into forging peace in the Middle East.
In the summer of 2000, the most decorated soldier in Israel's history-Ehud Barak-set himself a challenge as daunting as any he had faced on the battlefield: to secure a final peace with the Palestinians. He would propose two states for two peoples, with a shared capital in Jerusalem. He knew the risks of failure. But he also knew the risks of not trying: letting slip perhaps the last chance for a generation to secure genuine peace.
It was a moment of truth.
It was one of many in a life intertwined, from the start, with that of Israel. Born on a kibbutz, Barak became commander of Israel's elite special forces, then army Chief of Staff, and ultimately, Prime Minister.
My Country, My Life tells the unvarnished story of his-and his country's-first seven decades; of its major successes, but also its setbacks and misjudgments. He offers candid assessments of his fellow Israeli politicians, of the American administrations with which he worked, and of himself. Drawing on his experiences as a military and political leader, he sounds a powerful warning: Israel is at a crossroads, threatened by events beyond its borders and by divisions within. The two-state solution is more urgent than ever, not just for the Palestinians, but for the existential interests of Israel itself. Only by rediscovering the twin pillars on which it was built-military strength and moral purpose-can Israel thrive.
Failure Is An Option:
An Attempted Memoir
by H. Jon Benjamin
H. Jon Benjamin--the lead voice behind ARCHER and BOB'S BURGERS – helps us all feel a little better about our own failures by sharing his own in a hilarious memoir-ish chronicle of failure.
He failed with his birthname.. named for an uncle who passed away too early. (Harry). He failed at his Bar Mitzvah party, with its disco ball but A.M. Sinatra music. He failed with using his time wisely when away from school due to colitis. He failed at his Master's degree at Northwestern in Holocaust Studies (its only student in the program). He lived in Paris but didnt learn French. COMEDY was THE ONLY OPTION.
Most people would consider H. Jon Benjamin a comedy show business success. But he'd like to remind everyone that as great as success can be, failure is also an option. And maybe the best option. In this book, he tells stories from his own life, from his early days ("wherein I'm unable to deliver a sizzling fajita") to his romantic life ("how I failed to quantify a threesome") to family ("wherein a trip to P.F. Chang's fractures a family") to career ("how I failed at launching a kid's show").
As Jon himself says, breaking down one's natural ability to succeed is not an easy task, but also not an insurmountable one. Society as we know it is, sadly, failure averse. But more acceptance of failure, as Jon sees it, will go a long way to making this world a different place . . . a kinder, gentler place, where gardens are overgrown and most people stay home with their pets. A vision of failure, but also a vision of freedom.
With stories, examples of artistic and literary failure, and a powerful can't-do attitude, Failure Is an Option is the book the world doesn't need right now but will get regardless.
The Last Watchman of Old Cairo:
by Michael David Lukas
Spiegel and Grau
In this spellbinding novel, a young man journeys from California to Cairo to unravel centuries-old family secrets.
Joseph, a literature student at Berkeley, is the son of a Jewish mother and a Muslim father. One day, a mysterious package arrives on his doorstep, pulling him into a mesmerizing adventure to uncover the tangled history that binds the two sides of his family. For generations, the men of the al-Raqb family have served as watchmen of the storied Ibn Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo, built at the site where the infant Moses was taken from the Nile. Joseph learns of his ancestor Ali, a Muslim orphan who nearly a thousand years earlier was entrusted as the first watchman of the synagogue and became enchanted by its legendary—perhaps magical—Ezra Scroll. The story of Joseph’s family is entwined with that of the British twin sisters Agnes and Margaret, who in 1897 depart their hallowed Cambridge halls on a mission to rescue sacred texts that have begun to disappear from the synagogue.
The Last Watchman of Old Cairo is a moving page-turner of a novel from acclaimed storyteller Michael David Lukas. This tightly woven multigenerational tale illuminates the tensions that have torn communities apart and the unlikely forces—potent magic, forbidden love—that boldly attempt to bridge that divide.
“Michael David Lukas has given us an elegiac novel of Cairo—Old Cairo and modern Cairo—with a bit of Berkeley thrown in. His prose is deeply evocative, and a sense of mystery and profound tristesse pervade this unusual narrative, which tells the story of a young California man on a quest to understand a puzzling gift left for him by his late father, the descendant of generations of watchmen at the venerable Ben Ezra synagogue in the depths of Old Cairo. The novel is enhanced by Lukas’ impressive historical research on the Geniza and the colorful characters involved in rescuing its treasure trove of documents. But his greatest flair is in capturing the essence of that beautiful, haunted, shabby, beleaguered, yet still utterly sublime Middle Eastern city.”—Lucette Lagnado, author of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit and The Arrogant Years
Kishinev and the Tilt of History
by Steven J. Zipperstein
March 27, 2018
Separating historical fact from fantasy, an acclaimed historian retells the story of Kishinev, a riot that transformed the course of twentieth-century Jewish history.
So shattering were the aftereffects of Kishinev, the rampage that broke out in late-Tsarist Russia in April 1903, that one historian remarked that it was “nothing less than a prototype for the Holocaust itself.” In three days of violence, 49 Jews were killed and 600 raped or wounded, while more than 1,000 Jewish-owned houses and stores were ransacked and destroyed. Recounted in lurid detail by newspapers throughout the Western world, and covered sensationally by America’s Hearst press, the pre-Easter attacks seized the imagination of an international public, quickly becoming the prototype for what would become known as a “pogrom,” and providing the impetus for efforts as varied as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the NAACP. Using new evidence culled from Russia, Israel, and Europe, distinguished historian Steven J. Zipperstein’s wide-ranging book brings historical insight and clarity to a much-misunderstood event that would do so much to transform twentieth-century Jewish life and beyond. 40 illustrations
“Pogrom is a splendid book that pinpoints the moment at the start of the twentieth century when exile in Europe turned deadly in a way that foretold the end of everything. It tells us the horror that occurred street by street, butchery by butchery-with gripping clarity and an admirable brevity.” - Philip Roth
“A riveting, often painful and vivid picture of a pogrom which captured attention worldwide, Zipperstein looks beyond the event itself and demonstrates how the tragedy at the heart of Russia served as a catalyst for the widest range of institutions including the NAACP. Written with the insight of an impeccable historian, his account-that will intrigue scholars as well as the widest array of readers-can be seen as a harbinger of what would come but four decades later.” - Deborah Lipstadt, author of The Eichmann Trial
“A re-examination of one of the most lavishly remembered events of Russian Jewish history that is also the most edited and misunderstood. . . . Looking for a cause of the massacre, the author points to Pavel Krushevan, an anti-Semitic local publisher whose publications were rife with blood libel. Zipperstein shows with little doubt Krushevan's hand in fomenting the riot and his role as principal ‘author’ of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a ridiculous, fabricated text that nonetheless became the most influential anti-Semitic text ever produced. The author ably illustrates the wide influence of this pogrom, with comparisons to American violence against Southern blacks, the formation of the NAACP, and, especially, Hitler's reliance on the Protocols. A thorough and fair examination of an event whose mystery seems so misplaced.” - Kirkus Reviews
An award winning film from Sony Pictures Classics based on this novel is now in theaters in December 2017:
Call Me by Your Name:
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.
Fire and Fury:
Inside the Trump White House
by Michael Wolff
January 5, 2017
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.
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.
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.
Rise and Kill First:
The Secret History of
Israel's Targeted Assassinations
by Ronen Bergman
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.
Golda Meir and the
Nation of Israel
by Francine Klagsbrun
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.
The Jewlish Cookbook:
175 Pages of Fun, Easy &
Authentic Jewish Recipes
by Dana Attias and Jacob Attias
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.
Dinner at the Center
of the Earth:
by Nathan Englander
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.
If All the Seas Were Ink:
by Ilana Kurshan
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.
THE BOOK OF SEPARATION
by Tova Mirvis
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
OMG... WHO KNEW?
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.
The Weight of Ink
by Rachel Kadish
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.
Building Resilience and
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.”
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?)
MAZAL TOV TO THE RECIPIENTS OF THE NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD from the Jewish Book Council.
MY OWN WORDS
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 :-)
PASTRAMI ON RYE
An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli
by Ted Merwin
Associate Professor of Religion
and Judaic Studies at Dickinson College
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..
Not all readers are Leaders. But all Leaders are Readers (Winston Churchill)
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