Saturday, September 26, 2020


Sandee Brawarsky


Eluding Death Gives Life to Roth Novel

Eluding death is the central issue of life for Philip Roth\'s nameless leading character in his newest novel, \"Everyman\" (Houghton Mifflin). A thrice-married and divorced retired advertising executive, Roth\'s lonely everyman wants to keep on with the messy business of his life -- \"he didn\'t want the end to come a minute earlier than it had to\" -- even as friends get sick and die around him, and his own body\'s failings persist. \"Old age,\" Roth writes, \"isn\'t a battle, it\'s a massacre.\"

Wiesel’s Words of Hope for ‘Uprooted’

Wounds are plentiful in Eli Wiesel\'s \"The Time of the Uprooted,\" an absorbing novel that moves back and forth in time, from 1940s Hungary to New York at the end of the 20th century, shifting points of view, with emotional intensity packed into memories and stories.

Mother and Daughter Authors Are Klass Act

Sheila Solomon Klass and Dr. in Perri Klass -- mother and daughter co-authors -- don\'t finish each other\'s sentences, but they do elaborate on them

Bar/Bat Mitzvah – A Postmodern Coming-of-Age Guide

When a book on bar mitzvah opens with a poem by Rudyard Kipling and a quote from French ethical philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, it\'s clearly not your usual bar mitzvah book, of which there are many.

Search for Similarity in Aliyah Tales

\"Aliya: Three Generations of American-Jewish Immigration to Israel\" by Liel Leibovitz.

Three Madelehs of the Written Word

The author, who also graduated from Harvard Law School, keenly portrays the life of well-to-do professionals who strive for the best for their children, unable to see the downside of their single-minded pursuits.

PASSOVER: Myriad Ways to Tell an Ancient Tale

Every haggadah has a story, its own story, beyond that of the exodus from Egypt. Depending on illustrations, design, typesetting, additions, where the edition is printed and who commissioned its creation, each version is a marker of Jewish history.

‘Voodoo’ Jew Finds Love, Truth in Haiti

The title, \"Madame Dread: A Tale of Love, Voodoo and Civil Strife in Haiti,\" comes from the nickname given to her by the kids in her Port-au-Prince neighborhood. In Haitian tradition, women take on the first names of their husbands; in her case she was named for the dreadlocks of her boyfriend (who later became her husband). She also refers to herself as a \"Voodoo Jew.\"

Spectator – My Husband, the Rabbi

The first time the word \"rebbetzin\" appeared in The New York Times was in 1931, in a review of a book about Yiddish theater. The term stood untranslated; the reviewer and his editors assumed that readers would understand the meaning.

A Line Drive Down Jewish History

In an interview, Jeffrey Gurock, a New York City-area resident, says that this is a book he has been thinking about for almost his entire adult life and spent the last five years working on. His passion for the subject is clear.

A Developing Reputation

The two young, sari-clad women, one in blue and one in orange, stand in the thatched-roof meeting hall, take hold of the microphone and join their voices. \"We don\'t need any fancy materials,\" they croon by heart. \"What we need is just some food to live. We don\'t ask for a refrigerator, a TV or a car. We just need some small capital to start a business.\" The audience of women in the village of Alamarai Kuppam applaud with enthusiasm. The few men, seated or hovering around the edges, are more circumspect, but they, too, nod approvingly. Call it women\'s lib, post-tsunami-India style. The outpouring of financial support that followed the 2004 tsunami has accelerated efforts to improve the lives of rural women -- an initiative that goes well beyond helping families recover from the tsunami.

Scholar Discovers Hidden Russian Gem

\"The Five\" is a novel set in Odessa at the dawn of the 20th century, unfolding the story of a colorful upper-middle-class Jewish family and its path of assimilation. An autobiographical tale, it\'s also a romantic portrait of the cosmopolitan city Jabotinsky loved and a life that is no more.

The Hit Man Who Came to Dinner

>\"Blood Relation\" is Eric Konigsberg\'s account of his uncle\'s life, gleaned from 10 visits to the Auburn facility over three years, interviews with family members as well as the families of Harold\'s victims. It also includes the author\'s examination of extensive court testimony and FBI records. More than a biography in crime, this powerful book is a nuanced view of Harold in the context of his family, and the author\'s own reflections on coming to know and attempting to understand his uncle.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Arlene Blum describes her new book, \"Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life,\" as an answer to a question she has often asked herself, as she did on Annapurna in the Himalayas: \"What\'s a nice Jewish girl from the Midwest doing at 21,000 feet, going down a knife-edged ridge all alone?\"

Call Him Henry Roth

Until now, there has been no full-scale biography of Henry Roth, whose 1934 novel, \"Call It Sleep,\" is considered a masterpiece of American literature.

Go Ahead — Read That Book in Shul

Independent readers -- who might pull out a book during a particular part of the service in which they lose interest -- are likely to be reading serious books, trying to deepen their experience of the holidays.

L.A. Authors Break the Heroine Mold

California purists who like to shop local, travel local and eat local will have no problem reading local. Among the season\'s offerings of new books are several impressive works by Los Angeles-based writers.

Spectator – Hard Truths of ‘Hamburg’

Polish journalist Hanna Krall\'s \"The Woman From Hamburg: And Other True Stories\" (Other Press, $19) is based on interviews she did that in some way involved the Holocaust. But when one of the 12 stories was recently featured in The New Yorker\'s fiction issue, an accompanying note explained that her writing is indeed factual. The 60-something Krall was a reporter for Polityka from 1957 to 1981 when martial law was imposed and her publications were banned. Her award-winning books have been translated into 15 languages, (the English version is by Madeline G. Levine). Yet the boundary between fact and fiction can seem blurred in her work, for Krall writes in an unadorned but intimate style, moving in fractured time, creating a rhythm that might resemble contemporary fiction.

Private Author’s Public ‘Memory’

As a child, Joseph Lelyveld\'s parents called him \"memory boy.\"

Sacred Words Come Naturally

Ellen Bernstein has been called the birth mother of the Jewish environmental movement. In 1988, she founded Shomrei Adamah (Keepers of the Earth), the first national Jewish environmental organization, and since leaving the group in 1996 has been an educator, consultant and writer.

Books – ‘Love’ Tries to Solve Mystery of the Heart

Masterfully, Krauss ties together the stories of Gursky and the young Alma as each searches for clues about \"The History of Love.\"

The Best of Passover Reading

The Best of Passover Reading

The Many Lives of Lev Nussimbaum

Lev Nussimbaum lived as though life were theater, inventing an identity, dressing the part, shifting scenes, seeking audiences everywhere. He thought he could keep rewriting the ending, believed he could talk his way out of anything including his Jewish past, but ultimately he could not.

Eating Ham for Uncle Sam

Walking near my parents\' home in Florida -- where I\'m writing this column -- I noticed a hat with World War II insignias, much like the one my father sometimes wears, in the back window of a parked car. I\'d just finished reading \"GI JEWS: How World War II Changed a Generation\" by Deborah Dash Moore, so the image of the hat really struck me, and I imagined that most men on this street must own similar versions.

Israel’s Cain and Abel Syndrome

The book is particularly timely, in light of Yasser Arafat\'s death, and new possibilities for hope in the Middle East. Rees writes about individuals, many of whom have not spoken publicly before, and he proves himself a good listener and skillful as a teller of other people\'s stories.

Hungarian Novelist Takes Manhattan

When Imre Kertesz was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 2002, few Americans had read the work of the Hungarian novelist, the first survivor of the concentration camps to be awarded the literary prize. Even in his own country, his works were not well known; his subject, largely the Holocaust, was not popular.

Finding Love in the In-Between

It\'s a novel with humor and a good share of darkness as well as light, the contrast alluded to in the Psalm from which the title is drawn, \"Weeping may endure for a night. But joy comes in the morning.\"

Passing on a Legacy of Love

Walk into Zabar\'s and it\'s easy to spot 76-year old Gittel \"Gabby\" Zuckerman. She\'s feisty and funny, and her shrinking height and failing health don\'t diminish her power. Nor do the memories of the family she lost in the Holocaust ever leave her.

Jewish America’s Trials and Triumphs

Although the first Jews to establish a community in North America arrived in New Amsterdam from Recife, Brazil, in September 1654, the first Torah scroll was brought over a year later in 1655, borrowed from a synagogue in Amsterdam.

‘First’ an Atypical New York Story

A brother announces to his sister that another sister has vanished, as \"The First Desire\" (Pantheon) opens. Nancy Reisman\'s highly-praised novel is unusual in many ways, from its premise to the quality of writing to its setting. She follows the lives of the Cohen family, from the Depression to the years following World War II, not on the Lower East Side or in Brooklyn, but in a stately neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y. Sentence by sentence, this is an exquisite story of family. Reisman writes with assuredness and tenderness, as the story unfolds serially from five perspectives: three of the four Cohen sisters, the brother and their father\'s mistress.

Latest news

AOC Withdraws From Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Event Following Pro-Palestinian Criticism

The event will be held in October by Americans for Peace Now.

Report Highlights Anti-Semitism in Qatari Textbooks

One textbook called Zionism "a radical racist political movement."

Friend of Anne Frank Lays First Stone of Amsterdam’s Newest Holocaust Monument

"I’m satisfied that it’s finally happening," she said.

Abbas Criticizes Peace Deals, Calls for U.N. to Resolve Israel-Palestinian Conflict

“The only way to a comprehensive and just peace is the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders.”