Saturday, September 26, 2020


Sandee Brawarsky


The Grand Design of Daniel Libeskind

It was in Poland\'s primeval forests, where bison roamed amidst labyrinths of poplar and maple trees that Daniel Libeskind first began to understand concepts of land, space, shelter and natural resources, themes that would be the underpinnings of his career as an architect. In his new book, \"Breaking Ground: Adventures in Life and Architecture\" (Riverhead), the world-renowned architect who designed the master plan for the World Trade Center site, describes his early life in Poland, Israel and the Bronx, and he speaks with eloquence and passion about the ideas behind his \"overtly expressive\" work.

Preserving Yiddish One Book at a Time

Aaron Lansky is the Yiddish Indiana Jones. The founder and president of the National Jewish Book Center, Lansky has been an intrepid archaeologist and adventurer in his decades-long effort to find and save Yiddish books around the world before they are destroyed or lost forever.

Works of Renewal and Celebration

At present, the tradition or writing hanhagot continues. At the back are two neo-Chasidic hanhagot, by Hillel Zeitlin, a writer and martyr of the Warsaw Ghetto, and Arthur Green, a contemporary scholar and theologian, who is the author\'s mentor.

‘Memory’ Shapes Life and History

Tony Eprile opens up the complex terrain of a changing South Africa in \"The Persistence of Memory.\" This is an ambitious novel, a novel of many ideas. Eprile is a gifted storyteller who delves into the inner life and family, and also politics, social commentary and warfare. The literary thread that links these different kinds of stories -- whether accounts of sensual meals, embarrassing school episodes or brutal battles -- and propels the narrative is suggested by the title: the way that memory, the act of remembering, shapes life and history.

The Arts

In this collection of linked stories, the three figures at the center are a mother, father and son who leave Riga, Latvia, for Toronto, Canada. The stories are told from the point of view of the son, Mark Berman, who observes everything and helps interpret the New World for his parents.

Russian Emigre’s Tales of New World

The three A\'s in \"Natasha\" are filled in by tiny stylized Matryoshka dolls, the traditional Russian stacking dolls, on the book jacket of David Bezmozgis\' radiant debut (Farrar Straus and Giroux, $18). In this collection of linked stories, the three figures at the center are a mother, father and son who leave Riga, Latvia, for Toronto, Canada. The stories are told from the point of view of the son, Mark Berman, who observes everything and helps interpret the New World for his parents.

Psychic Channels Her Gift Into Novel

I don\'t know how many Jewish psychics there are in Great Neck, N.Y., but Rochelle Jewel Shapiro is easy to spot in the lunchtime crowd at Bruce\'s, a restaurant and bakery in the heart of the Long Island town.

Loud and Proud Mizrachi Voices

\"The Flying Camel: Essays on Identity by Women of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Heritage,\" edited by Loolwa Khazzoom (Seal Press, $16.95) On the last night before her family would flee Libya in 1967, Gina Bublil Waldman recalls that she had to choose between taking her only warm sweater or a photo album with the words \"Souvenir of Libya\" on the cover. Its hand-painted image of a peaceful seascape was in absolute contrast to the political turbulence and danger her family faced. She packed the photos, remnants of a life she wouldn\'t know again. Her essay is included in a compelling collection, \"The Flying Camel: Essays on Identity by Women of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Heritage,\" edited by Loolwa Khazzoom.

Mixed Marriage, Mixed Message

\"Sort of Jewish\",\"Jewish and something else\" \"might as well be Jewish\" are some of the ways people describe their Jewish identity in Sylvia Barack Fishman\'s significant new book probing the religious character of mixed-marriage households, \"Double or Nothing: Jewish Families and Mixed Marriage.\"

Gay Orthodox Rabbi Peels Back His Life

\"Like peeling an onion,\" Rabbi Steven Greenberg said, about the process of coming out.

Q & A With Jonathan Kirsch

With best-selling books like \"The Harlot by the Side of the Road\" and \"Moses: A Life,\" Jonathan Kirsch has been pioneering an unusual genre that combines themes religious, historical and literary, written with a Jewish sensibility.

New Memoirs Join Shoah’s Canon

\"To write or not to write,\" Eva Gossman ponders in the first chapter of her Holocaust memoir, recounting the internal debate she had about whether to write this book. She asked many deep and tough questions: about whether it made sense, given all that has been written about the period, to write one more account; whether a personal narrative would add to historians\' understanding; whether memory is reliable after so many years.

Exile the So-So Seder

Some people like their Passover seders just as they remember them: the same lines recited by the same relatives with the same emphasis, the same songs, jokes and foods, the same delicate glassware that picks up the light in a certain way, reflecting past and present.

An Examined Life During the Intifada

For the epigraph of his new book, Israeli journalist David Horovitz chooses two quotes.

Essays Reflect on Pearl’s Last Words

Three words, among the last uttered by journalist Daniel Pearl before his murder two years ago this month (on Feb. 21, the public learned of the murder), have become a nucleus for thoughtfulness and creativity. \"I Am Jewish,\" edited by his parents, Judea and Ruth Pearl (Jewish Lights), is a collection of brief essays by almost 150 noted contributors who tease out meaning from these words and compose personal statements of Jewish identity.

Writer Displays Keen Eye for Israeli Life

The Israel that Donna Rosenthal depicts in her new book, \"The Israelis: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land\" (Free Press) can sound like one very crowded apartment building, filled with interesting, passionate people from many backgrounds, often shouting in the hallways, sitting on the stoop, offering advice out their windows, sharing tragedies. But the tenants don\'t know much about those neighbors who aren\'t like them.

Noir Fiction Fills in the Babel Blanks

\"King of Odessa\" by Robert Rosenstone (Northwestern, $24.95). In an impressive effort of literary boldness, historian Robert Rosenstone fills in some of the blanks in Issac Babel\'s life and work in a first novel, \"King of Odessa.\" He writes as though he has recovered a lost Babel manuscript, imagining what one of Babel\'s final years might have been like. Other than a few postcards sent to his family, no records remain of the summer and autumn of 1936, when Babel, then 42, returned to Odessa, the city of his birth.

New Releases Keep Shoah an Open Book

>\"The secret of redemption is remembrance,\" as a sign announces in Israel\'s Yad Vashem, an institution dedicated to remembering the Holocaust.

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

\"Welcome to Heavenly Heights\" by Risa Miller (St. Martin\'s Press, $23.95). Many writers have imagined the Jewish immigrant experience, setting their novels and short stories on the Lower East Side and places like that, where newcomers can forge their way to become Americans. Risa Miller\'s debut novel, \"Welcome to Heavenly Heights,\" is a different version of that story, with American Jews making new homes in Israel, reversing the exile. This transition can be more pressure cooker than melting pot, mixing idealism, religion, bureaucracy, family complexities, shifting expectations, love and, never far away, violence.

A Writer, A Rabbi and a Connection

Some synagogues want a rabbi who\'s a good sermonizer, others want a scholar; some want someone who relates well to their teenagers, others want a rabbi they can call by first name and play tennis or basketball with; some want an individual well known in the larger community, others want a rabbi who knows them well; some go for formality, others for lots of hugging. Some want it all. In \"The New Rabbi: A Congregation Searches for Its Leader,\" investigative reporter Stephen Fried gets inside the congregational mindset the way no other writer has. He intensely follows the process of finding a replacement for Rabbi Gerald Wolpe, when he steps down after leading a Main Line Philadelphia synagogue, Har Zion, for 30 years. But the compelling book is as much about Judaism in America and the role of the rabbi, as it\'s about Har Zion. And it\'s as much about Fried\'s return to synagogue life as it\'s about Wolpe\'s departure.

Jews’ Winning Words

Nobody remembers whether the Torah has ever won a book award before.

Out on a Limb

At a time when many people are writing and publishing memoirs, Sternburg\'s \"Phantom Limb\" is uncommon.

Beyond Revenge

\"Revenge: A Story of Hope\" is Laura Blumenfeld\'s account of her journey to understand the concept of revenge and ultimately act on it.

When bad Things Turns 20

In 1981, Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a 150-page book, published with little fanfare, that changed the lives of the more than 4 million people who read it and made its title, \"When Bad Things Happen to Good People,\" part of the vernacular.

Afterlife Rabbi

When Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz delivered a sermon about survival of the soul to a group of rabbis in Los Angeles in 1996, a charged discussion followed, and an Orthodox rabbi remarked that he had never before heard rabbis publicly discuss the supernatural.

Competing Good

\"Good vs. evil is boring,\" Samuel G. Freedman likes to tell his students at Columbia University\'s Graduate School of Journalism. \"The real drama is in competing visions of good.\"

The Fires This Time

This is a story of rebuilding family, of returning to Judaism.

Rose’s Quest

The hiding places in the title of Daniel Asa Rose\'s new memoir refer to the haylofts and cellars where his relatives hid from the Nazis during the war years, and also to the suburban tool sheds and coat closets where the author crawled into during his childhood in a mostly gentile Connecticut town. The title also alludes to the author\'s efforts to avoid his Judaism. Traveling to Europe to find his family\'s hiding places in Belgium and France with his two young sons, Rose comes to see that hiding places are \"not merely dark holes of concealment\" but also \"places of revelation.\" The trip leads him to understand the links between present and past, his own connections to his family\'s past and to the Jewish future.

The Lost Bird

Yvette Melanson is a woman who might say the Sh\'ma before going to sleep, and in the morning light whisper the Navajo prayer, \"May I walk happily and lightly on the earth.\" Both are deeply felt, authentic expressions of her soul. As she explains, \"I know that I\'m Jewish. I feel Jewish. I\'ve been raised Jewish. I\'m also Navajo.\"

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.”