What marks the passage from girlhood to womanhood in our society? If sex is integral to a definition of womanhood, how do parents and educators help girls deal with the challenges it raises? What is the role of social institutions -- the media, churches and synagogues, schools -- in shaping sexual self-image and even desire?
Can one speak of a \"national character\"? Whileacknowledging that the practice has a pernicious side, Rabbi ArthurHertzberg, in his provocative, if mislabeled, new work, points outthat many books speak of national character and are readily acceptedand praised. For example, Luigi Barzini\'s book on the Italians,numerous modern works on the nature of the Russian people, or workson the character of the Greek or Roman peoples in antiquity all seemharmless exercises in interpreting the culture of another. While itis true that plumbing the \"Jewish character\" is an enterprise thathas been twisted by malevolence, particularly in the last century,that does not mean that certain traits cannot be said to distinguishthe Jewish people throughout their history.
Mitch Albom,highly decorated sportswriter for the Detroit Free Press, has probed every subject from Dennis Rodman to Latrell Sprewell. Yet his best-selling book, \"Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, A Young Man,and Life\'s Great Lessons,\" finds him tackling an even more demanding subject: death.
Never underestimate the propensity of American Jews to scare themselves silly. Here we are, in the midst of an unprecedented Jewish renaissance, enjoying the most favorable spiritual climate in more than a century, including shelf loads of Jewish books at every Barnes & Noble, and still our leaders are playing Stephen King, terrifying themselves (and us) with grim fairy tales and devil\'s food. Here are three recent exhibits.\n
The story itself is a laconic autobiographical statement that not only describes Wiesenthal\'s experience as camp inmate, but joins that experience to an excruciating ethical question about forgiveness. Now that Simon Wiesenthal is a legend and an icon, his modest story seems larger, somehow, and the republication of the book is a kind of commandment to read it again.
For Robert Anthony Siegel,April is indeed the cruelest month.Siegel\'s first novel came out in April -- that was kind. But so did novels by Norman Mailer, Saul Bellow and Philip Roth. That was very,very cruel.\n\nAs book reviewers wrote fevered mini-tomes, dissecting the latest works by the greats, and publishing-house publicity budgets emptied to push Saints Norm, Saul and Phil, Siegel\'s exceptionally funny and entertaining novel, \"All the Money In the World,\" received zero attention.
Sure, the children\'s shelves at bookstores are crowded with schlocky merchandising tie-ins and humorless \"P.C.\" stories that groan under the weight of their own environmental and multi-culti lessons. But look a bit more carefully; you\'ll find the kinds of books that create those magical moments between adults and children.
I love cookbooks, but on lazy summer days, I usually read fiction -- few cookbooks are engaging enough to replace a good novel. And when I go into the kitchen at all, it\'s usually just to stand in front of the open freezer. But when I do find a cookbook that captures me, cooking with it is just a plus.
You can write a decent Jewish cookbook by collecting the recipes of decent Jewish cooks, or you can write a truly fine Jewish cookbook by compiling the recipes of fine cooks who happen to be Jewish. Make sense? It will when you consider two of the newest entries to the Jewish cooking market.
For the next few weeks, you will be hearing about girls and sex. \"Oprah,\" \"Leeza,\" \"Charlie Rose,\" The New York Times, even The Jewish Journal -- media great and small will focus airwaves and inches on a topic that, while hardly new, rarely gets serious, sustained attention.
Josh Henkin will read from his new book, \"Swimming Across the Hudson,\" Mon., May 12, 7 p.m. at Dutton\'s on San Vivente. Josh Henkin\'s paternal grandfather was an Orthodox rabbi who lived in the United States for 50 years without ever learning to speak English. Still, the author was able to forge a strong connection with the old man, the kind of bond that transcended language and linked Henkin to a people and a past.\n
Remember that great scene in \"Inherit the Wind,\" when Clarence Darrow asks William Jennings Bryan if a book that details rape, incest, slaughter, nudity and sodomy should be banned? The fundamentalist Bryan answers, \"Of course!\" and Darrow, with a flourish, whips out a copy of the Bible and declares, \"Then you must ban this book!\"
More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.