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Kafka’s Son by Curt Leviant

4 hours 44 min ago
By Sanford Pinsker for Hadassah Magazine


Kafka’s Son, Curt Leviant’s latest novel, may or may not successfully capture the family Kafka never had, but it incorporates great moments of madcap comedy as well as pays homage to the world’s best postmodernist novelists such as Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez.

Readers are in for a wild ride as the novel has no fewer than seven beginnings—and concludes with seven endings. The first beginning—with a bow to Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick—reads as follows:

Call me Amschl.

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Exiled from Iran, daughter heals fractured family in telling its saga

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 12:00am
BY LEERON HOORY for The Times of Israel    


Farideh Goldin left her native Iran at 23, while her ‘baba’ stayed. Fulfilling a promise to her father, today she writes extensively on the Persian-Jewish experience

Persian Jew Farideh Goldin promised herself she wouldn’t write any more books after her first memoir was published in 2003. But she’s recently released “Leaving Iran: Between Exile and Migration” (AU Press), an account of both her and her father’s lives preceding the 1979 Islamic Revolution and its aftermath.

During his final trip to the United States in 2006, her father, Esghel Dayanim, gave her a suitcase filled with his writings about life in exile.


“I had promised him I would tell his story,” she says. “It took 10 years to write… It was difficult to translate, and very emotionally draining.”

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A Double Life

Mon, 06/12/2017 - 12:00am
By Michael Frank for Tablet Magazine


For much of my childhood, my two grandmothers, Harriet Frank Sr., and Sylvia Ravetch, lived unhappily together in an apartment on Ogden Drive in West Hollywood, California, an arrangement I took to be perfectly normal until I grew older and realized that not everyone else’s grandmothers were roommates. Actually: not anyone else’s. Improbable roommates, too, in the case of these two women, who—I understood only later—could not have been more mismatched. Harriet (“Huffy,” in the family) was American-born, Reed- and Berkeley-educated, a writer who had had her own radio program and had worked as a story editor for Louis B. Mayer; she was a powerful personality, outspoken, dominant, and highly charismatic. Sylvia was born in Safed in what was then Palestine, and while she spoke five languages and worked for much of her life as a teacher of Hebrew, her formal education ended abruptly when, at 16, she left her native country. She was quiet, observant, and steady, a resident of the back (thus smaller and inferior) bedroom on Ogden Drive. For years, Sylvia’s volume button was turned down low—until suddenly it wasn’t.

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A New Book on the Six-Day War Should Be Required Reading for President Trump

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 12:00am
by Jack Riemer / JNS.org for Algemeiner


Guy Laron’s forthcoming book, The Six-Day War: The Breaking of the Middle East — to be published, fittingly, around the war’s 50th anniversary — is both impressive and disheartening, and it should be required reading for US President-elect Donald Trump.

Laron delved into the archives of different governments and thoroughly documents the mindset of the leaders of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Russia and the US in the days preceding the war, describing circumstances in which none of these countries really meant to go to battle, but political leadership, despite their misgivings, reluctantly capitulated to the pressure of the military.

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The Danger of a Society without Religion

Mon, 05/29/2017 - 12:00am
Mosaic Magazine


In The Strange Death of Europe, Douglas Murray argues that the continent is committing suicide—in part because of the decline of religion and its replacement by a public dogma of human rights completely detached from theology. A very different book, Yuval Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind, likewise acknowledges the Judeo-Christian roots of liberal democracy, while putting on display its author’s contempt for religion. Discussing both books, Jonathan Sacks notes that Harari in fact demonstrates precisely the dangers of secularism against which Murray warns. 

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The Afterlife of Rabbi Akiva

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 12:00am
By Jewish Lives (Sponsored) for Tablet Magazine  

An excerpt from Barry W. Holtz’s new biography of the 1st-century sage of the Talmud


This is a sponsored post on behalf of Yale University Press and its Jewish Lives series.

To die saying the Shema, to fight against attempts to abrogate the study of Torah, to fulfill your mission as teacher even at the point of death—these are legacies handed down through the powerful narrative of Akiva’s last moments. But Akiva’s afterlife—that is, his place in the consciousness of the Jewish people—goes beyond his tragic death. He has lived on as the hero figure of rabbinic Judaism in many ways.

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THE ORPHAN’S TALE BY PAM JENOFF

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 12:00am
Jewish Book Council


A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival

 

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.

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Holocaust Survivor Portraits and Notes in an Emotional Photo Book

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 12:00am
BY ILANA SICHEL for Jewniverse


A handsome older gentleman stands softly illuminated by the rain-splattered window behind him, a small, satisfied smile gently curling his lips. The sentence “My name is Izrael Nathan Melamed, not Adam Adams” is scrawled on the facing page, in his early 20th-century European handwriting.


A glamorous woman in black with a cocked straw hat crosses her ankles beneath a gilded mirror. “In my heart I always felt my parents would survive,” she wrote.


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Jerzy: A Novel by Jerome Charyn

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 12:00am
Jewish Book Council


Jerzy Kosinski was a great enigma of post-World War II literature. When he exploded onto the American literary scene in 1965 with his best-selling novel The Painted Bird, he was revered as a Holocaust survivor and refugee from the world hidden behind the Soviet Iron Curtain. He won major literary awards, befriended actor Peter Sellers (who appeared in the screen adaptation of his novel Being There), and was a guest on talk shows and at the Oscars. But soon the facade began to crack, and behind the public persona emerged a ruthless social climber, sexual libertine, and pathological liar who may have plagiarized his greatest works.

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2017 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature Fellows Announced

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 12:00am
Jewish Book Council


Join Jewish Book Council Wednesday, May 3rd for the 2017 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature Award Ceremony and Author Discussion.


The Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature has announced the five Fellows who are eligible for the 2017 Prize of $100,000, the largest award of its kind. In addition, the second prize of $18,000 and three remaining presentations of $5,000 each will all be announced on May 3rd at a program open to the public to be held at the Jewish Museum.

The Sami Rohr Prize honors emerging writers who explore the Jewish experience in a specific work of non-fiction and fiction. Please join the Jewish Book Council in celebrating the 11th year of the Sami Rohr Prize and meet the 2017 Fellows at the award ceremony following a literary discussion with the authors, moderated by Rabbi David Wolpe as part of the Jewish Book Council Unpacking the Book: Jewish Writers in Conversation series. (RSVP requested.)

The 2017 Sami Rohr Prize Fellows are:

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Here and there: Leaving Hasidism, Keeping My Family by Chaya Deitsch

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 12:00am
Gloria Goldreich for Hadassah Magazine


The plethora of books about life in various Hasidic communities, written by self-described “escapees,” largely seethe with pain, anger and rejection. Chaya Deitsch’s chronicle of her life in the Lubavitch community, however, throbs with love and reveals an undisguised, wistful nostalgia for the culture she turned her back on. Perhaps that is because the Lubavitch, known for their outreach to secular Jews, are more open to the larger world than other Hasidic groups. 

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David Grossman, Amos Oz named on Man Booker longlist

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 12:00am
By Viva Sarah Press for Israel21c


13 novels are in contention for the prestigious 2017 prize, which celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world.


Israeli authors David Grossman and Amos Oz are among the contenders for this year’s Man Booker International Prize. There are 13 novels up for the 2017 prize, which celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world.

Grossman’s A Horse Walks Into a Bar and Oz’s Judas are the two Israeli entries. 

The literary prize is awarded every year for a single book — novels or short-story collections – which have been translated in English.

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Passover guides serve up a side of social justice for the seder table

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 12:00am
BY RENEE GHERT-ZAND for The Times of Israel


From a fifth cup of wine to 11 spilled drops — and a call to action for dessert — Jewish organizations publish readings on refugees, immigration, converts and the settlements


Why is this Passover different from all other Passovers? For some Jews focused on social justice issues, it’s because of the world’s greatest refugee crisis since World War II. For others, it’s because this June marks the 50th anniversary of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank. And for some it’s the mere fact that Donald Trump is president of the United States.

The themes of political freedom, refugees, immigration and racial justice have long figured prominently at seder table discussions. This year, in the weeks leading up to Passover, which starts on the evening of April 10, Jewish social justice organizations have published new haggadahs and hagaddah supplements for use at seders.

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For more great Passover ideas, check out our Passover Resource Kit.

The Good at Heart by Ursula Werner

Mon, 03/27/2017 - 12:00am
Jewish Book Council    


Based on the author’s discoveries about her great-grandfather, this stunning debut novel takes place over three days when World War II comes to the doorstep of an ordinary German family living in an idyllic, rural village near the Swiss border.

When World War II breaks out, Edith and Oskar Eberhardt move their family—their daughter, Marina; son-in-law, Franz; and their granddaughters—out of Berlin and into a small house in the quiet town of Blumental, near Switzerland. A member of Hitler’s cabinet, Oskar is gone most of the time, and Franz begins fighting in the war, so the women of the house are left to their quiet lives in the picturesque village.

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Recommended Passover Reading

Mon, 03/20/2017 - 12:00am
From NJOP

 

PASSOVER SURVIVAL KIT Shimon Apisdorf


Passover…the season of matzah, maror and minding the minutes until you can get away from your family. Not anymore! Shimon Apisdorf’s fantastic Passover Survival Kit is the perfect solution for bringing meaning and movement to every Seder table.

Shimon Apisdorf draws his readers in with a light, conversational style to his writing: not lecturing to his readers, but rather holding a friendly dialogue with them.

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For more great Passover ideas, check out our Passover Resource Kit.
 

A Rebbe for Our Time

Mon, 03/13/2017 - 12:00am
By Liel Leibovitz for Tablet


A new book reminds us why Menachem Schneerson’s genius for community is more vital today than ever


My study, where I spend most of my days reading, moping, and constructing elaborate schemes designed to ward off the faintest threat of productivity, is a purgatory of piled-up objects. It’s the sort of place that would make Marie Kondo weep, especially if she spotted her lovely anti-clutter manifesto jammed in between three identical copies of the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America, a small Stonehenge of lifeless iPhones, and official Richard Nixon 1972 campaign memorabilia. None of this stuff is random, though: Each huddled tchotchke is either a souvenir from where I’ve been or a signpost pointing somewhere I’d like to go. And above it all, looking down at me like a bemused elder on an errant boy, is a large black-and-white photograph of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe.

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