Tuesday, April 12, 2016

It's Here!!! The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem
By Sarit Yusgai-Levy

Published by Thomas Dunne Books
Part of St. Martin Publishing.
Complimentary copy.

I am very excited to learn about, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem. I was sent this copy a few weeks ago. I just haven't had the time to look at the book as yet until today. Also, my excitement which I can't contain myself. This book made me think of another novel that was set in Jerusalem before it became a state. That book is Jerusalem Maiden which I loved. What I am also excited about is that our book club is finally going to SKYPE, author Talia Carner. She published her novel, Hotel Moscow. We are going to be hosting her from Myrtle Beach via  New York from the privacy of SKYPE! We don't even have to leave the beach. Who would have ever thought. 

                    Hotel Moscow by author, Talia Carner, and her previous novel, Jerusalem Maiden

In late September 1993, Brooke Fielding, a thirty-eight-year-old New York investment manager and the daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors, accepts an invitation to teach entrepreneurial skills to Russian businesswomen in Moscow. Though excited by the opportunity to be one of the first Americans to visit Russia after the fall of communism, she wonders what awaits her in the country that persecuted her mother just a generation ago. But as the Russian parliament's uprising against President Boris Yeltsin turns Moscow into a volatile war zone, Brooke finds that her involvement comes at a high cost. For in a city where "capitalism" is still a dirty word, where neighbors spy on neighbors and the new economy is in the hands of a few dangerous men, nothing Brooke does goes unnoticed—and a mistake in her past may now compromise her future.

                                                                     The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem

The #1 International Best Seller!

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is a dazzling novel of mothers and daughters, stories told and untold, and the ties that bind four generations of women.
Here is the review from the Jewish Book Council here. You also can listen to an excerpt here on Israel radio here. 

Here is an article the author wrote on Jewish Book Council here

This is my favorite time of year. When the great buzz of book are heard all across the US. Too bad again, I will not be attending BEA. Which this year it will not be in NYC, but in Chicago.

I am also thinking that this may be our Jewish Grand Strand Reads for 2017! That is how confident I am about this novel. Ok, I have not done a literary rant for awhile. So forgive me.

So again, thank you again John Karle, and  Staci Burt both from St. Martin Books.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

10th Anniversary Book Club and Review

The Bridal Chair
By Gloria Goldreich

Our book club met this month for our tenth anniversary celebration. We decided on The Bridal Chair. Some of us were reluctant to read because we all thought it was romance.  W were wrong.Elaine Karpel, a snowbird from upstate New York. Arranged for the author, Gloria Goldreich to speak to us through speaker phone. It was wonderful listening to her and learning about the Chagall's and what she thought.

The Bridal Chair, is not about Marc Chagall instead it is centered on his daughter, Ida. The author states that the novel, Bridal Chair is pretty accurate on the life of Marc Chagall's daughter and her father, Marc and her mother Bella.

Marc and Bella are in France raising their daughter. Ida has gotten pregnant. Instead of Ida wanting to marry her lover, she is forced into the marriage. As a wedding gift he paints her the "Bridal Chair".
The relationship of both her parents are very different than most of us. He is very eccentric, and hostile at a drop of a hat.  As Ida grows to womanhood. Her parents are very dependent on her to make decisions for them.

As Hitler is on the prowl. The Chagall's are forced to make a decision. But, both her parents are very petty, compared to the entire picture of the war in Europe.  Ida's husband's family are in great danger.
They are unfortunately have to be left behind. While the Chagall's are able to escape, thanks to Guggenheim, in the US. Ida's parent's especially her father is in a false delusion. That the SS won't touch him because who he is. Finally as the SS gets closer and closer. They come to realize that just because he is an artist. He is not safe. Ida's husband saves Ida's parents.

The family arrives in the  United States, specifically in upper state New York where he resides. Both her parents rely heavily on Ida to make decisions.  So much so, it is unhealthy. It appears that Ida is the adult and her parents are the children.  Ida is also, Marc Chagall's business manager. She is dealing, and selling, making arrangements for his paintings.  When Bella dies from pneumonia. Ida enables her father. She doesn't want her father to fall in a deep depression. Instead he finds a woman that will be her housekeeper. Eventually they become lovers.

I felt sorry for Ida and her relationship with her parents. Her relationship with her parents was unhealthy. How they relied on her. She was stifled by her father. She thought she had the responsibility of finding someone to fill his wife's shoes after Bella died. What kind of life is that for her? Not much.. I can't tell you the saddest part after this because it will just ruin it. I will say, her father let other people control his life, at the end, Ida was free of Marc. Someone else took over. But, how it was done was a slap in the face!

One thought I had Gloria Goldreich has been around for a long while. I remember my grandmother loved to read her novels. Her writing is from the old school. There is not any writing secrets, gimmicks, or writing style. It is straight narrative. There is not any illusions. Most young authors write not with a straight narrative, with flash backs, or climax driven. Some writing styles after awhile they get old. It is refreshing to remember the old style of, straight narrative. Gloria calls the book, not historical fiction. Which, I am surprised about. Rather, she calls it, biofiction. New genre for me.

I love Marc Chagall's work. But, after reading about him. I look at him at a different light personally. But, that shouldn't change how you feel about him, as an artist. I think of his work sinomonus with Shalom Aleichem. Perhaps because the picture you draw of Shalom Aleicheim is Chagall's artistic shetl style. I loved reading the Bridal Chair. If you are familiar with Chagall. Also, love art, and history. I would think you would love to read this one as much as I did.

                                                            Marc Chagall's Paintings:

Marc Chagall also did other mediums as you can see below:

Below is Marc Chagall at work at the Metropolitan Opera House in NYC

                                                    This is the opera house in Paris

                           This is the stain windows at Hadassah Hospital in Israel.

I reviewed Bridal Chair about a month ago after our book club. I am surprised I still remember some of it. Some of it is somewhere in my memory. Please forgive me if I am not accurate in places, people at exact time and names. I would like to thank Source Book for sending me a review copy and allowing our book club to talk to the author, Gloria Goldreich. Also here is a few other reviews here,

Our book club had our tenth anniversary this month. We met at my friend's house, Carrol's. The theme of food was Russian, French, Jewish cuisine.  There was so much food, and drinks. Our belly's were quite full. My friend Donna's husband made a cake for the occasion.

We had great conversation. There was so much to discuss about Ida, and her parents. The family dynamics, Jewish rejection or wasn't it?, What does he's drawings represents? His daughter relationship with his father? Thank you Elaine for arranging the author to speak to us. Thank you Gloria.

Kate Lloyd, from Simon and Schuester was so kind. As a gift  for our tenth anniversary. Simon and Schuester Publishing gave each of the book club members a copy of, The Lights We Cannot See to our book club she gave us ten copies of the novel, We will be discussing next month. Thank you for all the hard work to put this together. For the publicist's and authors that worked with us to put this together. It was wonderful.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Boston Girl: Book Review

The Boston Girl
by Anita Diamant

I read this a few weeks ago. I thought I posted, but realized I didn't.
Our book club read, The Boston Girl. I absolutely loved this one.
It is about feminism, Jewishness in the 1920's, and many more themes.

I have read a few novels by Anita Diamant. This one is her best, because it brings up social issues, and history for women in the 20th century. Just up my alley, history, women empowerment, etc.

 I think I liked it so much because it takes place in Boston. Where most of my family is from. There was so much I wanted to ask my grandparents about Boston when I was younger. The book seems to fill in the gaps of unanswered questions.

Since, I read this a few weeks ago. I can't remember everything. Instead I will give you a couple points about the novel.  This is a different type of narrative. Where the grandmother is telling the story about her life from her point of view. The Grand daughter is listening. You almost forget at times the book is told in the first person.
Ava, sweetheart, if you ask me to talk about how I got to be the woman, I am today, what do you think I'm going to say?
From the beginning of the novel, we learn about her family, Jewish immigrants. Betty, her sister the rebellious one. Celia, the soft spoken, and accident prone. Addie, between both of them.

They came to the US from Russia moving to the North End of Boston.  The unwillingness for immigrants to change their thinking. It was very difficult for  Ava, and her sisters of immigrant parents. Because, the children were influenced by the new american lifestyles of their American friends.

There is a part of history that I found was interesting. During the summers she would go to Rock Port, Mass, considered a vacation spot. In the early 20th Century, Rock port Lodge, was bought by many of the companies where the girls worked. The companies bought a hotel for their women workers that were not married. They were given a vacation to spend time in a hotel for $4.00 a day for clean sheets, and going to the beach etc.

Addie had to hide secrets from her family. Without her parent's knowledge she  would go to  meetings at the settlement house. Where she learned about suffrage. The people she met she became close, and became friends.She now had new influences and her horizons opened up with new experiences.  She  would get support from her friends. They were more supportive and mentor her, and give her guidance.  Where at home she was beaten down and put down constantly. She had a difficult relationship with her mother.

She learned about women empowerment,  such as going to college, women's rights, the right for women's to have an abortion.  She learned about clothing, and styles. Wearing "pants", which I found interesting in the novel. Women joining the work force, especially for women. How changes for women played a important part on the early 20th century.

The biggest thing in this book was adapting to changes. Don't let people tell you things are better in the old days. Because it was difficult for immigrants to accept change, and new ideas. 
I enjoyed reading Boston Girl. If you love reading about women empowerment. Pick up this book.
I give it 4 cups. Only because it is slow moving in the beginning and then picks up.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Jewish Grand Strand Reads- Maggie Anton

I am very excited after reading Maggie Anton's novel when she comes to Myrtle Beach on February 2nd. This has to be her best novel she has written, and this being her fifth. This has a lot to say about her. 

Jewish Grand Strand Reads started as an idea, and it has blosoomed each year to a larger event. The previous years, which this is going on our fourth year we have had a wonderful speaker, our local Rabbi, Rav Deb.

This year, we are organizing our event a bit different, still with Rav Deb. She is introducing the program, talking about magic, witches and potions during talmudic times, but why is it not known that it was practiced after the destruction of the temple. This should be a interesting, and controversial subject.

This is the first year, we have been able to host an author. This event is like a gift from
 g-d. Maggie does her own self promotion, with little in return. 

 Our organization is not affiliated with another Jewish organization. We are supported by Temple Emanu-El, and Temple Beth Elohim. The monies we raise is to bring authors, and speakers to our area each year. Which many authors have a high price tag. This year we were very lucky. If you plan to be in Myrtle Beach in the beginning of February you are welcome to attend. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Enchantress by Maggie Anton

By Maggie Anton

I was always taught in Hebrew, and Sunday school in traditional Jewish tradition, Jews don't rely on magic, we rely on prayers to help us. Apparently, it is not so, according to Maggie Anton's research.
 I realize this is historical fiction. But, it appears we have been told wrong. It started when I started reading, Alice Hoffman's, Dove Keeper. When I learned there was magic, then. I talked to our local rabbi, and she told me yes, Jews did magic spells, and believed in spirits.
 I had a hard time with this. But, then I did do my own research, as well perfect timing. Because that is when, Maggie Anton's novel, Rav Hisda's Daughter, which followed Enchantress. 
Well, that is not necessarily true, after the falling of the temple in Jerusalem.  Jews were exiled to Babylonia. We were taught talking to g-d by prayers, not magic. Well, I was dumbstruck after reading Rav Hisda's Daughter, and the continuation, Enchantress.  I was amazed what I learned what was true, and not true.

I have read all of Rashi's Daughter, and learned about Jewish women during medieval times. I learned so much how women were treated, and how they reacted and lived in Jewish society. This is the same for Rav Hisda's Daughter, and Enchantress. I will tell you this is the best book she has written as far as I can see.

I always wanted to know how women lived during Babylonia Period, after the destruction of the first temple.What life was like during that period for us as Jews. I did not realize that magic, and witches, and sorcery, and magic spells were done during this period like I said.

The book kept me enthralled, and riveting to my seat at the end. I couldn't believe what happened. Maggie Anton is coming to our program in February, and I can't wait to hear what she has to say, about magic spells.. I have a hard time with this part because we were always taught Jews don't believe in magic. We shouldn't believe in Halloween, spirits, and demons, etc. So why were we taught not to. When it clearly was OK in Talmud.  I wonder what happened to change that?So, I can't wait till Maggie comes to talk to us. 

 My thoughts on Enchantress, if you have not read book one. The most important piece is when Hisdadukh is asked who would she marry? That is explained in book one as well as book two.  Enchantress is sprinkled with what happened in the first novel.  Hisdadukh returns home alone. Rava, who is a torah scholar is explained. He comes back to her parent's home. They eventually marry, and have children.

 Hisdadukh wants to continue learning about magic from Em, and her mother. She continues inscribing incantation bowls, to protect women at child birth, and protecting the home. But, then something happens.

There is a powerful witch that tries to destroy Hisdadukh and her family at every turn.  The novel continues till Hisdadukh, and Rava grow old together. What I enjoyed was explained how Judaism flourished after this time period.

The book beside being fiction helps you feel, smell, taste, and experience Babylonia. What I mean to say, yes it is a novel. But, I always wondered what life was like as a women during that time.  You feel like you are there. There is some fantastic elements that I wonder about, think Harry Potter( that is all I will say). The ending is fantastic, and how she wraps up the story to tell you what happened after the time period.  Jews became " Wandering Jews, in Europe( what is known as Ashkenazi).

I have read all of Maggie Anton's novels, Rashi's Daughter( 3 books), and Rav Hisda's Daughter( 2 books). This has to be the best one she has written. I hope that movie rights are bought up. I am not talking about TV, Lifetime. I would love to see this become a motion picture in the movie theaters.

Enchantress makes a wonderful book club book, and a wonderful discussion for a Rosh Hodesh group, and for a Jewish book club. There is a glossary, for names, places and time period.

  I am looking forward to Maggie coming to Myrtle Beach, on February 2nd. I have been organizing this event since August. This is the first time we are having a Jewish author come to Jewish Myrtle Beach. I am so thrilled she is coming on my birthday. What a wonderful way to celebrate my birthday, and books, and authors.

If you are in the Myrtle Beach area in the beginning of February, and would like to attend please contact me.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Temple Emanu-El, and the Jewish Grand Strand Reads Program

 Temple Emanu-El, and the Jewish Grand Strand Reads organized a wonderful program with the book, Aleppo Codex by Matti Friedman.

We first had a wonderful lunch at Mr. Fish across the street from the Temple Emanu-El.  If you have not been there yet, I highly recommend it, if you are ever in Myrtle Beach.

We had a large crowd of about 50 people from Rabbi's Adult Education class, the Jewish Grand Strand, from the 38th Ave. Diva Book Club, and visitors of the Rabbi's.

We were  happy to see Rabbi Debbie at the program.  She and I started the Jewish Grand Strand Reads a few years ago.  We were just glad to see her. She has not been able to be involved this year because of her busy schedule.  Now, to talk about the program.

I introduced the program, talking about the history of the Aleppo Codex, after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, and  the mystery of how the " Crown"( other name of the Aleppo Codex) arrived in Israel, and where the 200 pages went, and who may have the pages.

Rabbi Avi talked about the religious aspect of the crown. Why the book is significant to the Jewish people. What it means to most of us that are Jewish. Did you know the book tells us the correct way to read from the torah? That the Hebrew is spoken the same way in every part of the world.

Why is that? The "Crown" is responsible for us to keep our traditions, and how we read from the bible, etc. The sad part, is it is the only one in the world. It wasn't copied.   Rabbi Avi went into a small part about the mystery of the book. The rest you will have to buy yourself a copy which I highly recommend.

To learn about the "Crown", you can find Matti Friedman in Texas, JCC talking about it. You can also find information about it at several Jewish websites, by doing a google search.  On a side note, Matti, sent me a message to have a bagel on him. We would have loved to chat with him on SKYE, but with the time zone difference, him in Israel, and us in SC it wasn't feasible at this time.

If you are interested in reading my review you can read it on my other book blog, at Bagels, Books, and Schmooze.

Thank you Rabbi Avi for co sponsoring the program with the Jewish Grand Strand Reads.  Below, you can see the large crowd that came. We hope Rabbi Avi will join us again.  We are always looking for speakers for the Jewish Grand Strand Reads. If you are knowledgeable about Jewish themes and are experienced talking to large crowds. Don't hesitate to talk to me about speaking engagements. Let's Chat.....


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rosh Hodesh Group of the Grand Strand

A few years ago, I formed a Rosh Hodesh group with another person in the Jewish community. Unfortuately personalities clashed.But, I was very busy with school, and still am.

I am happy to say a new Rosh Hodesh group is starting up again. It is called Rosh Hodesh Group of the Grand Strand.

The ladies are from the more traditional sect, of Chabad.   I just want to see it succeed this time. The other group was getting dry, and doing more social events, it was getting too dull,the activities were basically the same.

This time these ladies are doing the traditional route. Where there are discussions of women's values, being Jewish, sometimes making Challah, etc.. I used to belong to a RH group up north that was more discussion based, and not so much on social activities.

I am looking forward to the group re-starting with fresh blood.  I must thank, Susan Cohen for keeping me in the loop.  The group is starting on Nov. 24th, which most of us, I don't think will make because it is too close to Thanksgiving. Instead they are having a launch party to let the ladies know about RH. On Monday they will be having a party on Monday, date, and time will be posted soon. I hope y'all can make it. If you are female, live in the Grand Strand community,  Jewish, and over the age of 12, please come join the Rosh Hodesh Group.

This excerpt is copied from one of my favorite sites, Jewish Learning, for more info, go visit, Rosh Chodesh has long been considered a special holiday for women. Some say that this is because the women of Israel did not offer their jewelry for the creation of the Golden Calf. As a result, they were given Rosh Chodesh as a day when they could abstain from work. To this day, some women refrain from some forms of labor on Rosh Chodesh. Others have connected the waxing and waning of the moon to a woman's menstrual cycle. Whatever the reason, Rosh Chodesh has long been a time for Jewish women to gather for a wide variety of activities, from reciting tradition liturgy, to sharing a meal, discussing Jewish ethics, and working for social change. 

You also can visit them on their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rosh-Chodesh-Society-of-Myrtle-Beach/865323760165326
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Images from the Glamor Amour by Irene Alexeeva