Monday, November 30, 2009

Dead Weight by Batt Humphreys
236 pgs.
Joggling Board Press

Dead Weight is based on factual events with fictional characters mixed in. There is a murder of a Jewish merchant, Mr. Lebelsky. His wife Rose, is away in New York until she is summoned by the city of Charleston that her husband was murdered. She returns to Charleston.

There seems to be a rift between Mr. Levin and Mr. Lebelsky about business being open on Saturday. Jewish law doesn't allow stores to be open on Saturday. Max Labelsky was from the new school to be open on Saturday, but Mr. Levin did not believe this.

Rose Lebelsky opens her clothing shop when she returns. While she is working she gets conked on the head. There is a young black man,Nealy Duncan he is walking away from the scene not running down the street.

He was purchasing items for his wedding. Mrs. Lebelsky was conked on the head. The mob chases after him after they hear Mrs. Lebelsky scream. They chase after him. The mob grabs him and does not look for any other suspects. But they come to the realization he must be Mr. Lebelsky's murderer. This is Charleston, SC the racial divide.

The elements Mr. Nealy Duncan works for a baker named Mr. Gelifiss. He is a white man that teats Nealy like a son. He is about to marry Ida. He makes purchases for the wedding that is what he doing in Jewish Charleston. Observant Jews business owners don't open their business on Saturday. There was a rift between Mr. Lebelsky and Mr. Levin.

SPOILER!!! SPOILER!! If you don't want to know what happens don't read any further.

The trial does not go well for Nealy. It was a unfair trial. it is decied that he will be hanged. There are citizens that want to help including a reporter Hinson.

After the trial he is placed in the jail for two days till the hanging. A group of men wanted to give Nealy his last wish, to see Ida in her wedding dress and married. The group put something in their drink to make the jailers sleep. They have 15 minutes to knock them out and bring Ida to Nealy united in marriage. Be able to escape without anyone's knowledge.

Nealy is hanged by a noose what is called Dead Weight. How they do it on the ships. Even the hanging does go well. You should be able to hear his neck snap and the observers are not sure if it did. They keep him in the noose for a extra 30 minutes.

In the mean time there is a hurricane coming. Ida's mother can not find her. Mr. Hinson goes searching for her. He finds her at Nealy's fresh grave. He realizes that she has shot herself(Romeo and Juliet).

My thoughts on this book. It is a fast easy read. I enjoyed reading the book, Dead Weight. Mr. Humphreys did a lot of research and had a lot of background information about Charleston area and the hurricane. The hurricane just added to the story. I went to Charleston last summer so that added to the feel of the book. Now that I read the book I would like to visit the places that are mentioned, especially the homes and businessses on Kings and Meeting street. The Jewish cemetery where Max is buried. I would like to find Lebelsky's gravesite in the Jewish cemetery.

I have said it before but if any of you live in the Myrtle Beach area or would like to see Batt come to Barnes and Noble at the Market Commons at 1PM on December 6th. He will be doing book signings. Or if you would like to see him as a guest speaker at our Hadassah Tea on December 6th from 3-5. Leave me a comment at the bottom of my post and I will get back with you with details.

I will be having Batt write a guest post in the next few days.

Happy reading

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It Is Confirmed

It is confirmed Batt Humphreys, the author of Dead Weight is coming to our Hadassah Tea in Myrtle Beach. He will first be having his book signing at Barnes and Noble at the Market Commons. From there he will be our guest speaker at the Membership tea. If any of you are in the area and would like to attend let me know by leaving a comment and I will get back with you.

I am very excited because I met him through correspondence through cyberspace. We have been corresponding about his book. When I found out about him coming to Myrtle Beach I had asked him if he would come to our membership tea as our guest speaker.

Dead Weight is a book based on factual event that happened in Charleston at the turn of the century. It is about a murder of a Jewish merchant. The accused is a young black man about to be married. You will just have to read the book to find out how the book ends.

Did you know there is alot of Jewish history in Charleston? Actually the first place Jews settled was Charleston, SC not New York.

Batt Humphreys was a senior producer of CBS News, in New York. He lives outside of Charleston. He's roots are in the south.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Batt Humphreys, Author of Dead Weight

I have been in touch with Mr. Humphreys about his book,Dead Weight. He is a local author from outside Charleston. He is coming to Barnes and Noble on December 6th. The good news is, After the book event at Barnes and Noble he will be stopping by at the membership tea we are having.

I wanted to have him come out to lunch with my book club and my group of friends. But most of them would be at the tea. Some quick thinking on my part, I had come up with a plan. This is not what I would have wanted but the best that I could think of.

I can't believe a author would do this and take the time to come to talk to us after. That is so gracious of him. When I started communicating with him when he and he's publicist were planning the book event at BN he asked me what day woudl be better. To ask me, I am sure he is so busy. This was so touching, don't you think?? Top it off he is not getting paid for this.

The organization, will not allow him to solicit his book during our tea. So, this is out of the kindness of his heart( but spreading the word about his book helps).

This is fantastic, and awesome. There are not many book events down here in SC. Up north there is more opprotunity for them.
I am excited to meet Batt.

He has written a book based on fact of a murder that takes place in Charleston. It is about a black man accused of murdering a Jewish merchant. The book is called Dead Weight. I like reading about the historical events that are written. Also, some of Jewish Charleston. That facts that he writes about in Jewish Charleston he got right. I am surprised that he knew about the rift between other Jews. I am not going to tell you the rest. You will just have to read and find out what I am talking about.

Now, I need to get back to studying. Just thought I would check in and let everyone know what is going on. Wish me luck on my exam. This is going to be a hard exam. It is on the brain. I thought the muscle was hard. The nervous System is double the studying time. What was worse was we only had a day to study the brain. It is just alot of info. to study in a short time. I will let you all know after my practical how I did on my exam.

See you all soon.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Our First Book Club

Our book club met for the first time. We discussesd Gurersney's Literary Potato Peel Pie Society. Alot to discuss. We all just loved the book. We liked the historical background as well as the story. We were amazed about the historical background of the story. We did not know that part of this small island was occupied by the Germans. We were surprised that England just abandoned this tiny island and did nothing to prevent this.

Our book club was only going to meet 3-4 times a year we are going to try meet every month and see what happpens. We had 6 people come which better than the last time. We were all pretty happy.

We decided on two books for the next two months:

Snow In August by Peter Hamill

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.

Both of these books I have read and enjoyed. It is going to be great discussing the two books in the upcoming months with our book club. Both of these books I have enjoyed before and I will enjoy again.

Pete Hamill wrote Snow In August. I just loved this book. About a boy that is not Jewish and befriends a Rabbi.
I learned about the Golem from this book.

I always wanted to have a book club meeting to discuss Snow in August but the chance never came untill now. I can't wait. I had writen to the author to see if he would think about talking to my book club through speakerphone. I am sure he is very busy, but who knows.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dead Weight

There is a new book out called Dead Weight by Batt Humphrey. I am excited because the book is based on facts. It happened close to my home town of Myrtle Beach. We don't have alot of books that are published by southern authors. Especially in SC, and about a person that is Jewish. If you are interested go to the author's website .

The story takes place in the turn of the century in Charleston, SC. It is about a Jewish merchant that is murdered. A African American is blamed and eventually tried for the murder.

This book has recieved great reviews. I have a bookish friend that saw Mr. Humphrey at a moveable feast. She told me he was awesome. I hope that he may be able to speak at one of my book clubs.

I have a friend that belongs to the Georgetown Temple in Georgetown, SC. Their temple was started by the Charleston Jewish community many years ago. They would probably be interested.

Mr. Humphrey is a CBS, senior producer and a resident of the Charleston, SC area.
Looking forward for Mr. Humphrey's doing a guest blog soon.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

31 Hours: Book Review

31 Hours
By Masha Hamilton

This is a book review I posted on my secular book blog. But thought it might interest my Jewish readers. When I read this book I thought of me, as a mother. But also thought of 9/11, and suicide bombers that attack Israeli's and die for their cause to reach martyrdom. If you are interested you can read my review at my other blog at Carolina Gal's Literary Cafe..

Thursday, September 17, 2009

La Shana Tova Tik-Va-Tevu

La Shana Tova, For my non-Jewish readers. This is the Jewish holiday that we say La Shana Tova, may you be inscribed in the book of life.

This coming Friday is sundown. This starts the Jewish holiday season. The holiday is two day of Rosh Hashanah. Depending if you live here, or in Israel. In Israel the holiday is celebrated for one day. If you are reform, then you celebrate it for one day. But, us that are Conservative or Orthodox Jews in the United States, we celebrate for two days.

We anticipate hearing the blowing of the shofar. There are other traditions of food, and actions that we do. Then 10 days later we come back to the synagoge and repeat for Yom Kippur where we fast for 1 day. We hear the blowing of the shofar.

In our house, We eat the traditional Brisket, Matzah Ball Soup, Gefilte Fish, and Honey Cake. This is the tradition from my mother that I have followed and never wavered. We have traditional food, of Wine, Apples, Honey, Challah( round for the new year).

This is the time for 10 days to reflect, repent, and set new goals for the year. This is followed with the holiday of Succot( holiday of booths). Moses and the Jewish people traveled through Egypt. Followed with Simchat Torah, the holiday, where we celebrate the beginning cycle of reading of the Torah all over again.

I don't mean to offend anyone. But I simplified it for everyone. If you would like to know more go to to know more info you can go to Chabad

May you & your loved ones be inscribed & sealed in the book of life for a happy, healthy, safe & joyous New Year

Let us pray for a happy, healthy, sweet new year. Without any war, May the year 5770 be a better year.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In My Hot Little Hands

I wanted to tell all my Jewish readers about a new book, that was just delivered by my mailman. Just delivered in my hot little hands. It is Day after Night by Anita Diamant published by Simon and Schuster.

Anita Diamant is the author of The Red Tent and a few other Jewish parenting books.

From the book jacket flap:

Based on the extrodinary true story of the October 1945 rescue of more than two hundred prosoners from the atlit internment camps, a proson for ilegal immigrants run by the British military mear the Mediterranean coast north of Haifa. The story is told through the eyes of four young women at the camp with profundly different stories. All of them survived the Holocaust: Shayndel, a Polish Zionist; Leonite a Parisian beauty; Tedi a hidden Dutch Jew; and Zorah, a concentration camp survivor. Haunted by unspeakable memories and losses, afraid to begin to hope, Shayndel, Leonie, Tedi, and Zorah find salvation in the bonds of friendship and shared experience even as they confront the challenge of re-creating themselves in a strange new country.

This is a unforgettable story of tragedy and redemption, a novel that reimagines a moment in history with such stunning elogquence that we are haunted amd moved by every devastating detail.

I can't wait to read this one. A good boook it sounds like right in time for the Jewish high holidays. It will be released on September8,2009. Thank you Anita for the copy to read and review on my Jewish blog.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Jewish Mail Box Monday

I have been surfing the web for a Jewish mailbox that would be fun to post. I could not find anything. Unfortunately, this is the only thing I came up with. The mailbox is from Israel. Bare with me until I find something else.

The box is boring, but the books are not. I am estatic, that I recieved this many Jewish books. This has not happend to me since I started my blog. I usually get more secualar books rather than Jewish.

Here is what came into my Jewish Mailbox this past week. Thank you for hosting this Marcia, from The Printed Page.

Rashi's Daughter, Book 3 By Maggie Anton
Thank you Maggie

I have been looking forward to this one for awhile. This is Maggie's third book about one of Rashi's daughters. Each book is written based on one of he's daugters, Rashi is a famous Jewish scholar in Medival France.

Bending Toward The Sun by Leslie Gilbert_Lurie
Thank you FSB Associates for the copy. This one is a memoir about a mother and daughter and the experiences of the holocaust.

The Puzzle Queen by Betsy Carter courtesy by the author, thank you.
Other bloggers have written about the cover of the book. I have to agree as well. Digitally the eyes look very intense but when you see if in your own hands it is not as intense. But still, I like the cover. The book is a historical fiction, based on the holocaust.

You or Someone Like You by Chandler Burr
I am looking forward to reading this one as soon as possible. There is some contraversy surrounding the book. I can't wait to read this one. I have heard some tongues wagging because of this one.

This is the first time More Jewish books came into my mailbox rather than secualar. I just wish my people would visit my blog as I have not been paying alot of attention to it. Once I start getting mor visitor I think I will start to give it more loving care!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Blogging Help

I have been attempting to re-design my blog with blogger. I want to make a navigational bar. This way I can have my two blogs connected. I want to be able to use my own color background, and to make my blog header with a graphic design for my own choosing.
Some of you bloggers did this yourself. I was wondering if anyone would like to do this is their spare time,and is handy with the technical side of the blog. I am not and I would pay you for your trouble. I have tried to follow directions on the blogger tutorial and it just doesn't do it for me. I am desperate!!. All of you that personal sent me emails to try to explain it to me have been great. But I just don't get it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

This Is Where I Leave You

This Is Where I Leave You
By Jonathan Tropper

This is Where I Leave You, the story of Judd Foxman. He's father, Mort has just passed away. Judd and Jen, his wife are having marital problems. She is having a affair with Wade, his boss, the radio jock. Judd finds out she is pregnant. On the same day he's father dies.

He's family is Jewish. He's mother tells the family by the request of their father to sit Shiva(seven days of mourning). Their father is not religious or traditional at all. There are Jewish rituals that are followed, covering mirrors, sitting on stools, no bathing,no fun at all. There are family, friends aquaintances, that visit during the seven days. The shiva is sat by mother, wife, brother, sister, and children. If you are interested visit here.

The family is dysfunctional. This where the fun begins. The family must sit together for seven days on stools. Many visitors come a calling. You can hear the criticism, and whispers by the family members. They have not sat and come together for many years. There is family can't sit together for two minutes without bickering. Sparks start flying.

Judd is the narrator, you hear him through out the book. Phillip, is the younger brother, that messed up his life. Paul is the older brother, Judd lost his virginity to Phillip's wife many years ago. Wendy is the sister, that still has a crush on the boy next door. She hit him over the head many years ago. He has memory loss to this day.

Their mother, Linda holds a PHd, a psychologist, we find out later in the book who the family suspects as her lover. The mother loves to use shocking words to get attention of the family.

If during the shiva that it falls on Friday night through Saturday night. The members go to services. shiva week. During services there is some mad cap comedy that reminds me of one of Sandler's movies.

As the cantor drones on, I stick my hand into the pocket of Dad's suit and discover what feels like a old, twisted, tissue but turns out, upon further inspection, to be a fat, bone fide, home rolled joint.

He then goes down to the bathroom. Now read on...
It was in Dad;s suit. Dad was a stoner? Phillip says, so much of life makes sense.

Then ..Then a few minutes later, we're sprawled at our timey attached desks, while the three dimensional letters of the hebrew aleph-bet taped above the blackboard float over us in the smokey haze.
Then it goes on during the shiva week, sex, drugs,sex, every kind of raunchy act you can think of.

I liked the way the book was set up for each day of the seven. Each section of the book was for the day of the week of the Shiva. You could not wait to find out what happened the following day. Finally there was no family issues settled. But alot of hugs and kisses and understandings.

The story is rauchy, "R" rated,full of sex, funny, hilarious. You start cracking up right from the first sentence. Best of all entertaining. I started reading this book at the Dr.'s office.

I had to have a three hour glucose tolerance test the day I started the book. The patients and the staff thought I must have been nuts. Because I had a smirk on my face, and laughing out loud, and calling out oh my g-d without realizing I was speaking out loud. I am sure they were ready to send me away in a straight jacket any moment. I did not realize I was cracking up and smirking the whole time I was there.

Some parts of the book sounded like my family. I don't think my mother would go to all those lengths to have the family sit together. Sitting throught Shiva would be the biggest punishment for her. She is a cultural Jew.

If you can get over the raunchy and sex parts, Which I did. After awhile it just grows on you and you forget that, and just keep on laughing.

This book was just bought up to movie rights. I don't know if I would see it. As I don't like these kind of movies. But I definately loved this book. It was so hilarious. Go check it out at a Bookstore near you!!
You can read a review by my blogging friend Marie, The Boston Bibliophile here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Annie's Ghost

For the first time I am posting on both blogs the same review. This book happens in all families not just in Jewish families. You will find the review here as well as my other blog.

Annie's Ghosts
By Steve Luxenberg
Published May 2009

Washington Post associate editor Steve Luxenberg is a master of investigative journalism. The editor of two Pulitzer prize winning series, Luxenberg has now written his most compelling story. His exploration of his late mother's secret.

Beth Luxenberg always claimed to be an only child, but a chance mention led to the discovery that she had been hiding the existence of a sister, Annie. The girls had grown up together, living in a series of cramped apartments until Annie's commitment to a mental instituion at the age of twenty-one. Why was Annie committed? How had Beth so thoroughly erased her sister's existence? Why had she wanted to?

Annie's Ghosts is the engrossing eye opening story of Luxenberg's search for the personal motives and cultural forces that influenced his mother's decision to create and harbor her secret. The deeper he digs. the more he finds himself in unfamiliar territory, struggling to balance his dual roles, the tenacious journalist and empathetic son.

The research and investigative work that Mr. Luxenberg did was well documented. You could tell that he was a investigative journalist by his writing style. I thought he did a good job in the research that was done.

He documented the family, friends, relatatives, neighbors that knew his family. He documented the history of psychiatry. in the hospital and in Europe. How the mentally ill were treated with psychotropic meds, insulin, shock treatment. The after effects of Haldol which can cause tardavdiskensia.

The history of mental hospitals, psychiatry, the treatment of patients, the overcrowding. The government's role in mental illness and hospitals. The governments funding in the US. Social culture in the US during the 40's. He summized what life was like for the family under normal conditions. What life was like to have a child with a physical disability and mental illness. How this effected the whole family. His family, his grandparents, his mother.

The research and investigative work was well researched. He did the work objectively. Which was a hard thing to do. Since this was a personal matter, his mother, Beth and Aunt Annie. How do you do investigative work objectively.

The story of the secret his mother, Beth kept from the family till she died. The family lived in Detroit, Michigan during the 30's and 40's. Beth's sister was severely handicapped with mental illness. She was sent away from the home in her early twenties.

Steve's grandmother, Tillie felt that the sins of the parents are passed on to the children. Because Tilly his grandmother and Zeyde married as cousins. In the old country in Europe in the Jewish faith you can marry a cousin to keep everything in the family.

Steve's investigative work also brought us to Europe. In Russia, with the Pograms, the holocaust, mass murders. How families in Europe felt about mental illness and physically handicapped family members. They felt it was right to keep secrets.

During the 40's families felt it was a disgrace to have a family member with a mental illness and a physical handicap. It left you with a stigma and the family felt disgraced in the 1940's. If you expected to marry you did not let anyone know you kept it in the family.

The account of the family takes place, while he's mother is still alive. While she is being hospitalized she tells the social worker the secret. He wonders, why did she wait to tell the secret then. Why not before. What a shock this had to be for him and his family. The brothers and sisters all thought she was a only child.

During the investigation of the early accounts when Annie's is committed to Eloise(the name of the mental institution). He questions her IQ, her mental state, her emotional state. Was she severely mentally ill or was this just a place to put her. Was she schizophrenic? or was this what they labeled everyone.

In the 40's Schizophrenia was a catch-all. Not like today when they distinguish the different mental illnesses. The documents that he finds challanges the reason she was put in Eloise in the first place. He finds documents that states she can care for herself. And can function very well.

At the end of Annie's life she died in 1972. She died alone in her early 50's. She died before the government opened the doors for good. She was buried with a Jewish burial by his mother. She wrote Annie's orbituary that was fabricated. The author questions why did his mother finally recognize her in death but not while she was alive.

Was this a cartharsis for the author? Did he write this to help others that had family secrets? Did he want to understand why the secret was kept? While I was reading the book I wanted to know answers. But there weren't any because Steve' did not know the answers because he's mother kept him in the dark. There weren't any leaads to the questions because his mother and her generation passed away. There were some relatives, neighbors and friends that were still alive. But their memories were fading.

I have mixed feeling about Annie's Ghosts. What I am wondering where are the motivations for each action. Where are the feelings to their actions. How and why did this happen. It is hard for me to relate because there isn't any emotions sprinkled on the pages of the book, only the authors. You can see he took great care to preserve his mother's memory. To protect his mother, and his brothers, and sisters.

I wanted to know the mother and sister's and parents side. How was Annie raised by her parents?? how did Beth actually feel about her? Did she ever feel anything for Annie? Did her parents keep the secret from everyone as well?? The holes were never filled. How it affected them. All the questions he had were never answered, WHY??!!

That is probably why I did not understand why this book was written. With so many unanswered questions. I could not relate to most of the book.

There is a saying you don't judge someone because we have not walked in their shoes. But still I was angry with Bertha. To not have any compassion and not care what happens to her sister. To not care about her welfare and well being really makes her out as a heartless human being.

We will never know if she did or didn't because his mother never told him about his Aunt. She is no longer hear to defend herself.

Annie's Ghost has a good history lesson of the mentally ill, and psyciatry, and what society thought of the mentally ill. If you have no idea what psyciatry was like during that time.

I did enjoy reading this book. The book was well documented, and lot of work, sweat and caring, and investigative work was involved. The book was very compelling. It could help someone that is trying to research family and what happens to a family when there are secrets. I am still glad that I picked up this book and read it.
Thank you, Jill, FSB for allowing me to review.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Charleston, SC Trip Pix(Pt.1)

Jewish Charleston: Rosh Hodesh-Girlfriend's Group

Shalom Y'All,

Our Rosh Hodesh "Girlfriends group meet once a month. This month June 18th. This is a Jewish women's group that meet once a month in honor of the new moon. This day we decided to meet for a day time event. We went to Charleston.

Charleston, you say. That is not Jewish. Well, guess what?? you are wrong. There is a lot of Jewish history in this town of Charleston SC. If you don't believe me you should do a google search. You will find alot of history on the Sephardic Jews
( Spainish).

Our town, Myrtle Beach has a Chabad community as well as conservative and reform. Our RH group is not insular we welcome anyone that is Jewish. Most of us are conservative and reform or secular. We only have two women that are orthodox. This is the overall character of our group.

Chani, is the Chabad rabbi's wife is a very welcoming person. She is not trying to make all of us orthodox because all of us are over 50. She is just a nice person.
The group every month does tefillin(prayer), then some learning(jewish learning) followed by a fun project it can be anything.

Chani drove us in a van with 10 of us to Charleston. Took about 2 hrs. Can you imagine a ride with all women for two hours riding in a van. EAR SPLITTING.
I have not seen some of these ladies for 6 months because of work and school.
It was nice to see them. The ladies some belong to my temple, or to our Hadassah group, Jewish Myrtle Beach, etc.

We started a day with getting a guided tour on our van. G-d must have been with us. We were very lucky. We did not have to walk. We had a air conditioned van. We had a Jewish guide. This was just great. The whole day we only took a few steps the rest of the time we were in the van. The temperture was great.

We started with the Jewish Cemetary in Charleston. The cemetary was a gated wall.
The cemetary was in poor condition which is very sad. The head stones were broken, and thrown every each way. The head stones were damaged recently.

I personally was very surprised how poorly kept the cemetary was kept. I have a friend, she is a member of Temple Beth Elohim, a poor small Jewish community.
Their cemetary is well groomed.

There is not a large Jewish community in Georgetown. But in Charleston Jewish society there is a large community.

Next the homes are beautiful. Some of the homes are owned by Jews other are not. I did not hear much about anti-semitism in Charleston as our guide we talking to us about Charleston.

One of the homes was the inspiration of Gone With The Wind. She showed us the significance of Rhett Butler and the author. Which I can't remember what she said. The high class homes face a certain direction for good ventilation.

We came to the harbor how beautiful was the sea breeze and across the street was the high society homes. Unfortunately I am posting this about 3 weeks later so some of the information is a vague maemory.

Next, we had lunch, at Broad Street Guest House in Charleston. The only kosher eatery and guest house in town. It is run by Hadassah Rothenberg. She never opens it up for only a meal. But she did this time. She told us, no one ever asked her, why not. We had lunch and a tour. We had soup, salad, vegetarian wraps, and a old-fashioned apple pie to die for.

Our next stop was the synagouge, Temple Beth Elohim, a sephardic(Spainish) a Orthodox temple became a reform in the middle 1800's. It was a orthodox shul that became reform in the middle 1800's.

View the picture in the above post of Temple Beth Elohim of the richness and vastness of the shul. We toured the temple, in the main sanctuary, of course the Bimah front and center where the torah is kept(holy books), large stain glass windows(Jewish themed), a balcony and a organ.

Music is not allowed in orthodox or conservative because music is not played during the sabbath. The balcony was built to separate the women and children from the men.

This is very different from how I was raised. The culture from Jews from the north is different from Jews in the south. I was raised in a some what secular home but I was raised from a traditional back ground. I came from the north where shul did not look like a church. The shuls had chairs, not long benches.

We then walked along Market street and then went home. I had a very enlightened historic adventure of Jewish Charleston. If anybody has never been to see the Jewish south this would be a good learning experience especially to you that did not realize there was a large population of Jews in the south.

I will be posting the picture of Temple Beth Elohim on the above post.


What Makes A Jewish Book???

This has been questioned so many times by Jews. Readers, rabbi's, scholars etc. No one seems to have the answer.

The reason I bring this up. This past year, a book called, Songs for the Butcher's Daughter, written by a non-jewish author. He worked at National Yiddish Book Center.

I can't make a opinion about the book since I have not read it. But I have read several books that have Jewish content, or author's are Jewish but not any Jewish content. I personally have not read anything from a author that is not Jewish.

Can a non-Jewish person write his or her experiences in a Jewish story. I am not sure. They do not have the experiences or feel what we as Jews feel. That is just my opinion. I have not heard the other way around that a Jewish author writes a story about the experiences of being Christian.

When the author writes a book that is Jewish I can identify with the story because I am Jewish. The characters, the situation etc. When the story is written by a Jewish author there isn't anything between the lines that you can relate to if you are Jewish to make it Jewish. To me to make a book Jewish is the content. That is only my opinion.

I am very interested to see what others think of Song of the Butcher's Daughter.

One of my fellow bloggers just mentioned the book on her blog that is why I brought it up. I want to see what she has to say about it.

I appreciate other commenter to post their thoughts on this opinions. Readers and scholars alike. What do you think??

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What Makes A Book Jewish??

I decided to put this on my blog. I have alway wandered about this. What Makes A Book Jewish? There is not any easy answer to this.
When our book club picks what we read we sometimes have issues. For example is it Jewish content? Is the author Jewish? If not should we still pick the book if it has Jewish content? Is the book or author Jewish enough? There is a author that has written a novel that is a gentile but vey Yiddishkeit. Now, what do we do?

What are your thoughts about this??This can bring in a very hot and tempered conversation. I try to stay away from this subject. But when it deals with a book we need to discuss sometimes it can not be helped.

What Makes a book Jewish
By Josh Lambert
Copied from Jewish Book World
Summer 2009

since you’re reading Jewish Book
World, this is probably a question
you’ve asked yourself, at
least briefly, at one point or
another. If you’re a librarian or
bookstore owner, editor or
reviewer, literary scholar, or
book group leader, you may
even have decided which books
count as Jewish and which books don’t for a
particular project, issue, display, or collection.
I had to think about this all the time while
writing my book, American Jewish Fiction: A
JPS Guide, which explores the field through
short reviews of 125 classic novels and short
story collections published between 1867 and
2007. What books would I include, and
which ones would I leave out?
Many of these decisions are easy enough
to make. Everyone agrees that a book written
in a Jewish language like Hebrew, Yiddish, or
Ladino, can be counted as a Jewish book.
Even when they have nothing to do with Jews
or Judaism, it would be hard to deny that
such books maintain some relation to Jewish
writers and readers. Sure, the Yiddish translation
of the New Testament was produced to
help Christians convert Jews, but the book
remains Jewish in a sense because of its language
and its intended audience.
Since my focus was on American fiction, I
could immediately and enthusiastically add
to my list many novels written in Yiddish,
including works by David Pinski, I. J. Singer,
I. B. Singer, and Chaim Grade; my publishers
requested that I steer clear of any books that
have not been translated into English, which
meant picking Isaac Raboy’s Der yiddisher
kauboy (Jewish Cowboy, 1942), rather than his
earlier and somewhat similar novel Herr
Goldenbarg (1913), and leaving out books
like David Ignatov’s In keslgrub (1918) that
have not yet been translated. Sadly, this
requirement meant excluding many novels
and short story collections written in Hebrew
12 Jewish Book World Summer 5769/2009
by Josh Lambert
What makes a book Jewish?

about life in America by writers including
Simon Halkin, Reuben Wallenrod, Razia
Ben-Gurion, and Maya Arad (though I mention
several of these in an appendix for those
able to read them in the original). But I never
had to think too deeply about whether these
Yiddish and Hebrew books should be considered
Even when dealing with non-Jewish languages—
in the case of my own book, particularly
with novels written in English—some
decisions pose no great difficulty. Who would
deny that Milton Steinberg’s As a Driven Leaf
(1939), which dramatizes a set of stories from
the Talmud, is a Jewish book simply because
Steinberg, a congregational rabbi, chose to
write it in English? The real complications
begin with writers who were not rabbis
and with stories drawn not from central
and traditional Jewish texts, like the Talmud,
but from modern experience in all
of its ambiguity and dynamism.
A few borderline cases will help to
demonstrate the problems that tend to
crop up. Nathanael West (né Weinstein)
wrote extraordinarily dark and
resonant satires of American
culture in which Jews do not
figure as primary characters,
and while J. D. Salinger was a
rabbi’s grandson, his stories of
alienated young geniuses and
dysfunctional urban families,
including Catcher in the Rye
(1951), barely mention Jewishness.
An even more resonant
case is that of the famed Czech
writer Franz Kafka, whose diaries and
letters reveal an intense fascination with
and attention to Jewish life and history,
but who never mentions the word “Jew”
or “Jewish” in a single one of his novels
or stories.
To justify including works by these
writers in the category of Jewish literature,
critics often argue that their books subtly
symbolize something fundamental about the
modern Jewish experience, even if they don’t
explicitly mention Jews. Saul Bellow, for example,
characterized a Jewish book as one in
which “laughter and trembling” are “curiously
mixed,” and by this standard, West and Kafka
would be shoo-ins, while Salinger would have
a fair shot. Cynthia Ozick, meanwhile, has
called for a “liturgical literature,” and depending
on how one defines that purposely vague
term, West, Salinger, and Kafka could all be in,
or out. Ruth Wisse, professor of Jewish literature
at Harvard, proposes that “in Jewish literature
the authors or characters know and let
the reader know that they are Jews,” under
which criterion West, Salinger, and Kafka
would all be summarily excluded; nevertheless,
Wisse insists on including Kafka in her Modern
Jewish Canon (2000), as she perceives “the
permanent anxiety of a Jew writing in German”
in The Trial (1925). Noting the long history
of such disagreements and confusions,
Hana Wirth-Nesher remarks, in an anthology
of essays on this topic, titled What Is Jewish Literature?
(1994), that “there is no consensus nor
is it likely that there will ever be one.”
Why not say, then, as Michael Kramer, a
professor of English literature at Bar Ilan University,
does, that “Jewish literature is simply
literature written by Jews”? Kramer means
this literally and absolutely: he includes any
books written by any Jew “regardless of any
relationship to Judaism or yiddishkayt or any
of the many versions of Jewishness that have
strutted across the stage of modern Jewish
history.” For Kramer, if it turns out that a
Jewish person wrote PowerPoint for Dummies,
well, then that’s a Jewish book.
For many readers, Kramer’s approach will
seem needlessly broad—does he really imagine
that the Jewish section at Barnes and
Noble could include every book written by a
Jewish author? And who exactly is supposed
to check to see whether the author of The
Bacon Cookbook had a bat mitzvah?—but even
this inclusive approach is also not nearly broad
enough. Plenty of books written by proud and
unambiguously identified non-Jews surely
deserve mention in any discussion of Jewish
literature, from George Eliot’s influential
proto-Zionist novel Daniel Deronda (1876) to
the most recent winner of the National Jewish
Book Award for fiction, Peter Manseau’s Songs
for the Butchers Daughter (2008). Manseau’s
book appeared too late for me to include it in
American Jewish Fiction, but I did include
works by non-Jewish authors including Henry
Harland, Edward King, and John Updike. I
particularly recommend Gish Jen’s Mona in
the Promised Land (1996), which features a
young Chinese-American convert to Judaism.
It seems to me, finally, that the way
to answer the question about what
makes a book Jewish is to decide why
you think anyone should read such
books. Are these books meant to bring
Jews closer to God? To explain Jewish life
to non-Jews? To educate, to entertain, to
perplex, to enlighten? Personally, I hope
Jewish books can do all of these
things, and that helped me to
make my choices. After consulting
with experts, literary scholars,
and many voracious readers,
I eventually chose novels about
religious and secular Jews, about
the Holocaust and Israel, about
conversion and intermarriage,
about Jews who are proud to be
Jewish and about Jews who
aren’t exactly sure what being
Jewish means. And, for the record, I
included novels by West and Kafka, but
not Salinger. I imagine that not everyone
will agree with these choices. In fact, I
hope they won’t. That’s why I created a
companion website, www.AmericanJewishFiction.
com, where readers can let me
know what books and authors I neglected
and help me to build a more complete list.
We may never be able to agree, as Wirth-
Nesher suggests, on what exactly makes a
book Jewish. But by staking out positions and
arguing about them, we’ll develop richer and
more complex ideas about our literature, and
even, perhaps, about what “Jewish” means.
Josh Lambert (JL) is a doctoral candidate in English
literature at the University of Michigan, and the
author of American Jewish Fiction: A JPS Guide
(2009). He contributes regularly to the Forward,, and other publications, and his
website is Summer 5769/2009 Jewish Book World 13
That’s why I created a companion
where readers can let me know what books
and authors I neglected and help me to
build a more complete list.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Starting Book Club

Those of you that follow my blog know that I have had a hard time keeping Our book club, The 38th Ave. Diva Readers, going this year.The 38th Ave. I am not sure what is going to happen.

Now for some good news. Our new Jewish book club was formed this evening. Unfortunately, we forgot to name our selves. But that can be next time. Our first meeting was wonderful. We discussed Who By Fire By Diana Spechler.

I read this a second time around and appreciated it much more. The book is about a family of three siblings. The youngest sibling is kidnapped. Ellie asked Ash to watch his younger sister, Alena.

The husband eventually leaves the family. The whole family has emotional issues and baggage. They have guilt and blame toward each other and themselves.

Bits deals with the kidnapping by compulsively having sex. Ash deals with the kidnapping by becoming a Bal T'shuva( return Jew). Bits decides to take the plunge and move to Israel and live in a Yeshiva( house of study). The Ellie falls in love with Jonathan. Jonathan and Ellie work together to form a plan to get Ash out of the "cult" in Israel. Jonathan hires a young girl to lure Ash out of the Yeshiva.

Bits, flys to Israel to attempt to bring Ash back. Through all this the family has made several attempts to contact Ash. Ash has cut all contact with the family. Ellie, the mother informs Bits, that her sister's hairs were dug up and found. Bits plans to bring Ash back to the U.S. for the funeral. Ash doesn't want any part of it. Ash has religious searching to do. Ash leave the Yeshiva and meets a Chabad rabbi on the beach. The Rabbi talks him into returning to the states to help the family.

In time we find out that Jonathan is working with a young girl to get Ash out of the cult. There is something suspicious about Jonathan. He is conning Ellie for more money, and he has done this in the past. Jonathan keeps claiming that this kind of Jewish life is a cult. "We have to get him out"

Bits finds out from her aunt that there was not going to be a funeral after all. Her sister's body was never found. This was a story to make Ash come back to the states.

Ash does eventually come back to help take care of her sister. Bits finds out that Bits is pregnant. Ash is staying till he knows she can take care of herself, and the baby. He does plan to go back to Israel when he is no longer needed.

My reaction to the story is this is a dysfunctional family. They are all nuts. The family has a hard time communicating with one another and telling them the truth.
They seem to all want to rescue each other. The sister wants to rescue Ash. The mother wants to rescue Ash and Bits, Ash wants to rescue Bits. The whole family is full of guilt and blame.

I don't like the mother she seems to deal with the guilt by blaming both of the kids. Especially placing the blame on Bits for everything that her brother does. The brother has guilt because he was suppose to be watching Alena when she went out to play and she was kidnapped and never found. He becomes more observant to deal with his sister's kidnapping since this is the only way for him to deal with it. Both of the children live with the guilt that the mother puts on them every day.

I love character study and that is what this book was. It was not a straight narrative. It went back and forth to the characters. I just enjoyed reading this book becauses of this. Everyone was trying to rescue everyone and blame and shame.

Here is what happens when you try to rescue someone. You find out you are the one that needs the rescuing

On Yom Kippur, the most holiest day of the Jewish calendar. This is judgement day.
On Yom Kippur is will be sealed
How many shall pass away
How many shall be born
Who shall live and who will die
Who shall reach end of his days and who shall not.
Who shall perish by water and WHO BY FIRE

The book club reaction: None of them liked the book. The thought the story was totally bizarre. Which I tend to agree with them. When people say they hate the book they tend not to discuss and that makes not a very good meeting. I thought even though I did not particular like the story. I did like the character study. There was alot to discuss.

Administrative Notes:
We will be meeting four times a year. We will read Jewish books either with content or the author is Jewish. The person that decides on the book will be hostess. Even though it technically is not a Jewish book. But does take place in Europe during WW2. We decided on this one. We will be Monday, September 14th at 7PM.
We are going to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Friday, June 12, 2009

Holocaust Museum Shooting: Wednesday

On Wednesday morning, there was a fatal shooting of a security guard. The unfortunate events still say there is much hatred and denial of the holocaust. It is ironic that the holocaust museum was built to promote less hatred and tolerance of all peoples and cultures. Unfortunately it did not reach Vonn Brunn.

I decided not post his picture. I did not want to give him publicity for his actions. Instead I am giving the honor to the security guard, Stephen T. Johns. He was killed by the hand of Vonn Brunn

On Wednesday morning a security guard Johns was opening the door to the museum. A 88 yr.old man, Vonn Brunn walked in as the museu and shot a guard. The guard was rushed to the hospital unfortunately he died 2 hours later.

There was a note left in his car with much anti semitism sendiment. The biography of this man gives you a bad taste in your mouth. He was a soldier in WW2. He hold a bacholor of science degree in journalism. later on in the 80's he was arrested and sent to jail for his views and sentiments about the government and the holocaust.
It also has been said he was a leader in various groups of holocaust deniers and on the internet.

He does have a bachelor's degree in Journalism. What a waste he could have used his background in much better ways then hatred.

This is the exact reason why the museum was built to stop hatred and educate people to understand the diversity of all peoples. It just too bad that no one could help this man.

Hugo Schiller, a holocaust survivor. He is a member of my temple. Later in life he decided to educate people about the holocaust. He belives educating children. He tours around the area and talks about his experience in the holocaust.

A friend of mine, Joy Glunt( she has a pen name for the book) wrote a book about his life, I Remember Singing. The reason she told me that she wrote this book was to educate people. She hoped that if she reached one person to understand then she helped the world.

Mr. Schiller and Joy were invited just a week ago to the museum to speak about the book and a book signing. Perhaps they did reach someone at the book signing. Hopefully the book reached a young child that will make a difference.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Check Out Holocaust Museum in D. C,

If you live in the Washington D.C. area and and will be going to the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington this weekend. There will be a book signing, I Remember Singing, a children's biography about a holocaust survivor Hugo Schiller. His wife, Ellie will also be in attendance at the museum.

please support this wonderful children's book. It is a biography about a Holocaust survivor, Hugo Schiller. I don't want to blog to much more. That will be written at another time. I wanted to tell you about this book to spread the word. My friend self-published this book so any of you bloggers are reading this. You all know how hard it is to get recognized in mass book market. Can you imagine how hard it is being self published. You can also purchase it at

Product Description
"This I remember was very special about Hugo; he sang for the little ones to comfort them when they were scared and missing their families."Alice Resch Synnestvedt, Rescuer of Jewish children during the Holocaust. Hugo Schiller was seven years old when Hitler's Nazis dragged his father Oskar from their home in Grünsfeld, Germany and took him to the concentration camp Dachau. Two weeks later they brought him back without explanation, and forced him to sell Rosenbusch & Company, the family store. When Hugo's school principal informed him that he could no longer go to school because he was Jewish, Hugo's parents sent him to Offenbach, Germany to live with two aunts and go to school. The morning after he arrived home for vacation break, Hitler's uniformed Nazi troops came for the family, giving them one hour to pack a suitcase and leave. Hugo and his family were deported to Gurs, a refugee camp in the South of France where they were held behind barbed wire in intolerable living conditions and with scanty food. At the muddy Gurs camp near the Pyrenees Mountains, Hugo sang for bread for his Mother Selma and Aunt Hilda who were starving. One day cheerful Alice Resch drove into Camp de Gurs in a truck with a canvas flapping on the back. Working with the Quaker Refugee Relief agency, she had gained permission from the Vichy French Government to help feed the children. Soon after, she gained permission to take Hugo and the other children from Gurs to the children's home in Aspet. In Hugo's true story there is unspeakable loss but also great triumph on many levels. Hugo Schiller, child-hero, bravely survived the Holocaust by helping others. Today, he speaks about his experiences and about how to help make certain a Holocaust never happens again.

About the Author
"Today, I write because I want to help make certain that our world becomes a more humane and peaceful place for our children, grandchildren, families and friends," She said, "and to do that it is necessary to expose those elements that lead to Holocausts." Arielle Aaron writes children's books, poetry, and non-fiction, participates in the Grand Strand Creative Artists' Exhibit, and photographs Brookgreen Gardens. She has published poetry, non-fiction articles, a play, children's stories and a book for her sons titled: THINGS I MEANT TO TELL YOU...IF I DIDN'T. She earned her B.A. degree in English/Writing and Editing, a track in Speech Communications and completed studies for a concentration in Journalism at NC State University. In 1993, she won a Dewitt Wallace Fellowship to study graduate Literature at The Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College in Vermont; has completed coursework at the University of South Carolina; attended the Governor's School on Foreign Language at UNC Chapel Hill & Appalachian State University; and did graduate work at Campbell College at Buies Creek. She participated in the North Carolina Writing Project at UNC Wilmington, and participated as a Teacher-Scholar "Writing Children's Books" at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching. She recently re-organized the Hugo Schiller Holocaust Resource Center for teachers, and participates in "South Carolina Reads about the Holocaust." "In fourth grade--in a little country school--I wrote about Holocaust children. In my stories some of the children survived." She says. "Imagine my surprise upon meeting brave child-hero Hugo Schiller who did survive the Holocaust. The world is a better place because this good man survived."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hag Sameach

The holiday of Shavuot begins at sundown tonight. This is the holiday where we eat dairy. To read about the holiday go to Hag Semeach, everyone.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I stumbled across JBC blog and found a interesting article written about young Jewish authors. Check it out, it is a long article but it is interesting. I have to remember I am not young any longer. I have to ask my self who are they talking about.
The article is about Jewish writters, and is written in Vanity Fair. Check it out here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Holocaust Memorial Day

I am a little late by a few days. I don't know how I forgot this important day in Jewish history. I am added my take on the day, by a few days. When I used to live in Miami Beach I would visit this beautiful and agonizing museum. I would have mixed emotions. The Arm sticking up from the ground, with the tattoo with the prison numbers. If you have not been to this outer museum you can view it online. The museum is in Miami Beach. In the outside there are statues of children and adults free form. It has real emotions attached to the sculpture. WE MUST NEVER FORGET!!

In all of this, Hugo Schiller is a holocaust survivor. He is a congregant in our temple. He goes to different schools talking about the experience in the holocaust in France. He's entire immediate family perished in Auschwitz.

Miraculously he has a different out look about the holocaust. He lives each day without a frown on his face.

He and his family lived in Germany. But the Germans came and took him and his family to the camps. He was sent to Vichy, France. He was taken care of a woman named Alice. It was awhile before he got out. He was able to get to N.Y.C.

I did make a small contribution to spread the word about the holocaust. I had spoken to my professor about Hugo. Hugo will be a guest speaker talking about the holocaust for a future program next year. The college never knew there was anyone that experience the holocaust in the area. I have a hard time believing this. Hugo has been here since the 1960's. But at least it will be a program now.

It would have been nice if they were able to have a program for Holocaust Remembrance Day but it was too late to develop a program. Maybe it is something the college will think of in the future.

Now, I would like to tell you about a special lady. Her name is Eleanor Schiller. She is the wife of Hugo. She is a dedicated history teacher at the Chabad School in Myrtle Beach, SC. Both Hugo and Ellie try to keep a kosher home and a religious life as possible. They are not not strict but they try the best they can to be faithful Jews. Which is very hard in S.C.

Ellie has developed a Holocaust Resource Center. With many books on the subject.
She also developed a Holocaust Resource and Library Center in our temple. She is hoping that it can be moved to the University at CCU in Conway. Until that happens it will stay put at Temple Emanu-El in Myrtle Beach.

She also made the "Butterfly Project" a few years ago. This is where all the children wanted to know how many is 6,000,000 Jews. Ellie came up with the project instead of the numeral. Lets actually make something that is actually tangible. They did not reach the number but the children can now understand that 6,000,000 is just too many to have to perish.

This week is going to be a hard week. I am taking a history class. Our subject this week is on the holocaust and the Nuremberg Trial. It is one thing for our Rabbi to talk about it at temple. But a totally different matter when other people talk about it with authority. They are not holocaust survivors, they are not Jewish so how would they know. I know this sounds stupid but I feel that because the holocaust is a jewish matter. Only Jewish people should talk about it. My history teacher does not know about the Jewish experience.

Last semester I was in his Western Civilization Class. He brought up a few things I don't agree with. Me talking about the holocaust made me feel very self conscious and drew attention to myself. That is one thing you do not do in the bible belt.

One thing my instructor says he doesn't have any proof. But he suspects that--get this-- that hitler never knew about the crematoriums. He says there were so many different committees it is possible that Hitler was kept int the dark about this.
I have a hard time with this.

The other thing is when he was announcing the numbers of people killed in the holocaust. That it was not a Jewish experience. There were many others that were killed. Even people that did not like jazz music. This made the holocaust not a Jewish experience. But many different kinds of people killed. This makes the holocaust not a Jewish experience, and not unique among Jews.

All my life I have been told the holocaust happened with 6 million Jews.
Now the instructor, is saying just as many other people in German and European society were killed. Then the students in the class opened up and said in unison with the instructor that Jews were not the only ones targeted. Which I know that the insane and gay members of society. But Jews were still targeted. I would like to see the statistics to find out where he recieved this information.

I am going to check out the statistics out to see if this is true.

I love this saying this is very true.

"First they came for the Communists but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out; Then they came for the Socialists and Trade Unionists but I was not one of them, so I did not speak out.

Then they came for the Jews but I was not Jewish, so I did not Speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me."

Martin Niemoller 1892 - 1948

Monday, April 20, 2009

All These Books!!

These are all Jewish books I recieved in the mail this week:
The Jewish Body by Melvin Konner
Maimonides by Sherwin B. Nuland
The Life of David by Robert Pinsky
How to Raise a Jewish Child by Anita Diamant

Thank you Schocken Books for all these books.

From various Jewish authors:
Pictures at an Exhibition by Sara Houghteling
Sonata For Miriam by Linda Olsson
The Jewel Trader of Pegu by Jeffrey Hantover
Matrimony by Joshua Henkin
The Last Testament by Sam Bourne

I don't know if the above books are from Jewish authors or not. But it is based on Jewish characters and a piece of Jewish history. I can tell you that Joshua Henkin is a Jewish author. One of the characters in Matrimony is Jewish.

This question has always been asked and no one seems to have the same answers.
What makes a Jewish book? the content, the author has to be Jewish? or Jewish history? Any one up for the great debate?S

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Check Out My Other Blog

You can visit me at my other blog to see what plans I have for our book club for May.
Our book Club we will be reading My Father's Paradise. It is our book club's 4th birthday. I have plans to celebrate. Our book club is all Jewish Women. We read all kinds of books. Usually I blog about our book club on the other blog because most of the time it doesn't have references to Jewish books. But since this book is Jewish I thought to post it on both blogs this time.

In My Father's Paradise, father and son travel to today's war-torn Iraq in a quest to rediscover a forgotten land. As Ariel retraces his father's footsteps, he brings to life the eccentric characters, extraordinary determination, and fascinating historical odyssey of the Kurdish Jews.

In the early 1950s, young Yona and his family were part of the mass exodus of 120,000 Jews from Iraq –– one of the largest peacetime airlifts in history. In Israel, Kurdish Jews struggled against bigotry and poverty, watching helplessly as their ancient culture and language slipped into oblivion. As Yona worked his way through night school in Jerusalem and then, against all odds, to Yale University, he devoted himself to the rescue of his people's vanishing traditions. Now an esteemed professor of Near Eastern languages at UCLA, Yona is one of the world's most sought-after experts on Aramaic.

In retelling his father's story, Ariel Sabar finds his own. This deeply moving, vividly told history reads like a novel of biblical proportions. My Father's Paradise is a stirring tale of hope and redemption in an Iraq very different from the one in the headlines today.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hag Semeach

Pesech starts tomorrow at sundown, our first seder. I would like to wish all my Jewish readers a happy holiday. Nwxt year in Jerusalem. Ma-nish-tana-ha lela ha zey.
Why is this night different from other nights. This is from the Hagaddah. If you are interested in knowing a bit more information on the holiday of Pesach you can visit my links on my blog.

On another note, I was invited to go to a friends house for her seder. But I came down with a cold. I feel bad for my son, David. So, even though I am sick I am now going to start making a seder, a last minute job. Those of you who observe the holiday know how labor intensive it is. The menu consists of Brisket, Chicken Soup (oh, yes we can't forget the matzoh balls). I was raised on hard matzah balls. There has been a discussion around friends. My Bubbe either made footballs or softballs(soft or hard). I prefer them chewy. So that is what I will make. My son, David likes it that way. Of course Sponge Cake for dessert. We cannot forget that.

I decided not to go to school tomorrow. But to prepare the holiday. I am not feeling well anyway so it will give me time to rest. Luckily, it is just David and myself so I don't have to set the table for more than 2 people.

Again Hag Ha Matzah.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mazel Tov, To The Winners

The Jewih Book Council has announced this year's winner of the $100,000 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. Also listed is the finalists.

Mazel Tov to the winners and finalists.

I have not read One More Story. But I did read September of Shiraz last year. I can't recall the whole story. But I do remember it takes place in Iran. The anti-semitism,and fear of being found out you were Jewish. Ffrom the author's perspective of course.

The author based this on some of the stories of her family living there.
I would recommend this book highly. I do want to pick up One More Story soon.

On another note Dara horn's new book has been published and due to come out this week. Her book is called" All Other Nights" You can read about her book on a previous post. All her books have a mystical-Jewish yiddishkeit tie to history. I am sure there one will too.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Just Published: All Other Nights

Dara Horn All Other Nights,published by W.W. Norton Publishing. She has written In The Image, and The World To Come. Her two previous novels,first. In Her Image received a 2003 National Jewish Book Award, and the 2003 Reform Judaism Fiction Prize. Her second novel, The World to Come, published by W.W. Norton in January 2006, received the 2006 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, the 2007 Harold U. Ribalow Prize, this award is given by the Jewish organization, Hadassah.
She was selected as an Editor's Choice in The New York Times Book Review.

For the Jewish people every year we open our Haggaddah at the Seder table. Why is this night different from all other nights?, the youngest child asks. We will be opening our Haggadot on April 7th, Wednesday at sun down. The Haggadot is to re-read the history of when the Jewish people were in bondage in Egypt.

All Other Nights, I have not read yet. But it is related in some way to the south and the Civil War. I became very excited because there are not many books written in the Civil War about Jews.

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy and I will be posting soon hopefully during Passover. I am assuming it has something to do with the holiday.
All her books have some metaphorical significance, and symbolism. That is why I am excited to read this as soon as I receive a copy. Thank you Amy and Erica.

This was copied from Dara Horn's website:

How is tonight different from all other nights? For Jacob Rappaport, a Jewish soldier in the Union army during the Civil War, it is a question his commanders have already answered for him -- on Passover, 1862, he is ordered to murder his own uncle in New Orleans, who is plotting to assassinate President Lincoln. After this harrowing mission, Jacob is recruited to pursue another enemy agent, the daughter of a Virginia family friend. But this time, his assignment isn’t to murder the spy, but to marry her. Their marriage, with its riveting and horrifying consequences, reveals the deep divisions that still haunt American life today.

Based on real personalities like Judah Benjamin, the Confederacy’s Jewish Secretary of State and spymaster, and on historical facts and events ranging from an African-American spy network to the dramatic self-destruction of the city of Richmond, All Other Nights is a gripping and suspenseful story of men and women driven to the extreme limits of loyalty and betrayal. It is also a brilliant parable of the rift in America that lingers a century and a half later: between those who value family and tradition first, and those dedicated, at any cost, to social and racial justice for all.

The author's website has a wealth of information. This would be a great book for the Jewish Book Challenge I am participating in. Thank you again Amy.

I usually don't post questions on my blog. I love the idea of American History intertwined from the Jewish bible. Not sure how it will play out, but like the story line. Forgive my enthusiasm. Have you ever felt the enthusiasm for a book. Was the book what you expected? Or were your expectations too high? What was the last book you felt like this to?

Questions | Also by this Author

Discussion Questions

1. The title of this novel, All Other Nights, is in the author’s view also a question: Are we the same people from one night to the next? If not, how are we accountable for our actions in the past? And if so, how is it possible to change?
2. Jacob is twice presented with opportunities to potentially save President Lincoln’s life, each time at great personal cost. Does he do the right thing?
3. How do the themes of escape and freedom from bondage (as celebrated in the Passover feast) play out in the book?
4. What is the role of deception in the novel? What are the different motivations for deception, and can any of them be good? What are the consequences, both for the deceiver and for the deceived?
5. Palindromes have a playful role in the book among the spy sisters’ secret codes, but do they also play a serious one? Many events in the book are repeated (an encounter in a cemetery, a prisoner’s unexpected release, a choice regarding a spouse), but with different outcomes. Is there a way in which the book itself can be read as a palindrome? What might this pattern suggest about the characters’ control over their circumstances?
6. Theater and performance come up many times in the novel—including Jeannie’s stage acts, Edwin Booth’s portrayal of Brutus in Julius Caesar, and Jacob’s role as a secret agent. There is also an element of performance in Judah Benjamin’s detachment and courier John Surratt’s swagger, among many other characters. Are there any characters in the book whose motivations are completely pure? What is the price of honesty for the people in this novel? Is it possible to be true to oneself when one is forced to choose a side?
7. Slavery plays an important thematic role in the novel, both explicitly in the circumstances of African Americans at the time of the Civil War as well as in other forms of interpersonal exploitation. How are people bought and sold in the book, and what form does freedom take?
8. Relationships between parents and children are pivotal to the story in All Other Nights, particularly for the fathers of Jacob and Jeannie. What do these two fathers—one an immigrant and the other the son of one—reveal about their priorities and dreams for their children? [not sure what the last part of this meant – how can there be “levels” of devotion? Seems more rhetorical than an actual question….]
9. What is ultimately more important in this novel: family values or a search for self?
10. The author has suggested that historical fiction tends to address the time in which it is written much more than it addresses the past. Do you see parallels between the conflicts presented in this book and conflicts in American life today? How would you describe them? Which side are you on, and can you say anything good about the other side?
11. What makes someone an American in this novel? Is it birth? Ancestry? Ownership of property? Personal freedoms? The respect of others? What is patriotism for these characters?
12. Where do Jacob’s loyalties lie, and is it possible to rank them in order? Where are your own deepest loyalties? Is there a difference between your loyalties as an individual and your loyalties as a member of an ethnic, religious, regional, national, or other kind of group? What do you do when they clash?
13. What do you think most deserves our personal loyalty? Our collective loyalty?
14. What does it mean to be able to say no?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Maggie Anton Stopped By!!!

I am thrilled that Maggie Anton, author of Rashi's Daughter stopped by my blog.
The book is historical fiction based on as the title say's, Rashi( a famous rabbi in France). During that time women were seen and not heard. But luckily, there were still men that believed women did have a brain. To find out more check out Maggie's website and her books about Rashi's daughter. She has written two in the series. I believe she will be writing another.

Our book club read this book a few years ago. Rabbi Debbie had alot to mention about the talmud. This was very insightful when we were discussing the book.

I reccommend this book if you are interested in this time period.

Friday, March 20, 2009

People Of The Book

It flew right by me I did not review People Of The Book.

I liked the premise of the book that goes from present time, when we meet Hannah, a Australian. How about that Geraldine Brooks, is Australian as well. She has written a few books. The author has won a Pultizer prize for March. The author tends to write fiction based on the past.

I really loved the book in the beginning perhaps because it was based on Jewish History. I don't know anything about Medieval Jewish history, only about famous rabbis. Another book I read based on Jewish historical fiction was Rashi's daughter by Maggie Anton. If you want to read a book on French Medieval history I do recommend this book.

I really loved the idea of the book being found. Each piece of evidence a hair, feather, wine stain etc is a mystery how it got in the book. Examined by museum curator, Hannah. Each of these pieces had a mystery how it got in the book as explained by Hannah, the museum curator.

It took you back in time to explain how they got in the book. From the present time, to 1940's to 1890's to 1400's.

I may have liked this book because I have found many articles about the Sarvejo Haggadah and the history in the 1990's in Bosnia very fascinating. There was a story that Senator Lieberman was suppose to come to the Seder when they would show the world the lost Haggadah, but unfortunately he was not able to make it. There is true facts about the Haggadah in Bosnia during the 1940's and how it escaped "death".

I like the symbolism in the book that Hannah was learning about her own history with her mother, at the same time she was learning history of the book.

I did not like the end of the story though. It seemed like it was far fetched and the author wanted to make the story have a interesting ending. It was a downer. The part when Hannah figures out something is amiss that is when the story felt like it went down hill.

For your information there is much on the internet about the Sarvejo Haggadah, google and you will find loads of resources. Including if you go to the author's website.

Our own congregant, that is a rabbi, but not in our shul explained the history of the Haggadah and did loads of research to prepare for our sisterhood meeting had lots to share.

Sorry about the delay in posting.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Little Red Book

In honor of National Women's Month I have review and posted my thoughts on
" My Little Red Book". It is written by women of all ages about getting their first periods. There are stories written by one woman during the holocaust. If you would visit me here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Books I received this week:
Tight Rope by Michael Karpin
Rowing Lessons by Anne Landsman
Rowing Lesson is up for a award by Jewish Book Council
If you would like to visit my other blog and see what else I received go to
Seaside Bookworm

Thank you Marcia for hosting Mailbox Monday.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Our Rabbi: The True Facts about Israel

This article was written by our Rabbi Avi it was published in the Sun News of Myrle Beach, SC on Febuary 9th, 2009.

Hamas follows ideology of violence, hate

By Rabbi Avi Perets

I read "Israel creates its own problem with Hamas," [Shane Watson letter], which appeared on The Readers' Page Jan. 27, and I was amazed to see so many inaccuracies, one-sided facts and misunderstandings of Hamas. The author of this essay pictured Hamas as a legitimate organization that helped and improved the quality of life of the Palestinians, when in fact Hamas is an extreme terrorist group that stood in the way of any chance for peace in that area. Hamas tortured and killed many Palestinians that opposed its militant and destructive ways, including members of the Palestinian Authority who rule the West Bank. Israel evacuated Gaza two years ago, giving the Palestinians 100 percent of their territories, with a hope that afterward, the terrorist attacks and missile strikes would stop. In reality the opposite happened. Hamas increased its attacks on Israel with daily missile strikes on civilians. Israel retaliated by temporarily closing the border entries to Gaza, which resulted in a shortage of goods and more suffering to the people of Gaza.

When Israel tried to reopen the entries to Gaza, Hamas terrorists bombed them again and again, causing the borders to be closed off again. This vicious cycle of violence repeated itself many times, and Hamas, who disregarded the misery of the Palestinians, is to blame for that. Hamas is motivated by anti-Semitic and fanatic ideology, which does not recognize Israel's right to exist. A simple reading of the Hamas charter reveals the true nature of their ideology, which is anti-Jews, anti-Christians (whom they call infidels) and anti-western. They receive their funding from Iran, and they promote global Jihad with their colleagues from Al-Qaeda.

I happened to be in Israel for a visit with my wife and children when the recent war with Hamas started. We stayed in the city of Ashdod, which is about 15 miles north of Gaza. We experienced firsthand the suffering and misery of the Israeli citizens who reside in the south part of Israel. The Hamas terrorist organization was launching their missiles indiscriminately and aiming at large cities and their civilian populations in Israel. As a result, they were killing and injuring innocent citizens.

In the city of Ashdod, where we stayed, we heard the missiles as they exploded nearby, hitting a kindergarten, school, residential building and other civilian targets. There were 1 million Israeli citizens affected by these terror attacks. Many businesses had to shut down, and the schools were closed for four weeks. At first, Israel and Egypt (yes, even Egypt realized that Israel has a right to defend itself) just warned Hamas to stop these missile attacks, but to no avail. Hamas knew that Israel would hesitate to destroy the missile-launching sites because they were in schools, mosques and other heavily populated locations. Finally, after a week of hundreds of missile attacks, Israel used its military forces in order to put a stop to these unbearable conditions. Let us also remember that if the Arabs had accepted the U.N. partition of Palestine into two states in 1947, the "Two State Solution" would have been a reality from the very beginning; but instead, seven Arab nations attacked the newborn state of Israel with the intent of annihilating the nation.

No other country in the world would tolerate the existence of a terrorist country as their neighbor. Not only are they calling for the annihilation of the state of Israel, but they are also actively performing acts of terror. We should salute Israel for standing in the frontline and defending the democratic values of the modern world.
The writer is the rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Myrtle Beach.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Defience- Movie Review

The movie Defiance with Liev Shriebner, and Daniel Craig.

The story is based on a true story, based on a book. I remember seeing this book at least 15 yrs. ago in Barnes and Noble but I did not pick it up. After Schindler's list I wanted to read anything and everything about the Holocaust.

This movie is a very different kind of movie about the Jews during the Shoah. This time they fight back. The reason I felt this was different was, every movie that takes place during the holocaust either is the passivity of the Jews, about the awful sad atrocities that happened during that time. Or the elderly, that were survivors tell the true facts, and flashbacks. It is the first time I have seen anyone do something to fight back.

Finally Jews that fight back!!

It is about Defiance, the two older brothers both become defiant with each other. The become Partisans in the forest after their parents are killed and they find out the fate of their wives. They both have to make a choice. One of the brothers wants to avenge the deaths of the Jews by the Germans, the other brother feels that life is precious. every life you save you are responsible for, it is survival. He feels saving a old woman's life is more important than killing ten Nazi's. It is interesting how all of the Jews that are saved are in the forest and how they become a community. It is interesting how they deal with survival and the making of their own society during the duration of the war. The brother's fight to decide how this will play out either as avenging the Germans or just to survive. One of the brother's decides he wants to fight side by side with the Russians. The other just wants to live each day and survive.

My favorite quote
One day of freedom is another day of faith

You can read a review from The New York Times here
Imagination Designs
Images from the Glamor Amour by Irene Alexeeva