Monday, April 30, 2012

Book Club Discussion: Jerusalem Maiden

This is the second time our new book club met. Right now, we don't have a name, hence The No Name Book Club.

Our second meeting we discussed the book, Jerusalem Maiden by Talia Carner. 
I read the novel, Jerusalem Maiden when it first came out last summer.  I have to say, I did not enjoy it as much as this time. Perhaps it was because I was reviewing the novel at the time.  This time, I was reading it for pleasure.

The No Name Book Club discussed the history of pre-Israel during the Ottoman Empire.  Most Jews that lived in Palestine before 1948, lived there for centuries, among the Arabs. Most Jews and Arabs did not get along with each other, just like it is now in 2012.
We discussed the Jewish communities in Palestine. The Ultra Orthodox community in Palestine, is very different for the Jewish community in America.

 The Jewish community, Esther was living in was very strict. It is a commandmant thou shalt not make a image. But, in the Chabad community, in the United States,  they are allowed pleasure of singing, and drawing, it is a actual commandment.  One of our book club members is a  reliable source, she is a member of the Chabad community.

Also, what happens when a wife can't conceive a child. I always thought the Rabbi, from the community tells the husband to divorce he's wife.  I found out it has to be mutual. Both husband and wife have to want the (GET)diivorce. It is interesting that the last rabbi of Chabad and he's wife did not have children. It turns out it is a personal thing mainly from the husband.
                        What they make up in the movies.  INTERESTING!!!

We discussed: Would any mother leave her children for a length of time to her sister, to take care of? I don't think so. I was upset that she left her children. She was jealous of Hannah, the children wanted her rather than her mother. It was a novelty that Hannah was there, after awhile they would get bored with her. Come on she was acting like a child.  She just picked up and left and went to Paris.

The other thing, was everything to Esther was guilt. She felt so guilty for every thing. She told her self when something happened, was it coincidence? or g-ds will? Each time when something terrible happened, it was g-ds wrath. 

We talked about some of the artists crazy antics. Would a artist rip up their artwork? Many artists worked for years to create and then they would destroy it as easy. Look at Picasso, Van Gogh, they were very eccentric.

 Females were treated terribly in the middle east. You had to do what men told you or suffer the consequences.  Look at her friend Ruthi, she committed suicide, because of her husband would beat her.   Compared to Esther, Nathan was a good man. He treated her like gold.  Ruthi was not so lucky. 

I was about 20 minutes late, and this caused a problem with the book club discussion. It made the book club go off kilter.  I would have liked to discuss, the relationship of her friend, and the ending of what happened to Esther. I was a bit confused.

These are the books we are discussing soon:
Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik
Dovekeeper by Alice Hoffman
G-ds of Alabama by Josilyn Jackson
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Thursday, April 19, 2012

World Book Night 2012

World Book Night starts Monday night. I am very excited.
I am a book blogger, and love to read and share my reviews on books.
Being a book giver on WBN is a dream come true. Giving away 20 books. 

It is also Tzedakah which makes it  even better.  There are no hooks, or deals. You just get a nice new copy of a book.

  I have read, and enjoyed reading, Namesake.  I received 20 copies of Namesake to pass on to my recipients.

The only stimulation that I have and the World Book Night organizers have.  You have to be a light reader, without the time to go to the library in your busy life. Or don't have the finances to get to the library.

When you finish reading, we hope this will get you to go back to a library to get a library card and take out a book.  In turn in your busy life, reading will become a part of your life. Sharing books with others, and talk about the books.  Would this be funny, it may turn you into a book blogger like me. Or even join a book club.  We hope that you will pass on your copy of the novel, Namesake to someone else, and turn your children, or friends or family to reading.  That would be something else.

We hope that you enjoyed it so much that you will pass it on to share your love of reading to someone else, and take the time in your day to read another book.

If you live in the Myrtle Beach area stop on by on Monday evening and if you are a light reader I will give you a copy.  Or just say, hi!!!

The House of Tyneford: Book Review

The House of Tyneford
By Natasha Solomons

I enjoyed reading The House of Tyneford. It was Dowton Abbey meets Upstairs Downstairs.
It took me 100 pages to get into the characters. I still enjoyed reading The House of Tyneford. I loved the characters, and the landscapes, and the description of the setting.  The writing was beautiful, and written  beautifully. I don't read romance, even though this is considered literary fiction, there is romance.  I don't usually read these kinds of novels. With that said I enjoyed reading.

Elise Landau and her family are Jewish, and living in Vienna. The parents, Julian and Anna raise the children in a bohemian lifestyle. Rich with the maids wiping their tousch even.  Julian is a writer, and Anna is a singer.  Both of them are both established and mingling with the rich, even if they are Jewish.

Their youngest daughter Elise, will be sent to Tyneford to be a maid in England. The rest of the family will leave for the United States.  The family was not able to get a visa in time, they are able to find a sponsor in England. The catch she has to work as a domestic servant.

When Elise first arrives, she encounters isolation and being very lonely. She can't identify with the help. She was raised in a very wealthy family. Then to work as a servant cleaning the bathrooms, and attending the every need and wants of the master is very different.

Tyneford is a manor surrounded by the ocean, isolated by everything. The lord of the house Mr. Rivers has many employed by him. He's son Kit is very mischievous. He causes many problems for Elise. But eventually they fall in love, and are engaged.

I enjoyed reading the novel. The House of Tyneford was descriptive, but not overly that it became dull. I enjoyed the characters especially reading about Kit. He was a trip.

 I did have a problem the entire book Elise referred  to her parents by their first name. I had a problem with this at first until I realized who was Julian and Anna. 
What is interesting how the book was set up. In Europe Hitler and the Nazi party was trying to kill all Jewish culture. There were many Jews that were writers, singers, opera, ballet, and the arts of Europe.  Hitler at the time attempting to stop all culture. There were many Jews in that circle. He murdered many people that were artists. If anyone was caught with artwork of a Jew, they were killed, the artwork was confiscated and destroyed. Luckily some of it was hidden, and surfaced later after the Nazi party was destroyed.

 I enjoyed reading about the house, the house to me was character. I could see the house, and the beautiful landscapes. I could visualize the ocean spray hitting the rocks below. I could smell the ocean breezes.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

With Pesach Approaching-Guest Post Jean Naggar

I can't believe Pesach is almost upon us, within the next few days, we should be done with our Passover cleaning, disposing all our food items and replacing it with pesach items.  We will be feasting on mouth watering food items.
Preparing our Pesach Seder. I can't wait for the Brisket, it is already watering in my mouth, and then of course Matzah Ball Soup... YUMMY!!!

Something about this holiday gets me in the mood to clean, clean, and clean.... Talking about Pesach( Passover). I wanted to tell you about a memoir that I have been hearing a lot about.  The book is called Sipping From The Nile by Jean Naggar.

I am very honored to have Jean Naggar, the author of Sipping From the Nile join us on my blog tonight.

Jean Naggar was born in Alexandria, Egypt. She grew up in Cairo, moving to England, and then New York City, where she currently resides. She is the founder of the prominent Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc. Her work has been published in the New York Times, the Village Voice and Publishers Weekly. She is the mother of three adult children and grandmother of seven. Now, she is at last exploring her childhood dreams: to write.  She has just published her memoir, Sipping Through the Nile.
Born into a prominent, sophisticated Jewish family who spend time in Europe and live in the Middle East, author Jean Naggar’s coming of age memoir tells the story of her protected youth in an exotic multicultural milieu. To Naggar her childhood seemed a magical time that would never come to an end. But in 1956, Egyptian President Nasser’s nationalizing of the Suez Canal set in motion events that would change her life forever.
An enchanted way of life suddenly ended by multinational hostilities, her close-knit extended family is soon scattered far and wide. Naggar’s own family moves to London where she finishes her schooling and is swept into adulthood and the challenge of new horizons in America.

Speaking for a different wave of immigrants whose Sephardic origins highlight the American Jewish story through an unfamiliar lens, Naggar traces her personal journey through lost worlds and difficult transitions, exotic locales and strong family values. The story resonates for all in this poignant exploration of the innocence of childhood in a world breaking apart.

I have a special surprise, you have a chance to win a copy of Sipping From the Nile, but you must read my blog post through its entirety.

                                SEDER NIGHT in Egypt, 1957

  The preparations for Passover went on for days as they had done for years in our large echoing house in Cairo. Carpets were marched out to the lawn outside the dining room window and beaten with flat bamboo beaters to eliminate the last crumb. My aunt Helen wielded her cane and her stentorian tones, berated the butcher, raided the store cupboard to make our traditional family haroseth, pounding nuts relentlessly into powder with mortar and pestle. We scoured our upstairs nursery rooms, emptying every closet, dusting every book and toy, knowing our rooms would have to pass our mother's eagle-eyed inspection.

 The cook and his kitchen moved to the basement kitchen, used only for the week of Passover, and the Passover dishes emerged from hiding to grace a beautiful table groaning with ornaments and flowers, candles flickering in branched silver candlesticks on a richly embroidered white cloth.

Haggadoth waited at each place setting and wine glasses glittered, filled with the ruby glow of the first cup of wine of the evening. Family and guests came into the dining room, chatting and laughing, rustling festive clothes as we took our places at the table. We children looked to the head of the table, where my father, the blue velvet kippah that my mother had embroidered, on his head, moved to open the Haggadah he had been using since his boyhood.

 Making sure that we were all comfortably settled in our seats, my father took his place at the head of the long table, crystal glimmering and dancing under the chandeliers; the roasted shoulder of lamb gleaming, the bitter herbs, the brown hamin eggs, everything in its accustomed place.

  His expression serious, my father waited for the chatter to die down, lifted his glass, and began reciting the order of the service that we always sang to the tune of the Egyptian national anthem.

    Then, it was time for the manishtana, the traditional questions asked by the youngest person at the table. My sister Susan, nine years old, began to read. A sudden silence fell as the words sank in. “Why is this night different from all other nights?” she asked. Why, indeed.

 We all knew the answer. Immobile, we registered the irony clamped down like a dark shadow in the large room, as everyone reflected on this particular night, this particular seder we were celebrating in Egypt, anticipating our own imminent exodus.

  Not only were we commemorating the night when Pharoah expelled the Jews from Egypt and sent them into the desert. For us, as for other Jews still in Egypt, this would be the last seder in the land of our ancestors. This was the last seder we would ever celebrate in the house my grandfather built.

  We, too, must prepare for Exodus. This night, we celebrated the freedom of our ancestors from the tyranny of slavery, knowing that we ourselves were about to be dispossessed and exiled by a modern tyrant, once again ridding Egypt of its Jews. There would be no manna in this desert, just the need to reinvent ourselves once again, in new worlds.

  No-one said a word. The chilling moment slid past. We drank wine, we read the story we all knew so well, we sang the songs we had always sung. The seder continued. 

  Next year, we would be scattered around the world. This night was different from all other nights. This seder was different from all seders past, and to come. Egypt was our past and our present, but it would not be our future.

                                          Next year, it would continue somewhere else........

My book review will come soon, I have been hearing this is a raves about this memoir.

You have a three chances to win a copy of Jean Naggar's memoir, Sipping From the Nile. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post about your last memorable seder,  with your email address so I can contact you. The book giveaway starts now, and will end next Friday. I will contact you by April 16th.

Fighting For Abby Dorn's Rights

Abby Dorn, is the daughter of Susan and Paul Cohen. I met Susan from joining Temple Emanu-el, about 10 years ago.
Susan and Paul had had their trials and tribulations since I met both of them. Before their daughter's preganancy, their house burned to the ground.
Susan and I were in adult Bat-Mitzvah classes together as well. Her faith has never waivered about the healing of her daughter. She has great faith in g-d, and her daughter's recovery. Susan is the kindest and most compassionate person I know.

In 2006, Susan found out her daughter Abby Dorn, was pregnant. She had tried to get pregnant several times.  This time the pregnancy took, but it was a high risk. She was restricted to bed rest. Both Paul, and Susan were happy with the news.
Then in June, I still remember this day clearly. We were going to the movies.
She received a phone call. That Abby was having contractions. No reason to panic at that time. As I recall Susan flew out that day, to LA.

 Back here, in SC we did not know the bad news for a few days.  Something went wrong, between Abbey's doctor, from Ceders-Sinai Medical Center in California.  A complication arouse while giving birth.  Abby had a blood clot to her brain that caused a stroke, with paralysis.
 The delivery with the babies(triplets) was uneventful.

Susan, and Paul( a medical doctor), decided to move from SC, to LA and to help out. Not knowing Dan, would divorce Abby eventually. Dan and Abby are observant Jews. Dan, as the talmud says, can divorce Abby because she can no longer have children, and can't live as observant Jewish wife.
Susan and Paul were living in California, separate from Dan, their son-in-law, in another part of town. Susan would take up her days to make sure that Abby was getting the care she needed( therapy).

Eventually, the family moved back to Myrtle Beach( Susan, Paul, and Abby), without the children. Unfortunately, Dan was fighting a legal battle for the children, and support. Which is still in the courts as we speak.

 Her house has special equipment that was put in the house before the family moved back. Abbey has two aides to take care of her 24 hours a day. Abbey, is lucky to have parents, like Paul and Susan. Abbey is very lucky to have a very caring, dedicated mother with lots of chutzpah. When it gets tough, Susan doesn't quit.  She keeps on fighting for her daughter
Dan, Abbey's ex-husband's lawyer, believes that Abbey doesn't have any rights to the children, because of her disability. That no one has right to children if she has a disability, or a low IQ. There is something wrong with this picture.

For the first time, her children came to SC to see her, in Myrtle Beach, SC. A article was written in the LA Times this morning. Here is the link. Please let everyone know on your email list, social networks, friends at work, etc. Also you may check out here on the news.

I wrote the on my blog draft about a year ago. The update is that Susan and Paul won the case for their daughter Abby. Abby did spend time with her children last year.  If you want to hear more about Abby, check out Susan's fb page on, Stand Up For Abby Dorn.
Sarah's Key, the movie was adapted by the novel from the same name. I was not sure what to expect. All I knew was it happened in France during WW2. Our book club read and discussed the book. Unfortunately, I never read it, I was busy with school.

This is not a straight narrative. I now understand why other people beside Jews want to see this movie. It is a mystery of what happens to Sarah and her brother.
The movie, is about a family rounded up in France. Which is true. Not, German but the French government rounded up Jews and held them in a colosium to be transported to work camps. Sara convinces her mother to let her brother stay in a closet and not come out till they come back. Sara thought she was doing the right thing, not realizing they would not be back for weeks, or months even. Sara escapes with another fellow prisoner to go back and get her brother from the closet.
Her friend and her are taken in by a husband and wife. Unfortunately, her friend dies of diptheria.
Sara goes back to the apartment where her brother was hidden.The family that lives there lets her in with hesitation. What she finds in the closet will tear her up for the rest of her life.
Then the story goes forward to present time. A journalist finds out about the little piece of french history, that has been hidden. She digs more into the story. She finds out that by coincidence her husband's family were the tenants that were in the apartment. She feels so guilty about this. Because she and her husband are renovated the apartment to live there.
The journalist keeps digging to find out what happened to Sara afterward. You will have to see the movie to see the conclusion.

My thoughts of the movie, I enjoyed it. I would sell it as a mystery, not a holocaust movie. The way most holocaust movies are done, this was not typical.
If you are looking to see a new bit of holocaust history fused with mystery, then I would recommend it.

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