Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Enchantress by Maggie Anton

By Maggie Anton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rosh Hodesh Group of the Grand Strand

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

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

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

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

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

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

You also can visit them on their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rosh-Chodesh-Society-of-Myrtle-Beach/865323760165326

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Aleppo Codex: Book Review

The Aleppo Codex
Matti Friedman
Complimentary copy from
Algonquin Publishing

The Jewish Grand Strand Reads and Rabbi Avi adult education class are meeting together to discuss,

The Aleppo Codex, by Matti Friedman on November 5th at Temple Emanu-El at 2 PM, everyone is welcome and there is no charge. 

I will give you a update of the Jewish Grand Strand Reads after the event. 

It is very interesting that we are reading Aleppo Codex. The Aleppo Codex was written to keep the Jewish community together after the destruction of the Jewish temple. Interesting that we, the entire Jewish community of Myrtle Beach are also reading the same book, but not the actual Aleppo Codex. 

The Aleppo Codex, known as the, "Crown of Aleppo",  is a very important book for the Jewish community.   More important than the Dead Sea Scrolls.  

We go to synagogue on Saturday morning. The weekly ritual is on Saturday, the Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark. It must be read perfectly without any mistakes.  This is very different from any other religion. They can't be any mistakes, if there are there are two men that witness and correct your spelling, and chanting of the vowels, etc. The codex makes sure you make no mistakes. 

 The codex is the book instead of the Torah scrolls. This is what keeps the Jewish community together. 

In 70 A.D, The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. There wasn't anything to keep the Jewish people together. They were exiled, and then the Jews traveled to different locations to settle permanently, called the diaspora.

 There wasn't anything that kept the Jewish people together. There wasn't any institutions, the  Catholic religion had their pope and the Catholic Church, in Rome. The Jewish people didn't have anything to glue them together, until the writing of the codex in 930 A. D.,  in Tiberius.  Then in 1099, during the Crusades, the Jewish Community, of, Jerusalem didn't have any other choice but to give it to the Jewish community of Egypt.

Here at the time is when Maimonides did his scholarly work. He used the codex to write the Mishneh Torah.  After he used the codex, many people thought the Codex was the most trusted book for Jewish scholars.  From there one of  Maimonides (very important sage)descendants traveled to Syria, and was placed with the Jewish Aleppo community where it remained for almost 600 years.  In Aleppo, the codex was kept with double locks. Each one of the sexton's had a key. This meant both men had to be present to get access of the book. Many years before, the book had religious significance. But in later years the book has become a good luck charm, talisman, kept evil away, rather than the true meaning of the book.

After the UN's resolution which established the state of Israel there was rioting across the Middle East. The Great Synagogue of  of the Aleppo Jewish community in Syria was burned. It was thought the codex burned with it.  But many years later it was discovered the Aleppo Codex wasn't burned at all. Instead it miraculous turned up in a Aleppo Grotto, for safe keeping, by a very wealthy Jewish merchant.  For almost 10 years it did not resurface. 

The Jewish community of the Middle East was dwindling after the establishment of Israel. Was there still a need to hide the codex? The codex was priceless, and the Aleppo Jewish community was afraid that the Syrian government would try to steal it. Instead they told a lie to keep it from being confiscated.  During this time the great rabbi's of Aleppo wanted to hide it in Israel for safekeeping. They made plans to give it to a man that was immigrating to Israel. It was not suppose to go to the Jewish government, but the learned Rabbi's in Israel. 

This is where the story becomes murky. I am not going to go into the rest of the story. Because the book is a compelling read, that you want to keep turning the pages. Who does the book truly belong to? Who owns Jewish history? Did some of the Aleppo Jewish community take it with them to NYC? Or does a antiquities dealer have it? Why won't he come forward? These are questions that Matti Friedman wants you to consider.  

They mystery is never answered, but it gives you insight, and leads you to do your own research. There are a few articles out there about the disappearance, and reappearance of the Aleppo Codex. There are a few good articles written after the book that gives you an update.  Also a video, from the Dallas JCC where he discusses the reason why he wrote the book. 

If you read the book, here is the followup after the book was published by the author:

Here is the author at JCC in Texas

I enjoyed reading Aleppo Codex it is very informative. not just for the enjoyment of reading. But learning about the Codex. The book This is a very important book. Because before reading it, I never heard about it. The book is full of conspiracy, mystery, thieves, politicians, crooked antiquities dealers, Hasidic learned men. Who is the true thief, and where did it go?

 It takes you from Tiberius, to Egypt, Israel, and even Brooklyn, NYC.. People you wouldn't think wouldn't be have any dealing with this.  But, when it has to do with sacred text, and valuable items for exchange of money. everyone comes out of the wood work don't they? 

The Aleppo Codex is in Israel, at the Shrine of the book. It also is housed with the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

The Codex isn't entirely exhibited. It only shows four pages, and the rest is held in another part of the museum, for safe keeping.  

I give it five bagels!!!! 
Nothing since The Golem and the Jinni has been as good.
I would like to thank the Jewish community of Aleppo for protecting the Codex.  I would also like to thank Matti Friedman for writing this important book for the Jewish community. 

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Jewish Carnival for August

By Joseph Teluskin
Harper Collins

This past month, the Chabad community of Myrtle Beach hosted a wonderful program. It was a book review, and discussion of the life of Rabbi Schneerson. Not just the orthodox community came. But, the rest of the Jewish community of Myrtle Beach was represented.  Which included Temple Emanu-El, Temple Shalom, and Temple Beth Elohim. Apparently all over the United States, each Barnes and Noble invites the Chabad community to talk about the books. Incidentally, there are two others that came out about the Rebbe recently as well.  This comes on the twentieth anniversary of his death.

 I grew up in Michigan, and in New Jersey. Raised Jewish in a conservative temple. I went to hebrew school. But, my family never exposed me to the orthodox community.Living  in New Jersey, and occasionally saw girls in long dresses, and lots of babies and was curious, but not overly curious. The same in Miami.  Where I lived, which was not a " community of Jews". I lived in a mainly christian area all my life.

But, when I moved to Myrtle Beach, a small coastal town. The Chabad community sticks out. Seeing them every  Saturday walking to shul.  I was very curious about the orthodox community of Jews. I came to know them, because I became friendly with one of the teachers. She occasionally called on me to substitute at the Chabad school. I learned more and more about Chabad, and the community.

Then a couple of us, wanted to start a Rosh Hodesh group. This is when I learned about the Chabad community. When I got into their circle. I was then invited to Rosh Hashanah dinners, and Shabbat dinners occasionally. Where I learned more about practices the traditions and rituals as a Jew.

Now, I will introduce you to Rebbe, by Joseph Teluskin.  Rebbe is a fascinating book. It divides the chapters up in different topics of the Rebbe. It is a fast, and easy read. Not, too academic for the lay person. The book is over 600 pages.The Chabad headquarters is in Crown Heights in New York City.  You learn about the many emissaries that go into towns to start a outreach.  You learn a bit about his life. How the Chabad started in Europe. How he became the successor for his father in law.  Who would become his successor? What happened to his many books? What his ideas are, what he thinks about politics, what his thoughts are about boys going to college, etc. etc.

I have and own a couple of Joseph Teluskin's books, and enjoy reading them. This book, was not a disappointment.  I would like to thank, Harper Collins for giving me a review copy. Here is a link about Rabbi Schneerson.  Here is another link for more specific information. If you are orthodox, and looking for information on Chabad here is their link.

Also, here is a review by one of my favorite Jewish author's, Dara Horn.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Updated Post on People of the Book

Revisiting People of the Book

A few years ago, I read, and posted The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. I have always been swayed back and reminded about the book, someway. This time it was from one of my fellow book bloggers. She is reading the novel, and I sent my link from my posts. After reading and reminiscing about the book. I had put the book to rest.  But, I still think there is much to talk about with the novel. Especially, what is going on in the Middle East.  The People of the Book links Jews to Muslim, and visa versa. It reminds us we are all human and linked to each other. Not, just about killing each other.

So, I decided to google and see what else pops up recently.  There was an amazing program on PBS. Here is the link. Here is some pictures as well.  You can visit my previous posts about these amazing artifacts, and here are my other posts about the Hagaddah.

But something new also based on the Sarajevo Haggadah is Music of the Book. You can read the article here. It is about a Bosnian woman that wrote music based on the true story of the Sarajevo Hagaddah.  A program in Boston is showing now and around the world.  Something else- the people of Bosnia may loose the book once more if they don't find somewhere to keep this important Jewish artifact. You can find the article here. Then an article at the Huffington Post about why the artifact was unable to travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art in NYC. I hope someone may initiate the care of this important, and beautiful artifact. That seems to be like us, the

This is taken from the author's website:

Available now, from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March, an intricate, ambitious novel that traces the journey of a rare illuminated Hebrew manuscript from convivencia Spain to the ruins of Sarajevo, from the Silver Age of Venice to the sunburned rock faces of northern Australia.
Inspired by the true story of a mysterious codex known as the Sarajevo Haggadah, People of the Book is a sweeping adventure through five centuries of history. From its creation in Muslim-ruled, medieval Spain, the illuminated manuscript makes a series of perilous journeys: through Inquisition-era Venice, fin-de-siecle Vienna, and the Nazi sacking of Sarajevo.
In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed manuscript, which has been rescued once again from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with figurative paintings. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding—an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair—she becomes determined to unlock the book’s mysteries. As she seeks the counsel of scientists and specialists, the reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book’s journey from its creation to its salvation.
Page from the Sarajevo Haggadah
Page from the Sarajevo Haggadah
In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of Vienna in 1894, the book becomes a pawn in an emerging contest between the city’s cultured cosmopolitanism and its rising anti-Semitism. In Venice in 1609, a Catholic priest saves it from Inquisition book burnings. In Tarragona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text has his family destroyed amid the agonies of enforced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the Haggadah’s extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed.
In Year of Wonders and March, Geraldine Brooks demonstrated an uncanny ability to hear and transmit the voices of a seventeenth century Derbyshire maid and an nineteenth century American abolitionist. People of the Bookis filled with unforgettable voices from the past, but it is Hanna’s voice—edgy, contemporary—that makes People of the Book a compulsively readable adventure story that transcends the usual boundaries of historical fiction.

I have been thinking in the last couple years after reading this novel. To have our  Jewish community read,  People of the Book.  Even though it is not a recent bestseller anymore, I think it makes great discussion and a wonderful book if you have not heard of it, or read it.  Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fundraiser for Gracie's Hope

I am posting this to get the word out about a fundraiser my friend is doing.
The organization is called, Gracie's Hope.  I have posted about Susan's daughter previously. But to refresh your memory, I will give you the short tail of it.

Abbey a few years ago, gave birth to triplets in LA but then a complication happened. Abbey, became paralyzed. Her parents, Paul and Susan, brought Abbie back from California to Myrtle Beach, SC and took  over her care.

Since then Susan has been an advocate for her daughter's care. She is doing a fundraiser next month to bring Gracie's Hope to Myrtle Beach.  The treatment not  only will help Abbie but others like Abbie.

 The care center will help veterans that have suffered from weapon injuries, it will help people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Traumatic Brain Injury, PTSD, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, and many other brain injuries.

The reason Susan is fundraising to bring the care center to Myrtle Beach, it is a far drive to Huntersville, NC. It is costly to the families, not many private insurance companies will allow for the treatments. There are many treatments before it can take affect. Gracie's Hope offers grants to families  that can't afford it. It will help many people that have brain injuries and genetic brain disorders.

The treatment is called, Hyperbaric Oxygen  Therapy.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is simply an intermittent, short-term, high dose oxygen inhalation therapy. HBOT is an AMA recognized medical treatment which enhances the body’s natural healing process by inhalation of 100% oxygen in a total body chamber where atmospheric pressure is increased and controlled. It is used for a wide variety of treatments usually as part of an overall medical care plan. The oxygen level in the patient’s blood-stream is raised many times above normal, which helps control infections and promote healing in many kinds of illness or injury.

What conditions are being treated?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has helped thousands of people with conditions such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis and other brain disorders. By delivering high levels of oxygen under pressure, hypoxic tissue can be restored allowing healing to take place. Since hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not an FDA approved treatment for neurological conditions, most insurance companies do not cover HBOT treatment costs. As a result there are very few centers and physicians that provide this therapy.

G-d willing Gracie's Hope will be coming to Myrtle Beach in September. 

Susan, and Gracie's Hope are having a fundraiser next month. If you are unable to attend you can give a donation. The address is listed on the flyer below:

Changing the World...One Breath at a Time

The local inaugural fundraising dinner for Gracie's Hope, a 501(c)(3) organization operating Healing Centers that provide hyperbaric treatments, other therapies, counseling and additional services to special needs children and adults, including our veterans will be held on

August 12
The Surf Golf and Beach Club in North Myrtle Beach
Please join us for dinner, followed by a short preview screening of the award-winning documentary, "Halfway Home."  This film features our guest speaker, SSG Tommy Rieman.  This documentary shows first hand that the toll of war extends far beyond the battlefield.  Additionally, Gracie's Hope Director, Eric Sutton, will share the story of Gracie's Hope and the extraordinary success of hyperbarics with our special children and our nation's heroes.

Tickets are now available by contacting Susan Cohen, local fundraising chair, at
scohen5710@gmail.com or calling 843-361-1006

You may make your reservations at one of the following levels:

$250.00 includes a private reception at 5pm, followed by dinner, video presentation and dessert buffet
($190.00 is tax deductible)
$100.00 includes dinner at 6pm, video presentation and dessert buffet
($40.00 is tax deductible)
$20.00 includes video presentation and dessert buffet at 7:15pm,
($5.00 is tax deductible)

Tables of eight (8) reservations are available for $2000

The evening also includes a Chinese Raffle
with lovely prizes donated by local businesses and individuals

Your support in helping to bring Gracie's Hope to North Myrtle Beach
will enable many families to find comfort, hope and an improved quality of life for their loved ones.
 For more information and our mission statement, please go to

Please contact Mrs. Cohen as noted above
  Michael D. Peters, M.D.
                                                                                             Gulf War Veteran
                                                                       Gracie’s Hope National Medical Director
Gracie’s Hope North Myrtle Beach Medical Director

Please pass the word on to anybody interested in helping support our cause or any individuals who may benefit from treatments.     

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Images from the Glamor Amour by Irene Alexeeva