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Tag: Book

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  • ‘The Fame Lunches’: Daphne Merkin is still wishing for mother’s love

    August 27, 2014 | 2:03 pm

    If you were the wild child among more submissive siblings, who refused to be silenced and cried continually, and fought with all the others about their glaring hypocrisies; chances are you were not your parents’ favorite child.  If you sometimes made disturbing comments about...

  • ‘Woody on Rye’: Jewishness in the works of Woody Allen

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    August 20, 2014 | 1:41 pm

    A few years ago, I discovered that there is actually something called The Big Lebowski Studies, a tongue-in-cheek academic discipline wholly devoted to a single Coen brothers movie (and, if I may say so, hardly their best movie). Yet, as far as I have been able to tell, no such...

  • Schmuck and the City

    By Nikki Tabibian

    August 13, 2014 | 11:57 am

         During my first months on the East Coast, snowfall, rain and hail hit The City, while a storm of vexing questions plagued my frozen suburban mind:

         How many layers are too many?
         Would it be appropriate to wear a hijab to fight off a 30-degree chill? 
         Where...

  • Iranian-Jewish doctor spreads Holocaust truth in Farsi

    By Karmel Melamed

    May 7, 2014 | 1:34 pm

    As Jews worldwide remembered and honored the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust in recent weeks, Dr. Ari Babaknia, a renowned Newport Beach Iranian-Jewish obstetrician and gynecologist, was crisscrossing the country — touring Southern California and New York City — and...

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  • Giving up Bread or Internet for Passover? Finding Balance and Freedom on Tax Day

    By Lisa Ellen Niver

    April 15, 2014 | 9:05 am

    Giving up Bread or Internet for Passover? Finding Balance and Freedom on Tax Day

    For the last year and a half I have been living in Asia and eating rice. As I thought about Passover approaching, I figured giving up bread for eight days would not be meaningful as I really only eat...

  • The twisted tale of John Demjanjuk

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    February 6, 2014 | 10:33 am

    Among Nazi war criminals who have faced justice, ranging from Hermann Goering to Adolf Eichmann, we find John Demjanjuk, who was charged with participating in the murder of 29,060 Jews as a guard at the Sobibor concentration camp. Unlike the more notorious Nazis, Demjanjuk actually...

  • 1. THE CHURCH AND THE HELICOPTER

    January 31, 2014 | 2:08 pm

    A year after graduating college, I worked downtown in the immense shadows of the World Trade Center, and as part of my freewheeling, four-hour daily lunch break I would eat and drink my way past these two giants, up Broadway, down Fulton Street and over to the Strand Book Annex. In...

  • Six million reasons I don’t like the new Holocaust book

    January 27, 2014 | 12:00 pm

    I admit it. I dropped the ball on the story about the new remember-the-Holocaust-by-printing-the-word-Jew-six-million-times book. I saw it sitting in a veteran Jewish journalist’s office a week ago, but forgot to bring it up to my fellow JTA editors.

    And then I look at the...

  • Three different ‘Family’ ways

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    December 12, 2013 | 1:25 pm

    Word of mouth is the real maker of best sellers in the publishing world, and I can think of few books with quite as much buzz as David Laskin’s remarkable family chronicle, “The Family: Three Journeys Into the Heart of the Twentieth Century” (Viking, $32).

    Laskin tells a story —...

  • Living at the heart of a “Promised Land”

    By Michael Berenbaum

    December 12, 2013 | 11:16 am

    Ari Shavit, My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel (New York: Spiegel and Grau, 2013) pp. 449).

    The anguish of the believer is not the same as that of the renegade, and Ari Shavit writes as a believer in the Zionist enterprise. Not Zionism in the mystical sense that...

  • Warsaw’s other uprising

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    December 4, 2013 | 6:34 pm

    For most Jewish readers, I suspect, the phrase “Warsaw uprising” refers to the stirring last stand of the Jewish ghetto fighters in 1943.  But there was quite another upwelling of armed resistance in Warsaw a year later, and that’s the focus of “Warsaw 1944: Hitler, Himmler and the...

  • Encounters with the past: Parashat Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)

    December 4, 2013 | 4:27 pm

    Why is this book club different from all other book clubs? I know this phrase is out of season, but the strange confluence of holidays this year permits some flexibility. As my Torah study cohorts and I again engage with the page-turner of all page-turners, the Joseph story, I am...

  • Financial planning for a move to Israel

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    November 21, 2013 | 2:44 pm

    What I know about Israel comes from a variety of sources, including the news and commentary in this newspaper, countless books, my own experiences as a traveler to Israel, and the Facebook postings of my friends who live there. But the information and insights in “A Financial Guide...

  • Q&A with Mitch Albom

    November 19, 2013 | 4:57 pm

    Mitch Albom has succeeded in striking an important chord in all of us — the intrinsic human desire to discover what lies beyond, the need to believe that the way we conduct our lives matters and that “the end is not the end,” after all, but another beginning. These intertwined...

  • Herschel Grynszpan: ‘The Boy Avenger’

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    November 7, 2013 | 4:29 pm

    Like stills from a film noir, the black-and-white photographs of a 17-year-old boy named Herschel Grynszpan that have come down to us — police mug shots, newspaper photos, a souvenir snapshot taken at a Paris street fair — capture the various faces that he presented to the public...

  • ‘Book Thief’ a story of pure beauty, pure destruction

    By Naomi Pfefferman

    November 6, 2013 | 1:57 pm

    Markus Zusak still remembers how his mother, a German Lutheran immigrant to Australia, vividly described the day she saw the Jews being marched to Dachau in her hamlet near Munich. 

    “There was an old, emaciated man who couldn’t keep up with the others, and a teenage boy ran up...

  • 2 authors, 2 takes on Jewish humor and theology

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    October 30, 2013 | 12:53 pm

    Jewish humor and Jewish theology share something in common. I can think of any number of jokes whose punch lines say something profound about God (“Work with me here — buy a ticket!”). And we need only consult the Torah to discover how the matriarch Sarah responded when God...

  • Fritz Kuhn and the German-American Bund

    October 29, 2013 | 11:33 am

    Everyone is familiar with Adolf Hitler and the rise and fall of Nazi Germany. Few remember that in the mid- to late-1930s the United States experienced a Nazi crusade of its own, one led by Fritz Julius Kuhn (1896-1951), a radical anti-Semite who dreamed of a fascist America led by...

  • Spying for Mossad, Israeli author never forsook fiction [Q&A]

    October 22, 2013 | 4:44 pm

    For retired Israeli spy Mishka Ben-David, writing fiction was a realization of artistic aspirations he had long suppressed.

    Ben-David had a doctorate in Hebrew literature and four books published when the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad recruited him in 1987. He agreed to...

  • The art of feeling Sholem Aleichem’s unforgettable legacy

    October 22, 2013 | 1:59 pm

    Never underestimate the enormous emotional power of a piercing narrative voice, one that can decimate and exhilarate the reader, often simultaneously.  Listen to the eloquence of Israeli author David Grossman recounting his early experiences reading Sholem Aleichem, one of the...

  • ‘Fiddler’ makes the world richer

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    October 3, 2013 | 4:42 pm

    On a visit to Budapest earlier this year, my wife and I asked the concierge at our hotel for a restaurant where we could find authentic Hungarian fare.  As we took our seats in the bustling little place he recommended, I was encouraged to see a house band tucked away in the corner,...

  • The consequences of Israel's contradictory dreams

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    September 24, 2013 | 4:27 pm

    The stirring scene that opens “Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation,” by Yossi Klein Halevi (Harper, $35), is a flashback to the night of June 6, 1967, when the 55th Paratroopers Reserve Brigade of the Israel Defense...

  • ‘The Friedkin Connection’: Living forward, looking back

    September 24, 2013 | 4:05 pm

    In the prologue to his new memoir, “The Friedkin Connection,” Academy Award-winning director William Friedkin writes, “Life is lived forward, but can only be understood backward.”

    As he looks backward on a career spanning some 50 years, the director perhaps best known for the...

  • Survivor, storyteller, celebrity, sage: Elie Wiesel at 85

    By Jonah Lowenfeld

    September 24, 2013 | 2:36 pm

    When talking about Elie Wiesel, who turns 85 on Sept. 30, it is far too easy to fall into a list of superlatives. 

    As a child who survived Auschwitz and other concentration camps, Wiesel witnessed more death and more horrors than most human beings ever will. A onetime journalist...

  • The Jewish Jane Austen

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    September 18, 2013 | 12:22 pm

    One of the remarkable things about Ruchama King Feuerman’s second novel, “In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist” (New York Review of Books, $9.99) is the fact it is only available as an ebook in the NYRB Lit series.  Such is the fate of literary fiction nowadays, and it remains to be...

  • Kafka — demystifying the man behind the “Kafkaesque” mystique

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    September 12, 2013 | 12:12 pm

    Franz Kafka has entered our language as an adjective — “Kafkaesque” is applied nowadays to almost anything that strikes us as senseless or surreal — but the man himself remains obscure. Saul Friedlander’s short biography in Yale’s Jewish Lives series, “Kafka: The Poet of Shame and...

  • Power of Yizkor

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    September 3, 2013 | 12:40 pm

    I suppose that Kol Nidrei is still the best-attended service of the Jewish calendar, but surely the memorial service known as Yizkor is a close second. After all, Yizkor — which means “May God remember…” — is the moment when we are invited to recall in solemn prayer the loved ones...

  • The mystery of the missing husband

    August 28, 2013 | 5:28 pm

    While reviewing “The Gallery of Vanished Husbands by Natasha Solomons (Plume Original), the bestselling author of “The House at Tyneford,” I was also reading Ralph Ellison’s, “The Invisible Man,” and the thought occurred to me that invisibility can take many forms that might have...

  • Husband of terror victim pens memoir of quest to meet bomber

    August 27, 2013 | 2:26 pm

    David Harris-Gershon, author of the forthcoming memoir “What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?,” is frank about the contradictions in his personality.

    An admitted “natural introvert,” Harris-Gershon describes himself as “surprisingly good” at...

  • ‘Resistance’ was not futile

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    August 14, 2013 | 2:42 pm

    As one of the very few reviewers who found fault with Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List,” I once wrote that I would have preferred a film based on “Defiance,” Nechama Tec’s brilliant study of the Bielski partisans, which shows Jews not as the passive beneficiaries of a Nazi...

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