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Tag: Books

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  • Three new kids’ books, and some poetry for adults

    1 day ago

    “Apple Days: A Rosh Hashanah Story” by Allison Sarnoff Soffer. Illustrated by Bob McMahon (Kar-Ben, 2014)

    Every year at holiday time, Katy looks forward to making applesauce with her mother. When she shares her excitement with her religious school classmates, she also mentions...

  • Jules Feiffer’s ‘Kill My Mother’: You’ll Die Laughing

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    2 days ago

    Last week, I happened to catch the 1971 movie “Little Murders,” adapted by Jules Feiffer from his stage play. It’s a black comedy, mordant but full of insight into the American psyche and the zeitgeist of the era, and it reminded me of the role that Feiffer, and especially his...

  • When David slays Goliath

    By Rabbi David Wolpe

    1 week ago

    An excerpt from the chapter titled “Young David” from Rabbi David Wolpe’s biography of King David, “David: The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press). Reprinted with permission.


    Divested of armor, David is ready. Goliath takes him for a harmless lad, an insult to his own...

  • Amidst celebrity, Daphne Merkin is wishing still for mother’s love

    3 weeks ago

    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...

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  • Providing books to Jaffa preschoolers makes Israel stronger

    August 6, 2014 | 3:16 pm

    The children at the Arabic-speaking Ofek preschool in Jaffa spent a lot of time this past year thinking about a mouse named Samsoum, the character in a picture book all the kids have read at home with help from their parents.  

    In class, the kids did a range of Samsoum-related...

  • Fear of the apocalypse and Edan Lepucki’s ‘California’

    July 15, 2014 | 2:07 pm

    Fear of a publishing apocalypse, to be precise. Most of us never would have heard about Edan Lepucki’s debut novel, California, about a post-apocalyptic Golden State, except for a battle between Amazon and book publishers.  Here’s a short version of a long story: California’s...

  • How to organize your books

    By Marty Kaplan

    June 30, 2014 | 1:34 pm

    It’s a sin to throw away a book.

    I don’t mean e-books.  If they’re cluttering your e-reader, all you have to do is delete them, and you don’t even have to do that, since you can pretty much fit the Library of Congress on a thumb drive.

    But physical books – the creepy retronym...

  • Thrilling days of yesteryear

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    June 11, 2014 | 11:26 am

    Nothing links the three books described below except that each, in its own way, is so charming that I couldn’t resist opening it up and, having done so, couldn’t put it down.

    One of the treasures of American-Yiddish journalism was “A Bintel Brief” (“A Bundle of Letters”), an...

  • World of adventure for the bookshelf

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    May 28, 2014 | 2:16 pm

    The summer season offers some remarkable opportunities for face-to-face encounters with authors who are celebrated not merely for their celebrity but for the quality of their written work. To be sure, Kendall Jenner will be touting “Rebels: City of Indra: The Story of Lex and...

  • The making of a real spy

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    May 14, 2014 | 11:23 am

    Our idea of what spies actually do is deeply tainted by a century or so of novels and movies, some better than others but all of them fictional. “The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames” by Kai Bird (Crown, $26), by contrast, is the real thing.  And yet, for all of its...

  • Archaeology, truth, Jerusalem

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    January 3, 2014 | 2:06 pm

    Archaeology is more than a science when it comes to Jerusalem, a place where the turn of the spade may reveal an artifact that has political and theological overtones. Katharina Galor and Hanswulf Bloedhorn, authors of “The Archeology of Jerusalem: From the Origins to the Ottomans”...

  • Eight books to light your Chanukah season

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    November 27, 2013 | 12:12 pm

    The early arrival of Chanukah coincides with Jewish Book Month, which suggests a convenient shopping list for gift-giving. Here are eight books I am planning to give this year to the book lovers among my family, friends and colleagues. Some of these books already have been reviewed...

  • After the fall

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    November 27, 2013 | 11:47 am

    Perhaps no single Bible story is quite as familiar as the fateful encounter in the Garden of Eden between God, Adam and Eve, and that damned snake, an episode that entered Western theology as “the Fall.” It may appear to be a kind of biblical fairytale, but Ziony Zevit reveals the...

  • Chanukah shopping: Revisiting some classics

    By Julie Bien

    November 25, 2013 | 4:18 pm

    Take time this holiday season to slow down and catch up on your pleasure reading. We’ve gathered a list of classic books to suit everyone’s taste  — from spine-chilling science fiction to classic modern novels. Whether you’re looking for a humorous Sunday afternoon read, an...

  • Favorite childrens’ books old and new

    November 21, 2013 | 4:14 pm

    Remember “The Chanukkah Guest” by Eric Kimmel? Those 20-somethings who consider their favorite Chanukah stories from childhood would no doubt recall the tale of the 97-year-old woman who “did not see or hear as well as she used to, but she still made the best potato latkes in the...

  • Amos Oz: Alone among friends

    September 26, 2013 | 1:52 pm

    I believe Amos Oz desperately wanted to become a better man than his father was.  It feels as if he has spent his lifetime trying to nurture inside himself an empathy that he believed his father lacked.  The famous, 73-year-old Israeli author of more than 30 books, including his...

  • Politics, poetry & pop: An Autumn of literary options

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    September 6, 2013 | 2:47 pm

    This fall’s book season brings forth an unusually rich and provocative crop of new works by famous and revered authors, some for children and some for adults, some from abroad, but many from right here in Southern California.

    Among the brightest literary lights in Los Angeles is...

  • Holiday reading round-up for kids

    August 22, 2013 | 10:01 am

    The good news for Jewish children’s books this year is the occasion of the 20th anniversary of beloved picture book character Sammy Spider. There is even a colorful plush toy available on the publisher’s Web site (karben.com). Sammy’s creator, the prolific L.A.-based children’s...

  • July 20–26

    By Laura Donney

    July 17, 2013 | 11:30 am

    SAT JULY 20

    LOVEFEST

    Isn’t February just too far away? Valentine’s Day comes early courtesy of East Side Jews, Jewlicious and Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Celebrate Tu b’Av, the Jewish Day of Love, and say hello to the first night of the rest of your life. With food trucks, a...

  • Nancy Kricorian’s Holocaust novel

    June 10, 2013 | 10:09 am

    Several years ago, novelist Nancy Kricorian happened upon a 29-year-old documentary film called "Terrorists in Retirement" by French filmmaker Mosco Boucault. The movie chronicled the work of a World War II-era anti-Nazi resistance network in France that was made up of Armenian,...

  • Getting a read on summer

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    May 31, 2013 | 10:49 am

    Poetry is a literary enterprise with enormous allure to the amateur, and yet it is an art form that one can study for a lifetime. And who is a better teacher than Robert Pinsky? The former poet laureate of the United States — and perhaps the most familiar face among working poets,...

  • Jay Neugeboren gets reel with latest novel

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    March 21, 2013 | 4:55 am

    "For far too long, Jay Neugeboren has been known as a writer’s writer and as the nurturing teacher of future writers,” Sanford Pinsker wrote in the Forward about one of Neugeboren’s earlier books. “It is high time for a wider audience.”

    Neugeboren, in fact, has written 19 books,...

  • The splendor and distinction of Iranian-Jewish art

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    March 15, 2013 | 8:11 am

    For visitors to the Fowler Museum’s recent exhibition, the show’s catalog, “Light and Shadows: The Story of Iranian Jews” edited by David Yeroushalmi (Beit Hatfutsot/Fowler Museum: $30) will be a keepsake. For those who missed the exhibition, the book captures the sumptuous images...

  • Michael Chabon’s search for authentic expression

    By Tom Teicholz

    March 13, 2013 | 6:29 am

    A writer walks into a room full of rabbis. This sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it’s not. In the words of Woody Allen’s “Broadway Danny Rose,” “It’s the emes.” The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) held the Reform movement’s annual rabbinical convention March...

  • Hard boiled in Boyle Heights

    March 6, 2013 | 1:06 am

    As soon as I finished Janice Steinberg’s new novel “The Tin Horse” (Random House, $26), I gave a copy to my 100-year-old Grandma Bea. Steinberg’s richly textured Jewish family narrative echoes my own Bubbe’s past — and that of so many other Jews who moved to Los Angeles in the...

  • Involuntary Participant Observation in the ultra-Orthodox World

    By Pini Herman

    February 25, 2013 | 10:05 am

    The recently published The Rebel and the Rabbi’s Son is a fascinating read, even for someone such as this reader who grew up among the ultra-Orthodox without the heavy burdens of a dynastic lineage on his shoulders as did the author, Izzy Eichenstein. The situation is rare and the...

  • Empowering our children with vocational skills

    February 20, 2013 | 3:35 pm

    Imagine asking your 16-year-old daughter and day school student, Maya, “What did you learn today?”

    Instead of the usual, “I dunno, nothing,” you get this:  

    “I am working to weld an iron banister, but we need to understand how heat and pressure affect various metal compositions...

  • Elie Wiesel and questions of God and duty

    February 15, 2013 | 9:49 am

    The madness always calls him back.  You only have to glance at Elie Wiesel’s tortured face to know that he is always at risk.  Even after the countless novels and the Nobel Peace Prize.  Even after producing “Night,” his devastating masterpiece about Auschwitz.  Even after all the...

  • ‘Brandeis-Bardin,’ on paper

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    February 7, 2013 | 2:05 pm

    From generation to generation, starting in 1950 and continuing today, one of the most important sites on the map of the Jewish community in Southern California was a stretch of rolling hills in Simi Valley.

    The story is richly told in the pages of “The Brandeis-Bardin Institute:...

  • Uncle Leo, helloooooo

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    January 3, 2013 | 2:06 pm

    “Seinfeld” was never really “a show about nothing.” Rather, not unlike the Bible, it was a work of the imagination that had something to say about nearly everything.

    One episode, for example, focuses on the moral ambiguity of old people stealing from a chain store.  The culprit...

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