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Jewish Journal

Tag: Books

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  • 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,...

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  • 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...

  • The Peanut Gallery: An American Icon Examined

    By Susan Freudenheim

    December 13, 2012 | 8:53 am

    Forget apple pie — if there is an iconic American food, it is surely peanut butter.

    The rich and satisfying story of peanut butter is told by Jon Krampner in “Creamy & Crunchy: An Informal History of Peanut Butter, The All-American Food” (Columbia University Press: $27.95), a...

  • Comedy writer Sol Weinstein dies at 84

    December 12, 2012 | 9:59 am

    When I first moved to California from Philadelphia in 1978, Leon Brown, editor of the Jewish Exponent, told me to look up his friend Sol Weinstein. 

    I already knew of Weinstein, as I had one of the books in his “Israel Bond Oy-Oy-7” series, “Loxfinger.” I did connect with him,...

  • Shining a new light on the Jewish response to Christmas

    November 30, 2012 | 1:43 pm

    From Kung Pao kosher comedy to a swinging Mardi Gras version of the “Dreidel” song, two new Chanukah season releases explore the intriguing, delightful and sometimes perplexing ways in which American Jews have responded to Christmas.

    In a book and an audio CD compilation, the...

  • “The Polish Boxer” explores the experience of Auschwitz-survivor

    November 28, 2012 | 3:38 pm

    Several factors drew me to Eduardo Halfon’s “The Polish Boxer,” translated by Daniel Hahn, Ollie Brock, Lisa Dillman, Thomas Bunstead and Anne McLean (Bellevue Literary Press: $14.95), including its billing (in the industry bible Publishers Weekly and elsewhere) as a...

  • Gifts for literarily everyone

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    November 20, 2012 | 2:02 pm

    As Chanukah approaches, there is a plentitude of gift-worthy titles from recently published books. Some are elegant, some quirky, some comforting, but all of them are suitable for one or another of the readers on your list.  

     

    Michael Feinstein, an American maestro in his own...

  • Celebrating Jewish Book Month

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    October 31, 2012 | 2:45 pm

    Nothing says more about the unsettled state of American publishing than the fact that Jonathan Adler is the only author who will be presenting a book event at the Skirball Cultural Center during Jewish Book Month. 

    Adler, of course, is famous as a designer, retailer and pop...

  • A map of the Bible

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    October 17, 2012 | 3:45 pm

    Yoram Hazony opens his new book, “The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture” (Cambridge University Press: $24.99), with a challenging question: “Is there something crucial missing in our understanding of what the Hebrew Bible is all about?” His answers are both surprising and...

  • Who is a Jew, anyway?

    September 14, 2012 | 3:31 pm

    Perhaps nobody who reads book reviews in The Jewish Journal would ever ask herself or himself, “Am I a Jew?” Perhaps the act of reading The Jewish Journal answers the question. After all, would somebody unsure of her or his Judaism seek out such a publication? On the other hand,...

  • From Salman Rushdie to Susan Straight, a fall harvest

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    September 10, 2012 | 3:49 pm

    Fall is high season for the publishing industry. Jewish Book Month, which arrives in November, may have a little something to do with it, and so does the stirring of activity that always follows Labor Day. But the most important reason, of course, is the approach of the gift-giving...

  • Books for children and teens

    September 5, 2012 | 11:49 am

    “Oh No, Jonah!”

    by Tilda Balsley, illustrated by Jago (Kar-Ben: $7.95)Oh no, Jonah!

    Those parents and teachers looking for a new twist on the story of Jonah (read yearly on Yom Kippur) need look no more. This latest version from children’s author Tilda Balsley sticks to the biblical text...

  • The illusion of a solution

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    September 5, 2012 | 10:50 am

    Of all the incendiary books that have been written about Israel over the last year or so, none is quite as fiery as "Israel: The Will to Prevail" by Danny Danon (Palgrave Macmillan: $26).

    Danon is a young activist in the Likud Party and serves as deputy speaker of the Knesset. He...

  • Distinct voices

    August 27, 2012 | 11:15 am

    A cantata is a musical composition typically composed of solos, duets, and other forms for voice, sung with instrumental accompaniment. Thus framed, the title of Jeffrey Lewis’s latest novel, “Berlin Cantata” (Haus, $15, ISBN 978-1-907822-43-8), aligns nicely with the book’s...

  • Mickey Cohen’s colorful life of crime

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    August 22, 2012 | 4:08 pm

    Meyer Harris Cohen was born in the Jewish Pale of Settlement in imperial Russia, immigrated with his family to the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn and reached Los Angeles’ Jewish point of entry in Boyle Heights in 1915. Up to this point, the spare details of his biography are...

  • Families reading together: Two summer novels for children

    August 14, 2012 | 11:00 am

    When was the last time your fifth grader read a book written in free verse? How about a children’s version of life in Stalinist Russia?  These two very unusual novels for young people from two Los Angeles children’s authors make excellent summer reads and particularly good...

  • A son and his Jewish mother

    July 31, 2012 | 10:00 am

    A pervasive Jewish mythology has always idealized the mother-son relationship.  But Proust knew better.  Shortly after his mother’s death, he wrote an article in Le Figaro about a man who bludgeoned his mother to death and attempted to speculate what might have ignited this man’s...

  • Ellen Levy’s unlikely quest to find herself in the Amazon

    July 27, 2012 | 10:00 am

    “Amazons: A Love Story” (University of Missouri Press: $24.95) is a highly unusual, poignant coming-of-age saga by a half-Jewish writer nearly off the scale in candor and braininess. Her name is E.J. (Ellen) Levy. My bet is that any lover of words who takes the time to read her...

  • Re-examining Twain’s work, Clemens’ life

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    July 25, 2012 | 11:07 am

    Ira Fistell is a familiar and even beloved figure in the Los Angeles radio market, where he long served as an exceptionally amiable, thoughtful and well-informed talk-show host on subjects ranging from politics and religion to vintage trains and Mississippi steamboats. Along with...

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