Monday, July 6, 2015

The Auschwitz Survivor Behind Haute Couture

By Ilana Sichel for Jewniverse

At the age of 14, Martin Greenfield was uprooted from an idyllic Czechoslovakian childhood and deported to Auschwitz, where the notorious Doctor Mengele separated him from his family. One of his first memories from the death camp was Mengele’s shiny black boots.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

The Best Place on Earth: Stories Ayelet Tsabari

Review by Nat Bernstein for Jewish Book Council

2015 Sami Rohr Prize winner Ayelet Tsabari deftly applies the influences of her American short story contemporaries to a collection of narratives from that other country of immigrants. Set between Israel and Canada of the past few decades, The Best Place on Earth flits through the day-to-day life of modern history, alighting on the Persian Gulf War, the Second Intifada, the occupation and withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, and the countless, nameless campaigns on Gaza. Imbuing the difficult circumstances and realities of Israeli (and expat) life with the softening sweetness of its details, Tsabari imparts a yearning for home that resonates across the globe.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Blum’s Day

Sociologist Pierre Birnbaum says it’s time Léon Blum—French Socialist, Zionist, wartime hero, and prime minister—got his due


By Yale University Press (Sponsored) for Vox Table

During his political career, Léon Blum—who served three short terms as French prime minister between 1936 and 1947—was derided by his detractors as “a woman,” a “weak Jew,” and even a traitor. Meanwhile, he was worshiped by many French workers, grateful to him for introducing the 40-hour work week, vacation time, and other legislation from his Socialist agenda. According to sociologist Pierre Birnbaum, author of the new biography Léon Blum: Prime Minister, Socialist, Zionist, none of these characterizations captures the complexity of this under-appreciated figure.

In an interview with Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry, Birnbaum describes Blum as a remarkably brave, intelligent, and unflappable leader, an early Zionist, a prescient anti-Communist, and proud Jew.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Why the King James Version of the Bible Remains the Best

The 400-year-old translation is denigrated because of its archaic language. That’s one of its greatest strengths.


Philologos, the renowned Jewish-language columnist, appears twice a month in Mosaic.

Stephen M. Flatow asks why, in my column “The Paradox of the Transmission of Sacred Texts” that appeared two weeks ago, I used the King James translation when citing verses from the Bible. “Are there,” he asks, “no Jewish translations, such as the Jewish Publication Society’s, Soncino Press’s, or ArtScroll’s, that would have served a similar purpose?”

Yes, there are. The reason I nevertheless prefer the King James Version (KJV) is that, despite its age, its archaic English, and its often outdated interpretations of passages that subsequent knowledge has thrown new light on, it continues to be the best English Bible translation in existence.

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Monday, June 8, 2015

A Bittersweet Love Song to Jewish Alexandria

By André Aciman for Tablet 

Lost Egypt comes alive in Yitzhak Gormezano Goren’s 1978 Hebrew idyll ‘Alexandrian Summer,’ in a first English translation


On December 21, 1951, Yitzhak Gormezano Goren, aged ten and accompanied by his parents, left his home on Rue Delta in Alexandria to rejoin his two brothers who had already moved to Israel. That the whole family decided to leave Egypt as early as 1951 shows that they had the uncanny prescience to read the writing on the wall long before most Egyptian Jews realized that their days in the country were numbered.

The military coup that was to overthrow King Farouk in 1952 and, with his ouster, eventually dissolve all remnants of multi-national life in Egypt, can only confirm the Gormezano Gorens’ sense that life as they’d known it in Alexandria was fast coming to an end. Surging anti-Western and anti-Semitic rhetoric on the streets and in radio broadcasts had turned Egypt into a tinderbox that was to explode with the Suez Canal War of 1956, a war that proved disastrous to Egypt’s European community. French and British nationals were instantly expelled, their exodus immediately followed by the expulsion of the majority of Egypt’s 85,000 Jews, most of whose ancestors had been living along the Nile and its Delta for more than a millennium and long before the advent of Islam.

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Monday, June 1, 2015

The Plunder of Jewish Books

From the YiddishBookCenter.org

Aaron Lansky visits with Mark Glickman, author of the upcoming "Stolen Words: The Nazi Plunder of Jewish Books." Glickman shares the story of how the world's largest collection of Jewish books - some tens of millions - were looted by Nazi soldiers and others who removed them from private collections, libraries, and institutions.

Episode 101, May, 2015

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Monday, May 25, 2015

The Sun And Fun Capital Of The World?

Miami Beach in 1972 is the backdrop for Thane Rosenbaum’s antic new Holocaust novel.


Diane Cole; Special To The Jewish Week

In his new novel, “How Sweet It Is!” (Mandel Vilar Press), Thane Rosenbaum rolls back the clock to 1972 and transports us to the less-than-sweet, unglamorous side of Miami Beach. Here, as in his previous works of fiction, Rosenbaum strives to balance moral seriousness with outrageous antic humor as he tries to make sense of what can never make sense: the Holocaust.

As in the musical “Cabaret,” there is a gregarious master of ceremonies at the center of the passing show. Here it is the entertainer Jackie Gleason, serving as our guide to the quirky characters who populate the town he highlighted on his weekly variety show in the 1960s. But by the time we meet him, he’s already in decline, a depressed and lonely clown bemoaning the loss of his former prestige. Instead of hosting a must-watch television variety show, he holds court as a patient at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

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