Monday, November 23, 2015

The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God & Other Stories

From Etgar Keret; Jewish Book Council

Brief, intense, painfully funny, and shockingly honest, Etgar Keret’s stories are snapshots that illuminate with intelligence and wit the hidden truths of life. As with the best writers of fiction, hilarity and anguish are the twin pillars of his work. Keret covers a remarkable emotional and narrative terrain—from a father’s first lesson to his boy to a standoff between soldiers caught up in the Middle East conflict to a slice of life where nothing much happens.

New to Riverhead’s list, these wildly inventive, uniquely humane stories are for fans of Etgar Keret’s inimitable style and readers of transforming, brilliant fiction.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

A Stunningly Illustrated Torah Like Nothing We’ve Seen Before

By Abby Sher for Jewniverse   
An astronaut, a cowboy, and a girl kissing a moose have just made it into the Bible, thanks to the incredible vision of artist Archie Rand.

This is not your standard scroll, obviously. And yet it is a very precise vision of these ancient words. There are 613 mitzvot that are commonly called the “commandments” from the Hebrew Bible. Rand has studied each one of them for the past fifteen years and illustrated them in wild, hilarious, dark, light, and daring ways.

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Monday, November 9, 2015

To Be Young, Poetic and Black — and Jewish

Talya Zax for The Jewish Daily Forward   

Aaron Samuels started getting hype as a poet as an undergraduate at Washington University in St. Louis. A co-founder of the school’s popular slam poetry team, WUSLAM, his compelling performances and the depth of his investigation into what it meant to be black and Jewish made him stand out.

He’s continued to make his name on a broader scale since graduating. He’s the Chief Operating Officer of Blavity, a member of the Dark Noise Collective, a group of spoken-word poets, and with a wide swathe of publications in journals and two published collections of poetry, he’s established himself solidly as a working poet.

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Monday, November 2, 2015

The Morning of Yitzhak Rabin's Assassination: A Prologue

Jewish Book Council

Excerpted from Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel by Dan Ephron.

Yitzhak Rabin woke up before seven the morning of November 4, 1995, with an eye infection. He had plans to play tennis, hold several work meetings at his north Tel Aviv apartment, and then attend a peace rally that night at Kings of Israel Square. But the infection, which made his eye swollen and bloodshot, gave him a chance to reassess. Rabin felt ambivalent about the rally; it seemed to him like the kind of event some Bolshevik regime might organize, busing in paid apparatchiks and having them wave banners approved by the Party. He agreed to it mostly because his political opponents, with a few large and rowdy protests, had managed to create the impression that most of the country opposed his now second peace deal with Yasser Arafat. The demonstrators had held up doctored images showing Rabin draped in a kaffiyeh—the checkered black-and-white scarf worn by Arafat—and worse, Rabin in a Nazi uniform. But the prime minister feared that few people would show up at the square. Instead of refuting the perception of his political weakness, the rally could end up reinforcing it. Rabin himself wasn’t exactly sure whether it was just a perception or the hard reality now.

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Monday, October 26, 2015

The Pater: Exploring Childlessness from a (Jewish) Male Perspective

Varda Epstein HuffPost

What is it like to be childless as a Jew, when the very first Jewish commandment is to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28) and scripture likens the childless to the dead? What is it like to be childless in Israel, a country that values children above all, as a supreme value? These are just some of the questions Elliot Jager addresses in a brave new book, The Pater: My Father, My Judaism, My Childlessness.

Jager frames these questions from his perspective as having been abandoned as a young child by his father--the "Pater" as Jager has come to call him in his mind. What does it mean to be a father, he ponders. Was he robbed of a chance to prove himself a better man, a better father? Would he have been a better parent than his own father?

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Was Polish Anti-Semitism Actually Zionism?

By Gil S. Rubin for Tablet Magazine

Nazis sought to eliminate the Jews from their future racial empire. Poles wanted to create a state for them in Palestine. Historian Timothy Snyder makes the case that in the 1930s the two aims may have converged. But was Poland an ally of the Jews or a pioneer in the art of anti-Semitic politics?

One of the most unusual features of Timothy Snyder’s Black Earth, writes Christopher R. Browning in his New York Review of Books review, is the many pages Snyder devotes to Poland, Zionism, and Palestine. At the center of this story is the short-lived alliance between the Polish government and the Zionist Revisionist Movement during the late 1930s, explored in the book’s first four chapters (the third titled “The Promise of Palestine”) and revisited in the conclusion. After Marshal Józef Piłsudski’s death, the ruling circles in Poland advocated solving the country’s so-called Jewish problem through the emigration of 90 percent of the Jewish population (estimated at about 3 million on the eve of the war). For that purpose, Snyder recounts, the Polish government lent public support to Revisionist Zionist leaders and paramilitary groups and even financed and trained them. Their hope was that these Jews would wage a campaign of resistance and terror against the British mandatory authorities in Palestine and establish a Jewish state open to large-scale Jewish emigration.

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Monday, October 12, 2015

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

Review by Evie Saphire-Bernstein for Jewish Book Council

Alice Hoffman’s new novel, The Marriage of Opposites, begins and ends as if in a dream. Telling the fictionalized life of Rachel Pizzarro, the mother of the famous Impressionist Camille Pizzarro, the story unwinds slowly—beginning with Rachel in her youth, growing up in a strict Jewish community on the island of St. Thomas in the early 1800s. Rachel is a headstrong girl who becomes a fierce woman and mother of eleven, initially forced into an arranged marriage at a very young age. But when her older husband dies, she soon falls in love with her husband’s nephew, and her defiance and strength to be with the one she loves manages to supersede her community’s desire for discretion and adherence to custom.

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