Monday, July 4, 2016

Goose Fat for the Soul

by Gloria Levitas for Moment Magazine

Book Review of Rhapsody in Schmaltz: Yiddish Food and Why We Can’t Stop Eating It by Michael Wex

Rhapsody in Schmaltz is not a book to devour in one sitting, nor should it be casually nibbled. Something of an oxymoron, this witty, entertaining volume overflows with food for thought and thoughts about food. It is stuffed with Talmudic arguments, biblical injunctions, slyly sexual linguistic tropes, and an exploration of the intimate relationship between Yiddish food and metaphor. Wex, a Canadian novelist, professor, linguist, Talmud scholar, cultural analyst and standup comedian, is best known for Born to Kvetch (2005), his hilarious yet profound analysis of Yiddish language and culture. This new volume is its more-than-worthy successor.

Continue reading.

For more on Jewish books, check out our    page.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Raised with miracle of parents’ survival, author writes magical Holocaust tales

With the X-Men and vampires as her influences, Helen Maryles Shankman brings ‘fabulist’ realism to Wlodawa, Poland

By Matt Lebovic or The Times of Israel
It took a story about a partisan with a knife jumping out of a tree to convince a young Helen Maryles Shankman that “Jews fought back” during the Holocaust.

As she grew up in Chicago during the 1960s and 70s, Shankman’s survivor parents — the late Brenda and Barry Maryles — often told her “vivid stories” about wartime Poland.

Almost all of her parents’ friends had lived through the Shoah, and the author recalls thinking of them, “they didn’t know how to be American. My parents were not like the people in ‘Dick & Jane,’” she told The Times of Israel in an interview.

Continue reading.

For more on Jewish books, check out our    page.

Monday, June 20, 2016

As Close to Us as Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner

Review by Philip K. Jason for Jewish Book Council

There is no shortage of books focused on Jewish family life, but Elizabeth Poliner’s stands apart as an instant classic. It is an inspired literary exploration of the tension between personal and family identity, between masculine and feminine models of achievement, between tradition as habit and tradition as choice, between love that gives and love that demands.

Though the novel examines an extended family and its world over three generations, its point of focus is the summer of 1948, immediately following modern Israel’s birth and, for the Leibritsky family, the trauma of its youngest member’s accidental death. Spatially and culturally, its main arena is a place informally named Bagel Beach: the family vacation area on the Connecticut shore of Long Island Sound that constitutes a summer Jewish beachfront neighborhood in the midst of other ethnic enclaves.

Continue reading.

For more on Jewish books, check out our    page.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Israeli Author Etgar Keret Awarded $100,000 Bronfman Prize

The Jewish Week

Israeli author Etgar Keret has been named the recipient of the 2016 Charles Bronfman Prize.

The prize recognizes Keret’s work “conveying Jewish values across cultures and imparting a humanitarian vision throughout the world,” the prize said in an announcement Wednesday.

The annual prize, which carries a $100,000 award, goes to a Jewish humanitarian under age 50 whose work is informed and fueled by Jewish values and has broad, global impact that can potentially change lives.

Continue reading.

For more on Jewish books, check out our    page.

Monday, June 6, 2016

How one publisher revolutionized American Judaism

by Jeffrey K. Salkin for JewishJournal

When the news came, it was like learning of the death of an old, trusted friend.

Last week, it was announced that Turner Publishing Company would be acquiring Jewish Lights Publishing, as well as the other imprints associated with its parent company, LongHill Partners -- SkyLight Paths, Christian Journeys, and Gemstone Press  (,,,

(Full disclosure: almost all of this author’s books have been published by Jewish Lights).

Jewish Lights was not simply a Jewish publishing company. Such companies have come and gone. Some have disappeared because of the vicissitudes of Jewish history; gone are the Jewish publishing houses of Amsterdam, Livorno, Warsaw, and Vilna. Others disappeared because of the vagaries of the publishing industry itself -- Jason Aronson, the URJ Press, and the venerable Schocken house is no longer independent.

Continue reading.

For more on Jewish books, check out our    page.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Interview: Michelle Adelman

with Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone for Jewish Book Council
Michelle Adelman's debut novel introduces a heroine whose failings, grief, and disability have become the background music of her life, but who nonetheless grows stronger because of her scars. Jewish Book Council chatted with the author about this unusual novel, Piece of Mind, its portrayal of the family dynamics in dealing with disability, and how Judaism emerged as a source of comfort to its protagonist, Lucy.

Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone: Your background is in nonfiction and journalism. How did you become interested in writing fiction? And how did you use those skills when you wrote this novel?

Continue reading.

For more on Jewish books, check out our    page.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Advanced Style: Older & Wiser

By Amy Klein for Hadassah Magazine
When Ari Seth Cohen moved to New York more than eight years ago, he was missing his grandmother Bluma, his “best friend” who had recently passed away. So in tribute to her, he started documenting the style and stories of the city’s most inspiring older people. And a phenomenon was born.

To wit: first the blog, then the book, then the documentary Advanced Style, showing photos of the flashy, the classy, the colorful and the eclectic “elderhood” around the world.

Continue reading.

For more on Jewish books, check out our    page.