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2014 Jewish Book Council Chanukah Gift Guide

Monday, November 17, 2014 | Permalink


Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

We know you book lovers out there have been waiting all year for what's finally upon us: Jewish Book Month — an annual event to promote Jewish literature the month preceding Chanukah (this year Jewish Book Month runs from November 16th-December 16th)! While we work all year to promote Jewish interest literature, this is the month when many of our efforts culminate in hundreds of events across the country featuring Jewish interest books and authors. If you're looking for an interesting book event, now is the time to start checking out your local listings. You can see if your community hosts a Jewish book fair or event with JBC authors by visiting our list of participating JBC Network sites.

With Jewish Book Month in full swing, it's also time to start thinking about Chanukah, and, of course, that means Chanukah gifts. In our humble opinion, there is no better gift for the holiday season than a good book and we certainly have no shortage of recommendations. That said, we did decide to offer a quick 2014 gift-giving cheat sheet below, in case you don't have time to browse through the thousands of books filling our book archive (although we do recommend a browse — we've got something for everyone!).

So take a gander below, check out the children's Chanukah gift-giving guide here, and if you have a loved one in the NYC area, consider buying them a Jewish Literary Map of NYC or a JBC Circle membership for Unpacking the Book: Jewish Writers in Conversation. Use gift code CH2014 to receive an extra 15% off your JBC Circle membership!

(Feel free to add your own 2014 gift recommendations in the comments below.)

Grandmother
Grandfather
Mother
Father
Sister
Brother

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2014 Jewish Book Council Chanukah Gift Guide for Children

Monday, November 17, 2014 | Permalink


Posted by Nat Bernstein

We know it's only November, but we've already got Chanukah on our mind. Earlier today we published our 2014 Chanukah gift-giving guide for adults, but our list wouldn't be complete without a few books for the youngins. See our 2014 Children's & YA cheatsheet below for the newest holiday books, illustrated titles, middle grade reads, and YA novels:

Chanukah Books
Picture Books
Middle Grades
Young Adult



























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New Jewish Book Council Reviews

Friday, November 14, 2014 | Permalink

This week's new Jewish Book Council reviews:

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Spicing Children's Literature with Jewish Humor and Jewish Life

Friday, November 14, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

The 16th Annual Jewish Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Seminar was held on Sunday, November 2nd at the Jewish Book Council offices in New York City. An intimate gathering of 30 or so authors and artists spent a full day workshopping and learning about different facets of children’s book publishing.

Book designer, artistic director, and children’s author Claudia Carlson kicked off the seminar with a keynote speech about her personal trajectory climbing the ropes in a very difficult industry. Claudia’s tenacity—necessary for any aspiring illustrator, designer or writer—immediately struck and resonated with her audience: unable to find the kind of work she desired upon entering the publishing world, Claudia enrolled in as many workshops and courses as her schedule allowed, took jobs in departments she had never considered before, and spent her lunches browsing bookstores to “research” how other designers approach books. “A good book cover will make someone pick up a book already asking a question—but none of it can make up for bad writing,” she observed.

Claudia named Uri Shulevitz’s Writing with Pictures as the ultimate resource for illustration and book design, and recommended taking calligraphy courses to sharpen one’s eye across the page. Book covers are more about typography and design than art—Claudia recalls a former mentor repeating, “Stop illustrating the cover!” over her drafts—and the interiors have to be set to match the stories they contain. “Good book design is like a table setting,” Claudia quipped, “people should remember the food and conversation, not the plates. A good designer illuminates the words and pictures, never overpowers them.”

Seth Fishman and Shira Schindel followed with a split presentation on researching and querying literary agencies and exploring e-publishing options. Seth, a literary agent and current JBC Network author, offered earnest advice on finding the right agent—“An agent works for you: if you’re with the wrong agent it can really burn your career. You want to find a partner in your agent; editors, publishers come and go, but agents take their clients with them wherever they end up.”—and outlined the optimal query letter. Seth has noticed a “direct correlation between research and quality of writing,” observing that authors who have clearly put in the time to learn about the agencies their querying and the industry in general ten to prove the better writers in the “slush pile.” Shira, who heads acquisitions for Qlovi, heartily agreed with Seth on the importance of making a strong impression from the slush pile, mentioning that most firms assign interns to sort through all query letters for standouts. She discussed the advantages and drawbacks of e-publishing and digitally-enhanced books, comparing different sites and sources—and their terms.

Freelance journalist and children’s book review Penny Schwartz facilitated an author panel featuring Leslie A. Kimmelman, Linda Marshall, and Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum. Leslie’s career in Jewish children’s book writing grew out of a personal need for a vibrant library for her own children. “At the time, there was only Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins, All-of-a-Kind Family, and Zlateh the Goat. The only Jewish children’s books when my kids were growing up were pedantic, dated, and small-press.” She recalled her children asking her why Charlie Brown celebrates Christmas as an example of how few literary characters existed to whom they could relate during the holidays. “I think it’s really important for kids to read Jewish books that aren’t about the shtetl or the Holocaust—non-Jewish kids, too—in order to teach children about Judaism, and to teach non-Jews about Judaism.”

Linda agreed, adding that she frequently hands her book to non-Jewish parents—even ones specific to Jewish holidays or history. “The Jewish values and Jewish stories I write about are applicable everywhere, to everyone; I’ll hand The Passover Lamb to the man who runs the newsstand on my way to work—and he’s definitely not Jewish—and ask him for feedback, what his kids think of the book.”

“I really want to develop a library of books that speak to Jewish children,” Leslie followed up. “Books that are universal but just happen to be Jewish; characters are doing Jewish things, but that’s not the focus.”

“It’s like a spice when you’re cooking something,” illustrated Andria, whose own desire to be a writer arose out of a love for the sound of literature from listening to her father read science fiction and Robert Louis Stevenson novels aloud. “You have this delicious spice that will enhance the book, the story, but you add too much and it tastes terrible.”

“I happen to think it tastes great,” Leslie chuckled, “but maybe other people just don’t like the spice! The characters that always stuck out to me—even now—are the villagers of Chelm: every time I read a Chelm story I think it’s hysterical. Jewish humor is so distinctive, and such a wonderful device for children’s literature, especially. I could it eat it by the bowlful.”

After bowlfuls of actual food, following the lunch break Vivian Newman from the PJ Library presented on how children’s books teach and transmit social and moral lessons. Children acquire values through discussion, role models, and experimentation with different behaviors—and books serve as a vehicle for all three. “Reading with children presents an opportunity to bring up issues or ideas that might not arise in daily life; characters serve as role models and anti-role models; and parents can use books to show a child what interests them and other adults in the child’s life, on top of presenting new perspectives that the child might not encounter elsewhere.”

Claudia Carlson returned for a Q&A session together with Penguin Random House editor Avery Briggs to answer questions about what they each look for in a manuscript and the shift in children’s book publishing to accommodate the Common Core.

The presence of several Jewish Book Council Board and staff members—including Jewish Book World’s Children’s & YA section editor Michal Malen—exhibits the Jewish Book Council’s dedication to the reading, writing, publishing, and distribution of Jewish children’s literature. See what children’s and YA titles been reviewed in the most recent issue of Jewish Book World and the full index of starred children’s reviews online, and contact the Jewish Book Council through the form below for more information about next year’s seminar!

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The Boy with the Duffle Bag

Friday, November 14, 2014 | Permalink

Earlier this week, Mike Kelly wrote about looking into the bombmaker who built the bomb that blew up a bus on Jaffa Road in 1996 and his journey from 9/11 to Jerusalem's Jaffa Road. His newest book, The Bus on Jaffa Road: A Story of Middle East Terrorism and the Search for Justice, chronicles the aftermath of the Hamas suicide bombing of a commuter bus in downtown Jerusalem on Feb. 25, 1996. The book traces the capture of the key bomb-maker and the efforts by the families of two Americans to hold Iran accountable for financing the bombing and training the bomb-maker – only to discover that the American government was trying to block them. He has been blogging here all week for the Jewish Book Council's Visiting Scribe series.

Majid was was nineteen and learning to lay tile at a trade school. On a Friday in February 1996, his cousin – an older man with ties to Hamas – asked if he wanted to “do a mission.” Two days later, Majid stepped aboard a commuter bus on Jerusalem’s Jaffa Road, carrying a duffle bag filled with twenty pounds of explosives and wired to detonate with the press of a button. After the doors closed, he stood, yelled “God is great” in Arabic and pressed that button. Twenty-six people died – twenty-seven if you include Majid.

Why did he do it? How did an otherwise ordinary nineteen-year-old Palestinian decide so quickly on a Friday to kill himself so brutally on a Sunday?

Those questions troubled me as I researched The Bus on Jaffa Road.

And so, on another Sunday, almost seventeen years later, I drove to Majid’s home in the Palestinian refugee community of al-Fawwar in the Judean hills near the ancient city of Hebron. Like any writer, I suppose I was hoping for some sort of clear answer to a crucial central question of why this young man killed himself. And yet, as I approached al-Fawwar, I sensed that such clarity may still be impossible.

I found Majid’s family home – actually a vacant lot now. Soon after he had been implicated in the Jaffa Road bombing, his home had been destroyed by the Israeli army. I asked where the family was now. A young man guided me through a series of narrow lanes and up a hill where I met Majid’s father, Muhammad.

I introduced myself and said I wanted to speak about Majid. Muhammad led me into his family’s new home, a two-story, concrete structure that sat on a hillside and overlooked a lush valley of small farms. We entered a room with only one photo on the otherwise bare walls. The photo was of Majid.

I asked Muhammad why Majid killed himself. Muhammad shook his head. He did not know why and explained that if he had known of his son’s plans he would have tried to stop him. He said he understands why some young men participate in suicide bombings. He cited the Israeli occupation, the lack of jobs and the overall feeling among some Palestinians that there is no future for them. But then his voice trailed off.

“As a father I couldn’t bear dealing with this issue.”

I pointed to the photo of Majid on the wall.

“Why do you keep his photo there?” I asked.

“Because he is my son,” Muhammad said.

Our conversation continues for another hour or so. Muhammad said that Majid would have been in his mid-thirties by now, probably married and the father of children.

“Do people in al-Fawwar talk about him?" I asked.

Muhammad shook his head.

“Not very much,” he said. “Things like that go into oblivion.”

For more information about The Bus on Jaffa Road as well as a video and an excerpt, please check out www.mikekellywriter.com.

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Interview: Rabbi Sandy Sasso

Thursday, November 13, 2014 | Permalink

by Michal Hoschander Malen

JBW’s Michal Hoschander Malen interviewed Rabbi Sandy Sasso about the many children’s books she has authored and about where she finds the in­spirations for her stories.

Michal Hoschander Malen: Rabbi Sasso, your lovely books, although geared to young children, are filled with spiritual connections and a sense of reaching beyond our daily lives. Can you tell us a bit about your overall philosophies and how you are able to transmit some of that feel­ing to a new generation?

Rabbi Sandy Sasso: I began writing for children in the late 1980s. I want­ed books about God, spirituality, and the Bible that I could read to my own children and the children I taught. Most of the children’s literature in these areas was either too preachy or contained ideas that children would be prone to reject when they grew older. Children have an innate spirituality and they are capable of talking about life’s big questions. Often adults are afraid of the conversation. Writing about the sacred, the divine, doesn’t mean simplifying the concept, just the language. When I write, I address a number of questions: How might children experience the sacred in their daily experiences? How might they come to under­stand Bible tales as more than ancient texts, as living stories of which they are a part? How can story be a way honoring the spiritual lives of children and encourage a continuing conversation?

MHM: The new Noah movie has reawakened interest in the old Bible tale and one is reminded that you wrote a book only a few short years ago featuring Noah’s wife, Naamah. Please tell us about your vision of Naamah and why you think she is an important figure for the youth of today. How much, if any, of the Naamah character is based on anything hinted at in the Biblical text? What can we learn from the Noah story about the world we live in now? Are there any lessons we can carry away with us?

RSS: Often when I read Biblical narratives what fascinates me the most is the voice that is missing. When a student once asked me who Noah’s wife was, I had nothing to say. I decided to look at rabbinic sources to see if they might tell me something. I found two names, Naamah and Emzerah. Naamah means “pleasing” and Emzerah, “Mother of Seed.” That wasn’t much to go on, but it was enough for a story. Noah saved the animal life. I imagined that Naamah collected two of every seed, planted a garden on the ark and replanted the earth’s garden after the Flood.

I write that as Naamah was collecting all the plants to bring on the ark, she passed by the dandelions. God tells her again to gather seeds of every plant. Naamah knows that means the dandelions too. Because she had ignored them God made certain that dandelions would cover the earth.

Soon after the book came out I received a call from the assistant to the Secretary of the Interior of the United States! He told me that he had read my book and wanted to know where I had found the part about the dandelions. The need for environmental preservation was essential and he wanted to know the sacred source. I told him that I found it in my imagination. He was disappointed. He needed something a bit more ancient!

Toward the end of the book, I suggest that it is Naamah who puts an olive seed in the mouth of the raven and encourages him to drop it to the earth. When the dove returns with the olive branch, Noah says it is a miracle; Naamah just smiles!

It is important for young people to know that nothing and no one is unimportant; that even when they feel ignored, they are loved. They have a responsibility to care for the earth, to continue to plant the trees and the garden, to care for our environment. It is more important now than ever. I also want our young people to come to realize that they shouldn’t wait for miracles; they can make them happen.

MHM: We more recently reviewed two of your other books, The Shema in the Mezuzah: Listening to Each Other and Creation’s First Light. The Shema in the Mezuzah was a wonderful story about compromise. What is the source for this story?

RSS: The story is based on a twelfth-century argument between two great scholars, Rashi and his grandson, Rabbenu Tam. They disagreed about how the mezuzah should be placed on the door posts of the house. Rashi thought that we should put the mezuzah vertically. Rabbenu Tam believed it should be in a horizontal position. In the end, they compro­mised and decided to slant the mezuzah. I had known about this debate for a long time and told it as part of a sermon. Then one day when I was thinking about what story to tell at a family service, my husband Dennis asked, “Why don’t you tell the story of the mezuzah?” I took his advice and the kids loved it! It was the beginning of The Shema in the Mezuzah. Because it deals with the importance of listening and compromise, it isn’t just a story for children. Many people who read the book suggest that I send it to Congress!

MHM: Creation’s First Light is suffused with a sense of spirituality and joy. Where do you get the ideas for your books and what motivates you to write for children?

RSS: Often the ideas come from questions—my own or others. I recall telling the creation story from Genesis. I asked if there was any part of the story we could do without and still have all the story we needed. One person suggested that we did not need the light of the first day, because we had the light of the sun and the moon.

What was the light of the first day? I knew the midrash about the primordial light that was greater than the sun and the moon and that it had been lost after Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge. Despite many suggestions in rabbinic text, I still was not sure where the primordial light was hidden. When my first grandson was born, I looked into his eyes and I saw that light. It was then that I knew its name—the soul.

When I talk to children about this story, they understand that spiri­tual light in ways I never thought possible. They can tell the difference between the light of the sun, the moon and the stars, the artificial lights of lamps and flashlights and the deeper light of the soul. Our children have that special light and they want to tell us about it. It is up to us to insure that they have the language, so that it can continue to burn more brightly.

MHM: Can you share with our readers a few details about your writing process?

RSS: I read; I observe. Something strikes me—a midrash, a question. Then a thought grabs hold of me and won’t let go. It is a bit like the ac­count of Jacob struggling with the angel. Only in writing, I am wrestling with ideas and words, and I won’t let go until they bless me. I wrote many of my books while I was serving as a rabbi of a large congregation. People would often ask me, “Where do you find the time?” When a story is in­side you, you can’t sleep if you don’t write it down. Time finds you—even in the middle of the night. It is exhilarating and hard—lots of editing and discarding, playfulness and patience.

If I am working with a Bible tale or a midrash, I weave traditional texts with imagination and listen for the silences. Sometimes the characters have a mind of their own. When you live with them long enough, they take you places you didn’t at first think you would go. You carry the story with you and in you. And when it is finished, you give birth. And just like a child, the story takes on a life of its own.

MHM: Are there any new books or subjects we can look forward to in the foreseeable future? Do you have any hints or teasers for us to whet our appetites?

RSS: There is a book that will be published in the fall that tells of the chestnut tree behind Anne Frank’s Secret Annex. Saplings from that tree are being planted in eleven places in the U.S. Anne Frank and the Remembering Tree is the story of Anne Frank from the point of view of the tree.

I am also working on an adult anthology with Peninnah Schram on Jewish Love and Marriage: Stories from the Bible to Contemporary Time (working title).

I thought you might be interested in the following explanation of one of my books because of the recent release of the movie. The Noah movie reminded me of my story of Naamah and the recent book and movie, Heaven is For Real, make me think back to the book I wrote in 1999, For Heaven’s Sake. The story tells of a little boy named Isaiah whose grandfather has died. People tell him that his grandfather went to Heaven and Isaiah wants to know what heaven is. He receives many answers, none of which satisfy him. Finally his grandmother takes Isaiah to all the places his grandfather loved to visit and volunteer. Then she says, “I think, Isaiah, we can get close to Heaven and to God in a place in our hearts. I feel there is a part of Grandpa in all the places and people we visited today, and little bit of Heaven, too.” I wrote this story in part because as a rabbi I was often asked this question and most of the books I read were not satisfying. I felt a need for a narrative that did not depict this world simply as a waiting room for the world to come, but a real place where we can make life hell or heavenly.

MHM: Thank you so much, Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso. We look for­ward to many more creative and beautiful books from your flowing pen.

JBC thanks Jewish Lights Publishing for help in facilitating this interview.

Michal Hoschander Malen is a librarian and editor of reference books. She is the children’s and young adult section editor of Jewish Book World.

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Book Cover of the Week: After Birth by Elisa Albert

Thursday, November 13, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

As we await the release of Sami Rohr Prize finalist Elisa Albert's forthcoming novel, the newly unveiled book cover for the British edition of After Birth was sent to the Jewish Book Council in the last week, and it's a winner:

Elisa Albert is the author of The Book of Dahlia: A Novel and How Is This Night Different?, a collection of short stories circling around Jewish holidays and rites of passage. Through the narrative of a new mother striving to befriend and aid a transient, trendy neighbor in her sleepy college town, After Birth, due out in February from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, explores the challenges of first-time parenting and postpartum depression, interfaith marriage, and the second-hand trauma of the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. And yes, breastfeeding features heavily.

If you're in the New York area, come out to hear Elisa Albert speak about After Birth at our new literary series Unpacking the Book: Jewish Writers in Conversation.

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The Eyes of the Bombmaker

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 | Permalink

Earlier this week, Mike Kelly wrote about his journey from 9/11 to Jerusalem's Jaffa Road. His newest book, The Bus on Jaffa Road: A Story of Middle East Terrorism and the Search for Justice, chronicles the aftermath of the Hamas suicide bombing of a commuter bus in downtown Jerusalem on Feb. 25, 1996. The book traces the capture of the key bomb-maker and the efforts by the families of two Americans to hold Iran accountable for financing the bombing and training the bomb-maker – only to discover that the American government was trying to block them. He will be blogging here all week for the Jewish Book Council's Visiting Scribe series.

I needed to meet the man who built the bomb that blew up the bus on Jaffa Road – the bomb that killed Matt Eisenfeld and Sara Duker in 1996.

On a Sunday morning, a decade after that devastating explosion, I walked through the gates of an Israeli prison in the Negev Desert. A prison official shook my hand, then led me to a room. Minutes later, amid the shuffle of feet and the chunky clank of leg irons, a door opened and I looked into the eyes of Hassan Salameh.

He is serving 46 consecutive life terms for the murders of 46 unarmed and innocent people aboard three commuter buses that were attacked by suicide bombers who carried explosive-filled satchels that he had designed. Salameh looked at me and smiled faintly.

A prison official motioned to me that I could begin.

Salameh had no idea who I was. Israeli prison officials do not tell an inmate anything about a visitor. They merely tell an inmate that a visitor has arrived and would like to talk. After meeting the visitor, the inmate can then choose to talk or return to his cell.

I figured I could ask at least one question before Salameh decided whether to speak to me.

I decided to try for two.

“Do you know the name of Sara Duker,” I asked.

Salameh nodded.

“Yes,” he said in English.

He did not get up to leave. Nor did he seem to object to my presence or my question.

So I asked my second question:

"Why did you kill her?"

So began what I can only describe as a transformative experience – not transformative in a positive sense, though. It was really the beginning of a journey into the heart of darkness, an experience that led me to write my book, The Bus on Jaffa Road: A Story of Middle East Terrorism and the Search for Justice.

On that day at the prison, Salameh was unrepentant, not showing even a trace of regret. I was not surprised and had been warned that he might exhibit no remorse. But being warned is one thing; the actual experience of seeing Salameh’s behavior first-hand was something else entirely.

He stared at me with blank, cold eyes. But what stunned me the most, I think, was his sense of joy in what he had done. Yes, he acknowledged that he had killed unarmed people. But he insisted that his murders were “God’s will.” And from that, he not only seemed satisfied but happy.

I wrote a newspaper column about my confrontation with Salameh and moved on to other assignments. But the experience haunted me. Salameh’s words echoed those of the al-Qaeda killers of 9/11 and far too many Islamic jihadists who were trying to justify their murders of innocent people by claiming it was God’s will.

Several years later, over lunch with a trusted book editor, I mentioned my desire to write about terrorism. Then I described my interview with Salameh and his twisted theology. My lunch companion paused, then looked at me. “You have to write about this more,” he said. “This is where you can start to really probe the horrors of terrorism.”

It was then that my book was born.

For more information about The Bus on Jaffa Road as well as a video and an excerpt, please check out www.mikekellywriter.com.

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The Fight for Jewish Feminism in Israel

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Monday night, a group of Jewish students and professionals in their 20s gathered in the common room of the newly opened Moishe House of the Upper West Side over plates of kosher Chinese food for a discussion with JBC Network author Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman about her new book out from Sourcebooks, The War on Women in Israel: A Story of Religious Radicalism and the Women Fighting for Freedom.

Elana opened her talk with a brief description of a recent El Al flight in which the plane’s departure was delayed half an hour while passengers scrambled to accommodate a religious man assigned to the seat next to hers and insisting on another arrangement. The experience inspired an impassioned post on her blog, JewFem.com, that was quickly picked up and circulated by numerous news and media outlets including Tablet, The Telegraph, and Haaretz and launched a petition to El Al demanding an end to complacency in the harassment of female passengers by Ultra-Orthodox fliers. “If I had known that piece, out of all my writing and blogging, would be so widely forwarded, I would have never admitted that I cried,” Elana chuckled.

“All over the world, whenever religious extremism comes to power, women are always the first victims,” Elana pointed out, citing Geraldine Brooks’ Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women, “and Judaism is no exception.” The most visible outcome is the high premium placed on women’s modesty—“I hate to use that word, because modesty in Judaism was originally a beautiful idea, going back to Moses: true Jewish modesty is about putting the other person first, about putting others before yourself.” What it’s evolved into, she observes, is a way of controlling and hiding women’s bodies. “In the Orthodox world today, modesty is used as a measurement. We literally measure, inch by inch, religious observance against women’s bodies.”

Elana gave examples of how women are silenced, separated, removed, and prohibited from public spaces across Israel, from radio stations to cemeteries to sidewalks. Until recently, images of women were not allowed on billboards or other public advertising in Jerusalem; female scientists, educators, and medical professionals were barred from presenting at conferences in their fields or receiving awards at official ceremonies. “The levels of patriarchy are astounding: we go from modesty, covering women up, to removing women entirely, to the removal of images of women, to removing women’s voices. This is what’s going on in Israel, and it’s becoming violent.”

Questions for Elana ranged from pragmatic (“How can men and other outside groups be better allies to the religious feminist movements?”) to rhetorical, often raising personal experiences and responses. Members of the audience were appalled at the incidents of violence against Israeli women mentioned in Elana’s talk—stories of vandalism, of rocks thrown at women and their children for their attire or for turning down a segregated street, of women physically assaulted for sitting at the front of a public bus. “So a Haredi man can touch a woman to drag her off a bus and beat her, but he can’t sit next to her?” one participant blurted out, furious with indignation.

There, Israel has seen some progress: segregated buses are down to a third of where they were three years ago, and after a driver was heavily fined by the government for the assault of a female passenger on his bus Eged employees have made a better habit of intervening when a passenger is harassed or threatened. There have been other victories for women’s civil rights in Israel over the past couple years: grassroots campaigns and initiatives have gained firm footing in Israeli society, enabling partnerships across denominational lines and placing much-needed accountability on the government and political leaders—not just the religious ones. “The story here is about the secular government, the state apparatus, supporting religious extremism. The story is not about religious extremists, but how the secular world enables them.”

Globally, Elana holds, there needs to be less tolerance—even on the lay level—for religious fanaticism. This applies to the Jewish world, both in the Diaspora and in Israel: “There is a limit to pluralism; there’s a limit to how much we can accept as ‘multiculturalism’. This is not a legitimate culture, these are not legitimate demands. It is never acceptable for there to be a space in Israel in which women are not allowed.” She shared several examples from her own upbringing, career, and family to illustrate the challenges of upholding feminist values in the Orthodox world, even in her own life. When Elana apologized for adding such personal anecdotes to the discussion, the room erupted in protest: “No, these stories are amazing,” someone called out. “This is exactly what we came to hear.”

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Monday, Nov. 10: Elana Maryles Sztokman at Moishe Ho(UWS)

Monday, November 10, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

TONIGHT at 7:30pm Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman will be joining the newly opened Moishe Ho(UWS) to talk about her new book, The War on Women in Israel: A Story of Religious Radicalism and the Women Fighting for Freedom. Learn, debate, and discuss about the role that women play within Judaism, in Israel and the Diaspora.

The event will be at Moishe House of the Upper West Side. Dinner from Gan Asia will be served. Please email Orly Michaeli for details!

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