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August 2015 Jewish Book Council Staff Picks

Thursday, August 27, 2015 | Permalink

Posted by Arie Monas

Read what the staff of the Jewish Book Council has been reading for the month of August!

Mimi

"This month, I’m reading The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff. I’ve read all her other books and I enjoy her style of writing. I’m in the beginning of the book so I don’t have too much to say. It takes place in WWII, which is interesting to me. It’s a well-written book. I recommend it to people who like the time period of WWII."

Becca

"The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein is about two Jewish New Yorkers, a 21-year-old woman from Manhattan and a Russian born boy who has recently graduated high school. They both find themselves in Norway in the summertime. The nights there are unusual. The sun doesn’t full set, which leaves a beautiful scenery. The author does a great job of incorporating beautiful imagery into a very readable plotline. I definitely recommend it to everyone."


Miri

I’m reading Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk. It’s a book about a young girl coming of age in the 1930’s. I’m re-reading it because it’s interesting to see the differences between young adults now and then.

Nat

"I’m reading two books this month. The first one is Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen. It’s an absorbing, mind-bending novel that has caused me to miss my subway stop more than once! Cohen plays with science fiction, technology, and personal identity in his signature engrossing, thoroughly Jewish-postmodern voice.

"The second book is Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sara Monguso. As somebody who has also journaled for many years, Monguso’s reflections on her own diaries truly resonate with me."


Suzanne

"I’m reading Thresholds: How to Thrive Through Life’s Transitions and to Live Fearlessly and Regret-Free by Sherre Hirsch. Hirsch talks about how we all have times of transitions. She says that we have many in our lives and need to find a new way of “thinking, feeling and being.” Being a parent, watching my last child go to a far way college and the reality of becoming an empty nester, is one of those thresholds of my life. Hirsch’s book gives us the tools to help cross those thresholds both major and minor and to be strong as we go from one room in our lives to the next."

Evie

"One of Green's lesser known books, An Abundance of Katherines, is an exciting adventure of a road trip to nowhere—where friendships are tested and limits are broken. A book that gives us the realization that there is freedom in not having all the answers."


Naomi

"Having recently enjoyed a lively Persian Shabbat dinner in LA, I've taken a dive into some of the incredible stories that focus on the Persian Jewish community. Of particular note is this recently published novel by JBC Network author Parnaz Foroutan set in in early twentieth-century Iran and contemporary LA. The Girl from the Garden is Foroutan's debut novel and focuses on family legacy."

Carolyn

"This month, I'm reading As a Driven Leaf by Milton Steinberg. This is an unbelievable book and a must-read for everyone. If you haven't read it yet, I strongly recommend it."


Joyce

"This month, I'm reading An Improbable Friendship by Anthony David. Anthony David's biography of Ruth Dayan and Raymonda Tawil is amazing. He manages to tell each woman's story in her own voice against the backdrop of the history they lived as Israel struggled to become a nation. They reveal heartbreaking stories that often conflict with the stories we have come to hold as true. And yet, through it all, these two women fight not only for self determination, but for the rights of all women. That they forged a friendship during those years of war is itself amazing. That they fought to hold on to each other and their shared vision for peace should give us all hope that their dream could become a reality."

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Jewish Classic Literature

Thursday, August 06, 2015 | Permalink

Posted by Arie Monas

Over the years, classic Jewish literature has become less popular amongst Jewish teens. Many of the teens in today’s day and age have never even heard of the once, big hits. As you speak with people from older generations, they tend to have more knowledge on Jewish classics. Here, at the Jewish Book Council, we are very diverse in age. Becca, who is 29 years old, has heard of and read some of the Jewish classics such as The Chosen by Chaim Potok and Exodus by Leon Uris. Evie, who is 26 years old, has heard of some of the classics but has never read any of them. However, I am 15 years old and have never heard or read any of the Jewish classics. This shows how the new generation is not being exposed to Jewish classics, resulting in them being forgotten.

I am very interested in reading Jewish classic literature. Writers like S. Y. Agnon have a lot of classical Jewish traditions invested in their writings. Reading these Jewish books can teach you a lot about the culture in the author's times and how it differs from modern times. I think many teens haven’t read these books because it is hard for them to relate to it but there still is a lot to learn from these books and they can be very interesting. I'm looking forward to reading Jewish classical literature and learning about the culture of the Jewish people in the previous centuries.

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July 2015 Jewish Book Council Staff Picks

Tuesday, July 28, 2015 | Permalink

Posted by Arie Monas

Read what the staff of the Jewish Book Council has been reading for the month of July!

Mimi

I'm reading two books this month. The first one is All Who Go Do Not Return by Shulem Deen. I picked this book because it is quite controversial. I absolutely loved it and I highly recommend it. It is truly enlightening because I am learning more about the Hasidic sects.

The second book I read this month is Jewish Ireland: A Social History by Ray Rivlin. I chose to read this book because I was in Ireland a few weeks ago and I went to the Jewish museum in Dublin and it got me thinking about the Jews in Ireland. I recommend this book to people who like history.

Miri

The book The Last Flight of Poxl West by Daniel Torday an interesting novel that can start a conversation. It is an unusual take on the Holocaust story. I recommend the book to everyone.

Find Jewish Book Council's book club kit for The Last Flight of Poxl West here.

Evie

The final book in a three part series, Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, allows teenagers to be more than one-dimensional characters – complicated, frustrating and loveable, Isla and the Happily Ever After shows teens as they really are.

Becca

The Innocents by Francesca Segal is a very intriguing look at the Jewish community in London. It also makes me want to read the original book that this is based off of, The Age of Innocence. I recommend it to anyone who read the Age of Innocence.

Carol

The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook by Fania Lewando and The 

Covenant Kitchen by Jeff and Jodie Morgan are very original cookbooks. The Vilna cookbook was originally published in Vilna in 1938. It was a very advanced for its time and it had color illustrations. It’s not a vegetarian cookbook but it emphasizes on fresh produce. It’s the ancestor of fresh produce cuisine. I recommend it to anyone interested in contemporary cooking.

Naomi

Upon learning the sad news of E. L. Doctorow's death, this month I'm rereading E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime. Set in New York, Ragtime is peppered with historical figures, giving them new dimension and seamlessly connecting them with fictional components of Doctorow's plot. Particularly of note, for a Jewish audience, are the appearances of Harry Houdini, Sigmund Freud, and Emma Goldman (you can find reading lists for all three on Jewish Book Council's website) as well as the fictional story of Tateh, which pulls back the curtain on New York City tenements and specifically the life of a Jewish Eastern European immigrant trying to make ends meet and provide for his daughter. If you haven't already read this classic, it should definitely make its way to the top of your to-read list!

Carolyn

I never realized the danger involved in that profession. I recommend The War Reporter by Martin Fletcher to anyone.

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The Saddest Day in the Jewish Calendar

Friday, July 24, 2015 | Permalink

Posted by Arie Monas

Tisha B’Av, or the Ninth of Av, is an annual fast day commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. It is regarded to as the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. The fast lasts twenty-five hours, beginning at sunset and ending at nightfall the next day. Many accounts of sorrow occurred on this day, beginning with the sin of the ten spies. When the spies returned from Canaan and gave the Jewish people a false and negative report on the land, the Jewish people began to weep. The night that they wept was the Ninth of Av, and as a result of crying on that night, this day has become a day of weeping, misfortune and sorrow. Tisha B’av holds many ritual similarities with Yom Kippur: it is customarily forbidden to eat or drink, wash or bath, putting on creams, wearing leather shoes, and to engage in marital relations.

Tisha B’av is a very significant day in the calendar for me. On this day, we mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples together with many other tragic events that occurred on this day. This day is not supposed to be a day of rejoice; rather it should be a day of sorrow and grief. Many people watch videos and documentaries on the destruction of the Temples. This year, I will be going to the synagogue, as the rabbi will be conducting lectures the entire day on the importance of Tisha B’Av. They are also going to play several videos for the congregation that educates the people about the fast day. "One who mourns the destruction of the Holy Temple, will merit to rejoice in it's rebuilding."

To learn more about this mournful observance, check out Jewish Book Council’s Tisha B’Av reading list, including featured books and essays by Erica Brown, Deborah Lipstadt, and Dvora Meyers from The ProsenPeople archives.

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