Guess what? I never read all of “Night” or “Dawn.”
It is about time I did.
by Elie Wiesel
2006 paperback Edition
Hill and Wang
In 1960, Hill & Wang gave lie Wiesel $100 for his book. It sold about 1,000 copies. After three years, it sold 3,000. It slowly caught on. People were more willing to talk about the Holocaust.
Over five decades it has sold over 7 million copies, and sell 300,000 a year. If Oprah can read it, so can I. Night is Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel’s account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps of Auschwitz Birkenau, its sub-camps, and Buchenwald. This edition was translated to better reflect the author’s intentions and his dedication to world peace and his philosophy.
Here is a related podcast from NPR: HERE
This might not be a beach read, but I am thoroughly enjoying it this Summer.
Deathbed Wisdom of the Hasidic Masters:
The Book of Departure and Caring
for People at the End of Life
Translated by Rabbi Joel H Baron and
Rabbi Sara Paasche-Orlow
Foreword by Dr. Arthur Green
From two Boston area rabbis who work with death and illness on a daily basis, we learn that death is a time of life that holds meaning for the dying, their families and friends, their community – and us.
Students of the Hasidic masters wrote down the stories of the last months, days, hours and moments of the lives of their rebbes. A compilation of their experiences, called The Book of Departure (Sefer haHistalkut), first published in Hebrew in 1930, brings together the rich end-of-life stories of forty-two holy men who died between 1760 and 1904, as well as their philosophical forebearer, Isaac Luria. The rabbis add their pastoral commentaries in a unique facing-page format. The deathbed tales shed light on Jewish traditions about death, the afterlife, and how to care for people in their final days
As Rabbi Arthur Green (I once had the opportunity to take a course at penn with him) writes in the Foreword: “Most of Torah’s teaching is about how to live. But there is a special section within its wisdom that also speaks to us about how to die. Since we are all mortals, our lives fashioned somehow around the awareness that death is inevitably to come, this is one of the important lessons…. There is something profound to be learned about the way of dying, and it is best learned from the wisdom and stories of those who have gone before us.”
Listen to a podcast HERE.
THE BRIDGE LADIES
by Betsy Lerner
In this memoir, a fifty-year-old weekly bridge game provides an unexpected way to cross the generational divide between a daughter and her mother. Betsy Lerner takes us on a powerfully personal literary journey, where we learn a little about bridge and a lot about life. After a lifetime defining herself in CONTRAST to her mother’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” generation, Lerner finds herself back in her childhood hometown, less than five miles from the mother she spent decades avoiding. When Roz needs help after surgery, it falls to Betsy to take care of her. She expected a week of tense civility; what she got instead were the “Bridge Ladies.” Impressed by their loyalty, she saw something that her generation lacked. Facebook was great, but it wouldn’t deliver a pot roast when you were recovering from a hospital stay.
Tentatively at first, Betsy becomes a regular at her mother’s Monday Bridge Club. Through her friendships with the ladies, she is finally able to face years of misunderstandings and the unspoken family tragedy of a lost child, the Bridge table becoming the common ground she and Roz never had. By turns darkly funny and deeply moving, The Bridge Ladies is the unforgettable story of a hard-won—but never-too-late—bond between mother and daughter.
LOUIS D. BRANDEIS
By Jeffrey Rosen
Jewish Lives Series
Yale University Press
According to Jeffrey Rosen, Louis D. Brandeis was “the Jewish Jefferson,” the greatest critic of what he called “the curse of bigness,” in business and government, since the author of the Declaration of Independence. Published to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of his Supreme Court confirmation on June 1, 1916, Louis D. Brandeis: American Prophet argues that Brandeis was the most farseeing constitutional philosopher of the twentieth century. In addition to writing the most famous article on the right to privacy, he also wrote the most important Supreme Court opinions about free speech, freedom from government surveillance, and freedom of thought and opinion. And as the leader of the American Zionist movement, he convinced Woodrow Wilson and the British government to recognize a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Combining narrative biography with a passionate argument for why Brandeis matters today, Rosen explores what Brandeis, the Jeffersonian prophet, can teach us about historic and contemporary questions involving the Constitution, monopoly, corporate and federal power, technology, privacy, free speech, and Zionism.
The Book of Esther
(an alt history novel)
by Emily Barton
Tim Duggan Books
What if an empire of Jewish warriors that really existed in the Middle Ages had never fallen — and was the only thing standing between Hitler and his conquest of Russia?
Welcome to August 1942. The Khazar kaganate, an isolated nation of Turkic warrior Jews, lies between the Pontus Euxinus (the Black Sea) and the Khazar Sea (the Caspian). It also happens to lie between a belligerent nation to the west that the Khazars call Germania—and a city the rest of the world calls Stalingrad. After years of Jewish refugees streaming across the border from Europa, fleeing the war, Germania launches its siege of Khazaria. Only Esther, the daughter of the nation’s chief policy adviser, sees the ominous implications of Germania’s disregard for Jewish lives. (Just like Queen Esther in Persia)
Only Esther realizes that this isn’t just another war but an existential threat. After witnessing the enemy warplanes’ first foray into sovereign Khazar territory, Esther knows she must fight for her country. But as the elder daughter in a traditional home, her urgent question is, “How?” Before daybreak one fateful morning, she embarks on a perilous journey across the open steppe. She seeks a fabled village of Kabbalists who may hold the key to her destiny: their rumored ability to change her into a man so that she may convince her entire nation to join in the fight for its very existence against an enemy like none Khazaria has ever faced before. The Book of Esther is a story of war, alternative history, technology, mysticism, power, and faith. Marketers promote it as reminiscent of Michael Chabon’s “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” and Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America.” It is no Plot Against America, but it is a Jewish Game of Thrones (GOT)
(Emily Barton graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard/Radcliffe, and later earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She resides in Kingston, NY, with her family. For five years, she was a Lecturer in English at Yale, where she taught fiction writing; and she taught at Smith College as a Professor, as well as Columbia’s MFA program.)
Kanye West Owes Me $300:
And Other True Stories from a
White Rapper Who Almost Made It Big
by Jensen Karp
Penguin Random House
also known as “And Other True Stories from a
Jewish Rapper Who Almost Made It Big
After Vanilla Ice, but before Eminem, there was “Hot Karl,” the Jewish kid from the L.A. suburbs who became a rap battling legend—and then almost became a star.
When 12-year old Jensen Karp got his first taste of rapping for crowds at his friend’s bar mitzvah in 1991, little did he know that he was taking his first step on a crazy journey—one that would end with a failed million-dollar recording and publishing deal with Interscope Records when he was only 19. Now, in Kanye West Owes Me $300, Karp finally tells the true story of his wild ride as “Hot Karl,” the most famous white rapper you’ve never heard of.
On his way to (almost) celebrity, Jensen shares his childhood run-ins with rock-listening, southern California classmates, who tell him that “rap is for black people,” and then recounts his record-breaking rap battling streak on popular radio contest “The Roll Call”—a run that caught the eye of a music industry hungry for new rap voices in the early ‘00s. He also introduces his rap partner, Rickye, who constitutes the second half of their group XTra Large; his supportive mom, who performs with him onstage; and the soon-to-be-household-name artists he records with, including Kanye West, Redman, Fabolous, Mya, and will.i.am. Finally, he reveals why his album never saw the light of day (two words: Slim Shady), the downward spiral he suffered after, and what he found instead of rap glory.
Full of rollicking stories from his close brush with fame, Karp’s hilarious memoir is the ultimate fish-out-of-water story about a guy who follows an unlikely passion—trying to crack the rap game—despite what everyone else says. It’s 30 Rock for the rap set; 8 Mile for the suburbs; and quite the journey for a white kid from the valley.
How a Show About Nothing
by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
Simon & Schuster
A behind-the-scenes story of two guys who went out for coffee and dreamed up Seinfeld — the cultural sensation that changed television and bled into the real world, altering the lives of everyone it touched. Comedians Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld never thought anyone would watch their silly little sitcom about a New York comedian sitting around talking to his friends. NBC executives didn’t think anyone would watch either, but they bought it anyway, hiding it away in the TV dead zone of summer. But against all odds, viewers began to watch, first a few and then many, until nine years later nearly forty million Americans were tuning in weekly.
In Seinfeldia, Jennifer Keishin Armstrong – a TV hostorian (yes that is a thing) – celebrates the creators and fans of this American television phenomenon, bringing readers behind-the-scenes of the show while it was on the air and into the world of devotees for whom it never stopped being relevant, a world where the Soup Nazi still spends his days saying “No soup for you!”, Joe Davola gets questioned every day about his sanity, Kenny Kramer makes his living giving tours of New York sights from the show, and fans dress up in Jerry’s famous puffy shirt, dance like Elaine, and imagine plotlines for Seinfeld if it were still on TV.
A Hero of France
by Alan Furst
From the bestselling master espionage writer, hailed by Vince Flynn as “the best in the business,” comes a riveting novel about the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris. Welcome to 1941 (not the Spielberg film). Paris, The City of Light, is dark and silent at night. But in Paris and in the farmhouses, barns, and churches of the French countryside, small groups of ordinary men and women are determined to take down the occupying Nazi forces of Adolf Hitler.
Mathieu, a leader of the French Resistance, leads one such cell, helping downed British airmen escape back to England. Alan Furst’s suspenseful, fast-paced thriller captures this dangerous time as no one ever has before. He brings Paris and occupied France to life, along with courageous citizens who outmaneuver collaborators, informers, blackmailers, and spies, risking everything to fulfill perilous clandestine missions. Aiding Mathieu as part of his covert network are Lisette, a seventeen-year-old student and courier; Max de Lyon, an arms dealer turned nightclub owner; Chantal, a woman of class and confidence; Daniel, a Jewish teacher fueled by revenge; Joëlle, who falls in love with Mathieu; and Annemarie, a willful aristocrat with deep roots in France, and a desire to act.
A behind-the-scenes tour of New York City’s dynamic food culture, as told through the voices of the chefs, line cooks, restaurateurs, waiters, and street vendors who have made this industry their lives. In Food and the City, Ina Yalof takes us on an insider’s journey into New York’s pulsating food scene alongside the men and women who call it home. Dominique Ansel declares what great good fortune led him to make the first cronut. Lenny Berk explains why Woody Allen’s mother would allow only him to slice her lox at Zabar’s. Ghaya Oliveira, who came to New York as a young Tunisian stockbroker, opens up about her hardscrabble yet swift trajectory from dishwasher to executive pastry chef at Daniel.
Restaurateur Eddie Schoenfeld describes his journey from Nice Jewish Boy from Brooklyn to New York’s Indisputable Chinese Food Maven.
From old-schoolers such as David Fox, third-generation owner of Fox’s U-bet syrup, and the outspoken Upper West Side butcher “Schatzie,” to new kids on the block including Patrick Collins, sous chef at The Dutch, and Brooklyn artisan Lauren Clark of Sucre Mort Pralines, Food and the City is a fascinating oral history with an unforgettable gallery of New Yorkers who embody the heart and soul of a culinary metropolis. Also chats with Mohamed Abouelenein about Halal Guys; Jalena Pasic (Harlem Shake); Noe Baltazar; Wilson Tang (Nom Wah Tea Parlor); Bobby Weiss (blue Ribbon Fish); Amy Rubenstein i(Peter Luger) Alexander Puolos (Papaya King); Carmen Melendez (Tom Cat Bakery); Justo Thomas; Sandy Ingber (Grand Central Oyster); Burt Leventhal; Sylvia Weinstock; Ed Schoenfeld; Miriam Tsionov; Bryce Schuman; and Connie McDOnald and Pam Weeks from Levain Bakery; and many more.
About the Night
by Anat Talshir
Translated from Hebrew by Evan Fallenberg
Anat Talshir has been one of Israel’s most distinguished investigative journalists for over thirty years. She has hosted a television show on current affairs and taught creative writing at the College of Management Academic Studies. Talshir has written and produced several documentaries, including the award-winning program Israel’s Next War? In 2002 she was awarded the Nahum Sokolov Prize for best journalism (the Israeli Pulitzer).
Her novel is set on a hot summer day in 1947. It begins on a grandstand overlooking Jerusalem where Elias and Lila fall deeply, irrevocably in love. Tragically, they come from two different worlds. Elias is a Christian Arab living on the eastern side of the newly divided city, and Lila is a Jew living on the western side. A growing conflict between their cultures casts a heavy shadow over the region and their burgeoning relationship. Between them lie not only a wall of stone and barbed wire but also the bitter enmity of two nations at war. Told in the voice of Elias as he looks back upon the long years of his life, About the Night is a timely story of how hope can nourish people, loss can devastate them, and love – of course – can carry people beyond the boundaries that hold human beings apart. Hurray.
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Daniel Silva — another thriller with the legendary Gabriel Allon grappling with an ISIS mastermind. Gabriel Allon, the art restorer, Israeli spy, and assassin is poised to become the chief of Israel’s secret intelligence service.
But on the eve of his promotion, events conspire to lure him into the field for one final operation. ISIS has detonated a massive bomb in the Marais district of Paris, and a desperate French government wants Gabriel to eliminate the man responsible before he can strike again. Daniel Silva has thrilled, entertained and educated readers with eighteen thoughtful and gripping spy novels featuring a diverse cast of compelling characters and ingenious plots that have taken them around the globe and back—from the United States to Europe, Russia to the Middle East. From its shocking opening to its explosive denouement in Washington, D.C., The Black Widow reveals itself as Silva’s most timely and powerful novel yet. Following the success of his smash hit The English Spy, this electrifying thriller showcases Silva’s consummate skill and brilliant imagination, and is sure to be a must read for his multitude of current and future fans.
by Allison Amend
Nan A. Talese
Allison is a finalist for a Sami Rohr Prize in Jewish Literature.
Inspired by the midcentury memoirs of Frances Conway, Enchanted Islands is the dazzling story of an independent American woman whose path takes her far from her native Minnesota when she and her husband, an undercover intelligence officer, are sent to the Galápagos Islands at the brink of World War II.
Galapagos? Is this a story of EVOLUTION and Jewish Adaptation?
Frances Conway?? You sure this is Jewish?
Born in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1882 to poor, immigrant parents, Frances Frankowski covets the life of her best friend, Rosalie Mendel, who has everything Fanny could wish for — money, parents who value education, and an effervescent and winning personality. But Roslaie is moody, filled with outbursts and secrets. When, at age fifteen, Rosalie decides they should run away to Chicago, Fanny jumps at the chance to escape her unexceptional life. While still in their teens, the girls run away to Chicago. They need a place to stay and decide to find synagogues and ask for help. Rosalie plays up their plight to the Women’s Auxiliary and finds lodging with a family. In exchange for rent and meals, Rosalie cares for an ailing member. Fanny scores a job in an office where they speak Yiddish and English. She also finds a nice young Jewish man. He is an ardent proto Zionist.
But, Rosalie commits an unforgivable betrayal; Frances leaves for California to get away from her former friend. She changes her name and erases her Jewish past; she lives the life of a spinster… perfect for intelligence work.
Decades later, the women reconnect in San Francisco and realize how widely their lives have diverged. While Rosalie is a housewife and mother, Frances works as a secretary for the Office of Naval Intelligence. There she is introduced to Ainslie Conway, an intelligence operator ten years her junior. When it’s arranged for Frances (nee Frank) and Ainslie to marry and carry out a mission on the Galápagos Islands, the couple’s identities—already hidden from each other—are further buried under their new cover stories. No longer a lonely spinster, Frances is about to begin the most fascinating and intrigue-filled years of her life.
Amid active volcanoes, forbidding wildlife and flora, and unfriendly neighbors, Ainslie and Frances carve out a life for themselves. But the secrets they harbor from their enemies and from each other may be their undoing. Drawing on the rich history of the early twentieth century and set against a large, colorful canvas, Enchanted Islands boldly examines the complexity of female friendship, the universal pursuit of a place to call home, and the reverberations of secrets we keep from others and from ourselves.
An exposé of life inside the Silicon Valley tech bubble, Chaos Monkeys lays bare the secrets, power plays and lifestyle excesses of the visionaries, grunts, sociopaths, opportunists and money cowboys who are revolutionizing our world. Written by startup CEO Antonio García Martínez, the son of Cuban exiles and immigrants to the United States. Computer engineers use ‘chaos monkey’ software to wreak havoc and test system robustness. Similarly, tech entrepreneurs like Antonio García Martínez are society’s chaos monkeys – their innovations disrupt every aspect of our lives, from transportation (Uber) and holidays (Airbnb) to television (Netflix) and dating (Tinder) – all in search of the perfect business miracle. Describing himself as ‘high-strung, fast-talking, and wired on a combination of caffeine, fear, and greed at all times’, García Martínez left Wall Street to make his fortune in Silicon Valley, becoming CEO of his own startup, before bailing and being poached by Facebook’s nascent advertising team. Here he turned users’ data into profit for COO Sheryl Sandberg and chairman and CEO Mark ‘Zuck’ Zuckerberg.
Forced out of Facebook, García Martínez took his unique brand of entrepreneurial hyperactivity to Twitter. Along the way, he got into a lot of trouble with a lot of people, brewed illegal beer on the Facebook campus (accidentally flooding Zuckerberg’s desk), lived on a yacht, raced sport cars on the highway, and enthusiastically pursued the lifestyle of an overpaid Silicon Valley mercenary. In Chaos Monkeys he tells you HOW – and HOW NOT – to make a fortune through startups and digital marketing.