All those December best of lists and People/Things of The Year. Maybe we will scan them in with some of the best scanners suggested by hereon.biz. So below is my take on some of the best books of 2014. If you have a favorite book of “Jewlicious” interest, add it to the comments below.


[book]
THIRTEEN DAYS IN SEPTEMBER
CARTER, BEGIN, AND SADAT AT CAMP DAVID

By Lawrence Wright
September 2014
Knopf

A dramatic, illuminating day-by-day account of the 1978 Camp David conference, when President Jimmy Carter convinced Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to sign a peace treaty–the first treaty in the modern Middle East, and one which endures to this day.
With his hallmark insight into the forces at play in the Middle East and his acclaimed journalistic skill, Lawrence Wright takes us through each of the thirteen days of the Camp David conference, delving deeply into the issues and enmities between the two nations, explaining the relevant background to the conflict and to all the major participants at the conference, from the three heads of state to their mostly well-known seconds working furiously behind the scenes. What emerges is not what we’ve come to think of as an unprecedented yet “simple” peace. Rather, Wright reveals the full extent of Carter’s persistence in pushing peace forward, the extraordinary way in which the participants at the conference–many of them lifelong enemies–attained it, and the profound difficulties inherent in the process and its outcome, not the least of which has been the still unsettled struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians. In Thirteen Days in September, Wright gives us a gripping work of history and reportage that provides an inside view of how peace is made.


[book]
Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?
A Memoir Hardcover
In Graphic Form
by Roz Chast

May 2014
Bloomsbury USA
In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of her aging Jewish parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast’s memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.

When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the “crazy closet”—with predictable results—the tools that had served Roz well through her parents’ seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed.

While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies — an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades — the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care.

Her parents were one step below hoarders. Intellectuals, they were educators who had Roz late in their adult lives. They were unhappy with “The Place”, the senior living community in CT they moved to from Brooklyn when they could no longer live on their own.
An amazing portrait of two lives at their end and an only child coping as best she can.


[book]
REBBE
The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson,
the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History
by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

June 2014
Harper Wave
Includes a glossary of Hebrew and Yiddish terms.
The inspiring story of the prominent yet deeply modest leader who rebuilt a dwindling post-holocaust community into the most influential Jewish organization in the world, the late Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

From a small synagogue In Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the late Rebbe Schneerson impacted the policies of U.S. presidents and politicians, counseled some of our greatest thinkers, and spread his teachings of love and righteousness to the far corners of the world. An ambassador for Jews globally, his role was unprecedented within a fragmented religion, comprised of diverse, often divided, sects. Many Jews—especially those involved in Chabad—believed that the Rebbe was the messiah while he was still alive.

Drawn from the Rebbe’s private correspondence, Rebbe is a rich and illuminating portrait of this remarkable man who was a devoted spiritual leader and tireless counselor; controversial advocate for women’s rights and community openness; and an accomplished scholar fluent in dozens of languages. Joseph Telushkin illuminates the Rebbe’s rich private life and chronicles his achievements, from his close bond with his congregants to his influence on presidents, including Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Throughout, Telushkin pays tribute to the Rebbe’s legacy—his teachings, of love, education, and respect—which have become engrained in millions of Jews and non-Jews alike.


[book]
LITTLE FAILURE
A MEMOIR
BY GARY SHTEYNGART

January 7, 2014
Random House
Shteyngart, the author of Super Sad True Love Story; The Russian Debutante’s Handbook; and Absurdistan, penned this memoir – a candid and deeply poignant story of a Leningrad-born, Soviet (Jewish) family that arrives in America in 1979 to discovers its future. Gary Shteygart wrote, “I’ve finally written a book that isn’t a ribald satire, and because it’s actually based on my life, contains almost no sex whatsoever. I’ve lived this troubled life so others don’t have to. Learn from my failure, please.” Born Igor Shteyngart in Leningrad during the twilight of the Soviet Union, the curious, diminutive, asthmatic boy grew up with a persistent sense of yearning—for food, for acceptance, for words — desires that would follow him into adulthood. (he was called a little failure by his family as a weak child)


[book]
ARIK
THE LIFE OF ARIEL SHARON
by David Landau(Haaretz)

January 2014
Knopf
From the former editor in chief of Haaretz, the first in-depth comprehensive biography of the late Ariel Sharon, the most important Israeli political and military leader of the last forty years.

Landau is a left leaning, UK born Israeli journalist who WEPT when Sharon was elected PM and thought of leaving the country. But how did Landau change? And Sharon? How did a military commander that some called ruthless become a father figure to Israel’s citizens and lead a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Why in 2003 did Sharon start to use the word “occupation?”

The life of Ariel Sharon spans much of modern Israel’s history: A commander in the Israeli Army from its inception in 1948, Sharon participated in the 1948 War of Independence, and played decisive roles in the 1956 Suez War and the six day War of 1967, and most dramatically is largely credited with the shift in the outcome of the Yom Kippur War of 1973. After returning from the army in 1982, Sharon became a political leader and served in numerous governments, most prominently as the defense minister during the 1983 Lebanon War in which he bore “personal responsibility” according to the Kahan Commission for massacres of Palestinian civilians by Lebanese militia, and he championed the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. But as prime minister he performed a dramatic reversal: orchestrating Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Landau brilliantly chronicles and analyzes his surprising about-face. Sharon suffered a stroke in January 2006 and remained in a persistent vegetative state until January 2014 when he died. Considered by many to be Israel’s greatest military leader and political statesman, this biography recounts his life and shows how this leadership transformed Israel, and how Sharon’s views were shaped by the changing nature of Israeli society. Landau also asks what if Sharon had not visited the Temple Mount in 2000, or what if he did not have a stroke. Would there have been more withdrawals and more peace?


[book]
Rav Kook
Mystic in a Time of Revolution
(Jewish Lives Series)
by Yehudah Mirsky

Yale University Press
Rav Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935) was one of the most influential—and controversial—rabbis of the twentieth century. A visionary writer and outstanding rabbinic leader, Kook was a philosopher, mystic, poet, jurist, communal leader, and veritable saint. The first chief rabbi of Jewish Palestine and the founding theologian of religious Zionism, he struggled to understand and shape his revolutionary times. His life and writings resonate with the defining tensions of Jewish life and thought.

A powerfully original thinker, Rav Kook combined strict traditionalism and an embrace of modernity, Orthodoxy and tolerance, piety and audacity, scholasticism and ecstasy, and passionate nationalism with profound universalism. Though little known in the English-speaking world, his life and teachings are essential to understanding current Israeli politics, contemporary Jewish spirituality, and modern Jewish thought. This biography, the first in English in more than half a century, offers a rich and insightful portrait of the man and his complex legacy. Yehudah Mirsky clears away widespread misunderstandings of Kook’s ideas and provides fresh insights into his personality and worldview. Mirsky demonstrates how Kook’s richly erudite, dazzlingly poetic writings convey a breathtaking vision in which “the old will become new, and the new will become holy.”


[book]
THE STORY OF THE JEWS
FINDING THE WORDS 1000BCE – 1492 CE
BY SIMON SCHAMA

March 2014
Ecco / HarperCollins
It is a story like no other: an epic of endurance against destruction, of creativity in oppression, joy amidst grief, the affirmation of life against the steepest of odds. It spans the millennia and the continents – from India to Andalusia and from the bazaars of Cairo to the streets of Oxford. It takes you to unimagined places: to a Jewish kingdom in the mountains of southern Arabia; a Syrian synagogue glowing with radiant wall paintings; the palm groves of the Jewish dead in the Roman catacombs. And its voices ring loud and clear, from the severities and ecstasies of the Bible writers to the love poems of wine bibbers in a garden in Muslim Spain.
Within these pages, the Talmud burns in the streets of Paris, massed gibbets hang over the streets of medieval London, a Majorcan illuminator redraws the world; candles are lit, chants are sung, mules are packed, ships loaded with spice and gems founder at sea.

And a great story unfolds. Not – as often imagined – of a culture apart, but of a Jewish world immersed in and imprinted by the peoples among whom they have dwelled, from the Egyptians to the Greeks, from the Arabs to the Christians.

Which makes the story of the Jews everyone’s story, too.

Writing in The New York Times Book Review, Judith Shulevitz wrote that in every generation, a scholar rises to write a history of the Jews. Schama tried to write it 40 years ago, to take over for Cecil Roth who passed away before finishing it. He couldn’t. Now he has.


[book]
BREATHING AND QUIETING THE MIND
BY RABBI DOVBER PINSON

Iyyun
Achieving a sense of self mastery, and inner freedom, demands that we gain a measure of hegemony over our thoughts. We learn to choose our thoughts so that we are not at the mercy of whatever burps up to the mind, thus, transforming a cluttered mind into a peaceful inner state of awareness. Through quieting the mind and conscious breathing, we can slow the onrush of anxious, scattered thinking and come to a deeper awareness of the interconectedness of all of life. Once mastered, these techniques will carry over into every aspect and facet of our lives, improving our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.


[book]
Where’s My Tushy?
(Kar-Ben Favorites)
by Deborah Aronson
Ivica Stevanovic Illustrator

Kar-Ben
“In one little town (it is sad but it’s true),
The tushies left town without leaving a clue.””

What happens when all the tushies in an unusual town decide to take a vacation?”


[book]
A World Without Jews
by Alon Confino
April 2014

Yale University Press
from Professor of Alon Corfino (Ben Gurion University, University of Virginia)
Why exactly did the Nazis burn the Hebrew Bible everywhere in Germany on November 9, 1938? The perplexing event has not been adequately accounted for by historians in their large-scale assessments of how and why the Holocaust occurred. In this gripping new analysis, Alon Confino draws on an array of archives across three continents to propose a penetrating new assessment of one of the central moral problems of the twentieth century. To a surprising extent, Confino demonstrates, the mass murder of Jews during the war years was powerfully anticipated in the culture of the prewar years.

The author shifts his focus away from the debates over what the Germans did or did not know about the Holocaust and explores instead how Germans came to conceive of the idea of a Germany without Jews. He traces the stories the Nazis told themselves—where they came from and where they were heading—and how those stories led to the conclusion that Jews must be eradicated in order for the new Nazi civilization to arise. The creation of this new empire required that Jews and Judaism be erased from Christian history, and this was the inspiration—and justification—for Kristallnacht. As Germans imagined a future world without Jews, persecution and extermination became imaginable, and even justifiable.


[book]
A Bintel Brief
Love and Longing in Old New York
by Liana Finck

Ecco
In an illustrative style that is a thrilling mash-up of Art Spiegelman’s deft emotionality, Roz Chast’s neuroses, and the magical spirit of Marc Chagall, A Bintel Brief is Liana Frinck’s evocative, elegiac love letter to the turn-of-the-century Jewish immigrants who transformed New York City and America itself.
A Bintel Brief “A Bundle of Letters” was the enormously popular advice column of the Yiddish language daily, The Forverts (The Forward), begun in 1906 New York City.
Written by a diverse community of Jewish immigrants, these letters seeking advice spoke to the daily heartbreaks and comedies of new lives, capturing the hope, isolation, and confusion of assimilation.
Finck, a former cartoonist for TABLET, has selected some letters, translated them to English, and adapted them into two-color illustrations. She also imagines that Mr. Abraham Cahan himself pops out of the letters and chats with Finck and nosely paces around her flat.
From premarital sex to stolen watches to family politics to struggles with jobs and money and family relations and immigration, A Bintel Brief is an enlightening look at a segment of America’s rich cultural past that offers fresh insights for our own lives as well..


[book]
How to Succeed in Business
Without Really Crying

Lessons from a life in Comedy
by Carol Leifer
April 2014
Quirk Books

A lot of college graduates get a copy of Dr. Seuss’s “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” as a gift. It is about as helpful as saying “plastics.” But this book by Carol Leifer (rhymes with reefer) is the book for every college grad entering the workforce – whether it be as a writer, banker, administrative assistant, proctologist, artist, or whatever.

How should you network? How should you not screw over people? How to be nice to waiters, since one day they might be writers, producers, actors, or fans? How to approach celebrities whom you know, even if they spent the might drinking with you and can’t remember you. How to interview and ask questions, dress appropriately, write personalized thank-you notes, be reasonable, and be willing to offer assistance on scripts for free, since it might lead to a paying gig.

Carol Leifer is among those few female comedians who have blazed a trail in stand-up and sit-com writing. She joins Joan Rivers, Totie Fields, Lucille Ball, Roseanne Barr, and others.
In very short chapters, Carol shares her experiences and anecdotes and teaches important career lessons. She shares successes and also the errors that led to temporary downfalls. Can you ever rest? Unlikely. If The Tonight Show with Carson says “no, thanks” twenty times, should you audition a twenty-first time? Even though she has written for The Oscars more than half a dozen times, she still needs to audition for the show. Why is Larry David’s shoulder key to his liking or disliking an idea for an episode? Should you burn a bridge after getting rejected by the Larry Sanders Show? No way. Her graciousness ended up landing her a writing gig after the other finalist candidate didn’t work out.
Carol shares that no industry support passive people so you have to manufacture your own success and not lean back. She explains how her first interview in Manhattan was a failure and the silly errors she made. Learn from it. She scored a writing job on Saturday Night Live and was loved by her direct bosses (one is now a U.S. Senator), but she was invisible to the Captain of the ship, Lorne Michaels. BIG career error. Is it better to be a grunt / P.A. / Writer’s Assistant or wait for the big job? Why should you develop a professional camaraderie? I wish I had read this book decades ago, so I would have avoided some errors.

Part memoir, part guide to life, and all incredibly funny, HTSIB-WR-Crying offers tips and tricks for getting ahead, finding your way, and opening doors — even if you have to use a sledgehammer.


[book]
KNISH
In Search of the Jewish Soul Food
(HBI Series on Jewish Women)
by Laura Silver

May 2014
When Laura Silver’s favorite knish shop went out of business, the native New Yorker sank into mourning, but then she sprang into action. She embarked on a round-the-world quest for the origins and modern-day manifestations of the knish.
The iconic potato pie leads the author from Mrs. Stahl’s bakery in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, to an Italian pasta maker in New Jersey—and on to a hunt across three continents for the pastry that shaped her identity. Starting in New York, she tracks down heirs to several knish dynasties and discovers that her own family has roots in a Polish town named Knyszyn.
With good humor and a hunger for history, Silver mines knish lore for stories of entrepreneurship, survival, and major deliciousness. Along the way, she meets Minnesota seniors who make knishes for weekly fundraisers, foodies determined to revive the legacy of Mrs. Stahl, and even the legendary knish maker’s granddaughters, who share their joie de vivre—and their family recipe.
Knish connections to Eleanor Roosevelt and rap music?
Die-hard investigator Silver unearths those and other intriguing anecdotes involving the starchy snack once so common along Manhattan’s long-lost Knish Alley.
In a series of funny, moving, and touching episodes, Silver takes us on a knish-eye tour of worlds past and present, thus laying the foundation for a global knish renaissance.


[book]
The Mathematician’s Shiva
A Novel
by Stuart Rojstaczer

September 2014
Penguin paperback
A comic, bittersweet tale.

Alexander “Sasha” Karnokovitch and his family would like to mourn the passing of his mother, Rachela, with modesty and dignity. But Rachela, a famous Polish émigré mathematician and professor at the University of Wisconsin, is rumored to have solved the million-dollar, Navier-Stokes Millennium Prize problem. Rumor also has it that she spitefully took the solution to her grave. To Sasha’s chagrin, a ragtag group of socially challenged mathematicians arrives in Madison and crashes the shiva, vowing to do whatever it takes to find the solution–even if it means prying up the floorboards for Rachela’s notes.
Written by a Ph.D. geophysicist, this hilarious and multi-layered debut novel brims with colorful characters and brilliantly captures humanity’s drive not just to survive, but to solve the impossible.


[book]
Eichmann BEFORE Jerusalem
The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer
by Bettina Stangneth
Translated by Ruth Martin

September 2014
KNOPF
Hannah Arendt left the impression that Eichmann was banal, a bureaucrat killing Jews like it was just an office task.
This is a total and groundbreaking reassessment of the life of Adolf Eichmann — a superb work of scholarship that reveals his activities and notoriety among a global network of National Socialists following the collapse of the Third Reich and that permanently challenges Hannah Arendt’s notion of the “banality of evil.”

Smuggled out of Europe after the collapse of Germany, Eichmann managed to live a peaceful and active exile in Argentina for years before his capture by the Mossad. Though once widely known by nicknames such as “Manager of the Holocaust,” in 1961 he was able to PORTRAY HIMSELF, from the defendant’s box in Jerusalem, as an overworked bureaucrat following orders — no more, he said, than “just a small cog in Adolf Hitler’s extermination machine.”

How was this carefully crafted obfuscation possible?
How did a central architect of the Final Solution manage to disappear?
And what had he done with his time while in hiding?
Bettina Stangneth, the first to comprehensively analyze more than 1,300 pages of Eichmann’s own recently discovered written notes— as well as seventy-three extensive audio reel recordings of a crowded Nazi salon held weekly during the 1950s in a popular district of Buenos Aires—draws a chilling portrait, not of a reclusive, taciturn war criminal on the run, but of a highly skilled social manipulator with an inexhaustible ability to reinvent himself, an unrepentant murderer eager for acolytes with whom to discuss past glories while vigorously planning future goals with other like-minded fugitives.


[book]
The Zone of Interest
A novel
by Martin Amis

September 2014
Knopf

A bleak love story set in a German death camp

Thomsen, the nephew of Hitler’s private secretary, Martin Bormann, has a vague role as a liaison at Buna Werke, where the Germans are attempting to synthesize oil for the war effort using slave labor. He sets his sights on Hannah Doll, wife of camp commandant Paul, who is the second of three narrators as well as a drunk whose position is under threat. As Thomsen gets closer with Hannah, both of them, horrified at what’s going on, conspire to undermine Paul—Hannah at home and Thomsen around the camp. Paul, meanwhile, follows up his suspicions about his wife and Thomsen by involving Szmul, the book’s third narrator and a Jew who disposes of the corpses in the gas chamber, in a revenge plot. Amis took on the Holocaust obliquely in Time’s Arrow. Here he goes at it straight, and the result is devastating.


[book]
Judaism’s Ten Best Ideas
A Brief Guide for Seekers
by Rabbi Arthur Green, Ph.D.

September 2014
Jewish Lights

A welcoming introduction to the most important ideas in Judaism.

NO! Silly.. he doesn’t mean, never buy retail, and never eat white bread and mayo with sliced meat sandwiches

In an age of fluid identity, many people are honestly asking the question “Why be Jewish?” Is there anything to this religious and ethnic legacy that is worth preserving? Having struggled against all odds to survive for so many centuries, does Judaism have something unique to offer a contemporary seeker who is free to choose a way of religious life and a system of values?

Here is the answer of a leading spiritual teacher who has faced this question in conversation with generations of students over five decades. In ten brief chapters, each illuminated by classical stories or personal narratives, Rabbi Green lays out his argument for ongoing commitment to Jewish memory and Judaism’s unique approach to universal truth. He shows in completely accessible ways what it is that kept him loyal to the tradition passed down to him, even as he understood the great need to allow for change, including those coming from the East, in our age of diverse spiritual learning and transformation.

Drawing mainly from the Jewish mystical tradition, he presents in brief form gems of personal wisdom derived from ancient Kabbalistic writings and the Hasidic masters. The result is an inspiring door opener to timeless Jewish wisdom, one that will entice the reader to look further, both into Green’s own writings and toward the original sources.


[book]
TEL AVIV NOIR
A Collection of stories
Edited by Etgar Keret and Assaf Gavron

October 2014

Akashic
For Tel Aviv Noir, Etgar Keret and Assaf Gavron have assembled some of Israel’s top contemporary writers into a compulsively readable collection.

From the introduction by Etgar Keret:
“In spite of its outwardly warm and polite exterior, Tel Aviv has quite a bit to hide. At any club, most of the people dancing around you to the sounds of a deep-house hit dedicated to peace and love have undergone extensive automatic-weapons training and a hand-grenade tutorial…The workers washing the dishes in the fluorescent-lit kitchen of that same club are Eritrean refugees who have crossed the Egyptian border illegally, along with a group of bedouins smuggling some high-quality hash, which the deejay will soon be smoking on his little podium, right by the busy dance floor filled with drunks, coked-up lawyers, and Ukrainian call girls whose pimp keeps their passports in a safe two streets away. Don’t get me wrong–Tel Aviv is a lovely, safe city. Most of the time, for most of its inhabitants. But the stories in this collection describe what happens the rest of the time, to the rest of its inhabitants. From one last cup of coffee at a café targeted by a suicide bomber, through repeat visits from a Yiddish-speaking ghost, to an organized tour of mythological crime scenes that goes terribly wrong, the stories of Tel Aviv Noir reveal the concealed, scarred face of this city that we love so much.”
Featuring brand-new stories by: Etgar Keret, Gadi Taub, Lavie Tidhar, Deakla Keydar, Matan Hermoni, Julia Fermentto, Gon Ben Ari, Shimon Adaf, Alex Epstein, Antonio Ungar, Gai Ad, Assaf Gavron, Silje Bekeng, and
Yoav Katz.


[book]
Jewish Soul Food
From Minsk to Marrakesh,
More Than 100 Unforgettable Dishes
Updated for Today’s Kitchen
by Janna Gur
October 2014

Schocken

The author of the acclaimed The Book of
New Israeli Food returns
with a cookbook devoted to the culinary masterpieces of Jewish grandmothers from Minsk to Marrakesh: recipes that have traveled across continents and cultural borders and are now brought to life for a new generation.

For more than two thousand years, Jews all over the world developed cuisines that were suited to their needs (kashruth, holidays, Shabbat) but that also reflected the influences of their neighbors and that carried memories from their past wanderings. These cuisines may now be on the verge of extinction, however, because almost none of the Jewish communities in which they developed and thrived still exist. But they continue to be viable in Israel, where there are still cooks from the immigrant generations who know and love these dishes. Israel has become a living laboratory for this beloved and endangered Jewish food.

The more than one hundred original, wide-ranging recipes in Jewish Soul Food—from Kubaneh, a surprising Yemenite version of a brioche, to Ushpa-lau, a hearty Bukharan pilaf—were chosen not by an editor or a chef but, rather, by what Janna Gur calls “natural selection.” These are the dishes that, though rooted in their original Diaspora provenance, have been embraced by Israelis and have become part of the country’s culinary landscape. The premise of Jewish Soul Food is that the only way to preserve traditional cuisine for future generations is to cook it, and Janna Gur gives us recipes that continue to charm with their practicality, relevance, and deliciousness. Here are the best of the best: recipes from a fascinatingly diverse food culture that will give you a chance to enrich your own cooking repertoire and to preserve a valuable element of the Jewish heritage and of its collective soul.


[book]
DARK MIRROR
The Medieval Origins of Anti-Jewish Iconography

by Sara Lipton
November 2014
Metropolitan

In Dark Mirror, Sara Lipton offers a fascinating examination of the emergence of anti-Semitic iconography in the Middle Ages

The straggly beard, the hooked nose, the bag of coins, and gaudy apparel—the religious artists of medieval Christendom had no shortage of virulent symbols for identifying Jews. Yet, hateful as these depictions were, the story they tell is not as simple as it first appears.

Drawing on a wide range of primary sources, Lipton argues that these visual stereotypes were neither an inevitable outgrowth of Christian theology nor a simple reflection of medieval prejudices. Instead, she maps out the complex relationship between medieval Christians’ religious ideas, social experience, and developing artistic practices that drove their depiction of Jews from benign, if exoticized, figures connoting ancient wisdom to increasingly vicious portrayals inspired by (and designed to provoke) fear and hostility.

Chapters include:
The Birth of Jewish Iconography, ca. 1015-1100
Blinded Light and Blinkered Witness, ca 1100-1160
Loveless Looking and Unlovely Christ, ca. 1160-1220
Jews and the Mirror of Society, ca. 1220-1300
The Jews Face: Flesh, Sight, Sovereignty, ca. 1230-1350
Where are the Jewish Women?
The Jew in the Crowd. Surveillance and Civic Vision, ca. 1350-1500


[book]
The Boston Girl
A Novel
by Anita Diamant

December 09, 2014

Scribner
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Red Tent and Day After Night, comes an unforgettable novel about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.

Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine—a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love.

Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her “How did you get to be the woman you are today.” She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naïve girl she was and a “WICKED” (it’s Boston) sense of humor.


[book]
Asylum City:
A Novel
by Liad Shoham

December 9, 2014

Harper
Translated from Hebrew by Sara Kitai
I am starting to get confused by all the Shoham book covers.
The latest in his series of mysteries
In this edgy thriller from the #1 international bestselling author of Lineup, which was described by New York Times bestselling author Joseph Finder as “a marvel of tight plotting, spare prose, and relentless pacing,” a young police officer’s investigation of a murder plunges her into the dark underworld of Tel Aviv.

When young social activist Michal Poleg is found dead in her Tel Aviv apartment, her body showing signs of severe violence, officer Anat Nachmias is given the lead on her first murder investigation. Eager to find answers, the talented and sensitive cop looks to the victim’s past for clues, focusing on the last days before her death. Could one of the asylum seekers Michal worked with be behind this crime?

Then a young African man confesses to the murder, and Anat’s commanders say the case is closed. But the cop isn’t convinced. She believes that Michal, a tiny girl with a gift for irritating people, got involved in something far too big and dangerous for her to handle.

Joined by Michal’s clumsy yet charming boss, Anat is pulled deep into a perplexing shadow world where war victims and criminals, angels and demons, idealists and cynics, aid organizations and criminal syndicates intersect. But the truth may be more than Anat can handle, bringing her face to face with an evil she’s never before experienced.

About the author

larry

5 Comments

  • You missed a great one:
    The Prime Ministers by Yehuda Avner
    In his first person account the author brings the reader directly into the conversation as Israel faces it’s birth and it’s survival.
    In my opinion where this book and Thirteen Days in September cover the same period of time they do so from a different point of view.
    If you read 13 days, you must read this book

  • I LOVED the book, Where’s My Tushy, and was thrilled to see it made your BEST list. I was surprised after scrollign down that most of the books seem related to Jews. What a great find. While not of the nationality or religion, I love to learn and this will be a good spot to remind what to check out.

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