JWeekly

Reading 'The Plot Against America' across the Bay - J.

Reading 'The Plot Against America' across the Bay - J.

The surprising success of Donald Trump's candidacy in 2016 brought a number of literary works out of the woodwork, but none so much as Philip Roth's "The Plot Against America." Roth's work of counterfactual historical fiction (sometimes known as the "What if?" genre) explores the imagined impact of aviator Charles Lindbergh's defeat of incumbent Franklin ...

11 stellar Israeli novels that cry out to be read

11 stellar Israeli novels that cry out to be read - J.

As we mark Israel's 70th anniversary, I remain awed that a small country with a reconstructed language should produce a literature that is so rich. Below is a sampling of 11 varied titles that give a taste of Israeli literature at its best. 1. "Only Yesterday," S.Y.

‘Yiddish not spoken here’ — but my dad had a different idea

'Yiddish not spoken here' - but my dad had a different idea - J.

I grew up in Israel in a domestic war zone - a "language war" that raged between my parents. The fight was between Hebrew and Yiddish. Ours was not the only household where this war was fought. It was a struggle between the new Israel and the old diaspora, but it was very personal and quite emotional.

‘Diaspora’ collages create layers of meaning at library exhibit

'Diaspora' collages create layers of meaning at library exhibit - J.

Artist Rachel Leibman has been creating her collages - colorful, vivid works with a delicate juxtaposition of text, image and line - for 18 years. But this year she's breaking new ground at the Jewish Community Library with her show "Diaspora." Though her collages and mixed media art have been shown in Jewish spaces before, ...

Excess of Jewish sexual sinners? Men ponder it at ‘Feast’

Excess of Jewish sexual sinners? Men ponder it at 'Feast' - J.

Harvey Weinstein. Al Franken. Anthony Weiner. Jewish men behaving badly. Is there something in the history or liturgy of Judaism that can explain such conduct, or help Jewish men avoid such misbehavior and act more like mensches? Those were among the questions at the core of "Who Is a Man?"

Dad’s 1946 letters expose startling secret in ‘Letter from Cloudcroft’

Dad's 1946 letters expose startling secret in 'Letter from Cloudcroft' - J.

Filmmaker Melinda Hess was going through boxes of family artifacts that had been collecting dust for a quarter-century when she discovered a series of letters that revealed disturbing secrets about her father's work in the 1940s. Nestled among grade-school report cards, a bar mitzvah photo and a marriage certificate was a brown leather suitcase containing a series of numbered letters in Army-issued envelopes.

off the shelf | Tales of divorce: seven years of Talmud + new Tova Mirvis memoir

Divorcees: seeing life through Talmud + new Tova Mirvis memoir

This fall has seen the publication of two remarkable memoirs from writers reflecting on life transitions through the most Jewish of lenses. Tova Mirvis became a celebrated figure in the Jewish literary world with " The Ladies' Auxiliary," published in 1999 when she was in her early 20s.

Veteran of underground comics scene adapts her father’s Yiddish tales

Veteran Wonder Woman artist adapts her father's Yiddish tale

Trina Robbins says she was an ungrateful child. But she's making up for that now. Growing up in Queens, New York, the young Robbins - like many children of Jewish immigrants - was uninterested in learning Yiddish, her father's first language.

One Bay One Book returns with Iranian Jewish tale ‘Septembers of Shiraz’

One Bay One Book returns with tale of Iranian Jews 'Septembers of Shiraz'

A story about a Persian Jewish family's struggles in post-revolution Iran has been chosen by the Jewish Community Library as its One Bay One Book selection for 2017-18. "The Septembers of Shiraz," by Tehran-born Dalia Sofer, tells the fictional story of a gem dealer, who is imprisoned after the Islamic Revolution of the late 1970s, ...

Off the Shelf: Two Important New Books on the Hebrew Bible

Two new books anatomize heavy-duty Torah concepts - J.

I try to use this time of reaching the end of the annual Torah reading cycle, and beginning again, as a reminder to keep my relationship to our core book from stagnating. Lacking formidable interpretive skills myself, I'm highly dependent on the insights of others to keep myself engaged and growing.

Off the Shelf: New tales of Jewish families in Ireland, England, Middle East

New tales of Jewish families in Ireland, England, Middle East - J.

With much attention awarded to immigration-related issues in recent months, many of us have considered increasingly the Jewish immigrant experience in the United States, particularly since it reflects many of our families' histories. It was in that light that I enjoyed reading three recent novels that focus on the experience of Jewish immigrants in three ...

Off the Shelf: Four new Jewish books that serve as tour guides to old ones

Four new Jewish books are tour guides to old ones - J.

Amos Oz and Fania Oz-Salzberger wrote memorably in their book "Jews and Words" that "ours is not a bloodline, but a text line." But how many of us make the effort to claim our enormous inheritance of centuries of Jewish writing? Fortunately, four excellent recent books help us approach this shared text line.

Off the Shelf: Three new short story collections

Short-story collections: Three for the road or the nightstand - J.

In transit, on a nightstand or kept close for stolen moments of leisure, collections of short fiction provide a perennial source of pleasure. These three anthologies, which mark their authors' debuts, remind us that short can offer incredible breadth. "The Worlds We Think We Know" contains 20 short works by Dalia Rosenfeld, who was raised ...

Off the Shelf: Jewish immigrants wove stories from Harlem to Hollywood

Jewish immigrants wove stories from Harlem to Hollywood - J.

In response to the recent political environment, increased attention has been paid to the centrality of the immigrant experience to the Jewish encounter with America. As I enjoy studying history from various perspectives, I want to share three new books that explore dimensions of that experience through different lenses: a neighborhood, cartoons and a movie.

Off the Shelf: Hebrew, Esperanto have amazing stories to tell

Hebrew, Esperanto have some amazing stories to tell

In 1957, Noam Chomsky's father, William, published " Hebrew: The Eternal Language," but in the five decades since then, we haven't had a similar effort in English to create a concise history of the Hebrew language. Until now.

Off the Shelf: Authors Offer Differing Perspectives on the History of Israel

Authors offer differing perspectives on the history of Israel

The National Jewish Book Awards were announced last month, and the winner of the Book of the Year award was Rabbi Daniel Gordis' " Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn." Gordis, who made aliyah in 1998, has gravitated from writing on Jewish thought to writing mostly about Israel.

‘Good food and moral guidance’ — The Story of a 1901 Cookbook

'Good food and moral guidance' - the story of a 1901 cookbook

Determined to teach Milwaukee's Eastern European Jews to cook American, in 1901 Lizzie Black Kander and her committee of Jewish clubwomen raised $18 to publish what was to become the most successful fundraising cookbook in U.S. history, according to author Bob Kann.

From Israel to S.F., a Palette of Vistas by ‘accidental’ Painter

From Israel to S.F., a palette of vistas by 'accidental' painter

When you ask Shalom Flash about his paintings, he laughs slightly and then corrects you. He isn't painting; he's color-reading. "It's all just spots of color," Flash says about his prolific body of work, a portion of which is currently hanging at the Jewish Community Library in San Francisco.

Local singer brings to life cross-dressing Yiddish vaudevillian

Local singer brings to life cross-dressing Yiddish vaudevillian

Pepi Litman may have been born in the 1800s, but from reading the details of her life, you wouldn't know it. A cross-dressing performer with undeniable Yiddish swagger, Litman toured Eastern Europe with her vaudeville theatre troupe, singing songs about politics, archaic religions and the death of bureaucracy.