Jewish Community Library

Blog post on Library program: Famous Father Girl author Jamie Bernstein delights a crowd of Lenny Lovers!

Famous Father Girl author Jamie Bernstein delights a crowd of Lenny Lovers!

There's an amusing family story that Leonard Bernstein's oldest daughter shares with innumerable audiences during her book tours, and it tumbles out with perfect timing, like a fresh and spontaneous wave of a baton. (Why not? She was exposed to decades of baton plastique, a seamless legato flow of singing pulses that carried Mahler Symphonies...

off the shelf | Two new books give Zionist feminists a well-deserved place in history

Two new books give Zionist feminists a well-deserved place in history - J.

As women have all too often been written out of history, I am always pleased when books emerge that cast light on women who might otherwise escape our attention. Such is the case with two new releases depicting the lives of two remarkable women, both ...

off the shelf | spiritual disquiet and atonement in Nathan Englander’s

Spiritual disquiet and atonement in Nathan Englander's '' - J.

I do enjoy lighter reading, but I'm disposed toward works of fiction that leave me asking questions and thinking about ideas. Two new novels have done just that. At the center of Nathan Englander's just-released "" is Larry, a 30ish bachelor who left the Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhood of his childhood to lead an avowedly secular ...

World-famous Israeli composer Aviya Kopelman to speak at Library

World-famous Israeli composer Aviya Kopelman is around Bay for a bit - J.

Renowned Israeli composer Aviya Kopelman flew into the Bay Area on March 11 with seven new handbells, a nearly finished choral piece, nascent plans to compose another work and multiple opportunities to meet with students. Her two-month stay is courtesy of the Israel Institute's Visiting Artists Program, which brings Israeli film, music, dance and visual ...

Philip Roth’s prescient ‘Plot Against America’ is focus of event series

Philip Roth's prescient 'Plot Against America' is focus of event series - J.

As a generator of controversy, American Jewish writer Philip Roth has few peers. Everyone seems to have an opinion about Roth, author of the short-fiction collection "Goodbye Columbus" (1959), the graphic, male-centric novel "Portnoy's Complaint" (1969), and his elegy to the tumultuous '60s, "American ...

off the shelf | new memoirs explore home, food, and family

New memoirs explore home, food and family history - J.

For those attuned to the Torah reading cycle, now is a time of prolonged wandering in search of home - a theme that will remain powerful throughout Jewish history, long after the Israelites have made it out of the desert wilderness.

off the shelf | new books on what we receive from our parents

How our parents keep telling us who we are, even after they're gone - J.

Our relationships with our parents abide well after they are gone. Two wonderful new books mark the enduring connection between generations in very different ways. Dani Shapiro's parents had already figured prominently in two of her popular memoirs: in "Slow Motion," which captures the impact ...

Presentation at the Library on African-American basketball players in Israel

How black U.S. basketball players became Israel's biggest fans - J.

They aren't soldiers or scientists. They aren't part of the startup nation. They don't win Eurovision song contests. In fact, they are quite an unlikely group to have become some of Israel's best ambassadors. The group David Goldstein writes about in "Alley-Oop to Aliyah" comprises the 800-plus black American basketball players who have gone to ...

off the shelf | new books on Hannah Arendt and Franz Kafka

Tale of Kafka's writings and a graphic novel on Arendt's life show intellectual world destroyed by Nazis - J.

It is difficult to overstate the modern world's debt to the Jewish minds of early 20th-century Central Europe who helped transform science, psychology, literature, philosophy and other fields. Two new books renew our understanding of this rich world of intellectual ferment which was destroyed by ...

Howard Freedman chooses some of his favorite Jewish books of 2018

The best Jewish books of 2018: feminism, seltzer, race and beyond - J.

This has been a great year for Jewish books, and I'm thrilled to share some of my favorites of 2018 in several areas of interest, helping to shine much-deserved light on books that haven't always received the attention they deserve. Among religiously oriented titles, I am drawn to two, partially for their potential to break ...

off the shelf | Sci-fi visions of future and alternate Israels

Sci-fi visions of future and alternate Israels - J.

The quest for Jewish nationhood is entwined with the exercise of imagination. Theodor Herzl's best-known words, "If you will it, it is no dream" (or, translated more accurately from the original German, "it is no fairy tale") attest to the nature of Zionism as the fulfillment of a fantasy.

Ilan Vitemberg speaks at the Library about Israel and Eurovision

Deep dive into Israel's Eurovision history a real ear-opener - J.

"This is one of the most horrible songs you'll ever hear," Ilan Vitemberg said with a grin as he cued up Israel's Eurovision submission for 2000. "Sameyakh," by Ping Pong, is truly terrible, but that's not why Vitemberg was playing it for his audience at the Jewish Community Library in San Francisco on Nov.

The Jewish Community Library celebrates Rabbi Ed Zerin

Ed Zerin, the 98-year-old who wrote the book on "Jewish San Francisco" - J.

Ten books, three languages, two bar mitzvahs - Rabbi Edward Zerin has seen a lot in his 98 years. Now people are gathering to celebrate his erudite life and long career with an event at the Jewish Community Library on Oct. 25. "It was completely unexpected," Zerin said of the celebration in San Francisco.

The Chosen: Is the classic book frozen in time, or still relevant? (features Howard Freedman)

'The Chosen' onstage: Is the classic book frozen in time, or still relevant? - J.

When playwright Aaron Posner was seeking a Jewish-themed book to adapt for the stage in the late 1990s, he went to the author Chaim Potok for advice. To prepare for the meeting, he read some of Potok's works - and quickly found the one he wanted to adapt: "The Chosen."

off the shelf | Two books explain how Israel became what it is

Two 2018 books explain how Israel became what it is - J.

When faced with a vexing situation, I tend to think that part of the answer lies in finding out how we got there. And this is particularly so in the case of Israel, whose history is complicated and contested. The title of Michael Brenner's "In Search of Israel: The History of an Idea" is fitting.

off the shelf | Three books to put you through (Jewish) law school

Three books to put you through (Jewish) law school - J.

Many Bay Area Jews engage in spiritual exploration and Torah study, but my impression is that there tends to be far less interest in studying Jewish law. This is likely because our Bay Area community is generally less observant than other large American Jewish communities, ...

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 ...

off the shelf | Three solid additions to your end-of-summer reading list

Three solid additions to your end-of-summer reading list - J.

With school about to begin and only six weeks left until the official start of autumn, it's time to get that summer reading done! Here are three new novels, each with a pronounced Jewish dimension, to consider.

off the shelf | Three connections to secret Jewish pasts

Three books about characters connecting to secret Jewish pasts - J.

For some, summer reading represents the prospect of an escapist treat to help free the mind from worries. And for others, it means finally having the time to take on a challenging book otherwise pushed aside by the demands of everyday life.