Local authors and artists
The Anti-9-to-5 Guide, by Michelle Goodman (Seal Press, paper, $14.95). This book is replete with practical information for “women who think outside the cube.”
The “cube” is the cubical in which many folks spend their work life. The author gives detailed and practical advice on how to become a “femtrepreneur,” a self-employed women (the guide is woman-focused, but all freelance wannabes are welcome to read it), making money off your own ideas and answering to no one — no one, that is, but the clients you hope will hire you.
Jerusalem Diaries II: What’s Really Happening in Israel, by Judy Lash Balint (Xulon, paper, $15.99). Former Seattle-based journalist Judy Balint made aliyah in 1997 and now writes prolifically about day-to-day life in Israel, covering the politics and the personal. This is the second collection of her entertaining and insightful essays.
The Ashen Rainbow: Essays on the Arts and the Holocaust, by Ori Z. Soltes (Eshel, paper, $23.95). Soltes (who teaches at Georgetown University) includes work by Seattle artist Akiva Segan in his analysis of works of art with a Holocaust theme.
Of Segan, the author writes that his “Under the Wings of G-d” series, “lifts the martyred dead out of the grave.” Segan’s goal is to memorialize individual victims of the Shoah. Working from photographs he renders simple yet touching portraits, adding angelic wings to each victim. Soltes addresses other art forms, including theater, writing and film.
Just in time for … Passover?
These quarterly JTNews book reviews are often hopelessly out of synch with the Jewish holiday calendar (except those that are published in November, almost always before Hanukah). So with that in mind, we wish to apprise you of a few new Passover books. They will still be relevant next year.
Pesach for the Rest of Us, by Marge Piercy (Schocken, cloth, $22.95). Many people are familiar with Piercy’s novels, but not many are aware of her growing body of Jewish writing, including a poetry collection, The Art of Blessing the Day, as well as this new book.
The title riffs on the Seinfeld television show episode when Jerry Stiller’s character, fed up with Christmas, creates Festivus, and what he declares “a Festivus for the rest of us!” In Piercy’s context it becomes a guide to bringing your own ruach (spirit) to the celebration of Passover. She examines the seder liturgy, offers updated thoughts and blessings, and includes copious recipes, commentary and family history. It’s sweet and practical at the same time.
The Book of Passover, by Rabbi Benjamin Blech (Citadel, cloth, $12.95). Rabbi Blech has the same idea as Piercy in his book, but his approach is different. Each chapter gives the reader an opportunity to contribute his/her own thoughts to the book with blank lines for writing life lessons or memories. This book could be used by adults, older children (who are good readers) and teens to enhance the Passover experience.
Had Gadya: Facsimile of El Lissitzky’s Edition of 1919, edited by Arnold Bland (Getty Research Institute, paper, $24.95). A collectors item for those interested in Jewish or modern art or in Russian-Jewish history. Each verse of the traditional Passover song is illustrated and crowned with the lyrics rendered in Yiddish.
In addition to the reproductions there are explanations, translations and music. After this period of interest in Jewish folk art, Lissitzky moved to Berlin and became part of that city’s avant garde movement (comparisons to Chagall are probably unfair, but inevitable).
More Than Matzah, by Debbie Herman and Ann D. Koffsky (Barron’s, paper, $8.99). Half picture book and half activity book, this kids’ volume provides education and fun for children.
Jewish Women Pioneering the Frontier Trail, by Jeanne E. Abrams (NYU, cloth, $39). Think of Jewish women in America a century or more ago and a teeming city tenement or a brownstone in Brooklyn come to mind. But Jewish women have a long and respectable history tied to the development of the American West.
A professor at the University of Denver and director of the Beck Archives and the Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society, Abrams focuses on Jewish women’s stories to illuminate the Old West, where more open social structures allowed for enhanced economic and social opportunities for Jews and women. Republic, Washington, which still has a handful of Jews, even gets a mention.
Michelangelo in Ravensbruck, by Countess Karolina Lanckoronska (DaCapo, cloth, $26). Because of her activities with the resistance and her refusal to declare allegiance to the Nazis, this Polish Catholic art history professor found herself in the Ravensbruck concentration camp. There, she kept up the other prisoners’ spirits by teaching them art history.
Upon liberation, she started immediate work to end the atrocities she had witnessed, including documenting the “scientific experiments” used as torture. This memoir, written in 1945 in English, was repeatedly rejected by publishers as either “too anti-Russian” or “too anti-German!”
Finally published in Polish, it was four decades until an English translation was produced, offering a wider audience a vivid look at life in occupied Poland and in a concentration camp. The author died in 2002.
Through the Eyes of a Survivor, by Colette Waddell (Top Cat, cloth, $23.95). In another important addition to Holocaust memoir, the author presents the story of Nina Morecki, adding her own commentary and research to put Morecki’s individual experience of war-time and post-war survival into an historic context.
Morecki went many years before speaking about her experiences, which she relates here in great detail. She survived the war by passing as a non-Jew, but her post-war experience, when she was starving and searching for her family, was equally dangerous and dramatic.
Yiddishe Mamas: The Truth About the Jewish Mother, by Marnie Winston-Macauley (McMeel, paper, $14.95). A look at the stereotype from almost every possible angle.
Marc Chagall, by Jonathan Wilson (Schocken/Nextbook, cloth, $19.95). Part of Nextbook’s biography series, this biography ties Chagall to his Judaism and to the political events of the 20th century that dogged him.
Building Wealth in Israel, by Douglas Goldstein, CFP (Devora, paper, $16.95). Goldstein, a certified Financial Planner, specifically addresses the investment and savings needs of Americans who have moved to Israel.
Kabbalah Revealed: The Ordinary Person’s Guide to a More Peaceful Life, by Michael Laitman (Laitman, paper, $4.95). The author has a doctorate in science, but is now an expert on Kabbalah with an organization dedicated to spreading its wisdom. This book breaks things down to their most simple parts.
The Secret of Challah, by Shira Wiener and Ayelet Yifrach (Reshit, cloth, $24.95). Beautifully illustrated with detailed religious and practical information and lots of recipes. Demonstrates three-, four- and six-strand braiding and gives lots of other options for challah shapes.
Is It Good for the Jews? The Crisis of America’s Israel Lobby, by Stephen Schwartz (Doubleday, cloth, $24.95). The author confronts the myths of the power of the Israel lobby.
Closing the Distance: Chasing a Father’s Olympic Legacy, by Jeff Bukantz (Acanthus, paper, $19.95). In a homey style, this competitive fencer tells the story of his life-long struggle to fill his father’s Olympic shoes.