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A Different Vision of a Jewish Homeland

Posted on October 16th, 2017
By Adam Dickter for Hadassah Magazine

Isra Isle: A Novel By Nava Semel. Translated by Jessica Cohen


In the course of modern Jewish history, there were several visions for a Jewish national home other than Theodor Herzl’s dream of Israel in historic biblical land. In the early 1900s, for example, in response to pogroms in Russia, the British proposed annexing a slice of Uganda for the Jews—a nonstarter. Even more absurd was Mordechai Manuel Noah’s concept of a Jewish homeland as “Ararat City,” to be located in the gray mist of Niagara Falls, where he had purchased Grand Island, poised between the United States and Canadian borders. Noah (1785 to 1851) was an influential American diplomat and journalist, but, ultimately, he couldn’t rally much enthusiasm for an “Isra Isle” while world Jewry dreamed of a return to Jerusalem. (Michael Chabon envisioned another alternate home for Jews in Sitka, Alaska, in his book The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.)

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Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York Roz Chast

Posted on October 9th, 2017
Review by AJ Frost for Jewish Book Council


Roz Chast’s breezy and winsome jaunt, Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York, prides itself on not being a “definitive guidebook,” nor an “insider’s guide,” nor a “history book.” Rather, it is a deceptively rich rumination of New York as it exists today, an animated investigation into the heart of what makes New York such an indelible beacon of opportunity. In her inimitable cartoon style, so often a highlight in each week’s New Yorker, Chast breaks down what it’s like to live in the Big Apple.

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Nurture the Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting by Danya Ruttenberg

Posted on October 2nd, 2017
By Naomi M. Gruer for Hadassah Magazine


In her new book, Nurture the Wow, Conservative Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg explores the mundane and mystical, frustrating and fascinating, physical and philosophical aspects of raising children. Using self-deprecating humor and situations from her own life, Ruttenberg ties the act of parenting to the practice of prayer and spirituality. She also questions preconceived and deeply embedded notions of how to be spiritual. “It’s possible that our kids can be important teachers who help us better find the doorways to the transcendent,” she writes.

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How This Author Went From Muslim Activist To Educator Of Rabbis

Posted on September 25th, 2017
BY GARY ROSENBLATT for The Jewish Week


Haroon Moghul’s ‘How to Be a Muslim’ explores his struggles with his religion and inner demons.


HHaroon Moghul’s powerful new memoir, “How to Be a Muslim: An American Story” (Beacon Press), is not a how-to manual for religious practice — far from it. Rather, it’s a searing, intimate portrait of a brilliant but troubled young man struggling with spiritual, psychological and physical challenges while trying to balance a commitment to his religion’s tenets and succeed in a secular society.

He happens to be Muslim, but his story is as universal in appeal as it is particular in its details. At times funny and at times painfully raw, the book reads like a confessional — an extended exercise in self-reflection shared with the public as a cautionary tale.

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Five Books That Counter the “Negative” Narrative of Jewish Literature

Posted on September 18th, 2017
Devorah Baum for Jewish Book Council
 
 

Grace Paley – Collected Stories


Everyone should read Grace Paley. She deals with tough stuff with wit, vitality and grace and she tempers what many would consider tragic storylines with an insistence that where there is life there can always be ‘enormous changes at the last minute’. Unlike the dominant male voices in American Jewish letters, who’ve tended to resist the labeling of either themselves or their fictions as Jewish, Grace Paley showed no such commitment phobia: “I like being Jewish” she once – shockingly – said.


Hélène Cixous – Reveries of the Wild Woman, Primal Scenes


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