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From My Bookshelf: Leah Kaminsky’s THE WAITING ROOM

WaitingRoomCoverI was all set to wait patiently for the U.S. release of Leah Kaminsky‘s debut novel The Waiting Room (which will happen next fall). But then, the author—an Australian whom I’ve yet to meet in person but with whom I’ve developed another of those wonderful “online friendships” I’m so grateful for—sent me a gift copy of the original Australian edition, which was published this past September. And how pleased I am that she did.

There’s so much that’s noteworthy about this book, beginning with the subject matter. What I realized only a few pages in is that The Waiting Room brings together two topics that are often categorized separately among Diaspora readers. First, there’s its Holocaust thread. Protagonist Dina Ronen, Australian-born, is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors. Her father died during Dina’s childhood; her mother has passed away by the time the novel opens, with Dina a married mother of one young son and another baby about a month away from delivery. But her mother’s ghost speaks throughout the book, and we return often to her parents’ histories in flashbacks. Continue reading ›

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From My Bookshelf: SLIDING DOORS AND OTHER STORIES

Readukkah-1Rebecca Klempner is one of the wonderful people I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of getting to know via the Internet, where I frequently read her essays and reviews and “converse” with her via email and social media. Several months ago, she announced that she’d be publishing a book of short stories for younger readers. As soon as Sliding Doors and Other Stories was available, I purchased a copy for my Kindle. It took me a little while to focus on reading them, but I’m happy to say that I have finally done so. And as part of the wonderful #Readukkah initiative from the Association of Jewish Libraries, I’m proud to share this Q&A with the author just as we prepare the kindle this year’s first Hanukkah candles. (I suspect that I am bending the #Readukkah rules somewhat by presenting a Q&A instead of a review, but I hope that I’ll be forgiven for so doing.)

Sliding Doors and Other Stories comprises 17 short stories (and one essay). In a note to readers, the author explains that she wrote the stories in this collection “for several of the magazines that serve the Orthodox community.” Elsewhere, she has indicated that the target readership for this book is likely between 11 and 16 years of age.

Rebecca Klempner is an wife, mother, and writer living in Los Angeles. Born in Baltimore, she grew up in Columbia, Maryland; Israel; and Las Vegas, Nevada. She attended St. Mary’s College of Maryland and American University, where she obtained a master’s degree in applied anthropology. In 1998, she headed to Los Angeles for a stint in Teach for America. She remained there and taught for five years before becoming a stay-at-home mother. In 2005, she sold her first picture book: A Dozen Daisies for Raizy was published in 2008 by Hachai. Subsequently, she’s written for many magazines – print and online – including Mishpacha, Ami, Hamodia, Binah, Tablet, and The Jewish Home.

Please welcome Rebecca Klempner! Continue reading ›

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From My Bookshelf: Poetry for Jewish Book Month

As you may already know, tomorrow brings the beginning of the 90th year of Jewish Book Month. And in anticipation, I’m sharing a few poetry titles that are on my tbr list.

But first, a quick look back on my latest read: Inspired by sample poems written by Dan Pagis (1930-1986) about the biblical characters Adam/Eve/Cain/Abel—poems distributed by instructor Amy Gottlieb in a class I’m taking at the Drisha Institute—I spent a chunk of last weekend reading Variable Directions, a full collection of Pagis’s work translated by Stephen Mitchell. And I’m very glad that I did.

Now that I’ve returned Variable Directions to the library, here are three additional poetry titles awaiting my attention.

FullSizeRender-22 Continue reading ›

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From My Bookshelf: Writings by Suzanne Reisman

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Technically, these aren’t writings from my bookshelf. I’ve read them on a screen.

And technically, they aren’t books. Not yet anyway.

They are writings by Suzanne Reisman about her grandparents. And they are well worth your time. Continue reading ›

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From My Bookshelf

UnknownWhen William Daroff speaks, I listen. Thus, last week’s vacation reading included Einat Wilf‘s new e-book, Winning the War of Words: Essays on Zionism and Israel (edited by Daniel Rubinstein).

Prior to downloading and reading the e-book, I was not familiar with Wilf’s work (or, at least, did not clearly recall her byline). Formerly a member of the Israeli Knesset, she is a self-described “Roving Ambassador for Israel and Zionism, telling our story to a variety of audiences.” Judging by the essays in this collection, that’s good news for Israel and Zionism–and by extension, for all of us.

Since the book essentially compiles a number of Wilf’s published writings, I can point you directly to some of the essays that impressed me as especially cogent, insightful, and relevant to discussions and debates I’ve seen play out elsewhere. Continue reading ›

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From My Bookshelf: World Literature Today’s “New Hebrew Writing” Issue

may15cover_thumbIt isn’t every day that I’m inspired to purchase a single issue of a magazine, journal, or newspaper. I subscribe to a sufficient abundance of periodicals such that the tower of books on my nightstand at any moment is equaled by a nearly equally tall stack of periodicals.

But when I saw that World Literature Today‘s special May-August 2015 double issue included a feature on “New Hebrew Writing”–only a small sampling of which was available online–I went ahead and ordered a copy. And I’m glad that I did so.

For the most part. Continue reading ›

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