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AGING IN WELLNESS AND ADVERSITY by LEAH ABRAMOWITZ. The author has compiled a heart-warming collection of fictional stories drawn from real life incidents and individuals. Between the covers, you will find love, compassion and empathy. She describes the care of loving families as well as devoted professionals from her experience as a geriatric social worker. Abramowitz does her best to expel the fears faced towards the end of life’s journey.
BOMBAY BRIDES by ESTHER DAVID. The author, known for her writings on India, has depicted the lives of the Bene Israel community there. David strings together the different stories of some of the people who temporarily inhabit the Shalom India Housing Society in Ahmedabad. The title is based on the fact that many of the brides who arrive and depart from this complex are from Bombay. The author captures their struggle for identity and cultural nuances.
BREAKING DAD by RICHARD SLOTKIN. The book begins in 1997 when his conventional father informed James that he was gay. Richard had run a successful business as a coin dealer until he became involved with other activities and addicted to crystal meth. In 2009, he was sentenced to eight years in prison and lost all his possessions. By sharing Richard’s highs and lows, James has written a candid testament to the strength of their family ties.
FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE by TAFFY BRODESSER-AKNER. The story is told through the narrator Libby, one of Toby Fleishman’s oldest friends. Toby is a successful doctor and devoted father who has been through a painful divorce and is now ready for life and dating apps. However, his life turns upside down when his ex-wife Rachel disappears. If he truly wants to find out about his past relationship with Rachel he needs to consider that he has never seen it clearly.
HOLDING THE FORT by TONI STRASBURG. The heart-breaking story of the Bernstein family up to and during the 1960’s State of Emergency. While Hilda and Rusty were in detention their 16-year-old daughter, Toni had to look after her three siblings. Hilda kept a diary filled with letters and drawings for them as well as plays created for her fellow detainees. Toni has pieced together this diary, her father’s writings and her own recollection of this tumultuous time.
HAVE YOU SEEN LUIS VELEZ? by CATHERINE RYAN HYDE. Seventeen-year-old Raymond Jaffe felt like an outcast. However, on meeting his 92-year-old blind Jewish neighbour Mildred Guttermann he no longer felt invisible. She was desperately looking for her friend and caretaker Luis Velez and feared that something terrible had happened to him. As this unlikely friendship develops, Raymond changes Mildred’s life and in the same way transforms his own.
GENRE: JEWISH INTEREST
LINCOLN AND THE JEWS by JONATHAN D. SARNA. Historian Sarna reveals how Lincoln’s remarkable relationship with American Jews influenced his path to the presidency as well as his policy decisions as President Through his actions he embraced Jews as insiders, befriending them, appointing them to public office and using Jewish advisors. A captivating narrative written more than a century after his death with rare manuscripts, archival sources and images..
THE LION’S DEN by SUSIE LINFIELD. In this history of the political Left, Linfield analyses the thoughts of eight intellectuals towards Zionism. She includes Hannah Arendt, Arthur Koestler, I. F. Stone and Noam Chomsky. She examines why it has been so difficult for them to come to terms with Jewish nationalism. Her finding is that they ignore the complexities of the Middle East and project their own theories. For anyone seeking to understand the region.
LIVE A LITTLE by HOWARD JACOBSON. An insightful, witty novel about two nonagenarians who are neighbours in London. Beryl Dusinbery is in a constant state of war with her carers and finds words and names slipping away. Shimi Carmelli of Italian -Jewish descent remembers everything especially the shame of his childhood. They meet at the funeral of Shimi’s brother and fall in love. The brilliant stitch craft cover tells it all: hearts and skulls, love and death.
MARTIN BUBER by MENDES-FLOHR. The first biography of this seminal modern Jewish thinker organised around key moments in his life. Buber’s philosophical and theoretical writing, most famously I and Thou, made significant contributions to religious and Jewish thought, anthropological philosophy, political theory and Zionism. He situates Buber’s life in the intellectual and cultural life of German Jewry –describing the main theme of his thoughts, career and then his life in Israel at the Hebrew University
GENRE: BOOK OF THE MONTH
MAYBE YOU SHOULD TALK TO SOMEONE by LORI GOTTLIEB. A candid memoir by psychotherapist Gottlieb who runs a practice in Los Angeles. When a personal crisis causes her world to fall apart, she turns to a therapist herself. She finds she now shares similar issues to her patients. Gottlieb walks the tightrope of being both clinician and patient. A revealing, humorous, thought provoking portrait that takes you behind the scenes of a therapist’s world. .
THE PINOCCHIO BRIEF by ABI SILVER. A 15-year old pupil is accused of the brutal murder of one of his teachers. His lawyers attempt to unravel the mysteries behind the murder and in so doing reveal secrets about the school and teacher. The accused appears to be a brilliant, but troubled teenage boy. When a new lie detecting device nicknamed Pinocchio is to be used during the trial Judith, a guarded veteran runs the risk of having her own secrets exposed.
THE SCHOLEMS by JAY HOWARD GELLER. A biography of the eminent middle-class Scholem family and a social history of the Jews in Germany in the decades before their dispersion by the Nazis. Geller unveils a fascinating portal to view the Jewish experience there through the four Scholem brothers. Gershom the Zionist, Werner the Communist, Reinhold the nationalist and Erich the liberal. The rise and fall of early 20th Century bourgeois life in Jewish Berlin.
SONG OF THE JADE LILY by KIRSTY MANNING. In the shadow of World War 11, a friendship develops in Shanghai between Li and Viennese refugee Romy. However, they are torn apart by the realities of war. In 2016 Alexandra, granddaughter of Romy and Wilhelm returns to Australia when her grandfather is dying. Her grandparents reveal that the family have hidden details about their past life in Shanghai. An evocative tale of love and courage.
THE SPY’S GAMBLE by HOWARD KAPLAN. When the Israeli Prime Minister disappears aboard a new submarine with stealth technology aboard it sets in motion a possible national calamity. Shai Shaham, new deputy director of the Mossad contacts a former PLO intelligence officer to help him locate the missing prime minister. Shai asks Ramzy to help him, through his Palestinian connections, to find clues as to who has kidnapped the prime minister and is after the new technology. The book ends with a greatly unexpected twist.
THE TENTH MUSE by CATHERINE CHUNG. A novel about a young woman’s gift for mathematics. Having believed herself to be the daughter of a Chinese mother, she is stunned to learn the truth of her biological parents. Katherine became a noted mathematician when woman scholars were rare. While acts of anti-Semitism under the Nazis resulted in genocide based on race, Katherine experiences this in post-war U.S. while living in a supposedly enlightened era.
EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE by OLIVER SACKS. This profound collection details the joy and experience Sacks experienced in his life. He divides it into three sections. First Loves provides a glimpse into the childhood passions that fuelled his lifelong achievements. Clinical tales draws on his experiences as a neurological specialist and Life Continues moves into the final stages of his mortality. Sacks concludes with a chapter on the future of our species.
FLIGHT PORTFOLIO by JULIE ORRINGER.Varian Fry, a Harvard educated journalist went to Marseilles in 1941 on a mission to fund endangered intellectuals and artists and smuggle them out of Europe to safety. Orringer brings Fry’s history to life while adding dimension to his exquisite narrative with fictionalized characters. Fry rescued Marc Chagall, Hannah Arendt, Andre Breton and others while facing ethical complexities in deciding whom to save.
GREENHORNS by RICHARD SLOTKIN. These six stories are based on the greenhorn experience in the context of Jewish immigration to America. Slotkin uses interviews held with family members. He explores the challenges they faced; why some were able to assimilate more easily; the emotional cost of leaving one’s homeland no matter how inhospitable it became. Each is a riveting, often humorous gem with narratives peppered with Yiddish.
THE GUEST BOOK by SARAH BLAKE. A sweeping saga of three generations of the wealthy American Miltons of Crockett Island beginning in 1935. Ogden presided over his firm, which was involved with the Nazis. Kitty, the matriarch spent her life suppressing her tragedies and ignoring her conscience of the past. The granddaughter Evie married a Jewish man and finally understood the silences that hovered below the surface of her seemingly “perfect” family.
JERUSALEM DRAWN AND QUARTERED by SARAH TUTTLE-SINGER. After Sarah experienced an attack by Palestinian kids outside the Old City, she lived in fear. She decided to spend a year living within the Christian, Muslim, Armenian and Jewish quarters. Sarah chronicles her experiences there sharing holidays, buying bread from the same bread seller and making friends with people who were her enemies. A celebration of this beautiful and broken city.
METROPOLIS by PHILIP KERR. In 1928, Bernie Gunther is promoted to the murder squad of the Kriminalpolizei and investigates the brutal death of four suspected prostitutes. One of them is a young Jewish factory worker. When the daughter of a crime boss and disabled wartime veterans are murdered, the stakes are raised. Someone wants to purge Berlin in a universe spiralling towards chaos. A bittersweet ending to his superb series with a wonderful plot.
NEW AWARD WINNING FILMS AT THE GITLIN: Three Identical Strangers, Oma & Bella, The Flight Of Our Lives, Everything Is Copy, RBG, The Captain, The Accountant Of Auschwitz, The German Doctor, The 12th Manm Rabbi Wolf.
OUT OF THE ASHES by VICKY NEWHAM. DI Maya Rahman faces a complex investigation. A sudden explosion interrupts a flash mob dancing in a street in the east end of London. A subsequent fire rages through a modernised shop killing two people inside. This changes the case from arson to murder- the mob may have been a diversion to cover up a crime involving anti-Semitism. The relationship between the old Jewish community and newcomers is evoked.
SHADOW STRIKE by YAAKOV KATZ. In 2007, Israel flew into Syria to destroy a nuclear reactor built in secrecy by North Korea. Katz takes readers into the discussions at the White House between President Bush and Olmert, the Israeli National Security council and the IDF. This covert attack had profound implications for nuclear non-proliferation policy, the ongoing Syrian civil war and the relationship between Israel and America. A valuable exploration.
GENRE: HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS-PSYCHOLOGY
SURVIVOR CAFE by ELIZABETH ROSNER. The author, daughter of survivor parents, eloquently shares her insight into the inhumane conditions of the Holocaust and connects it to other genocides. She examines the ways survivors and post-war generations talk about traumatic experiences including intergenerational inheritance. Rosner uses current research about remembrance in the aftermath of atrocity. An intimate, powerful book.
WOUNDS INTO WISDOM by TIRZAH FIRESTONE. Fusing contemporary neuroscience, psychology and ancient Jewish wisdom, Sarah provides a roadmap for Jews and others with trauma history to change their lives. Firestone uses profound interviews with Israeli terror victims, Holocaust survivors and those marred by racial persecution and displacement. She lays an empowering foundation for recovery and healing for those who have suffered.
WORDY by SIMON SCHAMA. With his remarkable use of language as an art critic, historian, journalist and broadcaster, Schama has presented us with a collection of essays spanning four decades. The book highlights some of his wittiest and wisest writing on everything from Falstaff to Leonard Cohen, pomegranates to populism. Wordy is for those who have a passion for the arts, politics, food and life. This is a testament to his literary flexibility and interests..
WUNDERLAND by JENNIFER CODY EPSTEIN. In 1989, Ava Fischer received unsent letters written by her deceased mother Ilse to someone named Renate. The novel goes back to Ilse and Renate’s lives in Germany before 1939 when they were best friends until Renate discovered by chance that she was a Mischling. Ava had always wondered why she had been left for years as a young child in a German orphanage but now she learns her mother’s secrets.