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GENRE: JEWISH INTEREST
21 LESSONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY by YUVAL NOAH HARARI. As technology advances and hacking becomes a war tactic Harari addresses the challenges of life in the face of constant change. In twenty-one accessible chapters, he builds on ideas explored in his previous books offering advice on how to prepare for a very different future where we need to consider values, meaning and personal engagement. He states that human ingenuity is needed to guide our thoughts.
DAYS OF THE FALL by JONATHAN SPYER. This is a personal account by British-Israeli reporter Spyer on the disintegration of the Middle East over the past decade and the life threatening missions he undertook in pursuit of the human reality behind these conflicts. He takes the reader into the heart of the terrible wars in Syria and Iraq exemplifying its descent into physical and moral chaos. Contains interviews from all sides- Shia militias in Iraq and ISIS member.
FINAL DRAFT BY ROSEMARY FRIEDMAN.This valedictory collection of essays on life is by prolific author Rosemary who is eighty -eight. Her memoir shares her reflections on sex, marriage, technology, beauty, grief and happiness. Through her vast experiences, she often views the present through the lens of her past. Friedman helps us know the world and ourselves that little better. A perceptive, moving and witty exploration of language and ideas..
FOR SINGLE MOTHERS WORKING AS TRAIN CONDUCTORS by LAURA ESTHER.In her memoir, Wolfson opens with her marriage to a Russian who did not want children. Later in Paris, she meets her second husband while battling with a collapsed lung. She amusingly tries to come to terms with her own identity within a family of non-observant Jews by studying Yiddish. Her evocative prose engages us on a contemplative walk through her life.
GENRE: MIDDLE EAST
HARPOON: INSIDE THE COVERT WAR AGAINST TERRORISM’S MONEY MASTERS by NITSANA DARSHAN-LEITNER.The riveting story of the intelligence task force that launched a new front in the war of terror. A look at how spies, political leaders and lawyers waged a campaign to dry up the financial streams that funded terrorism. Through unconventional warfare, they disrupted money pipelines that paid for the bloodshed perpetrated by Hamas and Hezbollah.
HARVEY MILK by LILLIAN FADERMAN. Born to a Jewish family and being gay, Milk struggled to find his place in society. Faderman takes us on the controversial journey from his early days in the navy to his experiences in New York in the 1970’s before his arrival in California. Much of the text is devoted to his groundbreaking political accomplishments. He was eventually elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 and assassinated one year later.
THE HOUSE OF GOLD by NATASHA SOLOMONS. A wealthy banking family, the Goldbaums, are the bankers of governments and emperors with their influence stretching across Europe. Their daughter Greta is forced to marry her cousin Albert to strengthen family ties between Austria and Britain. When the First World War begins, Greta has the additional problem of being stuck in the middle of opposite sides of the conflict while trying to save her marriage.
INDUSTRY OF LIES by BEN-DROR YEMINI.The book draws a distinction between legitimate criticism of Israel and the lies that have emerged from the media and academia. Yemini refutes each accusation made against Israel and includes nuggets of historical and current information. He includes the lie that Zionism is based on ethnic cleansing and the true context behind the flight from Israeli controlled areas. He invites us to rethink the Israeli-Arab conflict.
INSPIRED JEWISH LEADERSHIP by DR ERICA BROWN. A practical guide providing the tools needed to succeed as a contemporary leader. Brown takes a broad look at positions of leadership in the modern Jewish community and the qualities and skills needed to succeed. Real-life anecdotes, interviews and dialogue stimulate thought about meaningful development, ethical leadership, conflict resolution, change management and succession planning.
THE KABBALAH MASTER by BERLE BESSERMAN.Sharon Berg, a divorced Jewish woman, with two children is infatuated with the charismatic spiritual leader Rabbi Joachim from the Centre of Spiritual Judaism. When he disappears, she meets a young war veteran and has to decide to move from the gravitas of mystical Judaism to allow her relationship with a man from a different background to flourish. A rich portrait of ethnic life in New York.
KOSHER MOVIES by RABBI HERBERT J. COHEN. Being a rabbi and film critic makes Cohen’s collection of essays on movies different. He garners his choice of films as autobiographical life lessons revealing his love of Torah. The movies he reviews highlight the Modern Orthodox approach to engagement with popular culture. He elicits each one, whether on relationships, aging, ethics and adversity as divrei Torah, as opposed to frivolous entertainment.
PARIS IN THE PRESENT TENSE by MARK HELPRIN. Jules Lacour, professor of music, leads a “seemingly idyllic” life near Paris. Still mourning the death of his beloved wife, he falls in love with a cello pupil one-third his age. He remains confronted by his past when the Nazis shot his parents and his present in which his grandson is dying of leukaemia. When an insurance company rescinds on payment for his jingle, he risks fraud for his grandson’s cure.
PLUS ONE by VANESSA RAPHAELY. In her debut novel Raphaely takes an insightful look into a world of glamour, power and the psychology of fame. Two best friends, magazine editor Lisa Lassiter and up-coming actress Claudia Hemingway spend a weekend in Mykonos partying aboard a luxury yacht. After a traumatic incident on board, their stories are intertwined. Ten years later, leading seemingly perfect lives, neither can escape the secrets of their past.
GENRE: BOOK OF THE MONTH
REDESIGNING REALITY by NEIL, ALAN AND JOEL GERSHENFELD. MIT professor Neil and his brothers Alan and Joel explore the promise and the perils of the third digital revolution. On the one hand, it promises self-sufficient cities, the end of the way we work and the ability for each of us to design and create anything imagined, on the other it could lead to wealth in a few hands. The Gershenfelds teach us to prepare for the future individually and as a society.
WALKING SHADOWS by FAYE KELLERMAN. The murder of Brady Neil brings Detective Peter Decker to a quiet college town. As he digs deeper, he learns that Neil’s father was doing time for a double homicide and probes whether he was connected to these murders. When one of Brady’s closest friends vanishes, leaving a pool of blood as the only clue, Decker realizes that a ruthless killer needs to be stopped. With his wife Rina, he solves this puzzle.
WHITE HOUSES by AMY BLOOM. A tender, heart-warming exploration of the hidden love between Eleanor Roosevelt and celebrated journalist Lorena Hickok. Lorena grew up poor in South Dakota and this is the story of her journey from there to the White House. Lorena’s status as “first friend “to Eleanor was an open secret. Bloom’s well-researched work draws on letters between the two women filled with fascinating scandals of the era
GENRE: ISRAEL - JEWISH INTEREST
A PASSION FOR A PEOPLE by AVRAHAM INFELD. The book is divided into three sections beginning with the case that Judaism goes beyond a shared belief in a spiritual being and religious rituals. He addresses the way we work as professional and volunteer leaders in the Jewish community. Lastly, he shares his thinking about the future of the Jewish people and the need to develop the five-legged table of Jewish identity in today’s global world.
ARCHITECTS OF DEATH by KAREN BARTLETT. Family owned company Topf and Sons facilitated the murder of millions by its manufacture of crematoria for concentration camps. Fuelled by ambition, the owners and senior engineers developed the technology for the twentieth century’s worst genocide. Bartlett examines the natures of the men responsible for the company’s infamy and how the name Topf and Sons became synonymous with Nazi inhumanity.
THE AUSCHWITZ ESCAPE BY JOEL ROSENBERG. Luc, a French Christian pastor was imprisoned in Auschwitz for helping save the life of many Jews. There he joined forces with Jacob Weisz a Jewish rebel. Jacob attempted to raid a Nazi train carrying prisoners to Auschwitz and instead of liberating them was caught and locked into one of the cattle cars himself. Together they plan to escape to tell the world about Nazi atrocities and help those left behind in the camps.
THE EMPEROR OF SHOES by SPENCER WISE. The story follows Alex, an American living in Southern China and helping his father run his shoe factory. Alex begins to realise that his father has not been a scrupulous businessman and on meeting Ivy an organizer of a pro-democratic Chinese party, his sympathies shift. Alex has to decide whether to remain loyal to his heritage. A mediation on idealism and realism set against social and technological change.
GENRE: MENTAL HEALTH
EXQUISITE MIND by TERRY RUBENSTEIN. Born and raised in privileged white South Africa Terry met her husband Rabbi Brian Rubenstein in Johannesburg. At the age of 29, Terry was an overwhelmed mother of five sons suffering from depression. Terry’s life changed on hearing a talk by Liverpool born Rabbi Shaul Rosenblatt about Innate Health. Terry discovered that we may empower ourselves in the knowledge that we are innately good, healthy and have a soul.
THE INQUISITOR’S WIFE by JEANNE KALOGRIDIS. In 1481, conversa Marisol Garcia marries an “Old Christian” during the Inquisition for protection. When her father is arrested and tortured, she finds herself trapped in a web of intrigue. Antonio, her former lover is working to smuggle conversos out of Spain while her husband seeks power and wealth assisting the infamous Torquemada. Marisol’s love for Antonio and loyalty to her Jewish family are tested.
THE LOST BOOK OF MOSES by CHANA TIGAY.In 1883, Moses Shapira, an antiquities dealer was denounced as a fraud when he claimed to have discovered the world’s oldest biblical manuscript. He died six months later. Tigay, a journalist, set out to find the controversial scroll and determine Shapira’s guilt or innocence. In this finalist for the Sami Rohr book prize Tigay, weaves a tale of history and theology; intrigue and scandal; greed and ambition.
NEW CHILDREN OF ISRAEL by NATHAN P. DEVIR.An engaging book exploring the inclusion of people from developing nations who self-define as Jewish but have no historical ties with established centres of Jewish life. He focuses on emerging Jewish communities in Cameroon, Ghana and India. Devin has the view that because there are so many people claiming Jewish roots, in a generation from now, Jewish identity could be globally compromised..
OTHER PEOPLE’S HOUSES by LORE SEGAL. Nine months after Hitler invaded Austria, Lore left on the Kindertransports at the age of ten. For seven years, she lived as a refugee moving from the wealthy Orthodox Levines, the working class Hoopers to the formal Victorian house of two elderly sisters. An insightful and witty depiction of the ways of life of those who gave her refuge, Other People’s Houses is a memorable novel of the immigrant experience
PATH OF THE PROPHETS by BARRY L SCHWARTZ.The reader is introduced to eighteen biblical figures who personify Jewish values. Schwartz defines a prophet as someone who was inspired by the Divine spirit or exemplified the highest ethical ideals of the Torah. With that, he has included some well-known biblical woman. Each vignette has a rewriting of the prophet’s life followed by the original biblical narrative coupled with insightful analysis.
PLAYING WITH MATCHES by HANNAH ORENSTEIN. Sasha Goldberg has it all- a college degree and boyfriend, Jonathan. When her dream career falls through, she settles for working for an elite matchmaking service, Bliss. She begins helping clients by searching for their perfect partners on Tinder. Things spiral out of control when she finds that Jonathan has betrayed her and she breaks the one rule of Bliss and asks out a client. A witty story with a realistic ending.
PRODIGAL CHILDREN IN THE HOUSE OF GOD by YERMIYAHU AHRON TAUB. In these short stories, Taub explores themes of family, community and exile from an ultra-orthodox perspective. The protagonists navigate religious traditions as they take steps to reshape their lives in startling ways and often at great personal risk. Written in his lyrical prose Taub allows the reader to experience the beauty of life and words on each page with his enduring characters.
THE STRANGER ON THE BRIDGE by JONNY BENJAMIN. When Jonny was 20 his life was saved by a stranger as he was about to jump from the Waterloo Bridge.Jonny began searching for this stranger by launching a video clip. More than 319 million people followed this site. Eventually he and Neil Laybourn were re-united. Now they work together helping to end the stigma of mental illness. His insightful memoir includes parts of his diaries written since he was thirteen.
UPROOTED by LYN JULIUS. The author, British born daughter of Iraqi-Jewish refugees, focuses on how 3000 years of Jewish Civilisation in the Middle East and North Africa vanished overnight. Through their personal stories Julius provides the history of these Jews from Arab countries; why they left and what became of the vast majority. She also assesses how well these Jews from Arab and Muslim countries have integrated into Israel. Uprooted is the culmination of years of study.
WE ARE GATHERED by JAMIE WEISMAN. In her debut novel Weisman allows us to be part of an inter-faith wedding as we read the multiple first person narratives of the adoring, envious and hilarious guests. The bride is part of Atlanta’s wealthy Jewish elite. Included are the sharp-witted bridesmaid Carla, the bride’s great-aunt who is a Holocaust survivor, her wheel-chair bound grandfather and the mother of the bride who reveals her youthful indiscretion.
THE WORK I DID by BRUNHILDE POMSEL. The book is based on the words of Pomsel, one of the secretaries of Goebbels. Brunhilde denied any knowledge of Nazi atrocities yet witnessed its impact on her Jewish friends with apathy. She was one of the oldest surviving eyewitnesses to the internal workings of the Nazi party. The book includes an essay by author Thore Hansen, who uses her testimony as a warning about threats to freedom and democracy today.