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THE YIDDISH GANGSTER’S DAUGHTER by JOAN LIPINSKY COCHRAN. Becky Ruchinsky is shocked to learn that her elderly father was a member of the Jewish mafia and may have murdered his best friend fifty years earlier. Becky starts to piece together the fragments and secrets of his life. He ran numbers for the Cuban lottery, beat up Nazi sympathizers and smuggled arms to Israeli independence fighters. The book explores the limits of familial love..
THE BOOK OF SARAH by SARAH LIGHTMAN. In this graphic memoir, Sarah uses charcoal, pencil and oil drawings. Since the book of Sarah is missing from the Bible, she creates her own visual autobiography. Genesis tells of her childhood, Exodus of her leaving London for New York, Bamidbar deals with her return after a failed marriage. The book ends on a positive note with Revelations as she prepares to give up autobiographical drawings for painting.
THE BOOKSHOP OF THE BROKEN HEARTED by ROBERT HILLMAN. Set in a small Australian town in 1968, Tom meets Hannah, an Auschwitz survivor. Hannah has hired Tom to help her on opening her bookstore. These two anguished individuals find common ground and marry. However when Peter, the son of Tom’s first wife reappears Tom has to choose between his marriage and the boy he once treated as a son. The endurance of love in the face of evil.
BY FAITH ALONE by ELYASHIV REICHNER. The inspiring biography of Israeli political and religious leader, Yehuda Amital. Having survived the Holocaust, he immigrated to Israel and became a pioneering modern Orthodox rabbi. He began the Hesder movement, which combines Torah learning with military service. This well researched book contains interviews and paints a portrait of a unique rabbi who lived a life of deep faith and spiritual commitment.
DEUTERONOMY: RENEWAL OF THE SINAI COVENANT by RABBI JONATHAN SACKS. In this volume, Rabbi Sacks fuses Jewish tradition, Western philosophy and literature to explore the biblical narrative. Rabbi Sacks examines the text of Deuteronomy as it reaches its culmination as the last act of the Jewish people before reaching the Promised Land. The reader will experience Rabbi Sack’s, one of the world’s leading modern thinkers, sophisticated approach to life.
Don’t Wait Up by LIZ ASTROF. In this candid and hilarious collection of essays, comedy writer Astrof embraces the realities of motherhood often not spoken about. She vividly discusses her love for her career, her difficult childhood living with verbally abusive parents, her weight and self-esteem issues. While she adores her children, she prefers to leave the details of raising them to her husband. An absurdly honest look at parenting for moms who realize that motherhood does not have to be your entire life.
THE FIRST MRS ROTHSCHILD by SARA AHARONI. Israeli prize winner Aharoni has written this historical novel based on the lives of Meyer, founding father of a financial dynasty and his devoted wife. Gutle is the narrator and through her diaries, she bares her emotions, thoughts and secret desires. Despite their wealth, they never left the ghetto and their ten children established a financial network in Europe. She illuminates their lives, tragedies and moments of joy.
HOWARD STERN COMES AGAIN by HOWARD STERN. An extraordinary and diverse collection of the radio interviews of Howard Stern. Between the lines, Stern offers his definitive autobiography. He offers an older wiser perspective showing his personal growth and enduring legacy as a broadcaster pioneer and unique profiler. Amongst the interviewees are a who’s who of show business including Lady Gaga, Bill Murray, Jerry Seinfeld, Joan Rivers and Michael J Fox. Stern introduces each revealing and intimate conversation with his personal perspective on the individual and the impression they made. A warm outspoken, honest retrospective for fans and celebrity followers.
JUDGING NOA by MICHAL STRUTIN. Noa and her four sisters set out with their parents to follow Moses and reach the Promised Land. When fanatics kill her father, Noa and her sisters risk being sold into bondage. Noa is determined to seek justice and heroically tries to convince judges to protect her family. Based on a few Biblical verses and through these obscure characters Strutin spins an account of the intrigues and hardships facing women in ancient times.
MADAME FOURCADE’s SECRET WAR by LYNN OLSON. The courageous story of a glamorous Frenchwoman who became the leader of Alliance, a resistance organisation in 1941. Fourcade organized, recruited, raised funds from MI6 as often as she changed identities. She risked everything and suffered arrest and torture by the Nazis. Olson weaves Fourcade’s diary into her own writing as she narrates Fourcade’s endurance, which changed the course of history.
MRS. EVERYTHING by JENNIFER WEINER. Two sisters growing up in the 1950s do not have much in common. Jo Kaufman is a tomboy with a passion to make the world a better place and Bethie is the feminine one who dreams of a traditional life. Weiner follows their lives from childhood to old age. The sisters experience the civil rights movement, Woodstock, sex and marriage while dealing with their personal demons. Neither find authentic happiness.
OPENING THE DRAWER: THE HIDDEN IDENTITIES OF POLISH JEWS by ABI SILVER. Impressive first-hand accounts of three generations of Poles who discovered their identity in surprising ways. He draws on interviews with child survivors of the Holocaust; second generation and post-Communist third generation survivors. Cohen shares their buried family histories in their own words. Veteran portrait photographer Witold Krassowski reveals their images.
SAILOR AND FIDDLER by HERMAN WOUK. In the same year he reached his 100th Birthday, Herman Wouk wrote the long awaited story of his life. He began his career as a professional comedy writer and the first half of the memoir Sailor refers to his Navy experience and his writing career. The second part Fiddler deals with his concern for Israel and his faith. Central to his books is the tragic loss of his son who drowned and the overpowering guilt he felt.
SAVING MY SONS by ILANA GERSCHLOWITZ. An inspiring story of a mother’s fight for the most promising future for her sons who suffer from autism. When their first son David is diagnosed at 10 months, they felt helpless. However, Ilana and Martin search for ways to help him and in so doing help to treat her other two sons who have this disorder. They open a treatment centre for autistic children and an outreach program for underprivileged families.
VASILY GROSSMAN AND THE SOVIET CENTURY by ALEXANDRA POPOFF. This biography is arranged in a readable narrative in which we follow Grossman’s harrowing experience of the famine in the 1920’s, the Terror of the 1930’s and the carnage of World War 11. He traces his passion for the rights of the individual and his need to share what he witnessed in both war and peace. Vasily Grossman paid the cost, as little remains known of him in Russia today. .
WE NEVER TOLD by DIANA ALTMAN. In the 1950s, Sonya lives with her glamorous mother Violet and her movie producer father until they separate. A few years later, Violet leaves her children telling them she needs treatment for a stomach illness. They are left for a long period in the care of the maid and instructed not to tell anyone. Sonya remains haunted by her past and only after her mother’s death does she learn the secret behind her disappearance.
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.