By Charles Darwent for Jewish Book Council
Interviewed in 1967, Josef Albers, nearing eighty, was asked why he had spent nearly two decades at a small liberal arts school in North Carolina, having previously been a Meister at the Bauhaus (and would later become head of the design department at Yale). After a measured pause, Albers replied, “My gratitude to Black Mountain, [that] they had saved us from the Nazis.” His wife, Anni, added quietly, “In fact, we had to leave because of my background.” On both counts, they were not alone.
By Gloria Goldreich for Hadassah Magazine
All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah By Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky.
All of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah is a one-of-a-kind book, capturing all the delights of Sydney Taylor’s classic story of five spirited sisters, “all girls—all of a kind.” In Jenkin’s new adaptation, it is 1912 and the family is preparing to celebrate the Festival of Lights in their tenement apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The neighborhood throbs with excitement.
By David Mikics for Jewish Review of Books
Saul Bellow’s books, admitted his admirer Barney Singer, attract “an awful lot of nuts, a lot of quivering schmucks. . . . But I think I took the cake.” Singer, a young historian at the University of British Columbia, said he read Herzog at least a thousand times during the 1970s. He wrote Bellow hundreds of letters, often containing freewheeling accounts of his own love life (“all of a sudden, broad-wise, it doesn’t rain but it pours”). About twice a year Bellow would send Singer a brief note or a few lines on a postcard. One of his letters read, “No wonder you like Herzog—you resemble him, being always after yourself, a kind of self-persecution. Objectively, that’s funny. Sub., not.”
The Prosen People for Jewish Book Council
The following is an excerpt from the 2019 issue of Paper Brigade, the Jewish Book Council's annual literary journal. You can pre-order the issue here.
Amid the recent upsurge of anti-Semitism, we asked prominent authors of recent or forthcoming nonfiction to recommend a book for this list. The breadth of topics and time periods covered by the works below attests to the insidiousness of anti-Semitism, but also to the impressive range of scholarship devoted to examining and overcoming it. Even the spelling of "anti-Semitism"/"antisemitism" is currently under scrutiny; to reflect this, the recommenders’ chosen spellings of the word have been left intact.
By Letty Cottin Pogrebin for Tablet Magazine
As an educator and feminist activist, Alice Shalvi has been a major force for decades. At 92, she shares her life story in her new memoir, ‘Never a Native.’
Alice Shalvi, now 92, is the most famous Israeli whom the average American Jew has never heard of. Revered Hebrew University English professor, principal of the Pelech school, founder of the Israel Women’s Network, rector of the Schechter Institutes, intrepid feminist activist, prominent advocate for Israeli-Palestinian peace, and winner of multiple honors—among them, the Israel Prize, the country’s Nobel—Shalvi nonetheless remains virtually anonymous in the mainstream Jewish world.
By David P. Goldman for Tablet Magazine
Taking on the New Atheists, Scott Shay’s new book sparks a conversation about the existence of God
Scott Shay is a banker, not a rabbi or professor. He’s a founder and chairman of Signature Bank, a New York lender catering to local middle-market businesses and one of the financial success stories of the past decade. He dedicates a large part of his time to Jewish community work—the Chai Mitzvah movement, the local Jewish Federation, his Modern Orthodox synagogue Kehilath Jeshurun—and in 2006 published a well-received book about Jewish outreach and engagement through community initiatives.
BY EITAN KENSKY for Moment Magazine
It’s the inherent vice of joke books that their jokes are stale, wizened, practically in full beards. Paper doesn’t just flatten the delivery; it kills. (Take my joke—please!) There’s no joke teller, no emphasis on sound or detail, no voice. Lenny Bruce’s now-canonical “Jewish and Goyish” is funny because of the rhythm, and because of the intense personality it barely restrains. Joke books have no rhythm and no persons; they are disembodied words. The surprise of The First Book of Jewish Jokes is that a joke book from 1812 still sometimes shows a faint pulse. After all, when’s the last time you heard a good one about the learned philosopher Moses Mendelssohn?