Tony Horwitz on Spanish Conquistadors and September 12, 2001

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while, waiting for its moment. I've been reading Tony Horwitz's A Voyage Long and Strange, about the early settlement of North America. He got the idea for the book during a visit to Plymouth Rock. Horwitz realized that while he knew plenty … [Read more...]

New Online Holocaust Era Archives

I've been away from the blog on a different project, but I wanted to share something that gave me the chills. Someone on Twitter (@yteutsch) linked to an article from NPR about a new online archive of material from the time of the Second World War. The American Joint Distribution Committee aids … [Read more...]

Yom Hashoah–Holocaust Memorial Day and “Sepharad”

A year or two ago I attended the funeral of a neighbor's father. One of the eulogies described how the kindness, knowledge and experience of the deceased were a model that is gradually being lost as the generation raised in pre-World War II Europe dies out. At the time I thought of my father, now … [Read more...]

How Teens (and Parents) Are Like a River

I recently came across Haim Ginott's classic, Between Parent and Teenager. Published in 1969, his examples often relate to hippie teens and "square" parents but the principles remain the same. In his chapter on criticism, Ginott explains the long-term damage parents can cause by assigning negative … [Read more...]

Back to School Shopping Tips, 2010

We're less than a month away from the start of school. I have no idea whether my first-grader's class will remain intact. I lost the book lists, which mysteriously disappeared after I put them in a folder marked "school." A neighbor is holding on to a batch of books for my 11th grader, and I passed … [Read more...]

What Plotlines Do You Avoid in Novels?

Cover of The Lost Mother Gretchen Rubin writes about admitting to herself that she doesn't like books where a character is falsely accused of a crime. One of the key tools for a happiness project, I’ve discovered, is mindfulness. Which is unfortunate, because I’m a very unmindful person. (Take … [Read more...]

Book Review: Saving Israel by Daniel Gordis

Daniel Gordis, Senior Vice President and Senior Fellow of the Shalem Center, sent me a review copy of his new book, Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End . The title highlights the contradictory nature of the book's theme: Israel has difficult and seemingly … [Read more...]

Book Review: People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks

Cover of People of the Book: A Novel Geraldine Brooks' historical novel, The People of the Book, is based on the mysterious past of the famous Sarajevo Haggadah. Brooks intersperses the modern-day adventures of a book-restorer with a fictionalized account of the Haggadah's creation and its … [Read more...]

New Jewish Book for Pre-Teens: Review and Interview

An interview with the author appears below. Chaya Rosen is a young woman living in Israel. She recently published Backstage with CBC: The Chaverim Boys Choir Live (Targum Press), a book for religious preteens. Each chapter of Chaverim describes a member of the fictional choir, the boy's family … [Read more...]

My Favorite Parenting Books

In honor of Sephardi Lady's excellent post on parenting, or lack thereof, in the Orthodox Jewish community, I present some of my favorite parenting books. All of them promote a close, loving connection with children based on respecting their individual personalities and legitimate needs. Some people … [Read more...]