Monthly Archives: January 2014

Book Diva Review:

theodorherzl Georges Yitzhak certainly portrays Theodor Herzl in a new light, in his book, Theodor Herzl: A New Reading, infusing comprehensive research into the book.

Questions regarding Jewishness and who is a Jew are strong within the pages, with varied references attributed not only to Herzl, but other perception of him. What defines a Jew? Does birth define one, or does level of practice? What about secularism? So many questions to ponder, and Herzl does, with added clarity through Weisz’ writing. Jewish identity is in the forefront, along with Zionism, within the pages. Questions upon questions are infused in the pages. For me, it made no difference. The man speaks for himself in his actions.

Questions regarding Zionism and his founding or theory of it are strong, also. Within that view, others seemed to have seen him as insane for even considering his Zionism attitude and perseverance. Others question his motives for wanting a “Jewish State”. Whatever the motive, he is the father of Zionism, and should be given due respect for that.

I found the book to be intellectually satisfying, and found the religious aspects regarding Herzl to be fascinating. On one hand he was devout, on another he was not. So what, what is the important factor was his steadfast dedication to Zionism. The reader is taken through his thought processes, which Weisz used from portions of Theodor Herzl’s diary.

I would recommend Theodor Herzl: A New Reading to anyone interested in Theodor Herzl’s life, interested in Zionism and its foundations, interested in Judaism and what defines a Jew, and in Jewish practice, and interest in “the Jewish Question”, and so much more.

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Book Diva Review: We Survived

we survived We Survived: Fourteen Stories of the Hidden and the Hunted in Nazi Germany, by Eric H. Boehm is a compelling, intense and frank read depicting the deplorable acts thrust upon the Jewish people during World War II.

All of the fourteen stories are overwhelming, and are a critical and insightful look into survival and what one will do in order to thwart all attempts to be imprisoned in concentration camps or killed at the hands of the Nazis. The book depicts the darkness of the days and the living conditions the Jews faced in order to survive. It portrays the lives of those who opposed the Nazis and how they faced their own dilemmas and demise within a country environment of horrific and atrocious proportions. The ugliness and images within the pages conveys the magnitude and reality of the events that occurred, written soon after liberation, when memory was fresh.

The stories evoke an extremely horrific look at the events the individuals found themselves up against. Yet, they are also a humane and poignant perspective of humanity. We Survived is a book that offers hope and inspiration during the most darkest of times.

In my opinion, We Survived: Fourteen Stories of the Hidden and the Hunted in Nazi Germany, by Eric H. Boehm is a book of historical importance that documents the evil forced upon, the persecution of, and the fear of those whose stories are told. I highly recommend We Survived to everyone.

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E-Books, Print Books

Bridging the World a book at a Time

Bridging the World a book at a Time

Here is an interesting article regarding E-books and print books. I personally have several e-books loaded on my e-reader. I also have several print books stacked up on my table, to eventually be read. I will never be one to do away with print books, but do feel that e-books have their definite place in my reading world.

Do you have any thoughts on the subject?
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Matt Friedman won the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, for his book The Aleppo Codex. The ceremony takes place in Jerusalem on January 21, 2014.

April 1, 2014 (this is not an April Fool’s Joke) is the date that the 2014 National Book Awards Entry opens.

Deadline for Western History Association 2014 Award is April 1, 2014.

“Authors Yossi Klein Halevi, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Ari Shavit were among the winners of the 2013 National Jewish Book Awards.”

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Book Diva Review: Until the Dawn’s Light

until the dawns light2 Until the Dawn’s Light, by Aharon Appelfeld is a book that takes place before World War II. As always, his books elicit emotions within me, due to his defining word-imagery.

Of course, I realize the Holocaust will occur, but within the pages of the book, the reader senses there is an underlying feeling, a foreshadowing, that something extremely horrendous is going to set itself against humanity, something brutal.

Speaking of brutal, this is the first book of Appelfeld’s I have read that encapsulates spousal abuse. And, he not only encapsulates it, but describes it with vivid and painful portraits.

The book begins on a train ride with Blanca taking flight with her four-year old son. Her fleeing holds more than just wanting to escape her husband, she is fleeing for her son’s safety, and hopes to make it to safety in a northern town which holds the morals, mores and convictions of her ancestral past. She is wanting to return to the foundations of Judaism that her parents avoided.

Blanca was brought up in a secular environment, and her parents were not practicing Jews. She is a young Jewish woman, and a convert to Christianity. She has converted in order to marry a man named Adolph, who, despite is initial appearance is antisemitic (after reading several pages, I didn’t find it coincidental that Appelfeld named him Adolph). Her family sees this as a positive step, and one that will yield acceptance within the Christian community. Things are not always what we expect, though, as the slim volume of this book presented to me.

Adolph despises the Jews, and never lets Blanca forget it. He blames everything on his life situation on the Jews, but worse than that, he constantly abuses her, physically, mentally and emotionally. The abuse is horrific.

Blanca is meek, and gives in to every brutal beating. She is essentially a slave to his every whim, every abusive word and every abusive act forced upon her, until the day she leaves with her son.

On the train ride she thinks back to the past, the days of happiness, the days of horror, and writes of issues that have caused her to run. She verbalizes to her son the fact that she wants him to save the pages, save them and read them at a later time, when he is old enough to read and understand. That is another foreshadowing of events and the ending, which this reader grasped upon immediately beginning the book.

Until the Dawn’s Light is not a happy read, but one that is depressing due to the content. There is much to ponder within the compelling pages, such as the primary issue of spousal abuse and how it causes fear in the abused, fear so strong they don’t fight back or cry out for help. Fear that keeps the victim oppressed and in prisons that are difficult to fathom.

Other relevant issues such as conversion and acceptance are a constant within the pages. The community of Christians was not the safe hold Blanca thought it would be, and the hatred and resentment of the Jews was quite clearly stated.

Blanca had so much going for her, she was extremely intelligent and headed for university. She was a math wizard and had hopes of becoming a mathematician. The day she meets Adolph and begins tutoring him, was the beginning of the end for her. She fell for him, which is no surprise due to his superficial presentation of himself to her in order to gain favor.

Aharon Appelfeld’s Until the Dawn’s Light, is aptly titled. His writing is brilliant within the darkness of the story line. He illuminates the past and how it can lead to the decisions of the present. He vividly relays how dismissal of the Jewish identity, and the resulting experiences of assimilation can lead one back to the religion they left behind. I recommend Until the Dawn’s Light to everyone. It is thought=provoking and compelling, and offers a lot to ponder.

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Lavender and More Lavender

lavender sky

I browsed the word “lavender” on a popular website where one can purchase books. The list below shows a few titles of what showed up on my computer screen (and there are more than you could imagine, more than you could count on your fingers, toes, and all of the bones in your body, and more than hundreds and hundreds of books with “lavender” appearing in the title of the book).

From novels to cookbooks, gardening and growing to lavender scenes and sights, lavender holds a definitive and strong place in the book and even the music world. From the color in gardens to its use in decorating, lavender is widely used not only to please the eye, but to add aroma and taste to food, and scent to a room, plus so much more.

Lavender Skies – Music

The Lavender Lover’s Handbook


The Lavender Cookbook

The Lavender Garden: A Novel

Lavender: The Grower’s Guide

The Lavender Gourmet

On Lavender Lane: A Shelter Bay Novel


Lavender Fields of America

Lavender Morning, a novel

Lavender-Fragrance of Provence


The Lavender Keeper, novel

Lavender Blue-novel

Lemons and Lavender: The Eco Guide to Better Homekeeping

lavendertone

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Book Diva Review: War on the Margins

waronthemargins2 War on the Margins, by Libby Cone is quite the illuminating book, based on her own Master’s Degree thesis in Jewish Studies. The novel depicts the effect of World War II on the English landscape of Jersey.

Little known facts abound within the pages, and the correspondence and documents that are depicted throughout the book (of which there are many) are copies of actual public notices and letters from that time period. A few actual individuals who lived through the Nazi regime are portrayed within the pages. The documents and real-life individuals enhance the drama of the daily lives forced upon the Jewish residents who remain behind on the island of Jersey.

Marlene Zimmer is a clerk working for the Aliens Office, and tries to hide her Jewish heritage from the authorities. She not only does so, but becomes friends with Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, two females who are not only artists, but lovers, also. Through their persuasion, Marlene joins the Resistance, and the story then radiates more compelling dynamics and interactions.

Not everyone is who they appear to be, and not everyone who Marlene thinks is against her is in fact against her, but on her side. Yet, there is an individual who doesn’t appreciate the kindness bestowed upon her, and looks at the glass as half empty. People are doing what they can in order to survive through the horrific events forced upon them by the Nazis, and those who are deemed in a negative light are not necessarily so, and vice versa.

The scenarios within the pages are structured around the documents, adding fact to the lives intertwined within the pages. The foundation of War on the Margins is firmly set through these historical documents and through actual radio announcements. The coldness and harshness of the statements and demands in the letters from the Aliens Office and other authoritative entities left me with chills. To think that the Jewish population in Jersey was considered less than human, is disheartening. But, through it all, they had the will to survive.

From the workers at the Aliens Office, to the non-Jewish population, the exploration of behavior is thoroughly examined. There were those who obeyed the edicts formulated against the Jewish population presented to them, and those who deemed them unethical and immoral, and did their best to help. The morals mandated and exhibited by some were exemplary.

Step by step, letter by letter, we are shown how the lives of Marlene, Claude, Marcel, and all the Jews in Jersey are stripped of their citizenship, their civil rights and their humanity. We are shown how goodness reigns in some of those who are not Jewish, and how they tried to help, as best they could. The story line is compelling. It is gripping to read the substantial content of the documents, and see how it interplays within the social aspect of life as the Jewish population once knew it. The demeaning and diminishing verbalizing and public notices, as harsh and atrocious as they are, do not lead to the Jews giving up on life, in fact it further enhances their desire to survive.

If anything, the Jews continue to find viable ways to survive the horrific advances and torments of the Nazis. Time and place is enhanced through Cone’s writing. Identity and assimilation are prime themes, as well as loss. We are able to get a sense of the realities that existed for the Jewish residents of Jersey, and how they were treated and/or mistreated. Had Hitler actually won, England as a whole would have been encapsulated within the grips and horror of what happened to the Jews on the Channel Islands. The Nazis would have extended their power throughout the nation.

Cone has written an incredible accounting of the occupation of Jersey by the Nazis in War on the Margins. She has infused the novel’s story line with facts and evidence of what actually occurred during the Nazi stronghold, and how the people were affected over time. With the gradual increase of demands set upon them by the Nazis, the reader sees how Jews were belittled and demeaned, threatened and scorned upon. She brings to light the darkness and devastation of the lives of the Jews, yet within the bleakness and realities, illuminations of hope and strength radiate vividly.

Libby Cone is brilliant at depicting the struggles and adversities the Jews of Jersey had to endure during the Nazi regime’s takeover during World War II. She introduces many little known facts and historical references within War on the Margins. I was deeply touched by the plight of those whose lives were devastated and/or those who were killed. The intelligent, compelling and sober book is a must read for World War II and Shoah/Holocaust history buffs, and for those who want to gain a more in-depth insight into the mechanics of the events and daily struggles that occurred on the Channel Islands.

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Bridging the World: Female Poets

Bridging the World a Book at a Time

Bridging the World a Book at a Time

This post lists a few female poets and a link to their works. The world of women’s poetry is wide and varied, and this gives just a minute sampling of women poets, and how their poems bridge generations.


Mary Oliver

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Christina Rossetti

Emily Dickinson

Felicia Hemans

Major Voices in 19th Century American Women’s Poetry

Gertrude Stein

Maya Angelou

Grace Paley

A Book of Women Poets From Antiquity to Now

Marilyn Hacker


Vittoria Colonna

Caroline Caddy


Wislawa Szymborska-Włodek


Dorothy Parker

Women have bridged the world of poetry for centuries, writing on various themes: women’s issues, society, family, love, daily life, work, politics, hope, religion, and so much more.

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