50 Children

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By Steven Pressman Harper, 296 pages Britain justly gets credit for taking in 10,000 European Jewish children between 1938 and 1940 in a project called the Kindertransport. The United States admitted only about 1,000 unaccompanied children, and 50 of them, one in 20, were brought in by one Philadelphia couple, Jewish socialites Gil and Eleanor… Read More

The Lion’s Gate: On the Front Lines of the Six Day War

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By Steven Pressfield Sentinel, 430 pages Israel’s spectacular triumph over the combined forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria nearly five decades ago has been written about extensively by both Israeli and American writers. In “The Lion’s Gate,” author Steven Pressfield focuses on the human dimensions of the conflict: the thoughts, feelings and gut-level fears of… Read More

The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World

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By George Prochnik Other Press, 390 pages In 1938, Vienna Jew Stefan Zweig was the world’s most widely translated living author and a literary superstar. ­Second son of a wealthy family, Zweig began writing before World War I and appeared often in Neue Freie Presse, newspaper of Theodor Herzl — Zweig’s mentor for a time…. Read More

The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl

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By Arthur Allen W.W. Norton & Company, 400 pages While it can be hard to find positive stories from World War II, Arthur Allen tells a gem of a tale. While uprisings such as the one that took place in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943 are well documented, resistance in scientific labs is not as… Read More

The Marrying of Chani Kaufman

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By Eve Harris Black Cat, 371 pages Long-listed for the 2013 Man Booker Prize, “The Marrying of Chani Kaufman” by first-time novelist Eve Harris takes the reader behind the scenes and into the lives of 19-year-old Chani Kaufman, her fiance, Baruch Levy, and Rabbi Chaim and Rebbitzin Rivka Silbermann, who counsel the young couple on… Read More

Menachem Begin, The Battle for Israel’s Soul

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By Daniel Gordis Schocken, 320 pages Daniel Gordis calls Menachem Begin “the most Jewish of Israel’s prime ministers” and a leader now much missed. “I wrote this book to find out why,” said Gordis, also a rabbi and senior vice president at Shalem College in Jerusalem. How could “someone so polarizing, so controversial … appear… Read More

Shabbat Schnoodle

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By Isabelle Foreman CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 34 pages As the uncle of two, a boy who will soon be 4 and a girl who will soon be 7, I read this book with great interest to see if I could pass it on to them. With a concept all ages can grasp, vivid illustrations… Read More

The New Reform Judaism: Challenges and Reflections

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By Rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan Jewish Publication Society, 367 pages By now, the changing landscape of modern American Jewry is not news, what with soaring rates of intermarriage and assimilation and, with the exception of Orthodox Jews, the dramatic reduction in synagogue attendance and affiliation. What some may not have heard is what might be… Read More

Jabotinsky: A Life

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By Hillel Halkin Yale University Press, 235 pages Vladimir Jabotinsky was passionate, unpredictable and full of contradictions. He was also the fiery leader of the Revisionist Zionist Movement. Author Hillel Halkin deftly tells Jabotinsky’s story, first taking considerable time to illustrate why growing up in a city like Odessa truly shaped Jabotinsky’s outlook — on… Read More

Slices of Life, A Food Writer Cooks Through Many a Conundrum

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By Leah Eskin Running Press, 408 pages Sometimes it’s best to describe something in terms of what it’s not. In that vein, readers looking for the newest entrant in the cookbook genre of today — think coffee-table tomes of glossy photos that make mouths water and desires burn — will not find it in culinary… Read More