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December 6, 2016 / 6 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘book’

Games Galore: Book Club

Friday, September 16th, 2016

Jodie Maoz

“From Mourning To Morning”: Miami Beach Rabbi’s New Book

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Mourning, grieving, bereavement, and death are issues no one can avoid. But they are subjects rarely addressed in polite company. Men and women, secular and Torah observant, often find themselves navigating this inevitable path with little direction.

Rabbi Simeon Schreiber has written a book to guide the process. From Mourning to Morning deals with Jewish laws and customs relating to loss of a loved one in a clear and concise manner. Discussion includes the transition to the moment of death, burial, funeral, shiva, and beyond. The book addresses more than etiquette and convention; it examines emotions and feelings with pathos and compassion.

One would think a volume on death and bereavement would be a somber and difficult to get through. Not so with From Mourning to Morning. To cite just one example, one can’t help but chuckle while reading about the couple referred to as “Peter and Helene” and their well-meaning but bumbling attempts at making a shiva call to a neighbor. Rabbi Schreiber has presented a heavy subject in a palatable manner. His style is both comforting and informative.

Rabbi Simeon Schreiber

Rabbi Simeon Schreiber

Senior staff chaplain at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, founder of Visiting Chaplain Services, Inc., and chaplain of the Bal Harbour Police Department, Rabbi Schreiber is highly qualified to publish on the topic. A graduate of Yeshiva College, he received his semicha from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University.

Schreiber’s first book, A Caring Presence, gives direction to the protocols of bikur cholim (visiting the sick). His collection of prayers and meditations for those undergoing medical treatment has been published as the Mount Sinai Medical Center Prayer Book. He has written and lectured extensively on the deportment of making shiva calls. His insights to handling these daunting tasks are helpful and welcomed.

Rabbi Schreiber and his wife Rose live in Bal Harbour, Florida. They have five children as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

From Mourning to Mourning can be purchased at local bookstores or on Amazon.

Shelley Benveniste

Getting Your Book Published: What Are Our Options Today?

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Everyone dreams of writing the next bestseller. In the recent past, those of us who expended blood, sweat and tears while writing our books had only two publishing options: traditional publishing and self-publishing. Both were so difficult, it was prohibitive for most of us to even consider. While both options are still available today, there are easier ways to get our books published.

If you were fortunate enough to get your book published by a traditional publishing house, it would do all the work necessary to turn your manuscript into a published book. It would have your book edited and proofread, design a cover and have it all printed and bound. It would also market and distribute your book – all at the publishing house’s expense.

That was, and still is, the good news about traditional publishing. Here’s the bad news.

Traditional publishers take a financial risk when they take on a book, especially if the author is new and untried. There is no sure way for them to know if a book will sell enough copies to recoup their costs and make a profit. That’s why they’re so selective about which books they gamble on. Many books that went on to become bestsellers were initially rejected by many traditional publishers until they finally found a home. Many good books never got published.

Because traditional publishers lay out so much money to get your book published, although they will give you an advance on a percentage of estimated book sales, they feel entitled to take most of the book’s revenue, and rightfully so. Bookstores also want some of the income from your book, and authors are usually left with the smallest piece of the pie. (Bear in mind that although royalties are often low with traditional publishing, it usually results in more books being sold than other methods of publishing).

Another downside to traditional publishing is there is often a long wait from the time your book is accepted until it hits the market.

The only other option is to self-publish. The advantages and disadvantages to self-publishing are the direct opposite of traditional publishing.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of self-publishing is there is zero chance of rejection. You also have complete control of your book, as nobody but you has the authority to make editorial changes. You could hire an editor, but you make the final decisions. You set your own price, and you keep 100% of the sale. Yes, bookstores will want a discount, but at least you won’t have to share what you get with a publishing company.

The disadvantage of self-publishing is you have to do all the work, and at your own expense. You have to find someone to design the cover, or do it yourself. You have to find a company that will bind and print your book. In the past, the only way to keep the cost per book reasonable, so that anybody would buy it, would be to print many copies. This whole endeavor would cost thousands of dollars.

Often, only when the self-published author had boxes and boxes of books delivered to his doorstep did he discover how hard it was to market and distribute a self-published book, leaving the author stuck with all those boxes of books he couldn’t sell.

This, however, doesn’t mean nobody was ever successful at self-publishing; some people with a good book and lots of determination have even been successful more than once.

Today, it’s a whole new ball game. While traditional publishing and self-publishing are still available, with the advent of modern technology, we now have the option to print our manuscript as an ebook or POD (Print On Demand).

Online bookstores like Amazon allow you to download your manuscript and put it up for sale as an ebook on their site, for free. You choose your price. They will take a percentage of the sales, but there is no up-front cost to you.

If you want to sell your book as a hard copy, there is the relatively new technology of POD. POD allows a small number of copies to be printed at a cost-effective price, eliminating the need to print many copies that may not sell. Books are printed as people order them, and as this can be done at a relatively low cost, the price of the book is kept within reason.

To have your manuscript published as a POD book, you would contact a POD company; a simple google search will show you the many choices available. The company will turn your manuscript into a book, and put it up for sale on the online bookstores. Most POD companies charge a fee, some times several hundred dollars. This is an expense, but still much less of an expense than doing things the old way. Many companies do not offer editing services, which mean they are not responsible for errors. If you want to go this route, take time to review different POD companies’ websites, as they vary widely in their prices and services.

Sounds exciting, huh? Well, hold your horses before you decide to run after these options. Weigh your decision carefully. Yes, it’s exciting, but let’s do a reality check. Are you a well-known author? If not, few people will know to look for your book. And unless you’re writing on an obscure topic, your book may have tons of online competition. Your book may end up on the tenth page in its subject category on Amazon. Nobody looks there. And from those who manage to find your book, only a small percentage will buy a copy.

That doesn’t make the situation. Like the old way of self-publishing, some authors have sold a substantial number of POD or ebooks by working hard to market them. Even so, it is very hard to do.

Whatever the disadvantages may be, these new options finally allow everyone’s voice to be heard.

My own take on the subject? You worked hard on your book, and your best chance of success is to get it published by a traditional publishing house, even if you have to keep trying different publishers until you get accepted, and even if you have to wait until they process your manuscript. I think this is the best option to start with unless you have good reason to rush. Traditional publishers are able to market and distribute your book to the widest audience. Their books appear in catalogs that libraries and bookstores order from. They pay all the expenses. Yes, you will likely get little royalty for each book sale, but in all probability you will sell more books this way.


The Book of Speech; Redeeming Relevance on Parshat Devarim

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

One of the first obstacles to understanding Devarim is thinking of it as a book. Devarim literally means “[spoken] words.” Even if we might otherwise have missed the centrality of this notion, the book’s ‘orality‘ is brought to our attention right from the start: “These are the words that Moshe spoke.” The text clues us in to the fact that, as opposed to the other four books, Devarim, to its very core, is an oral work.

In light of the book’s strong oral dimension, it would be no surprise to find other ways in which it is tied to orality. Most understand its rabbinic name, Mishneh Torah, as referring to the fact that it contains laws that previously appear in the first four books. But this is not the only way that the term can be understood. According to some commentaries, it doesn’t refer to the duplication of previously recounted sections of the Torah but rather to a (section of the) Torah that requires our repetition of it and its constant review.

Whether this is a correct understanding of the term or not, everyone agrees that it is specifically in the book of Devarim that we find many passages that were constantly recited by the Jews throughout the ages. Hence the only question is not whether the book had to be recited but rather how much of it encompassed this requirement. This approach differentiates Devarim quite explicitly from the other books, as the recitation and re-recitation of it defines its very essence. The orality of Devarim means that it comes with its own rules. When a writer repeats himself it generally goes against the conventions of writing. But in an oral presentation the opposite holds true, as the repetition itself is a convention.

In our own lives we are aware that people purposefully repeat themselves in everyday speech.

Whether it is a parent repeating important instructions to a child or a politician turning back to a catch phrase, it is even often tellingly prefaced by the words, “I repeat.” When the parent or politician repeats him- or herself, the words are not meant to convey new information, as they’ve already been heard by the listeners. Rather, the speaker is using the words this time to convey emphasis, as if to say, “The following is so important that it bears repeating.”

I suggest that the Torah is doing exactly the same here. Although it could have written “this is important” (as does Maharal, for example, in his writings)or “note this” (as does Rav Chaim Vital), it would have been less colloquial and, therefore, less like the “language of men.” The Torah explicitly strives to be colloquial, even as it tries to echo the highly refined message of God. And this is all the more true in its most oral of books.

{This Dvar Torah is an excerpt from “Chapter 2: Mishneh Torah: the Repeated Torah,” in the upcoming book Redeeming Relevance on the Book of Devarim, by Rabbi Francis Nataf. Excerpt prepared by Harry Glazer of Highland Park, N.J.}

Rabbi Francis Nataf

Book Review: The Spiritual Journey Of A Jewish Chaplain

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Life Support: Stories of My Chaplaincy and Bikur Cholim Rounds by Rachel Stein, 213 pages, (Lakewood, New Jersey: 2016), published by Israel Bookshop


“What do you mean you won’t do a baptism?” asked a nurse. “All of the other chaplains do!” Rachel Stein, working in a hospital with mostly non-Jewish patients, whom she prayed with and comforted, was put on the spot many times because she is Jewish. That didn’t keep her from completing the chaplaincy training. Now Rebbetzin Stein has written a book about her experiences as the co-founder of Bikur Cholim of Atlanta and as a Jewish chaplain.

In her moving introduction, Rachel, who has written eight children’s books, tells about losing her father at age four and how difficult it was to grow up without a father and grandparents. Rachel says she sought out the elderly. “I found the elderly to be cute, fun people who twinkled when they laughed and exuded unconditional love.” She was also so driven to visit the ill that at the age of 14 she volunteered in a cancer hospital, “drawing immense satisfaction from bringing sunshine into the patients’ days.”

When her mother became ill, Rachel was 25, married, had young children at home and was pregnant. Living two hours away from her mother’s home in Philadelphia, she hoped to visit often, but the drive was too much for her. Then a special friend, Elaine, offered to take her every week. This lasted for a month, enabling Rachel to be there on the day that her mother’s soul left this world.

“How can I ever repay you for what you did for me?” Rachel asked Elaine.

“When someone needs help, you be there for them,” said Elaine. “And that’s how you will repay me.” It’s obvious from reading Life Support that Rachel has repaid Elaine many times.

There was no organized bikur cholim society when Rachel and Michele Asa started one in Atlanta in the merit of a refuah sheilamah for Danny Miller, a father, aged 34, battling cancer. Everyone loved Danny and he loved them. Each morning he woke up to a sign in his bedroom: “Hello, G-d. It’s me, Dan Miller, reporting for service.”

Rachel Stein (seated) at a book signing for Life Support. Left to right: Rena Naghi and her daughter Janet Afrah, owners of Judaica Corner in Atlanta, where the book signing took place.

Rachel Stein (seated) at a book signing for Life Support. Left to right: Rena Naghi and her daughter Janet Afrah, owners of Judaica Corner in Atlanta, where the book signing took place.

Even while enduring chemotherapy, Danny did mitzvos for others, especially bikur cholim. With his warm smile and sunny disposition, he uplifted the sick. He also had a thirst for Torah. He arranged to learn with several chavrusos and was “…determined to master as much Torah as he could.” Later, everyone who visited Danny knew that he yearned to hear a new thought in Torah.

One day, Rachel received a call from his devoted wife. “We’re asking the community to come over today,” she said softly. “Danny wants to say goodbye.” Rachel writes about the day throngs of people came to the Miller’s house to tell Danny how much he meant to them and their children. “A minyan many times over formed around him, and our community experienced a second Yom Kippur.”

When Danny Miller passed away, the Bikur Cholim of Atlanta was dedicated in his memory.

Changing names for privacy, Rachel, in her vibrant, easy-to-read style, shares remarkable stories of volunteers and those they visit. The stories are vignettes – short but powerful. She takes the reader along with middle-school girls who spontaneously dance and sing at a nursing home. “I can still see the smiles of the girls as they locked eyes with their elderly friends,” writes Rachel. Titles of other vignettes about volunteers include: “Two Men on a Mission,” “The Perk Lady,” “A Southern Belle,” “Shidduch Services” and “A Pastrami Sandwich on Rye.”

One story, which Rachel titles, “The Call of the Shofar” is told in the voice of Chana, a woman in a rehabilitation facility after a serious fall. On Rosh Hashanah, Chana waited for Rabbi G. to blow shofar for her.

R.M. Grossblatt

Of The Book – June 2016

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Jewish Press Staff

Book Week in Israel

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Jewish Reader, Beware!

It’s Book Week in Israel, and I would like to ask a question. Why are so many Jewish writers in America screaming Leftists? Why do they consider their Israeli brothers “occupiers,” and champion the Palestinian cause? To be honest, I don’t follow the American literary scene anymore, but it seems to me that the Jewish writers who make headlines are the ones who take cheap shots at Israel and Jewish tradition. The novelist, Jack Engelhard, is just about the only American Jewish writer I know who still has his head on straight, and his heart in the right place, even though he’s a Jew in America.

When I was living in America, the big Jewish writers were Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer, Joseph Heller, Philip Roth, and others whose names I’ve forgotten. Arthur Miller was a great writer but he bit into the American Dream so much, he married Marilyn Monroe- the goddess of gentile America. Norman Mailer had eight gentile wives – no kidding. That’s really making it big! To the best of my knowledge, Joseph Heller’s two wives were gentile as well. One of his novels was a rowdy satire about King David, which I am sure he regretted having penned when he went up to novelist’s Heaven. Philip Roth opted for a gentile wife too. His nasty novel about a Jewish son who hated his overbearing Jewish mother was a huge bestseller. Apparently lots of Jewish children felt that way, as the number of copies sold attests. Too bad. After all, it does say, “Honor thy father and mother.” For Roth’s sake, I hope he publishes a retraction before he leaves this world. After all, Mrs. Portnoy wasn’t to blame for being so neurotic. She was a Jew in America, in a country she didn’t belong, trying to fit in to the foreign gentile culture around her – naturally she was schizophrenic and worried for her son. But Roth, like all the other American Jewish writers, didn’t know that the average Jew in America pops uppers and spends time on the couch precisely because he or she doesn’t belong in America to begin with. Even the Jewish writer, Isaac Bashevis Singer, who married a Jew, and wrote a wonderful novel about a baal tshuva, called “The Penitent,” ended his tale with an unusual author’s disclaimer, insisting that the hero of the novel was not, by any means, a self-portrait, and that he himself didn’t believe in Judaism at all.

In those days, the Palestinian issue didn’t dominate the news, so American Jewish writers took out their frustrations and guilt on the Jewish religion and on being

Jewish, as if that was a big scandal and sin. Now the self-hatred of Jewish writers has been projected away from themselves onto the State of Israel. Now that they have successfully assimilated out of being Jewish, they vomit their inner angst out on Medinat Yisrael.

This Book Week don’t waste your money on their dribble. They may know how to put sentences together, but not every writer with a Jewish mother is a Jewish writer. Jewish readers, beware!

Tzvi Fishman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/felafel-on-rye/book-week-in-israel/2016/06/15/

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