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November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Yocheved Golani’

Change and Renewal: The Essence of the Jewish Holidays, Festivals & Days of Remembrance

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Title: Change and Renewal: The Essence of the Jewish Holidays, Festivals & Days of Remembrance Author: Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Publisher: Koren Publishing

Breathe deeply. You’ll need maximum physical and spiritual power to absorb the uplifting lessons in this book. Page 249 explains why some Jews are praised as “fish on dry land,” a phrase that describes Moshe Rabeinu. Am Yisrael began to appreciate his depth of character at kriat Yam Suf, realizing that “he lived in the revealed world as though he were in the concealed world.” Take another breath. You’re in for a spiritual treat as you learn how to do that.

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz points out in his preface to Change and Renewal: The Essence of the Jewish Holidays, Festivals & Days of Remembrance that ‘shana‘ means both year and change. Page 44 depicts that dynamic by explaining the Malkhuyot tefilot of Yom HaDin. “There is meaning to the Jewish People’s unique existence as long as it is aware of the function of its existence, as long as it regards itself as a witness,” Steinsaltz comments. “The existence of a chosen people is meaningful only when it is a people of choice.”

The choice is made with a deep understanding of Judaism’s purpose. Page 224 describes generations’ worth of misguided Jews. The first batch and their ideological descendants chose and choose bondage in idolatrous Egypts because of what they idealize: “… exile and life among the nation… to continue being… a servant to the nations and to their values… the blows and suffering inflicted upon us by the nations cease to be something to be complained about… For some Jews, these, too, have become part of the Jewish People’s ‘mission’ – to be exiles… carrying the burden of other people’s lives and work.”

That resignation to suffer from goyim while going through superficial motions of religiosity seems to facilitate assimilation. The abandonment of Jewish values, though, is actually self-inflicted punishment for losing sight of HaShem‘s goals for Am Yisrael. Jews who reject the aliya imperative seem to be included in this indictment; they’re extraordinarily alienated from the Divine mission to live solely to fulfill HaShem‘s will. Preceding paragraphs indict the overall hametz/hunger for assimilation as the cause for other nations to resent the loss of a workforce, hence the rationale for some Jew-hatred [yg: there are others].

The chapter concerning Shavuot may resonate with Torah-aligned Jews. It cites “two decisive elements in the Ten Commandments that turn… their revelation into the great, irreversible turning point.” The first is the giving of the commandments, the second “… is the removal of life’s ideals and supreme values from the realm of the neutral to the realm of serving the Creator.”

Change and Renewal closes with comforting thoughts about teshuva, Jewish life as a do-over. It is justified hope for spiritually-charged futures. Steinsaltz writes that tzidkut rests not on achievement “but on something far greater… the very nature and very existence” of heroes and heroines among the Jewish people, “….attainments are merely extras.”

Succeed as sensible Jews. Read this 432-page hardcover.

http://itsmycrisisandillcryifineedto.blogspot.com/

The Kosher Grapevine: Exploring the World of Wine

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Title: The Kosher Grapevine: Exploring the World of Wine

Author: Irving Langer

Publisher: Gefen

Amusing as it is to read a book about wine from a publisher named “Gefen,” The Kosher Grapevine: Exploring the World of Wine warrants modest attention.

Many kosher wine drinkers lack what wine connoisseurs know – a knowledge of the history of grapes, how they’re grown, and the best seasons for buying them. It’s not enough to stick with the same old stuff you’ve always enjoyed or simply to buy what someone recommends. Knowledge enables wine drinkers to buy what they desire all on their own.

An overview to the kosher wine-making industry’s information is presented by author and wine connoisseur Daniel Rogov, in The Kosher Grapevine’s Introduction. The Kosher Grapevine’s author Irving Langer augments the education with his own look at wine-making as well as the nature of the storage barrels used to age wines for taste perfection. Langer also teaches the surprisingly little-known but only correct technique for holding a glass of wine. He didn’t expound, though, on the meaning of a given wine bottle’s appearance. The color, neck, shoulders and shape of the bottle indicate the nature of a particular wine, cluing purchasers in to its sensory potentials.

The rest of the book holds historic tales of Jewish facts, figures and history, a few jokes and lovely photographs, plus advice on how to pair wines with specific foods. Non-Jewish and new-to-observant Judaism adherents can benefit from the Hebrew/English glossary that can clue readers in to tenets of Jewish life and law. Gedalya Persky, a co–owner of Israel’s HaMartaf shop that sells wines, whiskies and beers, comments that “the section on how to taste wines is well done. Facts about the Gemara and minhagim (Jewish customs) round out the book. It’s nice start for beginners.”

Despite its lack of a more comprehensive survey of kosher wines, The Kosher Grapevine: Exploring the World of Wine can enhance a reader’s growing appreciation for wine-making’s technicalities.

Add this hardcover coffee table–sized book to your reading list and see what it does for your wine-drinking experience.

 

http://itsmycrisisandillcryifineedto.blogspot.com/

Title: The Koren Ethiopian Haggada Journey to Freedom: Celebrating Ethiopian Jewish History, Traditions & Customs

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Title: The Koren Ethiopian Haggada Journey to Freedom: Celebrating Ethiopian Jewish History, Traditions & Customs Editor: Rabbi Menachem Waldman Publisher: Koren Publishing

It’s a humbling experience to live in Israel, among Jews whose genes date back to Bayit Rishon. It’s equally humbling to study the historical overview that is The Koren Ethiopian Haggada Journey to Freedom: Celebrating Ethiopian Jewish History, Traditions & Customs. Looking at life untouched by Talmudic exegesis is a trip into the collective Jewish past, a historic breakthrough.

Rav Rachamim Goshen discussed this new publication with me. A man of Ethiopian heritage who teaches in the Ahavat Yisrael/Rappaport school for girls in Bet Shemesh, he appreciates, among other cultural realities presented in the book, Koren’s accurate representation of Ethiopian prayer leaders called kessim. “Ethiopian women and many males only answer ‘Amen’ to the prayers chanted by the kessim,” he and the Koren haggadah agree.

We were impressed with the Hebrew-English haggadah’s photographic evidence of the lives led by Ethiopian Jews. The pottery, the unembellished homes, schools and synagogues, the gaunt Jews in modest clothing and head coverings guiding equally emaciated farm animals portray dedication to Torah values despite harsh political and topographical conditions. Colorful paintings by children and artisans complement the photos with a sense of gaiety. Amharic documents spread across several pages give global Jewry a peek into the literacy and literature of Jews cut off from centuries of contact with the wider Jewish world. Ethiopia’s Jews were surprised to learn of Ashkenaz, western and other Jewish groups in the late 18th century. Razed by forcible Christian missionaries and conversions, Ethiopia’s surviving Jewish communities had believed themselves to be the only remnants of Judaism worldwide.

Editor Rabbi Menachem Waldman provided an undetailed mention of his decades’ worth of rescue efforts among Ethiopia’s Jews in the forward. He stands off to the side, so to speak, letting Ethiopian Jewry’s story tell itself. Page 53’s black and white rendering of The Vision of Abba Baruch appears beneath a photo of the priest’s face. The prophetic 1935/5695 announcement described the future rescue of Ethiopian Jews. Rare photos show that arduous, sometimes fatal journey through the Sudan to freedom, plus initial experiences with modern technology. Hold the haggadah a distance from your eyes that will likely fill with tears. The artwork, the faces filled with fear, awe and naiveté alert readers to the miracle of Jewish Ethiopia’s isolated survival over centuries.

The cover photo of Ethiopian Jewish women preparing matzot is an apt metaphor for the Pesach experience. As I watched a man who has saved many lives on his own initiative – my friend Rabbi Ephraim Kestenbaum of kosher oat matzah fame – reading this publication, my soul resonated with his words, “Everyone must read this haggadah. I want one.”

The Koren Ethiopian Haggada Journey to Freedom belongs around the Jewish world.

Yocheved Golani is the author of “It’s MY Crisis! And I’ll Cry If I Need To: EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge” (booklocker.com/books/3067.html).

Title: Soul to Soul – Writings from Dark Places

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Title: Soul to Soul - Writings from Dark Places


Author: Deborah Masel


Publisher: Gefen


Reviewed by Yocheved Golani

 

 


   Every medical school in the world should have this book on the syllabus: once during first-year medical studies and again at residency. Pages 63-67 pretty much sum up the brutality of a given medical staff member’s offhand remarks and intentional insensitivity in the presence of patients. They crush the spirits of otherwise valiant people struggling to live. Med students who assume superiority to their needy patients need not have airs. They’re not G-d and not about to become His rival, either. Medical interventions have limits. And condescension kills people as much as disease can.

 

   Deborah Masel’s account of her years-long battle with metastatic breast cancer is a nightmare many women in industrialized countries fear. An experienced writer before she authored Soul to Soul, Masel’s prose is without pretense, raw and human. The 184-page paperback describes the suspense, fear and lack of control over the intimate details of a woman whose life is complicated by breast cancer that spread throughout her body. The light shining from this story is in the lessons that the author learned from the Aish Kodesh by the rebbe of Piacezna.

 

   Aish Kodesh is the soul-searching spiritual survival effort to persevere as an emunah-oriented Jew that was written during the Shoah. Its overriding lesson is to believe – while we shudder – that G-d, despite fearsome facts and logic, is beyond any boundaries and above all nature. That G-d will save us is a given in Torah life and in Aish Kodesh. How He will do so is another matter altogether. We as Jews must allow the possible to happen, not reject outcomes that do not match our fantasies.

 

   Masel tells us on page 170 that she clung to G-d despite the chaotic world of her treatments, pain and emotional vicissitudes. She learned from the rebbe of Piacezna that “G-d is right there with me in the foxhole … the longer I stayed with him, the more this [emotional vicissitudes] barrier dissolved.”

 

   Devorah Masel died shortly after her book was released. Hear her plea in chapter one: “Please don’t stop reading. I know it’s scary. I’m scared too. Once I too would have closed the book. I wouldn’t want to know about it. Life’s scary enough, I’d say, without this. But now I’m stuck with it and I’m asking you not to shut me out.”

 

   Yocheved Golani is the author of E-book “It’s MY Crisis! And I’ll Cry If I Need To: EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge”  (http://booklocker.com/books/3067.html).

Title: The Family Guide to Touring Israel

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Title: The Family Guide to Touring Israel

Author: Lisa Aiken

Publisher: Lisa Aiken

 

 

   The proof will be in your hands: some self-published books are remarkably wonderful. Lisa Aiken’s The Family Guide to Touring Israel is a 382-page paperback with essentials even native Israelis need to know.

 

   The easy-reading prose informs you of sporting opportunities, gift shop locations and hours, tree-planting and handicap-accessible touring realities. Pay attention to Aiken’s notes about bathroom facilities (they tend to range from hygienic nightmares to high-class and helpful). The remarks alert you to the need for packing baby-changing items and/or tissues and soap to protect the rest of the group.

 

   Chapters progress from how to book flights and arrange itineraries to hiring tour guides, what to expect in terms of hotels, health services, food, kosher certification, public and private transportation opportunities. Want to go jeeping, scuba-diving, camel riding or celebrate a simcha? Maybe you’d prefer a walking tour with or without professional guides. Get the contact information and driving directions you need in this handy guide.

 

   The bulk of the book is an overview of specific regions and communities, with complete contact information for museums, restaurants, ticket offices and their hours. The wealth of the listings surprise even seasoned tourists who’ve covered Israel. You can dig history when you find out how to join archaeologists uncovering the past. Learn where the kids can make paper from tree bark and flower petals with adult guidance, and how you can customize a trip to make dreams come true at any age.

 

 

   Yocheved Golani is the author of the paperback and E-book “It’s MY Crisis! And I’ll Cry If I Need To: EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge” (http://booklocker.com/books/3067.html)

Title: Kosher Elegance

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Title: Kosher Elegance


Author: Efrat Libfroind


Publisher: Feldheim


 


 


   Kosher cookbooks have come a long way to being what women need. Flimsy paperbacks and poorly bound hard covers with yellowed, deteriorating pages that kept falling out have become beautiful, helpful and long-lasting. With Kosher Elegance, author Efrat Libfroind brings classic culinary skills to the table with clear directions and illustrative photos that portray aroma and taste. You’ll want to eat the pictures!

 

   The average Jewish female first tries her hand at cookery as a child. Many young ladies in the making will be able to succeed with adult assistance and the white chocolate and fruit cream dream on page 132. Their mothers will be hooked on rosemary cream cones at page 206. Once they’ve tasted those sweets, it’ll be time for dessert: meals to make everyone’s mouth water.

 

   Chicken basil cranberry rollups make you want to hurry up the holidays. They’re packed with good-for-you nutrition, beautiful to display, and satisfying. Vegetarians can enjoy meals of eggplant rollups with cashew, cheese and nut fillings, fried cannelloni filled with zucchini cream (yes, zucchini cream) and exotic cabbage salad among other appealing entrees.

 

   Beef, fish and poultry dishes abound with flair. Potato-chip chicken, stir-fry, sandwiches and skewered delights fill other colorful pages. The meals will appeal to diners of various ages and preferences. The at-a-glance photos inKosher Elegance will clue you in to that.

 

   It’s not hard to imagine someone opening a four-star restaurant or gaining a reputation as a fine cook based on the entrees in Kosher Elegance. The recipes are in chapters entitled “Sophistication,” “Occasions,” “Brunch,” “Hors D’oeuvres” (now you know how to spell it), “Layers,” “Simplicity,” “Sushi,” “Temptation” (that pretty much describes the whole book), and “Chocolate.” Study them to assess which ingredients and tools you’ll need to have in the kitchen when you prepare them. You might even indulge in what I did by buying pretty dishware for serving up specific selections.

 

   Feldheim bound the book to last a few generations. Be sure to cover it with weighted page protectors made for recipe books. Your sous-chefs de cuisine (kitchen helpers with fancy titles) and descendants will appreciate that.

 

 

   Yocheved Golani is the author of E-book “It’s MY Crisis! And I’ll Cry If I Need To: EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge”   (https://booklocker.com/books/3067.html)

Title: And Twice the Marrow of Her Bones

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Title: And Twice the Marrow of Her Bones


Author: Susan Petersen Avitsour


 


 


   And Twice the Marrow of Her Bones can take you far from your expectations of a book about losing a child to cancer. The amazingly clear, honest prose can ennoble you no matter what you believe before reading the memoir. Listen as Susan Petersen Avitsour narrates – in her words and her daughter Timora’s – the drama leading up to, during and beyond Timora’s diagnosis. The family had learned it days before her bat mitzvah.

 

   On page 75 Avitsour relates that Timora, receiving chemotherapy and radiation suppressing adolescent development, “couldn’t find her place in the world of young teenage girls ” Her body had reacted violently to the potentially life-saving chemicals. They filled her increasingly frail body while wreaking havoc on her emotions, as chemotherapy tends to do. Timora’s poem about her predicament, on page 122, concludes “Please,/Open up a little crack/So I’ll know – The world still contains a little light.”

 

   Timora would giggle, prepare craft projects, write poetry, dote on her parents, brother and sisters, act in school plays and pursue scouting activities while suffering two close calls at saving her life in six years. Her family faced them as mortals would: alternating between hope, despair, admirable emotional restraint and the exhaustion which opens the floodgates to pent-up emotions.

 

   Page 107 records the author wondering “And when Timora came down on one of her siblings [ed.: tired of holding back for Timora's sake and of losing time with parents who necessarily supervised - and performed - Timora's medical care], whom was it more important that I protect – the child being unfairly attacked, or the child suffering from a mortal illness? There was no simple solution.”

 

   Observers don’t necessarily appreciate the physical or psycho-spiritual pain influencing ill people and their loved ones. On pages 164-167, we hear proof of that as the heartbroken mother cries out for help during a support group meeting for halachically observant Jews. Tired of meaningless maxims about spiritual healing versus physical curing, Avitsour begs for genuine solace from the rabbinic speaker.

 

   Battered by ensuing insults about her theological beliefs, then by proclamations of religious superiority from the crowd, her agony lifts off the page: “A wave of exhaustion suddenly struck me; I didn’t have the strength for this. I didn’t want to argue theology I wanted to connect emotionally. Wasn’t that what we all had in common?” Many readers will be able to identify with the author’s sense of abandonment at the least expected of times. Clergy and therapists can gain insight into meeting the emotional needs of such people from the incident.

 

   Avitsour’s search for meaningful spiritual comfort to her family’s agony is the focal point of her book. She describes the unconditional love of fellow congregants in her beit knesset and her husband’s delighted astonishment at an over-capacity crowd bone marrow drive publicized in a community newspaper. These and other uplifting parts of the Avitsour family’s life enervated the parents, Timora and her siblings, as they faced six years’ worth of unpredictable days.

 

   Within a circle of female dancers on page 241, Avitsour describes her joy at the wedding of a bride the same age Timora would have been had both classmates reached that calendar date. “I couldn’t help but share in the general elation at the young couple’s happiness But then I was struck once again by a fleeting vision of Timora as she might have danced at her own wedding I do not want to spend the rest of my life overcome with grief for what will never be At the same time I don’t want to run away from my sadness for her and all she might have become. To do so would mean running from Timora herself “

 

   On page 262, Avitsour concludes “God in His grace has granted me – indeed, granted to all human beings, wherever they stand [on the spiritual continuum] a healing force, a source of strength that exists quite apart from the dilemmas and doubts that inevitably arise in any intelligent religious discourse, and replenishes us when we are at our most depleted.” Her prose dignifies the oft-misunderstood agony of parents before, during and after each stage of bereavement.

 

   And Twice the Marrow of Her Bones invites unshed tears to fall and for honest communication to prevail so that emotional relief and repair can happen.It ends with one of Timora’s poems, calling out across time:

 

   And why./Why live./Suffer./Fight, struggle. Why pull and pull like a wretched miserable beast -/For what./In loneliness, in the dark, in the cold./How much have I asked, and how much will I ask/And I am not the only one/Not only when sorrow blinds the eye like a veil of tears./But within me I know/And sometimes, like a flame/The answer blazes before me -/Love.

 

   Therapists and bereaved relatives would do well to read this memoir several times.

 

   Yocheved Golani is the author of E-book “It’s MY Crisis! And I’ll Cry If I Need To: EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge”  (www.booklocker.com/books/4244.html).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/title-and-twice-the-marrow-of-her-bones-2/2011/02/16/

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