RABBI'S READING​​​​​​​​​​ ROOM

The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler's Men

from back cover:

For the first time, once-secret government records and interviews tell the full story of the thousands of Nazis—from concentration camp guards to high-level officers in the Third Reich—who came to the United States after World War II and quietly settled into new lives. Many gained entry on their own as self-styled war “refugees.” But some had help from the U.S. government. The CIA, the FBI, and the military all put Hitler’s minions to work as spies, intelligence assets, and leading scientists and engineers, whitewashing their histories. Only years after their arrival did private sleuths and government prosecutors begin trying to identify the hidden Nazis. Now, relying on a trove of newly disclosed documents and scores of interviews, Eric Lichtblau reveals this shocking, shameful, and little-known chapter of postwar history.

"Fifty Shades of Talmud: What the First Rabbis Had to Say about You-Know-What"

by Maggie Anton

 

from book jacket:

Amusing. Seductive. Stimulating. We're talking about the Talmud? That's right. Take fifty actual Talmudic discussions, mix in pithy sayings (appropriate and inappropriate) by luminaries from Mae West and Amy Schumer to George Washington and Gandhi, add a few cartoons, and voila—delighted and enlightened readers will come away with a new perspective on what the ancient Jewish sages say about our most intimate relationships.

In this lighthearted, in-depth tour of sexuality within the Talmud, come eavesdrop at the first rabbis' locker-room door as they discuss every aspect of sexual relations—how, when, where, with whom—often in startlingly explicit fashion. Author Maggie Anton reveals how Jewish tradition is more progressive in many respects, and more bawdy, than one might think. The award-winning historical novelist's first foray into nonfiction is likely to leave her fans going OMG and LOL.

“A Bride for One Night: Talmud Tales"

by Dr. Ruth Calderon

 

Ruth Calderon has recently electrified the Jewish world with her teachings of talmudic texts. In this volume, her first to appear in English, she offers a fascinating window into some of the liveliest and most colorful stories in the Talmud. Calderon rewrites talmudic tales as richly imagined fictions, drawing us into the lives of such characters as the woman who risks her life for a sister suspected of adultery; a humble schoolteacher who rescues his village from drought; and a wife who dresses as a prostitute to seduce her pious husband in their garden. Breathing new life into an ancient text.
 

 

“My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel” by Ari Shavit

 

An authoritative and deeply personal narrative history of the State of Israel, by one of the most influential journalists writing about the Middle East today
 
Not since Thomas L. Friedman’s groundbreaking From Beirut to Jerusalem has a book captured the essence and the beating heart of the Middle East as keenly and dynamically as My Promised Land. Facing unprecedented internal and external pressures, Israel today is at a moment of existential crisis. Ari Shavit draws on interviews, historical documents, private diaries, and letters, as well as his own family’s story, illuminating the pivotal moments of the Zionist century to tell a riveting narrative that is larger than the sum of its parts: both personal and national, both deeply human and of profound historical dimension.

“Then They Came For Me” by Maziar Bahari with Aimee Molloy

 

When Maziar Bahari left London in June 2009 to cover Iran’s presidential election, he assured his pregnant fiancée, Paola, that he’d be back in just a few days, a week at most. Little did he know, as he kissed her good-bye, that he would spend the next three months in Iran’s most notorious prison, enduring brutal interrogation sessions at the hands of a man he knew only by his smell: Rosewater.

   For the Bahari family, wars, coups, and revolutions are not distant concepts but intimate realities they have suffered for generations: Maziar’s father was imprisoned by the shah in the 1950s, and his sister by Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s. Alone in his cell at Evin Prison, fearing the worst, Maziar draws strength from his memories of the courage of his father and sister in the face of torture, and hears their voices speaking to him across the years. He dreams of being with Paola in London, and imagines all that she and his rambunctious, resilient eighty-four-year-old mother must be doing to campaign for his release. During the worst of his encounters with Rosewater, he silently repeats the names of his loved ones, calling on their strength and love to protect him and praying he will be released in time for the birth of his first child.

   A riveting, heart-wrenching memoir, Then They Came for Me offers insight into the past fifty years of regime change in Iran, as well as the future of a country where the democratic impulses of the youth continually clash with a government that becomes more totalitarian with each passing day. An intimate and fascinating account of contemporary Iran, it is also the moving and wonderfully written story of one family’s extraordinary courage in the face of repression.

“Sacred Trash” by Adina Hoffman & Peter Cole

One May day in 1896, at a dining-room table in Cambridge, England, a meeting took place between a Romanian-born maverick Jewish intellectual and twin learned Presbyterian Scotswomen, who had assembled to inspect several pieces of rag paper and parchment. It was the unlikely start to what would prove a remarkable, continent-hopping, century-crossing saga, and one that in many ways has revolutionized our sense of what it means to lead a Jewish life.

   In Sacred Trash, MacArthur-winning poet and translator Peter Cole and acclaimed essayist Adina Hoffman tell the story of the retrieval from an Egyptian geniza, or repository for worn-out texts, of the most vital cache of Jewish manuscripts ever discovered. This tale of buried scholarly treasure weaves together unforgettable portraits of Solomon Schechter and the other heroes of this drama with explorations of the medieval documents themselves—letters and poems, wills and marriage contracts, Bibles, money orders, fiery dissenting tracts, fashion-conscious trousseaux lists, prescriptions, petitions, and mysterious magical charms. Presenting a panoramic view of nine hundred years of vibrant Mediterranean Judaism, Hoffman and Cole bring modern readers into the heart of this little-known trove, whose contents have rightly been dubbed “the Living Sea Scrolls.” Part biography and part meditation on the supreme value the Jewish people has long placed on the written word, Sacred Trash is above all a gripping tale of adventure and redemption.

“The List” by Martin Fletcher

London, October 1945.  Austrian refugees Georg and Edith await the birth of their first child. Yet how can they celebrate when almost every day brings news of another relative or friend murdered in the Holocaust? Their struggle to rebuild their lives is further threatened by growing anti-Semitism in London's streets; Englishmen want to take homes and jobs from Jewish refugees and give them to returning servicemen.


Edith's father is believed to have survived, and finding him rests on Georg's shoulders. Then Georg learns of a plot by Palestinian Jews to assassinate Britain’s foreign minister. Georg must try to stop the murder, all the while navigating a city that wants to "eject the aliens."


In The List, Fletcher investigates an ignored and painful chapter in London’s history. The novel is both a breathless thriller of postwar sabotage and a heartrending and historically accurate portrait of an almost forgotten era. In this sensitive, deeply touching, and impossible-to-forget story, Martin Fletcher explores the themes of hope, prejudice, loss and love that make up the lives of all refugees everywhere.

 

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