Friday, June 28, 2013

What is Jewish Fiction?


I would like to thank Erika Dreifus for sharing this video.  It sounds like to me that there is a fine line. Still no one has the answer. Like always there could be 5 Jews and everyone has a different opinion.  It will never be answered. Which is fine by me.  To me I think it is your own experience, and your own interpetation.

For me Jewish fiction has to be:
1) The author must be JEWISH.
there are some authors that say their book is Jewish when they never experience being Jewish. Going one time to a passover seder doesn't cut it.
2) The Jewish experience and ideas
 Just because a person writes in a few Jewish names doesn't make a book Jewish.

What are your thoughts leave a comment.




Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Jewish Grand Strand Reads 2013 Part 2










Jewish Grand Strand Reads event was held yesterday. With 30 people in attendance. We picked Mr. Fish to have the event. It is owned, by Ted and Lisa Hammerman. Lisa, is one of our long standing book club members of 38th Ave. Diva Readers. It is centrally located and across the street from our temple, Temple Emanu-El.  The presentation of the food was so pretty you don't want to eat it. I would rather look at it.  That would be a great way to lose weight. You know the joke SEAFOOD!!!  The food and service was excellent.  I ordered the Talapia blackened sandwich, with a cuke, and tomato salad.  You can't forget the hush puppies either.
We discussed the novel, Rav Hisda's Daughter by Maggie Anton. Our guest speaker was Rabbi Debbie Slavitt.  She is a wonderful speaker, and she draws everyone.  Her discussion, and questions made for interesting topics further to explore and ask more questions.


Rabbi Debbie Talked about the temple before the destruction of the second temple, and the exiles that left before the second temple and after. What was it like without a temple?  How did Judiasm survive without the Temple?  without sacrifices? What was the culture like in Jerusalem vs. Babylonia? What happened to the Sanhedrin, now that there was not a need for them?



 Why Rabbi's? The concept of synagogue and Rabbi is not what we think of today in daily life.  Rabbi's did not have a pulpit, or lead prayer.  The word for "Rabbi", is teacher. Rabbi's formed the conversations from different generations of sages for oral  Jewish law called the Talmud. When we modern Jews think of Talmud we think of  many, many books. But, in actually printing press did not come about till 1500 years later.  So, it was passed on to their students by word of mouth, and discussion of other Rabbi's and debates, etc.

In Rav Hisda's Daughter here are the talking points:
(For reason's I won't get the name right. I will call her Rav Hisda's Daughter)

Why did her father ask her to name the one she wanted to marry. What was the reason she said Rami, and Abba. Was it so she wouldn't embarrass the boys?

Why did Rav Hisda allow sorcery, and magic in his home if he is a learned Rabbi? That is the point back then the Rabbi was only a teacher. He did not dominate Jewish life, and judge and tell you, what is right or wrong. He wanted to be accepted in the secular world as well. Just like today assimilation is possible. The Babylonia culture was all around us.  So, you had to take it in.

The incantation bowls that were put upside down to catch the demons, the evil eye on a baby sleeve, etc, etc.

Then we talked about the mosaics in the bath houses and the significance of them.




The Culture between Jerusalem vs. Babylonia was different. Why do you think that is? You would think it would be the same. But, in Babylonia you were surrounded by all kinds of people. In Jerusalem it was just one kind. The point is that there were differences all around you. There was not sameness.

Our second annual Jewish Grand Strand Reads was a large success this time than last time.  Our attendance doubled.

 A few of the authors sent me autograph copies of their newest novels. I was showcasing southern beach reads by Mary Kay Andrews, Dorthea Benton Frank, Beth Hoffman, and Susan M. Moyer.




                                                       Til next year, looking toward 2014.






Jewish Grand Strand Reads 2013

I have been organizing our Jewish Grand Strand Reads. The first year I did not know what I was doing.  We had a small group of people. Our book event was Dove Keepers by Alice Hoffman.

  This year, we chose Rav Hisda's Daughter by Maggie Anton.

I did not reach out to the Jewish synagogues or organizations for help because I did not know if there was a need. But, yesterday I got my answer. We had a total of 30 people show up, with a few cancellations.

There are some drawbacks though when it gets larger. But, I love the idea of the Jewish community of Myrtle Beach,  reading,  and discussing and sharing ideas. Especially around one book.  It is alot of work, but if you have the commitment, drive and willing to sweat a bit, and some sleepless nights.  It is worth it at the end.   But, you must have the passion and the love for the writing, the book, and the author.

 With the help of my friend Donna, I pursued my idea. I don't think I would have done it without her support. There has been crazy times that I get ideas in my head, and I call her all different times night or day.  I hope I don't cause her to get a divorce. LOL!!! My friends think I am a bit eccentric because of my love of reading and books. Because I talk, eat, and sleep books. I am known as the "Book Maven" or " Book Diva", depending on who you talk to.

Why I am posting this if you have a idea and you are passionate about it. Do it! Don't think it can't be done.  Go on your PC, and do a lot of research. See if someone else has done it. I can't tell you how many hours of research I did. Reading recommendations, and contacting other organizations to talk to them.  Nancy Pearl, from the New Jersey Jewish Federation took the time and gave me so many resources and information how to organize.

So many people told  me it couldn't be done in this area.  Mainly because we don't have the resources. We are a resort town, and a small Jewish community. Up north, authors are always willing to come to book events. But, in the south everything is spread out.  There are not plentiful authors that are willing to come down here without charge.

 There are always books that have topics to find discussion, and a jumping point for discussion.  To enhance, and enrich the the book experience.

We have something better.  We have one thing they don't have, Rabbi Debbie Slavitt.   She is and will be our next speaker.  She is wonderful to listen to and get ideas and share with.

You would think I am done, and can take a rest. You are wrong even before we started our book event yesterday.  I had a meeting with Sisterhood of , Temple Emanu-El to discuss working together for the Jewish Grand Strand Reads.

They will be supporting me and my idea.   They realize there is a need here. Especially when some of them attended the book event yesterday.  They realized how many people came with out that much publicity.  Can you imagine if it was really publicized.

Thanks for visiting, and if you are planning a book event  and you need some help you are welcome to contact me.

Here is our new logo that our temple secretary made for next year's event.  It is awesome and now official, Jewish Grand Strand Reads 2014:

                                                 

Organizing Community Read

















I have been organizing our Jewish Grand Strand Reads. The first year I did not know what I was doing.  We had a small group of people. Our book event was Dove Keepers by Alice Hoffman.

  This year, we chose Rav Hisda's Daughter by Maggie Anton.

I did not reach out to the Jewish synagogues or organizations for help because I did not know if there was a need. But, yesterday I got my answer. We had a total of 30 people show up, with a few cancellations.

There are some drawbacks though when it gets larger. But, I love the idea of the Jewish community of Myrtle Beach,  reading,  and discussing and sharing ideas. Especially around one book.  It is alot of work, but if you have the commitment, drive and willing to sweat a bit, and some sleepless nights.  It is worth it at the end.   But, you must have the passion and the love for the writing, the book, and the author.

 With the help of my friend Donna, I pursued my idea. I don't think I would have done it without her support. There has been crazy times that I get ideas in my head, and I call her all different times night or day.  I hope I don't cause her to get a divorce. LOL!!! My friends think I am a bit eccentric because of my love of reading and books. Because I talk, eat, and sleep books. I am known as the "Book Maven" or " Book Diva", depending on who you talk to.

Why I am posting this if you have a idea and you are passionate about it. Do it! Don't think it can't be done.  Go on your PC, and do a lot of research. See if someone else has done it. I can't tell you how many hours of research I did. Reading recommendations, and contacting other organizations to talk to them.  Nancy Pearl, from the New Jersey Jewish Federation took the time and gave me so many resources and information how to organize.

So many people told  me it couldn't be done in this area.  Mainly because we don't have the resources. We are a resort town, and a small Jewish community. Up north, authors are always willing to come to book events. But, in the south everything is spread out.  There are not plentiful authors that are willing to come down here without charge.

 There are always books that have topics to find discussion, and a jumping point for discussion.  To enhance, and enrich the the book experience.

We have something better.  We have one thing they don't have, Rabbi Debbie Slavitt.   She is and will be our next speaker.  She is wonderful to listen to and get ideas and share with.

You would think I am done, and can take a rest. You are wrong even before we started our book event yesterday.  I had a meeting with Sisterhood of , Temple Emanu-El to discuss working together for the Jewish Grand Strand Reads.

They will be supporting me and my idea.   They realize there is a need here. Especially when some of them attended the book event yesterday.  They realized how many people came with out that much publicity.  Can you imagine if it was really publicized.

Thanks for visiting, and if you are planning a book event  and you need some help you are welcome to contact me.

Here is our new logo that our temple secretary made for next year's event.  It is awesome and now official, Jewish Grand Strand Reads 2014:

                                                   

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Who is Typhoid Mary???



Fever
By Mary Beth Keane
Review copy from publisher




I bet you heard this many times references about Typhoid Mary. Is she a real person?  I bet you did not realize there was a person associated with the name, her name was Mary Mallon.

She was a 37 year old cook, in New York City. She was hired by the rich and famous to cook in their homes. In 1907. She was employed in the summer for a rich family in Oyster Bay, NY.  After being employed there for about 3 weeks the entire household became ill by Typhoid. How did everyone get sick? What was wrong with them?  No one in Oyster Bay gets Typhoid Fever.

The family which many of them did not recover.  Hired a sanitation engineer, by the name of George Soper.   He became suspicious, and questioned the staff that worked at the Warren summer home.  Realized there was one person they did not question. Her name was Mary Mallon.  He discovered that Mary was employed by several wealthy families in New York.

 George Soper hounded Mary for months. He suspected her because he followed her work history from the time she came to the United States from Ireland, to work as a cook till 1907. He found that 6 families came down with Typhoid Fever. Everywhere that Mary worked, Typhus followed. She infected at least 27 people he could account for.



Typhoid Fever, is a illness associated with over crowded conditions, poor sanitation, infectious diseases.This was the way of life in New York City with mass immigration in to the lower east side.  Only thirty years ago,
it was discovered that diseases were caused by invisible microbes, called "Germs".  You can contract Typhoid easily from contaminated food, or water.

 Mary was forced out of her home and taken to the Wilard Parker Hospital  by the Public Health  to be quarantined for three years. Initially she was living with others in the hospital. Later she was placed in a cottage by herself. At the hospital samples were taken weekly.

She was then finally heard in court, and eventually released with one stimulation. She can no longer be employed as a cook. She was never helped by being retrained in another field. She hated being a laundress. She made less money and it was hard and tiresome work. She eventually went back into cooking.




My Review:   

Fever is a historical fictionalized account of Mary Mallon, known as Typhoid Mary.  I found the book so interesting in the beginning but it seemed to drag on and on. It lost my interest after awhile.  I wanted to like reading Fever. Especially since this is my cup of tea. I love historical fiction, especially when it deals with history, and science, and diseases.

I can't pin point it but I did not like the author's writing style.  Perhaps because it was a straight narrative.  

The elements of the book did stir up ethical questions. Does the Public Health Department have a right to detain her without due process?  "How do you protect health of the masses of the people if it is jeopardized by a individual person who's liberty you are taking away". The unfortunately thing she was the first person to be called the carrier of the disease. She was the scapegoat. There were many others that were carriers and they did not get the treatment that Mary did.  Mary could have been treated this way because she was a single women, and she spoke out, and she was  adamant that she did not cause the disease, and definitely not the carrier.  The Department of Health may have been spiteful, and did this as a example for the masses.  

While reading Fever, what comes to mind was the Aids outbreak. I can recall some years ago. When Aids was found out. There was a person who deliberately knowing he had Aids, gave it to other people for spite. Or how do you treat the person with SAR's without taking their liberties. When you hear someone has the disease you back away.  It is sad that we treat people this way.  But, what are you suppose to do to protect yourself.  

Mary was a proud and stubborn woman, and independent and that may have gotten her in trouble. She never believes that she is the cause of the outbreaks of Typhoid Fever. She was irrational, and went into rages and did not trust doctors. It didn't make sense to her, why they singled her out.  Her understanding of the disease process, "if I am not sick, I can't give it to someone else".

 I think I would feel the same way, if I was taken away and then quarantined. Wouldn't you? I understand her reaction under the circumstances of her treatment. They thought they were doing the right thing.  Put yourself in her shoes.

SPOILER!!!!...................................................................................................................................

There were other ways of treating Mary. They could have re-trained her in another occupation that paid equally as well.  This was a setup for failure waiting to happen. 

 Mary Mallon did not maliciously give some one the disease. She was not a criminal. She just did not understand the disease process, like we do now.  Know of course, in restaurants workers are particular about hand washing, and food handling. 

This is a book that I would want to discuss immediately with someone. Even though I found the book to drag, there was plenty to talk about.  I could see this discussed in a book club.  I moderate two book clubs and I can see us discussing this one. 















Sunday, June 9, 2013

One of the Best Books This Year: Looking For Me-Beth Hoffman








Looking For Me
Beth Hoffman

Galley copy from Beth Hoffman



I can't rave enough about Looking For Me. I am not one of these book reviewers that can read a book in one sitting. For the first time I did.   By the time I was finished it was past nine o'clock. Where did the time fly, it was that good.  I got lost in the story. It was worth it. It is such a good "feel good" book.

I love historical fiction, so contemporary women's fiction usually is not my taste. But, I loved Beth Hoffman's last novel, Searching for CC Honeycutt.  I knew I had to read her next book. It is totally differently than her other book. 


My taste in books are, one it has to be original, and two grab me from the get go. Well, it did both.
But it was a surprise there were two main ingredients that I enjoyed as well, mysticism and it was magical, with antidotes sprinkled in for good measure.


I loved the stories and the old saying that her grandmother, and everyone that Teddi encountered giving her antidotes to use for save keeping to use at a later date.  Then there were so many funny and belly laughs I could not help myself.   

I will tell you two parts that stand out to me.  Beginning the book, Teddi's father had a love for his rooster.  He actually had a place on the tractor for his throne. I could picture that hen, or rooster I can't remember which. But, her father had the ritual that the rooster would follow Teddi's father on the tractor each day while working on the farm.  I could see that old rooster or hen supervising.

The other is when Teddi was older, and her girlfriend was upset because she lost her chance with the plumber, poet. She said I have no reason to have him come to the house.  Teddi, took the sledge hammer to the faucet, and slammed it.  She said now, you do.  It was much funnier explained in the book.

Looking For Me takes place in Kentucky, and then moves Teddi to Charleston, SC. A perfect setting for anything antique. If you have never been to Charleston, you are missing out on old southern culture. The old homes are the setting of dreams of Gone With The Wind. 


 There is nothing that compares to Charleston anywhere in this country. The homes on the battery are the most gorgeous, with the wrap around porches with the large columns, and the big picture windows. Believe it or not most of the homes don't even need a/c because of the oceans breezes are off the battery. 

Beth Hoffman did a beautiful job writing her love of Charleston, and the historic homes, and the antiques they have.

I have been to Charleston many times, and when she described some of the homes with the old antique ovens, and the old plumbing in the kitchen. I could vision this while reading.

 

 
Looking For Me, it is multi- layered, with complex characters. Teddi, and Josh are brother and sister living on a farm in Kentucky. Her parents are both very complicated and keep secrets from their children.

One day, Josh is missing, and he never turns up. Is he alive, and living in the forest? He's body never surfaces. He always was and close to nature it may be the mystery of where he is.

Then when her mother passes away she returns to her family home to sell the land. This brings back feeling about her brother's disappearance to the surface. Everything that she questions about her brother's returns. Is it coincidence? Or is it a sign to her to sell the family's farm to a couple that wants the farm, but can't afford it?

In life there are mysteries there is no answer to. But, there are mysteries that take a turn and answer you without you realizing, from g-d perhaps, or a higher being, who knows.

There is the culture of Charleston set in the story, Ms. Hoffman was a interior designer field and you can tell, her love for designing is set in the story. I am so much in love with all the characters, I fell in love with all of them over, and over again. I don't want to let them go-o! I felt like they were real. They felt so real to me in reality. When I finished reading Looking For Me, I thought where did they go!!

All I can say, is that this is my favorite book this year, so far. My reading picks for this year has not been the best. But, Looking For Me just went on my best reads for 2013. Looking for Me is a feel good book, and doesn't disappoint. Believe me you won't be disappointed.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Secret Rescue by Cate Lineberry: A Part of History Not Revealed





This is a different than my usual review I post on my book blog. Because I am a retired nurse, a feminist the history of nursing in the military fascinated me. As well as women on the home front, I dedicate this to you.

 I would also like to thank Cate Lineberry for her book, Secret Rescue.  Here is a article I found written by her about the history of military nurses in the Huffington Post.  I Think it is interesting to know a bit of history of military nurses before you dive into the book.

                                                     


                                                                   The Secret Rescue
                                                                    By Cate Lineberry

 Thanks to Eleanor Roosevelt and a few others, women were not staying home keeping the oil burning. Instead women  were now needed in the work force because the men were overseas serving their country.  Women wore all hats while the men were fighting  overseas. They were wives, homemakers, mother's, and factory workers at the same time.


                                                         
Women played an important role for the United States in World War 2. Although they did not enter combat as soldiers, many women helped by serving in the armed forces, and at the home front.   Women worked in factories producing ships, tanks, ammunition. Do you know who Rosie the Riveter is? That explains the patriotism of all the women at home and overseas. They also served their country entering into the military.
                                                     
 Thanks to Eleanor Roosevelt's hard efforts things were about to change for women. Women were now allowed to help in the war effort by becoming WAC's( Women Army Corp), The Women Air force Service Pilots( WASP), fly civilian planes.

 Marine Corp. creates Marine Corp Women Reserve, they serve stateside as clerks, cooks, and mechanics, etc.  Coast Guard establishes a reserve for women also, called SPARS. They served states side at various jobs as well. US Public Health organizes the Cadet Nurse Corp that trained 125,000 women for possible military service. 400,000 American military women serve at home and overseas in non combat jobs.

Then finally WAVES, this is part of the Navy Women's Reserve. They recruit more than 14,000 Navy nurses serve stateside as well as overseas on hospital ships and as flight nurses during the war.

 The Army establishes the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) in 1942, which is converted to the Women's Army Corps (WAC) in 1943. More than 150,000 women serve as WACs.

The above info. from a awesome site, called Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Inc.




  Wow, a book about women during WW2  .I always love to read books that deal with women.  But it is unusual to read books about women and war in the same sentence.

 Cate Lineberry did a awesome job in writing Secret Rescue.  She did a great job in doing research. She found one survivor left from the rescue Harold Hayes, 91 years old.

 I loved reading Secret Rescue.  It is part of history I was not aware of us. Women stuck in a country for months. Behind enemy lines, and aren't rescued for months.
 When we read books we always see men not women written about. This book attracted me for that reason. This also gave me a chance to do my own research and find the history of nurses, and the history of military nurses.

During World War 2, there were nurses and medics that accompanied the sick and wounded to be air lifted to military hospitals. Air lifting was a new concept to transport patients to military hospitals.

 In November 1943, 807th Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron, were a group about 13 nurses, and 13 medics, and 4 pilots. They  were suppose to go on a uneventful air lift to Italy.  But a storm and enemy planes. (German) forced them to land in Nazi occupied Albania.

They were forced to crash land and there was a division of civil war, and also the war with the Germans.   The partisans are armed, and unfriendly. But, then once one of the partisans speak to them in English they realize they are some what safe.   They were then  protected by villagers, and resistance fighters hiding them for months. They were scattered at different homes throughout the village.

They hid during the day and traveled by foot by the help of the villagers, and partisans at night. They did not stay at the same place for too long.  Most of the villagers helped to protect the nurses and medics and pilots. They gave them food, which they did not have much of, and shelter to share. They were in danger of locals turning them in, or being killed.

  But even the villagers and partisans would have been in danger if they were found out that they were protecting Americans.   There was  fighting in the local villages by the Nazi's and met with great danger.   This was not what they expected being a nurse, or a medic.  They did not think they were be in the thick of the action.  They thought they would travel.

Finally though they did get out by the help of the American and British intelligence by walking into the mountains to get into the coast of Italy. They walked 1,000 miles.  Unfortunately, there were three nurses that were separated from the rest of the party. They did not get out till March of the following year of 1944.

The story was never revealed until years later. Because of fear of what would happen to the villagers, and Parisians, and other American soldiers in the future. They decided never to talk about it till years later.


Check out my Review of Small Great Things

Check out my review of Jodi Picoult's novel, Small Great Things https://bagelsbooksandschmooze.blogspot.com/2017/08/small-great-things...