Archive for the ‘Jewish Identity’ Category

October Jewish Book Carnival


Sitting here preparing this month’s Jewish Book Carnival, I am happy to have something to think about other than the mess that is occurring practically outside my front door in the United States Capitol building. Since moving to Washington, DC last November, I have been thrilled at the opportunities presented by living “in the District.”  From seeing Thomas Jefferson’s Library at the Library of Congress to walking to the National Book Festival and poster_enlargehaving my FREE poster signed by the illustrator, Suzy Lee,  I have been able to enjoy the best of my and your tax payer dollars almost every weekend – until the government closed.  I pray that wisdom (and compassion for the 800,000 unemployed workers) will enter the minds of our Congress people and a resolution to this deadlock will be found. Perhaps they can find something in this month’s Carnival, a rare gathering of blogs about Jewish books and other happenings in the Jewish world, to assist them with making the important decisions required to keep our country afloat and at the forefront of the nations of the world.  As for you, please take time to visit every one of this month’s participants, and be sure to leave a comment on the web sites telling them you saw their post at the October Jewish Book Carnival.

The Jewish Book Carnival is a great place to get ideas for books to read and things to do. I just finished The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (which was fantastic!) just because of the great reviews I read on Carnival postings. It appears that a lot of reading took place this past month, judging by the number of book reviews I received. Get ready to make your reading list now, there are some great choices here!

Let’s start with children’s books:

BarbaraBoyMath Bietz at Jewish Books for Kids interviews Deborah Heiligman about her new book, The Boy Who Loved Math.



Jill at Rhapsody in Books reviews the companion volume to Code Name Verity – one of last year’s best books! – Rose Under Fire (set in the Ravensbruck concentration camp). This is going at the top of my reading list

MightyHandAs for me, I spent some time at, looking at what is new and exciting for parents to share Torah stories with their children.



Meghan Wolff, Publicity Coordinator for Kar-Ben Publishing, shares the KarBen blog featuring a story about the newly renovated Jerusalem Railway Station, the same station Engineer Ari took of from:

For the Adults among us:

JBkCNaomi Firestone-Teeter at the Jewish Book Council shares some fantastic non-fiction news – the five finalists for the Sami Rohr Prize.



Batya Medad at  Me-ander reviews  A Bit of Wit, A World of Wisdom by Yehoshua Kurland, Gefen Publishing House

CultbusterAnd over at Shiloh Musings, Batya reviews Confessions of a Jewish Cult Buster by Rabbi Shea Hecht



ElixirOver at The Prosen People, another Jewish Book Council blog, Gabi Gleichman offers some insights into what it was like to write, The Elixir of Immortality, a fictionalized account of the family of Baruch Spinoza.


 Lorri M. reviews Great House by Nicole Krauss.



On My Machberet, Erika Dreifus shares memorable morsels from The Impossible Takes Longer: The Memoirs of Vera Weizmann as told to David Tutaev.

OxfordShortLeora Wenger – who is hosting November’s Jewish Book Carnival – at Sketching Out reviews a variety of short stories from the anthology, The Oxford Book of Hebrew Short Stories.


Heidi Estrin at The Book of Life podcast interviews Maggie Anton about Rav Hisda’s Daughter, Book I: Apprentice: A Novel of Love, the Talmud, and Sorcery. Maggie has a lot of interesting background information to share, including some actual spells!


StartersMy good friend, KSP, at Life is Like a Library, reviews a mouthwatering cookbook Starters & Sides Made Easy.


I hope you enjoyed this month’s Jewish Book Carnival. Again, please take time to visit the bloggers posted here and share that you saw them here!

Happy Reading!

Kathy B.


The June Jewish Book Carnival


As always, it has been a busy couple of months. I have found a job! And while of course, I feel so fortunate and blessed, it has caused many things in my life – like blogs – to take a back seat as I try to develop a routine for my new schedule.  I did bring my car to DC from California, so that is helping.

BefoJewishCarnivalre I was hired, however, I had made some commitments: To attend the Bloggers’ Conference at Book Expo America at the end of May, to accept an invitation from my niece to visit her in London at the beginning of June and to host the June Jewish Book Carnival. So here we are! I am going to provide a few brief notes on what I learned at Book Expo, describe some of the wonderful blogging that is going on in the Jewish Lit-osphere, and head off to London this evening.

The Bloggers’ Conference at Book Expo America:

As mentioned, I attended the Bloggers’ Conference in New York last week. It was excellent. I learned a lot. I will write a longer piece when I return from my trip, however I want to share s few key takeaways:

1)      Books Really Do Matter: According to Will Schwalbe (author of The End of Your Life Book Club),as bloggers we are becoming increasingly important in discovering new and interesting books that readers EndLifeBCmay never learn about any other way. We are successful when we can connect the author, through our blog, with the reader. I have to say that in all the years I have attended BookExpo, I have never had such welcoming and open conversations with publishers as I had this year. They are eager to embrace bloggers, send them review copies and provide anything else we need to get a book on a blog.

2)      “What Are You Reading?” Books are a very important tool in the human arsenal. When you ask someone this question – instead of “How are you?” or “What’s up?” You open a dialogue very different from the routine of daily interactions.

3)      The new Common Core Curriculum Standards are BIG NEWS! Familiarize yourself with them and use them in reviewing your books. This will be a huge win for you.

4)      Randi Zuckerburg (yes, Mr. Facebook’s SISTER) gave the ending address. Her topic was “The 10 Trends Shaping How Content is Consumed Today.” Key ideas:

  • More Signal, Less Noise: Bloggers curate content for our readers. This helps dilute the noise on the internet,
  • The Gamification of Everything: Rewards for everything. E.g. Retweet this and earn points. Hit this and donate $1 to charity.
  • Use Video for Storytelling. Seems pretty obvious, but there are now 6 second twitter-like videos available on some sites.

More to come…let’s get to the real business of the day shall we? The June Jewish Book Carnival. I am so excited to be able to present this fine list of reviews, interviews and activities to you. With the summer season upon us, I am thankful for this group of bloggers “curating” the many books that are published this time of year and selecting the must reads for me.

Many thanks to the Jewish Book Council  for providing a list of 2013 Summer Reads. This should keep you quietly reading, sipping your preferred drinks under the sun, near water or not, throughout the many months ahead.

MissingFileAnd in case that list just isn’t quite enough,  pick up D. A. Mishani’s mystery, The Missing File, but before you do, read about his fascination with detectives at The Prosen People.



It appears that The Golem  and The Jinni may be a must read. I am a fantasy/sci-fi fan myself, and LOVE Golem stories, so I may have to pick this up for the plane ride over to London!

Here’s what Rhapsody in Books has to say about this historical fiction/fantasy/sci-fi/ romance (Did you know there’s a term for this now? It is called a mash-up.) with an immigration theme, while Lori M. Writings and Photography provides a second point of view with more details.

HershelGrynszpanWould you rather read real history instead of historical fiction? Then head on over to My Machberet, where Erika Dreifus asks Jonathan Kirsch about his new book, The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan: A Boy Avenger, a Nazi Diplomat, and a Murder in Paris, I guarantee you will be eager to get your hands on the book.


SchmutzyFamAt last, a children’s picture book!  Heidi Estrin at the Book of Life Podcast interviews the folks at Holiday House about the hilarious Shabbat picture book, The Schmutzy Family by Madelyn Rosenberg on The Book of Life podcast. This will definitely keep the kids entertained while you keep reading…
…but if they get bored, grab some glitter pens and colored markers then click on to Ann D. Koffsky’s home page and print out these fabulous glasses for coloring that will keep the kids occupied for pages!

WOctMournhen you want a break from reading all those novels or heavy history books, hop on over to The Whole Megillah  and learn about Emily Mitchell, an agent with Wernick & Pratt. Then read this extraordinary interview with poet and children’s book author Lesléa Newman. Do yourself a favor and watch the book trailer for October Mourning. Be sure to have tissues at hand.
Last, but most certainly not least, The 48th Annual Conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries is taking place in Houston, TX June 16-19, 2013. The proceedings will be live blogged via Facebook! Get pictures and comments from the conference starting on June 16. You do not have to be a Facebook subscriber to view it – but if you’d like to leave comments, do be sure to log in and “like” AJL’s Facebook page!

A late edition to the June Carnival arrived while I was in London. Now that I have returned, I am adding it to this recap:

Torkel S. Wachter asks that you visit his website to learn more about the narrative non-fiction book, The Investigation, set in Nazi Germany. Based on authentic local government documents as well as private letters and diaries, it provides an insight into the way in which Hitler’s first months in power affect a German-Jewish civil servant’s family in Hamburg. In addition, you  might want to look at this fascinating website where you can read 32 authentic postcards sent from Hamburg during 1940 and 1941. The first of these was published on March 29th 2010, seventy years to the day since it was written. The additional 31 postcards have been published in simulated real time – on the date they were written, but 70 years later.

So there you have it – The June Jewish Book Carnival! Can I have a round of applause for all our participants? Please visit everyone’s sites and leave a comment. It is nice to let the bloggers know you were there.  Have a great month.

Happy Reading!

Kathy B.


©2013 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.


Book Review | Zishe the Strongman
by Robert Rubinstein

Score: 3.5

© 2010, Kar-Ben Publishing From the time he was 3 years old, Siegmund Breitbart, known as Zishe, was strong enough to lift his Orthodox Jewish blacksmith father’s nine-pound hammers. As he grew, so did his strength, until everyone in the Polish town where he grew up, knew of his skill and strength. Soon all of [...]

Read the rest of this review »

Book Review | Queen of Secrets
by Jenny Meyerhoff

Score: 3

© 2010, Farrar Straus Giroux. In the game of High School popularity politics whose side do you take – friends or family? For Essie, the charming protaganist of this interesting story loosely based on the Book of Esther, the answer to that question can shake up a lot of relationships. Essie, an orphan raised by [...]

Read the rest of this review »

Book Review | The Life and Opinions of Amy Finawitz
by Laura Toffler-Corrie

Score: 3.0

© 2010, Roaring Brook Press. In an effort to distract Amy from her sadness over losing her best friend to a move to the heartland (Kansas), a caring teacher creates a class assignment involving the diaries of 19th century immigrants. Not only does Amy immerse herself in the project, but she enlists a kind, elderly [...]

Read the rest of this review »

« Older Entries |