Films added in August 2015 to JewishFilmFestivals.org

Advanced StyleIn my non-existent spare time I attempt to maintain a website about Jewish Film Festivals and add the movies they play. In August I found a bit more time than usual, hence  I manage  to add 92 films to this site. Some of them are old, others are new. There are shorts, feature films, documentaries and TV series among them. In the list below I used the English title for all them, but many of them are from other countries. the only thing common in them is that they were all shown at one more Jewish Film Festival this year. I hope you will find some interesting one films here:

  1. Above And Beyond: Bruce Sundlun’s Incredible WWII Journey
  2. Advanced Style
  3. Albi and Alma
  4. Alex’s Letters
  5. Aliza
  6. All My Loved Ones
  7. Amazing Grace
  8. Angels of Revolution
  9. Back to the Soil
  10. Baobab
  11. Bass Clef Bliss
  12. The Battle of Algiers
  13. Berlin Calling
  14. The Birdcage
  15. A Blind Hero: The Love of Otto Weidt
  16. Breakin’
  17. Clockwork Doll: Dahlia Ravikovitch
  18. Code of Silence
  19. Compass Cabaret 55
  20. Con Los Pies En La Tierra
  21. Cry of the City
  22. Dancing Before the Enemy: How a Teenage Boy Fooled the Nazis and Lived
  23. Desperado Square
  24. Divided We Fall
  25. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
  26. The Eichmann Show
  27. Even The Wind
  28. Fauda
  29. Fear and Desire
  30. Fires on the Plain
  31. Firstborn
  32. Frozen Days
  33. The Garden (Tribute to Drifting – 1983)
  34. Generation War
  35. Gevald
  36. Gloomy Sabbath
  37. Haven / Ceasefire
  38. Heart of a Lion
  39. Hearts Melt and Knees Tremble
  40. Hora
  41. Hotline
  42. The House on 92nd Street
  43. How to Break into Yiddish Vaudeville
  44. I Was Nineteen
  45. In the Shadow of King David
  46. It Always Rains on Sunday
  47. Jewish Girls Are Easy
  48. A Kids Game
  49. The King of Nerac
  50. A Letter to Wedgwood
  51. Living Room
  52. The Long Way Home
  53. Longing
  54. Manpower
  55. Marzipan Flowers
  56. Matti Caspi: Confession
  57. Mom Is Not Crazy
  58. The Mystery of Happiness
  59. The Naked City
  60. The Night of Fools
  61. Nowhere in Africa
  62. Nymphs in the Mist
  63. On a Technicality
  64. Once upon a time there was a king
  65. Paris Is Burning
  66. The Prime Ministers Part 2: Soldiers and Peacemakers
  67. Princess
  68. Probation Time
  69. Red Father
  70. Relocation
  71. Sammy: The Journey
  72. Shree 420
  73. Silent
  74. A Soldier and a Boy
  75. The Soldiers
  76. Son of Saul
  77. Speaking of Yiddish
  78. The Ten Plagues
  79. Things Behind the Sun
  80. Three Women
  81. Tsili
  82. The Tugendhat House
  83. The Unshod Man
  84. Variant Polgar
  85. Vice Versa
  86. The Wandering Muse
  87. The War Game
  88. A War Story
  89. We Are Here
  90. YidLife Crisis
  91. Yona
  92. ZazaLand

Concert videos: together PANGEA, Audacity, Useless Eaters

 together PANGEA, Audacity, Useless EatersI wrote this last month about a show in March, but it was just as true for a July show I went to: “Another month, another interesting venue for a punk show put up by Pizza Punx.” This time, on July 6  it was in a warehouse (/production facility?) of Ah Shayh. When I asked them what link I should use to attribute them they suggested the Ah Shay Collective, but I don’t mind plugging their skincare company page. I was late enough to fully mix the first band, and only caught the last accords of the last song of the second band. So I can only share my impressions and videos of the last three. This was the first time I could use my then new monopod, hence I managed to shoot the videos from a slightly higher angle. I still need to practice thought to get better footage.

The Useless Eaters were a bit too noisy and random for my taste, but liked their energy.

 

Next up was Audacity. They were more melodic, with catchier tunes, but bit simple and repetitive for me. Maybe I’d enjoyed it more had I not be clean and sober.

The headliner band was together PANGEA. Now here was a band that knew how to have and provide a good time even in  a small space. Their enthusiasm was contagious and I think the whole audience had a fun time. Me including. On this playlist you can check out all 26 sings I shot this evening, including 11 from this band:

 

Books posted on my Jewish Books blog in August 2015

Leaving Berlin by Joseph KanonI have a blog about Jewish books. Most of the time I post about new books, sometimes about events, book sales or older books. Here is the list of books that made it there during the month of August 2015:

  1. Aggados of Chazal by Racheli David and Dov Luria
  2. Bearing Witness: A Personal Perspective on Sixty Years of Polish History by Maria Jarosz and Steven Stoltenberg
  3. The Blind Angel: New Old Chassidic Tales by Tovia Halberstam & Joshua Halberstam
  4. The Boatmaker by John Benditt
  5. The Bridge Builder: The Life and Continuing Legacy of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein by Zev Chafets
  6. Bullets of Palestine by Howard Kaplan
  7. Celebrate the Jewish Holidays with Racheli Morris by Racheli Morris
  8. Conversion – Halakhah and Practice by Menachem Finkelstein
  9. Conversion, Intermarriage, and Jewish Identity by Robert S. Hirt and Adam Mintz
  10. The Disappearance of God by Richard Elliot Friedman
  11. Electric City by Elizabeth Rosner
  12. The Fabric of Religious Life in Medieval Ashkenaz (1000-1300): Creating Sacred Communities by Jeffrey R. Woolf – Scheduled
  13. First Family by Alice Langholt
  14. For Every Season: An introspective guide to renewing ourselves during the High Holidays and throughout the Jewish Year by Jeff Bernhardt
  15. For Such a Time by Kate Breslin
  16. Forever in Faith by Rebbetzin Bluma Teitelbaum with B. Cohen
  17. The Girl from the Garden by Parnaz Foroutan
  18. The Hands of Peace: A Holocaust Survivor’s Fight for Civil Rights in the American South by Marione Ingram
  19. Healing from the Break by Avigail Rosenberg
  20. An Improbable Journey: A True Story of Courage and Survival During World War II by Susan Schenkel, Ph.D.
  21. Index to the Hirsch Chumash by David H. Kerschen
  22. Jacob’s Courage: A Holocaust Love Story by Charles S. Weinblatt
  23. A Jewish Baker’s Pastry Secrets by George Greenstein
  24. Jewish Community Life in Budapest by Verő-Bán Linda
  25. Jewish Honor Courts: Revenge, Retribution, and Reconciliation in Europe and Israel after the Holocaust by Laura Jockusch and Gabriel N. Finder
  26. Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes: 120 Holiday and Everyday Dishes Made Easy by Laura Frankel
  27. Jewish Voices in Feminism: Transnational Perspectives by Nelly Las
  28. Joshua 1-12: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary by Thomas B. Dozeman
  29. Landscapes of Memory and Impunity: The Aftermath of the AMIA Bombing in Jewish Argentina by Annette Levine and Natasha Zaretsky
  30. The Language of Paradise by Barbara Klein Moss
  31. The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff
  32. Leaving Berlin by Joseph Kanon
  33. Lord, Get Me High! by Elchanan Shoff
  34. The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman
  35. Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross by Bernice Eisenstein
  36. Menachem Kellner: Jewish Universalism by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson and Aaron W. Hughes
  37. Orphan Number Eight by Kim van Alkemade
  38. Pedigree by Patrick Modiano
  39. Penina Levine Is a Hard-boiled Egg by Rebecca O’Connell
  40. Pinnacle Lust by Michelle Dim-St. Pierre
  41. A Political and Economic History of the Jews of Afghanistan by Sara Koplik
  42. The Prisoners of Breendonk: Personal Histories from a World War II Concentration Camp by James M. Deem
  43. The Quest for Jewish Belief and Identity in the Graphic Novel by Stephen E. Tabachnick
  44. A Remarkable Kindness by Diana Bletter
  45. Scripture and Tradition: Rabbi Akiva and the Triumph of Midrash by Azzan Yadin-Israel
  46. Sexuality and the Body in New Religious Zionist Discourse by Avi Sagi & Yakir Englander
  47. The Shemittah Guide by Yissachar Dov Krakowski
  48. The Sound of Our Steps by Ronit Matalon
  49. The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman
  50. Teacher’s Planner for Jewish Day Schools and Home Schools (Yoman) by Alexander Seinfeld
  51. This Is Not a Love Story by Judy Brown
  52. To Stand & Serve: On Being a Kohen; Essays in Memory of Marc Weinberg
  53. Uncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home by Leah Lax
  54. The Voyage by Roberta Kagan
  55. Was 70 CE a Watershed in Jewish History? by Daniel R. Schwartz and Zeev Weiss
  56. Woman of Valor by Lihi Lapid
  57. Working Toward Moshiach by Roy S. Neuberger
  58. You Are My Sunshine by Roberta Kagan
  59. Zionism in Damascus: Ideology and Activity in the Jewish Community at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century by Yaron Harel

BlackLivesMatter and not just deaths

Yet another connection: this time between a short film, uncle Dinn and #BlackLivesMatter.

Yesterday morning I watched an amazing trailer for a comic book called “Raising Dion.” I rarely read comic books, but after this short video I might check this one out. The video, which seems  like a trailer for a TV series gave me goosebumps. I let you watch it, see below and then go on:

(More info about Raising Dion is at its creator, Dennis Liu’s site.) As you saw a single African-American woman, a widow, is raising her son who has superpowers. Great concept and I loved how natural the actors seemed like in this short film. That’s how things should be but the media often focusing on the violent aspect of African-American existence thus the image about them can be distorted. That’s why I loved the concept of this book/short film.

Yesterday afternoon I attended the celebration of the life of Dinndayal, an African-American yogi master, my wife’s uncle and my friend, who passed away last month. From the many speeches told about him at this event one story grabbed my attention, because of the short clip I mentioned above. Some time ago he wrote to a yoga magazine asking them why they always have skinny white woman on the cover of magazine. He suggested that they should include some women of color there too. The magazine never bothered to reply to him.

I have been following the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The death of so many African-American people by the hands and weapons of the police force is atrocious. It absolutely needs to stop. And I wish that the #BlackLivesMatter slogan would be more inclusive. Currently, as I understand it, it refers to the efforts of stopping the police killing them. I agree there is nothing more important than the protection of life. And a part of me wishes that the movement would expand and share the wide variety of values, skills, experiences, beauty, knowledge that Black Lives entail. Dinndayal often noticed that he was the only African American person at the gatherings of some yoga or business communities. He worked to change that and enable members of his community to become more whole beings and have a wider range of possitive experiences. The short film above does a good job of combining the (extra-)ordinary struggle of single mom with the added jolt of superpower. Their (fictional) lives is an example of how lives can matter, not just deaths. Dinn’s did.

Bow right commercial with daughter

bowrightMany years ago my father-in-law invented a tool, called Bow-right to “Help to develop a sound bow technique” for people who are learning to play the violin. Couple of weeks ago we shot a commercial for it, including him and some of his relatives, i.e. my daughter. It finally went through the approval process and can be seen on Amazon.com. Click the last little picture on the left side of this page (or this or this) to view it. Or Just watch it on my YouTube channel:

Summer sci-fi TV series

Seems like nowadays if/when I watch TV I mostly watch sci-fi. This summer was especially rich in shows. I counted 8 new series and 7 series in their second or later seasons. That’s 15. Most ever in one season, in my life. These are all sci-fi shows on way or another, but the way is often quite different.

Let’s look first at the brand new shows:

Dark MatterBetween:
My take: wants to grab too much, goes nowhere, intrigue falls flat.
IMDB summary: Between is the story of a town under siege from a mysterious disease that has wiped out everybody 22 years and older. The series explores the power vacuum that results when a government has quarantined a 10-mile diameter area and left the inhabitants to fend for themselves.

Dark Matter:
My take: Light show, with the right amount of spaceship/high tech fantasy, interpersonal interaction, explosive action. I like how we learn the stories of these “criminals”, who are often falsely accused of wrong doing.
HumansIMDB summary: The six-person crew of a derelict spaceship awakens from stasis in the farthest reaches of space. Their memories wiped clean, they have no recollection of who they are or how they got on board. The only clue to their identities is a cargo bay full of weaponry and a destination: a remote mining colony that is about to become a war zone. With no idea whose side they are on, they face a deadly decision. Will these amnesiacs turn their backs on history, or will their pasts catch up with them?

Humans:
My take: Fits well int the current societal debate about the future of human identity and existence at the dawn of artificial intelligence. The show is a bit slow, but has some great monologues and writing in it too.
IMDB summary: In a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a ‘Synth’ – a highly-developed robotic servant that’s so similar to a real human it’s transforming the way we live.

KilljoysKilljoys:
My take: Very light show, with lots of ground and some space action. Pure entertainment that doesn’t want to do more.
IMDB summary: In the Quad, a planetary system on the brink of a bloody interplanetary class war, a fun loving trio of bounty hunters attempt to remain impartial as they chase deadly warrants.

Mr. Robot:
My take: Disturbingly good writing and intriguing agenda. I.e. Read the main character’s partial answer to the question “what is it about society that disappoints you so much?” Oh, I don’t know. Is it that we collectively thought Steve Jobs was a great man even when we knew he made billions off the backs of children?… Or maybe it’s that it feels like all our heroes are counterfeit. The world itself’s just one big hoax. Spamming each other with our burning commentary *bullshit* masquerading as insight. Our social media faking as intimacy. Or is it that we voted for this. Not with our rigged elections but with our things, our property, our money. I’m not saying anything new, we all know we do this, not because “Hunger Games” books make us happy, but because we want to be sedated. Because it’s painful not to pretend because we’re cowards…
Mr. RobotIMDB summary: Follows a young computer programmer (Malek) who suffers from social anxiety disorder and forms connections through hacking. He’s recruited by a mysterious anarchist, who calls himself Mr. Robot.

The Messengers:
My take: I always enjoy and learn from  TV shows with some explicitly religious content. This show however got rightfully cancelled after one season. Simplistic rehash of the currently trendy apocalypse genre with the four horseman and throwing in some revenging and preventing angels. Too formulaic.
IMDB summary: A mysterious object crashes on earth and a group of unconnected strangers die from an energy pulse it emits, but then re-awaken to find out that they have been deemed responsible for preventing the impending Apocalypse.

Sense8Sense8:
My take: Didn’t finish watching it yet. Too slow and too complex in the beginning at the same time. Visually stunning, but has too much sex for my taste. Nevertheless exciting and big budget enough to hold attention.
IMDB summary: A group of people around the world are suddenly linked mentally, and must find a way to survive being hunted by those who see them as a threat to the world’s order.

Stitchers:
My take: Another very light show with eye-candy and not much more. Numbs the mind comfortably when that’s what’s needed.
IMDB summary: A young woman is recruited into a secret government agency to be “stitched” into the minds of the recently deceased, using their memories to investigate murders.

ZooZoo:
My take: I enjoy the international/multicultural/multi-perspective approaches the problem to be solved requires. But the premise is so unplausable that I find it hard to suspend my disbelief.
IMDB summary: Violent animal attacks upon humans are occurring all over the world. Jackson Oz, an American zoologist who offers safaris in Africa, begins to notice the animals’ strange behavior and takes it upon himself to solve the reason why before these attacks become more coordinated and ferocious.

And now the returning shows

Defiance (3rd season):
My take: Big enough budget for some decent action and special effects. I also follow carefully the father-daughter struggle. Otherwise it can run smoothly in the background, except the bits when they speak one of the several alien languages and I have to read the subtitles.
IMDB summary: In the year 2046, it’s a new Earth – with new rules. Over thirty years after various alien races arrived on Earth, the landscape is completely altered, terraformed nearly beyond recognition. To the town of Defiance, on what used to be St. Louis, comes the mysterious Nolan  and his charge, Irisa . As they settle into town – overseen by the mayor, Amanda Rosewater and filled with residents like the powerful Rafe McCawley, enterprising lounge owner Kenya  and the ambitious, alien Tarrs – events begin to unfold that threaten the fragile peace this border town has fought for.

DominionDominion (2nd season):
My take: This season is much better than the first one. Easier to follow, more nuanced character developments and more detailed theology/histories. Angels are metaphorical and in this case physical reflections of humans.
IMDB summary: Follows the perilous journey of a rebellious young soldier who discovers he’s the unlikely savior of humanity.

Extant (2nd season):
My take: Halle Berry still kicks ass, even as a crazy, disgraced, but heroic astronaut. Nice minor tech gadgets in the background, i.e. great attention to details.
IMDB summary: An astronaut returns home from a year long solo mission in space. She tries to reconnect with her husband and son in their everyday life. Her experiences in space and home lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history.

Falling SkiesFalling Skies (5th season):
My take: The fight still goes on and that’s a good thing. Intra, inter and extra fights are equally important
IMDB summary: The chaotic aftermath of an alien attack has left most of the world completely incapacitated. In the six months since the initial invasion, the few survivors have banded together outside major cities to begin the difficult task of fighting back. Each day is a test of survival as citizen soldiers work to protect the people in their care while also engaging in an insurgency campaign against the occupying alien force.

The Last Ship (2nd season):
My take: I don’t know why I keep watching this series of gun-battles, interspersed with patriotic speeches and vistas. Maybe because I am too much of a sucker for post-apocalyptic genre.
IMDB summary: The crew of a naval destroyer is forced to confront the reality of a new existence when a pandemic kills off most of the earth’s population.

The StrainThe Strain (2nd season):
My take: A not-so-lonely Holocaust survivor with his ragtag team (including a few scientists for good measure though) fighting superstrong and creepy demons with some nazi heritage. I certainly hope the god guys will win. I watch not just for the Jewish content, but it is a big part of it.
IMDB summary: A thriller that tells the story of Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, the head of the Center for Disease Control Canary Team in New York City. He and his team are called upon to investigate a mysterious viral outbreak with hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism. As the strain spreads, Eph, his team, and an assembly of everyday New Yorkers, wage war for the fate of humanity itself.

Under the Dome Under the Dome (3rd season):
My take: Can it get more ridicules? Just wait and see. (Yes)
IMDB summary: An invisible and mysterious force field descends upon a small fictional town in the United States, trapping residents inside, cut off from the rest of civilization. The trapped townsfolk must discover the secrets and purpose of the “dome” and its origins, while coming to learn more than they ever knew about each other.

 

Concert videos: White Fence, Twerps, Tony Molina, Sheer Mag

Poster for White Fence, Twerps, Tony Molina, Sheer MagAnother month, another interesting venue for a punk show put up by Pizza Punx. On March 31 I saw four bands downtown Santa Rosa. (Missed the first one Peach Kelli Pop.) The event (Facebook) was in the “Refuge Christian Fellowship“, a kind of “storefront church“. It was basically a big room on the ground floor of an office building with walls painted white. There were no pews, just a few chairs no the side, but it was clearly a Christian church. Most of the time. For this evening it was a punk venue. I managed to capture 19 songs from the four bands I saw: three from the first two each, the whole set of the third, but only three from the last, because then I was too tired to stay for more. Here is my video playlist for the whole evening.

I knew nothing about Sheer Mag, except that they are from Pennsylvania. I love that punk doesn’t discriminate: the lead singer was not your stereotypical skinny dude: a strong woman. She and her bandmates did a solid rock show, see:

Next up was Tony Molina (formerly of Ovens) doing his noise-pop thing as part of a four-piece band:

The third band, Twerps, was the one I liked the most. This Melbourne, Australia based band was less frantic and with more pop/melody than the others. They also reminded me a bit of Joy Division, which is often a plus in my book. Here is a fun song:

Finally, way too late in the evening for me the “headliner” White Fence started. They might have the largest following from these four bands, but I didn’t like them that much.  Sorry. Here is their “Wolf Gets Red Faced” song:

Refugees in The Good Lie, A Time of Miracles and World Refugee Day

Another personal experiential coincidence from a couple of months ago, when around World Refugee Day I happened to read a related book and watch a related movie on the topic.

Ever since the Hungarian government started its shameful propaganda campaign against refugees arriving to (or more commonly going through) Hungary refugees of the world were more on my mind than usual. I don’t have any revolutionary ideas or suggestions to the problem on how to balance two opposing factors: It is our humane duty to help the needy, the fallen, downtrodden including those who are forced to leave their war-torn countries vs the limited resources any given time any given government has. In my opinion the Hungarian government is excelling in two things: communication and stealing, but doesn’t provide or even want to work on real and long term solutions for problems. E.g. they spend more money on inciting hatred against refugees than helping them in any meaningful day. However this post is not about politics. Just documenting recognized connections.

A Time of MiraclesI got a notice from the library that the book I reserved has arrived. So I went and picked it up, but looking at the title. “A Time of Miracles”  or author, “Anne-Laure Bondoux” or cover it didn’t ring  a bell. It may have been recommended to me some time ago by someone but don’t recall it. Having a child protagonist and relatively simple language the book can be considered a young adult book, but it is not for my kids who are younger. Now that I had the book I started to read it, even though I didn’t know why I had it. I finished it it in two sittings, which says a lot about it. (I rarely have time nowadays to read real, paper books: I mostly listen to them in the gym.) It is the story of how a kid, with the help of her caretaker, flees from the turmoil of Georgia after the collapse of the Soviet Union and after and arduous journey  becomes a proper French citizen. There is much more to it, of course, including the caretaker’s an the kids real identity, but fundamentally it is the story of one refugees trek across continents, countries, borders and other obstacles. Written in first person singular it is a powerful testament of the randomness of the human condition and causes of sufferings. It really brought the world of refugees closer to me. The unimaginable became personable.

The Good LieI was halfway through the book when I noticed in my newsfeed that it was World Refugee Day, on June 20. It felt uncanny, because I didn’t know about it, and the day before that I watched, The Good Lie. (IMDB‘s summary: A group of Sudanese refugees given the chance to resettle in America arrive in Kansas City, Missouri, where their encounter with an employment agency counselor forever changes all of their lives.) Reese Witherspoon–as the first reluctant, later dedicated host of the refugees–along with the refugees–some of them playing themselves–provided not just comic moments due to cultural differences, but also an immensity humane story.

I fully recognize that I was manipulated by a Hollywood movie and a bestseller book, but I still shed a few tears during both. There is no grand conclusion to this post, just three small points:

  1. Pay attention to the humans around you. You never know the story of the other. Particularly if that other is really “other” in the cultural/geographical/religious sense. Yet s/he is just as human as you are, with same basic rights and needs.
  2. If you are like me (white, male, educated, middle class, living in a safe place) you have a special responsibility to those who are less privileged. Exactly because you/i are so lucky. (See the 4 minute video below)
  3. Appreciate of what/who you have. Just having had these cultural experiences I do .

Review: Spiritual Kneading through the Jewish Months by Dahlia Abraham-Klein

Spiritual Kneading through the Jewish Months by Dahlia Abraham-KleinThe book at Amazon

Being a man I was not the primary target audience of the book, which bears the subtitle: “Building the Sacred through Challah“. But if Arthur Kurzweil could write a glowing forward for it, who am I to exclude myself from reading it? The introduction explains the connection between the feminine, challah making and Rosh Chodesh as a practice for women. Having gained the necessary understanding in this regard the rest of the book can be appreciated by people of any gender. Yes, Rosh Chodesh is special for women, but the book can be used as a workbook by anyone. The challah recipes, the reflective questions, the Kavanah notes — that each major chapter has — will help you no matter what stage/level you are at in your cooking, (self-)knowledge and prayer practices.

In the debate between the comparative values of printed books and their electronic counterparts a key argument for the former is often how holding, smelling, and paging through book feels. I emphasize with boths sides of this debate, but when I can hold such a beautifully produced book as Spiritual Kneading through the Jewish Months by Dahlia Abraham-Klein I am definitely in the former camp. The first thing I do when I get a new book, after checking the cover, spine and back, is running through the pages to get a feel for the whole tome. Right at that moment I noticed and started to enjoy the color-coordination. As you would expect from a book with “months” in the title the bulk is made up by the chapters, corresponding to the 12 (+1) months of the Hebrew calendar. (The +1 is the second Adar, which is added in some years so the Hebrew lunar calendar wouldn’t be off-sync too much from the solar-based year and calendars.) What I didn’t expect was that the titles of each month would be printed in different color and they go through the spectrum, forming a spectacular rainbow. You can see these soft colors not just in the table of contents, but in the titles and subheadings of each chapter too. It may be a simple pleasure, but this element cheered me up and made me appreciate the book, even before I started to read it.

One of my favorite kind of books is one that combines academic accuracy with spiritual inquisitiveness. This book managed to do both and more. On one hand it contains plenty of references to Torah, Talmud and other sources of Jewish tradition, so the curious like me can follow up and learn more about specific aspects. These are included in the style and spirit of scholarly publications (along with proper citation and footnotes), which is so rare in popular books that it deserves all the respect. On the other hand it goes beyond explaining the tradition and its origins: it connects the ancient texts with the spiritual and turns them into living, breathing, approaches that anyone can make her or his own. And the “more”  I referred to above? The physical realms are weaved into it like braids of a challah. The recipes, the tactical experience of creating food, rich in symbols, that nourishes the spirit, the minutiae of the process that connects people and the Divine adds that special dimension to the book. I never read a book before integrating three different type of content so seamlessly: academic, spiritual and practical.

And if all of this is not enough the book ends with additional Challah recipes of these kind: egg, basic with fresh yeast, spelt, whole-wheat, gluten-free, spiral and single/two/four/six/ strand challah.

Links of interest


Disclaimer: I have received a copy from the author for this review.
This review was first published on the Jewish Book World website.