A New Song: Poems Inspired by the Weekly Torah Portion
Roberta Chester, the author of A New Song, has chosen a particular detail from each weekly Torah portion, and shares her perspective in expressive poetry. Her viewpoint creates a “new song,” entertaining a possibility in the biblical text that illuminates and animates the past with the sensibility of the present. Each of these poems is in essence a midrash, whose root meaning is “to search out, to seek, to inquire.”
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The Partisan's Coat
Joseph Lichtman, a young man from Frankfurt, is determined to escape the culture of the ghetto, still dominant fifty years after Napoleon. Dramatically, he not only leaves his family, but also steps back from his faith.
Reaching Cologne, he successfully climbs the cultural and social ladder as a journalist. But the higher he gets – losing himself in the rich life of the enlightened circles of European culture – the more he experiences his own limitations and ultimately, emptiness. In the end, his detachment and loose liberal views land him in a Venetian prison.
Joseph’s search for light and spiritual freedom, against the background of the ongoing enmity against Jews in Europe, eventually brings him to Palestine. There, he faces the challenges of this new land with his wife and son in a complex blend of cultures and religions. He eventually witnesses the courageous, but unsuccessful attempt to start a new agricultural settlement, Petach Tikva. Joseph endures the harsh conditions of his new land with emotional consequences. In time, these experiences lead him to recognize a good greater than his own well-being.
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In this landmark book, Gol Kalev demonstrates how Zionism has turned into the organizing principle of Judaism. It has become the primary conduit through which both Jews and non-Jews relate to Judaism - in both the positive and negative.
Through an in-depth analysis of long-term shifts in Israel and in North American Jewry, as well as assessment of global trends that impact Judaism, Kalev shows that the anchor of the Jewish nation-religion has shifted from its religious element (Judaism 2.0) to its national element - Zionism (Judaism 3.0). This is occurring without any compromise to the religious aspects of Judaism. Whether in support or criticism, Zionism has become the one aspect of Judaism that evokes emotions, anger, passion and engagement.
Tying Theodor Herzl's original vision of Zionism to today's realities, Kalev shows that Judaism 3.0 is not only the most accurate reflection of the contemporary state of Judaism, but also the optimal architecture to address key issues of our times, such as intermarriage, Diaspora-Israel relationship, Tikun Olam and peace.
Kalev then shows how Judaism 3.0 is also the relevant framework to counter emerging threats to Judaism. First and foremost, the existential threat of Israel-bashing, which has replaced anti-Semitism as the primary currency of age-old opposition to Judaism
While this book is a first-hand account of a Hungarian family destroyed in the murderous Holocaust as well as those who survived, it is also the story of two men from different generations who discover each other’s existence to remember and record their family’s history.“The Fittest Survivor” provides an insightful and under-reported aspect of World War II history, refracted through the personal perspective, and courageous life of one notable forced slave labor survivor, Vilmos Abeles.
AMAZON 5 STAR REVIEW
5.0 out of 5 stars
A beautiful tribute and a moving story
September 17, 2019
Sigmund Abeles was my graphic art teacher and mentor when I was a college student. Since then I have followed his professional career in the art world over the years. I have viewed his work in galleries, museums, and read about him in art magazine articles. Once many years ago I studied with him in a pastel workshop. I have long been inspired by his skillful and intense realism in his treatment of portrait and figurative work. His art is consistently probing, penetrating and openly personal whatever the medium. I was quite curious to read The Fittest Survivor to learn more about my former teacher and how he would use his talents in a very different medium.
I was thrilled to find the book wonderfully illustrated with his drawings, paintings and family photographs. And I was especially happy to see that Sigmund Abeles does with words what he does so well with his visual tools. As I expected, this is a very intense and personal story, a double portrait really, of one man’s heroic survival of the Holocaust against terrible odds and another man’s discovery of his father’s family history. It is also a page turning detective story. Carefully the writer collects facts and stories about a part of his family he never knew. His visits in Brooklyn, New York with his aging but still very sharp second cousin, Vilmos Abeles are very moving. Finally, Sigmund Abeles takes us on his journey to eastern Europe to learn more about his roots, affirming the tragic fate of so many other relatives.
The Fittest Survivor is both a very personal and a universal story that reminds us that 6 million is not just a number. Kudos to the artist/author
NEWS UPDATE: Dvora Waysman has been awarded the "Shabazi Prize" for her historical novel, "The Pomegranate Pendant", published by Mazo Publishers.
The committee of the Shabazi Prize for the Heritage of Jews from Yemen said "we have decided to honor and award you with the Shabazi Prize for your novel, The Pomegranate Pendant. We acknowledge its sensitive and creative literary style, which is deserving of the highest praise. Your book is a special cultural treasure, which adds an important chapter to the Zionist History by commemorating the First Aliyah of Jews from Yemen [Aliyah b'Tamar] and their participation in the redemption of Eretz Israel and the establishment of the State of Israel."
The Prize is awarded to researchers, authors and artists who have contributed to the research of the heritage of the Jews of Yemen and their culture.
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Someone recently posted a question on social media about a concentration camp and I responded. The man, son of a survivor, commented about the power of knowledge, saying, "you responded within 10 minutes with the answer to a question I've had for 75 years."
...Chaim Mazo, Publisher
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