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Yehuda Halevi: National Jewish Book Award Winner!

Yehuda Halevi: National Jewish Book Award Winner!

This week, the National Jewish Book Award winners were announced and Hillel Halkin’s Yehuda Halevi snagged the Sephardic Culture: Mimi S. Frank Award in Memory of Becky Levy Award, and was a finalist for the Scholarship: Nahum M. Sarna Memorial Award.

Hillel Halkin’s work includes Letters to an American Jewish Friend; Across the Sabbath River: In Search of a Lost Tribe of Israel; A Strange Death; Grand Things to Write a Poem On: A Verse Autobiography of Shmuel Hanagid; and dozens of translations from Hebrew and Yiddish by major contemporary and classical authors. His political, cultural, and literary essays have appeared often in Commentary and The New Republic, and he has been a weekly columnist for The Jerusalem Post and The New York Sun. He lives in Israel.

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Hillel: If Not Now, When?

Hillel: If Not Now, When?

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“What is hateful unto you, do not do unto your neighbor. That is the whole Torah, all the rest is commentary. Now, go and study.”

This is the most famous teaching of Hillel, one of the greatest rabbis of the Talmudic era. What makes it so extraordinary is that it was offered to a gentile seeking conversion. In Hillel: If Not Now, When?, Joseph Telushkin feels that this Talmudic story has great relevance for us today. At a time when religiosity is equated with ritual observance alone, when few Jews seem concerned with bringing Jewish teachings into the world, and when more than 40 percent of Jews intermarry, Judaism is in need of more of the openness that Hillel possessed two thousand years ago.

Hillel’s teachings, stories, and legal rulings can be found throughout the Talmud; many of them share his emphasis on ethical and moral living as an essential element in Jewish religious practice, including his citing the concept of tikkun olam (repairing the world) as a basis for modifying Jewish law. Perhaps the most prominent rabbi and teacher in the Land of Israel during the reign of Herod, Hillel may well have influenced Jesus, his junior by several decades. In a provocative analysis of both Judaism and Christianity, Telushkin reveals why Hillel’s teachings about ethics as God’s central demand and his willingness to encourage the process of conversion began to be ignored in favor of the stricter and less inclusive teachings of his rabbinic adversary, Shammai.

Here is a bold new look at an iconic religious leader.

About the author:
Joseph Telushkin is the author of sixteen books, including Jewish Literacy, The Book of Jewish Values, and A Code of Jewish Ethics, the first volume of which received a National Jewish Book Award in 2006. He is a Senior Associate of CAL, serves on the board of the Jewish Book Council, is the rabbi of the Synagogue for the Performing Art in Los Angeles, and lectures throughout the United States. He lives in New York City.

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Bells Are Ringing for David Lehman

Bells Are Ringing for David Lehman

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers has announced the winners of the 42nd Annual ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards for outstanding print, broadcast and new media coverage of music, and David Lehman’s A Fine Romance is one of the winners. Lehman will be honored at a special invitation-only ceremony and reception on Thursday, December 9, 2010 at the ASCAP Gallery.

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Random House Goes Kosher!

Random House Goes Kosher!

During its first appearance at Kosher Fest—the annual trade show for the kosher food, ingredients, equipment, and food service—Random House was on hand selling copies of Sue Fishkoff’s Kosher Nation and Joan Nathan’s Quiches, Kugels and Couscous. Attendees received free Jewish Encounters bags with each purchase. Nathan appeared at the show on Tuesday, where she was greeted by two media appointments and a crowd of 40 people who heard her lecture about her brand new cookbook. Pantheon reported live from the event on Twitter, and you can find photos from the show on the KDD flickr page.

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Burnt Books Now on Sale

Burnt Books Now on Sale

Buy: Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Borders : IndieBound : Random House

From Rodger Kamenetz, acclaimed author of The Jew in the Lotus, comes Burnt Books, now on sale from Schocken Books, “a whole new slant on Kafka, a unique and affecting portrait of a creative holy man, and a radiant inquiry in celebration of how both sacred texts and great literature are open to ‘infinite interpretation’” (Booklist). Kafka was a secular artist fascinated by Jewish mysticism, and Rabbi Nachman was a religious mystic who used storytelling to reach out to secular Jews. Both men died close to age forty of tuberculosis. Both invented new forms of storytelling that explore the search for meaning in an illogical, unjust world. Both gained prominence with the posthumous publication of their writing. And both left strict instructions at the end of their lives that their unpublished books be burnt.

Praise for Burnt Books:
“Two yearning souls face each other and touch in this remarkable encounter, both deeply imagined and fastidiously researched. And when, forever questing, Rodger Kamenetz adds his own journey to the mix, what he gives us is so fascinating I read it hungrily. Kamenetz makes a case for the kinship of these brother storytellers that is more than irresistible: it feels inevitable.”
—Rosellen Brown, author of Civil Wars

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The Nation Goes Kosher!

The Nation Goes Kosher!

Sue Fishkoff’s Kosher Nation, an “informative and richly researched . . . lively portrait of what it means to keep kosher in the twenty-first century” (New Republic), is now on sale from Schocken Books. Check out Fishkoff’s New York Times Op-Ed from the 4th of July, entitled “Red, White and Kosher,” in which she discusses the nation’s favorite Independence Day treat: the kosher hot dog. Don’t miss Fishkoff’s appearance in NYC at the JCC in Manhattan on Monday, November 15 at 7:00 pm.

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Ruth Gruber Inspires New Movie

Ruth Gruber Inspires New Movie

Ahead of Time is the directorial debut of award-winning cinematographer Bob Richman, which relates the remarkable real-life journey of Schocken author Ruth Gruber, who is celebrating her 99th birthday on September 30, 2010, a spirited woman who rejected the gender boundaries of her generation – leaving Brooklyn for studies in Berlin, where she witnessed the rise of Nazism and began documenting her observations. An impassioned foreign correspondent, she began her illustrious career with the New York Herald Tribune, is the award-winning author of 19 books, including Witness, which is available in paperback from Schocken Books.

Meet Ruth Gruber, Director Bob Richman, Producer Zeva Oelbaum in person at select shows.

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Red, White and Kosher

Red, White and Kosher

If you enjoyed a 4th of July cookout this weekend complete with Hebrew National hot dogs, read Kosher Nation author Sue Fishkoff’s New York Times Op-Ed about these and other kosher foods that have become staples of American lifestyle. Kosher Nation goes on sale from Schocken on October 19.

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Writerscast.com Interviews Aharon Appelfeld

Writerscast.com Interviews Aharon Appelfeld

Writerscast.com’s David Wilk calls Aharon Appefeld’s Blooms of Darkness a “powerful, majestic and triumphant coming of age novel.” Read more from Wilk’s review and tune in to his interview with Appelfeld.

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Writerscast.com Interview with David Lehman

Writerscast.com Interview with David Lehman

Writerscast’s David Wilk interviews David Lehman about A Fine Romance, now on sale from Schocken Books. Read about the book and listen to the interview podcast at www.writerscast.com. “Talking to [Lehman] about the stories and music, and especially the songwriters themselves,” Wilk says, “was for me a natural extension of reading the book, and inhabiting the author’s personal life through its pages.”

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