Book Reviews

Tishrei/Cheshvan - "Bein Ha'Or U'vein HaChoshech"

The Way of Creation – Talmud Shabbat 77b

But where does the darkness come from? And where is the light?

Advertisements
Tishrei/Cheshvan - "Bein Ha'Or U'vein HaChoshech"

Dividing Light and Darkness

God Divided the Light From the Darkness With the high holidays behind us, Books and Blintzes is looking forward to the new Jewish year, full of creative inspiration and meaningful connections.

The Jewish Text Art Challenge, our monthly showcase for Jewish art related to a particular verse from our tradition, is a centerpiece of our mission. We’re here to share Jewish art from around the world, to build a community to discover and celebrate these works, and to develop new and stronger links with our heritage.

We selected Genesis 1:4 (ברשית א:ד) as the verse to start off this year, as a way of highlighting our commitment to the creative process. Division, separation, categorization, making choices… these are all things that we do every day. But we hope that they push us forward, whether it is to complete a task, allow us to spend our resources (especially our time!) more judiciously, or see our vision come to life in our art.

As the month goes by, Books and Blintzes hopes that you will join the conversation about this verse. Show us your work. Tell us what these words mean to you. Reach out to artists whose work speaks to you. We can’t wait to see what this month will bring!

To contribute to this month’s Jewish Text Art gallery, please complete the contact form on the main Jewish Text Art Challenge page at https://booksandblintzes.com/home/jtac/

Book Reviews

The Book of Love and Hate – Lauren Sanders

Lauren Sanders - Book of Love and HateThe title of Lauren Sanders’ novel, The Book of Love and Hate, nearly perfectly describes my feelings about reading it. Sanders’ writing is razor-sharp, a stark contrast to the intentionally fuzzy edges of her characters and setting. As Sanders flings her readers along on the protagonist’s jumbled attempt to find the truth about her father, we understand just how illusory the truth can be.

In The Book of Love and Hate, nothing is exactly as it seems. Sanders’ characters are complex, muddled by dysfunctional family relationships, substance abuse, Olympic ambition, wealth, and politics. She covers them with a layer of grittiness that matches the roughness in her depiction of Israel. Sanders uses Jennifer Baron as the constant narrator, but as she goes back and forth between Jennifer’s present and past. The challenge of tracking the time actively works against the consistency of Jennifer’s voice.

Sanders shows that she is a master in drawing in her readers, and relentlessly pushes the boundaries of suspense and credulity. Reading The Book of Love and Hate was alternately deeply frustrating and shockingly refreshing. I wanted to read it on the beach in Tel Aviv, soothed by the waves while surrounded by the crackling vitality of the city. Reading it in my home by myself was far too quiet. And reading it was hard work. Sanders’

book rewards readers who appreciate the craftsmanship of writing, rather than the simplicity of a straightforward plot. If you are prepared to accept this balance of investing your intellectual curiosity while surrendering control to the author’s whims, The Books of Love and Hate is a knock out. Less adventurous readers should consider themselves forewarned.

Books and Blintzes received a copy of this book from LibraryThing.com in order to compose this review. This review only reflects the views of its author.

Book Reviews, Culinary Arts

Modern Jewish Baker – Shannon Sarna

Modern Jewish Baker Cover

As an avid fan and follower of Shannon Sarna on The Nosher, I have been looking forward to the September release of her cookbook Modern Jewish Baker for months. And I mean “looking forward to” at the pre-ordered, delivery tracking, and mailbox stalking level. Even with such great expectations, Modern Jewish Baker did not disappoint.

The book is divided into 7 main sections with “master recipes” for challah, babka, bagels, rugelach, hamentaschen, pita, and matzah. Sarna keeps it simple, in the organization, photography, and typeset, rightly focuses the reader’s attention on the recipes and directions, resulting in a user-friendly cookbook. While the design makes it coffee-table display worthy, you’re better served keeping it handy and using it in the kitchen.

Throughout the book Sarna celebrates her Jewish heritage and brings diverse ingredients to the table. She raises the standards of Eastern European favorites to new culinary heights, with a decidedly cosmopolitan approach and international flair.

The recipes are so clear, and the results so delicious, that anyone who loves Jewish baked goods will find a way to incorporate Sarna’s work into their Shabbat and holiday menus, and will want to make enough for the rest of the year too. My family inhaled the onion jam babka and balsamic apple date stuffed challah so fast on Rosh HaShanah that I’m afraid of what might happen if I don’t bake them again next year. Actually, I suspect that my freezer is about to start working harder than ever. Sarna expects her readers to have access to a well-appointed kitchen, but the ingredients and timing proved more important than the equipment. Modern Jewish Baker is a gift to bakers who are willing to experiment, and who appreciate the solid back-up of detailed directions. Sarna has clearly done her homework in the kitchen, and the result is a book with the power to create mouth-watering Jewish memories for generations.

Elul - Avinu Malkeinu

Jamie Shear – Loving Kindness

loving kindness shear

Jamie Shear’s giclee print “Loving Kindness” is a striking example of how the idea of chesed inspires art and action. The image includes select biblical texts that call for and celebrate kindness. Just as chesed is at the center of this image and texts, so too is it central to the High Holiday liturgy and Avinu Malkeinu.

To read more about Jamie Shear’s art and this image, please visit http://www.ktavtam.com/products/loving_kindness

Books and Blintzes thanks the artist for allowing us to share her work. Please respect her creative and legal rights, and do not distribute, copy, or share this image without her consent.

Graphic Design

Joe Kubert: Text + Image + Time

Remembering cartoon artist Joe Kubert, who brought together text, image, and time, to tell stories of courage and justice. Born September 18, 1926, he is celebrated for his work with DC Comics. His works that draw from his own history and international event give voice to generations.