Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Conviction – Julia Dahl

One of the most fun parts of writing book reviews is getting to read books that are outside of my usual comfort zone. Because we like to keep things positive here on Books and Blintzes, you will never hear about the duds. But every so often a book arrives at my doorstep that surprises me as just being the right book at the right time. Conviction, the third installment of Julia Dahl’s Rebekah Roberts mystery series, was just that book.

Being too impatient for most mysteries, I had missed Dahl’s acclaimed debut installment, Invisible City. The good news is that Dahl includes enough of the characters’ back stories in Conviction to make sure readers can get up to speed quickly. So go ahead and read Conviction first. Then, when you’re hooked, you can go back and enjoy the other two books.

This book caught my attention because of its setting. Investigative reporter Rebekah Roberts is drawn into the story of a gruesome murder that took place in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn shortly after the riots in the summer of 1992. Now, 22 years later, she’s exploring the possibility that the wrong person was convicted. This gives Dahl a platform to incorporate not only the politics of the relationship between the Hassidic and African-American residents of Crown Heights in 1992, but also to highlight the issues of gentrification, police brutality, and the ongoing tensions in race relations that have intensified rather than disappeared. Readers interested in the way that the media portrays local events and the crime beat will appreciate Dahl giving them a front row seat to the action.

Dahl drives Conviction with strong characters and respect for the communities she portrays. Her straightforward prose keeps the pages turning, and aside from a generous sprinkling of Yiddish and Jewish religious terms, the book is accessible to anyone who might enjoy a crime novel. I will confess that even though the Conviction held my attention enough that I burned through it in less than 24 hours, I still flipped forward to read the ending when I was halfway through. Without any effort, I was able to think of five other people who I knew would be interested in this book. I will be enthusiastically sharing my copy, which is just about as good as a popular mystery can get.

 

I received a free pre-release ARC from the publisher, Minotaur Press, in order to write this review.

April/Nissan "kol dichfin yeitei vayechol" Let All Who Are Hungry Come and Eat

“The Weeping Willow”

weeping willow budapest

#jewishtextart V’nahafoch Hu – “The Weeping Willow” in the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park in Budapest, Hungary. See http://www.greatsynagogue.hu/gallery_wall.html for the original image and http://fcit.usf.edu/HOLOCAUST/RESOURCE/GALLERY/WALL.HTM for more detailed pictures and information about the park.

Book Reviews

The Genius of Judaism – Bernard-Henri Lévy

For readers who are interested in the French Jewish community, current trends in Western philosophy, and biblical scholarship, The Genius of Judaism is a rare gift. Author, activist, and thinker Bernard-Henri Lévy presents as his core thesis the idea that the Jewish people exists because of its relationships with other nations. Without the Jews, there can be no gentiles. Without the gentiles, there can be no Jews. Destined to be the eternal “other”, Jewish communities around the world and throughout history have been tasked with, and must continue to, navigate this dynamic for the purpose of human religious, civic, and social development. No pressure, right? From here, Lévy provides an intriguing analysis of anti-Semitism, Zionism, and what all this means for Israel and the international Jewish community.

Considering the scope of Lévy’s topic, his attention to detail is striking. He includes a range of specific examples of laws, events, and headlines encompassing Jewish history from the Exodus from Egypt to the present. The result is dizzying in its breadth, as well as making it impossible to read without reflecting on the news of the day. Lévy may or may not have been able to foresee the results of the 2016 US Presidential election, but reading this book in its political aftermath is an almost revelatory experience. For better or for worse, much of Lévy’s writing sounds as if it may be better suited to being presented as a lecture. His words contain a passion that makes a reader want to hear more, but also come across as slightly disorganized. It’s also necessary to caution readers that parts of this book are deeply immersed in philosophical and academic language. Having a strong background in 19th and 20th European philosophy is almost a prerequisite to reading certain chapters.

While the philosophical discussion may be beyond the understanding of most lay readers, Lévy’s musings on the existence and role of the State of Israel and his interpretation of the biblical Book of Jonah are both fascinating and accessible. His understanding of Israel and the Book of Jonah jump off the page as animating for any adult education or study group – the floors of the halls and classrooms where readers meet to discuss these topics might shake from the impact of the resulting intense discussions. To a certain extent, The Genius of the Jews is really two distinct works: the deeply intellectual and philosophical study of Jewish history and texts, and the deeply emotional and spiritual extrapolation of what it means to be Jewish across history and in the 21st century. This book will make any reader reflect on the Jewish experience, and the lucky reader will have someone with whom to share their insights along the way.

For the purposes of writing this review, the reviewer received an electronic advanced reader copy via NetGalley.com.

April/Nissan "kol dichfin yeitei vayechol" Let All Who Are Hungry Come and Eat

#jewishtextart Challenge!

I am excited and proud to introduce Books and Blintzes’ newest project – the #jewishtextart challenge!

Every month I will post a Jewish quote, text, or idea and invite everyone to share art that is either inspired by or makes you think about that month’s text.

The text will be posted here on the website, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest (where you already follow us, right?).

 

A few simple rules:

1. Please share your Jewish art inspirations using the hashtags #jewishtextart and #booksandblintzes.

2. Please provide appropriate attribution. Do not share the work of others without their permission or without giving them credit.

3. Please share your own work too! Show us what inspires you!

Please protect your ideas. We do not assume liability for any copyright infringement

4. Please be aware that at its discretion, Books and Blintzes may block images and comments that are considered incompatible with its mission and values.

5. All media are welcome!

Time to have fun and be creative…

Book Reviews

Almost A Minyan – Lori S. Kline & Susan Simon

almost-a-minyanAnd now for something completely different – children’s literature. Kline has packed her latest picture book, Almost A Minyan, almost to bursting with themes of Jewish prayer, community, mourning, ritual items and egalitarianism. Set in a small town that sometimes struggles to meet the quorum of 10 adults needed to make up the minyan, or quorum for community prayer, a young girl observes her father’s daily participation. Unabashedly egalitarian, both in the narrative and illustrations, the full inclusion of women in the minyan is presented as normative. Families and organizations who share this view are especially likely to appreciate this depiction of Jews and their communities that reflect their realities.

On a slightly discordant note, Klein uses the Yiddish terms, spellings, and pronunciations for most Jewish labels, for example, “synagogue” is always “shul”. While these insider terms seem to contradict the book’s commitment to inclusion, Klein’s consistency in their use, as well as their repetition in the story, quickly familiarizes them to readers who are not of Ashkenazic descent. A glossary at the end of the book provides clear descriptions of these terms and their linguistic origins – a phonetic pronunciation guide could also be a helpful tool.

Simon’s detailed illustrations are vibrant and contribute strongly to the emotional impact of the story. Their bright colors and realism will capture younger readers, making this book an excellent choice for families with children of different ages. A single caveat is that the story deals directly with the death of a close family member. Parents and caregivers should use their judgment and evaluate its appropriateness for their intended audiences. On the other hand, Kline and Simon’s treatment of the topic give their work the potential to be an empowering resource for grieving families.

Together Kline and Simon have crafted a book about Jewish life that is accessible, thoughtful, and memorable. Children will enjoy being carried away by the illustrations and rhyming language. Parents and educators will appreciate the detail and opportunity to share pictures and words that reflect the richness of Jewish ritual and community. It is well worth a look by librarians and community organizations who seek to add cultural diversity to their children’s collections. All told, Almost a Minyan is a solid example of children’s literature that will give readers the ultimate gift – the opportunity to create memories of learning together.

For more information about this book and to pre-order, go to the Publisher’s website www.sociosights.com. Books and Blintzes received an advance review copy for the purposes of writing this review.

Book Reviews

Turning Homeward – Adrienne Ross Scanlan

 

turning-homeward
GR Book Link

In a much needed change of pace from Mischling, Adrienne Ross Scanlan’s lovely memoir Turning Homeward explores the connections between finding our place and the physical world in which we make our homes. Having relocated from New York to Seattle, the author addresses the challenges she faced in deciding to set down roots, and how her immersion in her natural environment acted as the catalyst for her process.

 

Through Scanlan’s eyes readers will follow hiking trails, observe changing landscapes, and learn the careful art of trying to count and safeguard the Pacific salmon population. Her love for the outdoors and the simple, non-judgmental way in which she describes her activities will have readers reaching for their most comfortable walking shoes and favorite trail mix. Neither snow, nor sleet, nor rain, will be able to keep you indoors. Trust me. I read this in New Jersey in the winter.

Scanlan’s experience is also shaped by her Jewish tradition, and particularly, her commitment to tikkun olam. Her attention to the meaning of this teaching, and explanation of what it means to her as a “hope that meaningful action was possible” brings clarity to her work. Although Scanlan was raised in a religiously observant home, her description of how she came to adopt tikkun olam as her central Jewish belief is remarkably devoid of anger or bitterness. Her respect for the more ritualistic aspects of Jewish life is apparent throughout her story. Scanlan may spend the day of Yom Kippur helping to restock a lake with salmon eggs, but she does so as an action that is meaningful to her. She does not prescribe that others adopt her ideals. Rather, she shows how she discovered and tries to live by what she has learned about her need for home, nature, and faith.

With a writing style reminiscent of Annie Dillard and Anne Lamott, Scanlan’s words have a delicacy that will gently carry readers along on her journey. A short read that can be enjoyed anywhere, it has the power to transport readers to the place they cherish most. Jewish readers may especially appreciate reading it around the holiday of Sukkot, as its themes of shelter, hospitality, and changing seasons will make it especially relevant at that time. As part of a larger adult education class on the value of tikkun olam or the relationship between Judaism and the environment, Turning Homeward will provide a novel and refreshing text.

To connect with Adrienne Ross Scanlan, please visit her website : adrienne-ross-scanlan.com. She is available to talk with book clubs either in person or via Skype. Details can be found at http://adrienne-ross-scanlan.com/book-clubs/. Mountaineer Books is currently offering a 20% discount for this title (all versions) for purchases from their website with the code TURNHOME at checkout when ordering online.

Book Reviews

The Conversations We Never Had – Konis

 

conversations-we-never-had
Book Link

The Conversations We Never Had encompasses the challenges of memory, family, and legacy. A record of the author’s conversations with his grandmother Ola, a Holocaust survivor, in the last few years of her life, Konis presents the delicacy of opening up questions to worlds and experiences, and how uncovering these stories brings ever more questions than answers. The result is bittersweet – the sense of a deepening relationship, a joy in understanding, a relief in forgiveness – and the knowledge that there will always be conversations that haven’t been had, stories that haven’t been told. The Conversations We Never Had showcases the risks and gifts of opening up in a family where the promise of closure is inevitably false.

Since it is written as a series of conversations, Konis maintains the tone of storytelling throughout the book. The almost accidental way in which these conversations began allows some lightness in a way that more planned interviews sometimes lack. This is not a methodical, orderly “History” writ large, but a splendidly messier collection. While Konis’ conversations with Ola follow a chronological arc, they naturally follow tangents, ebb and flow with the comfort of the participants, compounding the realism of the stories. Konis allows himself moments of humor and disbelief, giving readers permission to wonder at the truth, completeness, and motivations of both Konis and Ola in what they share.

Readers with family roots in pre-Holocaust Europe will undoubtedly find a great deal to relate to, and may be inspired to dig deeper into their own stories. A familiarity with the historical context will certainly be helpful to all readers. Readers who are mourning the recent loss of a loved one or who have experienced trauma related to their family’s shared Holocaust stories should carefully consider if this book will not be too triggering.

 

 

 

Book Reviews

Mischling – Affinity Konar

 

mischling
Book Link

This is a terrifying book. Actually, I was so terrified just thinking about reading this book, I waited until I would have a solid chunk of daylight and was in a public place. I was convinced that I would only be able to digest it one chapter at a time. Except that once I did start, I could not stop. This is a book that forces readers to ignore everyone and everything around them, because all that matters is the story it tells. This is the first book I can remember in a long time that I stayed up all night to finish because I was so totally immersed in the writing.

There is a great deal of excellent Holocaust literature. However, with Mishling, Affinity Konar may have established a new standard of excellence for the entire genre, exemplifying the emergence of a new generation of voices. Her narrative follows a set of twin girls, imprisoned in Mengele’s hellish “Zoo” at Auschwitz, and subject to his sadistic experiments. It alternates the voices of the two young girls, and these child narrators provide the perfect balance in expressing a story that is both heart-breaking in its innocence and hauntingly cruel.

A sense of the surreal hovers above the story, a kind of ephemeral filter for this book of fiction that is firmly planted in a real time and place. Konar captures the tone of a world that doesn’t seem like it could exist, but which brutally reminds readers that it did. Her writing reflects the years of research Konar performed in the accuracy and detail of the horrors the twins endure, but stops short of exploring how or why this is happening. Konar writes about the darkness of Auschwitz  and post-war Poland, where children who are imprisoned are subject to terrible brutality, fear, and suffering, while simultaneously a place in which there are art, music, and games. This contrast is furthered in the depiction of the adult characters – the mercilessness of Mengele and his conciliatory Nurse Elna, with the tenderness of the Jewish doctor Miri and the “Twins’ Father” in charge of the Zoo children. Yet Konar’s lyrical prose keeps the book from becoming a caricature of good versus evil. She is at her best as she describes the setting and their actions. She leaves the questioning of motives to others.

Readers’ reactions to this work will likely depend largely on their personal relationship to the Holocaust and familiarity with other Holocaust literature. Konar’s descriptive writing style demands a certain amount of patience and willingness to deeply engage with the characters and stories. Those who prefer a more dispassionate approach to the topic of the Holocaust are less likely to appreciate it. But those who are able to be vulnerable will find their journey with Konar to be unforgettable.

Book Reviews

My Jewish Year – Abigail Pogrebin

my-jewish-year
Book Link

Imagine sitting down to lunch with your best friend, who just returned from a dream vacation. Your friend animatedly tells you all the details about where she went, who and what she saw, what she ate, and what she learned about the history, culture, and religious traditions she encountered. It’s a long lunch, but you have time to linger. This is the scene that sums up Abigail Pogrebin’s latest book, My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew.

The premise of Pogrebin’s journey is the acknowledgment that there is a great deal more to the Jewish calendar than the holidays that are most widely acknowledged. That the practices and prayers associated with the best known Jewish holidays don’t adequately represent the breadth of the Jewish year. Pogrebin, like many contemporary Jews, is aware that their commitment to following the Jewish calendar and the demands that it makes suffers from a lack of information, connection, and clashes with other obligations. She decides to adhere to observing every Jewish festival and fast day over the course of the year. This  book is her report of how she participated, what she learned, and the impact on her Jewish identity.

Pogrebin writes chronologically, starting with the High Holidays at the beginning of the Jewish year and ending with the Tisha B’Av fast. This makes sense intuitively, and helps to ground the reader in the action. While she presents each holiday in a self-contained chapter, she does reference earlier experiences as the year progresses. Each chapter can be read independently, but it is definitely better to read them in order. Furthermore, reading them in order highlights the contrast in the ways Pogrebin approaches holidays she is very comfortable with and those with which she is less familiar. Her description of Passover stands out among them all as the one Pogrebin has clearly made her own. Many readers will be able to relate with Pogrebin’s experience that some holidays make their mark much more strongly than others.

What makes this book such a valuable guide is that Pogrebin not only recounts her own experiences, but includes short paragraphs of teaching from a diverse set of rabbis and Jewish educators. Readers  will learn competing interpretations and how this translates into vibrant practices, evolving rituals, and creative liturgy. Following along as Pogrebin explores these teachings and seeks to incorporate them into her experience would be a dynamic adult education program in any community. Its clarity and focus on finding meaning in the holidays makes it an excellent companion for Jews by choice, interfaith families, newlyweds, new parents, and any other seekers considering new approaches to their Jewish lives. For readers who have observed the Jewish holidays (one, some, or all), the book is certain to stir up memories, and the discussion opportunities for book clubs are almost endless. A single meeting would not be enough to cover the range of topics Pogrebin presents.

The only area in which this book is possibly disappointing is that Pogrebin’s location and family connections allow her exceptional access to Jewish communal leaders and programs. The resources and expertise that she enjoys as a member of a large congregation, living in New York City, and with a winning Jewish geography network that reflects her family’s immersion  among the leaders in the community, may leave some readers with the unsettling distance between the Jewish lives they know and the unusual bounty of opportunity in Manhattan. As much as readers are able to appreciate that this book is only Pogrebin’s story (and her family’s), understanding it as a way to approach the Jewish calendar but not the only way, there is an excellent chance that this book will inspire them to think about the Jewish calendar through a different lens.

 

 

Book Reviews

Here I Am – Jonathan Safran Foer

here-i-am
Enter a caption

Even if Jonthan Safran Foer had not intended to write the most polarizing novel of 2016, Here I Am, accomplishes this task marvelously. It hardly bears repeating that Foer is among the most talented of contemporary wordsmiths, and yet his gift with written language is easily lost in his form. Some readers love his trickily whimsical Everything is Illuminated while others prefer the solidity of his non-fiction. Here I Am falls somewhere in the middle, which is either thrilling or disappointing, depending on which Foer calls to you, and how far you can get in the book.

 

The initial impression is awe. The book opens with Foer at his best, popping with dialogue that it sharp, witty, and fun. Readers are swept away with this quick moving tide, but only the strongest of swimmers are likely to keep up.

Undeniably affecting, this is one of the few books I have ever thrown across the room in frustration. The dialogue becomes distracting and the book echoes with characters and themes of angsty, nebbishy Jewish men. Philip Roth and Woody Allen did it first and did it better. Yet there are flashes of brilliance in the plot that had me retrieving the book from the floor and plunging back in.

At well over 500 pages, Here I Am often feels to be several hundreds of pages too long. Readers who muscle through to the end are fairly rewarded by seeing some of what had seemed to be useless drivel being elevated to its proper place of lost in the action critical detail. This is perhaps the novel’s greatest missed opportunity. Foer is an incisive author, but his pen was blunted by overuse. Had Here I Am been constructed as a collection of short stories, it would have been stunning.

Here I Am is a book that deserves to be evaluated by the individual reader. Go ahead and try it. Love it or hate it, you will probably not forget it.

Film, Performing Arts

In Search of Israeli Cuisine

israeli-cuisine
Official Film Website

In Search of Israeli Cuisine is a documentary film that follows Chef Michael Solomonov (yes, the same chef responsible for Zahav) as he guides viewers through the multi-dimensional world of Israeli food. Solomonov travels the breadth of the country, offering historical and social context for the development of “Israeli cuisine”. The film rambles through the debate as to what exactly this means and whether or not it actually exists, and everyone tries extremely hard to defend food as the ultimate solution to the every political and cultural divide in Israeli society.

With a running length of approximately two hours, the film is at its best when Solomonov talks about his personal relationship to the country, and why he cares so deeply about its food. The highlight is the description of how immigration and poverty during the State’s early years affected the public diet and perception of food. It would have been thrilling if it followed through to the impact of more recent waves of immigrants, including Ethiopian and Russian Jews. But ignoring these groups, as well as the film’s total disregard for the obvious presence of guest workers in Israel’s agriculture and food service industries, was a missed opportunity in understanding the connection between Israelis and their kitchens. It is also unfortunate that no one addresses the clear gender divide between the mothers and grandmothers who, according to the film, cook(ed) at home, and the sons and grandsons who work as chefs. The film shows only 1 man cooking at home. Only 1 woman is highlighted as cooking professionally. There are stories here that the filmmakers chose not to explore, preferring instead to focus on more specialized gastronomical  excitements.

Unfortunately, the continuous distraction of the restaurant world prevents it from exploring whether or not the Israeli home kitchens have experienced any of the epicurean miracles that appear to be available in the fine dining category. Similarly, the film hints at the place of non-kosher food, especially pork and shellfish, in the Israeli markets, but doesn’t make the effort to fully connect the dots between the markets, home cooking, and fine dining. Without falling down the rabbit hole of religious power in the State of Israel, it would still be worth examining the social and economic divides that the emergence of an “Israeli cuisine” manifestly represents.

Above all, this film will leave you hungry. To eat your way across the landscape of Israel, to explore your local fresh food and spice markets (if you are lucky enough to live in a place where this is possible), to sit outdoors sharing a meal with people you love. It is impossible to watch this film and not get lost in the daydream of the power of food to tell the story of a people. Incomplete and conflicted, but definitely creative and alive.

Want to learn more about this film? Watch the trailer here: http://www.israelicuisinefilm.com/trailer/

Book Reviews

The Beautiful Possible by Amy Gottlieb

the-beautiful-possible
GR Book Link

The Beautiful Possible lovingly reflects every moment of the 10 years that Amy Gottlieb spent working on her novel. In a book that reads as though every word has been carefully polished to a fine patina, Gottlieb gives her readers a richly detailed narrative. As Gottlieb guides her characters from the 1930s to the beginning of the 21st century, the novel vibrates with the tension of allowing them to grow or be stifled. This tension arises naturally from the characters exceptional humanity. Gottlieb’s characters are flawed. They are faced with feelings and choices they never expected and struggle to understand, much less accept or act upon them. They would almost be too plodding and ordinary if it were not for Gottlieb’s relentless emotional force driving her characters to face themselves and her readers to turn the pages.

Gottlieb makes excellent use of her extensive Jewish scholarship, weaving traditional texts, methods and ideas into the souls of her characters and story. Their lives are inextricably linked to their faith, and the novel is firmly entrenched in the particulars of post-war suburban American Jewish life. Although she does use some specific terminology, most readers with a passing acquaintance with American Judaism will be able to follow along easily. A wider non-Jewish audience may struggle with the particularity of the setting. Similarly, readers with strong opinions or experiences with the Conservative Movement, JTS, or clergy families are most likely to have an insider view, both for better and worse.

The Beautiful Possible is an intimate portrait of family life, and the individual lives that shape it. Readers who prefer more sweeping sagas and events may find the closeness of the lens to be discomfiting. Those who allow themselves to be tucked into the baggage and carried along will be most satisfied.

 

June/Sivan "Ki Asher Telchi Eilech" Where You Go I Will Go

Ruth and Naomi – Starting Over

 

As the two women made direct eye contact in this vibrantly colored piece, Ruth’s words are underlined as a declaration for starting over, establishing a new understanding of what their life together could become.

“Ruth and Naomi – Shavuot” by textile artist Carol Racklin-Siegel. Dyes on silk, created in 2003.

To see more of Ms. Racklin-Siegel’s work, please see her website at http://www.pomegranatestudios.com.

BooksandBlintzes thanks the artist for permission to share this image of her work. We request that you please respect her creative rights and do not copy, share, distribute, etc. this image without her express consent.

June/Sivan "Ki Asher Telchi Eilech" Where You Go I Will Go

Ruth – Reflection in Stained Glass

This stained glass window, which shows Ruth’s intention to stay with Naomi as Orpah leaves them, is now on display at the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art in Tulsa, OK. The museum received it from a synagogue in Houston, TX, and it dates back to 1908. The artist is unknown.

Ruth Sherwin Miller Museum Window

With thanks to the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art for their permission to use the image. Please do not copy, share, distribute, etc. without their express consent. For more information about the museum, its collection, and educational programs, please visit their website at http://jewishmuseum.net/.

June/Sivan "Ki Asher Telchi Eilech" Where You Go I Will Go

Joining A People

This image spoke to us because of its simplicity; a few words, and a few sheaves of wheat, reflect actions that changed Ruth’s life and that of all her people.

About the artist:

Kim Phillips is a Judaica artist working in Monteagle, Tennessee. She discovered the art of Jewish papercutting on her first trip to Israel in 2006. “As a convert to Judaism, I dove into text study and was overwhelmed by the imagery and deep meaning found in them. I resolved then and there to learn the craft. My goal has been to merge the visual and textual parts of Judaism, and to bring the creative tradition of papercutting forward in a modern way.” More of Kim’s work can be seen at www.hebrica.com. She studied at Pardes in Jerusalem and holds a pararabbinical certification from Hebrew Union College-JIR in Cincinnati.

Thank you to Kim Phillips for allowing BooksandBlintzes to use this image. The artist maintains all rights over this image and it may not be copied, shared, distributed, etc. without her express permission.

June/Sivan "Ki Asher Telchi Eilech" Where You Go I Will Go

Following Ruth To Her Future

We were moved to share this paper cut because of how it showcases the impact of Ruth’s declaration to Naomi. In the moment that Ruth made her decision to stay by her mother-in-law’s side, she also chooses a new path that will lead her to a different future. We saw reflected in the lush colors a sense of hope that in Ruth’s famous words.

Matriarch Ruth
by Illinois based visual artist Leah Sosewitz

From the artist:

“The artwork was created with a paper cutting of the name Ruth and the image of the barley Ruth gleaned with her fellow reapers. Within the tav of the hebrew name Ruth, is a smaller painted illustration of Ruth collecting the sheaves of barley. Done for the holiday of Shavuot, the tablets with the 10 commandments are also included in the design. Behind the cutting is hand painted paper done in the colors of the earth, green, gold and blue.”

~ Leah Sosewitz

Find out more about Leah Sosewitz’s work at www.judaicartstudio.com

Thank you to Leah Sosewitz for allowing BooksandBlintzes to use this image. The artist maintains all rights over this image and it may not be copied, shared, distributed, etc. without her express permission.

June/Sivan "Ki Asher Telchi Eilech" Where You Go I Will Go

Contrast of Broken Hearts

“Orpa Leaving Naomi” Oil Painting by Abraham Yakin, Israel.

In this striking oil painting by Israeli artist Abraham Yakin, we see the contrast in the behavior of Naomi’s two daughters-in-law. Orpa, in the background, leaves alone. In the foreground, Ruth remains with Naomi. Imagining Ruth declaring her intention to stay by Naomi’s side, we see a contrast of the broken-hearted; Ruth is able to reach out to another, while Orpa is completely isolated in her grief.

With appreciation to Abraham and Hannah Yakin for their permission to share this image on BooksandBlintzes.com. You can see more of Abraham and their family’s work at www.art-yakin.com. This image is the property of the artist and is not to be copied, shared, distributed, etc. without his permission.

 

 

Jewish Text Art Challenge Galleries, June/Sivan "Ki Asher Telchi Eilech" Where You Go I Will Go

Jewish Text Art Challenge – #JTAC June 2017 / Sivan 5777

The story of Ruth, the Moabite widow of an Israelite man who chooses to remain with her mother-in-law’s people has been an enduring touchstone in the discussion of Jewish identity for generations. This month’s text is Ruth’s declaration of intent – the intention to believe, the intention to belong, the intention to be faithful.  It is a pivotal moment in the life of this individual woman, and will prove to fundamentally impact the trajectory of all of Jewish history.

This month’s Jewish Text Art Challenge Gallery will feature media that represent artistic understandings of these words. Join the conversation by sharing which ones speak to you, and your own creations inspired by Ruth.

.כִּי אֶל-אֲשֶׁר תֵּלְכִי אֵלֵךְ, וּבַאֲשֶׁר תָּלִינִי אָלִין–עַמֵּךְ עַמִּי, וֵאלֹהַיִךְ אֱלֹהָי,

“Where you go, I will go: and where you live, I will live: your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”