Jacob Gitlin Library, June 2020

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FICTION

THE PERSIAN GAMBLE by JOEL ROSENBERG. The Russian president has been assassinated with the head of Russia’s secret service. The killer is his son-in-law Oleg Kraskin. Marcus Ryker, a former US secret agent, is in Moscow to help Kraskin defect and both are helped by CIA agent Jennifer Morris. Ryker tries to convince his contacts about the dangerous deal that places nuclear weapons inside Iran’s grasp.

THE GERMAN HOUSE by ANNETTE HESS. In this historical novel Eva Bruhn is hired as a German interpreter to translate at the Frankfurt-Auschwitz trials. Eva’s growing awareness of the atrocities perpetuated by the Auschwitz defendants leads her to question why her parents, owners of the German House restaurant, did not care about the trial. She slowly begins to uncover buried family secrets.

INDEPENDENCE SQUARE by A.D. MILLER. A story of corruption and political betrayals during the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine. British diplomat Simon Davey stationed in Kiev gives aid to dissidents in Independence Square with fatal consequences. Years later after being abandoned by his family he sees his former contact Oleysa Zarchenko on the London subway and is plunged back into his past.

THE GRACE KELLY DRESS by BRENDA JANOWITZ. It’s 1958 in Paris. Rose a seamstress has been entrusted to sew a Grace Kelly look-alike gown for a wealthy bride. When she finds herself falling in love with the bride’s brother, she makes a decision that puts her career at risk. Sixty years later Rachel is encouraged to wear this dress by her mother without realising the secret that changed her mother’s life.

RELIGIOUS INTEREST

MAVERICKS, MYSTICS & FALSE MESSIAHS by RABBI PINNI DUNNER. Renowned Orthodox Rabbi Dunner details sages together with sinners and charlatans. He includes Shabbetai Tzvi who claimed to be the Messiah; rabbis searching for subversive meanings of Amulets; the Get of Cleves case from 1766 and Hungarian born con man Avraham Schwarz, the ultimate Jewish maverick of modern times.

INCREDIBLE! 2 by RABBI NACHMAN SELTZER. This book is filled with more inspiring personalities from Rabbi Wallis’s dynamic life. We read about his first steps to Torah observance where he experiences mysterious encounters. He writes of the African prince who became a religious Jew, the reporter who went to an Arachim seminar to prove it was a scam and the 89-year old ‘bar mitzvah boy.’

IN THIS HOUR by ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL. A collection of English translations of Heschel’s writings from his time in Nazi-ruled Germany to his exile in London before finding refuge in the United States. It reflects this superb historian’s teachings; essays on rabbis of Mishnaic period; biography of Don Yitzhak Abravanel and four recently found meditations on suffering, prayer, spirituality and God.

HOLOCAUST MEMOIR

WHEN TIME STOPPED by ARIANA NEUMANN. After her father Hans’s death in Venezuela Ariana receives a file of documents, letters and diaries revealing his Jewish roots. She never knew this before. Correspondence from Terezin reveals that many family members perished. She opens with images of his 297 pocket watches, his metaphorical attempt to replace time stolen by Hitler.

LAST STOP AUSCHWITZ by EDDY de WIND. The author, a young Dutch doctor was sent to Auschwitz with his young wife Friedel in 1943 from Westerbork in the Netherlands. Being a nurse she worked in the block where medical experiments took place. A touching theme throughout are the appalling things de Wind witnessed daily while risking his life to see her. An eloquent account of love and suffering.

HOLOCAUST

THE NINE HUNDRED by HEATHER MACADAM. In 1942 almost one thousand young and unmarried Jewish women boarded a train in Slovakia believing they were going to work in a factory but were on the first ‘official transport’ to Auschwitz. Using copious interviews with survivors, historians, relatives and Shoah archive testimonies, Macadam tells their tragic story as only a few were able to survive.

THE UNWANTED by MICHAEL DOBBS. The small Jewish community of Kippenheim in Germany were interned in concentration camps in France. They desperately sought visas to escape but only one in four gained entry to America. Dobbs intersperses text with haunting pictures- a shattered synagogue, Germans deporting Kippenheim refugees, a father’s final scribbled message to his daughter in 1942.

HISTORY

RED SEA SPIES by RAFFI BERG. An in-depth look at the Mossad’s daring undercover operation in the 80’s using a holiday resort in the Sudan to rescue Ethiopian Jewry. Berg bases his book on interviews with operatives involved in the mission and offers insight into Menachem Begin’s anguish over the fate of the Ethiopian Jews and key decisions of Mossad. A heroic mission that reads like a spy novel.

TEHRAN CHILDREN by MIKHAL DEKEL. An absorbing account of the refugee children evacuated by the Polish military to Iran during the Holocaust. They became part of the Persian Jewish community. A group of Zionist caregivers brought them via India to Palestine in 1943. They were known as the ‘Tehran Children’, amongst whom were Mikhal’s father and aunt. Dekel blends memoir with history.

JEWISH IDENTITY

GOD IS IN THE CROWD by TAL KEINAN. A thoughtful assessment of the current state of Judaism. Kienan provides the intimate story of his Aliyah and service in the Israeli Air Force. Jews today face different threats such as dwindling Jewish population, complacency, fundamental divisions and intermarriage. These may change our survival. He hopes that by redefining Judaism we will keep it alive.

A RIVER COULD BE A TREE by ANGELA HIMSEL. Raised in Indiana as a fundamentalist Christian, Angela celebrated the Sabbath, Passover and Sukkot without knowing they were Jewish holidays. Her connection to Judaism grew through Jewish friends and her faith in her parent’s church waned. A Jewish boyfriend and a pregnancy forced the issue of her conversion, leading to a new spiritual journey.

JEWISH BIOGRAPHIES

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