The Gitlin is where people and books meet! 

FINALE: LATE CONVERSATIONS WITH STEPHEN SONDHEIM by D. T. MAX. Max reveals Sondheim as he was rarely seen in public with a candour and vulnerability little shown before. He brings together unedited interviews creating a portrait of an artist in his twilight years. The book offers insight into the mind and heart of a genius who indelibly influenced American musical theatre and culture. A revelatory glimpse into the intensely private life of this musical icon.

HITLER, STALIN, MUM & DAD by DANIEL FINKELSTEIN. This powerful memoir explores Daniel’s parents’ experiences of persecution and survival during the Second World War at the hands of two genocidal dictators. Alternating chapters tell the parallel lives of the Wieners and the Finkelsteins reflecting two separate yet similar stories. His mother’s story is of life under the brutal Nazi regime in camps followed by an unlikely release through a prisoner swap. His father’s one is of internal exile in Siberia under the Soviets.

KANTIKA by ELIZABETH GRAVER. In this novel, Graver depicts the life and times of heroine Rebecca Levy, née Cohen. The book opens in Constantinople in 1907 and spans five decades in Barcelona, Havana and New York in 1950. Through the experiences of the family, we learn about the tribulations shared by this generation of Jews: emigration and immigration, loss, separation from family, war and financial insecurity. The author delightfully incorporates Ladino into the dialogue and includes a family photo at the beginning of each chapter.

PORTICO: Cooking and Feasting in Rome’s Jewish Kitchen by LEAH KOENIG. This new cookbook features recipes and beautiful photographs of Rome’s Jewish Community, one of the oldest in Europe. Despite years of persecution inside the Roman Jewish Ghetto, this community on Via del Portico d’Ottavia thrives. Koenig’s recipes showcase their cuisine’s vegetables, meats, rustic pastas, and desserts. These recipes inspired by Italian Jewish tradition transport the reader into the streets of Via Portico d’Ottavia.

SPEAKING YIDDISH TO CHICKENS by SETH STERN. The author writes about Jewish refugees, Holocaust survivors and immigrants who settled around Vineland, New Jersey, becoming poultry farmers. Stern touches on individual stories and personal interviews to highlight the rich experience of these “accidental farmers.” These greenhorns were not the first Jews in Vineland as Russian Jews formed a Jewish farming community as early as 1880. Vineland flourished with its vibrant Yiddish community until the 1960s.

TEN YEARS GONE by JONATHAN DUNSKY. In 1949, protagonist Adam Lapid is living in Israel after losing his family in Auschwitz. On becoming a private investigator, he is approached by a woman to help find her missing son. She had recently come from Germany and had given her son, William, ten years previously, to her school friend Esther who was immigrating to Israel. Lapid believed they were no longer alive and then found that they had been murdered. At great personal risk he needs to find out why they were killed and by whom.

THE DIARY KEEPERS by NINA SIEGAL. The author weaves together the voices of a handful, who like Anne Frank, were inspired to record their everyday experiences under the Nazi occupation. Her selection highlights the Jewish perspective of a journalist at a transport camp, stories of Nazi sympathizers, a diamond cutter as well as members of the Dutch resistance who saved many lives. Siegel intersperses diary extracts with historical references providing an understanding of how “ordinary” Dutch people navigated life under Nazi rule.

THE LIBRARIAN OF BURNED BOOKS by BRIANNA LABUSKES. In 1933, novelist Althea James visits Berlin from America on a Nazi exchange programme. At first enchanted, her view changes after witnessing the torching of banned books and meeting Hannah Brecht, a Communist party supporter. Hannah later flees Paris and lands up in a Brooklyn bookshop filled with Nazi-banned books. Another character, Vivian Childs, whose husband died in combat, is fighting to ensure that books are sent to American servicemen overseas. All their lives intertwine.

  • Celebrate Chanukah with our amazing collection of books. 
  • The Gitlin purchases new books for adults and children every month. 
  • Membership is free and open to all.
  • Contact: or phone 021 462 5088.

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• Published in the December 2023/January 2024 issue – Click here to start reading.

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