Monthly Archives: January 2013

Book Review: The Almond Tree

thealmond tree2 The Almond Tree, by Michelle Cohen Corasanti is a brilliantly written novel of courage, loss and redemption in a world that constantly shatters the lives of those living on occupied land. The story is a haunting reflection on Ichmad Hamid’s family and the events that controlled their lives.

Ichmad is a brilliant boy, with a mind that is infused with mathematical genius. At the age of twelve his life and the lives of his family members are uprooted with the confiscation of their home, and with his father being jailed for terrorism. These events are the beginning of Ichmad’s emotional and physical journey to try to improve the condition of his family, although the odds are against his succeeding.

In a world where the Palestinians have no stronghold over their homes, their belongings and their lives, Ichmad’s father directs him, through correspondence, to take the more peaceful route, and not to harbor hatred in the face of extreme adversity. His mother, on the other hand, holds resentment for everything inflicted on the family, and never fails to verbalize her feelings. His father’s strength, even though he is behind bars, shines through, and his words of encouragement lead Ichmad down the path towards self-fulfillment, not only for himself (Ichmad), but also for his family’s welfare.

Ichmad is a survivor, a power of mental strength within the confines and restrictions set before him. His sense of selflessness is the force that binds him to his goals, and binds him to his family. He strives to overcome the adversity set before him, and works himself to the bone in order to provide for his family, while at the same time committing himself to his university studies.

His studies lead him to an Israeli teacher, a man who is consumed by events of the Holocaust. His hatred for Ichmad is apparent, yet Ichmad perseveres through all of the anger, and shows not only his strength of character, his brilliant mind, but also his desire for peaceful solutions within the realm of both sides of the border. His genius in the area of physics helps him complete his goals, and accomplish what nobody thought he could, including his teacher.

Corasanti is a Jewish American, and a person whose sensitivity to both sides of the Middle East conflict is obvious within the pages of her beautiful prose, and with her presentation of a story which is usually told from the Israeli perspective, and not the side of the repressed Palestinians.

She puts a compelling light on the events of the daily lives of the Palestinians who struggle to survive under harsh and often cruel forces. The book is a painful read, a poignant read, and an inspirational read. The messages are clear, and Michelle Cohen Corasanti vividly paints a picture of a family in limbo, and within the family, a son, named Ichmad, who strives for peaceful answers and for forgiveness under the umbrella of boundaries in constant conflict.

I was caught up in the struggles and events that the family went through. There were times that I was in shock over situations that were so graphically depicted, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The book was gripping, and the pages consumed me with a deeper understanding of the human factor involved with the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. Humanity, at its worst, is portrayed, as well as human nature at its best.

The Almond Tree will stay with me for a long time…the story is so compelling and left me with so much to ponder regarding the human condition and regarding loss (in all of its forms) and regarding dignity and redemption.

Michelle Cohen Corasanti is masterful with her word-images. I highly recommend The Almond Tree to everyone.

January 31, 2013 – 20 Sh’vat, 5773

All rights reserved © Copyright 2007 – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permission.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Novels, World History

Wednesday Writings

sunflow

Not much is new in my world. I have not been out and about as usual, due to the fact I have been sick. I am just about back to normal, whatever that means, LOL.

I miss walking at the lake, and hopefully will get to do so this weekend. I am feeling the withdrawals of walking and of taking photographs. This will soon pass!

Through Trees2

Meanwhile, I have been reading and writing. I will be posting a review, tomorrow on a book by Michelle Cohen Corasanti, The Almond Tree.

I am in the midst of reading The Provider, by Evelyn Marshall.

I finished reading Above All Things, by Tanis Rideout.

That is it for now. Take care.

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Filed under Lorri's Blog, Photography

Book Review: Flower of God

flowerofgod Flower of God: A Jewish Family’s 3,000-year Journey from Spice to Medicine, by Herbert Ausubel is an incredible book, which takes the reader on the paternal ancestral road of one family over a 3,000 span.

The book holds a wealth of information regarding Dr. Ausubel’s family, which has been researched in depth, not only by him, but by others, including historians. The extensive research and familial stories take the reader around the world, literally. During times of Israel being conquered by Assyrians, to several places in Europe, to Australia, China, Siberia, back to Israel and to America, the tapestry of time is woven with extremely beautiful prose, prose that is almost poetic.

Dr. Ausubel’s research is intricate, and the stories reflect three millennium, generation upon generation of family members who lead peaceful and productive lives. But, within each situation, they had to flee their environment in order to survive, due to antisemitism.

There were so many fascinating and intriguing family accounts. The family story in the beginning of the book, entitled Azuvel, about Avraham and his son Moshe journeying to the Temple of Solomon, was filled with word imagery that filled my senses in every respect. The story was told with extreme detail and magnificent prose. I was stunned while reading it, and caught myself with my mouth open in awe, as I could picture the very essences that Dr. Ausubel’s prose described. The sacrificial aspect was extremely detailed, and the fact that Avraham and his son were privy to the innermost workings showed the respect bestowed upon Avraham. His “azuv” spice, derived from the blue-flowering hyssop plant was a necessary aspect of the ritual, used for cleansing of those entering the Temple, those who might have been in the presence of the dead. It was a masterful story, a story filled with the wonder of the Temple interior and wonder of ritual within its walls.

I enjoyed every story within the pages, and reading the book was an education in itself, both historically and familial. Dr. Ausubel described each era thoroughly, as far as word descriptions of clothes, food, the towns and cities and their architecture, and daily life within each era was exceptionally documented.

The section on the family journey across Siberia, the long and arduous way, in order to avoid the soldiers and authorities is extremely gripping. Throughout the centuries ancestors died from survival hardships while fleeing for their lives, and died of disease. Persevere, the ancestors did, through every hardship and horrendous situation, they never lost their faith, never gave up, and held steadfast to their religion, their beliefs and ideals.

The hardships that the generations of ancestors faced were magnificently stated, and each generation had its own compelling quilt to add to the family tree.

Dr. Herbert Ausubel’s writing is masterful, exquisite, filled with word-images that paint a beautiful tapestry of his ancestors and their struggles against all odds. Flower of God is a compelling read and one that will leave you breathless at times. It is a stunning book that is historically relevant and one that encompasses historical importance. I highly recommend it to everyone.

January 28, 2013 – 17 Sh’vat, 5773

All rights reserved © Copyright 2007 – 2013 – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permission.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Non-Fiction, World History

Holocaust International Remembrance Day

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Please take a moment to reflect and remember.

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Recovered items on display at Israeli Holocaust Memorial.

Yad Vashem Commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity

Wikipedia link.

Simon Wiesenthal Center

Silale, Lithuania, where some of my paternal ancestors lived, and where some were murdered in the Holocaust.

yarz
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I have not been blogging for almost two weeks. I have had a severe case of the flu or some virus. I am almost 100%, but not quite. It has been an exhausting several days. My body is still feeling the affects and effects.

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Filed under Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Photography, World History, World War II

Lorri’s Book Review: The Inbetween People

the inbetween people How does one cope when a mother picks up, without warning and abandons the family, setting off for another country to live with a man other than your father? How does a child of four handle the death of his mother, from childbirth, within the environment of conflicts in Israel?

The Inbetween People, by Emma McEvoy, is a novel that quite brilliantly depicts two individuals who become friends. Ari Goldberg is Jewish. Saleem is an Israeli Arab. The two meet and through the years we read about their struggles to maintain their lives within the constant struggles that are ongoing between the Jews and the Arabs.

The majority of the book deals with the issues of the loss of their mothers. Ari’s mother and her abandonment of the family takes its toll in every facet of his life. He tries to extinguish his feelings and his thoughts on her, but they resurface to haunt him.

The same is true of Saleem, and how the loss of his mother affected him and the rest of his family. Ari’s father tried to shield him as best he could, but even he felt the constant loss. The loss of his grandmother’s house, which was eventually occupied by Israelis, affected how the family managed to survive the indignity of being forced to leave their home.

Ari begins to write from a prison cell, and he writes of the loss of his mother. Saleem joins the Israeli army, as an Arab, hoping to help the conflicts occurring.

I thought The Inbetween People had a lot to offer in regards to family dynamics, especially how loss defines a person. The characters tried to bury their losses, tried to hide their memories from themselves, to no avail.

Can we bury the past? When familial, emotional trauma constantly fills us, mentally, physically and emotionally? We can become like people in limbo, stuck in time in between the past and the present. The connections of time become intertwined. Through McEvoy’s beautiful prose, almost poetic prose and word imagery, we are given a lot to ponder in that respect.

The story is a metaphor for love, loss and redemption, within a framework of an ongoing social situation.

I finished it in a few hours, as it was a slim volume. It did have a strong message, within the short framework. McEvoy’s prose is filled with loveliness, and a feeling of melancholy illuminates the pages. I found The Inbetween People to be an excellent read regarding the emotional issues surrounding motherly loss and regarding the issues of conflict within a country’s changing attitudes and ideals. Emma McEvoy encompassed those issues well.

January 17, 2013 – 6 Sh’vat, 5773

All rights reserved © Copyright 2007 – 2013 – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permission.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Lorri's Blog, Novels

Wednesday Writings and Photograph

hatchling

The photograph above was taken by me about four years ago. The nest was inside the pot of a hanging pansy plant. The two hatchlings are cardinals. The speckled egg is a cardinal egg. The other eggs belong to a cowbird, a bird that lays its eggs in the nest of another bird, and then flies off, leaving the other mother to care for the hatchlings.

Visit Nature Notes Wednesday for more nature photos from around the world.
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The Jewish Book Council 2012 National Jewish Book Awards Winners have been announced! Visit here, to see who the winners are. There are a few books in the various categories that I have read and a few I want to read.

Mazel Tov! Congratulations!
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Leon Leyson, the youngest of Oskar Schindler’s survivors, died Sunday at the age of 83. While reading an article about Mr. Leyson, I was filled with emotion, especially when I read this:

Leyson saw Schindler for the last time in 1974. Schindler visited Los Angeles shortly before his death and Leyson was with a group of Jews who went to the airport to greet him.

Leyson began to introduce himself.

“I know who you are,” Schindler said with a grin. “You’re Little Leyson.”

May his memory be for a Loving Blessing.

yahrzeit2
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Here is an interesting article in the Jewish Journal, posted by Danielle Berrin, regarding Mel Brooks and Philip Roth, describing their differences and similarities.
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I have finished reading a few books, and will be adding reviews for them soon.

January 16, 2013 – 5 Sh’vat, 5773

All rights reserved © Copyright 2007 – 2013 – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permission.

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Filed under Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Uncategorized