Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Lorri M. Review: Mourning & Mitzvah

mourningandmitzvah Mourning &Mitzvah: A Guided Journal for Walking the Mourner’s Path Through Grief to Healing, by Anne Brener is educational, insightful in its representation of the Jewish mourning process, and an excellent learning tool.

It directs the mourner through the grieving process by instructing and guiding them how to keep a diary or journal. By answering questions within the diary or journal, performing meaningful rituals, meditation, etc., the person is thereby enabled to begin working through their grief, a step at a time. The one who is mourning the loss of a loved one can begin to work through their pain and loss, and learn to try to cope with the struggles of daily life, while beginning to confront their pain.

There is no time limit on grief and mourning, as it is a personal process and an emotional process. But, Mourning & Mitzvah is an extremely helpful book in its aspects to bring understanding to those who grieve. It is also helpful for friends and family members to read, in order for them to begin to understand what their loved one is going through, during the traumatic period of a death in their life. They, too, are grieving, and so the input within the pages could be helpful for them.

Whether you are Jewish or not, religious or not, have a spiritual belief or not, the life lessons and the steps that Brener shows us towards coping with the loss of a loved one, is a journey we shouldn’t deprive ourselves of.

Death isn’t just a situation for the deceased or dying, but it is a family issue, for all family members. From mourning, understanding and grieving, Mourning and Mitzvah: A Guided Journal for Walking the Mourner’s Path Through Grief to Healing, by Anne Brener, is a book that belongs on every book shelf, as it is thoroughly educational, gently written, insightful, and is inspirational for all readers.

I find myself referring back to this sensitively written book throughout the year.

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Lorri M. Review: Rutka’s Notebook: A Voice From the Holocaust

rutkasnotebook Rutka’s Notebook, A Voice From the Holocaust, by Rutka Laskier, is a personal accounting, taken from the diary of Rutka Laskier, a Polish teenager. She wrote her diary beginning at the age of 14, and it spans approximately three months of her life, beginning January 19, 1943.

Rutka describes, in depth, her fluctuating emotions during the time period, and her diary reflects the ups and downs, the roller coaster of emotions, that most teenagers feel. From typical feelings of love and jealousy, to familial discontent, to the German occupation, Rutka defines life during the Holocaust through her eyes and voice. Yet, those emotions and her thoughts are coupled with the fact that she is astutely aware of the what is occurring, of Holocaust and its ramifications to humanity. Rutka’s writing gives voice and witness to the realities of the Holocaust.

Rutka wrote her thoughts and emotions in her diary, and asked her non-Jewish friend, Stanislawa Sapinska, to save it, if and when, Rutka and her family were moved from their apartment in Bedzin to the Ghetto, or if they were deported. There was a predetermined hiding spot. After the war ended, Sapinska returned to the apartment, and located the diary. She held on to it for sixty years. Sapinska’s family convinced her to show its existence, reinforcing to her that it was a part of history, and told about a part of history, that should be shared with the world.

Rutka articulates her thoughts and emotions like that of a more mature person, and not that of a young teenager. She is aware of the consequences that could occur. She knows about the brutality of war, having witnessed some horrors within the confines of daily living.

I recommend this historical book to everyone, young or old, alike. Rutka’s Notebook: A Voice From the Holocaust is an amazing accounting of daily life, of the struggles and fears lived every hour of each day, and of the knowledge that one may not live to see the end of war. It is a testament to Rutka Laskier’s strength and willpower, that she had the foresight to want her diary preserved for the world to see. She wanted the truth to be told (even if it was told decades after the fact).


Rutka’s Notebook: A Voice From the Holocaust
should be on a bookshelf in every school classroom, not only for its extreme historical value, but also so that Rutka Laskier’s life will not be forgotten in the time continuum.

The introduction was written by Rutka Laskier’s half-sister, Zahava (Laskier) Scherz. A family biography at the end of the diary, itself, was also written by Scherz.

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

Lorri M. Review: We Survived

we survived We Survived: Fourteen Stories of the Hidden and the Hunted in Nazi Germany, by Eric H.B oehm is a compelling and frank read depicting the deplorable acts thrust upon the Jewish people during World War II.

All of the fourteen stories are overwhelming, and are a critical and insightful look into survival and what one will do in order to thwart all attempts to be imprisoned in concentration camps or killed at the hands of the Nazis. The book depicts the darkness of the days and the living conditions the Jews faced in order to survive. It portrays the lives of those who opposed the Nazis and how they faced their own dilemmas and demise within a country environment of horrific and atrocious proportions. The ugliness and images within the pages conveys the magnitude and reality of the events that occurred, written soon after liberation, when memory was fresh.

The stories evoke an extremely horrific look at the events the individuals found themselves up against. Yet, they are also a humane and poignant perspective of humanity. We Survived is a book that offers hope and inspiration during the most darkest of times.

In my opinion, We Survived: Fourteen Stories of the Hidden and the Hunted in Nazi Germany, by Eric H. Boehm is a book of historical importance that documents the evil forced upon, the persecution of, and the fear of those whose stories are told. I highly recommend We Survived to everyone.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Non-Fiction, World War II

Lorri M. Review: The Essays of George Eliot (Complete)

theessaysofgeorgeelito The Essays of George Eliot (Complete) is an amazing book that gives the reader insight into the mind and the brilliance of George Eliot’s writing. The essays within the pages touch on a multitude of subjects that Eliot was known to evoke controversy over due to her frankness and starkness of thought.

Eliot was critical of trivial plots by women writers who wrote romantic novels to appeal to the female masses. Within her own novels, where romance is involved, Eliot made sure there was a link between romance and self-centeredness and manipulation, and/or romance and the ever evolving woman, along with other standards and issues.

Her essays bring a sense of realism to the reader, opening up to them Eliot’s thought processes and her thinking on issues of women and marriage, women and sense of self, women and fulfillment within marriage, women and independence and feminist ideals, women and manipulation, women and self-idealization, etc. They also depict her aversion to religious practices, especially the Christian dogma and doctrine. The reader of her essays (during the time period) could see her defined as an agnostic, and a woman who has broken her ties to Christianity.

Religion and her views on it played an important role in her essays. Her depiction of religious authoritarians is not very sugar-coated, but rather forthright and critical. From her perspective, she finds them self righteous in their advocacy of Christianity, yet unequivocally liberal in their own personal lives. Yet, they preached condemnation. She abhorred all that Christianity stood for, and it is quite evident in her essays. This did not necessarily bode well with her readers or those who chose to be critical of her writing and the given subjects.

I liked reading the varied aspects of the social stratum, the political environments and the religious aspects within the pages of George Eliot’s essays. They are vital in order to understand the mores and mindsets of the time period. History has been illuminated through her writings.

I enjoyed reading her thoughts on humor versus wit, and how her writings on both exhibit her own theories of situational events and mental growth. She seemed to enjoy comparing men to women in the intelligence aspect. She was a woman of humor, herself, and often depicted it in her novels, although at times quite subtly.

She definitely was opinionated, and did not falter in expressing her views on any subject, no matter the consequences of public condemnation or praise. Her gift with language and vocabulary is sharp and masterful. Her essays sparked debate within the educated class of the 19th century, whether through condemnation or applause.

Her writings reflect her multitude of thoughts and layers of opinions on everything from A to Z that are pertinent to society and social standards. They are intensely written, and filled with seriousness, yet at times a bit of folly is thrown in. George Eliot was a brilliant writer, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Essays of George Eliot (Complete).

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Review: The Sabbath

The Sabbath, by Abraham Joshua Heschel is 101 pages long, and in addition there are a few pages of prologue and notes. The slender size has no bearing on the fact that this book is extremely compelling.

Heschel depicts how the Sabbath is an aspect of “sacred time”, and not “sacred space”. He demonstrates within the history of the Sabbath, how Jews have built a foundation of “sacred days”, and how time is sanctified through the Sabbath. Time is an extremely important element in Judaism, from seasons to agriculture, to holidays and rituals, time is the force behind everything, from sunrise to sunset, days to weeks, weeks to months months to the year.

I found The Sabbath to be a beautifully written book, a profound book, a compelling book, and one that offers so much to ponder within its intense pages. In my opinion, Abraham Joshua Heschel offers the reader a unique and extremely strong perspective that they can cling to, and one that can bring them deep religious illumination.
~~~
Shabbat Shalom!

Ⓒ 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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Lorri M. Review: The Negotiator

thenegotiator The Negotiator: Freeing Gilad Schalit from Hamas, is an intriguing book, and one that is factually documented.

Through correspondence, proposals, telephone contacts, meetings, secretive encounters, the author, Baskin Gershon, brings us a true story of the efforts it took in order to free Gilad Schalit from his kidnappers. Aside from the documentation and never-ending endeavors by others, Baskin, himself, was a contributor to the relations that were formed in order to gain Schalit his freedom.

Not only his family, but the world waited, hoped and listened for any news regarding Schalit. He became a symbol of youth and freedom, hope and endurance. Baskin’s connections led to other connections and encounters. He was almost like a peacemaker in the background of a continuing saga.

This book depicts the events involved in the negotiations, mostly behind-the-scenes, to bring Schalit home. In the end, he was brought home, not only to his country, but to his ever-anxious family, a family that held their hopes high, despite holding their breath for his return.

Gerson Baskin went beyond all expectations in his involvement in attempting to achieve Schalit’s freedom. The Negotiator: Freeing Gilad Schalit from Hamas demonstrates his amazing fortitude, ability as a negotiator, and above all-the humanity of the man in trying to forge the necessary relationships that were involved in his efforts. He was an extremely involved man, not only physically and logically, but emotionally as well. He, his country and Gilad Schalit’s famly waited with deep anxiety to see Gilad Schalit returned home.

The events surrounding the release of Schalit are not well-known. This book documents many of the untold and unknown happenings. It also is a valuable historical resource regarding Israel and Hamas, and the negotiation process.

The Negotiator: Freeing Gilad Schalit from Hamas is a page-turner of a story, a true one at that. Once I began it, I read it straight through. It is not only intriguing but suspenseful. It is, in my opinion, a book that holds high historical value. I feel it belongs in every high school, college, university, and public library. It is a book I highly recommend.

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