Monthly Archives: August 2012

Jewaicious Review – Will in the World

Will in the World – How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare – is a page turner of a biography, a biography that is beyond compare, and a biography that I have not read with such eagerness, before, and it is all due to the vibrancy and enthusiasm of the author, Stephen Greenblatt’s masterful ability to blend elegant prose that makes us anxious for more, in order to fill our senses with the world of Shakespeare. The reader is infused with insight into Elizabethan England, and with vibrant word-paintings and narratives of Shakespeare’s life.

How did Shakespeare, from Stratford-Upon-Avon, a small town in the rural countryside, far removed from London, write with such perfection, beauty, emotion, sensuality and elegance, moving the country, the world with his plays, to become a playwright beyond compare and comprehension? Read Greenblatt’s book, and you will find some of the answers to that question, woven in a tapestry so fine, detailed and rich, that if you have never read any of Shakespeare’s brilliant plays or poetry, in my opinion, you will be tempted to run as fast as you can to your nearest bookstore in order to do so.

Having traveled to Stratford-Upon-Avon, myself, on three occasions, and having seen Shakespeare’s birthplace, and even the cradle he slept in, and having encompassed myself in the surrounding countryside, I am aware of the stimulation of senses that possibly could have evoked thoughts and emotions in Shakespeare’s mind. I can understand how his environment played a major role within his imagination, prompting him to write with such magnificence and passion, becoming the playwright of playwrights.

From the Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare:

“I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a
Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses,
affections, passions? fed with the same food,
hurt with the same weapons, subject to the
same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
a Christian is?” Said to Salarino by Shylock

If Will in the World is sitting idly on a shelf in your house, please, take it out and read it, peruse each line, each page. You will not be disappointed, and you will be surprised, beyond imagination. His (Shakespeare’s) plays are always on the reader’s mind, as Greenblatt blends Shakespeare’s life with magnificent and brilliant details, some of it factual, some of it he has surmised through hard information. “To be” is definitely the answer, and Will in the World is a must read!

I personally own and have read this book.

August 20, 2012 – 2 Elul, 5772

Copyright 2007, L.M. No permission is given to reproduce, copy or use my writings or photographs in any manner.

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Judaism, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized

Skies, Elul Poem, Shabbat Poem

The photograph above was taken this morning, while walking my grandie to kindergarten. I thought it was complimentary to the poem “Shabbat Day”, by Dobra Levitt.

Shabbat Day

By Dobra Levitt

Skies of other worlds
In the blue-bright air,
Sides of houses
Edge eternity.
Clay-red roofs
Where pigeons – mincing – walk,
Fly the doves – the whir and flutter
Of their soaring wings.
Soundless the yellow butterfly
At its play.
Winds lift white clouds
And sift the sand
From earth-bound stones –
Exalted the light
Of this dazzling Day,
Yet strangely close to home.

Elul begins August 19 and ends September 16, 2012. I found this poem, by Rachel Barenblat, that spoke to me on many levels.

Immersion

If you offer Fortune a beer
she giggles, demurs, because she’s
“born again.” I’m not exactly sure
what that means in Ghanaian parlance
though I imagine a lake baptism
like the one I saw in Galilee,
robes billowing against dark water.

Rebirth is always metaphor.
Forty days to refocus, like a lens,
then Yom Kippur’s labor, singing
and praying, hoping against hope
this year the old words
and hunger’s familiar pangs
will bear new meaning.

The closest I’ve come
was that week on retreat, sitting
until pins crept up my calves, then
walking the fireweed fields rapt
in my prayer shawl. Friday afternoon
we shucked modesty, plunged
in the swimming pool, laughing

and blessing, then a hot tub dunk
to welcome the Sabbath bride.
We could dip each week in those waters.
We could sanctify every morsel.
We could open our eyes and be thankful,
could dwell in that house all the days
of our lives. And we don’t. And that’s

okay. The goldenrod always blooms
five weeks before first frost
and these forty days are for pausing
relearning the Name in every breath
preparing to be open to awe
again, to be ready
to make ourselves born.

Rachel Barenblat

Shabbat Shalom!

Visit Skywatch Friday for more sky photographs from around the world.

August 17, 2012 – 29 Av, 5772

Copyright 2007, L.M. No permission is given to reproduce, copy or use my writings or photographs in any manner.

8 Comments

Filed under Judaism, Photography

Stones River National Battlefield

I usually post a book review on Thursdays. I won’t be doing that, today, and instead I will post some photographs taken a couple of years back at Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, TN.

My time has been limited the past 14 months. I now have a bit more free time. My grandie girlie-girl started Kindergarten, yesterday. My grandie boy joy is now in day care. I will have some free time before picking my grandie girlie-girl up from school. That doesn’t mean that I will be posting more, it just means I will have some free time to catch up on my writing goals and on my photography goals. I haven’t had much time to do either over the past several months. I look forward to having the bit of free time.

It is very sobering to visit Civil War Battlefields, and think about how battles were fought back in that time period with extreme muster and intensity, and to think about all the lives that were lost. When I looked at the artifacts of time left over on the battlefields, I couldn’t help but ponder the physicality of war time. I couldn’t help but pray for those lives lost and for the lives impacted by such warring exertion, with limited resources.

Technology has changed immensely, since then, and our technical wartime advances don’t necessarily mean that fewer lives are impaired in some fashion. Unfortunately, that is not usually the case. It is sad, but true. Today, I choose to remember those lives lost, those lives injured, the families impacted, and those who fought so diligently and with such veracity, during the Civil War.

August 16, 2012 – 28 Av, 5772

Copyright 2007, L.M. No permission is given to reproduce, copy or use my writings or photographs in any manner.

12 Comments

Filed under Photography, Uncategorized

Time – Elul is Almost Upon Us

Time has a way of moving forward, and before we know it, the High Holy Days will be upon us. Elul – 1 Av, is the month preceding the Days of Awe, and the entire month should be devoted to introspection, reflection, considering the Mitzvah/Mitzvot we have undertaken, and the kindnesses we have shown and shared. It is also a time for reviewing our spirituality and whether we have moved forward with it, and it is a time to pray and forgive. Forgiving does not mean we agree with the other person/persons, we are simply forgiving them for what we see or feel they have negatively done to us. It is a way of letting go of harbored anger or thoughts regarding another or others, and thus, by releasing the feelings and thoughts, we can move forward, using our energy towards positiveness.

There are several books that I recommend to those of you who might be seeking comfort and inspiration, and below I have listed two of them:

– If you like inspiring prose, stories that will illuminate your thoughts and emotions, then Jewish Stories from Heaven and Earth: Inspiring Tales to Nourish the Heart and Soul, by Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins is a book for you.

Each tale in this wonderful and radiant book is one that the reader can take away with them, hold on to, and browse through again, when they feel they need an uplift.

The stories are gleaned from newspaper articles, books, and many other sources. The book is formatted into nine sections, and each section has a different topic or subject, and each section contains stories that are pertinent to the particular topic. The subjects vary, but are mainly ones that deal with religious and life-affirming qualities and values, the Holocaust and Israel.

From the humorous to the poignant, the stories blend together with beautifully and powerfully written prose. Jewish Stories from Heaven and Earth gives the reader much food for contemplation, and gives the reader a strong sense of the various Jewish values that are important in the scheme of Jewish daily living.

Life is a Test: How to Meet Life’s Challenges Successfully, by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis is an excellent book. Using Torah, Talmud and other sources to demonstrate her thoughts and dictum, Jungreis gives the reader examples to follow, and paints a picture of how we can move towards the goals of changing our life style and our lives for a better cause and purpose. She guides the reader, step by step up the ladder of success in meeting our full potential.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis’ book is a must have for those who feel they are floundering, and feel they are being tested by the struggles and adversity presented before them. Life is a Test is a building block to help one succeed in their goals, succeed in making correct choices, and succeed in understanding the illuminations that self-discovery brings them.

I will suggest more books in an upcoming post.

August 15, 2012 – 27 Av, 5772

8 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Judaism, Non-Fiction, Photography

Jewaicious Review – The Zahir

Paul Coehlo has managed to capture the emotions of a man in search of his missing wife, in his novel, The Zahir: A Novel of Love and Obssession, but, in the end, realizes that he was searching for his own identity, his own Self.

“Zahir, in Arabic, means visible, present, incapable of going unnoticed, someone or something – which once we come in contact with gradually occupies our every thought until we can think of nothing else, it also defines a state of holiness or madness.”

The narrator is obsessed with finding his wife, and wonders if she ran off on her own, was she kidnapped, has she been murdered, etc. He is also obsessed with his own independence and freedom, and will do almost anything to be free, including having affairs, and going out of his way to make sure that what he considers his independence is not hindered in any way.

Within the pages we read that he, himself, is being considered as a suspect in his wife’s disappearance. This fosters his urge to find her, and thus begins his exploration of love, life and loss.

He meets the man, named Mikhail, who his wife disappeared with. Being a man of privilege and celebrity, and a man used to getting and having his way, the narrator wants Mikhail to lead him to his wife, immediately. This does not happen, and in a series of meetings, and talks, we see the narrator begin to realize the substance of life, the emotional and spiritual substance of who we are, of who and of what he is comprised of.

The narrator, obsessively, yet slowly, finds his way towards his wife, and in an almost parallel way, finds his own sense of independence. He is both a man who journeys through madness and obsessive behavior towards love and spirituality.

The Zahir is a compelling novel, and one that deals with the brilliance of Coelho’s prose, and his own ever evolving journey for the answer and meaning of life. It leaves one pondering issues, and reviewing their own thoughts in certain areas. Bravo to Paulo Coelho for always searching and questioning.

August 13, 2012 – 25 Av, 5772

© Copyright – 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.

2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Novels

Jewaicious Review – The Jewish Husband

The Jewish Husband, by Lia Levi is a novel that encompasses the years of fascism in Italy. The book details the pitfalls of passion and repression, love and loss, assimilation, and infliction of pain and suffering.

The format of the book is unique in the aspect that it is written as a series of letters to an unnamed individual, living in Italy. Each letter reveals a little more about Dino’s life. The reader eventually finds out who the letters are written to in the last fifth of the novel. The letters are being written in 1967, by Dino Carpi, an aging Jewish man, who lives in Tel Aviv and teaches high school. The letters describe how Dino met Sonia Gentile (yes, the surname is correct), and how he feel in love with her, basically, at first sight.

Dino was born in his parent’s hotel, the Albergo della Magnolia, and raised there in a private apartment on the top floor of the hotel. It was his home and his parent’s home, even though it was a hotel. His paternal grandfather was a Lithuanian Jew, and was able to assimilate in Italy without difficulty, according to Dino. The family name was changed from Katz to Carpi in order to sound more Italian. His mother was a “Roman Jewess”, descended from a long line of Italian shopkeepers.

Fast forward to New Year’s eve 1930, when Dino met Sonia in his parent’s hotel ballroom, as she lay on the floor, writhing in pain, after falling. “She was beautiful. In her luminescent grey and silver evening gown she looked like a mermaid caught in a net, struggling for survival.” From there Dino and Sonia’s romance begins.

Dino and Sonia begin courting, and he doesn’t initially tell her he is Jewish, as he doesn’t find it relevant. He considers himself and his family “Yom Kippur Jews”. When they speak of marriage, and she finds out he is Jewish, she is extremely upset, and states that her father won’t accept her marrying a Jew. Her family are devout Catholics.

Sonia’s father, Giuseppe Gentile, is a passionate fascist, and he is a highly respected and affluent banker. Appearances and social status are extremely important to most of the Gentile family. Dino had to make concessions and agree to certain conditions in order to marry Sonia. He basically had to give up his identity, deny his Jewishness, in order to conform to the Gentile family standards. They eventually marry in a Catholic church ceremony.

The years go by, and the restrictions on the Jews in Italy become tighter, oppressing them in business, and all daily life events and interactions, etc., during the age of 1938 fascist Italy’s race laws. Giuseppe Gentile’s ardent passion in fascism becomes a major issue in Dino and Sonia’s marriage.

I will leave the story line at that. If I go into much more, the plot will be spoiled.

In a time when Jewish Italians are not deemed to be of Italian descent or acknowledged to even be Italian citizens in any respect, Dino’s choices to blend in are what cause him despair. He makes decisions that will ultimately have dire consequences for him and for his family. Assimilation and fitting in to one’s surroundings is a primary theme in The Jewish Husband. The novel is an interesting perspective and study on assimilation, from the viewpoint of the Italian Jews, trying to assimilate within what they see is their own country, their homeland.

The novel moves slowly at times, but the prose is intense within many of the pages, more so during the last half of the book. Do not let any slowness deter you from reading this novel. There are some predictable moments, yet, for some readers, there might be one or two surprises within the story line. Levi writes with forthrightness and vivid imagery, as she tries to inflect how daily life played out during a tumultuous time period. She is sensitive to the issues of romance under adverse conditions, playing the fascist mindset against the Jews, and interjecting the conflicts of a Jewish-Catholic marriage under those circumstances.

There isn’t much written about fascism in Italy, and Lia Levi puts a distinct face on the subject. She gives the reader much to ponder regarding the oppression of the Jews, within the confines of the Italian ghettos and within Italian society as a whole. She writes with clarity and cognizance regarding the daily restrictions placed upon the Jews in Italy during the fascist regime. I am glad to have read the novel, not only for its historical and educational aspect, but also for the story line that blends religion and religious intermarriage. I found the boundaries that religion often forces on couples to be interesting to read and also compelling as far as insight goes. The Jewish Husband is educational in that respect, and also its historical aspect is well researched.

Lia Levi documents the era in time with factual prose, and with prose that will lead the reader to a deeper understanding of blending two religions and marriage.

I recommend The Jewish Husband to every one.

August 9, 2012 –

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Judaism, Novels, Uncategorized