Monthly Archives: August 2020

Sunday Jews, by Hortense Calisher is quite the story.  It is somewhat disjointed and can be confusing, but if you do persevere, it might be rewarding in some facet.

I normally put a book down if I somewhat feel like giving up on it. But, something told me that this book would turn out to be one I would gain something from. And, I did.

I suppose the emotional ups and downs and disjointedness, and the ride the reader is taken on, is in part due to the fact that Calisher tries to intentionally evoke emotions within the reader. I think she deliberately chose this format to bring insight into the actual familial dynamics of every day individuals within a family unit.  There is no strict mode of daily interactions within any relationship, and this presentation is strong in depicting that.  Every family has their moments, their tragedies and happy events, their flaws and their strengths. This family is no different.

There was a lot to like about this book, and by the same token, there was a lot to dislike.  The familial relationships, the interactions, or lack of interactions, the dynamics of the characters, and the aspects of manipulation and religious identity evoke the roller coaster ride of reader’s emotions.  This is much like the constant feelings that actual family members have, one minute you love a family member, the next you might possibly dislike them, yet still love them, and there are those who are in a continuing love-hate relationship with a family member.

I won’t go into specific detail, as the book is almost 700 pages long, and I would fill the lines of this post with a huge amount of content.  Suffice it to say that, aside from Zipporah and Peter, the novel includes their son, Charles, striving to become a supreme court judge.  There is also Nell, whose children have been fathered by different men, an artist named Zack, and Erika who is an art expert. There is also an almost-agnostic, rabbi grandson, who eventually ends up searching for a missing individual.  From these characters, Sunday Jews is born.

Zipporah is the Jewish mother of this clan of individuals so seemingly opposite, that in the end, they are more alike than they think.  She was born from wealth, in Boston, Massachusetts.  She is a social anthropologist. Her husband, Peter Duffy teaches philosophy in New York.  She is Jewish, he is Catholic.  Peter eventually dies, and Zipporah becomes a widow, who eventually takes a lover.  Zipporah was fairly predictable until certain events began to unfold in the story line.

She has always been a keeper and sender of cards. Cards tell the story of her life, and the lives of those in her family, and her circle of friends.

It is a novel that is a study on family dynamics, interactions both positive and negative, and some in between.  The characters are fairly believable, and not over-hyped.  Their inadequacies are bared in a forthright manner, not coated over or syrupy, with all of the trials and tribulations an ordinary family endures.  Some I liked, some I didn’t.  They could be your neighbors, or your own family members.

Sunday Jews is a true family saga, with a Catholic patriarch and a Jewish matriarch ruling over a family that is seemingly discontented.  From early on in her marriage, through death and familial discontentment, and through Zipporah’s senior years, the story unfolds.  The reader is given vivid word paintings of each of the family member’s lives, and how they choose to live their individual lives, guided by Zipporah and Peter.  The writing is often wordy, and doesn’t always flow smoothly.  But, isn’t that much the way life actually is?

Would I recommend Sunday Jews, by Hortense Calisher?  Yes, for the psychological study on the family unit.  There are a lot of comparisons and contrasts, a lot of what seems to be many an oxymoron, but, the study on the familial dynamics is the glue that held me throughout the pages.

~~~

Copyright Lorri M.

 

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

I have been busy the past few days reading, preparing myself, through books, prose, both fiction and nonfiction, for the High Holy Days.  The month of Elul is a month that Jews prepare themselves for the upcoming High Holy Days, and that is exactly what I was doing.  I am a reader, and my life revolves around books, prayer books, memoirs, historical nonfiction, historical fiction, Jewish history, WWII history, Holocaust history, photography, nature, and so much more.

Much of the content in this post is a repeat of one I wrote several years back.  There are a couple of book updates.  I am mainly posting this due to my dedication during Elul to reading, praying, and contemplating what is necessary for me to incorporate in my daily life for preparing for the High Holy Days.

The photograph above always brings me back to the Smokey Mountains, and to the beauty and awe of nature. To call the scenic setting breathtaking, is an understatement. Like Yosemite National Park, the sea, or the Grand Canyon, the Smokey Mountains leave me gasping at the wonder of it all.

Recommended Reading in preparation for the High Holy Days:

Witness:  Lessons From Elie Wiesel’s Classroom, by Ariel Burger

Waiting for Rain, by Bryna Jocheved Levy


The Koren Sacks Siddur: A Hebrew/English Prayerbook
, by Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks

Preparing Your Heart for the High Holy Days, by Dr. Kerry M. Olitzky

A Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book, by Dr. Aliza Laviwe

Days of Awe: A Treasury of Jewish Wisdom for Reflection, Repentance, and Renewal on the High Holy Days, by Shmuel Yosef Agnon

The How & Why of Jewish Prayer, by Israel Rubin

The Gift of Rest, by Senator Joe Lieberman

The Jewish Body, by Melvin Konner


Man’s Search for Meaning
, by Viktor Frankl

Seyder Tkhines, by Devra Kay

Hours of Devotion
, by Dinah Berland

Entering the High Holy Days
, by Rabbi Reuven Hammer

Einstein and the Rabbi:  Searching for the Soul

 

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

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Filed under Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, nature, Non-Fiction, Photography, trees, Writings

Fences to the Other Side

We all have encountered life’s fences, and we have built some of them, ourselves, controlling our actions, holding us back, or giving us determination to walk through their openings, towards another lesson to learn.

Those fences come in various shapes, sizes, colors, textures and boundaries to overcome.  For some of us it is easier than others.  Just know that there IS life beyond the boundaries, the borders or fences that contain you, manipulate you.  There is life and positivity on the other side.  The positives might not come smoothly, quickly, but at some point, they will illuminate you, make you feel confident to wander over, walk through.

Once you have gained the knowledge, the insight and ability, to see the fences for what they are, repressing variables, you will gain the courage and strength to walk into a new world, filled with the beauty necessary to move forward.  Take that first step, you can do it.

~~~

Copyright Lorri M.

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Honey Cake and Books

I absolutely love apples dipped in honey.

I love honey cake, and so does my family.  My friends also tell me that they like my honey cake, and when someone tries it for the first time, the person usually asks for my recipe.  The photograph above, is of one of my finished honey cakes.

Here it is:

-Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground ginger

4 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups honey

1/2 cup strong brewed coffee (decaf is fine)

1/2 cup almonds (optional)  I normally don’t use the almonds

2-3 ounces slivered almonds for topping (optional) I use them on occasion, but not normally

I have made it with 1/2 cup of raisins, but prefer it without them.

I use a bundt cake or tube/fluted pan to cook it in.  It will fit into three loaf pans, also.

-Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cloves, ginger, cinnamon and allspice.

-In a different bowl, beat the eggs.  Beat eggs lightly with an electric mixer (hand mixer or other), and gradually add the sugar.

-Beat the oil, honey, and coffee into the eggs and sugar. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture. Chop the almonds. Stir into batter.

-Grease the pan.  Pour the batter into the pan.  Bake for 60 to 75 minutes in bundt or fluted pan, until cake tests done (it springs back when you lightly touch the center of it). Do not over bake. Let cool 15 minutes and remove from pan. I baked it for 55 minutes and it came out perfect. Ovens vary, so keep an eye on the cake.

If you use the loaf pans the baking time is approximately 45-55 minutes.

You can wrap it in foil when the cake is completely cooled down, and if tightly wrapped, will last for one week at room temperature.

With the High Holy Days coming up, soon, I thought this would be a nice addition for Rosh Hashanah, for a sweet New Year.

~~~

I have read some wonderful High Holy Days books for children. Each one has great illustrations, and is filled with excellent messages regarding the High Holy Days.

Here they are:

Apples and Honey, by Joan Holub

New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashana Story, by April Halprin Wayland

Sammy Spiders First Rosh Hashanah (The Sammy Spider series covers all of the Jewish holidays)

A book for Sukkot:

The House on the Roof, by David A. Adler

If you recommend others, please let me know.

~~~

Shabbat Shalom, to those who celebrate.  For everyone else, have a lovely weekend!

Copyright Lorri M.

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Filed under Jewish History, Judaism, Memoirs, Photography, Recipes, Writings

Lily and Leaves

 

A pure drop of rain may fall on a beautiful water lily or on a dirty mud pond! This is exactly what happens when we are born!  Mehmet Murat Ildan

 

Nature often forms its own comforter, a serene blanket, hovering above the dark, muddy waters.  -Lorri M.

Simplicity is often the best form of serenity.  -Lorri M.

~~~

Have a wonderful day!

Copyright Lorri m.

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The turtle on a large rock, or small boulder, caught my eye in the midst of the murky looking water.  I love turtles!  I used to own a desert tortoise, when I lived in Southern California.  I had to have a special permit in order to own one.  I loved her, and looked forward to feeding her each day.  She knew who I was, and would make her way over to me, and wait patiently for me to put her food on a special plate, only used for her.  I fed her vegetables, shredded carrots, romaine lettuce, bits of spinach, kale, and other natural edibles, such as grasses and weeds.  She loved the grasses and weeds the best.  She passed away, after about three years of having her in my life.  I will never forget her.  She was such a darling.

 

I love taking photos of rocks, boulders, and water sliding down those rocks and boulders.  What caught my attention were the plants that were peeking out from the rocks and boulders.  Their brightness was hard to miss.  They added some brilliance to the neutral tones surrounding them.

~~~

Have a lovely day/evening, or whatever the time is, where you are!

Copyright Lorri M.

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