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Showing posts from 2015

10 Years of The Book of Life Podcast

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Ten years ago on December 21, 2005, I posted the very first episode of The Book of Life . Fourteen and a quarter minutes long, the episode is a mix of home-grown Hanukkah celebrations at Congregation B'nai Israel , the Boca Raton synagogue where I am librarian, and interviews with authors. I had summoned up the courage to approach Eric Kimmel (aka "Mr. Hanukkah"), who I'd met at the 2005 Association of Jewish Libraries conference when he won the Sydney Taylor Body-of-Work Award, and I interviewed him over the phone (with an in-ear recorder!) about his classic Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins . I also called Rebecca Tova Ben-Zvi , who had been my colleague when I worked for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and had since authored Four Sides, Eight Nights: A New Spin on Hanukkah . Because it's been ten years and the downloads have had so long to accumulate, that episode has been downloaded 11,306 times and counting. You can still hear that very first episod

The Mitten String

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This post is a double dip! It’s my contribution to the Multicultural Kid Blogs Hanukkah series ( see the whole series here ) AND it’s my entry in #Readukkah, the 2015 Jewish Reading Challenge , which encourages everyone to spread the word about great Jewish titles in order to increase readership and support Jewish publishing. Last year I wrote a review of The Mitten String for School Library Journal, which you can see below. I continue to adore this book, and when I thought about what I could use for my #Readukkah selection, this title jumped to mind as an ongoing favorite. I love the sense of community that shines forth from the very first line: “It was said that Ruthie Tober’s family warmed the hands of the entire village, because everyone who lived there, big and small, wore mittens knitted from Tober wool.” I love the spare writing that makes relationships clear so simply: the ease between Mother and Ruthie shows in the wink Mother gives when she reminds Ruthie

Hanukkah Books: A Diverse Dozen

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READ THE ARTICLE     🕮    I was very pleased when Multicultural Kid Blogs invited me to write a guest post about Hanukkah. MKB is a collective of blogs from around the world "for families and educators raising world citizens, through arts, activities, crafts, food, language, and love."  Because the post was for a general audience, I started with a roundup of facts about Hanukkah. Because of the diversity emphasis of MKB, I focused my reading list on books that show the diversity of the Jewish experience by posting about Hanukkah books with Sephardic characters, Jews of color, Jews with disabilities, and interfaith families.  You can read Hanukkah Books: A Diverse Dozen here! Enjoy!

Enough with the Holocaust Books for Children!

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST     🕮    It all started with Marjorie Ingall ’s Tablet article, Enough with the Holocaust Books for Children . As she says in the article, "if you dropped an alien into the children’s section of a library, it would think Jews disappeared after World War II.” Then Arthur A. Levine shared Marjorie’s article on Facebook , commenting that “this smart article says many things that I’ve been saying for a while.” Twenty comments later, Elissa Gershowitz and Yael Levy had thoroughly discussed the difficulties and triumphs of getting NON-Holocaust books for kids published, and Barbara Bietz and I (blogger and podcaster, respectively) had started wondering aloud how we could bring more attention to these issues. Thus, this podcast episode was born. BOOK LIST of mostly non-Holocaust great Jewish kidlit (titles mentioned during the podcast or s ubmitted later by panelists ) I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosin An Unspeakable Crime: The Prose

Pick a Card, Any Card

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST    |    BUY MITZVAH CARDS     🕮    #Readukkah is coming, and this podcast begins with an invitation to join this fun Jewish reading challenge, before we hear a fascinating interview. Rabbi Goldie Milgr a m founded and directs the 501C3 Reclaiming Judaism and Reclaiming Judaism Press and is Dean of the Maggid-Educator Ordination Program and Bar/Bat Mitzvah [R]evolution at Bmitzvah.org . I met her at the 2015 Association of Jewish Libraries conference , where she told me about Mitzvah Cards and other great books and projects of Reclaiming Judaism.   CREDITS: Produced by: Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel   Supported in part by: Association of Jewish Libraries     Theme music: The Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band     Facebook: facebook.com/bookoflifepodcast    Twitter: @bookoflifepod     Support The Book of Life by becoming a patron at Patreon.com/bookoflife !  Photo: Rabbi Goldie Milgr a m with Mitzvah

Last of the Red Hot Mamas: The Outrageous Sophie Tucker

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST    |    BUY THE BOOK     |    WATCH THE FILM     🕮    Sue and Lloyd Ecker are fascinated with entertainer Sophie Tucker , "the last of the red hot mamas." This larger-than-life Jewish woman was a major figure in 20th century Vaudeville and Hollywood. The Eckers have created a documentary film and begun a series of "fictional memoirs" about Sophie. I interviewed them when the film The Outrageous Sophie Tucker premiered in South Florida. See SophieTucker.com to buy the film, the book, and to find supplemental video and audio by and about Sophie, or rent or purchase the full movie on YouTube . Sue & Lloyd Ecker with a picture of Sophie Tucker CREDITS: Produced by: Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel   Supported in part by: Association of Jewish Libraries     Theme music: The Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band     Facebook: facebook.com/bookoflifepodcast    Twitter: @bookoflifepod   Supp

#Readukkah: A Challenge & A Giveaway

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The Association of Jewish Libraries kicks off its first reading challenge with #Readukkah during Hanukkah, December 6-14, 2015. It's easy! Anyone can participate, including kids. All you have to do is:  Read one Jewish book  Review it online (include hashtag #Readukkah)  During Hanukkah, December 6-14, 2015  You pick the book - any reading level, fiction or nonfiction, Jewish in any way you choose to define it.  Review your book anywhere online: on a blog, GoodReads, Amazon, Facebook, YouTube, or even on AJL's listserv, Hasafran. Use the hashtag #Readukkah somewhere in your review to help readers find you!  By sharing your #Readukkah reviews of Jewish books, you will help spread the word about worthwhile titles, bringing them to the attention of more readers, increasing the market and supporting the publishing of Jewish books!  GIVEAWAY Sign up to participate in #Readukkah! All participants will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of

AJL Reads! A Virtual Jewish Book Discussion

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Please join the Association of Jewish Libraries for a book discussion about the adventurous Jewish historical novel THE WAYWARD MOON  by Janice Weizman on Sunday, October 18, 2015 at 9pm Eastern/8pm Central/6pm Pacific Time via call-in show. We'll discuss the book by phone, and record the discussion for those who miss it. Call (724) 444-7444 and enter the Call ID 139461 to participate! The discussion will last approximately one hour. This is Association of Jewish Libraries' first experiment with a virtual book discussion event. Please spread the word and please join us on Sunday to make it a success! Don’t worry if you haven’t read the book yet – the discussion will be a good introduction that will make you eager to read it afterwards.

#Diversiverse Challenge

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I am participating in the #Diversiverse Challenge , in which you have to: Read and review one book Written by a person of color During the first two weeks of October (October 4th-17th, 2015) I wanted to include a Jewishly diverse angle, so I selected My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman (Amulet/Abrams, 2013). The author and the protagonist have a mixture of European Jewish and East Indian heritage. The novel is aimed at 10-14 year olds. I found this to be a delightful book. Twelve-year-old Tara Feinstein forges her identity as a Jew with strong pride in both the Jewish and Indian sides of her family. She struggles and grows as her relationships with best friends and boys change and develop, she expresses her individuality while respecting her family relationships, and she takes her Bat Mitzvah lessons seriously. Despite all the important learning going on, the tone remains light and upbeat, a fun read. Characters are well-developed and likable. Comparisons with

Enchantress

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST    |    BUY THE BOOK     🕮    I interviewed author  Maggie Anton about Apprentice , the first book in her Rav Hisda's Daughter series, back in October 2013 - you can listen to that podcast here . Here is my follow-up interview with her about the second book in the series, Enchantress , which continues Hisdadukh's story. CREDITS: Produced by: Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel   Supported in part by: Association of Jewish Libraries     Theme music: The Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band     Facebook: facebook.com/bookoflifepodcast    Twitter: @bookoflifepod     Support The Book of Life by becoming a patron at Patreon.com/bookoflife !  Photo: Maggie Anton visits Congregation B'nai Israel   Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our voicemail number at 561-206-2473.

Do the Menschy Thing

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST    |    VIEW FILMS     🕮    Emmy-nominated filmmaker and founder of The Webby Awards Tiffany Shlain joins us to talk about Character Day , coming up on September 18, 2015. Her films at Let It Ripple are meant to spark conversations that bring about social change. This year on the second annual Character Day, she will reintroduce The Science of Character and debut two new films, The Adaptable Mind and The Making of a Mensch .  Also, click here to hear Tiffany on The Book of Life in 2008 talking about her film The Tribe , which looks at Jewish life through the lens of the Barbie doll!   CREDITS: Produced by: Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel   Supported in part by: Association of Jewish Libraries     Theme music: The Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band     Facebook: facebook.com/bookoflifepodcast    Twitter: @bookoflifepod     Support The Book of Life by becoming a patron at Patreon.com/bookoflife !   Yo

Eating Spiritually

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BUY SPIRITUAL KNEADING     |     BUY JEWISH SOUL FOOD     🕮    I recently received two different books on similar themes of cooking and eating with Jewish spiritual mindfulness. While recording interviews with these two authors didn't fit into my plans, I did think you'd be interested in learning more about these titles. SPIRITUAL KNEADING by Dahlia Abraham Klein Dahlia says, "Long before I was conducting Rosh Chodesh groups in my home, I was introduced to challah baking by my friend, Brenda. She invited me to her home on a Thursday night to participate in a Segula Challah bake. It was my very first time baking challah. It was touching, I thought, that Brenda and I were part of the forty women from around the community, baking in our own homes — all connecting to a shared intention. There was something very holy and meditative about the whole process. In a sense, I felt like I was part of the pulse of the Jewish heartbeat. The next day, I adorned my Shabbat

Here Is the World (of Lesléa Newman)

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST    |    BUY THE BOOK     🕮    Lesléa Newman has written over 60 books for children and quite a few for adults as well. She is well known as an author of Jewish books and LGBT books, and wrote the groundbreaking title Heather Has Two Mommies ( reissued in 2015 with new illustrations). Her newest picture book, Here is the World , is a joyful celebration of Jewish holidays around the year. She also has a new, very personal poetry book out about her mother's passing, called I Carry My Mother . CREDITS: Produced by: Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel   Supported in part by: Association of Jewish Libraries   Theme music: The Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band   Facebook: facebook.com/bookoflifepodcast  Twitter: @bookoflifepod Support The Book of Life by becoming a patron at Patreon.com/bookoflife !  Photo: Author Lesléa Newman Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our

A Jewish Multicultural LibGuide

Librarian Ana Kurland has created LibGuides to help readers find multicultural Jewish books for children and adults , and she credits The Book of Life's Diversity episode as the resource that made it possible! Ana says: What is a Multicultural Jewish Family? It can be anything. It can be a family with parents of different backgrounds.  One could be Ashkenazi, one Sephardic.  One could have been raised in the USA, and the other in Israel or Argentina. They can all be Jewish, or be interfaith. They can be of different races, ethnic groups, or native languages. It can have children of different backgrounds. She invites your suggestions of titles to add to the list. Check out her LibGuide here , and email Ana if you have additional titles to share.

Welcome to Kutsher's

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST    |    VIEW THE FILM     🕮    We start this episode by introducing Patreon , where you can show your love for The Book of Life as we enter our 10th year of podcasting! Then, it's on with the show.... Filmmaker Ian Rosenberg has created a loving tribute to the last Catskills resort in his film, Welcome to Kutsher's. I spoke with him at the film's opening in Delray Beach, Florida. Distributor Menemsha Films says "Kutsher's Country Club was the last surviving Jewish resort in the Catskills.  One of the legendary Borscht Belt hotels during its heyday, Kutsher's was family-owned and operated for over 100 years.  Exploring the full Dirty Dancing-era Catskills experience— and how it changed American pop culture in the comedy, sports and vacation industries— this award-winning documentary captures a last glimpse of a lost world as it disappears before our eyes."   CREDITS: Produced by: Feldman Children's Library a

Playing with Matches

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST    |    BUY THE BOOK     🕮    Suri Rosen 's first novel Playing with Matches (ECW Press, 2014) is the hippest and funniest Orthodox Jewish book I've ever read. Aimed at teens but enjoyable for adults too, it tells the story of how 16-year-old Raina Resnick accidentally gets swept into the secret role of matchmaker in her close-knit community. I spoke to Suri by phone at her home in Toronto. CREDITS: Produced by: Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel   Supported in part by: Association of Jewish Libraries   Theme music: The Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band   Facebook: facebook.com/bookoflifepodcast  Twitter: @bookoflifepod   Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our voicemail number at 561-206-2473.