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Knish

In Search of the Jewish Soul Food

Laura Silver

When Laura Silver's favorite knish shop went out of business, the native New Yorker sank into mourning, but then she sprang into action. She embarked on a round-the-world quest for the origins and modern-day manifestations of the knish.

The iconic potato pie leads the author from Mrs. Stahl's bakery in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, to an Italian pasta maker in New Jersey--and on to a hunt across three continents for the pastry that shaped her identity. Starting in New York, she tracks down heirs to several knish dynasties and discovers that her own family has roots in a Polish town named Knyszyn.

With good humor and a hunger for history, Silver mines knish lore for stories of entrepreneurship, survival, and major deliciousness. Along the way, she meets Minnesota seniors who make knishes for weekly fundraisers, foodies determined to revive the legacy of Mrs. Stahl, and even the legendary knish maker's granddaughters, who share their joie de vivre--and their family recipe.

Knish connections to Eleanor Roosevelt and rap music? Die-hard investigator Silver unearths those and other intriguing anecdotes involving the starchy snack once so common along Manhattan's long-lost Knish Alley. In a series of funny, moving, and touching episodes, Silver takes us on a knish-eye tour of worlds past and present, thus laying the foundation for a global knish renaissance.

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Land and Desire in Early Zionism

Boaz Neumann

This innovative study examines the responses of early-twentieth-century pioneers to "the Land" of Palestine. Early Zionist historiography portrayed these young settlers as heroic; later, more critical studies by the "new" historians and sociologists focused on their failures and shortcomings. Neumann argues for something else that historians have yet to identify--desire. Desire for the Land and a visceral identification with it begin to explain the pioneer experience and its impact on Israeli history and collective memory, as well as on Israelis' abiding connection to the Land of Israel. His close readings of archival documents, memoirs, diaries, poetry, and prose of the period develop new understandings--many of them utterly surprising--of the Zionist enterprise. For Neumann, the Zionist revolution was an existential revolution: for the pioneers, to be in the Land of Israel was to be!

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Language and Power in the Early Middle Ages

Patrick J. Geary

The eminent historian Patrick J. Geary has written a provocative book, based on lectures delivered at the Historical Society of Israel about the role of language and ideology in the study and history of the early Middle Ages. He includes a fascinating discussion of the rush by nationalist philologists to rediscover the medieval roots of their respective vernaculars, the rivalry between vernacular languages and Latin to act as transmitters of Christian sacred texts and administrative documents, and the rather sloppy and ad hoc emergence in different places of the vernacular as the local administrative idiom. This is a fascinating look at the weakness of language as a force for unity: ideology, church authority, and emerging secular power always trumped language.

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Leading Roles

50 Questions Every Arts Board Should Ask

Michael M. Kaiser

A concise, practical, and timely guide for board members of arts organizations Not-for-profit arts organizations struggled to survive the recent economic recession. In this increasingly hardscrabble environment, it is absolutely imperative that the boards of these organizations function as energetically, creatively, and efficiently as possible. Michael M. Kaiser’s personal history with boards of arts organizations began when he served on the board of the Washington Opera (now the Washington National Opera) in 1983. Today, in his capacity as president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Kaiser recently completed a 50-state, 69-city Arts in Crisis tour. Board issues came up repeatedly as central to the success or failure of the organization. Drawing on these and many other conversations, nationally and internationally, Kaiser’s book offers members of boards and staffs the information they need to create the healthy atmosphere necessary to thriving arts organizations. Organized in a clear, readable, question-and-answer format, Leading Roles covers every aspect of board participation in the life of the organization, including mission and governance; fundraising and marketing responsibilities; the relationship of the board to the artistic director, executive director, and staff; and its responsibilities for planning and budgeting. Kaiser addresses boards in crisis, international boards, and boards of arts organizations of color. Throughout, he emphasizes the importance of transparency and clarity in the board’s dealings with its own members and those of the arts community of which it is a part, showing how anything less results in contentiousness that can immobilize an arts organization, or even tear it apart.

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Learning and Community

Jewish Supplementary Schools in the Twenty-First Century

Jack Wertheimer

At a time of heightened interest in Jewish supplementary schooling, this volume offers a path-breaking examination of how ten diverse schools have remade themselves to face the new challenges of the twenty-first century. Each written by an academic observer with the help of an experienced educator, the chapters bring these schools vividly to life by giving voice to students, parents, teachers, school directors, lay leaders, local rabbis and other key participants.

The goal of the book is to uncover the building blocks each school put into place to improve its delivery of a Jewish education. Employing qualitative research, Learning and Community is filled with moving and inspiring human-interest stories. Collectively, these portraits offer models of how schools of different sizes and configurations can maximize their impact, and in the process revitalize the form of religious and cultural education that engages the majority of Jewish children in the United States.

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Legalizing Plural Marriage

The Next Frontier in Family Law

Mark Goldfeder

Polygamous marriages are currently recognized in nearly fifty countries worldwide. Although polygamy is technically illegal in the United States, it is practiced by members of some religious communities and a growing number of other “poly” groups. In the radically changing and increasingly multicultural world in which we live, the time has come to define polygamous marriage and address its legal feasibilities.

Although Mark Goldfeder does not argue the right or wrong of plural marriage, he maintains that polygamy is the next step—after same-sex marriage—in the development of U.S. family law. Providing a road map to show how such legalization could be handled, he explores the legislative and administrative arguments which demonstrate that plural marriage is not as farfetched—or as far off—as we might think. Goldfeder argues not only that polygamy is in keeping with the legislative values and freedoms of the United States, but also that it would not be difficult to manage or administrate within our current legal system. His legal analysis is enriched throughout with examples of plural marriage in diverse cultural and historical contexts.

Tackling the issue of polygamy in the United States from a legal perspective, this book will engage anyone interested in constitutional law, family law, or criminal law, along with sociologists and those who study gender and culture in modern times.

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Levirate Marriage and the Family in Ancient Judaism

Dvora E. Weisberg

In this study, Weisberg uses levirate marriage (an institution that involves the union of a man and the widow of his childless brother) as described in biblical law and explicated in rabbinic Judaism as a lens to examine the status of women and attitudes toward marriage, sexuality, and reproduction in early Jewish society. While marriage generally marks the beginning of a new family unit, levirate comes into play when a family's life is cut short. As such, it offers an opportunity to study the family at a moment of breakdown and restructuring.

With her discussion rooted in rabbinic sources and commentary, Weisberg explores kinship structure and descent, the relationship between a family unit created through levirate marriage and the extended family, and the roles of individuals within the family. She also considers the position of women, asking whether it is through marriage or the bearing of children that a woman becomes part of her husband's family, and to what degree a married woman remains part of her natal family. She argues that rabbinic responses to levirate suggest that a family is an evolving entity, one that can preserve itself through realignment and redefinition.

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Louis Bamberger

Department Store Innovator and Philanthropist

Linda B. Forgosh

Louis Bamberger (1855–1944) was the epitome of the merchant prince as public benefactor. Born in Baltimore, this son of German immigrants built his business—the great, glamorous L. Bamberger & Co. department store in Newark, N.J.—into the sixth-largest department store in the country. A multimillionaire by middle age, he joined the elite circle of German Jews who owned Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Filene’s. Despite his vast wealth and local prominence, Bamberger was a reclusive figure who shunned the limelight, left no business records, and kept no diaries. He remained a bachelor and kept his private life and the rationale for his business decisions to himself.

Yet his achievements are manifold. He was a merchandising genius whose innovations, including newspaper and radio ads and brilliant use of window and in-store displays, established the culture of consumption in twentieth-century America. His generous giving, both within the Jewish community and beyond it, created institutions that still stand today: the Newark YM-YWHA, Beth Israel Hospital, and the Newark Museum. Toward the end of his career, he financed and directed the creation of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, which led to a friendship with Albert Einstein.

Despite his significance as business innovator and philanthropist, historians of the great department stores have paid scant attention to Bamberger. This full-length biography will interest historians as well as general readers of Jewish history nationally, New Jerseyans fascinated by local history, and the Newarkers for whom Bamberger’s was a beloved local institution.

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Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families

Paradoxes of a Social Revolution

Sylvia Barack Fishman

The concepts of gender, love, and family—as well as the personal choices regarding gender-role construction, sexual and romantic liaisons, and family formation—have become more fluid under a society-wide softening of boundaries, hierarchies, and protocols.

Sylvia Barack Fishman gathers the work of social historians and legal scholars who study transformations in the intimate realms of partnering and family construction among Jews. Following a substantive introduction, the volume casts a broad net. Chapters explore the current situation in both the United States and Israel, attending to what once were considered unconventional household arrangements—including extended singlehood, cohabitating couples, single Jewish mothers, and GLBTQ families—along with the legal ramifications and religious backlash. Together, these essays demonstrate how changes in the understanding of male and female roles and expectations over the past few decades have contributed to a social revolution with profound—and paradoxical—effects on partnering, marriage, and family formation.

This diverse anthology—with chapters focusing on demography, ethnography, and legal texts—will interest scholars and students in Jewish studies, women’s and gender studies, Israel studies, and American Jewish history, sociology, and culture.

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Marriage and Divorce in the Jewish State

Israel's Civil War

A comprehensive look at how rabbinical courts control Israeli marriage and divorce

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