Gay Marriage and Conservative Judaism

On a Shabbat morning, more than 34 years back, I decided to visit Sinai Temple, a conservative Jewish synagogue in Los Angeles. At the time, having been displaced from Iran, my country and home, I did not know much about Conservative Judaism. In fact, apart from a cursory idea about the religious philosophies of Orthodox…

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A Tale of a Golem, a Jinni, of Love and of Humanity

Every now and then a reviewer might have the luck of a novel landing on her table that is not only engrossing, imaginative and a pure joy to read, but also well-crafted and intelligent. This is the case with Helene Wecker’s debut novel, The Golem and the Jinni (HarperHarper Collins Publishers). Rotfeld, a Prussian Jew…

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On the Merits of a Cigar

I just returned from Montreal where, thanks to the Jewish Book Council and to the Montreal Public Library, I spoke to a group of around 70 or 80 members, whose many intelligent questions kept the evening lively and the auditorium buzzing. Having never been to Montreal, my husband and I decided to extend our trip…

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The Comfort of Lies

The ups and downs of everyday life, the many dramatic struggles woven into the fabric of life, provide writers — this group of shameless voyeurs and hoarders of stories — with invaluable ideas for our novels. In The Comfort of Lies (Atria Books, 323 pp), Randy Susan Meyers, the bestselling author of The Murderer’s Daughter,…

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Review: Women of the Shahnameh

It is not often that I come across a book, the subject of which is so exciting, I’m compelled to praise it, even before I’ve had a chance to read the book. Women in the Shahnameh; Their History and Social Status within the Framework of Ancient and Medieval Sources, by Djalal Khaleghi Motlagh, edited by…

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The Lure: Some Things Are Better Left Hidden

If you were to peel life like an onion, you’d find layer after layer of hidden meaning philosophers have debated over for centuries and will continue to do so until the end of time. Why are we here? Where are we going? Who is our creator? Does she exist and if so, how involved is…

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Magical Lake Tahoe Inspires The Last Romanov

I just returned from my personal Shangri La, or Incline Village, North Lake Tahoe. The artists, Tom and Mary Garrell, had arranged a book signing in Kris Moose, their lovely gallery that displays Tom and Mary’s imaginative paintings and photographs. It was wonderful to connect with the locals and enjoy the interest of so many…

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Columbus Thriller Uncovers Explorer's Secret Jewish Life

Was Christopher Columbus Jewish? And did he bury a treasure that, if discovered, would shake the political and cultural landscape of the Jewish state? This is the intriguing premise of the suspenseful and extensively researched novel, The Columbus Affair (Ballantine Books), by New York Times best-selling author Steve Berry. The many readers who eagerly followed…

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On the Merits of an Arranged Marriage

The author with her grandmother My paternal grandmother was 9 years old when she married my grandfather. Or this is what I was told — until recently, when my dear uncle, who possesses a treasure trove of familial information, informed me that she was thirteen. What is, perhaps, more certain is that she had not…

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