Announcing…Even You

A new novel by the author of Rivka’s War

Even You tells the story of two women, Jessie Friedman and Claire Bramany. When Jessie dies, her lover – Claire – uncovers hidden journals revealing Jessie’s long-buried secret of childhood sexual abuse. Shattered, yearning to reconnect with the Jessie she thought she knew, Claire sets out to find the predator – and wreak revenge.

Now available to order online or at your favorite bookstore.

For a sneak preview, visit my website, http://www.marilynoser.com

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2 Pieces of New Information for my Followers

1. An index for Streets of Israel is now available. Just request it using the contact form below –  with your e-mail address – and I’ll send it to you. It was done by a generous visitor to this site who wishes to remain anonymous. Call him IndeXMan.

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2. I’m pleased to announce the publication date of my latest novel, EVEN YOU, on September 1, 2015.

It’s the story of Claire Bramany and her deceased lover of twenty-three years, Jessie Friedman. While cleaning out Jessie’s desk, Claire finds hidden journals revealing Jessie’s long-buried secret of childhood sexual abuse by an uncle. Shattered, yearning to reconnect with the Jessie she thought she knew, Claire goes to find the man—and wreak revenge.

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10 Things You Need to Know About… Yehudah HaMaccabi

Lion of the Desert

1. AKA Judah Maccabee, he was the third of five sons of Matathias of Modi’in, who initiated a revolt against the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, when that ruler sought to impose a Hellenistic way of life and worship on the Jews.

2. After his father’s death in 165 BCE, Yehudah, a Judean priest, assumed command of the resistance forces against the Greco-Syrian empire.

220px-Juda-Maccabaeus3. He led his troops to victory in stunning and tactically brilliant defeats over the Greek armies at Bet-Horon, Emmaus, and, ultimately, Mt. Zion.

4. He captured the Temple in Jerusalem and, in December of 164 BCE, purged it of all Hellenistic-cult paraphernalia, re-constructing it according to the specs in the Torah and reconsecrating it.

5. He made a treaty with the Roman Republic in 161 BCE – the first recorded treaty between the Jews and the Romans. After many additional victories in Gilead, Transjordan and Galilee, he was defeated in the field while fighting the Syrian forces.

6. He died in battle north of Jerusalem in 160 BCE and was buried in the family sepulcher in Modi’in. He was succeeded by his brother Jonathan; the descendants of his brother Simeon became the Hasmonean dynasty in Judea, where, as a result of their rebellion, the Jews were able to enjoy independence and the liberty to worship God according to their own lights. For a fuller and more elegant explanation of what happened, try Simon Schama’s The Story of the Jews.

7. So, if he was Yehudah ben Mattityahu, how did he become Yehudah HaMaccabi?

8. Oy.

images9. Maccabee is a sobriquet, meaning “hammer” in Aramaic. That’s one explanation. Another is that it’s an acronym for the verse Mi Kamocha Ba’elim Adonai, “Who is like unto you, oh God.” Or it might be an acronym for his father’s name, Mattityahu Kohen ben Yochanan. Or a shortened form of the Hebrew for “the one designated by Adonai.” Take your pick.

10. Many works of art have been created, written, sung and played about him. Among the most notable are the following: Handel’s oratorio “Judas Maccabaeus “; Beethoven’s theme and variations for cello and piano on a theme from the Handel oratorio; Longfellow’s five-act verse tragedy and many other poems and plays by writers in Hebrew and Yiddish; Howard Fast’s My Glorious Brothers published in 1948 during Israel’s war of independence, and still a good read today.

Thanks to Ido Biran telavivi for this photo.

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Happy Hanukkah to all!

You’ll find Yehudah HaMaccabi (or Makkabbi) Street in Tel Aviv’s north end running east-west between Ibn Gevirol and Weizmann, just south of Shlomziyyon HaMalka.

7 Things You Need to Know About…Marilyn Oser

1. There is no street in Israel – nor anywhere else – named for me, Marilyn Oser. (Any connection with Oser Avenue in Hauppauge, Long Island, is urban legend.)

in lake2. There is no lane, alley, footpath, rut or trail of breadcrumbs named for me, either.

3.  I write, I eat, I sleep, I read, I teach a little Hebrew to kids who don’t know any better….

4. I have been posting this blog virtually every Wednesday since December 2012, much to my own satisfaction, and I hope to yours. Over 6,500 viewers have stopped by to read what I had to say. Many thanks to those of you who have sent me your comments and questions.

5. I have a new book coming out in the fall of 2015: Even You, a novel. Another book is in its second draft; and ideas for two novels after that are slouching toward my desk waiting to be born.

6. After two years and 97 posts, I need a breather. Next Wednesday, December 17th, will see my last post on this site – at least for a while.

7. To learn more about me, follow this link marilynoser.com

12 Things You Need to Know About…David Pinsky

Prolific Yiddish playwright, author and editor

1. David Pinsky was born in 1872 in Mogilev – now in Belarus – and spent his early years in Vitebsk, where he attended cheder. When he was thirteen, his family moved to Moscow, where his father supplied clothing and decoration to the military. There, he began secular studies.

200px-David_Pinsky2. In 1891, he went to Vienna to study medicine, but his father was expelled from Moscow the following year (as were all Jews). The family were ruined; Pinsky joined them in Warsaw and became employed as a teacher. As a boy, he had conceived the notion of becoming an actor, and at the age of twelve had written a play for two friends, which was staged in his grandmother’s apartment. Now, in Warsaw, he became the friend of Y.L. Peretz [see my post of 9/24/14] and embarked on a literary career.

3. His first short story, “The Great Philanthropist,” was published in 1894. With Peretz, he established a publishing house with the aim of using literature to bring about a new social order for workers. He was the main contributor to two periodicals published by him together with Peretz and Mordecai Spector, publicizing socialist ideas. He joined the Bund, demonstrating his keen interest in the welfare of working people; and he became known among the elite Jewish writers in Warsaw.

4. By 1896 he was studying at the University of Berlin and writing for a Yiddish-American newspaper, Dos Abend Blatt (The Evening Paper), the official newspaper of the Socialist Workers’ Party.

5. In 1899, at the invitation of the editor of the paper, he moved to New York City, where he would live for the next fifty years. He was a contributor to, and editor of, fiction for Dos Abend Blatt, and he wrote for other socialist papers, as well.

6. He is remembered today primarily for his plays. In 1904, The Family Tsvi opened in New York – a play depicting the conflicting forces of modernism and tradition affecting Jews and decrying the passive acceptance of violence against Jews. It is said that he ducked his qualifying exam at Columbia, where he was studying for a doctorate in German language and literature, to attend the opening – thereby forfeiting the degree.

131394-003-F7ABC8DC7. In all, he was to write more than sixty plays, in addition to novels, stories, poetry and journalism. The plays were staged in the Americas and in Europe, in Yiddish or in German, Russian, Hebrew or English translations. They were performed by leading actors of the day, including Stella Adler, Menashe Skolnik, Ida Kaminska and Annie Tomashefsky.

8. His work dealt with issues of the common working man, with Jewish legends, Biblical characters, messianic figures and Israeli pioneers. He was the first president of the Yiddish PEN Club.

9. In 1916 he became a member of the central committee of Poale Zion, the labor Zionist movement. For a time he edited its journal and its two daily newspapers. He founded the Farband, a Labor Zionist organization, and served as its president from 1919-22 and 1933-48.

Pinski-Tailor10. In addition, he was president of the Jewish National Workers Alliance in 1920-22, and he served on the board of HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) through most of the 1940s. From 1930-53 he was president of the Jewish Culture Society.

11. In 1938, one of his plays, concerning the adulterous love between two people, was adapted into a movie: “The Singing Blacksmith,” starring Moishe Oysher and featuring the first film performance by Hershel Bernardi.

12. In 1949 he emigrated to Israel. He continued writing, though Yiddish was by then in great decline. His home on Mount Carmel became a gathering place for young writers. He died there, in Haifa, in 1959.

In Haifa, You’ll find Pinsky Street just west of the Haifa Auditorium.

10 Things You Need to Know About… Lea Goldberg

Prolific Hebrew-language poet

1. Lea Goldberg was born in 1911 to a Jewish Lithuanian family from Kovno (now Kaunas). At school she became fluent in Hebrew, even using it to write in her diaries. Ultimately she gained expertise in a number of European languages as well.

PikiWiki_Israel_3468_People_of_Israel_-_Lea_Goldberg_-_cropped2. She began writing poetry at about age twelve; by age fifteen she was determined to be a writer – in Hebrew, despite the limitations of audience. She was still a schoolgirl when her first Hebrew verse was published.

3. She studied at a Hebrew gymnasium and at the University of Kovno; then at the universities in Bonn and Berlin, earning a Ph.D. in Semitic languages and German, with a dissertation examining the sources of Samaritan translation in the Torah. In the early 1930s her poems appeared in literary collections in Lithuania. She made aliyah in 1935, settling in Tel Aviv, where she joined a group of writers of eastern-European origin. At the same time, her first poetry collection came out – to be followed by collections published in 1939, 1942, 1944, 1948, 1955, 1964 and a final volume published posthumously.

250px-Leagoldberg4. Initially she worked as a high-school teacher and wrote rhyming advertisements until being hired as an editor of the Hebrew newspapers Davar and Ha’aretz as well as the journal Al HaMishmar. She wrote literary columns and theater reviews, worked as a children’s book editor and was literary consultant to the Habima theater – all the while turning out poetry, children’s stories, novels and plays. Her books for children have become classics of Hebrew children’s literature.

5. By the early 1950s she was a lecturer in Hebrew literature at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In 1963 she was made a full professor and chaired the Department of Comparative Literature.

6. She translated into modern Hebrew great works from Russian, Lithuanian, German, French, Italian and English writers. The best-known of these is War and Peace; others included works by Rilke, Mann, Chekhov, Akhmatova, Shakespeare and Petrarch.

200px-Leah_Goldberg_1946_edited7. Her poetry has been described as “a system of echoes and mild reverberations, voices and whispers.” It focuses on small things – a stone, a thorn, a butterfly, a bird – to express the immense or ineffable, often involving themes of childhood, love, aging, death and nature. The language is personal and introspective with frequent references to the culture, traditions and land of her childhood. The later poems utilize classic lyric genres, including the sonnet.

8. Her work influenced Amichai, among others. Many of her poems have been set to music. For two renditions of “Will there ever come days,” follow these links: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2mlV0BBrdI#t=37

and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQmMMeAddNw#t=22.

3170_Lea_Goldberg_220x5009. She received the Rupin Prize for her poetry in 1949 and in 1970 was awarded the Israel Prize for Literature (posthumously). In 2011, she was chosen as on of four great Israeli poets to appear on Israel’s currency. Here are two links to her poems in translation: http://poemsintranslation.blogspot.com/2010/03/leah-goldberg-pine-from-hebrew.html and http://jhom.com/topics/rivers/lea_goldberg.htm

10. Lea Goldberg died in Jerusalem in 1970 of lung cancer.

Lea GoldbergIn Tel Aviv, you’ll find Lea Goldberg Street north of HaYarkon Park on the edge of Weits Garden.

Thanks to Ido Biran (telavivi) for his photograph of the street sign.

5 Things You Need to Know About… Ishtori HaParchi

Pioneering Sephardic geographer

1. Ishtori HaParchi was born in France around the year 1280. His last names means Florentine in Hebrew, so called because the family came from Florenzia, in Spain.

2. When the Jews were expelled from France in 1306, he went first to Spain, then Egypt, and finally to Eretz Yisrael. He settled in Bet She’an about the year 1313 and worked there as a physician. At the time, Bet She’an was a center of sugar cane production.

250px-Kaftor_Ve'ferach,_title_page_15463. Under the pen name of Isaac (HaKohen) Ben Moses, he authored the first Hebrew book on the geography of Eretz Yisrael, the Sefer Kaftor Yaferech (“Button and Flower”).

4. The book was written in 1322, after HaParchi had spent seven years walking the land. It deals with the geography, topography, botany, history, astronomy and laws of the land, listing the names of towns and villages and identifying 180 ancient sites. Initially published in Venice in 1549, it was lost, then rediscovered in Egypt some 300 years later. It is of unparalleled value to scholars today.

5. His date of death is alternately given as 1355 and 1366, though the former appears the more reliable.

Many thanks to Tel-Avivi https://www.facebook.com/telavivi1909 for these photographs of Ishtori HaParchi Street today.

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You’ll find Ishtori HaParchi Street in Tel Aviv running north from Jabotinsky, west of Yehoshua ben Nun.

10 Things You Should Know About…Y.L. Peretz

Yiddish author and playwright

1. Isaac Leib Peretz, AKA Yitzhak Leibush Peretz and I.L. Peretz, was born in Zamosc, Poland, in 1851 and raised in orthodox Jewish surroundings. But it was a time of change, and when he was fifteen years of age, he opted to support the Haskalah, the Jewish enlightenment.

2. He learned Polish, Russian, German and French; passed an exam to become a lawyer; then took up a trade as a whiskey distiller, at which he failed. About the same time, he began to write poetry, songs and tales in Hebrew, practicing law to make a living – until the Russian government revoked his license.

3. In 1888 his first Yiddish work appeared, a ballad that was anthologized by Sholom Aleichem, about a young man who tries – unsuccessfully – to ward off the temptations of Lilith.

127711kPeretz-003-727C6FCA4. He turned out stories, folk tales and plays. In his works he rejected cultural universalism, contending that each of the world’s nations has its own unique character.

5. As opposed to Sholom Aleichem and Mendele Mokher Seforim, our two other great classical Yiddish writers, Peretz especially appealed to intellectuals in the cities. His social criticism favored the labor movement. His essays condemned anti-Semitic acts. He argued for enlightenment ideas, calling for self-determination and resistance against humiliation.

6. Still, though his outlook was secular, he respected sincere faith; the short stories highlight the superiority of honest piety over empty religiosity. Doubt mingles with faith, symbolism with realism, and tradition with modernism in tales that explore themes of forgiveness, of self-sacrifice, modesty and purity.

7. His most-known works are “Oyb Nisht Nokh Hekher” (“If Not Higher”) and “Bontshe Shvayg” (“Bontshe the Silent”). They are such beautiful stories that I’d like to transcribe them here. If you don’t know them, look them up. Right now.

8. In the last ten years of his life, as unofficial leader of the Yiddishist movement, he worked hard to foster a national cultural life for Jewry in the Diaspora. He was editor of Di Yidishe Bibliotek (The Jewish Library), which presented a broad cross-section of articles on secular subjects, especially science. He was known for his generosity in assisting other Yiddish writers. In 1908 he served as deputy chairman at a conference on Yiddish in Czernowitz, Austria-Hungary.

9. He died in Warsaw in 1915 and was buried in the Okopowa Street Jewish cemetery. A crowd of 100,000 attended the interment.

IL Peretz 1 10. In addition to Tel Aviv and Haifa, streets are named for him in Hod Hasharon, Bat Yam, Kiryat Yam, Holon, Givat Shmuel and Warsaw. Peretz Square in lower Manhattan is named for him, too. His work lives on: the 1907 play A Night in the Old Marketplace was adapted in 2007 by Frank London, the great klezmerist, and Glen Berger, for a multi-media theatrical presentation. A CD is available.

Shanah tovah u’metukah!

In Tel Aviv, you’ll find Peretz Street off Allenby west of the Central Bus Station. In Haifa, look just south of the Haifa Museum.

Special thanks to Tel Avivi (Ido Biran) for the photo of the street and the sign. For more, visit https://www.facebook.com/telavivi1909.

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12 Things You Need to Know About… Menahem Begin

Warrior and peacemaker

1. Menahem Begin was born in Brest-Litovsk in 1913 to a mother who came from a line of rabbis and a father who was a timber merchant and ardent Zionist. He studied first in cheder and then in schools associated with the religious Zionist movement. In his teens he was sent to a Polish government school, where he gained a secular education; he studied law at the University of Warsaw, graduating in 1935.

2. From an early age, he was a member of the Zionist movement. A follower of Jabotinsky [see my post of 12/31/12], he joined the youth branch of the Betar movement, rising quickly to become head of Betar Czechoslovakia in 1936 and of all Poland – the largest branch, with 100,000 members – in 1938. In this capacity he traveled frequently to regional branches.

200px-Begin0013. He escaped Warsaw for Vilna three days after the Nazi invasion began in 1939. In 1940, he was arrested by the NKVD, tortured and sentenced to eight years in the gulag. In 1941, he was permitted release to join the Polish army, which in 1943 was evacuated to Palestine. There he was given a leave of absence to stay and fight. He joined the Irgun though he was voluble in his criticism of their leadership as being too cooperative with the British.

4. In 1944, he assumed leadership of the Irgun, proclaiming a revolt against the British – a move that was opposed by the Jewish Agency. When in 1946 he ordered the bombing of the King David Hotel, the British placed a bounty of ten thousand pounds on his head.

Menachem Begin5. After the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, the Irgun was disbanded. Begin founded the Herut (Freedom) party in opposition to the labor party, Mapai, and was elected to the first Knesset, with a nationalist agenda.

6. In 1977, after three decades of labor dominance, Begin became the sixth Prime Minister of Israel as a founding member of Likud, which was a consolidation of Herut and other parties.

SadatCarterBegin325__325x2447. As prime minister, he signed a peace treaty with Egypt and shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Anwar Sadat. Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula in the wake of the Camp David Accords. In exchange for recognition of Israel’s legitimacy, Begin gave up land. (Is it only a great warrior who can accomplish such ends? I hate to think so.)

8. During Begin’s term in office, impoverished towns and neighborhoods – occupied primarily by Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews – were upgraded; many of the measures he took moved the economy away from socialism and toward capitalism. With the prime minister’s blessing, many new settlements were built in the West Bank and Gaza, quadrupling the Jewish population there.

9. In June 1981, Begin authorized the bombing of a nuclear plant in Iraq; in 1982, the invasion of Lebanon to fight PLO strongholds – resulting in a protracted war that sucked at the life and soul of Israel’s self-identity.

10. His wife, Aliza, died in 1982, and he resigned from public life in 1983, spending the remainder of his life in seclusion. Begin died in 1992 and was buried on the Mount of Olives. An estimated 75,000 mourners turned out for his funeral.

10. His written works include The Revolt, about his days in the Irgun; and White Nights, about being a prisoner in the Soviet Union.

12. Visitors to Jerusalem may wish to visit the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. A museum of his life and legacy, it also awards an annual prize to a person or organization that has done important work for the benefit of the State of Israel and/or the Jewish people.

In Jerusalem, Sederot Menahem Begin runs from north to south just west of Hebrew University.

8 Things You Need to Know About… Benjamin de Tudela

Medieval Jewish traveler extraordinaire

1. Benjamin de Tudela visited Europe, Asia and Africa in the 12th century, writing vivid descriptions everywhere –  including his account of western Asia a hundred years before Marco Polo.

2. He was from the Navarrese town of Tudela in what is now Spain, where a street in the former Jewish quarter is named for him. Little is known of his early life, but it is clear that he gained a broad proficiency in languages.

3. His Travels of Tudela, also known as the Book of Travels, describes the Jewish communities of his day. It is considered a reliable source of information about the geography and ethnography of his time and is consulted for information about daily life.

4. His work, written in Hebrew, was translated into Latin and then other European languages. From the  Renaissance to the present, it has been a key primary source for scholars of medieval history.

travels of Tudela5. He started his travels sometime between 1159 and 1165 and ended around 1172 or ’73. Starting from the Iberian Peninsula, he went to France, Italy, Greece, Constantinople, Syria, Lebanon, the Land of Israel, northern Mesopotamia, Persia (Iraq and Iran), Arabia, Egypt and Northern Africa. Wherever he visited, he gave the demographic count of Jews, the names of their community leaders, their occupations and the activity of their merchants. Want to know about the intellectual life of Jewish Provence or the organization of synagogues in Egypt? Tudela is your man.

6. In all he visited over 300 cities, describing their landmarks, buildings, marketplaces and the customs of their citizens, both Jewish and gentile. He gives one of the earliest accurate accounts of the ancient site of Nineveh – near modern Mosul.

7. His style was concise and easy. Want to read it for yourself? You can do so online at Project Gutenberg. His work is still available in many languages: it’s a gold mine of information for Jewish and general history.

8. The 19th century writer Mendele Mocher Sforim wrote a kind of Jewish Don Quixote with a title inspired by Benjamin de Tudela – The Travels [or Wanderings] of Benjamin III.

Jerusalem TudelaLook for Binyamin miTudela Street in Jerusalem’s Rehavia neighborhood, just south of Magnes Circle.

 

 

Author’s note: OOPS! My brain was on summer vacation last week – post written, but not properly scheduled. My apologies.