The First Book of Jewish Jokes edited by Elliott Oring

Posted on October 22nd, 2018
BY EITAN KENSKY for Moment Magazine


It’s the inherent vice of joke books that their jokes are stale, wizened, practically in full beards. Paper doesn’t just flatten the delivery; it kills. (Take my joke—please!) There’s no joke teller, no emphasis on sound or detail, no voice. Lenny Bruce’s now-canonical “Jewish and Goyish” is funny because of the rhythm, and because of the intense personality it barely restrains. Joke books have no rhythm and no persons; they are disembodied words. The surprise of The First Book of Jewish Jokes is that a joke book from 1812 still sometimes shows a faint pulse. After all, when’s the last time you heard a good one about the learned philosopher Moses Mendelssohn?

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Jewish Astronauts and Nazi Scientists

Posted on October 15th, 2018
By Tom Seigel for Jewish Book Council


It was 2003, and Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut, had died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. I was struck, as I’m sure many were, by the fact that both Ramon and Judith Resnik, the first Jewish American in space, suffered the same terrible fate in two separate shuttle accidents. It felt like more than just a sad coincidence or very bad luck. It felt like an atavistic curse: “Let there be no escape.” In one of those ineffable moments of unconscious thought we might call inspiration, I remembered the MS St. Louis, the German ocean liner that, in 1939, carried Jewish refugees from port to port in desperate search of safe harbor from the growing menace in Europe. Instead of finding the welcoming light of the Statue of Liberty, they found the golden door slammed shut by the dark and bigoted immigration policies of the era. 

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Posted on October 8th, 2018
From Jewish Book Council


The #1 International Bestseller & New York Times Bestseller


This beautiful, illuminating tale of hope and courage is based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov—an unforgettable love story in the midst of atrocity.


Watch a short video with Ludwig Sokolov, the real man whose life inspired this novel.


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Amos Oz on Challenging God, in Search of Justice

Posted on October 1st, 2018
By Amos Oz for Hadassah Magazine


The Jews as a people are not disposed to obedience. Never have been. Moses could tell you how unaccustomed the Israelites are to being obedient. God Himself complains throughout the Bible that the Israelites are insubordinate: The people argue with Moses; Moses argues with God; Moses hands in his resignation and eventually backtracks, but only after negotiating with God, who gives in and accepts his main demands (Exodus 32:31-33). Abraham bargains with God over Sodom like a used-car salesman: Fifty righteous men? Forty? Thirty? Twenty? Would you settle for ten? And when it turns out that there are not even ten righteous men in Sodom, Abraham does not beg God to forgive him for his impudence. On the contrary. He utters what might be the boldest words in the Bible: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do justly?” (Genesis 18:25). In other words: You may be the judge of this entire land, but you are not above the law.

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The Jewish Women Writers Who Made Their Mark on Café Culture

Posted on September 24th, 2018
Shachar Pinsker is writing here as part of Jewish Book Council's Visiting Scribe series.


When I did research for my previous book Literary Passports: The Making of Modernist Hebrew Fiction in Europe, I asked myself: Where did Jewish writers and intellectuals who migrated to large cities at the turn of the 20th century live and work? Where did they find inspiration and a place to meet others? The answer I kept coming to repeatedly was the coffeehouse. I discovered that not only the allure of the café was very strong, but that it became a key site for the creation of modern Jewish culture, which is how I came to write my new book, A Rich Brew.

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