Thursday, November 18, 2021

Tom Hogan's "The Devil's Breath," A Real Cliffhanger

I read a lot of detective books, but I must admit that Tom Hogan's "The Devil's Breath" had me stumped. I hadn't a clue as to who the thief/murderer really was until it was revealed in the very last pages. Now if that isn't a recommendation, I don't know what is...

The Devil's Breath can be included in multiple genres, which is another great advantage of purchasing and reading it. As I said, it's a detective book, but it's also a noir thriller, historical fiction, most specifically Holocaust literature. It suits all ages, from teens to adults, including senior citizens like myself.

Someday you may see it as a movie, since The Devil's Breath was a finalist at the Napa Valley Film Festival and semi-finalist at the Austin Film Festival. Hogan did a good job trying to make Auschwitz realistic three generations removed from its horrors.

The mystery involves corruption among the Nazi administrators responsible for collecting gold from the Jewish victims of the gas chambers. Shimon and Perla Divko, an imprisoned Jewish couple, detective and investigator in their former lives, are reunited to discover who's been siphoning off some of the gold. They're given barely a week and no real tools to solve the mystery. Miraculously they succeed. The Devil's Breath's a great read.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Tom Hogan (July 30, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 274 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1736943618
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1736943618

Saturday, November 13, 2021

November 2021 Jewish Book Carnival

Jewish Book Carnival Headquarters

I feel very privileged to be hosting this month's Jewish Book Carnival. I've received a great selection of links to blog posts about Jewish books. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, since we're known as The People of The Book. 

The genre of Jewish Books has many subgenres fiction, biography, history, children's books and even poetry. Please click on the various reviews I've included to read them in their entirety and get to know the different contributing blogs. Contact if you would like to host the Carnival on your blog. The December 2021 Jewish Book Carnival will be hosted by Mirta Ines Trupp . To participate, submit your blurb and link by December 11, 2021 to and please include “Jewish Book Carnival” in the subject line. One link per participant is preferred.

Novelist Howard Jacobson is also quite the essayist; on My Machberet, Erika Dreifus spotlights his "Advice to a Jewish Freshman," recently published by Sapir Journal.

Chocolate and Talmud are featured in two new releases from Green Bean Books. Life Is Like a Library bakes boulou and reads the children's version of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza

This month on gilagreenwrites, author Evonne Marzouk talks "everyday" prophets, what it's like to be an outsider in Jewish life, and inspirational fiction. Marzouk's book is reviewed here.

Mirta Ines Trupp's latest novel, Celestial Persuasion, receives highly coveted praise from the Historical Fiction Company. Read the editorial review here.

On Mockdown Jersey, Guest Blogger Bubby relates how the race theory of the Nazis is recreated today in reverse. The blog post includes a Yiddish poem about a burning town. Bubby also quotes from the book The Trial of Adolf Hitler by David King.

The Book of Life Podcast interviews E. Lockhart about her graphic novel Whistle: A New Gotham City Hero, featuring a Jewish teen superhero with enhanced canine superpowers and a Great Dane sidekick named Lebowitz.

The brand new Nice Jewish Books podcast from the Association of Jewish Libraries, hosted by librarian Sheryl Stahl, has an interview with Mary Marks, author of a quilting mystery series featuring Jewish protagonist Martha Rose.

On her blog, Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb, Deborah interviewed Moment magazine editor-in-chief Nadine Epstein about Epstein's new book, RBG's Brave and Brilliant Women: 33 Jewish Women to Inspire Everyone.

Tzivia in Adventures in MamaLand asks a good question: Are Jews an "underrepresented community" in children’s publishing?

The Association of Jewish Libraries blog announces that the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee is seeking new members.  

The Sydney Taylor Shmooze Mock Award Blog is happy to share November's posts, which include reviews of Jewish board books, picture books, middle grade books, and young adult books. 

Here on Shiloh Musings I reviewed Catherine Ehrlich's amazingly compelling biography about her grandmother, Irma's Passport: One Woman, Two World Wars, and a Legacy of Courage.

Last but not least, here's Ruti Eastman's Haikuchains That Kept Me Sane Through The Pandemic reviewed in haiku format on A Jewish Grandmother. 

Jewish Grandmothers
write haikus and shopping lists
gifts for the grandkids...

Monday, November 1, 2021

Rosh Chodesh Kislev Women's Prayers

 ראש חודש כסלו

תפילת נשים בשילה הקדומה
8:30 בבוקר
כולן מוזמנות
לפרטים נוספים:

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Parshat Shavua: Lot and His Daughters-Disfunctional Family

This week's Parshat Shavua, Torah Portion of the Week VaYerah, includes two very disturbing scenes concerning  the family life of Avraham's nephew, also protégé, Lot. Both are in Bereishit Genesis Chapter 19.

The first event, which is printed below, takes place when two messengers from Gd, generally translated as angels, who appear to be ordinary men, come to Lot to tell him to take his family and leave Sdom. When neighbors begin to attack the house demanding that Lot hand over the guests for the neighbors to rape, Lot in defense of his guests offers his virgin daughters instead.

Genesis Chapter 19

I consider this offer to be beyond outrageous. We don't read of any protest by his wife or daughters. They are very unlike Avraham's wife Sarah who's not afraid to tell her husband when things need fixing in the family. But most important it prepares us for an equally shocking act by the daughters themselves.

After only Lot and his two daughters manage to escape from Sdom, the girls, believing that they are the last three people on earth, decide to sleep with their father in order to have children. But they didn't tell their father of the plan; they got him drunk, so he was oblivious.

Genesis Chapter 19 continued:

30And Lot went up from Zoar, and he dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters were with him, for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar; so he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters. לוַיַּ֩עַל֩ ל֨וֹט מִצּ֜וֹעַר וַיֵּ֣שֶׁב בָּהָ֗ר וּשְׁתֵּ֤י בְנֹתָיו֙ עִמּ֔וֹ כִּ֥י יָרֵ֖א לָשֶׁ֣בֶת בְּצ֑וֹעַר וַיֵּ֨שֶׁב֙ בַּמְּעָרָ֔ה ה֖וּא וּשְׁתֵּ֥י בְנֹתָֽיו:
31And the elder said to the younger, "Our father is old, and there is no man on earth to come upon us, as is the custom of all the earth. לאוַתֹּ֧אמֶר הַבְּכִירָ֛ה אֶל־הַצְּעִירָ֖ה אָבִ֣ינוּ זָקֵ֑ן וְאִ֨ישׁ אֵ֤ין בָּאָ֨רֶץ֙ לָב֣וֹא עָלֵ֔ינוּ כְּדֶ֖רֶךְ כָּל־הָאָֽרֶץ:
32Come, let us give our father wine to drink, and let us lie with him, and let us bring to life seed from our father." לבלְכָ֨ה נַשְׁקֶ֧ה אֶת־אָבִ֛ינוּ יַ֖יִן וְנִשְׁכְּבָ֣ה עִמּ֑וֹ וּנְחַיֶּ֥ה מֵֽאָבִ֖ינוּ זָֽרַע:
33And they gave their father wine to drink on that night, and the elder came and lay with her father, and he did not know of her lying down or of her rising up. לגוַתַּשְׁקֶ֧יןָ אֶת־אֲבִיהֶ֛ן יַ֖יִן בַּלַּ֣יְלָה ה֑וּא וַתָּבֹ֤א הַבְּכִירָה֙ וַתִּשְׁכַּ֣ב אֶת־אָבִ֔יהָ וְלֹֽא־יָדַ֥ע בְּשִׁכְבָ֖הּ וּבְקוּמָֽהּ:
34And it came to pass on the morrow, that the elder said to the younger, "Behold, last night I lay with my father. Let us give him wine to drink tonight too, and come, lie with him, and let us bring to life seed from our father." לדוַֽיְהִי֙ מִמָּֽחֳרָ֔ת וַתֹּ֤אמֶר הַבְּכִירָה֙ אֶל־הַצְּעִירָ֔ה הֵֽן־שָׁכַ֥בְתִּי אֶ֖מֶשׁ אֶת־אָבִ֑י נַשְׁקֶ֨נּוּ יַ֜יִן גַּם־הַלַּ֗יְלָה וּבֹ֨אִי֙ שִׁכְבִ֣י עִמּ֔וֹ וּנְחַיֶּ֥ה מֵֽאָבִ֖ינוּ זָֽרַע:
35So they gave their father to drink on that night also, and the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know of her lying down or of her rising up. להוַתַּשְׁקֶ֜יןָ גַּ֣ם בַּלַּ֧יְלָה הַה֛וּא אֶת־אֲבִיהֶ֖ן יָ֑יִן וַתָּ֤קָם הַצְּעִירָה֙ וַתִּשְׁכַּ֣ב עִמּ֔וֹ וְלֹֽא־יָדַ֥ע בְּשִׁכְבָ֖הּ וּבְקֻמָֽהּ:
36And Lot's two daughters conceived from their father. לווַתַּֽהֲרֶ֛יןָ שְׁתֵּ֥י בְנֽוֹת־ל֖וֹט מֵֽאֲבִיהֶֽן:
37And the elder bore a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of Moab until this day. לזוַתֵּ֤לֶד הַבְּכִירָה֙ בֵּ֔ן וַתִּקְרָ֥א שְׁמ֖וֹ מוֹאָ֑ב ה֥וּא אֲבִֽי־מוֹאָ֖ב עַד־הַיּֽוֹם:
38And the younger, she too bore a son, and she named him Ben-ami; he is the father of the children of Ammon until this day. לחוְהַצְּעִירָ֤ה גַם־הִוא֙ יָ֣לְדָה בֵּ֔ן וַתִּקְרָ֥א שְׁמ֖וֹ בֶּן־עַמִּ֑י ה֛וּא אֲבִ֥י בְנֵֽי־עַמּ֖וֹן עַד־הַיּֽוֹם:
We never hear Lot's reaction when he discovers his "virgin daughters" pregnant or anything else about this besides the last verses which states that it resulted in two nations, Moab and Ammon. 

I feel that there's a connection between these two events. Something in the way Lot ran his home made his daughters feel that they needed to take charge and go against accepted moral practices.

Incidentally, King David's Great-grandmother Ruth was a Moabite. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Irma's Passport, A Book Review

Catherine Ehrlich wrote an amazingly compelling biography about her grandmother, Irma's Passport: One Woman, Two World Wars, and a Legacy of Courage

Irma Ehrlich's story is both profoundly personal and strongly historic. Irma's Passport can be enjoyed both by those who have a good knowledge of the Holocaust and also, those who haven't yet learned all that much about it. Catherine Ehrlich certainly did her grandmother proud in this very informative and moving book. 

Not only did Irma live through two world wars, but she was also twice widowed. Her second husband Jakob Ehrlich, a well-known Zionist activist, was one of the first Jewish victims of the Nazis, and she and her teenage son Paul, Catherine's father, successfully fled. The bureaucracy she faced and had to conquer was a cross between The Twilight Zone and Catch 22.

Paul and Irma made it to England where he was accepted into an elite boarding school, and she quickly became a successful spokesperson in Britain and North America warning about the dangers of Nazi Germany. Just as she was about to accept the position as Chaim Weitzman's secretary they received notice that they could emigrate to the United States. 

Irma accepted Paul's request that they start yet again in a new country. 

Irma's Passport also tells of Irma's earlier life. In many ways she was a feminist, being one of the only females in the university. Her life was full of challenges, which she managed to overcome with intelligence, determination and luck.

I definitely recommend Irma's Passport for all, young and old. Catherine's labor of love, her grandmother's biography is truly inspiring.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ She Writes Press (October 12, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 248 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1647423058
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1647423056

Friday, October 8, 2021

Parshat Noach: Confusing/Distorting English Translation...

Chabad online Tanach

Yesterday when I was preparing for a Parshat Shavua, Torah Portion of the week class my neighbor teaches, I got "confused," sort of. 

First I must admit that I read it in English, even though we study in Hebrew. That's not usually a problem. When it comes to reading, my English is far superior to my Hebrew, but when I find something "peculiar," I check the Hebrew.

Please read the two circles sections. Concerning the descendants of Noach/Noah, Chapter 10, it says that they spoke multiple languages, blue circle. The sin/story of Migdal Bavel, the Tower of Babel ends with the builders punished by their speaking multiple languages instead of one. Look at what's in the red circle.

Both circled sections use the word language. It makes no sense.

So I decided to check out the Hebrew. Chapter 10 uses the word לשון lashon, tongue, while Chapter 11 uses שפה saffa, lip.

Translation isn't Mathematics. 1 is one, uno, achad etc. But as in one of my linguistic pet peeves, the Hebrew סרוג\סרוגה sarug/srugah can mean either knitting or crocheting which are not the same.

So my question is:

What's the difference between לשון lashon and שפה saffa when it comes to language? Not as parts of the mouth, which are obvious.


Monday, October 4, 2021

My Letter About Bennett's "First 100 Days" in Jerusalem Post

I wrote about David M. Weinberg's Rating Bennett's premiership after 100 days in power - opinion

It was such a relief to read David M. Weinberg's "scorecard" on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's first 100 one hundred days in power. Too many people are searching for faults. 

Remember that a hundred days ago all we kept hearing was that the Bennett-Lapid government wouldn't survive a month, and that was the polite reaction. The screaming and cursing we heard from the MKs and former ministers who had been counting on remaining in that "twilight zone" of power forever proved to many of us that they had been in power many years too many. 

Weinberg's points are all excellent. 

About Bennett's UNGA speech, it was fine and gave the world a chance to meet him. Of course Naftali Bennett can't compete with Binyamin Netanyahu's skills as an orator. Honestly, I don't know if anyone in the world can. Bibi is an extraordinarily gifted orator-- among the very best in the world. That's no reason for him to stay Prime Minister. 

But there's one thing that Naftali Bennett can do that Bibi can't. Bennett can get along with people. I wish our Prime Minister success and just hope it doesn't go to his head... 

Batya Medad בתי'ה 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021


Here's Pamela Braun Cohen at the book launch
 talking about her book. Next to her is
Ilan Greenfield of Gefen Publishing House.
Hidden Heroes: One Woman's Story of Resistance and Rescue in the Soviet Union by Pamela Braun Cohen, Gefen Publishing House is an amazing and inspiring story. Pamela Braun Cohen had been an ordinary suburban Jewish wife and mother in 1970 when by chance she heard a newscast about Soviet Jews unsuccessfully trying to escape the USSR...

For Cohen this news was lifechanging. Blessed with a supportive husband, Pamela Braun Cohen became more than just a Soviet Jewry activist. She visited the USSR meeting the refuseniks, becoming their friends and supplying them with everything from jeans to be sold on the black market to the support of US President Ronald Reagan and other powerful American politicians.

Natan Sharansky
Before long she was National President of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews UCSJ, and by the time she was ready to retire from that position, decades later, she and her family had become Torah observant (Orthodox) Jews. In HIDDEN HEROES Cohen tells how the Soviet Jews' interest in Torah brought it also to her and her family. Also following the the aliyah to Israel of many former refuseniks,  Pamela and her husband Lenny now live in Jerusalem.

My husband and I at the 
book launch
It's no secret that my husband and I met for the first time at a SSSJ Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry demonstration. We were activists until our wedding and subsequent aliyah that same summer of 1970 when Pamela Cohen first got involved. So, obviously, I felt very connected to her story.

HIDDEN HEROES is a real eye-opener, even for me who had been following the struggle of Soviet Jews from the middle 1960s and then welcomed those who made it to Israel, especially Shiloh, over two decades later. I had no firsthand knowledge of the multitude of issues Cohen and her fellow activists dealt with. She and her fellow workers/volunteers/activists were busy on three fronts simultaneously, not just the totalitarian antisemitic USSR but the governments of the United States and Israel, too.

The best I can do is to wholeheartedly recommend HIDDEN HEROES. Buy it. Read it. Give it as gifts to everyone, from teens to retirees.

Dozens of people attended the book launch, so it had to be held outdoors.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Gefen Publishing House (July 18, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 384 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 965702336X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9657023365

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Back To Matan- Life's Getting "Normal"

Last week I was back at Matan for one of the pre-Rosh Hashana learning mornings Yom Iyun. I didn't do the entire program of a few days, but Wednesday worked out perfectly for me.

I have been studying Tanach/Bible in Matan for years. I love the approach of the teachers there.

Some students were home or wherever via Zoom, but there were plenty of us in the auditorium. It was so wonderful to return to my favorite studies and see teachers and friends in person.

There were three classes. One by Yael Ziegler, one by Shani Taragin and the last by Yael Leibowitz. They were all excellent. In order to attend in person, we had to show our "green passport," or whatever you want to call it. And we all had to wear masks. Only the teachers took theirs off to teach.
My friends and I are looking forward to the resumption of regular classes. There's a limit how long we can maintain isolation. Besides my formal Matan studies, I'm part of a study group, yes Bible, and we've covered a lot of material this past year and a half, since we meet on zoom more frequently than we used to meet in person.
I don't know if life will ever really go back to what it once was, at least for us senior citizens. We must consider this the "new normal."

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Israeli Public Transportation "Almost Free" for Senior Citizens

We've never had a car. As an American suburban teen, I took Drivers Ed, got my driving license, etc, but my husband didn't. I used to drive my parents' cars when needed.

We made aliyah (moved to Israel) soon after our wedding in 1970, at a time when private cars there were still very rare. In those days the roads were awful and driving culture even worse. Most drivers were "first generation," meaning the first in their families to ever drive or own a car. Having never really enjoyed driving, I was terrified to compete with them on the roads. 

As years went on, I stopped renewing my American Drivers License and didn't bother with an Israeli one. We never made a lot of money, so the idea of having to budget car expenses, especially for one large enough for a family of seven, never appealed to us either. And as everyone can guess, one car wouldn't have been enough.

We've always somehow managed with public transportation. On rare occasions, we paid people to drive us, which cost less than owning a car. 

Now we're senior citizens, and not only has public transportation improved, but it's half price for us. One of the really great improvements is that there are free transfers on city buses within a certain time span and the option of daily, weekly and monthly passes. You just need a RavKav bus pass. There are personal ones which automatically give us our discount and anonymous ones which can be used by anyone including tourists, but they are only full price trips. 

Since we live outside of the big cities, I generally buy an unlimited day pass. For NS13, which is about $4-. If I have to go to Ariel I need to add another district, so it cost NS16- less than $5. This includes buses, lightrail and trains within the district.

Recently I heard of another way of paying which ends up less for short distances. You use an app on the phone. But since my phone doesn't have enough memory I'll have to wait until I get a new phone.

Life in Israel has its advantages for sure, especially for senior citizens.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

I Do Choose What to Believe, and I Believe That COVID IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN THE VACCINE

Barely a week ago, I called our healthcare provider to book an appointment for the third or booster vaccine against COVID corona. Just a couple of days later I went to a nearby clinic and was vaccinated.

Since the epidemic began, I've been following regulations/suggestions even when it meant that I wore a mask at the birthday parties for our preschool grandchildren. Except for the occasional video call, they didn't see our smiles for a year. Masks were only taken off after being vaccinated.

Even when the kids came over, I'd serve but not eat with them.

For decades I've been known as a "health food nut." My cakes and challot are made with whole-wheat flour and brown sugar. I had been a vegetarian for a quarter of a century. My kids were "deprived," since we didn't have chocolate, candy or soda in the house when they were growing up.

I rarely rushed to a doctor for prescriptions, but I never had a doubt that certain illnesses and conditions healed best, most quickly and sometimes only by taking conventional medicines. 

Proudly I recall standing in line with my first grade class to be vaccinated against polio during that historic time in the middle of the 20th century. Later we were given different versions of the vaccine, since it was all so experimental. None of the experts were sure which would be most effective.

Every medicine, vaccine can have a rare dangerous side-effect, but as a CPA's daughter the math is simple. The illnesses/conditions we take those medicines for are much more dangerous. That's why so much money is needed for pharmaceutical research and testing. 

The polio vaccine was horrendously experimental but brilliantly effective. The Small Pox vaccine was a nightmare causing days of high fever. My two eldest children had to get it, and I'll never forget how sick it made them. But today Small Pox is history, and my younger children and grandchildren didn't require it. These deadly, crippling illnesses are now unknown. 

If people would just get vaccinated against COVID corona, we'll be able to return to a more pleasant life. Periodic vaccines and boosters are a small price to pay for health.

The financial ripoff isn't conventional medicine. It's all those pyramid schemes selling "oils" and "vitamins" etc. via agent after agent. The "sales staff" invites friends to "invest" and sell and then find new suckers to join their schemes. None of these medicines/products have been through any sort of proper testing. But lots of people are getting rich and even more are losing money. And some who should have trusted their doctors are losing their health and even their lives.