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Summer Reading

Summertime is the perfect time to dive into a good book. What to read? We asked around for some suggestions and here are the responses: some in the form of a simple list, others with some commentary. Here’s to finding the perfect summer read.

Sue Polansky
President, Hadassah Western
New England Region

my promised landI couldn’t wait til summer to read My Promised Land by Ari Shavit. He will be one of the presenters at the upcoming Hadassah national convention in July as will Daniel Silva. I’m prepared for a most interesting session.

Also couldn’t wait to read A Guide for the Perplexed by Dara Horn. Although an easy summer read, it is perfect for book club discussions. Ditto Ayelet Waldman’s Love and Treasure.

I’m now enjoying The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman and my current non-fiction is A New Voice for Israel by JStreet’s Jeremy Ben Ami. I’m wondering how his insights will compare with Shavit’s.

And finally, a summer read especially for New Englanders, The Hooker’s Daughter – A Boston Family’s Saga. Author Dale Stanten talked about her fascinating childhood last year at Rhode Island Hadassah’s annual Books on the Beach event.

Fay Smith

Just finished The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. It’s wonderful and perfect reading for the summer or for a book club. Was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. I recommend it, especially for women.

Rabbi Amy Wallk Katz
Temple Beth El

Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to Their Children by Dorie McCullough Lawson

The World to Come by Dara Horn

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

The Curse of Blessings by Mitchell Chefitz

Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro
Sinai Temple

Summer and more leisure time mean it’s time for my favorite author of thrillers. It’s time for another Daniel Silva book. Silva has written more than a dozen novels featuring Israeli Mossad agent, Gabriel Allon. Like James Bond, Allon doesn’t pause for sleeping or eating in his pursuit of various villains. But I love the books nonetheless. They take Gabriel (and me) around the world and the echoes of Israel and Israeli ways of doing business make every Silva book a delicious indulgence.

sixth extinctionOn the other hand, the serious book that truly presents Israel from the perspective of an insider is My Promised Land by Ari Shavit. Although I read the book a few months ago, I will probably review it in the next few weeks. I will return to it because it is at once riveting, shocking, enlightening, challenging, and disturbing. Shavit presents an unrelenting critique of Zionism that is softened by an abiding love of the Land. Is he right in what he says? Many have said he is terribly biased. Should informed Jews read his claims? I think so.

Finally, I am now in the midst of reading The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. The book discusses how life on earth has experienced five mass extinctions over the last 3.8 billion years. The last of these events occurred some 66 million years ago when a giant asteroid collided with the earth, wiping out the dinosaurs and just about all other plants and animals on the planet.
Kolbert writes about the possibility that we humans are on the verge of creating the next and sixth extinction as a result of the climate change we have initiated on earth. This is not a happy book. But even under summer’s sunny blue skies I find myself drawn to the topic.

Gail Lansky
Director of Admissions and Marketing,

I am currently reading Cutting for Stone, a novel by Ethiopian-born medical doctor and author Abraham Verghese. I am completely loving this book, savoring each page, and will be very sad when I can no longer pick up this book and have a window into so many interesting lives.

Cutting_for_Stone_coverI am listening to the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood read by actress Claire Danes. Although this book was originally published in 1985, I never had any interest in reading it back then. I am a huge fan of audiobooks and tend to select books that are read by actors and actresses, which usually ensures readings that could be categorized as theatrical. Claire Danes reads this book with such emotion, that at times it is hard to comprehend all that has happened to Offred (the main character) in this dystopian novel.

I am very fortunate with regards to my reading list for this summer. Our younger daughter Chava is working as a paid intern at the Jewish Book Council in New York City and has given me two books that are now in my “summer reading” pile:

Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food by Laura Silver – This book will make for a good summer read, and who doesn’t love knishes?

­And, the other book that Chava gave me is also about Jewish food and my favorite place to shop on the Lower East Side, RUSS & DAUGHTERS: Reflections and Recipes from the House That Herring Built by Mark Russ Federman. When I read these two books over the next two months, I should be mindful of where I am because the descriptions of food and the recipes included in each book will make my mouth water.

Cantor Emily Sleeper Mekler
Director of B’Shalom Chorale of the Berkshires

Grain Brain Book CoverI recommend Grain Brain, by Dr. David Perlmutter. This book has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for 40 weeks! The author is a practicing neurologist and also a fellow of the American College of Nutrition. He wonders about the affect gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, has on everyone’s brain. The author believes that many of the diseases of today can be mostly preventable by eliminating gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, and barley. Diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, brain disease, heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol, etc. are linked to inflammation in the body due to today’s low-fat, high carb diet consisting of grains and other damaging carbohydrates, refined sugar, etc. I have been very fortunate to have healed my body of Crohn’s Dis-ease by changing my diet and lifestyle. I have been eating a grain-free, refined sugar-free diet and am healthier than I’ve been in my adult life! It’s no wonder I really liked this book and highly recommend it!

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