Dirty Jewess – FROM KOŠICE TO BROOKLYN

July 17, 2018

Rivkah Lambert Adler • The Jerusalem Post

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Silvia Fishbaum fought her way to freedom and a new life in America

After World War II, two Holocaust survivors settled in Czechoslovakia and had three daughters. The youngest, Sophia, “was known as the little rabble-rouser.” Born with an impulsive nature, Sophia, now known as Silvia Fishbaum, fought, practically from birth, against the limitations of her life as a member of the only Jewish family in a small Czechoslovakian village. Her memoir, Dirty Jewess: A Woman’s Courageous Journey to Religious and Political Freedom, tells the story of her life and her adventures.

Though Fishbaum’s mother worked hard at it, keeping Shabbat special and maintaining a semblance of the preciousness of Judaism was a constant challenge in rural Czechoslovakia. Even as a child, she was already accustomed to being publicly insulted for being a Jew. In Chapter 6, she describes a particularly offensive encounter with an old man on a tram in the relatively large city of Košice.

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From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey

June 26, 2018

Phil Jacobs • Jewish Links of NJ

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Food is at the heart of Jewish life and culture. “From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey” spotlights food in the Torah itself, as it explores themes like love, compassion, social justice, memory, belonging, deception, life and death. Originally an online project to support the food rescue charity, Leket Israel,the book comprises short essays on food in the parsha by 52 internationally acclaimed scholars and Jewish educators, and a verse-by-verse commentary by Diana Lipton.


Memoirs of a Hopeful Pessimist

June 6, 2018

Debbie Weissman • Times of Israel

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In the mid-20th century, the great American Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel credibly wrote “Judaism today is the least known religion.” But recent decades have seen Christians making impressive efforts to fill in the knowledge gap. For many years, I have had the privilege of teaching groups of Christians who come to Jerusalem from throughout the world. Many of them are priests, pastors and nuns on sabbatical; some are lay people. They come from anywhere from a week to a year and my involvement varies, depending on the length and depth of the program. The programs are held at Christian institutions in and around Jerusalem.

I teach them about Judaism and about Israel. I give introductions to the Christians who visit our synagogue on Friday nights for prayers, and we sometimes also provide them with home hospitality for Shabbat dinners. It is fascinating to note what questions they ask. In one case, a young woman was surprised that our sanctuary was not decorated with pictures of Moses. Once, I told a group of seminarians that they were imposing Christian questions on Judaism; what interested them almost exclusively were Read the rest of this entry »


Memoirs of a Hopeful Pessimist

June 3, 2018

Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi • Tikkun

“Reading Debbie Weissman’s memoir leaves us with some hope… whose teaching and writing in Israel and the Diaspora and commitment to dialogue between people of different faiths have had a world-wide impact…. An insight into the principles by which Debbie guides her own behavior can be seen as she adopts a modified version of Levinas’ teaching that we should see the “face of God in the Other.” “It would be enough,” she says, “if we could just look at the Other and see a face no less human than our own.”

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American Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs

May 27, 2018

Ilka Gordon • AJL Reviews

american interestsAmerican Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs is a collection of antique photographs culled from the archives of the Library of Congress, Harvard University, the British Museum, the New York Public library, and many other libraries and archives. This fascinating coffee-table size book has large black and white and color photographs of American tourists, government officials, American navy crewmen, and members of the U.S. Congress who visited Palestine before the birth of the state of Israel.

Each photograph is accompanied by several pages of explanatory text; many of the pictures are of little-known people and curious events that are part of Israeli history. Others are better known, like Mark Twain’s 1867 trip, which includes a full-page photograph of his distinguished-looking, turbaned guide, Far-Away-Moses, as well as women in long flowing dresses and fashionable hats sitting beside the walls of the old city of Jerusalem. Another unlikely tourist was Ulysses S. Grant, author of the infamous “General Order No.11” which expelled Jews from states under his command during the Civil War. Grant visited the Holy Land after he left the presidency, as part of a European tour. Also fascinating are pictures of Yemenite Jews in Jerusalem circa 1900s, as well as a group of images depicting a little known rescue effort that occurred between 1914 and 1917 in which U.S. navy ships made thirteen trips to the port of Jaffa to deliver money, medicine, and food, including matzah for Passover, to aid the starving Jewish communities in Palestine. This book is highly recommended for all libraries.


Walking the Exodus

May 21, 2018

Midwest Book Review • The Judaic Studies Shelf

Walking the Exodus9789655242485Leading biblical scholars and archaeologists have long argued about the actual route of the biblical Exodus from Egypt for decades. Margaret Malka Rawicz has developed and refined lectures on the Exodus for many years after extensively traveling through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Egypt, Israel, and Jordan.

In “Walking the Exodus: My Journey in the Footsteps of Moses” she draws upon her experience, research, and expertise to reveal the route Moses and the Israelites took as they fled Egypt three and a half millennia ago. Along with her Bedouin guide, Rabia, Margaret treks through treacherous deserts and areas in order to recover and identify the sites of the first fifteen known Israelite encampments. She then explores another eighteen encampments in the Sinai Desert and the final nine in Jordan.

Including photographs and personal stories, “Walking the Exodus” is not only a discovery, but also a transformation of one’s life. Impressively informative, exceptionally well written, thoroughly ‘reader friendly’ in organization and presentation, “Walking the Exodus” is an inherently fascinating and educative read from cover to cover, making it unreservedly recommended for personal, synagogue, community, and academic library collections and supplemental studies reading lists.


Dirty Jewess

April 30, 2018

Midwest Book Review • The Holocaust Studies Shelf

9789655242775Born in post-Holocaust, communist Czechoslovakia, Silvia Fishbaum has devoted her life to the commemoration of the Holocaust and her childhood art tutor and Holocaust survivor, Ludovit Feld. She is a member of the Czech and Slovak Jewish Historical Society and is affiliated with the Holocaust museum and Tolerance Center in Glen Cove, New York. In 2012, Fishbaum was the keynote speaker at the Holocaust Memorial commemoration and the opening for the exhibition of a private collection of Ludovit Feld’s art.

“Dirty Jewess: A Woman’s Courageous Journey to Religious and Political Freedom ” is her personal story her courageous journey towards religious and political freedom, all while coming of age in post-Holocaust, communist Czechoslovakia. In “Dirty Jewess” she recalls her experience as a child of Holocaust survivors, living as a refugee in Rome, and finally realizing her dream of becoming a successful American citizen. Silvia Fishbaum’s life behind the iron curtain is a universal tale of humanity, resilience, and overcoming adversity. Of special note is that she weaves together her mother’s testimony of Auschwitz with the testimony of her childhood art tutor, Ludovit Feld (who was a victim of Mengele’s infamous experiments) to create a compelling and layered life narrative.

A critically important contribution to the growing library of Holocaust survivors personal memoirs and autobiographies, “Dirty Jewess” is especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections, as well as the personal reading lists of both academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject.