The Arty Semite

The Stories That Don’t Make It

By Stuart Nadler

Yesterday, Stuart Nadler wrote about casting off one’s sins. His posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


Nina Subin

At a certain point in the process, I had to do the cutting. Not the small cutting, the excising of some misplaced lines, the usual reshuffling that revision turns into at the end, everything somehow feeling more surgical than therapeutic. But I had to really cut. To kill some stories. To take them out, shelve them, end them. This is what I did, in the most unsentimental of ways — stories that I’d suffered over for months at a time, pulled from the manuscript, put into the drawer. There were 14 stories. Then there were 10. For a few weeks there were nine. Now the book exists in its final form, and there are seven stories, all handsomely put together and bound and out there for anyone to read. But what about the others, the stories that didn’t make it?

Read more


Casting Off

By Stuart Nadler

Stuart Nadler’s first book, “The Book of Life,” is now available. His posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


For me, the year has always begun in September. I grew up near Boston, and part of this feeling, surely, is that the season changes then, that summer ends and school begins, that in the stores suddenly there are reminders of what’s to come: Halloween masks, potted burgundy chrysanthemums, pumpkins for sale in bins at the farm stands. Of course, September, in most cases, marks the beginning of the High Holidays. It falls late this year, the bulk of the Days of Awe spilling over into October. As I write this, we’re half a month away, and in New England, there is still the residual film of summer hanging over everything. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are, perhaps, the most benevolent of all our holidays, a time devoted, in part, to an introspective critique of our sins and misgivings, our failings, the grievances we carry. I took the title of my collection of short stories, “The Book of Life,” from the part of the High Holiday liturgy which has been my favorite since I was young: “On Rosh Hashanah It is Written, On Yom Kippur It is Sealed.” The stories in my book are about family — about the enduring struggle between father’s and their sons, about the difficulties between brothers. But in a large part, the stories are about the sins and errors we commit against those we love.

Read more


Lost and Found in Brooklyn

By Lucette Lagnado

Earlier this week, Lucette Lagnado wrote about an arrogant revolution and about mourning her Arab Spring. Her posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite, courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


This past weekend I was lost — and found — in Brooklyn.

My Sunday began with an appearance on a panel about the Arab Spring at the chic, hipsterish Brooklyn Book Festival. It was an animated discussion, and my fellow panel-members were amiable, but I felt lonely, very much in the minority as I spoke out against the brutal attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo. The attempted storming of the embassy last week was a turning point as far as I was concerned, a time to start asking tough questions about the revolution and whether it had gone seriously off-track, to demand to know what happened to the early goals of democracy and peace on Tahrir Square.

The consensus, though, was that revolutions took time to play out — one member suggested 100 years.

Read more


Eighteen Solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

By Caroline Lagnado

How many ways are there to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Given that none so far have definitively worked, the number doesn’t seem high. But in a new anthology, “United States of Palestine — Israel” (Sternberg Press, 2011) a group of Israeli, Palestinian and European left-wing writers and artists present no less than 18 solutions to the conflict.

On September 17 Joshua Simon, an Israeli writer, curator, filmmaker and editor of the collection, held a talk at the New Museum in New York together along Ohad Meromi, an Israeli writer, and Ingo Niermann, a German artist. Niermann is also the editor of the “Solutions” series for the Sternberg Press, a German publishing house that has tackled the problems of places such as the U.S., Japan, Scotland and Dubai.

Read more


Art Spiegelman: ‘Why Comics? Why Mice? Why the Holocaust?’

By Ezra Glinter

The book trailer is out for Art Spiegelman’s much-anticipated “MetaMaus,” a look at the creation of his iconic “Maus” graphic novel, now celebrating its 25th anniversary.

In the video Spiegelman says that “Maus” is more about the relationship between a father and son “trying to understand each other” than it is about the Holocaust. In the original “Maus,” Spiegelman tells the story of his father, Vladek, from before the Holocaust to his later life in New York.

In “MetaMaus” Spiegelman portrays himself dealing with the unexpected success of his creation and always having to answer the same three questions: “Why Comics? Why Mice? Why the Holocaust?” “MetaMaus,” Spiegelman says, is an attempt to answer these questions once and for all.

Watch the book trailer for ‘MetaMaus’:

Read more


An Arrogant Revolution

By Lucette Lagnado

Lucette Lagnado’s most recent book, “The Arrogant Years: One Girl’s Search for Her Lost Youth, from Cairo to Brooklyn,” is now available. Lucette won the 2008 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for her memoir “The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: A Jewish Family’s Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World.” Her posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite, courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


I couldn’t seem to escape Egypt this year — though I never set foot outside New York.

For months, I worked fiendishly to finish “The Arrogant Years,” my memoir which takes place in Cairo and New York. But whenever I’d put the book aside, I would follow news of the revolt unfolding in Tahrir Square. The revolution was addictive — I couldn’t seem to get enough of it. I found myself constantly clicking on online news of Cairo, or tuning in to CNN. It was all so exciting.

And terrifying. Even as I witnessed the euphoria, I felt a strange sense of alienation — I couldn’t feel much joy or passion, couldn’t quite cheer the protestors as the entire rest of the world seemed to be doing.

Read more


Mourning My Arab Spring

By Lucette Lagnado

Lucette Lagnado’s most recent book, “The Arrogant Years: One Girl’s Search for Her Lost Youth, from Cairo to Brooklyn,” is now available. Lucette won the 2008 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for her memoir “The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: A Jewish Family’s Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World.” Her posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite, courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


What is going to happen to the Arab Spring — no no, not that Arab Spring, but my own recent awakening and love affair with the Middle East, and Egypt in particular?

I have been gripped by fear since January, watching the uprisings, not knowing how these movements would all shake out, unable to get my arms around them. Lately, fear has been replaced by sadness and melancholy. I feel as if a chapter is ending for me — the chapter of my personal Arab Spring and my sense that there were possibilities for me in Egypt after years of thinking there were no possibilities.

In the last couple of years since my memoir, “The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit” came out, I have savored the opportunity to reach distant audiences, but looking back, nothing stirred me as much as my book’s popularity in Egypt.

Read more


Settling a Debate in a NYC Cab

By June Hersh

Earlier this week, June Hersh wrote about her perfect day, her Jewish culinary journey and unraveling the mystery of Jewish food. Her posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite, courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


As a New Yorker, I brave the cracked pavement, dodge the deliverymen on bicycles and boast of my worn MetroCard. But there is one mode of transportation that, while costly, can be more than a way to get from point A to point B. I relish my place firmly seated and belted into the back of the iconic yellow New York City cab. I proudly raise my hand, a little sweaty in the sweltering summer heat or snuggly gloved on a cold winter’s day, to hail the cabs that whiz by. I am that rare passenger who notes the driver’s name not because I am sure I will have to report him to the taxi and limousine commission, but because I want to engage him in conversation and knowing his name makes our ride more personal and relatable.

So what do we talk about? Invariably, politics arises, as most of the cabbies hail from somewhere else and came to America for a better life. They are, at the same time, grateful for America welcoming them and vocal about the mishandling of many current issues. The typical cabbie has the radio on the entire day, and the stations seem to hover on talk radio, where they are inundated with political views and pundits weighing in. I find that whether they moved from West Africa to West Harlem or Jamaica in the Caribbean to Jamaica in Queens, they have focused opinions and a clearer understanding of how politics functions (or doesn’t) than they do of which route is faster and cheaper.

Read more


A Picture Perfect Day

By June Hersh

Earlier this week, June Hersh wrote about her Jewish culinary journey and unraveling the mystery of Jewish food. Her posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


I am not Martha Stewart, and I don’t have a staff of 20 to help me prepare a dish or stage a photo. But I didn’t need her perks on a sunny August day when I was preparing to photograph my food for “The Kosher Carnivore,” my second book. My first book, “Recipes Remembered” featured historic and archival photos of the survivors whose stories I told. Glossy color shots and well-set vignettes were not appropriate for a book focused on the Holocaust. But for “The Kosher Carnivore,” we wanted to show the yummy food in all its glory, and that meant me and my digital camera would need to be replaced by a professional photographer.

I was not stranded on my kitchen island without some assistance. My two supportive daughters were there to lend a hand. Jennifer would be my enthusiastic sous chef and cleaner-upper — a skill she inherited from her very meticulous and helpful father. Allison would be my set designer, as she has a creative flair and an eye for photography. But the real hero would be noted food photographer Ben Fink. He has shot images for celebrity chefs and Food Network icons, and now he was coming to my house to film my food.

Read more


Journey to the Land of Words

By Noga Shavit-Raz

Crossposted from Haaretz

Until a year ago, Ruvik Rosenthal was sure he had no imagination. Around age 10, he did start writing adventure stories, but at 12, “I had decided to become a journalist, to go for the real things.”

Daniel Tchetchik
Ruvik Rosenthal at his home in Tel Aviv.

After years of writing specialized dictionaries, such as a comprehensive dictionary of slang and a compendium of phrases, he needed a change, and that led to a wonderful children’s book, “Hamasa Hamufla Leeretz Hamilim,” which loosely translates as “The Wonderful Journey to the Land of Words,” soon to be released by Keter. The focus is on the Hebrew language, but the plot is thick with adventures drawn from his imagination.

“It’s hard to describe what it’s like to write a dictionary; it’s about as close as you can get to Hell,” said Rosenthal. “After four and a half years of working on the “Milon Hatzirufim” (the dictionary of Hebrew idioms and phrases), while also working on other things of course, when the book was on the shelves in 2009, I said I need to do a 180-degree about-turn.”

Read more at Haaretz.com

Read more


Unraveling the Mystery of Jewish Food

By June Hersh

June Hersh is the author of “The Kosher Carnivore: The Ultimate Meat and Poultry Book,” available this week. Her posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


As a food writer you need to be prepared to answer just about any question tossed at you during a Q&A. I like to feel I know my subject matter inside and out, and I admit to late night Googling (that sounds x-rated) to research something I am not 100% certain of. While I should be dreaming of food, I am instead trying to unravel its mysteries. My obsession with information is justified as I have been asked if a free-range chicken is happier than its caged neighbor, or whether America’s fascination with hummus is a fad or here to stay. Understanding food is my job, and the better my understanding the more clearly I can communicate the power of food through the recipes I write. No query has kept me awake more nights then a question I was asked during a radio interview: What is Jewish food? Truth is, it’s a great question with no easy answer.

Read more


My Culinary Journey

By June Hersh

June Hersh is the author of “The Kosher Carnivore: The Ultimate Meat and Poultry Book,” available this week. Her posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


If you had told me on my 55th birthday, that in the coming year I would have a cookbook published and a second one in the works, I would have told you to promptly return your crystal ball to Amazon and ask for a full refund. Prior to that year I had many roles, foremost mother and wife, and secondarily as a teacher at the Solomon Schechter Day School, founder of Fancy Schmancy, a children’s clothing company, and resource coordinator for my family’s lighting business. But cookbook author was not on my resume.

After we sold our business, my sister stated what would become our mantra — we did well, now let’s do good. I took those as marching orders and proceeded to discover my newest incarnation, cookbook author. It seemed like a natural choice. I have always been a student of everything food, an adventurous eater and fearless cook. I find that there are not many endeavors that give you the instant gratification cooking does. Maybe it’s the Jewish mother in me, but the act of nurturing and nourishing is in my DNA. So many of my favorite memories are set around the kitchen table as a child, watching my mother lovingly prepare even the simplest dish. She could turn grilled cheese and tomato soup into a five star experience. So it seemed so natural that this would be the niche that I found to bring a new richness to my days.

Read more


The Grandparent-Grandson Relationship

By Avrom Honig

Earlier this week, Avrom Honig shared a behind-the-scenes look at the photoshoot for “Feed Me Bubbe,” talked about coming to the Big City, and introduced us to his production assistant, Zadie. His posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


If you’re watching this blog closely you have seen already parts one, two and three. Now I am thrilled to present part number four, featuring the star of the show herself. Bubbe is here to talk a bit about the importance of having a grandparent-grandchild relationship.

We want to thank all of you for joining me over these past few posts. If you want more entries from me, leave comments below, and who knows, maybe we might do some future updates from the book tour with more behind the scenes action.

For now thank you to all that have purchased our book “Feed Me Bubbe.” Due to your support we can proudly state that we are an Amazon best seller in the kosher category. We know this is just the beginning and we look forward to having you join us on our Facebook page and over at www.feedmebubbe.com.

Read more


Meet Our Production Assistant, Zadie

By Avrom Honig

Earlier this week, Avrom Honig shared a behind-the-scenes look at the photoshoot for “Feed Me Bubbe,” and talked about coming to the big city. His posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


I hope you’ve enjoyed parts one and two, and now, this time, I have a special guest for all of you. We got one of the big unknown stars of our show, Zadie. ”Zadie” is the Yiddish word for “grandfather.” Zadie plays a huge roll on the show making sure to keep everyone in line.

Any good production is all about having a behind-the-scenes team that really makes sure that everything is perfect. There are times that we are shooting videos where Zadie stops us before we even record because a phone may need to be taken off the hook, or perhaps an item in the kitchen needs to be adjusted because it just doesn’t look right.

Read more


Gabrielle Giffords Memoir Out November 15

By Forward Staff

The previously announced memoir by Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, will be out November 15 according to its publisher, Scribner. The memoir will be titled “Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope.”

The book is said to focus on Giffords and Kelly’s relationship, from their courtship until after the January 8 shooting that left the Arizona Democratic Congresswoman severely injured. The book’s co-author is Jeffrey Zaslow, who previously worked with Randy Pausch on “The Last Lecture.”

“Gabby” is one more indication of Gifford’s painstaking recovery. Scribner spokesperson Brian Belfiglio told the Associated Press that Giffords “has been fully engaged with the collaborative writing process of the book at every step.”

On August 2 Giffords returned to Congress to cast her vote on the debt ceiling bill. She has since returned to Houston to continue with her recovery.

Read more


Feed Me Bubbe’s Journey to New York City

By Avrom Honig

Yesterday, Avrom Honig shared a behind the scenes look at the photoshoot for “Feed Me Bubbe.” His posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


If you want to know more about Feed Me Bubbe and an introduction to how we got started then be sure to check out Part One. Just for those joining us we created a book based upon our hit online and televised cooking show because our audience really wanted it. Of course before I knew it we had an agent, a publisher, and I found myself heading to New York City to represent our new book.

The name of the organization was the Jewish Book Council and I would be presenting a two minute speech to representatives from the Jewish Book Network. To someone that was not used to speaking in front of a crowd this could be a huge undertaking. In fact they even told us that the on deck chair was nicknamed the sigh chair, or the deep breath chair. The reason for this is because everyone takes a big breath before they go up on stage, perhaps a sign of nervousness.

Read more


The 'Feed Me Bubbe' Book: Behind the Scenes at the Photoshoot

By Avrom Honig

Avrom Honig is the co-author, with his bubbe, of “Feed Me Bubbe” — originally a hit YouTube series, and now a book. His posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


Greetings, everyone! Let me first introduce myself: My name is Avrom, and I am co-author of an exciting new book based on a hit online and televised cooking show entitled “Feed Me Bubbe.” On the show, my bubbe works on making her family favorite dishes. (By the way, if you don’t know, bubbe is the Yiddish word for “Grandmother.”)

When we first started out, I was just trying to make my mark on Hollywood, trying to find a job. As any good applicant knows, having a demo reel is the key to success. After having a family discussion, we finally decided that what would make the most sense is for me to take a camera and film Bubbe making her favorite food at home.

Read more


Q&A: Vanessa Hidary on Jon Stewart, Dating, and Being the Hebrew Mamita

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Those who appreciate Vanessa Hidary’s unique, fierce voice in her solo performances as the Hebrew Mamita can now enjoy her words in print, as well. “The Last Kaiser Roll in the Bodega,” Hidary’s first book, is a compelling compilation that paints a word picture of a bold Jewish woman ahead of her time. It is a well-organized collection of autobiographical poems, excerpts from her one-woman show “Culture Bandit,” childhood writing and memorabilia, and newly written long-form narratives.

Much of “The Last Kaiser Roll in the Bodega” is set on the multi-cultural Upper West Side of Manhattan, where Hidary grew up in a liberal family of mixed Syrian-Russian descent. It is not hard to perceive the nascent Hebrew Mamita in the young Hidary, who attended local public schools and who — despite having attended Hebrew school and Jewish camps — socialized almost exclusively with Latino and African-American friends.

Hidary still lives on the same block where she grew up. Although known primarily as a spoken word artist, she prefers to be referred to as a writer and solo performer. The Arty Semite spoke to Hidary about Jewish comedy, the vicissitudes of dating, and being the Hebrew Mamita.

Renee Ghert-Zand: how would you describe “The Last Kaiser Roll in the Bodega?”

Read more


Are E-Books Kosher?

By Wayne Hoffman

Earlier this week, Wayne Hoffman wrote about a funny thing, the meaning behind the names of a few of his characters, and a gay Jewish reading list. His posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


There’s a scene in my novel “Sweet Like Sugar” where Benji, the main character, finds himself alone in an Orthodox rabbi’s house. The first thing he does is check out the bookshelves that line every wall: religious commentary in the study, nonfiction (in English and Hebrew and occasionally Yiddish) covering everything from ancient Jewish history to the Holocaust in the living room, coffee table books about Israeli art and archaeology in the dining room, kosher cookbooks in the kitchen, even a shelf of poetry in the bedroom. Benji notes the differences between the rabbi’s collection and that of his Conservative parents, which has less scripture but more fiction (Roth, Malamud, Sholom Aleichem), as well as a smattering of non-Jewish books: Civil War histories, Tom Clancy novels, biographies of Bill Clinton and Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Two Jewish households,” Benji muses to himself.

Benji can tell a lot about people by the books they keep. Everyone can. But for how much longer?

We all know about the rise of digital books, whether they’re on your Kindle or your Nook or your iPad. Print editions, meanwhile, are on the decline.

Read more


A Gay Jewish Reading List

By Wayne Hoffman

Earlier this week, Wayne Hoffman wrote about a funny thing and shared the meaning behind the names of a few of his characters. His posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


When I was first coming out 25 years ago, there were precious few books about being gay and Jewish. Thankfully, that’s not the case today. There are enough to fill whole bookcases. But will anyone who isn’t gay read them?

Conventional wisdom in the publishing industry says that non-gay people won’t read books with gay themes — with the notable exception of works by humorists, such as David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs, who play their lives for laughs. Straight people can’t relate seriously to gay life, the thinking goes; they don’t know from such things, and they don’t want to know.

Even if there’s a kernel of truth in that notion — and I fear, sadly, that there often is — straight Jewish readers in particular should be able to bridge this culture gap by choosing Jewish gay books: While some of the gay content might be unfamiliar, at least the Jewish content will provide a point of identification.

Read more



Would you like to receive updates about new stories?






















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.