Books

Review: 36 Arguments for the existence of God

By Ariel Kahn, March 18, 2010

By Rebecca Goldstein
Atlantic, £12.99

Cass Seltzer stands on a narrow bridge. Gazing out at the river that has frozen into sublime ice sculptures, he experiences a moment of transcendence.

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SUM: Forty tales from the afterlives

By Judy Jackson, March 11, 2010

By David Eagleman
Canongate, £9.99

Orthodox Jews believe in the afterlife. Aggressive atheists like Richard Dawkins do not. In the middle is David Eagleman, who says: "both seem to have complete certainty about things they can't possibly be certain about." A neuroscientist by day, Eagleman has spent his evenings concocting scenarios of what Heaven might look like and who (or what) will be the Deity who welcomes us.

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Legacy mayhem

By David Herman, March 11, 2010

Take a mournful shlemiel from Austria. Drop him in Venezuela where he has gone to collect an inheritance from his uncle, a Jewish refugee from Hamburg, start a violent coup and stir in a cast of vivid characters, shysters, swindlers, lawyers and even a wonder-rabbi, and then you get a sense of The Inheritance (Pushkin Press, £10) by Peter Stephan Jungk, published in German a decade ago, and now superbly translated by Michael Hofmann.

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Utopia or Auschwitz? Germany’s 1968 Generation and the Holocaust

By Oliver Kamm, March 4, 2010

By Hans Kundnani
Hurst, £45 (pb: £16.99)

Among the greatest achievements of Western diplomacy since 1945 is the creation of a democratic Germany from the ruins of barbarism. But, for Germany's immediate postwar generation, the sins of their parents and grandparents dominated their political thinking. The knowledge of such crimes gave urgency to the participation of the German baby-boomers in the radical protests of the 1960s.

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Moses Montefiore: Jewish Liberator, Imperial hero

By Geoffrey Alderman, March 4, 2010

By Abigail Green
Harvard University Press, £24.95

The commanding figure of Moses Montefiore dominated the Jewish world for much of the 19th century. Born into a family of Italian-Jewish merchants, he made a great deal of money in business but he also married a great deal of money - his wife Judith was a daughter of Levi Barent-Cohen, from whom practically the entire Anglo-Jewish "cousinhood" was descended.

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Review: Shmendrick and the Croc

By Anne Joseph, February 26, 2010

For years, Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg has been regaling the children of New North London Synagogue with his tales of Shmendrick the mouse and his friend, Croc.

Now, others can enjoy the antics of the chocolate-loving rodent, with the arrival of Shmendrick and the Croc (Masorti Publications, £5.99), in which our hero takes us though the Jewish year and Jewish life, searching for meaning.

Shmendrick (the original puppet) arrived in a parcel from a good friend of Wittenberg’s, while he was living in Jerusalem and, since then, Shmendrick “has always been around”.

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Review: Where The God of Love Hangs Out

By Rebecca Abrams, February 25, 2010

By Amy BloomGranta, £10.99

Amy Bloom has the gift of drawing you into her fictional worlds so swiftly and acquainting you with her characters so deftly that, within a few, short sentences, you feel you must have known these people and places in a previous life. This gift helped establish her literary reputation in two previous short-story collections and two novels, and is abundantly in evidence in this new collection. So, too, is Bloom's wry, tender view of human foibles, which renders them both faintly ridiculous and deeply endearing.

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Review: Croc-Attack!

By Toby Lichtig, February 25, 2010

By Assaf GavronFourth Estate, £12.99.

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Review: The Life of Irene Nemirovsky

By Anne Garvey, February 25, 2010

By Olivier Philipponnat and Patrick Lienhardt (Trans: Euan Cameron)
Chatto and Windus, £25.

By 1942, French Jews were so restricted, they were even forbidden to ride a bicycle. Yet, as the corrupt, collaborationist Paris government issued one vicious, petty edict after another, the celebrated novelist Irène Némirovsky sat in a village only a few miles from the border where the Nazi writ had yet to run.

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How the Holy City was regenerated

February 25, 2010

This year Jerusalem celebrates an important anniversary in which Anglo-Jewry has a unique stake. It is exactly 150 years since a handful of Jews moved out of the dirty, overcrowded Jewish quarter in the Old City and into a purpose-built row of cottages on the desolate hillside overlooking the Jaffa Gate. Built decades before the birth of Zionism by a British Jew with money donated by an American called Judah Touro, these modest almshouses are rightly celebrated as the seed of modern Jerusalem.

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