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Nextbook Press Authors in the News

New books and events from contributors to the Jewish Encounters Series

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(Shutterstock)

A number of our contributors are in the news for having published new books, and some will be participating in public programs to promote them over the next few weeks; it’s our pleasure to bring them to your attention:

Hillel Halkin, who contributed Yehuda Halevi to Nextbook’s Jewish Encounters series, has written an erudite biography of Vladimir Jabotinsky (Jabotinsky: A Life) for Yale University Press’s Jewish Lives series, which hits the shelves on May 27. (more…)

NYC Cabbie Suspended For Swastika Armband

Deranged driver will lose his operator’s license for 30 days

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NYC cab driver photographed wearing swastika armband. (ADL)

A New York City cab driver has been suspended for 30 days for wearing a swastika armband while driving his yellow cab. The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission questioned the cabbie after the Anti-Defamation League reported complaints from riders.

According to a press release from the ADL commending the TLC’s swift response, “After receiving complaints from the public, ADL expressed concern to the TLC, which subsequently suspended the driver’s operator’s license for 30 days after he pleaded guilty to violating commission rules.” (more…)

Adelle Waldman’s Impressive Second Act

The Nathaniel P. novelist is back with a prequel to her acclaimed 2013 debut

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Adelle Waldman's e-book New Year's(Macmillan)

I learned long after everyone else that Adelle Waldman’s debut novel, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., is an excellent book. When the book came out in the summer of 2013, friends would say, “You have to read this book, it’s about this guy who treats women really badly.” And I thought, I do not want to read that book. I thought, surely this book will enjoy its protagonist’s misogyny; surely such a book will not be able to help but luxuriate in the horrific little ways its small hero finds to degrade women. I thought, this book must surely be written by a woman who hates women. I know how this world works. I wasn’t born yesterday.

How wrong I was. (more…)

The Irish Catholic Promoting Yiddish Literature

Peter Manseau on accepting Yiddish Book Center honor from the First Lady

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First Lady Michelle Obama presents the National Medal for Museum and Library Service to Yiddish Book Center community member Peter Manseau (L) and Founder and President Aaron Lansky (C).(Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS))

Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama awarded the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Accepting the honor alongside the center’s founder and president, Aaron Lansky, was author Peter Manseau, whose National Jewish Book Award-winning 2008 novel Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter was inspired by his summer internship at the Yiddish Book Center after college.

Manseau, who was raised Irish Catholic, is perhaps an unlikely scholar of the historically Jewish language. But he has become one of the most steadfast champions of Yiddish literature. “You might saying seeing Yiddish at the White House last week was bashert,” Manseau told me. (more…)

Kutsher’s Resort Will Be Demolished This Month

The iconic Catskills hotel to become a health and wellness resort

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Postcard image of the pool at Kutsher's resort. (Kutsher's Tribeca)

The story of the iconic Catskills resort Kutsher’s, one of the last vestiges of Jewish Borscht Belt culture, is coming to an end after more than a century. The Monticello, N.Y. hotel, which opened as Kutsher’s Brothers Farm House in 1907 and operated seasonally until recent years, is going to be demolished later this month, JTA reports. The property was sold for $8.18 million in December 2013 to a company with plans to build a “health and wellness resort” on the premises.

Kutsher’s Hotel and Country Club became a veritable Jewish institution the 1950s and 60s, and its demise—along with the other resorts of the Catskills—has been well-chronicled. (more…)

A Meaningful New Way to Celebrate Lag B’Omer

Turning holiday haircuts into a way to help make wigs for those in need

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(Shutterstock)

Saturday night marks the start of Lag b’Omer, the Jewish holiday that falls on the 33rd day after Passover, during the 50-day stretch before Shavuot known as the Omer. Notably, it’s the only day during the Omer—a mourning period symbolizing the break between the Exodus from Egypt and the receipt of the Torah at Mt. Sinai—that some of the traditional restrictions, like not getting married or not cutting your hair, are lifted. Many observant Jews seize the day for bonfires (with s’mores), hiking, and, of course, haircuts. Some 3-year-old boys even get their first haircut on Lag b’Omer.

As Allison Hoffman reported last year, some congregations and communities are taking the tradition of Lag b’Omer haircuts to the next level, working with organizations like Locks of Love to donate hair to make wigs for in-need children with medical hair loss. At one congregation in Potomac, MD, last year, stylists offered free haircuts to those with enough hair to make a wig. The congregation’s rabbi put it best: “It makes Lag b’Omer, which is an easily forgotten holiday, into something relevant and poignant.” (more…)

Nazi Apologist’s Essay on Austrian School Exam

Two administrators resign after 1947 text appears on high school German test

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(Shutterstock)

Two weeks ago, middle school students in Rialto, California were asked to write an essay about whether or not the Holocaust actually happened. Now it appears that high school students in Austria were also presented with misleading Holocaust material, this time in the form of an essay on a standardized exam.

An unrelated investigation into Austrian high school curricula and grading revealed that a recent German exam presented students with an essay by Manfred Hausmann, a known Nazi apologist, with no background or historical context on its author, Reuters reports: “Students were asked to reflect on how “The Snail” – in which a gardener decides the pest has to die to protect his plants – dealt with questions about nature and life.” (more…)

Jewish Woman Attacked at Paris Bus Stop

Man reportedly shook her baby stroller and called her a ‘dirty Jewess’

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Rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, Paris. (Wikimedia)

In the latest disturbing anti-Semitic incident from France, a man assaulted a Jewish mother and her six-month-old child at a bus stop in Paris’ Montmartre district, JTA reports.

According to a report filed by France’s National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, the attacker, who the victim described as a European man in his 50s, shook the woman’s stroller and shouted, “Dirty Jewess, enough with your children already, you Jews have too many children, screw you.” (more…)

Two Palestinians Killed in Nakba Day Protests

Clashes after Israeli forces intervene in demonstrations in West Bank

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Masked Palestinian protestors outside the Israeli-run Offer prison in the West Bank on May 15, 2014. (ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Two Palestinian teens were shot and killed by Israeli forces today during clashes as police intervened in a Nakba Day demonstration, the AP reports. Palestinian protests and demonstrations frequently mark the May anniversary of what is known as the nakba, or catastrophe: the 1948 establishment of the State of Israel. Three protestors were also reportedly wounded as Israeli police dispersed stone throwers near a West Bank checkpoint. (more…)

Lisa Kudrow’s Son Had a ‘Drive-By Bar Mitzvah’

Impromptu rite of passage performed while he was shopping at the mall

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Actress Lisa Kudrow and son Julian Murray Stern on November 17, 2013 in Santa Monica, California. (Michael Buckner/Getty Images for P.S. Arts)

Michael Douglas isn’t the only celebrity whose child got bar mitzvahed recently. Lisa Kudrow dropped by Conan this week to talk about her new movie Neighbors, and was surprised to find that host Conan O’Brien, a longtime friend, had a bone to pick with her. He wanted to know why he wasn’t invited to her son’s bar mitzvah.

He wasn’t invited, Kudrow explains, because no one was invited. The Jewish actress wasn’t even there when it happened. It was what she calls a “drive-by bar mitzvah.” (more…)

Ancient Town Found Below Galilee Resort Site

Ruins from Second Temple period uncovered during construction of new hotel

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A large elaborately-carved stone found during 2009 excavations of a newly uncovered Jewish synagogue in the town of Migdal on the north-western end of the Sea of Galilee. (David Silverman/Getty Images)

In a routine archeological sweep of a Galilee property being prepared for development, a treasure trove of first-century ruins were uncovered. The unearthed site, the New York Times reports, is thought to be Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene and an ancient Jewish town that was destroyed by the Romans around the same time as the Second Temple.

In 2004, Reverend Juan M. Solana, director of the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, decided to build a gathering place for Christian pilgrims in the Galilee, the region believed to be the home of Jesus’ ministry. Building permits for more than 20 acres of Galilee land were finalized in 2009, and a salvage dig, which is required for all building projects in Israel, began.

Digging on the resort site revealed a wealth of holy ruins, including synagogue remains and ritual baths. (more…)

Israel Lowers Gender Reassignment Age to 18

But candidates approved for the state-subsidized surgery still must go abroad

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The Israeli government has announced changes to their national policies regarding gender reassignment surgery, marking a victory for the Israeli transgender community. Two updates to the health ministry’s regulations, which mandate patient eligibility for the state-subsidized surgery, will make it easier for candidates to gain the necessary approval for the procedure. According to JTA, the new regulations lower the minimum age to be considered for the surgery from 21 to 18, and reduces the required time a candidate must live with the new gender identity before undergoing the surgery from two years to one year.

Changes were also made to the committee that approves gender reassignment requests, which will now include a psychologist, gynecologist, endocrinologist, urologist, as well as a representative of the transgender community. (more…)

Jill Abramson Leaving the ‘New York Times’

First female executive editor helmed the newspaper since September 2011

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Jill Abramson. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times, via Redux)

After just under three years at the helm of the New York Times, Jill Abramson is stepping down, Politico reports. Dean Baquet, the newspaper’s managing editor, will take over as executive editor. The announcement was made by publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. at a staff meeting this afternoon.

In his announcement to staff, Sulzberger said Abramson’s departure was related to “an issue with management in the newsroom,” and had nothing to do with the quality of the paper’s journalism during her tenure. Abramson was not present for the newsroom announcement.

(more…)

Surge in Victims Claiming Madoff Losses

More than $40 billion in claims sought as government widens investigation

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Bernard L. Madoff leaves US Federal Court after a hearing regarding his bail on January 14, 2009 in New York. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

More than five years after Bernard Madoff admitted to running what was the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, the scope of the fraud continues to widen. Thousands of additional victims have filed claims for compensation under a new effort administered by the Justice Department, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Irving Picard, the bankruptcy trustee who initially led the recovery process, had only allowed claims from people who had directly invested with Madoff. But Richard Breeden, who is currently leading the Justice Department effort, is reviewing claims from anyone who alleged to have money invested with Madoff, even through an intermediary. (more…)

Israel Razing West Bank Settlement Buildings

Supreme Court orders structures in three settlements to be demolished

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An Israeli authority bulldozer demolishes a house in the West Bank settlement of Maale Rehavam on May 14, 2014. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli forces began razing buildings in the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Rehavam today after the Israeli Supreme Court lifted a last-minute injunction against demolishing the 10 structures. In total, 28 buildings in three West Bank settlements—Ma’ale Rehavam, Givat Asaf, and Ramat Gilad—will reportedly be demolished as per a November 2013 Supreme Court ruling that ordered the demolition of the structures within six months. (more…)

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