Special Sections

Grandmother, Grandfather And Me

A Russian-American writer meditates on family, immigration and ‘material’ for his novel.

Special To The Jewish Week
11/26/2014

‘Grandmother was not a semi-annual hair tousler. … She had raised him.” So begins the introduction to Slava Gelman’s grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, in my debut novel “A Replacement Life,” about a frustrated writer who begins forging Holocaust-restitution claims for old Russian Jews in Brooklyn, New York. It is Grandmother’s death that partly persuades Slava to invent stories of suffering — an opportunity to recreate on the page a grandmother he never got to know in real life. Hers is the presence that hovers over the novel.

Boris Fishman, in his younger days with his Russian émigré grandparents. At right, Fishman today. Boris Fishman/Rob Liguori

The Émigré Aesthetic

The newest chapters in the Russian-American-Jewish story.

Culture Editor
11/26/2014

Some years back, new immigrants from the former Soviet Union who were participating in an English conversation class I was leading would ask about the American writer Jack London, whose “The Call of the Wild” and many other books are translated into Russian and widely read. With enthusiasm, they’d explain that they were drawn by his sense of adventure and struggle; London was an advocate for the rights of workers and the oppressed. One of the many things that surprised them about America was that London — whose works, like “The Call of the Wild,” were very popular in the U.S. during the early part of the 20th century — is no longer among America’s most popular writers.

Natan Sharansky, The Novel

Set in Israel and the Crimea, David Bezmozgis’ new novel looks at some of the choices (moral and otherwise) faced by Soviet Jews.

Culture Editor
11/26/2014

Leaving Israel recently on a late-night flight, the lines through security were crowded with Russians — relatives of Israelis, nuns on religious pilgrimages (who are also relatives of Israelis) and tourists with bulging shopping bags. I remembered their faces as I read David Bezmozgis’ brilliant new novel “Betrayal” (Little, Brown), which chronicles a very quick trip out of Israel to the faded resort of Yalta in the Crimea.

Born in Latvia, raised in Canada, novelist David Bezmozgis.

Fall Literary Preview November 2014

The Next Wave Of Russian-Jewish Literature

11/25/2014
Fall Literary Preview November 2014

The Wedding Planner, Times Two

One summer, two events and a season full of joy.

Special To The Jewish Week
11/19/2014

‘Happy for all her maternal feelings was the day on which Mrs. Bennet got rid of her two most deserving daughters,” Jane Austen writes in “Pride and Prejudice.” If not quite with the gleeful triumph of a Mrs. Bennet, still with a sense of personal accomplishment, I married off both my children last summer.

The author’s children, Alex, (with husband Sol). Photos courtesy of Gloria Kestenbaum

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11/19/2014

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‘It’s Our Big, Fat, Jewish Wedding’

In Polish city, a tying-of-the-knot celebrate Jewish rediscovery and revival.

11/19/2014

Wroclaw, Poland — When Katka Reszke and Slawomir Grunberg tied the knot last summer at the historic White Stork synagogue in this southwestern Polish city, they were determined that the occasion would be more than just a wedding.

Friends, family and media crowd in front of the chuppah at the wedding in Katka Reszke and Slawomir Grunberg.

Let Them Eat … Lions And Gorillas

College student (and ‘Cake Boss’ intern) Melissa Alt is honing her craft of high-end cake decorating for simchas.

Special To The Jewish Week
11/19/2014

Melissa Alt has both a lion head and a gorilla head on display in her family’s dining room. No, she’s not an avid hunter, but a budding cake decorator displaying the remnants of her most prized works of art.

Sweet vocation: Teaneck’s Melissa Alt delights in crafting cakes in creative shapes, including members of the animal kingdom.

The Eighth Day, For Girls

New book offers a cultural and religious history of the ritual behind baby naming.

Culture Editor
11/19/2014

Sharon Siegel rethinks the first lifecycle event for newborn girls, presenting a ceremony — and the research and halachic thought behind it — for the eighth day of life.

Lawyer-author Sharon Siegel has written a guide for welcoming girls that avoids denominational distinctions. Sharon Siege

A Simcha That’s Cinematic

Jerusalem’s Cinema City complex mixes the modern and the traditional.

Israel Correspondent
11/19/2014

Jerusalem — Only in Jerusalem could a single events venue offer an educational celebration in a Bible museum and a bash in the VIP lounge and movie theater. 

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