Thursday, December 29, 2011

Was Yesterday's Rally Really About Gender?

By Elana Sztokman

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni at Tuesday’s rally. Getty Ima
Last night, Israel’s first mass demonstration in protest of the increasing waves of Haredi violence against women took place in Beit Shemesh. It was a remarkable event, in its strength and diversity. There were speakers representing a range of organizations, Knesset members from five different political parties — including three women, two of whom are heads of their respective parties — and citizens religious and secular who have become symbols of the struggle against the removal of women from the public sphere. Yet, while history was being made, the event also raised some difficult questions, such as who the demonstrators are, what are they protesting, and to whom are they addressing their demands?
Part of the demonstration was undoubtedly local. Throughout the event, there were ongoing calls from the crowd for the Haredi Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul to resign. “You destroyed this city,” protesters called out during a speech he made about his intentions to put violent citizens behind bars. Several speakers and many signs referred to the current plans to build 30,000 new housing units exclusively for Haredim. There is no obvious gender issue in the housing plans, and the fact that this was a theme of the event suggests that many people came to protest the seeming Haredi take-over of the city, and blamed local and national politicians for that.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Klose brings 'Three-Legged Woman' to town

Robert Klose

Dec 23, 2011 

Reposted Knox Village Soup

Rockland — Robert Klose, author of "The Three-Legged Woman & Other Excursions in Teaching," will talk about his work Thursday, Jan. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at Rockland Public Library, 80 Union St. His book offers the insights of one professor and writer's experience teaching at "the poorest college in America."

Since 1986, Klose has taught biology at University College of Bangor, the most recent name of the small college located on a former military base first called the South Campus of the University of Maine — or SCUM — and later Penobscot Valley Community College and Bangor Community College. Despite its improved nomenclature, University College of Bangor remains an open-admissions environment at which "one never knows what’s going to come in over the transom.”

Klose’s nontraditional students have included, in addition to single parents and veterans, the homeless, the abused, ex-cons and even a murderer (who was otherwise “a very nice person”).

Chronicling his experiences teaching these diverse students, Klose describes with equal doses of care and wry wit those who are profoundly unfit for college, their often inadequate command of the lingua franca and the alacrity with which they seize upon the paranormal (the three-legged woman) while expressing skepticism about mainstream science. He reflects on the decline of reading for enjoyment and the folly of regarding email as a praiseworthy substitute for expository writing.

Klose, who lives in Orono, is a longtime contributor of essays to The Christian Science Monitor. Besides his newly-released book, he is the author of two previous books: “Adopting Alyosha — a Single Man Finds a Son in Russia”; and “Small Worlds — Adopted Sons, Pet Piranhas & Other Mortal Concerns.” His work also has appeared in Newsweek, The Boston Globe, Reader’s Digest, Exquisite Corpse and elsewhere. He is a four-time winner of the Maine Press Association’s annual award for opinion writing.

Klose's talk is part of a continuing series of literary, film and cultural offerings sponsored by the library and Friends of the Rockland Public Library. Special accommodations for persons with disabilities can be made with 48 hours notice by calling 594-0310.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to

Single Malt Scotch for Feminists –

By Mishael Zion

Published December 25, 2011, issue of December 30, 2011.

Male World: While still considered anomalous in the eyes of most of the Orthodox community, partnership minyanim are no longer beyond the pale.
Male World: While still considered anomalous in the eyes of most of the Orthodox community, partnership minyanim are no longer beyond the pale. Getty images

The Men’s Section: Orthodox Jewish Men in an Egalitarian World
By Elana Maryles Sztokman
University Press of New England, 288 pages, $85
A few years ago, a friend announced that he intended to start a “Kiddush club” at our synagogue. “Our shul needs more of a social scene,” he declared, “and some high-quality single malt whisky!” he added jokingly. I was vehemently opposed. Our synagogue is a “partnership minyan,” which seeks to maximize women’s participation in the prayer service within the bounds of Halacha and the Orthodox community. A Kiddush club smacked to me of a classic patriarchal construction, a complete contradiction of our attempt at re-aligning the gender dynamic of Orthodox synagogue life.
I was thinking of this exchange as I was reading Elana Sztokman’s new book, “The Men’s Section: Orthodox Jewish Men in an Egalitarian World,” an ethnography of men in partnership minyanim. Sztokman asks a fascinating question: What do the men get from it?
As Sztokman describes at the beginning of the book, the partnership minyan phenomenon started in 2001 with two small minyanim in Jerusalem (Shira Chadasha) and New York (Darkhei Noam). Those two are now regularly attended by hundreds every Shabbat and have prompted 25 other such minyanim in places as far flung as Melbourne and Beersheva and as traditional as Skokie, Ill., and Englewood, N.J. At these minyanim, women and men share equally in Torah reading and speaking before the community, and women lead some parts of the service — but men and women are separated by a mechitzah, the barrier between the genders that is the hallmark of an Orthodox synagogue. While still considered anomalous in the eyes of most of the Orthodox community, partnership minyanim are no longer beyond the pale.

Single Malt Scotch for Feminists –

Sydney-to-Hobart race: Perham and Watson team up

Mike Perham: Hero's welcome when he completed his sailing challenge

Mike PerhamNineteen-year old British yachting ace Mike Perham is teaming up with Australia's record-breaking teenage sailor Jessica Watson in the annual Sydney-to-Hobart blue water classic that starts on 26 December.
Mike Perham was 17 when he became the youngest person to sail solo around the world in 2009, a record trumped by 16-year-old Watson in May 2010.
The adventurer from Potters Bar in Hertfordshire was only 14 when he conquered the Atlantic on his own.
The pair will join the youngest crew ever to compete in the grueling 628-nautical mile (1,160km) race from Sydney to Tasmania, which is one of the toughest ocean events in the world.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Book of Forms, great non-fiction reference book

Reposted from Great Non-Fiction Books
by D L Keur
A must-have reference for all serious poets and students of that most revered discipline.  –D. L. Keur, The Deepening

A Handbook of Poetics, Including Odd and Invented Forms, Revised and Expanded Edition
by Lewis Putnam Turco

For decades Lewis Turco’s The Book of Forms has been standard in the libraries of writers, teachers, scholars, and others who care about the craft of poetry. Now Turco has expanded and updated “the poet’s bible” once again, this time incorporating a collection of “odd and invented forms,” which adds many interesting ancient and modern prosodies and forms with new examples written by contemporary poets old and young. Turco presents “The Rules of Scansion,” discusses the “levels” of poetry–the typographical, the sonic, the sensory, and the ideational–and proffers the ever-useful “Form-Finder Index.”

LEWIS PUTNAM TURCO is an emeritus professor of English, and founding director of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center and of the Department of Creative Writing at the State University of New York College at Oswego. He has published original books of criticism, drama, fiction, memoirs, reference, and twenty-six collections of his poems.


Newly Released Books From UPNE

View these books on University Press of New England's website

Three Science Fiction Novellas - J.-H. Rosny - Wesleyan University Pess
Jazz Talmud - Jake Marmer - Sheep Meadow Press
Breaking & Entering - Eileen Pollack - Four Way Books
Art Schooled - Larry Witham - University Press of New England
The Educated Eye - Nancy Anderson, ed.; Michael R. Dietrich, ed.  - Dartmouth College Press

82 Remsen St - Alice Davidson Outwater - WindRidge Publishing
Walking through the Seasons - Marilyn Webb Neagley; Lynda Reeves McIntyre, illus. - WindRidge Publishing
Musings of a Vermont Nutritionist - Lyn Carew - WindRidge Publishing
Skinny Dipping with Loons -Laurie Caswell Burke; Annie Caswell, illus.; James Madison, illus. - WindRidge Publishing

California Jews - Ava F. Kahn, ed.; Marc Dollinger, ed.; Moses Rischin, fwd. - Brandeis University Press

Biography chronicles former Gov. Phil Hoff's impact

Reposted from Burlington Free Press
Written by
Candace Page

Now, a University of Vermont historian and two former journalists have told the story of how the 38-year-old lawyer turned a pent-up desire for change in Vermont into an agenda for state government.
Their book, “Philip Hoff: How Red Turned Blue in the Green Mountain State,” combines political biography with social history to vividly portray Vermont and its government in the 1960s.

Two of the book’s authors, Stephen Terry and Anthony Marro, were reporters for the Rutland Herald who covered Hoff during his three terms as governor. The book is built around work they did nearly 50 years ago, fleshed out with recent interviews and with political history contributed by UVM emeritus professor Samuel Hand.

The authors chronicle Hoff’s rapid rise to the governorship, battles with Republicans to enact his reform agenda and his equally precipitous political fall — his loss of the 1970 U.S. Senate race. They outline the achievements of the Hoff years, from dramatic reapportionment of the state House of Representatives, to the transfer of responsibility for social welfare from towns to the state.

The rest of the story

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

East Lansing librarian: Books can be a great gift

Reposted: East Lansing Librarian
Written by
Robin L. Rushbrook

Too many books, too little time! It only gets worse during the holidays with the release of so many wonderful books.

As a librarian, I'm compelled to give books as gifts, I just can't help myself. The dilemma is how to choose the perfect book; perhaps the possibilities that follow will help to give the gift of reading.
When my daughter was born, I started the tradition of giving her a Christmas book every year. There are always lovely selections for children. Tomie dePaola's latest holiday story is "Strega Nona's Gift," which includes holiday events through December and January in an Italian village.

"Song of the Stars" by Sally Lloyd-Jones is a celebration of the natural world in many countries as animals anticipate the birth of Jesus.Want something that's a little different? "Lighthouse Christmas" by Tony Buzzeo and "The Lighthouse Santa" by Sara Hoagland Hunter are based on the historical tradition of The Flying Santa Service that brought presents to lighthouse keepers and their families.

The rest of the story.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

JEWS AND RACE in review

 Taken from original blog

Whole in One

Two recent books consider whether Jewishness is a religion, a culture, a race, or some combination of the three. The answer may be none of the above.

By Adam Kirsch|December 15, 2011 7:00 AM
In Jews and Race, published as part of Brandeis’ exciting new Library of Modern Jewish Thought, Hart has gathered 36 original documents—studies, scientific articles, and popular essays. It would have been easy to fill such a book with anti-Semitic writings, convinced of Jews’ racial inferiority, but that is not Hart’s mandate. On the contrary, almost all of the pieces in the book were written by Jews, and their approach ranges from the “objective” to the frankly apologetic. The goal of these writers was to use race science to answer the very question that Batnitzky’s philosophers posed: What remains of Jewish identity in the modern world?

Read the rest of the review

Friday, December 9, 2011

Events this Weekend - Dec. 10-11, 2011

  • Saturday, December 10, 2011
    10:00 am
    Sara Hoagland Hunter & Julia Miner
    The Lighthouse Santa
    Eight Cousins
    Author Reading & Book Signing
    Falmouth, MA

  • Saturday, December 10, 2011
    1:00 pm
    Sara Hoagland Hunter
    The Lighthouse Santa
    Chatham Christmas Stroll - Yellow Umbrella Books
    Author Reading & Book Signing
    Chatham, MA

  • Sunday, December 11, 2011
    2:00 pm
    Sara Hoagland Hunter
    The Lighthouse Santa
    Titcomb’s Bookshop
    Author Reading & Book Signing
    East Sandwich, MA

  • Sunday, December 11, 2011
    2:30 pm
    Barrie Dunsmore
    There and Back
    Newseum @ Knight TV Studio
    Author Talk with Ted Koppel & Book Signing
    Washington, DC

Review for WHEN DAD CAME BACK - Gary Soto

When Dad Came Back.

Soto, Gary (author).

Sept. 2011. 152p. Univ. Press of New England, e-book, $7.99 (9781611682113). Grades 4-7.

"Available so far only in electronic format, Soto's newest slice-of-life novel centers on 13-year-old Gabe Mendoza's conflicted feelings when his father, an alcoholic who abandoned him and his mother four years ago, shows up again as a shambling, homeless wreck. Endowed with a broad streak of natural compassion but living in a seedy Fresno neighborhood rich in human predators, Gabe displays a ready generosity toward street people and others in need. But he also has the toughness to force a violent confrontation to get Frankie, a menacing gang member, off his case and later to sneak into Frankie's house to rescue a stolen pit bull pup. As Gabe sweats in the summer heat, roams shabby parks and streets, spends a week with a hardworking uncle, and talks about his father's return with his mother and others, his cold anger slowly melts and, after he finds his dad cleaned up and working in a store, even turns into a grudging acceptance with the reflection that "everyone needs a second--or third--chance." As usual for Soto, the setting is as vividly drawn as any of the characters, and there's an everyday quality to the incidents shaping the plotline that invites recognition and identification from readers."
    -- John Peters

Friday, December 2, 2011

Author Readings and Signing this Weekend

Sara Hoagland Hunter and Julia Miner, co-authors of THE LIGHTHOUSE SANTA will be reading and signing books Saturday, December 3 and Sunday December 4.

Saturday, December 03, 2011
3:00 pm
The Book Stall at Chestnut Court
Author Reading & Book Signing
Winnerka, IL

Sunday, December 04, 2011
(Contact sponsor for time)
University Club’s Annual Holiday Party
Author Talk, Reading & Book Signing
Downtown Chicago, IL
will be reading and signing on December 3rd.
The Center for Contemporary Printmaking
Author Reading & Book Signing
Norwalk, CT
Saturday, December 03, 2011
(Contact sponsor for time)
Michael Wojtech
Bark: A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast
Harris Center for Conservation Education
Author Talk & Book Signing
Hancock, NH

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Author event with Sara Hunter and Julia Miner and *The Lighthouse Santa*

 Originally posted on

Sara Hoagland Hunter and Julia Miner
We recently had the opportunity to host an event with both the author and the illustrator of a new children’s book. The Lighthouse Santa is written by Sara Hoagland Hunter and illustrated by Julia Miner; both author and illustrator are fairly local to us (Miner, in fact, keeps a studio at Emerson Umbrella, the arts center in town), and both were raised in New England.
The New England connection is significant because the subject of the book is Edward Rowe Snow, who – for nearly 50 years – flew up and down the coast, bringing gifts to the lighthouse keepers’ families each holiday season. This “Flying Santa” hired a plane each Christmas Eve and dropped wrapped gifts to lighthouse keepers and their families – from high up the Maine coast to Nantucket. Snow was a living legend with these flights, which ran from 1936 –1980; the “Friends of Flying Santa” continue the tradition today, with helicopter visits to 33 stops, including 45 Coast Guard units from Maine to New York.
Read complete posting at

Adina Bar Shalom: Courageous Haredi Leader

This blog is originally found at

By Elana Sztokman

Ada Bar Shalom    courtesy ashoka

Adina Bar Shalom is often introduced as a rabbi’s daughter or a rabbi’s wife, but it’s really her own mind that makes her so extraordinary. A pioneering leader within Israel’s tight-knit Haredi community, the 66-year-old Bar Shalom has been making headlines by espousing courageous views about religion and state in Israel. She is emerging as a woman to be reckoned with, one who is not afraid to speak her mind and who promotes a powerful vision with a determined will in the face of some difficult realities in Israel.