Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What I've been up to

Apologies for being so AWOL the last couple of months. Here, in no particular order, are some things on my mind:
1- Reg. Peter Beinart: Yes, there is a disconnect between young American Jews (particularly non-Orthos) and Israel. It gets harder to be a Zionist every time Israel does something stupid or overblown or just downright cruel to the Palestinians/Turks/anyone who looks at it cross-eyed.

2- The crazier Israel's conversion/marriage situation gets (Rotem bill, demanding three generations of ketubot, etc), the more number 1 will continue to be true.

3- The Rebbe was a far better-- and fairer-- book than Jonathan Mark gave it credit. Hopefully a more thorough review will be forthcoming.

4- Family tree research continues ever-so-slowly. Recent highlights include getting a copy of my g.g.grandfather's death certificate (and the marriage certificate proving he was a bigamist).

5- Shiksa Girlfriend's latest reading interests have veered towards memoirs of kooky women in kooky religious groups. So far I've given her Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, The Rabbi's Daughter and this terribly-written waste of ink. Any other suggestions from readers? (She's also enjoyed Rashi's Daughters and Tova Mirviss' books in fiction.)

Books I'm Reading:

- Political Assassinations by Jews (Nachman Ben-Yehuda). Great title and very thorough, though slightly plodding.

- Untold Tales of the Hasidim (David Assaf). Alternates between dry and juicy. Sort of like my attempts at cooking steak.

- Poor Cousins (Ande Manners). Nice historical tidbits and decent style, though the constant quotes without sources are driving me crazy.

- 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft and Debs: The Election that Changed the Country (James Chace). Fascinating background on these four politicians, particularly useful given that the first two seem to be some of Glenn Beck's favorite whipping boys these days.

Books I recently finished (this happens very rarely):

- Napoleon's Privates (Tony Perrott): Funny and informative, though the author seems to assume I attend far more dinner parties than is actually the case.

- Aaronsohn's Maps (Patricia Goldstone): A good introduction. Intrigue like you wouldn't believe.

- Every Spy a Prince (Dan Raviv & Yossi Melman): Particularly timely, given the Mossad Passport brou-ha-ha. Not saying people should be paranoid about Mossad, but damn, these guys really don't screw around. Also useful for developing healthy skepticism of blanket denials from politicians.

That's all for now, time to pack for our trip to SG's homestead.

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