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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hollywood '#Noah' is kosher, says celebrity rabbi | @TimesofIsrael

It's not every day you get a Rabbi doing a movie review!



On why Noah is not the father of the Jewish people, from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach:



It isn’t until Abraham, when God says “we have the rainbow and I promise not to destroy everyone, but I will destroy these two cities Sodom and Gomorah,” Abraham does something audacious. He says “will the judge of the entire Earth not practice justice?” He lifts his fists to heaven! He raises a cudgel to Heaven! This made him the first Jew. A Jew does not just accept a divine decree, he does not just bow his head in silent obedience. 
The word “Islam” means “obedience before God” or “submission before God.” Soren Kierkegaard the great Danish theologian sums up Christianity as being a “leap of faith.” 
Judaism has no leap of faith. “Israel” means “he who wrestles with God.” You see none of that in Noah. Neither in the Torah or in this film, so in that regard, this movie portrays this very well. No other religion does this, they would see this as heresy. It’s amazing, it’s breathtaking!
See the whole review on.ine here:  Hollywood 'Noah' is kosher, says celebrity rabbi | The Times of Israel


Monday, March 17, 2014

The #Eclair is Back!

The Parisian Pastry Shop That's Somehow Made Eclairs Even Better






The French have a deep and long-running love affair with their
éclairs, and no wonder. It's a classic French treat adored by Parisians
since the 19th century, it's iced and stuffed with cream, and it's
delicious. But in a fast-paced culinary world replete with "sexier,"
globally influenced sweets—think pastel-colored macaroons, trendy cronuts,
fruity brûlées—the éclair seems almost antiquated, dull, and heavy. How
can this traditional (and frankly, unattractive) French dessert keep up
with the 21st century?


Enter Christophe Adam, pastry chef and owner of L’Éclair de Génie
in Paris's Marais district. Adam has transformed and modernized the
classic French éclair into a dessert that is fresh and appealing. He
dresses his éclairs in stunning rainbow colors, finishes them off with
edible powdered silver, and throws into the mix fun flavors like yuzu,
salted caramel, orange pistachio, and even caramel popcorn. Basically,
he's made the old éclair cool again.


Adam has also somehow managed to make his toughest critics—Parisians themselves —fall in love with these reinventions. The
shop's long lines of locals are evidence of this (so if you want to get
your hands on those mouthwatering éclairs, you'd better come early). We
highly recommend the Praliné noisette (hazelnut and praline), and the
Choco Coco (crispy milk chocolate, with a coconut cream filling). They
will change the way you see éclairs—and desserts in general. (14 Rue Pavée; +33 1 42 77 85 11, www.leclairdegenie.com)

The French Pastry Shop That's Somehow Made Eclairs Even Better : Condé Nast Traveler





Wednesday, March 12, 2014

@Simon_Schama’s ‘The Story of the Jews’ @NYTimes

The Jews, a History in So Many, Many Words

“The Story of the Jews” is exemplary popular history. It’s
engaged, literate, alert to recent scholarship and, at moments,
winningly personal

Simon Schama’s ‘The Story of the Jews’



Books of The Times

By

 

Simon Schama, the prolific and protean British historian whose topics have included the French Revolution
and the history of art, arrives now with a history of the Jewish
people, and it’s a multimedia happening: two books and a five-part
television documentary being broadcast on the BBC and PBS.
The
first volume, “The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words 1000 BC-1492
AD,” is before us. The second, out this fall, takes us up to the present
day. It bears a rather more somber subtitle: “When Words Fail:
1492-Present.”
It’s
no accident that the subtitles alight on language. Mr. Schama is a
wordy, frequently witty writer about a wordy, witty culture. Considering
the Dead Sea Scrolls,
for example, he can’t help summarizing a bit of the implied content in
one of them this way: “We are going to write the enemy into
capitulation! Surrender to our verbosity or else!”
Mr.
Schama’s own verbosity offers deep pleasures. If he occasionally writes
the reader into capitulation — there are more zealots and harlots,
uprootings and assaults, curses and hymns, doves and asses, and parched
throats and sacrificed goats in this book than you can easily keep in
your head at one time — he mostly wears his erudition lightly.
This
story has, to be sure, been related many times before. “Anyone
venturing into Jewish history has to be dauntingly aware,” Mr. Schama
observes, “of the immense mountain ranges of multivolume scholarship
towering behind him.” His is the kind of book that more academic
historians sometimes disparage as paddling in a genre that’s been
described as, “read 10 books, write an 11th.”
But
Mr. Schama’s “The Story of the Jews” is exemplary popular history. It’s
engaged, literate, alert to recent scholarship and, at moments,
winningly personal. Observing the ancient jugs and amphorae and other
kitchenware unearthed during an archaeological dig, for example, he
spies a beautiful baking tray and comments, “I am suddenly at home in
this kitchen, preparing a meal, reaching for the oil.”
Jewish
history has survived, thanks to its people’s intense literacy. “From
the beginning of the culture’s own self-consciousness, to be Jewish was
to be Bookish,” Mr. Schama writes. Jews carried the Torah everywhere,
sometimes in miniaturized versions on their persons. Burning it was
little use; these people had it memorized.
The
Torah had everything a mentally omnivorous culture needed. Mr. Schama
describes it as “compact, transferable history, law, wisdom, poetic
chant, prophecy, consolation and self-strengthening counsel.” Yet that
the Jews have come so close to annihilation so many times also
demonstrates the limits of words alone. As Mr. Schama writes elsewhere,
“There are certain things poetry can’t do: prolong the life of doomed
states, for example.”
Mr.
Schama’s history commences around the time Jews began to be thought of,
by scholars, as a unified people; it ends with the Spanish Inquisition
and the Jews’ expulsion from Spain. In between, the author swivels among
civilizations, depicting Jewish life in the ancient Near East, in the
Roman and Hellenistic world, and mingled with early Christianity and
Islam. His narrative stresses that Jews have not been, as is often
imagined, a culture apart; their culture has busily intermingled with
many others.
Mr.
Schama mediates between historians. He lingers on the “procession of
pink-faced Anglos — Bible scholars, missionaries, military engineers,
mappers and surveyors, kitted out with their measuring tapes, their
candles, notebooks, sketchbooks and pencils, accompanied by their NCOs
and fellah-guides,” who have crisscrossed biblical lands, searching for
relics.
Photo
Simon Schama Credit Oxford Film and Television
The
author himself combs through all manner of historical evidence, and is
winsome about much of it. “So much classical history can be written in
its plumbing,” he says. We realize that Josephus is the first real Jewish historian, Mr. Schama comments, “when, with a twinge of guilt, he introduces his mother into the action.”
At
moments, this volume breaks into broad comedy. There is an extended
riff on the surreptitious pickling that surely occurred on the Sabbath
(“Woe betide you, O illicit pickler!”) that is nearly worth the price of
admission alone.
But
comedy “The Story of the Jews” is not. To study Jewish history is to
study what it means to be hurt, to be despised, to be considered filthy
and homicidal. Mr. Schama is thorough on the vindictive paranoia that
has run rampant through history. He pauses to detail, in particular, the
Judeophobic mobs in 12th- and 13th-century England who slaughtered and
expelled Jews on the slightest of pretexts, a bit of history his country
pretends, he suggests, did not occur.
Mr.
Shama writes: “How can God permit such a thing to happen to His People?
That’s what we always ask when cinders smart the eyes and we begin to
spit soot.” Jewish faith and resilience are awesome to observe in this
volume.
Mr.
Schama is Jewish, but not especially religious. (I find it impossible
to apply the term “nonobservant” to someone who observes so well.) Yet
he is aware that there are essentially two Jewish stories running
parallel to each other: “one from the archaeological record, one through
the infinitely edited, redacted, anthologized, revised work that will
end up as the Hebrew Bible.”
His
loyalty is obviously to the hard evidence. At the same time, he
declares that “the ‘minimalist’ view of the Bible as wholly fictitious,
and unhooked from historical reality, may be as much of a mistake as the
biblical literalism it sought to supersede.”
As
much as Mr. Schama revels in the language of Jewish religious texts,
it’s the secular commentary he more often thrills to. He pauses to
praise the medieval philosopher Maimonides’s “lip-smacking,
fist-punching relish for detail.” Finding a scrap of text on a pottery
shard, Mr. Schama suggests, is like discovering “the equivalent of a
Hebrew tweet.” Sometimes, he writes, “the tweets turn into true texts:
stories of grievances, anxieties, prophecies, boasts.”
It’s a point this pungent book makes over and over: “In this story you don’t escape the words.”

THE STORY OF THE JEWS

Finding the Words 1000 BC-1492 AD
By Simon Schama

Illustrated. 496 pages. Ecco. $39.99.



A
version of this review appears in print on March 11, 2014, on page C1
of the New York edition with the headline: The Jews, a History in So
Many, Many Words.

Read the article online here: Simon Schama’s ‘The Story of the Jews’ - NYTimes.com




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