A fact-filled, mostly interesting account of Hanukkah’s development in the United States.

READ REVIEW

HANUKKAH IN AMERICA

A HISTORY

An American Jewish History editor details the modern development of Hanukkah’s rituals and traditions

Ashton (Religion Studies/Rowan Univ.; Rebecca Gratz: Women and Judaism in Antebellum America, 1997, etc.) begins her history of Hanukkah with a brief account of the second-century B.C. Judean revolt against Hellenistic rule and influence. While the Jewish calendar historically celebrated Hanukkah to commemorate the success of this revolt, it was seen as a fairly minor festival. However, during the late 17th and into the early 18th centuries, Jewish immigrant communities on America’s East Coast felt that the influence of proximity to the Christian holidays of their neighbors and new Enlightenment ideas were posing threats of assimilation. Following a common Jewish theological practice, liberal reformers and ardent traditionalists alike looked to a shared religious history as a means to understand, define and defeat the problems of the present. Concurrent with America’s decision to add to its holiday calendar—e.g., Thanksgiving (1863) and Memorial Day (1868)—Hanukkah’s importance increased by demarcating developing traditions in a new land and offering the Jewish alternative to Christmas. Along the way, Ashton gives a nod to the role of women through an explanation of their crucial domestic job of making the home Hanukkah-friendly. The increasing malleability of the symbolism attached to Hanukkah first became evident in the 20th century, when the Hanukkah story was used to contextualize events associated with the Holocaust and the foundation of the state of Israel. Though occasionally too dense with information, this work shows how Jewish communities used “an element within Judaism that corresponded to an element of Christianity in order to resist Christianity.”

A fact-filled, mostly interesting account of Hanukkah’s development in the United States.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8147-0739-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

more