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2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Blogging from A to Z Challenge Books

#AtoZChallenge – M My Name is Asher Lev

Welcome to M!

I have kind of a different book for you today. To be sure, the book classifies as multicultural, diverse and all those wonderful things that make the world go around:

My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

 

I’ve been promising myself to read this book forever and here’s why:

Asher Lev is a Ladover Hasid who keeps kosher, prays three times a day and believes in the Ribbono Shel Olom, the Master of the Universe. Asher Lev is an artist who is compulsively driven to render the world he sees and feels even when it leads him to blasphemy. In this stirring and often visionary novel, Chaim Potok traces Asher’s passage between these two identities, the one consecrated to God, the other subject only to the imagination.

Asher Lev grows up in a cloistered Hasidic community in postwar Brooklyn, a world suffused by ritual and revolving around a charismatic Rebbe. But in time his gift threatens to estrange him from that world and the parents he adores. As it follows his struggle, My Name Is Asher Lev becomes a luminous portrait of the artist, by turns heartbreaking and exultant, a modern classic.

Why on earth would I be interested in this? Well, years and years ago I happened upon another book by the author called, The Chosen.  You might have seen the movie, with Robby Benson, I believe.  Anyway, having grown up in a mildly nonreligious home (aside from attending church with my piano playing gram) I was interested in what makes devoutly people, kids, tick.

Since I had little knowledge of Jewish life, save for Fiddler on the Roof, I decided it was time to learn about other religions. I know I was pretty astute (nerdy) for a kid. I couldn’t  imagine a kid who is forced to behave one way while yearning to follow another set of rules, like art, for example.

I’ve since come to value the beliefs of most religions and find Hasidism especially interesting so that’s why I’m wanting to read about Asher Lev.

So tell me, have you read this book? What about The Chosen? Anything about other very strict Jewish cultures? Tell me so I can enjoy that book too!

 

 

 

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Books Non Fiction

A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead a TLC Blog Tour

Close your eyes and visualize with me for a minute.  France, 1930s, and women.  What comes to mind? Do you think of:

The Eiffel Tower?  Yes.  What about:

 

baguettes? Probably.

Do you think about fashionable french women?

courtesy tumblr.the1930s

Certainly!

But what about Hitler? Death Camps? Antisemitism? War or resistance?

These are topics you probably don’t naturally associate with France unless you know your French history.

A train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead, provides one of the most thorough investigations into women’s roles during the German occupation in World War II.  It is incredible to discover that regular women, housewives and mothers, became resistors to the war effort.

These brave and clever women made bombs, transported secret documents, and organized clandestine meetings right underneath the watchful German eye during the occupation of France.

 

 

These are the faces of powerful young women in France during the 1930s.

These incredible women performed acts that they knew were dangerous and could and would and did cost some of them their lives.  But they did them anyway.  They hid their children with relatives.  They often lived nomadic lives rarely sleeping in the same home twice.  And what I find most incredible about this?  They did not have the modern conveniences we have today.  There was no hairdryer or take out when they were hungry and needed a quick bite.  They couldn’t text a girlfriend to see if they could sleep at her apartment.  There was no GPS to track where their loved ones were being held prisoner.

None of that. But yet they persisted because they fought for what they believed in.  Many of these women were sent to concentration camps for being a Jewess or helping Jews or for resisting the Nazi occupation. They were beaten, gassed, shot, or worse.   Some of these women formed friendships during this incredibly difficult time.

So what can you take away from a fact heavy book like this?  That being a woman is not limiting, regardless of your situation or the time period in which you live.  It takes a bunch of ordinary women to make something extraordinary happen.  A train in Winter will force you to look at French women differently.

Perhaps you will catch some of their joi de vivre?

 

I give A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead four paws for its powerful depiction of women fighting for Jewish rights.