Without a Trace – Chapter 21

November 29, 2012

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 21 of a new online serial novel, Without a Trace, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters.

“My sister’s husband left town right after Pesach and just returned this week. So you can understand why she didn’t want to leave the house for no special reason. If she would be able to visit my parents, that would have been a good reason. But if they’re not here, and it’s only me…”

Shevi and Elinor didn’t respond. One candle went out with a little pop, leaving behind a scented, yellow waxy residue. Chasida asked if either of them wanted some chocolate milk, and tried to get them to eat the last two calzones, but both Shevi and Elinor declined.

“If you think I can eat another thing after all this,” Elinor declared, “then you are majorly mistaken. Shevi, no dinner tonight, okay?”

Shevi smiled thinly in response. Chasida puttered around them like a big, generous bird who couldn’t sit still for a single moment—but only Shevi seemed to pick up on the loneliness in the aging nest. Miri gurgled on the rug that their good neighbor had spread on the floor for her; there was no expecting her to understand anything. And Elinor was also too young to understand. Not quite like Miri, but young nevertheless.

Chasida had prepared a fancy meal for her sister. Alone at home, she had cooked, fried, and baked industriously. She’d decorated the room with a youthful flair and had anxiously awaited the moment when her twin would arrive and they’d be able to spend some time together. But then her sister had informed her that she wasn’t coming. Their parents weren’t home; it was only Chasida there, and for only Chasida, it didn’t pay for Shoshi to leave her house and her husband who had just come home. And Chasida was left to eat everything she had prepared, along with her two guests, the oldest of which was about half her age. Keep Reading…

Back in print after many years! Baron Korff

November 28, 2012

I remember that book report quite clearly. I was in the sixth grade at the time, and my English teacher was extremely fond of assigning book reports, doing so on a monthly basis at least. I’ve always been a voracious reader, so reading all those books was something I could handle…but the problem was that the books had to be ones that we’d never read before. Otherwise, for all the teacher knew, we could be writing up whole book reports based on books that we’d read three years ago. (Never underestimate the memory of a child, you know!)

Back then, Jewish books weren’t coming out every few weeks. So every book report assignment found me wracking my brains, trying to find a book that I hadn’t yet read.

I think it was my father who suggested I read Baron Korff. Even back then (with all these “back then’s,” by now you probably think I’m ancient… but really, I still have some time for that, b’ezras Hashem!), it was considered a classic, and I had to track down someone who still owned a copy of it. Once I’d done that and read the book, though, I was glad I’d gone to the trouble of finding it—it was a phenomenal book.

There was nothing petty or modern-day about this book; this was the real deal—a novel with fully fashioned characters such as a guilt-ridden Russian baron, a perceptive Galician count, a wise old rabbi, and of course the main character, Abram, who began his life as an abandoned Christian baby boy…

Like I said, I loved every minute reading this book—and now you can have this same enjoyment, too! After years of being out of print, Baron Korff –with a new look due to its updated front cover—is now once again being released and put back onto the shelves of your local bookstore!

This is a classic that has never lost its charm. Read it, and you’ll agree. Whether you’ve read this book in the past and are buying it for the nostalgia it evokes within you, or for your kids to read as a kind of “ma’aseh avos siman la’banim”; or you’re young enough to have never heard of Baron Korff and are buying it simply out of curiosity (what is this book about anyway, that they were going on and on about it in that article?), this is a purchase you will not regret having made!

Click here to purchase online.

New Release! Kriyah Coach – The Alef-Beis Train

November 27, 2012

I remember a stint I once did as a kriyah tutor for young children. While it’s always incredibly gratifying to teach and reinforce to kids the all-important skills of learning to read Hebrew, and I have wonderful memories of that time, one aspect of that job that stands out most in my recollections is the sheer amount of time, energy, and creativity it took to come up with yet another game or fun exercise as a means to review the skills with the kids.

Should we play Alef-Beis Hopscotch today? Maybe a Match-It nekudos game? Or Pin-the-Nekudos-on-the-Letters? (For the uninitiated, I can explain the ins and outs of these games to you another time!) Cut-and-dry drilling and flashcards just would not do the trick…

If you have a child who’s learning to read Hebrew, especially if he’s the type that needs lots of fun and stimulation (think: fire engine sirens and flashing lights; the noisier and more colorful, the better!), you probably know exactly what I mean. Many times, the best way to teach and get through to a child is by way of excitement and games.

That’s why Kriyah Coach, an interactive DVD that teaches kids how to read Hebrew in a most fun and exciting way, has been making such waves among young children and their parents.

This incredibly multi-faceted DVD offers a brilliant combination of interactive games, high-quality animation, and an actual classroom setting featuring world-renowned kriayh specialist, Rabbi Henoch Potash. Your child will join in with Rabbi Potash’s class and will be calling out the answers to the rebbi’s drill questions along with all the other students. Additionally, his speed at reading Hebrew will increase dramatically as he whizzes through the fun games brought to him by “The Alef-Beis Train” on this DVD.

Your house may be filled with squeals of delight from Nashi, Rupert the Parrot, and all the rest of Kriyah Coach’s colorful characters (don’t say we didn’t warn you!)…but you can rest assured that your child will be having loads of fun, AND will learn to read Hebrew fluently at the  same time, too.

Click here to purchase online.

See trailer below:

JUST RELEASED! – Exploring the Wild World of Animals

November 23, 2012

            Okay, folks. It’s in. THE Chanukah gift of the season—for lucky recipients of all ages—has just hit the bookstores. But this is something that is bound to fly off the shelves within minutes of being placed on them, so we advise you to pick up your copy of this book real soon, before the stores run out…

What kind of book is this? you want to know. I’ll describe it to you, but knowing your curiosity, you’ll probably want to see this item for yourself to be sure that such an awesome book really exists…so refer back to the last sentence of paragraph one!

Exploring the Wild World of Animals is a magnificent, oversized book all about animals, written from a Torah perspective. Full-color photos of each animal nearly leap out of the pages at you, as you read about the feeding habits, physical characteristics, and lifespan in the wild of 35 different members of the animal kingdom, as well as lots of other information about them. Loaded with Fast Facts, Wacky Facts, Did You Know… tidbits, and of course the popular “Animal Cracker” jokes about each animal, you’ll find this incredible book to be entertaining as much as it is informative.

This book makes a fantastic Chanukah gift for readers of all ages. Your kids will be entranced by it—and I speak from experience here, as when I brought it home, my own kids could not be pried away from it, and I almost had to bribe them to put the book away and eat their supper! But let’s not fool ourselves; adults, including you, will be just as enthralled by this book, too!

So, what are you waiting for? A virtual safari is awaiting you, whether you’re an animal lover or someone who is simply interested in reading about the nifla’os ha’Borei so readily apparent in the animal kingdom. Turn the pages of Exploring the Wild World of Animals, and let the adventure begin…

Click here to purchase online.

Click on thumbnail for a preview of the leopard.

Without a Trace – Chapter 20

November 23, 2012

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 20 of a new online serial novel, Without a Trace, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters.

“Eliad, how nice to see you!” Shevi’s mother hugged her son. “How are you doing?”

“Great,” he said as he lowered his huge rucksack to the floor. “Where’s Abba?”

“In Yokne’am. Do you want to take a drive over there to see his work?” she asked as she walked toward the kitchen while motioning for him to follow.

“Oh, no, Ima. I came just to rest. No trips, no jaunts, no shopping, nothing. Just to see you and the family for a bit.”

“We’re thrilled,” his mother said from the depths of the refrigerator. “Some orange juice, Eliad?” She suddenly stood up straight. “Oh!” she said, squeezing her eyes shut and slapping her hand against her forehead. “Did I tell you about my exhibit?”

“You did,” he replied.

“Well, I’m flying this evening to Belgium for it.”

“This evening?” He made no effort to hide his disappointment. “The night I come home?”

His mother only nodded in response.

“Well, whatever,” he said, watching as she bent back over into the fridge. “I hope that Abba doesn’t have any plans to disappear abroad in honor of my little vacation.” Keep Reading…

Book Review – L’Chaim: 18 Chapters to Live By

November 22, 2012

By Sarah Irons

Books on health and nutrition tend to make me feel guilty. About every six months I resolve anew to change my lifestyle. I buy a new book, along with plain nonfat yogurt and whole-spelt crackers from the grocery store, and promise myself that this time I’m going to see it through. I’ll end my relationship with pizza and sushi in favor of bright leafy greens, unsweetened fruit shakes and grilled chicken on half a whole wheat wrap. My most successful attempt lasted for four months, about two years ago.

At this point I have almost an entire library of diet and nutrition books in my house. Yet Dr. Shmuel Shields’s book, L’Chaim: 18 Chapters to Live By (published by Brand Name Publishing),stands out among them. Dr. Shmuel Shields, a certified nutritionist with a private practice in New York, himself made the transition from what he calls a “standard American diet” (SAD): “about 150 pounds of sugar annually…and the amount of fat found in one stick of butter every day.” With the help of a local health food store proprietor, Dr. Shields discovered firsthand the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. He experimented with a range of eating habits, including a foray into veganism, before settling on a “high-fiber, primarily plant-based diet” that includes chicken or meat on Shabbos. Now he uses his knowledge and experience to help other people. In addition to his practice, Dr. Shields is also a popular lecturer and health columnist.

The book is organized into eighteen distinct chapters, and each chapter focuses on one aspect of living a healthier lifestyle. Dr. Shields explains it fully using a blend of current scientific findings, Torah perspectives, and tips for practically incorporating it into our lives. The nutritional information is cleverly interspersed with personal anecdotes from both Dr. Shields’s life and practice—showing how people have successfully integrated these changes into their own lifestyle.

The topics include ways to boost your immunity and avoid colds and flu; how to distinguish between “good” carbs and “bad” carbs; the role of fat in our diet (it’s not as bad for you as you might think); how to wean ourselves off sodas and other artificially sweetened drinks with the only beverage your body really needs: water; debunking the most common excuses for why we don’t exercise and feasible ways to increase daily activity; stress reduction, especially in an age of increasing reliance on technology; and sleep—why it’s so essential for both physical and mental health.

Each chapter ends with a practical application for the concepts it covers, including meal plans, original recipes, strategies for staying on track on Shabbos and Yom Tov, tips on longevity from a woman who passed her 100th birthday and, most importantly, healthy alternatives for some of the most unhealthy foods we love to eat, like pizza and hot dogs.

Many readers will find chapter 17, “Transitions: Step by Step,” to be particularly helpful and hopeful. This chapter acknowledges the difficulty of changing our habits and routines and recommends a slow but steady process to make it stick. There are even useful tips for getting used to new tastes and foods, like mixing small amount of unfamiliar foods with familiar ones.

L’Chaim: 18 Chapters to Live By may be the solution that so many of us, who would like to be healthier but are not quite sure how to go about it, are looking for. It’s easy to read and strikingly concrete and of-the-moment. With the integration of Jewish life into the core of its premise, this book fills the unique niche of the observant, kosher consumer. It’s a book that has given me a lot to think about and one I certainly plan to refer back to as I attempt, once again, to commit to a healthier lifestyle for myself and my family.

Click here to purchase online.

Without a Trace – Chapter 19

November 9, 2012

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 19 of a new online serial novel, Without a Trace, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters.

Half an hour after Zevi left the house, Zalman and Minda got ready to leave as well.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come with us, Chasi?” her father asked again. “The store is not all that busy. We can close it for three days.”

“Thanks, Abba,” Chasida replied as she thumbed through the daily paper. “But I prefer to stay home. I know that Yitzchak and Faigy would be happy to have me, but I really want to stay here.”

“Something secret going on here that I don’t know about?” Her mother laughed as she ran a brush through her short gray wig. She examined her reflection in the mirror. “You’ll rest well, Chasida’le, won’t you? And eat what I left you in the refrigerator. You won’t do anything silly, will you?”

“I won’t.” Chasida put the paper down on the couch, but it slipped to the floor; she didn’t bother to bend over to pick it up. Only after a few seconds of silence, broken just by the sound of her mother’s rubber soles pattering around the house, did Chasida pick up the paper.

“What should I tell Mrs. Kurzman, Ima? Do you have an idea for me?”

“Kurzman?” Minda paused in mid-reach for the purple overnight bag. “What, she got back to you?”

“Yes, a while ago.”

“And she has something good for you?” Minda sat down on the edge of the sofa tiredly.

“Blum.” Chasida was terse. “She’s trying again.”


“I don’t remember anymore…” Chasida opened the paper across her lap once more, but her eyes were on her mother. “Meanwhile she hasn’t called again. So what do I tell her?”

“She called you about him three weeks ago, right?”

“Around then, yes. We met on the bus. How do you know?”

“Because you’ve been out of sorts and distracted since then,” her mother said softly. “Right, Zalman? Right I told you that something happened to Chasida?”

Zalman held his hat and gazed at it for a few long moments. Then he said, “Yes, you did tell me. So, what do you think, Minda?” Keep Reading…

Recent Release! Chafetz Chaim on the Torah

November 5, 2012

Let’s face it—with all the talk about our world being so small and constantly shrinking even more, the options available for consumers in the world only continue to grow. Especially when those consumers are Jewish, English-speaking ones who are looking for new books on Chumash and the parshah. Walk into any sefarim store, and you can become dizzy just looking at the displays of all the English parshah books there are on the market. Some are geared to men, some to women, and still others to children. Some are heavy and deep; others are less so. Some are colorful and full of humor; others are of a more serious and scholarly nature.

And this plethora of options is a good thing—no one can deny that. When you think about the amount of English parshah books—or lack thereof—that was available even just fifteen, twenty years ago, you can’t help but marvel at the astonishing leap in numbers.

With all due respect to these many fine sefarim on the Chumash, however, there is something to be said when the sefer was written decades ago (in lashon hakodesh) by a close talmid of the Chafetz Chaim, Rav Shmuel Greineman zt”l,and the divrei Torah and hashkafah within it are the very words of the Chafetz Chaim himself…

Yes, Chafetz Chaim on the Torah is not your ordinary Chumash/parshah book by any means.

In the words of the great author (translated into English):

“The sefer you are holding in your hands may be a slim volume, but it is of great value. I did not author it; I merely compiled it. I followed the reaper, collecting and gathering single stalks from the harvest and brought them together into the granary.

The owner of the field, and the one who planted the wheat, is Rabban shel Yisrael, the tzaddik, Maran Rav Yisrael Meir Hakohen zt”l, the Chafetz Chaim…”

For years a fixture on many a serious Jew’sbookshelf or table, this beautiful sefer has now been translated into English for the very first time.

In addition to the Chafetz Chaim’s divrei Torah on the Chumash, the sefer also includes a section entitled “Maasai L’Melech,” which is comprised of stories about the Chafetz Chaim and his life, what he said about various happenings, and lessons learned from him. The sefer is literally packed with Torah hashkafos and yiras Shamayim, and as you read it, if you listen with your heart, you may even hear the Chafetz Chaim’s gentle voice, guiding you, instructing you, connecting you to him and to his legacy…

Like we said, not your ordinary Chumash/parshah book at all.

Click here to purchase online.

Recently Released – Parsha Potpourri

November 2, 2012

The thoughts running through my head after reading a sample of Parsha Potpourri were: Wow!! This is beautiful!!

There really is a lot to “wow” over in this unique parsha book, and it really is nothing less than a masterpiece in its content.

With so many parsha books out on the market today, logic would dictate that a new book of this genre would need to work extremely hard in order to sell itself. But this book—and its author—speak very eloquently for themselves.

First of all, Rabbi Ozer Alport is a well-known name in the divrei Torah-on-the-weekly-parsha world. He writes a weekly, very well-received newsletter with divrei Torah on the parshah, which he culls from an astonishing range of eclectic sources. In this book, a compilation of some of Rabbi Alport’s best offerings, you’ll find the divrei Torah of the Chafetz Chaim, Rav Tzadok Hakohen, the Chiddushei HaRim, the Brisker Rav, and Rav Zalman Sorotzkin (Oznayim L’Torah), among many other sources.

And the book itself? Well, you really should pick it up and leaf through it yourself to see what I mean. It just grabs you. Maybe it’s the rich and inviting tone in the presentation of the divrei Torah, or maybe it’s the sense of challenge and intrigue found in the “Points to Ponder” section, as you think to yourself, Hey, that’s a good question! I wonder what the answer is.

One thing is for certain. No matter which parsha you’re looking at in Parsha Potpourri, you are bound to find something (or many such “somethings”) very apropos, very pertinent, and very beautiful to say over at your Shabbos table.

The food and the guests, though, you’ll have to provide for yourself.

Click here to purchase online.

Without a Trace – Chapter 18

November 2, 2012

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 18 of a new online serial novel, Without a Trace, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters.

Only after the bus finally pulled out of the bus stop did Zevi allow himself to relax on the brown and blue patterned seat. He was on the way home, and he had made the bus, even though Savta had been sure he was going to miss it.

His blue tote bag on the seat beside him almost fell as the bus lurched into the next stop—which Zevi remembered as being the last. He pushed the tote back a bit and rested his hand on it, expecting someone to ask him to sit in the seat any second. But no one did. Just two families boarded and found seats other than the one next to him. Zevi leaned back, one hand on his bag and the other on the window pane, which rumbled with the rhythm of the bus’s turning wheels. Small rays of sun bounced off his freckled forearm, but they didn’t warm him at all.

Savta had said he was better off taking his bag onto the bus, and not putting it into the luggage compartment. “Someone could steal it, you know,” she had warned him as he was about to walk out of the house, two minutes after he had hung up with his mother. “And people taking their things off the bus could knock it out by mistake, and it will be left on the road.”

He really didn’t want to take the risk of getting home without his belongings. In all honesty, Zevi could not recall the last time he had lost something, if at all.

In fourth grade, the rebbi had announced to the class at the end of the year that the only one who hadn’t forgotten a notebook or lost a pencil, eraser, book, or his food the whole year, was Zevi Bloch. Some of Zevi’s childhood nightmares were about him forgetting notebooks at home, not finding things, and not having a pen to use, because everything had disappeared from his drawers. But these dreams were odd, because Zevi’s drawers were the neatest in the whole house, and he would carefully prepare what he needed for the next day on the evening before.

“Too careful,” his father would say when he was home, while lovingly pinching the freckled cheek. Once he had asked his son, “What will happen if you forget a pencil once in a while?” Keep Reading…