Tonight: Kosher Cooking and Kurds

It is the penultimate evening of the Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival and there are two sensational authors who have been attracting a lot of attention to feature.

First at 6pm, Ronnie Fein introduces us to Hip Kosher–the burgeoning movement that liberates kosher cuisine from the moribund stereotype of gray meat cooked to the consistency of shoe leather and replaces it with easy-to-prepare recipes that would fit in nicely on any FoodNetwork show. Want an example? How about Lamb Chops with Charmoula Pesto? Or Pepper Crusted Bluefish with Horseradish Yogurt Sauce? Crisped Gilboa Cheese Panini with Fig Jam? You don’t have to be kosher or even Jewish to get your taste buds jumping at the mere description.

Also tonight at 7:30 pm, is Ariel Sabar’s widely heralded My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq. In this amazing family history, Sabar traces his father’s journey from his small village in Iraqi Kurdistan, where he was the last boy bar-mitzvahed to his new home in Israel, to his unlikely role as the premier scholar on Aramaic in the world, first at Yale and later at UCLA. Woven into this amazing life, is the story of one thoroughly American son’s quest to understand his roots and by proxy, his enigmatic father. His journey takes us from the skate parks of Southern California to post-Saddam Iraq and back again. This is a book people will be talking about for a long time.

Bernard-Henri Lévy at the French Embassy is Sold Out

Don’t get left out of these other excellent non-fiction talks and readings at the Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival:

  • Tuesday, September 16–Edgar Bronfman with Wayne Firestone talk about Hope, Not Fear: A Path to Jewish Renaissance (Birthright Alumni get in free!)
  • Friday, September 19–Jacques Berlinerblau discusses Thumpin’ It: The Use and Abuse of the Bible in Today’s Presidential Politics
  • Tuesday, September 23–Ariel Sabar discusses My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq
  • Wednesday, September 24–Masha Gessen discusses Blood Matters: From Inherited Illness to Designer Babies, How the World and I Found Ourselves in the Future of the Gene
  • Wednesday, September 24–Stephen Joel Trachtenberg talks about Big Man on Campus with Francine Zorn Trachtenberg

Ariel Sabar in the NY Times Sunday Magazine

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the great advantages of my job is being able to read advance copies of the novels, memoirs and works of non-fiction that we feature in the Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival. So, I’ve already become a huge Ariel Sabar fan even though his book My Father’s Paradise, won’t be available in-stores until September. For those of you who can’t wait to read this rich and imaginative history of his father’s family’s life in Iraqi Kurdistan and subsequent immigration to Israel in the 1950s, this past weekend’s New York Times Sunday Magazine has an essay adapted from the book. I strongly recommend it. Without giving too much away, the essay serves as an overture that touches on all the major themes of Sabar’s book: the unique linguistic and historical journey of the Kurdish Jews; his own family’s dramatic history straddling Iraq, Israel and the United States; his youthful disaffection from that heritage and subsequent re-engagement; the tremendous toll taken on the individuals whose stories he shares–their difficulty belonging to the world they live in, alongside the impossibility of returning to the world the have the most affection for.

More than that, you should circle your calendar now for September 23 when Ariel Sabar will read from My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for his Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq.

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