The Newsletter of Fig Tree Books LLC
October, 2020: Issue #11
Fredric D. Price, Founder & Publisher
BLOG: Now with commentary on culture/current events, plus mini-reviews of books not published by Fig Tree Books

CLICK on the BLOG image to READ, REPLY to what we've written, COMPOSE something on your own about the state of literature (Jewish or otherwise), book publishing in general, culture & current events, or a specific book that you want to let others know about. And to SIGN UP, so you don't have to wait to read our blogs once
a month when Fig Tree Lit is published.
JEWS OF DIFFERENT HUES: Black Modern Orthodox woman sells empowering Jewish apparel with Hebrew slogans

Elisheva Rishon, a Black Modern Orthodox millennial raised in New York’s Orthodox communities of Crown Heights and Flatbush, grew up experiencing some of the racism that results from the denomination’s strong homogeneity. She’d been excluded from games as a child, and had friends make incorrect assumptions about her personality or the way she speaks. Now living in Los Angeles, Rishon is coming out with new collections that celebrate the many facets of her identity, like The #Jewishvibe Collection, The Melanated Beauties collection, and the Ethnic-Racial Celebration Collection.
PODCAST: Ruth Wisse on the Five Books Every Jew Should Read in Lockdown - from Mosaic/Tikvah

During this year of lockdowns, shuttered businesses, and working from home, people have made time for many new habits and hobbies, from baking bread to reorganizing closets. In this podcast, the Jewish literary and political scholar Ruth Wisse, one of our era’s great masters of Jewish letters, offers her own suggestion for how to spend at least some of that time: reading the greatest works of modern Jewish literature.
Those works to her are:



In this episode, Wisse explains what drew her to her choices and why, even with just a few months left in the year, we all ought to pick up one of these books and start reading.
Ruth Wisse is the Martin Peretz Professor emeritus of Yiddish and Comparative Literature at Harvard. She is a noted scholar of Yiddish literature and of Jewish history and culture.
DON'T BE SHY: SEND US A QUESTION & ANSWER IT YOURSELF:  And win the chance to get a free set of our books! 

We'll publish a question and answer from a reader. Now here's the cool part: if we select your question and answer, we'll send you free copies of all of our books.

Send your Q & A to Info@FigTreeBooks.net.

Last month's question resulted in a flood of responses. Here is the question from September: "Why are so many North American Jews ignorant about the Israel-Palestine situation?" It was based on Peter Beinart’s article in The New York Times of July 8, 2020 (nyti.ms/3h6MaZa). 

Here is an article that responds to it:

The Jews of Privilege: Peter Beinart thinks Jews don’t need Zionism. That’s because he’s never needed it himself.

By Benjamin Kerstein, July 9, 2020 Tablet Magazine

"In today’s world, when the Jewish people have realized one of the essential tenets of Judaism—return and redemption—in the form of refounding a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, the debate over Zionism and anti-Zionism essentially consists of two arguments: One, obviously, is the Zionist argument; the other is the racist argument. The Zionist argument holds that the Jews are a people; that because they are a people, they possess the same inalienable and absolute rights as any other people; and that among those rights is that of self-determination in a nation-state.
The racist argument holds that non-Jews have the right to decide whether the Jews are a people or not; that the Jews are not a people and as such, have no collective rights; and that because of this, the Jewish state is an abomination before God and/or the catechism of human rights and equality."
BRIEF BOOK REVIEW: Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered by Sarah Tuttle-Singer (Not published by Fig Tree Books LLC)

By Fredric Price

A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz was the first book that gave me real insight into modern-day Jerusalem, primarily from the vantage point of a young boy before, during, and after the War of Independence. It is a remarkable memoir that’s left an indelible impression me, as I’ve spent a lot of time in Jerusalem over the years. 

I’m a New Yorker who’s made 56 trips to Israel. From 2004-2018, I was Chairman or CEO of three Israeli biotech companies and spent a total of about a year in Israel, working mostly in the Har Hotzvim section of Jerusalem. As I was there by myself, I explored the City on my own and occasionally with colleagues, making sure I walked through different neighborhoods, observing how people walked, talked, interacted, etc. I don’t speak Hebrew, so I was a voyeur. It pained me that I couldn’t interact with most people, although many were considerate enough to speak to me in English. I can’t say that I’m an expert in understanding the Israeli psyche, although I can say I’m pretty well informed about what life is like for many of the disparate communities within the country. I’ve hired Ethiopians, Haredi, Progressives, Orthodox, and secular Israelis.

I just finished Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered by Sarah Tuttle Singer and wanted to let everyone know that it is as praiseworthy as A Tale of Love and Darkness. Of course, the writing styles between the two books couldn’t be more different. That’s to be expected, as both authors hail from different generations and came to Israel through different routes. They both write from the heart, which makes their books more than what is usually put on paper as written from what the eyes see. Sarah is a gifted writer and drew me in right from the beginning.

One follows her throughout the four quarters of the Old City as she interacts with individuals representing all of the faiths - not as a reporter, but as someone who lives there. She stops, listens, and becomes friends with those who pray differently. She teaches us about history, culture, politics, and religion in a way that removes us from the headlines of the day. Her insights and honesty are candid and refreshing. 

She intersperses a family story into that year in an important and moving way without dragging it down. It gives the reader an intense understanding of who she is and why she acts as she does. What she has gone through and come out of successfully is inspiring.
MY JEWISH YEAR: Post-Rosh Hashanah - Tossing Flaws and Breadcrumbs

"I remember, as a kid, feeling that the High Holy Day passage, Unetaneh Tokef—“Let us acknowledge the power [of the holiness of the day]”—which says that God is going to decide “Who will live and who will die,” did not apply to me."