The Newsletter of Fig Tree Books LLC
December 2022: Issue #37
Fredric D. Price, Founder & Publisher
ESSAY: Is the writing on the Wall for America's Jews?  
I did not think anything in American Jewish life could surprise me—until an Upper East Side neighbor said to me recently that his daughter, who had moved to Israel a dozen years ago, “was the first to see the handwriting on the wall.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I know that you’re an optimist about America,” he responded. “But at a certain point, Jews have been driven from every place where they’ve settled.”
I was stunned. “You don’t mean she thought Jews were so endangered that it was time to leave America as they’ve been leaving France and Russia?”
Smiling at my visible distress, my neighbor said he was surprised: did I really not know what was going on?
Ruth R. Wisse is a Mosaic columnist, professor emerita of Yiddish and comparative literatures at Harvard and a distinguished senior fellow at the Tikvah Fund. Her memoir Free as a Jew: a Personal Memoir of National Self-Liberation, chapters of which appeared in Mosaic in somewhat different form, is out from Wicked Son Press.
BOOK: Summons to Berlin, by Joanne Intrator, MD
Strange to say, though German was my first language, it is not my mother tongue. With me, my cherished Oma Rikka spoke exclusively in German, and so I retain many fond associations with the language. But she died when I was seven, and my parents mainly spoke English to me, so by the time I went to school, there could be no doubt my native tongue was English. Thus, though German has always sounded entirely familiar to me, it became a foreign language after my early childhood. When the 16 Wallstrasse case began, I could, given time, understand German
correspondence regarding the matter, but I was not yet up to contending with die Sprache (the language) in meetings or in court.
My life has been shaped by being the daughter of two German Jewish refugees. Since childhood, I pondered why people perpetrate atrocities on their fellow human beings. After studying German history at Connecticut College, working at Warner Bros with the director Alan Pakula, I received an MD from Columbia University and became a psychiatrist with an expertise in abnormal behavior. I spearheaded the first brain imaging research on well characterized psychopaths, which was published in the Journal of Biological Psychiatry. Following my father’s death in 1993, I took it upon myself to fight for restitution of a building in Berlin; my professional insights into the behavior of bureaucrats were critical to my understanding of how to negotiate with obstructionists. My journey has been the subject of news articles, television interviews and museum exhibits. My interest in film continues in the form of film commentary
ESSAY: The Man who Brought Opera to America,
by Howard Jay Smith
Mozart’s librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, the creator of The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi Fan Tutte, and the man who introduced opera to America, was derogatorily known behind his back as “the Jewish Priest.” Howard Jay Smith's multi-generational novel Meeting Mozart In Venice, Vienna & Prague; From the Secret Diaries of Lorenzo Da Ponte, explores how Da Ponte and his modern day descendants endured the anti-Semitism of Europe, early modern New York City, and the Holocaust, by asking the question: “How does a Jew survive in an essentially hostile world?” 
In 1806, Clement Clark Moore, a young professor of Greek and Biblical studies, had a chance encounter with a recent immigrant that forever altered the cultural history of early modern New York and, by extension, our new nation, then barely thirty years old. Moore is perhaps most famous for writing a poem that opens with, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” More significantly, though, he was a professor at Columbia College – now Columbia University – and the son of Benjamin Moore, the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of New York and the president of Columbia. The meeting occurred at Riley’s Booksellers, on lower Broadway, just two blocks south of Union Square. Riley’s location is now that of the Strand Bookstore. Who did he meet? Lorenzo Da Ponte, an Italian immigrant by way of Venice, Vienna, and London, whom Moore would later learn had been the librettist of Mozart’s greatest operas.
Howard Jay Smith is an award-winning writer from Santa Barbara, California. Meeting Mozart is his fourth book. A former TV & Film executive, Smith taught in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. and has lectured nationally. He serves on the board of directors of the Santa Barbara Symphony. 
Visit our new bookstore website in which all our books are heavily discounted

All our print books are now on sale for just $4.99 and all our e-books are on sale for just $2.99. 

That's not a misprint! 

You can visit this new website to see all of our books by clicking on the image on the right.
ESSAY: Descendants of the Holocaust, by Eva Fogelman

Intergenerational Trauma: Descendants of Holocaust Survivors Speak Out transcends the typecast stereotype of sons, daughters and grandchildren of survivors as emotionally challenged. The book illuminates the conscious and unconscious journeys of second and third generation survivors. What drives certain descendants to live as if they have inherited a trauma, while others embrace it as a calling to make a difference in the world? 

The shift in society’s perception of Holocaust survivors from shame to pride has implications for future victims, hence, their descendants. The inspiring lives of the protagonists offer hope to others whose ancestor’s lives were shattered by collective historical trauma.
Dr. Eva Fogelman is a psychologist, filmmaker and author of the award-winning Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust. She was the co-founder and co-director of Psychotherapy with Generations of the Holocaust and Related Traumas, Training Institute for Mental Health; founding director of Jewish Foundation for Christian Rescuers (ne Jewish Foundation for the Righteous). She currently is co-director of Child Development Research; moderates a webinar Transforming Moments: Second Generation of Holocaust Survivors, Museum of Jewish Heritage and the podcast The Blue Card Stories of the Holocaust: Overcoming Historical Traumas. Fogelman is a frequent speaker for general and academic audiences, television, webinars, and radio programs. 
SPEECH: Yoseph Haddaad's defense of Israel
“My name is Yoseph Haddad and I am an Israeli Arab. I was born in Haifa, which is the largest mixed city of Arabs and Jews in the country, and I was raised in Nazareth, the largest Arab city in the state of Israel. This may surprise some of you after what you’ve heard about Israel, but myself, my friends and all my community regularly interacted with Israelis from all sectors and a huge part of my childhood was playing football. I grew up playing football with Jewish, Christian and Muslim kids and let me tell you – the Jews didn’t think “Oh, he’s an Arab” before passing the ball. We didn’t see each other as any different, and in fact through these childhood friendships we learned about each other’s religions and lifestyles, even taking part in each other’s holidays for Eid or Christmas or Passover."
ESSAY: Trapped in Translation by Rabbi Seth Limmer
How to explain Judaism in English—a language whose terminology around religion is built on Christian concepts.

We can’t translate everything. At least not precisely. Concepts exist in certain cultures that are absent, or markedly different, in others. We all know the adage that Eskimos have 47 different words for snow. Whether or not that’s true, it is clear that Inuit and Yupik cultures have a closer connection to snow than do the residents of Tahiti. It makes sense that these cultures would differentiate the many kinds of snowfall according to the many ways that those distinctions affect their daily lives. We even might be able to translate some of these snow words into English: Aqilokoq is softly falling snow, piegnartoq is snow that’s perfect for sled-driving. We can know what these snow words mean. But unless and until we understand the Eskimo mindset, we cannot truly glean what they signify.
Rabbi Limmer was born in Rochester, NY, raised in Great Neck, and received a B.A. cum laude in Philosophy from Cornell University. In 1999, Rabbi Limmer received a Master of Arts in Hebrew Literature from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he was ordained a rabbi in May 2000.
Rabbi Limmer began his tenure as Senior Rabbi of Chicago Sinai Congregation in July 2014. He currently serves on the Board of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, on the President's Rabbinic Council of HUC-JIR, and is a member of the strategy team for the Religious Action Center. On behalf of Chicago Sinai Congregation’s lead role in organizing the Reform Movement’s participation in the NAACP’s 2015 America’s Journey for Justice, Rabbi Limmer accepted the Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award, the highest honor of the Union for Reform Judaism. 2016 saw the publication of his first full-length book, which he co-authored with Rabbi Bernard H. Mehlman, Medieval Midrash: The House for Inspired Innovation by the prestigious Brill Press. He is the co-editor of, Moral Resistance and Spiritual Authority: Our Jewish Obligation to Social Justice, published by CCAR Press in 2018.
JEWS OF DIFFERENT HUES: My Family’s Grind­ing Stone: Jew­ish Cook­ing in Ahmedabad
As the year ends I light can­dles to cel­e­brate Hanukkah and feast upon fried samosas and pota­to cut­lets at the Magen Abra­ham Syn­a­gogue of Ahmed­abad. I look back and won­der how my large joint fam­i­ly slow­ly dis­in­te­grat­ed, though we used to live togeth­er in an old house in the walled city of Ahmed­abad, India. Through­out the years many elders left for their heav­en­ly abode, while oth­ers immi­grat­ed to Israel, Cana­da, Eng­land, Aus­tralia, and the US. In a sim­i­lar man­ner, I left Ahmed­abad many times but kept return­ing and became a part of the com­mu­ni­ty of the last few Jews of Ahmed­abad, meet­ing often and break­ing bread togeth­er at the synagogue. There are one-hun­dred-forty Jews in Ahmed­abad and we cel­e­brate fes­ti­vals togeth­er. We are like one big family.
DIARY: From Anya Verkhovskaya
Today I went to war without ever leaving my office in Milwaukee. Every morning at 3 a.m., which is 11 a.m. in Ukraine, I leave my warm, comfortable bed, drink my coffee, and then I stand up tall and strong to the bully. I stand up to Putin. I am a proud U.S. citizen, saving the lives of strangers halfway across the world. I work with citizens of many other countries, providing children, the elderly, and the infirm with supplies that make a difference on a small and large scale, and so can you.
December Blog: Tears and Glory

Boris Fishman has created a series of writing workshops called Tears & Glory, which will begin in January 2023. Fiction and nonfiction; Zoom and in person; one-offs and series; workshops, lectures, and craft courses; all stages welcome.
Choose your adventure:

Boris is the author of the novels A Replacement Life (which won the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and the American Library Association’s Sophie Brody Medal, and received a rave on the cover of The New York Times Book Review) and Don't Let My Baby Do Rodeo, both New York Times Notable Books of the Year, and Savage Feast, a family memoir told through recipes, all from HarperCollins. See for more info.
As a journalist, Boris has published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and Book Review, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement (UK), Travel + Leisure, Saveur, New York Magazine, The New Republic, and many other publications. See selected journalism here.

Boris has taught creative writing to undergraduates and graduate students at Princeton University (where Boris attended as an undergraduate), New York University (where he received his MFA in creative writing), and the University of Montana. He has steered undergraduates to publication in national literary magazines, graduates to first place in national writing contests, and countless writers to completed stories and novel/memoir manuscripts. (Click here for testimonials about what it's like to work with Boris.)
Boris has worked on the editorial staffs of W. W. Norton, The New Yorker, and Harpers Magazine, and has edited numerous nonfiction books and projects, among them the U.S. Senate’s report on Hurricane Katrina, Enron whistleblower Cynthia Cooper’s memoir, and the Rwandan government’s investigation of French complicity in the 1994 genocide.
MY JEWISH YEAR: Chapter 9, Hanukkah Reconsidered,
by Abigail Pogrebin
Hanukkah wasn’t complicated for me until this year. I grew up with the basics: lighting the menorah (the Hanukkah candelabra, technically the “Hanukkiah”) for eight nights with a
candle added each night; spinning the dreidel, the four-sided top with
Hebrew letters, twirled expectantly by us three kids—(if it landed on
our letter, we got to open a gift); eating latkes (potato pancakes) made
expertly by Mom with crispy edges, sour cream on the side; and belting
out a few songs, including the obvious standards, “Hanukkah, Oh
Hanukkah” and “Maoz Tzur” (Mighty Rock).
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