The Newsletter of Fig Tree Books LLC
July 2021: Issue #20
Fredric D. Price, Founder & Publisher
ESSAY: Two Conditions by Art Feinglass

"I’m pretty sure it’s heresy to say that I’m grateful for the pandemic. Not, of course, for all the havoc it wrought and all the human suffering it caused but for how one of its consequences has enriched my life.

The consequence I have in mind is the shutdown that put a halt to travel and the effect that had on my relationships with my grandchildren.

My two oldest grandkids live in Seattle, the two youngest in L.A.  Before the pandemic I lived half the year in New York and half in Seattle and my now-I’m-here, now-I’m-notlifestyle hampered my relationships with the kids.  But when the travel ban went into effect, I became more of a steady presence in the lives of my Seattle grandchildren. And, thanks to the advent of Zoom in the pandemic, I became a virtual presence in the lives of the boys in L.A."

Two Conditions will be performed at All Souls Unitarian Church, as part of their Monologues of Gratitude program, on Tuesday, August 3 at 10 a.m. EST. It will be performed live, read by professional actor, J.B. Alexander, and accompanied by a live singing performance by celebrity Cantor Rafi Frieder. Here is the link to watch the Zoom presentation on the All Souls website: Scroll down to the events calendar (after "Jump right in”) and click on the August 3 date. The link and password will be available there. Click on“Click here to join on Zoom!" and enter the password when prompted. 

Art Feinglass lives in New York and Seattle where he is the founder and artistic director of the Seattle Jewish Theater Company. Born in the Bronx, in his twenties he joined a kibbutz in Israel’s Negev Desert. When he returned to New York he founded Mostly Murder, a dinner theater company, and Access, a business theater company presenting plays on sexual harassment and diversity for Fortune 500 corporations throughout the U.S. His writing career has included stints as a journalist, publicist, ghost writer and author of Public Relations for Nonprofits. His play ARRIVALS, A LOVE STORY is premiering Off-Broadway this fall at the Actors’ Temple Theater.
POEM: "Cain And Maples: The Villain’s Villanelle" by Dan Ornstein
Scott Hilton Davis is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, author, and publisher. In 2007, he founded Jewish Storyteller Press to bring English translations of 19th-century Yiddish writers to 21st-century readers. For the past twenty years, he has worked to restore the literary legacy of the Yiddish novelist Jacob Dinezon. Scott is also the author of two short story collections, Souls Are Flying! A Celebration of Jewish Stories and Chanukah Tales from Oykvetchnik.
JEWS OF DIFFERENT HUES: Jew of color to lead major rabbinical school

Mbuvi’s first day of teaching a biblical Hebrew intensive to Sudanese seminary students went great. The second, fairly well. But by the third day it was clear that her pupils were falling behind.
“Nobody was studying,” Mbuvi said. “Because when it got dark they didn’t have electricity.”
That 2005 trip helped form Mbuvi’s views of the breadth of what effective education must encompass. Now, she’ll be bringing that approach to help shape the next generation of Jewish spiritual leadership, as the next vice president of academic affairs at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College outside Philadelphia.
In the White Space by Shelly R. Fredman

"When I was a wide-eyed and improbably serious eight-year-old, my mother sat me down on a pink bedspread in the room I shared with my younger sister--so we could have The Talk. Just before, I had run home from the Hilltop school playground, and breathlessly reported to my awestruck mother that Jeffrey Fish had propositioned me and my best friend, Diane Greenberg, beneath the monkey bars.  Jeffrey Fish had offered “to show us his if we would show him ours.” This was 1966, and the women of my mother’s day, even in the suburban Midwest, had begun to read Betty Friedan and Gloria. They weren’t certain yet, what to do with their awakenings, but they knew they had to do something. "
Shelly R. Fredman is an NPR contributor whose work has been featured in Tablet Magazine, The Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune Magazine, Best Jewish Writing, The Forward and numerous literary magazines and anthologies. Her writing has been recognized with a Pushcart nomination and a Rockower Award. She teaches at Barnard College and leads spiritual writing classes. She has recently finished a memoir, “In the White Space.”
SHORT STORY: A Man of Faith by Kirsten Levy

"It’s a hard-won thing, this vacation, a treat that Christine and Marc put on their bucket list for retirement. Carrying it out has proved tricky. Here they are, in Tuscany, where Marc has long wanted to spend a month in an Italian villa. They have rented it with housekeeping, the easier to host their children and grandchildren who are expected soon. They joke about having a few precious days together in advance of the home invasion.
Tonight, they enjoy an evening out for dinner. Christine, aged 75, fit, a follower of the Mediterranean diet, has in mind great mounds of roasted green beans, salted, peppered and stir-fried in just the right amount of olive oil for sopping up with peasant bread. Meal ingredients so simple she could whip them up in her own kitchen but which taste better when eaten out. What better place than Italy? Long ago she moved on from New England Boiled Dinner, a family favorite of her Boston Irish Catholic upbringing. Her tastes have continued to evolve, and simplify, over time. She’s less interested in meat and honors just the vegetables now. Plus, eating out has become complicated—so few restaurant opportunities at home and the fact of kosher, which, with the passing years, has loomed larger and larger in their lives. She’s looking forward to the restaurant, it’s a high point, a welcome end to a long tiring day in a long year."

Kirsten Levy enjoyed a career in academic research and administration, publishing articles in the academic press on her projects. She has an MBA in health care management. Now retired, she pursues literary activities, writing about family relationships and reading for a literary magazine. Her first book is a memoir expected to be published in 2022. Her website and blog are at
MY JEWISH YEAR: The 17th of Tammuz, Chapter 23
"After the unspeakable joy and poignancy of Ben’s high school graduation in June—where I couldn’t quite believe that my first child was striding down the aisle in cap and gown—it’s difficult to be mournful, on cue, the following month. Summer sadness
seems oxymoronic. But it’s required for the next holiday—the 17th of Tammuz (Shivah Asar b’Tammuz), which marks the breach of the walls of Jerusalem, before the Temple’s final destruction three weeks later."
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