With great pleasure I announce that we translated part 1 of the great video series by Science Reason Israel called "Torah from Sinai: True or False?"
Let me know what you think and we may continue translating and captioning the other parts of the series:
With special thanks to Ephraim, Pinny, Shira, Benjamin and Science Reason Israel for making this happen!
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
A new ex-Satmar woman's novel was released today with raving reviews. Amazon's book description:
Sweeping from the Central European countryside just before World War II to Paris to contemporary Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I Am Forbiddenbrings to life four generations of one Satmar family.
Opening in 1939 Transylvania, five-year-old Josef witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard and is rescued by a Gentile maid to be raised as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, after her parents are killed while running to meet the Rebbe they hoped would save them. Josef helps Mila reach Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar community, in whose home Mila is raised as a sister to Zalman’s daughter, Atara. As the two girls mature, Mila’s faith intensifies, while her beloved sister Atara discovers a world of books and learning that she cannot ignore. With the rise of communism in central Europe, the family moves to Paris, to the Marais, where Zalman tries to raise his children apart from the city in which they live.
When the two girls come of age, Mila marries within the faith, while Atara continues to question fundamentalist doctrine. The different choices the two sisters makes force them apart until a dangerous secret threatens to banish them from the only community they’ve ever known.From the review in the Huffington Post (by Ilana Teitelbaum, how ironic!):
A beautifully crafted, emotionally gripping story of what happens when unwavering love, unyielding law, and centuries of tradition collide, I Am Forbidden announces the arrival of an extraordinarily gifted new voice and opens a startling window on a world long closed to most of us, until now.
Religious tradition has the power to enrich one's life -- or to destroy it. That is the message at the core of I Am Forbidden, a novel that sheds light on some of the most destructive -- and least discussed -- tenets of ultra-Othodox Judaism, in the cloistered world of the Satmar Hasidic community. In this multi-generational saga spanning pre- and post-World War II Transylvania, Paris, England and Brooklyn's Williamsburg, Anouk Markovits explores the double-edged potential of religious conviction in the lives of two women who choose paths that are diametrically opposed -- until tragedy brings them together again.
When Mila Heller's parents are shot by Nazi soldiers, she is adopted by the rabbi of their Transylvanian village and becomes a sister to Atara Stern. As the daughters of a revered community leader, the girls enjoy a status akin to princesses, yet Atara chafes at the restrictions of her Satmar upbringing. In contrast, Mila looks forward to achieving the one goal that she believes she was born to achieve: marriage and children in a home built on the foundations of ultra-Orthodox tradition. But, in a twist of irony, it is that same tradition that will threaten to destroy Mila's dreams of happiness.
To Markovits's credit, I Am Forbidden does not read like a contemptuous, unidimensional exposé of ultra-Orthodox Jewish life. With poetic grace, she succeeds at depicting the culture from the inside out, conveying the way in which a life of limitation and law can provide a bulwark of meaning. Those outside a religion tend to see it as a collection of petty rules; Markovits -- who was raised in the Satmar community -- demonstrates that to those within, these laws are written on "a scroll of fire," imbued with incredible power to save and destroy. Compounding this power is the proximity of Mila and Atara's story to the Holocaust, which gives the characters even more cause to see the world as a Manichean play of righteousness and evil, dark and light.
Markovits best captures this theme in her tender depiction of Mila's marriage to Josef, the love of her life. Living within the codified parameters of "forbidden" and "permitted," the alternating flows of blood and ritual immersion, Mila and Josef embody a love story that is real and deep. By avoiding the easy cliché of the cold arranged marriage, Markovits intensifies the emotional heft of the story -- and forces the reader to be moved by the characters' fates.On the writer's website, it says the following about the writer:
Anouk Markovits grew up in France, in an ultra-orthodox Satmar home. She attended a religious seminary in England instead of high school. After she left home at the age of nineteen to avoid an arranged marriage, she attended Columbia University's School of General Studies. She has a Master of Architecture from Harvard and a PhD in Romance Studies from Cornell. She has worked as an architect and as a set designer on major films, including The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Her first novel, Pur Coton, was written in French (Gallimard). I Am Forbidden is her English-language debut.
Posted by Undercover Kofer at Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Monday, May 7, 2012
From Life in Israel (excellent blog), Quote Of The Day:
Because I have a "chiyuv" to daven for the amud, I found myself yesterday leading the services for mincha when I went to pay a condolences call by the prime minister. To my surprise, the prime minister joined me at the end of the services to say kaddish. The two of us stood there and said "Yisgadal v'yiskadash shmei raba". At that moment I did not think about this, but afterwards I thought to myself that there was something great that had happened - two people who competed for the leadership announced together who is really the leader...-- Moshe Feiglin
Quote from a comment on my 'real' Facebook page, by a Rabbi in Lakewood that I know (don't ask me how he got on to Facebook):
"Thinking independently?! A yid doesn't think independently, we have a Mesorah for that, we have our Rebbeim for that."Case closed, all of ye kiruv clowns!