Friday, April 24, 2015

By the Rivers of Babylon

The Wayward Moon by Janice Weizman is the captivating tale of a young Jewish woman surviving despite the hardships of the ninth century Middle East.

Imagine that you are traveling in a caravan across the desert. Your camel stops for the night at a khan on the road between Mosul and Damascus. After a hearty evening meal, you wait at your table for the evening's entertainment. Tonight there will be a storyteller, one with quite an unusual tale. The speaker is a young woman, but what she relates is only a partial account of her ordeals. She doesn't reveal her true story, one that would keep you riveted to your chair far into the night.

This is Rahel, a seventeen-year-old Jewish girl born in Sura, a city south of Baghdad. Rahel is about to meet her fiancé for the first time, but instead of wearing her white wedding dress to the huppah, she is forced to flee in the wake of her father's murder. Rahel loses not only her home and all her possessions, but also her identity, both as a Jew and as a woman.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Apocalyptic Suspense in the Heart of Jerusalem

In Torn Blood by David J. Bain, a newly arrived U.S. Embassy official makes his way into Palestinian territory and finds himself trapped in a terrorist plot to destroy Israel.

The Tower of David, also known as the Jerusalem Citadel and in Hebrew as Migdal David, has served as an outer fortification protecting the Holy City since Hasmonean and Herodian times. The tower itself is a Turkish minaret added to a Mamluk mosque, and in fact the connection between the citadel to Biblical King David is in name only.

Migdal David is prominent in any image of the Old City walls. The fortress that served for centuries as a garrison for Ottoman troops is today considered a symbol of Jewish Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.

For Palestinians to launch a terror attack from Migdal David "in the heart of the Old City, is symbolic, personal," says one of Israel's senior security officials, when confronted with the greatest threat Israel has ever faced in its history.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sons of Romantic Light

There are two stories told in the novel A Love And Beyond by Dan Sofer. One concerns the quest of Jerusalem's most eligible bachelor to find his beshert. The other is a bit more complicated.

Dave Schwarz, a thirty-year-old British oleh who lives in Jerusalem's German Colony, is dismayed that "all his childhood friends were married plus two or three kids. Somewhere along the tracks of life, [he] had derailed."

Finding a suitable life partner obsesses Dave. "The symbols of marriage hounded him at every turn. Judaism was no religion for single men." He knows he needs "a wife and fast, and not just to get his mother off his back or even to fulfill the Divine command to 'be fruitful and multiply.' Family life was the only path to normalcy."

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Day I Traveled to China and Got Doyle Brunson’s Autograph

Known in the industry as the Godfather of Poker, Doyle Brunson is an American player, a two-time winner of the World Series of Poker Main Event, a Poker Hall of Fame member, and the author of several books on poker. I never imagined in a million years that I would travel all the way to China to meet this poker legend, and to get his autograph.

I was in Macau along with 17 avid poker players from around the world, players who had qualified through a series of satellite tournaments to represent Titan Poker at the Asian Poker Tour (APT). It was August 2008, and the event being staged offered $1,500,000 in guaranteed prizes, making it at the time the most lucrative tournament to ever take place in Asia. The Titan Poker players came from Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Australia, Malaysia, the Czech Republic, and Japan. I was there to make sure they had a good time and to cheer them on as they took to the tables.

Read the rest of this article on The Huffington Post.