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After One-Hundred-and-Twenty: Reflecting on Death, Mourning, and the Afterlife in the Jewish Tradition (Library of Jewish Ideas)
After One-Hundred-and-Twenty: Reflecting on Death, Mourning, and the Afterlife in the Jewish Tradition (Library of Jewish Ideas)
by Hillel Halkin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.23
23 used & new from $16.83

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific, July 11, 2016
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This is a beautifully written book about Jewish views and traditions regarding death and afterlife, woven together with accounts of the author's own experiences with mourning and with contemplating and preparing for his own death. There were some marvelous and, in my view, at least, fascinating Jewish texts included, including a midrash that in paradise everyone is grouped with members of his or her own profession, and Maimonides' view that there will continue to be rich and poor even in the world to come. Halkin is particularly attentive to how Jewish mourning traditions and views of the afterlife evolved over time; the regular recitation by mourners of the prayer known as kaddish, for example, "appears first to have become a daily practice in thirteenth-century Germany, from where it spread gradually to the rest of Ashkenazi Europe and beyond."

This material is unavoidably somewhat morose, but Halkin, who was my former colleague at the New York Sun and the Forward, is good, amiable company in confronting it and guiding readers through it. I hope he lives long enough to write more books as edifying as this one.


SCHARFFEN BERGER 70% Bittersweet Chunks (6-Ounce Packages, Pack of 5)
SCHARFFEN BERGER 70% Bittersweet Chunks (6-Ounce Packages, Pack of 5)
Offered by Chocolato
Price: $26.99
2 used & new from $24.69

5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Ones, June 19, 2016
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These are the best chocolate chunks you can buy. They are not teardrop-shaped like classic "chips" but are larger and more irregular. They make excellent chocolate chip cookies (there is a good recipe printed on the package.) They have an intense dark chocolate flavor — somewhere in the flavor/taste neighborhood of coffee, red wine, or raspberries. I have tried pretty much all the other chocolate chips — including the lower percentage Scharffen Berger in the yellow/gold bag, Guittard, Ghirardelli, Callebaut — and I think these ones taste the best.


A Truck Full of Money
A Truck Full of Money
by Tracy Kidder
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Writing About a Sometimes Annoying Main Character, June 19, 2016
This review is from: A Truck Full of Money (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Tracy Kidder writes such beautiful sentences that I’d probably happily pay to read his grocery shopping lists. His latest book is a profile of Paul English, a Boston-based high-technology entrepreneur who made $120 million when the travel search-engine company he founded, Kayak, was bought by Priceline in 2012 for $1.8 billion.

Kidder’s skill as a reporter and prose craftsman kept me turning the pages of this one. He does a good job of depicting Boston’s neighborhoods and some of its workplaces.

But the thing I found frustrating about this book is that Paul English doesn’t come off as a particularly likeable or sympathetic character. Kidder foreshadows this in an author’s note at the very beginning of the book, in which he writes that Paul English only agreed to cooperate if Kidder promises “not to make me look better than I am.”

Paul English need not have worried in that department. The book describes him as sick (temporal lobe epilepsy, bipolar disorder), a bad driver (70 moving violations in 30 years), a teenage drug dealer, and in Paul English’s own words, “a little bit communist.” On top of that, he was something of a womanizer, and an extravagant spender (a post-Kayak startup headed by Paul English spends $12,000 on “Paul’s custom couch,” a price that doesn’t include cushions or upholstery.) He winds up working as an Uber driver, shuttling passengers around in his Tesla.

Kidder tries a bit to inflate Paul English into a symbol of both “the New Economy” and of the American qualities of innovation and upward mobility. Perhaps that is so. Others may just find the subject and main character of this book to be annoying. As a thrifty traveler, I’m grateful that Paul English created Kayak and I certainly don’t begrudge him his $120 million. But just because someone is a big business success, it doesn’t mean they are particularly admirable, or that you’d necessarily want to read an entire book about them.


DII 100% Polyester, Machine Washable, Holiday, Dinner Solid Tablecloth 60 x 104",  Beige, Seats 8 to 10 People
DII 100% Polyester, Machine Washable, Holiday, Dinner Solid Tablecloth 60 x 104", Beige, Seats 8 to 10 People
Price: $27.68
4 used & new from $19.98

3.0 out of 5 stars making this feel sturdy and serviceable more than super-fancy, May 10, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The weave is somewhat coarse, making this feel sturdy and serviceable more than super-fancy. This is the sort of tablecloth you might see in commercial catering use at a hotel banquet hall. Nicely hemmed edges. Was slightly too short for my longish table, maybe consider ordering a size up. Held up well after a first washing.


Ubbi Step Stool, Gray
Ubbi Step Stool, Gray
Price: $19.99
4 used & new from $19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars This is a totally serviceable stool for toddler or even ..., April 22, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a totally serviceable stool for toddler or even larger child-grownup use. It is not so short as to be pointless and not so tall as to be frightening. The bottom has a non-skid coating.


Old Age: A Beginner's Guide
Old Age: A Beginner's Guide
by Michael Kinsley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $10.71
94 used & new from $5.84

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inescapably Poignant, March 1, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Michael Kinsley is a witty and clear writer and this is a lovely little book. It covers a wide range of ground. There is some general material about getting older and confronting what’s important in life. There is some specific material about Kinsley’s Parkinson’s Disease. For example, he writes that in 1998, he was offered the editorship of the New Yorker magazine. After he told the owner, S.I. Newhouse, about his diagnosis, Newhouse withdrew the offer. He writes about the medicine he takes and about an operation he had called deep brain stimulation, which involved implanting wires in his head and batteries in his chest.

Kinsley approaches all of this with good cheer, but there is nonetheless something inescapably poignant about his deterioration. A mental assessment — Parkinson’s affects mental ability, not just movement — finds he has “weak verbal fluency.” Sad stuff for anyone who remembers Kinsley at the height of his powers lucidly co-hosting “Crossfire” on CNN.

The penultimate chapter proposes a vast increase in the federal estate tax as a “redemptive last act” — a way for Kinsley’s baby-boom generation to erase the mountain of public debt it has amassed. He describes the proposal as “one generation’s once-in-a-lifetime parting gift to those who follow.” I don’t quite follow how taxing away the post-baby-boom generation’s inheritance qualifies as a “gift.” Kinsley dedicates this book to his stepchildren and grandchildren; he never really explains why the politicians in Washington are better equipped to spend or invest whatever money he leaves behind than those stepchildren or grandchildren will be.


The Love of God: Divine Gift, Human Gratitude, and Mutual Faithfulness in Judaism (Library of Jewish Ideas)
The Love of God: Divine Gift, Human Gratitude, and Mutual Faithfulness in Judaism (Library of Jewish Ideas)
by Jon Douglas Levenson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.34
58 used & new from $16.96

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacularly Well Done, November 24, 2015
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This is a profound and erudite book that made me think about the love between God and the Jewish people in a whole new way. Prayers that will be familiar to most observant Jews — the Shma, Lekha Dodi, Yedid Nefesh, the phrase from Hosea that is said when wrapping tefillin on one's finger — take on deeper meaning with Levenson's guidance. The book is worth buying for the last two paragraphs alone, which are exquisitely crafted.

What kind of love exists between Jews and God, and between God and Jews? Levenson takes us through the early biblical love modeled on the relation between a king and his subject, or a lord and vassal, through the prophetic description of the relationship at the "moment of rupture," with the Jews as unfaithful, through the Medieval period and the critique by Hasdai Crescas and Joseph Albo of the Maimonidean God so abstract that he doesn't love back, and into modern times with Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig and their discussion of how law or commandment fit, or don't fit, into a loving relationship with God.

This book is not long. It's not light reading, but it is reasonably accessible. If you are Jewish and/or interested in what the biblical commandment to love God means, go read it!


CAILLER Chocolate Signature Selection, Large Box Assortment, 7.9 Ounce, (25 Pieces)
CAILLER Chocolate Signature Selection, Large Box Assortment, 7.9 Ounce, (25 Pieces)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nicely Wrapped, October 25, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These chocolate come in an elegant and elaborately wrapped box likely to delight a gift recipient. The chocolates themselves are a matter of taste. I found some of them to be really good, others to be a little on the sweet or too milky side, but my taste tends to favor more dark and more bitter chocolate. The caramel was quite good.


The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food
The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food
by Dan Barber
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.72
164 used & new from $3.58

4.0 out of 5 stars This is a beautifully written book about food that also, June 30, 2015
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This is a beautifully written book about food that also, if read carefully, is a cautionary tale about unintended consequences. Grain “subsidized with our tax dollars” becomes cheap feed for animals, which make meat artificially cheap in comparison to other foods. The Rockefeller Foundation and the Mexican Government — and DuPont scientist Norman Borlaug — created more productive wheat and rice varieties. But those same varieties have been “disastrous for soil health,” and they have also reduced crop diversity and accelerated urbanization.

Barber doesn’t flinch from that story even though — or perhaps especially because — the Rockefellers back his Stone Barns farm in Westchester County.

Barber’s policy arguments often turn on questions of taste. Fatty grain-fed lamb, he asserts, is “not actually delicious.” At another point, he urges, “taste the damn carrot.” But taste is subjective — some people may not notice a difference, or, if they do, they may decide it is not worth the price difference between mass-produced food and the higher end artisanally farmed crops that Barber prefers.


The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life
The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life
by David Hazony
Edition: Hardcover
52 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Useful Guide to Timeless Wisdom, June 28, 2015
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This book offers a careful, close reading of the 10 Commandments, enlivened by the wisdom of a number of other Jewish texts that Hazony skillfully brings to bear. This was most lively, concrete, funny, and useful when Hazony brought in his own personal experiences — a summer job selling time-share condos, his time as a rabbinic student, his dealings with his own parents. The sections where Hazony is afield from both his own concrete experiences and Jewish texts (other than the Ten Commandments, which are constant) are the parts that I found the least useful. Overall, though, this is an accessible guide to the core of the Bible that will be particularly appreciated by Jewish readers. Well worth my time, I thought. I plan to keep it on my shelf to refer back to it as a pointer to other commentaries.


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